Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador asked, “A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed–what gospel is that?”
Wednesday Second Week of Lent
Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever… 2 Samuel 7:16
“Community is not loneliness grabbing onto loneliness…. No, community is solitude greeting solitude: ‘I am the beloved; you are the beloved. Together we can build a home.'”
Nouwen refers to community not as a family but as a home, “We can build a home together and create space for God and for the children of God.” Our communities need to offer space for others to rest, a place where they experience the welcome of God’s love. We make room for others through the inner journey, remembering during lent that God has made room for us through Jesus Christ; we in turn seek be joined with God in making room in Christ for others.
“Dear Jesus, Take me into your home.”
Cyril lived in the fourth century. His gift to the church was his refusal to separate good doctrine from good living, insisting that orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxis (right living) must be married. He was accused of selling some gifts from the emperor and giving the money to the poor. Cyril was condemned and forced into exile. He died in 386 at the age of seventy. Of his thirty-five years as bishop, nearly sixteen were spent in exile.
Cyril of Jerusalem said, “The way to godliness consists of these two parts, pious doctrines and good works. Neither are the doctrines acceptable to God without good works, nor does God accept works accomplished otherwise than as linked with pious doctrines.”
A book by Anthony de Mello, Wellsprings (Doubleday: New York. 1986) begins with a spiritual exercise called “Conclusions” (14-15).
4. These beliefs I have outgrown:
5. These convictions I have lived by:
6. These are the things I have lived for:
7. These insights I have gained in the school of life:
these dangers I have courted:9. These sufferings have seasoned me:
10. These lessons life has taught me:
11. These influences have shaped my life (persons, occupations, books, events):
12. These scripture texts have lit my path:
13. These things I regret about my life;
14. These things are my life’s achievements:
15. These persons are enshrined within my heart:
16. These are my unfulfilled desires:
a poem–my own or someone else’s;
or a prayer;
or a picture from a magazine;
a scripture text;
or anything that I judge would be
an apt conclusion to my testament.
Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, wrote, “Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one’s life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery?”
Lord, we are slow to come to our senses. Often, our feeble offerings are merely extensions of our sin. Quicken your Spirit within us and move us to offer up that which is pleasing to you: justice, kindness, and humility of heart. Amen.
“Gratia non tollit naturam” said Thomas Aquinas: Grace does not abolish nature.
Salvation does not change human nature but allows us to accept our own failings and treat the failings of others with grace. We are not proud because we believe that we do not know and cannot see how we ourselves are driven by human nature toward serving our own good at the expense of others; we are instead humble, looking for opportunities to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others as repentance for the harm we have done, knowingly and unknowingly.
Grace liberates us to accept ourselves and others and thus to live courageous, honest, open lives–with no reason to pretend, in no position to judge.