Image

The only future for us is to have a contemplative mind like Jesus had and to become a lover like he was and is.  I am more and more convinced of this.  Let’s look again tonight at this ability to see things in a new way.[i] 

Crying and Laughing at the Same Time

I will never forget an experience I had as a college student doing a student teaching stint.  A wonderful woman who headed the religious ed program at her church picked a group of us up at the seminary.  I was sitting in the front seat with her.  My classmates in the backseat could not see her face.  They were laughing and cutting up about something and she was laughing along with them.  There were also tears rolling down her face.  I did not know at the time that she had suffered a loss in her family.  But she was entering into the joy of those in the backseat.  This had a profound influence on me.  I have since seen this quality in many parents who seem to have a space inside themselves for every one of their children who may each be in a different place.  Paul encourages us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15); maybe as we think of the examples of parents like that, we realize it is possible to do this simultaneously.

Take It All In…Lovingly

Teachers of meditation speak of how we learn to look “at the whole field of vision.”  That is because the part of our mind that we need when we (you’ve heard me say it before) buy bananas is only one part of our mind.  We need to be able to say, “This is a good banana; this is a bad banana.” so that we can purchase food wisely for ourselves and our families.    It is a very different part of ourselves that is the realm of contemplation and prayer and loving other persons.  Here we see everything with all the labels we are otherwise tempted to use and we accept it all lovingly.  Sorrow?  I experience and allow it to be.  Joy?  I experience and allow it to be.  This is not the time, not while loving, to decide which is better joy or sorrow?  This is not the time for ranking.  This is the time for accepting the whole field exactly as it is. 

Why is this so important and so freeing?  Because when I look at myself I see that sometimes I am really judgmental; sometimes I am really forgiving.  This is how I am.  If I can look at the whole field and love it all and not choose between  what I name as “judgmental” or “forgiving,” then I am entering into the heart of God who gives life to all things and who lets her “sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) 

Of course what flows from this is that if I can love the one in the mirror, I can love the ones around me who are similarly “all across the board” all at the same time.

What Does This Have To Do With The Resurrection?

This is the resurrection, which the gospel points us to tonight.  The Orthodox church has never lost this important Christian understanding: God became human that we might become God-like to the point of living God’s own life as our own.  This is what the early Christians celebrated in their midnight baptismal revelry.  This is what Paul means by our becoming a new creation.    Jesus says, “God is the God of the living!” We experience the resurrection now if we awake to it.

We don’t become like God because we become perfect; we become like God because we can accept the imperfect with the perfect.  This is what loving is.  And we know that loving is what brings out the best in ourselves and others.  So, yes, we then become “perfected” because we become more loving by forgiving reality for being so the way it is.  Of course the more we actually become more loving, the more we see reality changing around us.  Love, then change; not change, then love. 

And this is such a freeing life that we are called to.  My partner, Art, told me about some research where they have shown dynamic urban scenes and nature-evident rural scenes to persons who have been in disturbing situations.  Guess which they found more restorative?  The scenes of forests and fields.  Why?  Because there was nothing to fix, just lots to fix the senses upon and take in.  This is the contemplative gaze.  It restores us to wholeness.

Sts. Clare & Francis
Saturday, November 9, 2013
The 32nd Sunday of the Year
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
2 Thessalonians 2:16 – 3:5
Luke 20:27-38
Homily by Frank Krebs

Photo by moominmolly on flickr.com


[i] I cannot read tonight’s gospel and not see the amazing soul of Jesus seeing things quite differently than those who were trying to trap him.  I believe he is saying very deep things about the resurrection that may not be apparent.  That is why I developed this homily the way I have.

 

Advertisements