Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't You Want Somebody to Love?

“For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discovering my true self.” – Thomas Merton

A reflection on the
readings for Daily Mass 2016-2-23
This quote from Thomas Merton continues to present itself to me during this time in the desert.  Society does not want us to find out who we are.  Rather, society expects us to become a clone, to fit the mold.  We seem to teach the opposite don't we?  Our children are informed that they must accept every person for who they are, and to avoid bullying.  Those are both noble gestures and at the same time something that can be misinterpreted.  It seems to have been taken to an exceptional level through which we truly mean 'don't judge my behavior.'  Everything seems to be game as long as it doesn't hurt someone else directly.  We seem to want to avoid that discussion though in which we begin to define what might happen indirectly, and what might happen to the person who is doing the 'doing.'

Our people have lost the concept of who they truly are.   The evil forces in the world wish us to believe that we are worthless.   That only when we conform to the same agenda as the people currently in charge will we be right, while at the same time proclaiming 'You are right, and I am right.'  We seem to have lost that notion of objective truth.   Truth exists outside of us.  It is not something that we determine, it just is.   That's a hard pill to swallow in an extremely secular society that rejects the notion of anything outside of self.  The thing is, if we examine it with reason and logic we find that there is a truth, there are things which we would never say were right no matter who was doing them.  Rape, abortion, incest, murder, theft, adultery.   All societies at all times have seen that these things are bad, to the point that in the teaching of the Apostles (the Didache) things like abortion are mentioned specifically.

The problem is authenticity.  Where is your heart?  Jesus reminded us that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)  For the Jewish audience the heart was the central core of the man ,what made him who he is.  What you desire, what you work for, where you spend your time and your money... that is your desire. That is your God... your idol.. the thing which you worship.   We can fall into that error easily.  We can place everything before God... our work, our hobbies, our religion, even our families.  It's only when we discover who we truly are, when we discover the human that we are created to be, can we ever hope to put things aright.  How do we know though what God created us to be?  Adam and Eve were created perfectly but then came The Fall.   Since then we've suffered from concupiscence, from our own lusts and desires, from a tendency to do that which feels good and seems good regardless of the consequences.  How then can we learn who we are?  Can we learn the truth?

First and foremost, by spending time with God.   God has revealed himself to us in the fullness of one person, in Jesus Christ.  Faith is not just a blind obedience.  It is a relationship.  It's a method of learning not only who Jesus Christ is, but rather also learning who we are.  Each of us in created in his image.  Yet, just like every marriage.. what works for one relationship, doesn't always look the same in the other, but they definitely can both be loving.  God doesn't want you to give up your uniqueness.  He doesn't want you to become a robot, a person who only does what everyone else does, but rather someone who expresses their unique individuality in the fullness of who they are.  You are created for good.   Genuflecting at mass, is a good.   Why though? That's what we need to learn.  So that when you understand your faith, when you understand the actions, words, and deeds that are asked of you.. you can choose them from your own intellect, choose them on your own, and perform them as an authentic you.

That's what the problem was with the Pharisees.   Jesus does not condemn their teaching.  He even reaffirms that they sit on the throne of Moses.  He doesn't say 'find a new church, or make your own... if your teacher is a hypocrite?  Find a new one, or become your own Pope.'  No, Jesus tells us do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.  Jesus says choose good!  Be authentic!  Don't just go through the motions.  Learn the motions... ask why.... then choose which is good and reject that which is evil.  It does not mean that for one person being called to chastity is good, but for another it is not.. being called to chastity is always a good!  It means though that how you express that, how you live that.. looks different based on who you are, your vocation, and your personality.

You are made in the image of God!  You are off infinite worth! St. Therese recorded these thoughts just to remind the rest of us how much God loved us.  One of her favorite things was the snow.   She wanted it to snow on the day of her vows, she desired it with all of her heart.   She says:

That January day, the weather was so mild, snow seemed unlikely. However, upon returning to the cloister, the first thing that struck my eye was the statue of ‘the little Jesus’ smiling at me from the midst of flowers and lights. Immediately afterwards my glance was drawn to the snow: the monastery garden was white like me! What thoughtfulness on the part of Jesus! Anticipating the desires of his fiancée, He gave her snow. Snow! What mortal bridegroom, no matter how powerful he may be, could make snow fall from heaven to charm his beloved?”

Do you realize that?  That's your worth!  God loves you how you are, but too much to leave you there.  He loves you enough to do anything for you, to bring you to his love.. to bring you to the good.  The Pharisees were doing a lot of good things... but their hearts weren't in it.. they weren't in love with God... they were in love with just the Law.  The law isn't a bad thing.. the bible isn't a bad thing... but there is so much more... there is a person, Jesus Christ.  Are you in love with him? Or just the thought of him?  As we journey through Lent that is what we should be aiming for.. to fall in love for the first time.. or fall in love all over again.. with that person who created the entire universe just for us... just for you.. just for me.... If only one of us believed, if only one of us would have been saved... he would have gone to the cross for just that one lost sheep.... Let the shepherd come get you, and then rest on his shoulders as he carries you into an authentic relationship.. a true love... eternal in the heavens. God is calling us to set things right and then to trust in him as he washes us white as snow.

That is how much he loves you.. the question is... how much do you love him?

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."