Fr. Jim Clarke from Los Angeles took us on a new evangelization cosmological journey for 2 days recently at Galilee and finished with the above statement. Darn, I had it all wrong, I thought.
During a philosophy course I recently took, in one of the online discussions one of the students said something like…the highest thing I can do in life is to act in a way true to myself and not be distracted by others.
On the surface this seems a very honest and appropriate way to live. But where is God in this? We men and women in our thoroughly modern world, sometimes see ourselves as a god and hence, no longer in need of God. I certainly have been guilty of this during periods of my life.
For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory. Romans 11:36
Even Jesus had to grow in his ministry to learn that it was not about him, but about God’s will. In the parable of the Canaanite woman with the tormented daughter, Jesus says to her – I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (i.e., go away). She persists and after saying that even dogs eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table, he decides to heal her daughter because he realizes God wants him to minister to all peoples, not just the Jews (MT 15:21-28).
We are meant to suffer Fr. Jim went on to explain. Jesus does not alleviate our pain, he gives it meaning. Salvation is pain, suffering, sorrow and failure confronted and transformed. Do I allow my suffering to transform me from suffering to renewal? He quoted author David Richo:
- Accept what happens in life and learn from it.
- Things are not always fair.
- Pain is a part of life.
- People are not loving and loyal all of the time.
- Receive your life as it is.
- Experience your life (not someone else’s)
- Share your life with others.
- We are to die to our own devices.
He quoted the Koran – we have to die during life so we will know how to die at the end of life. He said we should banish negative thoughts and read more poetry. He read a number of Mary Oliver, the creation mystic’s poems from Blackwater Woods. He recommended Judy Cannaro’s book Field of Compassion for explaining recent scientific developments to a lay person of faith. The new cosmology:
- Our identity does not depend on the groups we belong to.
- We can hold multiple points of view.
- Accept the reality of persons the way they are.
- No longer occupy yourself with particular pursuits. ( a hard one)
- Non-demanding relationships.
- Your presence invites others to transformation.
- Engaging the world but unattached to outcomes. (a hard one)
- Watch how the positive turns negative, then positive, then negative.
- Living in the moment.
- Deep compassion for all creation.
Stop looking at ourselves and stand and experience who God is.
Thanks Fr. Jim Clarke.