Living Gospel Equality Now: Loving in the Heart of God: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Love God in What Is Right in Front of You by Richard Rohr, Jan. 17, 2016
"The God Jesus incarnates and embodies is not a distant God that must
be placated. Jesus' God is not sitting on some throne demanding worship and
throwing down thunderbolts like Zeus. Jesus never said, "Worship me"; he said,
"Follow me." He asks us to imitate him in his own journey of full incarnation.
To do so, he gives us the two great commandments: 1) Love God with your whole
heart, soul, mind, and strength and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark
12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28). In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us
that our "neighbor" even includes our "enemy" (Luke 10:29-37).
So how do we love God? Most of us seem to have concluded we love God
by attending church services. For some reason, we thought that made God happy.
I'm not sure why. That idea probably has more to do with clergy job security!
Jesus never talked about attending services, although church can be a good
container to start with, and we do tend to become like the folks we hang out
with. The prophets often portray God's disdain for self-serving church services.
"The sanctuary, the sanctuary, the sanctuary" is all we care about, Jeremiah
shouts (7:4). "I hold my nose at your incense. What I want you to do is love the
widow and the orphan," say both Isaiah and Amos (Isaiah 1:11-17, Amos 5:21-24),
as do Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Micah, and Zechariah in different ways. The
prophetic message is absolutely clear, yet we went right back to loving church
services instead of Reality. I believe our inability to recognize and love
God in what is right in front of us has made us separate religion from our
actual lives. There is Sunday morning, and then there is real
The only way I know how to teach anyone to love God, and how I myself
can love God, is to love what God loves, which is everything and everyone,
including you and including me! "We love because God first loved us" (1
John 4:19). "If we love one another, God remains in us, and [God's] love is
brought to perfection in us" (1 John 4:12). Then we love with an infinite love
that can always flow through us. We then are able to love things in their
"thisness" as John Duns Scotus says--for themselves and in themselves--and not
for what they do for us. That takes both work and surrender, and the primary
work is detachment from our selves--from our conditioning, our preferences, our
prejudices, our knee-jerk neurological reactions. Only the contemplative and
trustful mind can do that.
As our freedom from our ego expands--as we get
ourselves out of the way--there is a slow but real expansion of consciousness so
that we are not the central reference point anymore. We are able to love in
greater and greater circles until we can finally do what Jesus did: love and
forgive even our enemies. Most of us were given the impression that we had to be
totally selfless, and when we couldn't achieve that, many of us gave up
altogether. One of Duns Scotus' most helpful teachings is that we should seek "a
harmony of goodness," which means harmonizing and balancing necessary self-care
with the constant expansion beyond ourselves to loving others in themselves and
for themselves. Imagining and working toward this harmony keeps us from giving
up on impossible and heroic ideals. Now the possibility of love is always right
in front of us and always concrete; it is no longer a theory, a heroic ideal, or
a mere distant goal."
Gateway to Silence
God in me sees God who is also beyond
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which
I Am Seeking (Center for Action and
Contemplation: 2012), disc 2 (CD, MP3