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CatherineM

Baby Steps

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CatherineM    6,165
CatherineM

I've been meditating on something Bishop McElroy talked about in a commencement address a few weeks ago. He started with this quote from Pope Francis that we need to, "attend to the concrete reality of human life and human suffering,"

He went on to say first we must love. Next we must heal their brokenness. Only after those are accomplished can we teach and attempt a conversion of heart. 

Thoughts?

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Era Might    1,537
Era Might

I love the story of the Transfiguration. Jesus gives the Apostles a glimpse of himself, only a glimpse, and Peter wants to build him a tent and keep him there. And just as suddenly, Jesus appears again, normal, and they have to go back down the mountain, back to their journey that never goes anywhere. Only Jesus knows where they are going, to Jerusalem, but the Apostles are just going from town to town, waiting for the next story, the next word, the next character to appear, whether it's Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus, Nicodemus or some random prostitute or tax collector who joins them. I think that's what discipleship is. We can't teach anyone anything, only give them a glimpse of Jesus by how we choose to live. There is no "goal" in discipleship, only witness. Even love is not an end in itself, because love can't accomplish anything, all it can do is give a glimpse of Jesus, to the lover as much as to the loved. What could the Good Samaritan teach to the Jew he helped on the side of the road? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We have nothing to give or teach anyone. They are they, I am I. All there is is Christ, and we only know him in glimpses, and once he is born between us, there is no us, only him. Jesus says, judge not. In other words, you know nothing, you are nothing. Even what you think you are, you are not. You can only stop judging once you stop caring, once you stop thinking there is anything for you to do or learn or teach. There isn't, everything is Christ, and he is not revealed in words or teaching or power, only in the cloud of Tabor, the cloud of unknowing. We go around wanting to save everyone because we think we are Christ. All are saved already because all is Christ, except he is being revealed in the glimpses we get in every person. If you want to find Christ, stop looking for him. He already is everything that is.

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CatherineM    6,165
CatherineM

Here are my thoughts. First we must love. That means everyone. People we are afraid of, despise, can't understand, and even disagree with. 

We must heal their brokenness. Healthy people do not need to hurt others, including themselves. Only hurting people do. So long as the brokenness remains, they will be unable to hear our words. 

Only when they have been returned to health, mental, emotional, physical, etc., can they be taught the truth. 

Christ healed first. He never turned someone away and told them to come back after they had quit sinning. He healed them, and then said "go and sin no more."  

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Era Might    1,537
Era Might
12 hours ago, CatherineM said:

Here are my thoughts. First we must love. That means everyone. People we are afraid of, despise, can't understand, and even disagree with. 

We must heal their brokenness. Healthy people do not need to hurt others, including themselves. Only hurting people do. So long as the brokenness remains, they will be unable to hear our words. 

Only when they have been returned to health, mental, emotional, physical, etc., can they be taught the truth. 

Christ healed first. He never turned someone away and told them to come back after they had quit sinning. He healed them, and then said "go and sin no more."  

Christ's healing was complicated, though. Remember that he healed 10, and only one came back to give thanks. Where are the other 9, he asked? He didn't heal people willingly. His face was always set toward Jerusalem, but he had compassion because the people were so pathetic. They humanized him, in a way. They pulled at his heart until they wore him down. But he always healed with a sigh, because the healing was only temporary. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he still died. The little girl he brought back to life, was brought back to a world of sickness and sin and death. It was not the sick who were the worst in Israel, but the healthy, the ones who needed no healing...but once he healed the sick, they would be counted among the healthy.

The other thing that is complicated was that Christ had no friendships, no family, no human relationships. He did not recognize his own mother and siblings, only those who do the will of God. His relationship with the Apostles was not friendship, not of the human sort anyway. They were master and disciples, and only at the end did he call them his friends. I don't think it's any surprise that the great saints and sages were people of the same sort, people who renounced the world and lived in a realm of pure symbol. It's easy to love anyone and everyone when you make no distinctions between life or death, when you have nothing to lose or gain.

Probably the closes thing we have to thistoday  is doctors, which fits in well with the modern worldview of mental health. Doctors are able to take care of people because they stand apart from them, they are just there to heal, not to be their friend, not to have any real emotion or any real human relationship...our healing relationships have been professionalized, unfortunately. In the real world, people hate and love and kill and get revenge and use people and like being used sometimes...and if you go into that world on its own terms (as most people do and must), there's no way you can love the way you're talking about, not despising anyone, welcoming everyone.

I'm not saying it's not possible. I think of Dorothy Day...her model of love was probably the most human and earthly application of Christianity there ever was. But even she had to live in a realm of symbol. She never remarried. Love is a lonely business for great lovers like her, like Christ, like Gandhi.

Edited by Era Might

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truthfinder    1,340
truthfinder
5 hours ago, Era Might said:

 

The other thing that is complicated was that Christ had no friendships, no family, no human relationships. He did not recognize his own mother and siblings, only those who do the will of God. His relationship with the Apostles was not friendship, not of the human sort anyway. They were master and disciples, and only at the end did he call them his friends. I don't think it's any surprise that the great saints and sages were people of the same sort, people who renounced the world and lived in a realm of pure symbol. It's easy to love anyone and everyone when you make no distinctions between life or death, when you have nothing to lose or gain.

This gave me pause. John was Christ's beloved disciple (indicating a sort of favourite), he cried over the death of Lazarus, and made sure His mother was taken care of even as He was dying. While Christ may not have been tempted to let friendship make excuses for sin, He certainly had friendship, and most definitely recognized His mother.

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Era Might    1,537
Era Might
47 minutes ago, truthfinder said:

This gave me pause. John was Christ's beloved disciple (indicating a sort of favourite), he cried over the death of Lazarus, and made sure His mother was taken care of even as He was dying. While Christ may not have been tempted to let friendship make excuses for sin, He certainly had friendship, and most definitely recognized His mother.

RE: the Apostles, their relationship with Christ was something completely unique, I think, impossible to understand as friendship in any human way. They were slaves, and only when he left them did he call them friends, not because they were faithful...they were all about to betray him...but because he had shown them and taught them everything, and now it was their turn to imitate him, to wash each other's feet. This is why it's dangerous to casually love people, it puts you in a position of authority over them. Even the good we do is often so we can civilize other people, make them more respectable. This is why Jesus could not be friends with any man, because to be friends is to be equal, but Jesus renounced equality with God and with man. He washed his disciples' feet, not the other way around. They did anoint him, but that too was a sign of inequality.

But, to say Christ had no friends is not to say he didn't love particular people. I think he loved Peter more than all, precisely because Peter was a bumbling idiot who couldn't ever lay at Jesus' side. Peter had to prostrate and say, depart from me, for I am a sinful man. This was true friendship for Jesus, not equality but absolute inequality through humility. He loved Zacchaeus for the same reason, a little man with a big heart...that's the definition of grotesque, to be absurdly out of proportion.

He loved his mother because she was a disciple, not because she was his mother. She was one among many women he loved, including Martha and Mary...but he preferred Mary for choosing the simpler part.

To try and take this back to the OP, what does it mean to "attend to the concrete reality of human life and human suffering"? I think it means to remain silent more often than to speak, not to claim to understand or have answers, not even to heal, because the blind man may hear better than you. Jesus wept for Lazarus because there was nothing he could do "for" him. Jesus could only show him the way to the father...in bringing Lazarus back, he was having compassion on the peoples' sadness, but where Lazarus didn't go, Jesus had to. He wasn't here to be a friend and pat everyone on the back, but to show them the way to the Father. He wasn't a miracle-worker, he healed and did miracles because the people were so blind, he had to speak to them in the worst way possible, through the senses.

Edited by Era Might

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Era Might    1,537
Era Might

I was thinking about this thread at Mass this morning. The passage that stuck in my ears from the readings was from the epistle: "He has condemned all to disobedience so that he might have mercy upon all." During Communion, watching everyone go up and come back, I was thinking how it doesn't matter who we are "out there." This is a moment of reconciliation, when the people we want to be and the people we actually are are healed, made whole, no longer two but one. There are so few of those moments in daily life, but Mass is one of them. "Be reconciled to your brother before you approach the altar."

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