Posts tagged ‘The Way’

How to Love Stupid People

warning about stupidity

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I first must make clear that ignorance is a lack of knowledge, skills, or understanding. While stupidity is often interchanged with the word ignorant, its theoretical meaning differs vastly. The outcome of both may produce the same actions, but stupidity is in fact a character defect rather than a condition. Both may prevail unceasingly until death, but the latter is far more difficult to eradicate. Stupidity in the sense that I mean it here is better equated with a lack of willingness, a mental attitude that dismisses evidence and experience and reason, the source or sister to insanity – that being the repetition of destructive or self-destructive acts with the expectation that the consequences of one’s actions will magically lose their destructive force and may in fact result in the opposite. Ignorance is relatively easy to remedy – feed the mind and the rest will follow. Stupidity however requires patience, fervent effort, and diligence. To step beyond stupidity requires a deep humility, so deep as to see ourselves exactly for who we are with no judgment at all – positive or negative. Many are not capable of such honesty. Second, before I continue, I want you the reader to know that neither ignorance nor stupidity can be generalized to every part of a person’s being. So, like my co-contributors (as you’ll see this theme elsewhere), I could never truthfully or with good conscience call a person stupid or ignorant, except rarely perhaps if I qualified in what manner or area. For we are all stupid and ignorant in some manner to some degree at different points in our life.
Now, why is such clarification necessary? It is needed because it is a groundwork upon which we may develop empathy, grow in our ability to forgive, find serenity and live with joy. Never have I come to a point of perfection in these goals, but also never have I gotten a start without first building on my understanding of my own and others’ ignorance and stupidity in any situation. Furthermore, failing to do so has sadly led me to act “unrighteously” with a self-righteous attitude more than once. Recently our prayer group discussed how to handle being accused of something unfairly by someone in fact guilt of what they accused you. Sometimes we hold certain persons to higher expectations because of their intelligence or their charisma. We think they ought to know better. We must remember that we’ve all been privy to experiences uniquely our own and each experience affects how we assimilate learning from the next. Therefore, even two children brought up in the same household with the same parents in what seems much the same way experience life differently and therefore do not share exactly the same knowledge, skills, and understanding. So back to the issue our group discussed, I do not wish to focus on the details but just to offer some general thoughts. Without a doubt, knowing little of most people’s lives, it behooves me for my own peace of mind to assume that a person acts unkindly out of ignorance rather than stupidity. Afterall, I have a much better chance of positively influencing them and less reason to take their actions personally.
So, it is important to bear in mind that the strength with which one conveys her/his convictions or the hurtful manner in which s/he delivers them does not negate the presence of ignorance. In fact, it proves it all the more. For a person who is not ignorant of how to be assertive has not reason to be anything but assertive, for in communication nothing is gained and more is lost by aggression, passive-aggression and passivity than by assertion. And since it by communication that we relate, a most necessary aspect of our humanity and our spiritual growth, a person not ignorant of assertion would choose to be assertive. Only someone with no interest in spiritual growth or righteousness AND yet with knowledge of how to be assertive who chooses to act in an unassertive manner could be found entirely at fault in choosing to thus communicate. Of course such a person would likely not care enough to consistently be assertive, for they would likely not care about the rights of others and neither would they likely care what anyone thought of their choices. In such a case though, does not Jesus advise us two things? One, we are told to set right in their pathway those of our OWN Christian community and then only according to the administration of justice upheld by our community. Two, where the gospel is rebuked, we are to shake even the dust of where we have tread from our feet. On a final note I must say, if I persist in choosing to feel slighted by others’ ignorance, I am stupid. Now, certainly, much more could be said on this subject, but I think we have found an adequately place to let the issue rest. God be with you.

Words on the Words: Way, Truth, Life

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to Creator God except through me.” -The Holy Bible

The Way is the means to succeed.
Without the means, nothing is completed, attained, achieved.
The means are method, materials, and motivation.
The Way is the path, the journey, the direction, and the how.

The Truth, unchanging yet shaped by perspective, shall set you free.
To be free is to be without constraint or limit or price.
Truth, never easily perceived, reveals itself through faith.
Truth, never easily believed, reveals its worth through fidelity.

The Life is the example of righteousness and It’s reward.
Life is color, vibration, purpose, meaning, energy, reality.
Life is the source and summation of sustenance.
Breath, water, light, nourishment, and love sustain.

Christ told us the greatest commandment is love. Love is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. What is without love is without God.

The Way, One Truth, God’s Love

Doorway, Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damasc...

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[Note: This is a first draft, but I wanted to go ahead and publish it. Throughout this post, you will see “(link)” which is a note to myself to add a link or citation. I will eventually return to replace these, but if you have a question about a particular one, please leave a comment and I will try to respond more promptly.]

My mind is a whirlwind of thought and emotion. Like so many, I really do desire to do God’s will, but struggle to know what it actually is. I was listening to a book on CD by Sheila Walsh (link) during a recent road trip. She was explaining how the apostle Paul, then Saul, really thought he was devout and doing the right thing, persecuting the Christians, by keeping the Jewish faith pure. The Risen Christ blinded him, a physical manifestation of his spiritual nature, then showed him The Light. As I have been reflecting on the readings this Advent Season and thinking about the Second Coming, I’ve felt the responsibility to share the Word weigh heavily upon me, but I’m confused and filled with trepidation.

I want to boldly share the Good News. At the same time, I’ve been moved with empathy by stories of homeless persons who feel unwelcome at shelters that require them to participate in faith practices that differ from their beliefs. I am likewise disturbed by the declaration of some Baptists that Catholicism is a cult. The anti-Muslim sentiment of so many self-proclaimed Christians is troubling as well. I don’t want to be unloving in declaring God’s love for all.

I remember Pope Jonh Paul II, the Roman Catholic Pope, coming under verbal fire for declaring that the grace of Jesus the Christ is available to those who have not heard the Good News. Recently I read a blog (link) that insists that when Jesus Christ says “No one comes to the Father except through me, (link)” He meant NO ONE who doesn’t know and believe in the Passion of Christ will be admitted into heaven, so we must take the Good News to as many people as possible and accept that most of humanity will perish. Who is right? Both seemed convincing. I wonder, are we each just a story or are we the essence of our actions?

The song line, “They will know we are Christians by our love” (link) is sometimes spoofed by changing “love” to “T-shirts.” While the emphasis is to point out that a changed heart must be reflected in our actions, I’ve wondered if the original song line doesn’t reflect the Truth in its entirety. Does living The Way insist knowledge of its source or name or professor or rather adherence to its principles? Jesus the Christ said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life. (link)” The Son of God calls us into communion with God by showing us the perfect example in human form of obedience to God. I notice that The Lord never says “Be me.” Surely, you realize that would be in conflict with The Creator’s admonition of Adam and Eve for eating from the Tree of Knowledge (link). This leaves me with more questions.

Am I mistaken to now believe that being a Christian means living the example of Christ? The deepest question then is whether someone can know how to without knowing and understanding the totality of His life and Passion. I’ve come to a place of finding it easy to have empathy for and forgive others because I recognize the immenseness of my ignorance. How well can I know the heart of any person and how well can I know the depth of their understanding or even their potential to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus the Christ? How well do I know myself in these matters? This leads me to wonder, how well equipped am I to teach others, what is my responsibility to teach, what should I be teaching, and how should I teach it?

In all faiths of the world, there are some common truths. Surely this is no accident. Coincidence is often evidence of God’s presence in my mind. How can we acknowledge a God of unfathomable wisdom and yet seek to limit that same God’s power to present The Way to people in the cultural context that would make sense to their/our tiny minds? I propose it would serve us all best in preserving the good of humanity to respect those common truths. Further who am I or you but a peer to all others of which God is the Creator? Who am I to judge the work of the Master? The Bible instructs us only to judge those of our believing community and even there to do so through a construct of law and justice (link). Further we should bear in mind that no matter how inspired the Word, God did not write it by His own hand and it has been translated in multiple ways. Therefore we should look to the traditions of the Church for guidance as well.

In all matters of serious moral judgment, the original Church taught (to summarize from the Catechism of The Roman Catholic Church, link) that we should seek wise counsel (from one or more persons well-versed in Biblical languages and culture, literary interpretation, Scriptural study, etc) and examine an issue from all sides and in every intellectual field (historical, philosophical, social, psychological, theological, scientific,etc). God gave us brains and the collective gifts of humanity to USE. Then we should pray long and thoroughly (most especially that God’s will be done and with an open ear to the echoed answer of the Spirit from at least 2 entirely different sources lest we be deceived in our haste). Finally, we are obligated to act in accord with OUR conscience even if our actions would be in conflict with “official teachings” because ultimately we are responsible for our own salvation (link). On the topic of evangelizing, this has been an ongoing process for me.

I’d like to share some seemingly disconnected but relevant truths revealed to me in prayer, study, and conversation with counsel on the topic at hand. Love and hate cannot coexist. Temptation does not foreshadow sin; it merely warns of it’s potential presence. A Jewish philosopher (link) taught the Golden Rule this way, “Do NOT do onto others what you do NOT want done onto you.” In matters of morality, majority does not rule. I cannot consciously hate in word or deed because it conflicts with the Truth of Love.

So, because Christianity makes sense to me and It’s teachings are what my conscience most often leads me to profess and follow, I am bound by my conscience to spread the Good News for my own salvation. But I am committed to letting my “speech” begin with acts of love and then continue, as opportunity allows, by relating the example of Jesus the Christ. I believe that the Truth will make itself known to whomever answers the door. Somebody’s knocking. Will you let Him in?

Dwindling Church?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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[Note: What I’ve written here is partly in response to another blogger’s thoughts; see the link  just below this post.]

Our growing world challenges us as faith communities to grow with it.  Persons create organizations, religious included, to do together what none of us can do alone. Organizations organize, allowing efficiency and productivity in meeting needs, including spiritual, to prevail. Jesus first organized his disciples about him. He set the example for further organization in the distribution of the loaves. He rarely sent anyone out to preach alone. He gathered people together. He sent his disciples to do the same as they spread the Good News. Organizations serve people by serving the purpose for which the people created them. As our world changes, expanding across the miles, we must learn to clarify our mission and modify measures for living it out.

I’m 39. Social media IS social because social means connecting. Connecting flows in many currents but the common conduit is communication. We must have both a voice, eyes and ears to connect. The only communication entirely lost in the cyber-world is touch, which could be another blog topic entirely. I attend services at as many as four different spiritual communities per week because they each communicate God’s message to me. They each fulfill a different need at different times. I am most disappointed and unfulfilled when I expect more than an organization or person can offer me.

One of the greatest needs I have is to exercise my spiritual gifts. Countless times I’ve told the admins of religious communities, “Here’s what I can do for you. Here are my limitations. How can I give?” The most common answer I receive is…nothing. Eventually, I move on. Recently, I joined a new community. I like to sing. I get sick often. Their answer, “Come sing with us (the choir) now, whenever you want. Sing what you know. Lip-sync the rest. Praise God. Come be WITH us.”

That church‘s population is dwindling in size, but recent statistics show they’re giving more financially per person than most other churches in the area and they run a homeless mission that serves far more than the church’s population. Across the street, I attend services at a different community. It is large and growing in population. It found the resources and faith to embrace multimedia and cyberspace.  It’s giving percentage is small but sheer numbers sustain it. The smaller church could continue as it is, but it recognizes the need for change. It will soon band with others near it to share resources, including staff, collectively.

Both communities will survive for now. BOTH are actually growing, just in different ways. I am quite sure the larger will never shut its doors. I’m equally sure the doors to the smaller one’s heart will never be closed. Its mission will remain the same, while its methods may mold themselves to the modern world in a different and ever-changing way. My questions are these: How will each of us as co-creators, having been given choice, mold and remold ourselves to live our personal missions as Christ‘s followers in the modern world? How much am I willing to change in order to grow? By what means will I be so moved in the Spirit that I am joyfully able to proclaim the Good News? Am I ready to thrive? Am I even surviving? Make me a channel of Your peace, O Lord. God made us to love and be loved. How am I loved? How am I loving? Love your neighbor…

“A Painful Experience” at the OpenPath blog

 

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People Get Ready

Michelangelo's The Last Judgement, Vatican City

Image by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr

The song below nicely sums up some readings I’d like to reflect on today…

People Get Ready, Jesus Is Coming
by Crystal Lewis

Lord I’m ready. Now I’m waiting for your triumphant return. You’re coming soon. This world has nothing for me. I find my peace and joy solely in you. Only in you, I want the world to see that you’re alive and living well in me. Let me be a part of the harvest for the days are few. He’s coming soon. Those who do not know, they will hear, “Depart, I knew you not.” For my friends, you see, there will be a day when we’ll be counted, so know him well.

So people, get ready. Jesus is coming. Soon we’ll be going home.
People get ready. Jesus is coming to take from the world his own.

There will be a day when we will be divided right and left for those who know him and those that do not know. Those who know him well, will meet with him in the air, Hallelujah, God is with us…

Date Lectionary Readings [1st, RP, ( 2nd), A*, G]
S 11/28 1^ Is 2:1-5, Ps 122:1-9, (Rom 13:11-14), Ps 85:8, Ma 24:37-44

Summation of the Readings for 11/28/10
The 1st Reading from Isaiah tells us about his vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem. The previous passage describes Zion as the Messianic Capital and the passage after focuses on judgment against idols. The 2nd Reading from Romans concerns the duty of a Christian to obey authority and to recognize that love fulfills the law. The passage before describes a Christian’s duty to live and die for Christ, while the one following tells Christians it is our duty to exercise patience and self-denial. The Gospel Reading reminds us that we do not know when Jesus will return. Of course, a specific relevant message for us today beyond these basic topics is contained within the readings.

Reflection
The 1st Reading also tells us that at the Second Coming, people will come to be instructed in the Way of the Lord, some people will be taken from the world, the Lord will judge and impose punishments, and nations then will be at peace. Isaiah concludes by telling the people to “come walk in the Way of the Lord.” Why? If people are wanting to be instructed in the Way, we must realize that our actions speak louder than words. If someone else is looking to me for the Way to salvation, I don’t want to let them or God down.

In the Roman’s passage, we are told to “wake up” because “salvation is nearer than when you first believed.” Further, we are reminded to “conduct ourselves as if all can see.” Whose watching? Anyone who is looking to learn the Way of the Lord might see what we do. Even when all might not see, some see. Again, shouldn’t we take the responsibility seriously if someone’s salvation might depend on us? Further, even if no person sees, God sees. If we claim to be people of the Light, we better be walking in the Light, in the Way. When the Lord comes again, He will leave those walking in the dark, those focused on desires of the flesh, to dwell in darkness. We have a choice now. We will not then. Choose the Light and now, before it’s too late.

The Gospel of Matthew reading tells us we don’t know when the Lord will return anymore than people knew when the Great Flood was coming. No doubt, we realize what a disaster missing the boat then was. I don’t want to miss the boat. The author goes on to say, hey, stay awake as if a thief might be coming. We might be a bit resistant to thinking of the Lord as a thief, but the simile sure catches our attention. We certainly should care more about losing our opportunity to live eternally in the Light than losing anything of this world. Further, if half will be taken presumably to the Heavenly Kingdom and 1/2 will be left behind as it says in the reading, it makes sense in context that those who are ready – those who are walking in the Way of the Lord – will be the ones taken up. If Satan is going to reign, I don’t want to be here. Do you?

To Contemplate
How do your personal thoughts of sin affect you and those around you?
Why might the Lord judge you as “not ready”?
When do you examine your conscience?
Where do you imagine the Lord will first make His return known?
What will you do to stay awake and ready yourself?
Who brings out the best in you?

Prayer of Devotion
Lord of Heaven and Earth, King of Kings,
each person formed in God’s image has the potential to be as beautiful as You;
thank you for showing us how by your example.
As I move forward from this moment, help me to put forth the effort to be more mindful of my thoughts and actions, more willing to make amends and more able to recognize how best to proceed in the Way, yielding to God’s will.
“Lord make me an instrument of Your Peace.”
Let it be, O Gracious Lord.

If you have enjoyed this, my PEOPLE GET READY post, (which alludes to the image of the Second Coming of Jesus the Christ as a thief in the night for whom we should be awake and awaiting) or if you like poetry, the following link may be of interest…
On One Thief I Wait (on Poemhunter.com)

A Word About the Word: Advent

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

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A deeper understanding of anything can begin with a thorough definition.  The word advent has its origins in the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”. Dictionaries generally agree upon the modern definition as “the coming, approach or arrival into place, view or being – especially of an extremely important event, change, person, or state”.  Any etymology dictionary will take that a step further to let you know that adventus is the past participle stem of the Latin advenire “arrive, come to,” from ad- “to” + venire “to come”.

I think it is valuable to consider the fullness of this definition. What is the significance of the words “coming, approach or arrival,” of “place, view or being,” of “event, change, person, or state”?  Given its roots, shouldn’t we consider the word advent to at least equally be defined as the “coming to”?  Why is that addition meaningful?  Just the definition of advent gives us ample guidance for devotion to a deeper relationship with the God of our understanding, but especially Jesus the Christ of the Judeo-Christian heritage, as we enter upon and traverse the Advent Season of the Liturgical Calendar.

How often have you struggled with feeling alone, disconnected, apart from?  If not from people, what about in your relationship with a Higher Power, something or someone more powerful and wise than you or humanity as a whole?  Many times, even when we are committed to a faithful existence and exercise our spiritual muscles in religious practices, prayers, or acts of piety, we “know” God loves us, but still feel a sense of distance.  The Christian Bible proclaims , “whenever two or more of you are gathered in My name, I am there.”  Perhaps you lament, “So, what about the rest of the time?”

Our Creator sent Jesus the Christ to us. When Our Lord left this world to dwell at Our Holy Parent’s right hand, He sent the Holy Spirit, the fullness of their love, to be with us. Our Salvation comes to us. Our Comforter comes to us. We don’t have to go looking or begging. Already, because “our bodies are a temple for the Lord”, we are never alone. We take God into all that we do. We make God a part of every choice, even if we do so unconsciously. We can neither hide from God nor is God hidden from us. This implies both a privilege and a responsibility.

The definition doesn’t end there. Advent means also “arrival (to arrive)” from the Latin ad ripam “to the shore,” from ad “to” + ripa “shore”, referring originally to touching ashore after a long voyage. Indeed, we would want to welcome such a weary traveler with pleasantries and all they need. As advent means “approach”, it means “the coming nearer to” from the Latin appropiare “go nearer to,” from the Latin ad- “to” + propiare “come nearer” (the comparative of prope “near”). All these definitions imply concerted and thoughtful effort on the part of the person coming. We can be grateful we are on the receiving end.

While the Spirit dwell within us, Christ the Lord will return to this world to “judge the living and the dead.” An approach is a process and something we can “see” developing. We can prepare. The word arrival defined as “the coming to a position or state of mind” reminds us that as Christ Jesus comes to contemplate and render judgment upon our lives, we might do well to begin such preparation in our minds. Jesus Or Lord will be a new vision, a triumphant king, ready to rule the new kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

If this is to be our Advent, we must watch with new eyes, be open to transformation, and ready to leave the false comforts of our homes. We must recognize and celebrate that, as “approach” figuratively suggests “a means of handling a problem, etc.,” Jesus the Christ is Our Means, Our Answer.  We must welcome the One who will melt our icy hearts and minds to flow with Him, the Living Water.  Our great sin is in forgetting or rejecting that we are bound eternally to God, not being ever mindful and conscious of our connection.  Christ Jesus has shown us The Way to reconnect, to see again the Truth of our relationship with Our Creator.

The Way is to love as Jesus loved. For in whatever manner we are unloving of others, we are unloving of Jesus the Christ, of Our Creator, Our Lord God, and ultimately of ourselves – we who are “made in the image of God.”  How can we be complete and content if we are at war with ourselves?  It is time for us to “come to,” to wake up to the reality that the only aloneness we must face is that which we create for ourselves by not being ready to greet God face-to-face.

For Contemplation to “Come To” (recover consciousness)
About what have I been in denial?
How have I tried to hide from God?
Why do I resist being in full union with God?
In whose face do I struggle to see Christ?
Where in darkness have I unwittingly taken the Holy Spirit with me?
When will I be ready for Christ’s return?

For Devotion
This simple prayer I offer Lord…
It matters not how small I am; You are My All and I am Yours.
Let my mind and heart be ever open to Your presence
and my hands never closed to Your bidding.
Ever more, let me ask “What is the next right thing?”
Ever more let me hear and see Your answer in the echoes,
the same message from two unique sources,
that I might live the simplicity of Your Love that indwells me
until You, Christ the Lord, come in glory to rule forever more.
Lord, My God, let it be.

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Let Go And Be Free – lyrics

Lords Prayer in Aramaic(Syriac)

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No one knows how grateful I am or how much I want to be

humble and obedient enough to let go and be free.

Crying tears of joy each day, though sorrow you may still see,

I bow before the Lord, My God, in awe on bended knee.

In prayer or ritual, I want to be sincere – not shouting, “Look at me,”

but seeking true serenity in simple community.

No one knows how grateful I am or how much I want to be

humble and obedient enough to let go and be free.

We are unique but raise our voices to sing harmoniously

praises and prayers unified yet distinct in their plea –

How Lord can I be more like you and feel your presence more in me?

How Lord do I find my way and whom I am to be?

No one knows how grateful I am or how much I want to be

humble and obedient enough to let go and be free.

The right path may not be the trail that climbs the highest peek

but it is the one on which you will most readily receive

the love and grace of the Lord who so frequently reaches out to meet

each of us where we are if we’ll trust a Power we cannot see.

No one knows how grateful I am or how much I want to be

humble and obedient enough to let go and be free.

When my life is shrouded in darkness and I

hold on, hoping one day to be free

I need only loosen my grip and discover how

tightly, Lord, You hold fast to me.