Friday, May 11, 2012

For the Love of God!

The purity of faith is simplicity itself

There are three great words that come from the Three Great Monotheistic Religions




Moses brought the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to Freedom in the Promised Land. Through the wilderness experience they also learned Obedience to the Law of God as Moses understood it and Codified it both in Levitical and Deuteronomic Traditions.

Thus the Children Israel found Justice. But one cannot ignore what happened as they took possession of the land and how many people had to die to make that possible. Current history raises questions of Justice for Palestinian folks as well as Israel takes possession of occupied land in the West Bank and elsewhere. How many towns were destroyed, how many millions driven into refugee camps, how many men disappeared into the night? The sad chronicle of this grave injustice is told well by Nobel Prize nominee Elias Chacour in two fine books; "Blood Brothers" and "We Belong to the Land".

Where is the Justice?

Christians are told that God is Love. Yet the chronicle of Christian experience records much that is not loving at all. A solid work by Diarmaid MacColloch "Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years" will be a sober reminder that the most loving religion on the face of the planet has also been the most violent and hateful. The above picture is a more recent reminder of The American Experience. Add to that Racism and Slavery, Gender Inequalities and more recently and currently marginalization and exclusion of Gay folks and the LGBTQ community from the embrace of Christ.

Where is the Love?

Every Chapter of the Koran begins with the words "God the All Merciful". For the devout Muslim, this mercy is a guide into a direct experience of the nature of God. Yet there are those who see violence as a valid option against the infidel There are too many who see this as an act of submission to the Will of God. There are many examples of this in history but the most unforgettable one for Americans would be 9/11.

Where is the Mercy?

Clearly these three Great Words; Justice, Love and Mercy have the capacity to bring us all together under the reign of God and it begs the following question.

Suppose God, assuming for the moment that there is one, were to look at the world as created by God. Do you suppose that God might consider sending special people to us to bring a message of Peace?

To one people God might send Moses to bring Justice.
To another the same God might send Jesus to bring Love.
To another this very same God might send Mohammed, may Peace be upon him, to bring Mercy.
Ancients might be guided by Confucius to Wisdom.
Others might hear of a pathway to Enlightenment through the teachings of the Buddha.
And still more may search a multitude of pathways to ritual and belief to understand human experience, and Yoga practice to search the human heart. Hinduism is an ancient pathway to God and many Gods.
Can the same God not use all of these magnificent Faith Traditions to guide and redeem human culture and human experience?

One wonders if these and other urgings may have been a response deep within the human heart that led us all in one way or another into the depths of the heart of God.

One cannot help but wonder, that if there were a God, all human culture would be the object of God's redeeming work, and that any number of Holy People might be sent to help us communicate this very holiness.

Why then do we take these very Holy Words and use them as excuses to marginalize, exclude, hate or even spill the blood of so many?

To use the Name of God as an excuse to kill anyone is profoundly as odds with the will of God in ALL Faith Traditions.

It is no wonder so many want to be done with God and religion altogether. Unfortunately God and religion are not going away. And when we see religion take on such horrible, grotesque and violent expressions, I cannot help but think of the opposite of God. And it behooves us whether we want to or not, to face up to our responsibilities and create a faith in the Image of God as God required in the first place according to our Biblical Tradition.

The Teacher I know and love was understood by the first among us to be the Love of God made Flesh and Blood. I shudder to think what will happen to us each in our turn as we get to report what we have done with the precious teachings we have received.

To sum it up as clearly and as simply as possible, Jesus said it well.

Love one another.

What is not clear about that?

Fr. Paul


Billy said...

...and he said pray for your enemy, not slay him. The mercy we are promised is what we are expected to extend to others. The only way to prove your love and fidelity to God is to love your neighbor, forgive wrongs and show mercy whenever you have the opportunity. Thanks for a great read!

Fr. Paul said...

Billy, I am grateful for your kindness and intelligence

Billy said...

I'm glad one of my facebook friends led me here. I think I have you bookmarked. I'm an RCIA catechist, and I'm always looking for sources of true enlightenment to help inspire the kids I teach. When I was a young father, it occurred to me that God, the Father, is like any other dad, and since he is the Father of all who profess to be of the lineage of Abraham, wouldn't he want what any dad wants - for all his kids to get along?

Daniel Weir said...

Thank you my friend. One of my friends saw your picture on my FB page and asked if you were sweet. The sweetness of truth and love.

amesababble said...

I so agree with your point about God using peoples of all cultures to embody his spirit. I am a Catholic convert since 1993. I have a problem with the Catholic beliefs, of which I am expected to accept in regards to Gay marriage and Feminism, (and more). At present I am adrift! My daughter has invited me to her Quaker meeting, which I will accept. I enjoyed your blog- nicely expressed!

Fr. Paul said...

Thanks again Billy, I'm a dad three times over. Here's what I know about God...if I want to be a good dad, and if I am willing to love my children through all their trials an triumphs and love them no matter what, then it follows as days follows the night that God's love far eclipses my own. How wonderful a thought is that!

Fr. Paul said...

I'm glad your friend thinks I'm sweet. I'll have to tell Cindy. Sometimes she wonders how sweet I am. Thanks Danny, I miss you. I'm having a good time in Pennsylvania, but miss you guys on the North Shore.

Fr. Paul said...

Hi "amesababble". I struggle with Catholicism because it doesn't seem to be as catholic as I would like...i.e. "universal" in its love for all humankind. Somehow they found an exception for the LGBTQ community, and holds the feminine as something of a second class member. If I weren't' an Episcopal Priest, I might be a Quaker for spirituality and a Moravian for the sacrament. Peace to you and may God bless your journey toward Peace.

The Humble Ohgrr said...

Thank you for your post. My assistant pastor summed it up so well when he said it all comes down to Love Jesus and Love people. I have always held that people are drawn to religions and they are equally enriched by them. However, when you said that God might be guiding people towards various faiths based on their needs really hit a chord with me. That is a great piece of wisdom and I think I might borrow it for my blog. Thank you, my friend and bless you.

Fr. Paul said...

Borrow away...we need to spread the Good News, God's love is far more generous than any one of us can possibly fathom.

amesababble said...

It seems the feminine is only valuable if she is ultra-pure (Mary).....I read on the Vatican website the official teachings about "woman"--that is exactly how they described us "woman" !! reminded me of a ultra macho husband- "woman! get me my coffee!"It was funny.-in a dark way!

Fr. Paul said...

If I may venture into a dangerous land, let me point out that when Mary's Song was sung she was in no "conceivable" way "pure". This in spite of official Vatican Doctrine.
She was an unwed mother, if I may point out the obvious. This is purity?
Her spiritual purity come from her willingness to give that child up for the purposes of God.
She did that with utter purity, just as she did in her song and in his life.
Jesus then became God's issue in the purest way possible, by living and dying and rising again for the poor the outcast and the marginalized. That's purity, and that is what Mary bore him for in the hardest labor of!
Joseph embraced that purity, even though he considered having her sent away quietly according to the Matthean account of the matter.
Paul put women on the same plane as men in Galatians 3:28...we are all one in Christ.
My wife and I are colleagues in faith, we are traveling side by side in this life, that sound's like God's way to me.

Fr. Paul said...

And yet another post post script. I do think of Mary's Virginity as a spiritual one. In that sense I accept her and indeed embrace her spiritually as a feminine archetype of that dimension of God. God knows each of us, male and female have both gender traits within us. Homophobia is therefore a fear of coming to terms with that dimension within ourselves that is attracted erotically to those of the same the bumper sticker say; "It Happens". But Mary's spiritual Virginity is precisely in her love and nurture for the poor etc. This is where Jesus and Jesus' followers learn how to become children of God both in a masculine and in a feminine dimension. How lovely and pure Mary is, and how dearly I embrace her as I think of her in this way.
Fr. Paul

The Blog Fodder said...

Am reading back on your blog. This is a wonderful post and I need to come back to it several times, I think, to get all its message. thank you.

"Fr. Paul" Bresnahan said...

To give credit where credit is due, much of the thinking behind this post comes from an outstanding Anglican Scholar I knew at York University in Toronto many years ago.
I am often embarrassed by what passes for Christianity and when I am asked if I am a Christian, I feel like Talulah Bankhead that rather famous and flamboyant Actress of yesteryear, who said "Heavens no darling, I'm not a Christian, I'm an Episcopalian!"
We're a dying breed anyway. Still I've had a good run of it.
Thanks again for the feedback.