500+ Quotes About Ethics, Compassion, Kindness, Courage, Empathy, Faith & Spirit
No he never bother about it. But as a showing our love and gratitude, once in a while we should chant his name, once in a while we should do some random act of kindness towards others and unknown, some random act of loving and helping to others,. In spite of my lots of lack, limitations,pride,prejudices,hate,anger,ego,jealousy,negativity, thanks a lot for choosing me as a your best blogging friend…….
As a religious and spiritual person, I worship a lot to GOD, and I am quiet confident that after my years of dedication,devotion and worship, one day, GOD will be certainly pleased with me and ask me to demand one wish, and. What I will ask as a my wish? After all, I am running this blog for my happiness, not for the happiness of others,. So, stay tuned, for more off-beat,bold, Out of the box type, firing type of posts on future,those who do not like my blog please do not hesitate to unsubscribe or avoid to visit it.
Where am I going? Of course in Heaven!!! Enough is enough…….. Are you interested, if yes, our vibes match.. No friends, none of above title justify her true personality, I am unable to portrait perfect picture of this gorgeous, colorful, charming, vibrant and dynamic lady, Do you know what connect both of us on more deeper level, we both are highly intellectual, sharp analytical and quiet practical person in our personal life but in spite of all these qualities we both are mad and crazy lover of GOD and we never hesitate to admit it openly.
Hold her hand tightly and firmly when she is fighting her battle alone, to pass on her exams….. Hold her hand tightly and firmly when she is fighting her battle alone,to find the job…. Hold her hand tightly and firmly when she is fighting her battle alone,to tolerate the nasty,rude,vulgar,cheap and bitter comments someone passing on her heavy weight, bulky body,ugly look, uneven body shape,big melon size boobs, big buttocks,flat playground like chest, pimples on face, black and dark spots on face…..
Hold her hand tightly and firmly when she is fighting her battle alone, to face the bullying by unknown person…. Instead of hug her before leaving home and while coming back to your wife…. Be there when she is fighting her battle alone to deal with your family members or in-laws rigid and conservative mind-set…. Hold her hand tightly and firmly when she is managing your household effectively and efficiently when your low income is even not half of the monthly requirement….. Hold her hand tightly and firmly when raising one kid seems daunting task, she is raising your more than one kid as a most efficient teacher cum mother without any complain or drama.
Instead of being part of every celebration of success of your close friend, instead of sending every day few vulgar, cheap and pornography video clips of Sunny leon or women with big and beautiful boobs, various sex positions, how to fuck the women,. Put your gentle or caring hand on her shoulder, when unemployment has broke her down,.
Put your gentle or caring hand on her shoulder,when her confidence level has deteriorate up to the extent and she is seriously thinking to commit the suicide,. Put your gentle or caring hand on her shoulder when she is desperate, she is alone, she need to talk with some one and no one is there,. Be there, just sit with her, just seat silently, let her speak, let her cry, let her do what ever she think most appropriate in this situation………………. Instead of becoming crusader of humanity, delivering long and boring lecture whenever and wherever find the crowd, instead of publishing lengthy, rubbish,useless and stereotype posts on your blog about humanity,sympathy, empathy, pick up one or few followers from your own blog, be friend with them, win their heart, win their trust,be genuine with them and slowly but steadily, just start to uplift them, empower them, enhance them, without doing any drama, without any publicity, without any stunt, without creating any big scenes on social media, without even caring about declaring your real name, forget about any personal glory and gratification or return favor.
Instead of trying to make everybody more noble,charitable, sympathetic,human,. Instead of proving your self feminist on every social gathering by your very sophisticated, very polished, very diplomatic style, behaviors, manners and etiquette, raise your voice as loud as possible when you see that young, helpless girl or that helpless divorcee women everyday molested by your boss to keep her job intact,.
Yes, this is what general impression we have about doctor…….. Yes, friends, it is very true, Why???????????? I enjoy your blog and do look forward to reading more of it. I will qualify that a bit when it comes to writing. I am giving you four options; Option-1; I will not approve comment. Option-2; I will approve comment but will not reply or respond it. Option-3, I will approve it but reply it in most unprofessional,rude and aggressive tone. Option-4, I will approve it and I will reply it in most professional,polite and friendly tone. Wishing you all the best…………..
Are you really interested to make your blog most reader-friendly blog?????????? Are you really interested to make your blog most lively blog??????? Are you really interested to make your blog most friendly blog?????????? Now, let me explain you in most simplified manner……….. Where ever you go you always try to see the ugliest things first from that entire matter and beautiful things later on…..
Now, this is one reason, why you as a blogger performing far below than your potentiality, this is one reason, why your blog; which is otherwise good but not performing as per it should perform…… GOT MY POINT………… Once again I am confused……. Can you please tell me……….. Very simple…….. My dear friend, it is very simple………. Are you really interested to make your blog most successful blog?
Are you really interested to make your blog most reader-friendly blog? Are you really interested to make your blog most lively blog? Are you really interested to make your blog most friendly blog? I am quiet confident, none of you will disappoint your this friend. Wishing you all the best……………….. Section 2: Unique Blog er. Uniqueness of the blog in terms of nature of blog, quality of posts, creative content, outstanding material and last but not least friendliness or friendly nature of blogger.
- Shop with confidence.
- Bleak Conclusions.
- Cliches and Expressions of origin?
- The Wonder of Us?
Eagerly awaiting to read your reply. After having one and half years experience in blogging life, after publishing 27 posts on my blog, after receiving comments on my blog, after having hundreds of likes on my various posts , after nominated for many awards after passing thousands comments on various blogs What one lesson I learned???????????????? Practice means to perform, over and over again without being frustrated or losing enthusiasm in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire.
We cannot be perfect on the very first try; In the face of frustration, in the face of failures our best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that we can do anything and everything if we practice hard. Only then was I able to recognize that there was more to be said, that there was something in the ideas to which I felt compelled to commit myself.
The book has come together bit by bit over the last 96 months. It may also be far too rambling for many a modern reader. I'm sure it is far too long for most who come across it in cyberspace at whatever site catches their eye, their gaze, their surfing mentality and style, interest inventory and personal circumstances. A great deal of stuff that appears, that is published, on the web exists, in some sense, in a perpetual draft state, open to future change.
The internet is a new world for both writers and readers. As a writer and teacher over many decades, I am fully aware of how much many find the process of analysis to be like a disease and, with a weary sigh, they often turn to other topics if the analysis goes on too long. Indeed, there are many potentially tortuous considerations which, as a writer, I simply ignore. One can not keep everyone happy all of the time with what one writes. As I often say in this book: I write for a coterie. I, too, often tire of analysis.
One can not be on top of everyone's wordy wisdoms or one would exhaust oneself and drown in verbiage. This will require a fairly radical shift in both my understanding and that of my readers in what it is I'm doing as I'm writing. If my text is going to continue to grow even as it is being published online, readers are going to need to be present in those texts in order to shepherd that growth — perhaps not forever, but certainly for longer than they have been with traditional print publishing.
This thought will make many readers and writers nervous, in part because readers and writers already have difficulties with completing a project; if writers like myself have the opportunity to continue working on something forever, well, then what? On the other hand, would that necessarily be such a bad thing? In fact, all of this helps me as a writer to think of my career as a writer in a more holistic sense, as an ongoing process of development.
I am free to take some or many key moments of writing, what some now call 'the moment of complexity', and see them not as a series of discrete closed projects. I can return again and again to the scene of the text in order to make changes as a result of changes in my thinking about something I had once committed to print.
Or I can take old material in new directions.
In the past this might have seemed somehow vaguely scandalous. But in order to take advantage of these abilities, writers and readers will first have to learn to value process over product, and to manifest that value in the assessments of literary work. This, of course, this emphasis on process over content has been part of the teaching of writing in many western countries for several decades now anyway.
As this text became increasingly available for the sort of ongoing development to which I refer above, I recognized more and more the degree to which I was no longer the sole author working on and in this book. This work became far more collaborative than any book I have written in the past. New modes of collaboration — over time, across distances — made possible by networked writing structures required me to think about originality quite differently, precisely because of the ways that these new modes intervened in my conventional associations of authorship with individuality, with this work as mine.
The bottom-line, as they say these days, is that one's work is not simply one's own, not uniquely one's own. Not only does the operation of the digital network exclude the possibility of uniqueness in its very function, the links and interconnections that the network facilitates profoundly affect the shape of any given text. In digital scholarship, the relationships between the authors whose ideas we draw upon, and the texts that we produce are highly dynamic.
The work of some of our predecessors is, in some sense, contained within whatever increasingly fuzzy boundaries draw the outlines of my use of texts. And so it is that readers may find this work somewhat fuzzy and not to their liking. It will be too long a read, as I say above, for many but, "such is life" as the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly is reported to have said on his way to the gallows in NSW in I make no attempt to survey this vast landscape.
The two books are: 1 Symbol and Secret and 2 Revisioning the Sacred. I had just retired from a 50 year student and employment life in and was beginning the reinvention of myself as a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, reader and scholar, online blogger and journalist. These Volumes seven and eight are no exception. Part 4: Christopher Buck A. The title of the book derives from its two main areas of focus. Much of Buck's work in this book is to be commended. His examination is groundbreaking—he broaches topics vital and yet often ignored. These include the "interscriptural exegesis," i.
Given the importance of the topics Buck addresses and the skill with which he examines them, it is regrettable that some readers might find Symbol and Secret impenetrable. The two main obstacles in approaching this work are the opacity of Buck's prose and the occasional disorderliness of the book's content. Buck's writing can in places read as an unsuccessful juxtaposition of poetic and academic styles.
His use of metaphors, while colorful, can be distracting. His fondness for polysyllabic alliteration, as in "vituperative vaticination" 84 or "extraordinary extemporaneity," can bog down the reader or, worse, bemuse him. As well, he often opts for technicality over clarity. Why "variae lectiones," when "variant readings" carries exactly the same semantic value? A more problematic aspect of Symbol and Secret is its somewhat chaotic form. It lacks coherence both in formatting and in content, giving the impression that it was composed in numerous parts which were combined into a somewhat haphazard whole for publication.
Its inconsistent use of italics and diacritics might be no more than an occasional distraction, but does indicate a certain lack of editing—as do the few dozen typographical errors occurring throughout the book. The topics examined in the text can be jumbled, with unrelated sentences, paragraphs, and whole sections inserted in the middle of otherwise succinct presentations. Conversely, topics that should be presented coherently can be found scattered across the book. These criticisms aside, Buck has undertaken a project that is to be commended on many fronts.
The rigour with which Buck has treated his topics is a model for anyone engaging in textual scholarship: his research is broad, his attention to detail thorough, and his coverage of the topics exhaustive. Though Symbol and Secret can be a frustrating text which is difficult to penetrate, it is a good study which will well repay the diligent reader.
While the wide range of style and content of these essays could, in a more established discipline, indicate poor editing or an unfocused mandate, here they demonstrate the richness and potential of this nascent field. It faces the expected obstacles confronting such a new and relatively unexplored field, such as a lack of scholastic tradition to build upon, little or no recognition and support from its faith community and institutions, and the difficulty of obtaining formal training.
More than this, it also faces potential doctrinal obstacles. The sheer volume of the tens of thousands of letters and books they wrote can give the impression that every question one could have about God must be contained somewhere in them, hence what need for practicing theology? While individuals are enjoined to come to their own understandings of scripture and religion, authoritative interpretation is strictly limited that of the above four individuals.
There is thus a common sentiment that the only appropriate theological endeavor is to read, catalogue, and study these writings, and any form of systematic theology can be regarded with suspicion. The book opens with Dann J. In "essence," religions are one in as much as God is one; they share what May following Frithjof Schuon terms a transcendent unity. The problem, of course, is that the "accidental" aspect of religious experience is highly diverse, which can lead to inter-religious misunderstanding and conflict.
This essay contains some very useful overviews of pluralist theologies, and May's adaptation of Panikkar's typology is instructive. Given the complexity and variety of contemporary discussion of pluralism, though, the essay can read merely as an introduction which leaves many questions and objections unaddressed.
Most of the article is simply a catalogue of sample instances of apophaticism in scripture, which does serve well to highlight the variety and commonality of apophatic approaches. This is unfortunate, because the via negativa could well prove to be a key in understanding and resolving the very problems of religious diversity May has just hinted at. While this article would serve as a fine introduction to the topic for readers having no background in theology, it adds little to the field.
In its quest for legitimacy and its sincere desire to improve the lot of the dispossessed, the sheer "religiousness" of the religion is often downplayed. On the other extreme, theological discussion, in any tradition, can lose sight of practical experience in its pursuit of theory. Liberation theology offers promise to bridge this gap, to apply theology to social welfare and vice versa. Cole pleas for such an approach: " This is a well-written and timely article. Part 8: Anjam Khursheed Khursheed's survey of contemporary common philosophies of science, "The Spiritual Foundations of Science," demonstrates that most share a common empiricist philosophy.
Such an approach, he argues, exaggerates positivism and masks the fact that, historically, science has been founded on spirituality more than materialism. Terms such as "science" and "knowledge" had quite different meanings and connotations in nineteenth- century Persian and Arabic than in in twentieth-century English, and without a philological discussion some of Khursheed's conclusions are suspect. This, Fazel points out, is "only Dialogue is sometimes no more than a polite form of proselytism, an opportunity to present one's own tradition in a friendly setting with the covert hope of persuading the other.
In the best dialogue, Fazel argues, each partner comes away transformed. Fazel's topic is a vital one, and his proposals welcome. Most of the essays in this volume deal with abstracts, with theories of theology. Through his discussion of existential concerns and approaches, McLean argues that the scholar working within a faith tradition must not completely objectify his field of study, must not divorce his studies from the existential commitment.
This article, drawing on contemporary philosophy for a practical comparative approach, offers many original considerations and provides an engaging conclusion to the volume. Like Symbol and Secret, this book suffers from the types of faults that can plague underfunded, independent publishing houses. The articles are inconsistently edited, both stylistically and grammatically. Further, while most are quite accurate, one is thoroughly riddled with errors of punctuation, diacritics, and spelling.
The table of contents lists an incorrect title for another. These are no more than a minor distraction, though. Most of these essays are of a high quality and address original, vital topics. Those 20 years have been fertile ones for academics and scholars both inside and outside this latest of the Abrahamic relgions.
This book is not able to provide an even cursory overview of all this new literature and commentary. For this reason I have chosen to provide the above brief comment on only two of the new books. I leave it to readers to do their own searching, studying and reading. This community is now found in over nations and territories on the planet. It is the second most widespread religion on earth. This new paradigm will continue in its various permutations and combinations, its wide-ranging developments at least until , if not until the end of the 2nd century of the Bahai Era in From time to time in this book I make mention of the paradigm shifts in our wide-wide world as it increasingly globalizes, planetizes and becomes one world socially as it already is, to a significant extent, technologically and scientifically.
I feel somewhat presumptuous insofar as this aim is concerned. But our real selves are so often hidden within us, even though we know there are angels who can and do help us, and demons which provide the centre of ongoing struggle. These angels are the confirmations and the celestial powers that come our way in this paradigm and in previous paradigms; these demons are the many manifestations of what I will call for simple convenience "our lower self. The self, the who that I am, will keep both me and others busy as long as we occupy space on this mortal coil.
Section 2: Intercession is often the result of generous devotion more than logical analysis. I trust that my desires, my efforts to gain the intercession of faithful souls over several decades, will overcome my unmortified passions. The deepest need in our characters is right desire and there are many prayers that express these right desires. Right desire is very important for a writer who is trying to convey a wide range of complex ideas.
The impersonal power of the Cause, in so many subtle ways, comes to be seen by writers and artists, indeed, people in all walks of life, as one's personal power. The mind does not countenance such an idea, but the ego proceeds undetected in its insidious and evil course, underground, as it were. Each of us must come to know ourselves; it is on this basis that we come to know others.
We each have to do battle with our inner demons and dragons, our lower self; no one else can fight that battle for us. In rejecting the sin and not the sinner, this also includes our own dear selves. And, to conclude some of this particular variety of aphoristic advice let me say that, so often the cup must become empty before it is filled again. I think this is as true for ourselves as it is for others who first come to this new Faith and study it for the first time, or even for those who study it for years.
Everyone fills their lives with all sorts of stuff, and it so often is this "stuff" that keeps the cup full and the person never really enters the garden of the Cause. He or she stands at the gate and looks within, but never enters. This is true for more reasons that we are aware. I hope that I will not be hindered from that which has been ordained for me, hindered by wayward appetites, appetites which cause the profoundest trouble in my character.
Gleanings, p. And who knows what is ordained for each of us as we travel the path. May God help my readers, as I pray that He helps me, to disentangle each of us from evil, from great human passions, and to deliver us from evil because so often we are not strong enough to do it on our own. But, in some ways, they matter not at all, if we only realized it, and realizing this is no easy task. At least it is no easy task for me. What matters is our own dear lives.
They are of the greatest importance. Paris Talks, p. It is a war that is fought with prayer, prayer which calls eternal forces into alliance. This war is also fought with meditation, and the sign of meditation is silence. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Prayer provides an expression of the craving of a man's heart. Prayers are always answered. Sometimes circumstances change or He changes us. Of course, believing that what happens to us is always for the best, does not mean we will not suffer.
And it is so often very difficult to believe that what is happening to us, to say nothing of the billions of others, is "for the best. John Hatcher, professor emeritus of English literature at the university of South Florida has written about this way of studying and thinking about history and I leave it to readers with the interest to examine some of Hatcher's books. I also leave it to readers to study secular history, especially history in the last century or more. Recent modern history throws much light on this new paradigm. The literature now available in and on this new paradigm is burgeoning.
Very few are able to keep pace with it all, and even fewer are able to read it all again and again so as to remember, by the process of repetition, remember its many details and programs, ideas and ideals. The world we entered in this new paradigm in the mids, was one in which catastrophe was writ-large. The world a century before, in , had no idea of the magnitude of the catastrophes ahead. The vast majority of humankind lived outside the Western world. There was vast and hopeless misery in many places especially: Russia, China, India and Africa.
Again, I leave it to readers to try and grasp the general story of modern history and the light, if any, they can find that throws our world a century later in an historical perspective. I taught history for several decades, and I am more than a little aware of the anarchic confusion that exists in the study of history. This is not only true of history; it is true of all the social sciences, young and inexact as they are, and far more complex than the physical and biological sciences.
Knowledge Quotes That Will Inspire You For [Learning More]
Complexity faces us all in the study of man, society, and the vast field of values, beliefs and attitudes, in a word, religion. Much as been learned in the first 20 years of the application of this prodigious effort that has profoundly influenced the pattern of activity in which the community is engaged.
It is not my intention to expatiate on the developments of the ABS into this second decade of the 21st century, suffice it to say a unity of thought around essential concepts is slowly emerging as is an evolving conceptual framework, a matrix that organizes thought and gives shape to activities and which become more elaobrate as experience accumulates. I encourage readers to access that letter in cyberspace for its useful delineation of the present and future challenges of the ABS.
Section 4: It has become part of conventional thinking that the early socialization of a child has an important role in determining the overall life-trajectory, the total life experience of a person over the lifespan. I have written a brief statement and analysis of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood to provide some explanatory framework for my life; I do not place that statement here.
In some of my childhood years and adolescence, the ages 9 to 19, and the first decade of my young adulthood, 20 to 30, the years to , the seeds of what I now regard as, and what I firmly believe to be, a divine knowledge were sown in the soil of my heart. It was a heart which had a degree of receptivity to things outside the small-town culture in which I was immersed. By the age of 31 in , with my years of youth behind me, my sense of conviction in what one could call the unseen creative force of the universe, in God, was firmly implanted in my being.
This Faith also provided a core, a compass, a framework, for my moral and intellectual universe as it evolved through my teens and twenties. And it continues to do so four decades later as I head through my 70s in the years to This process has also happened to millions and it continues to happen in this new paradigm. Perhaps the most important aspect of this process is learning in action, the participation in an ongoing process of action, reflection, study and consultation in order to address obstacles and sdhare successes, re-examine and revise strategies and methods and so systematize and improve efforts over time.
Section 4. I am now None of us will ever really understand the station of a Manifestation of God, but we know, from His own Writings, that He is the vehicle of the Message and Power of God sent to the world to take it to the next stage in its evolution, and we must bow to the fact that, whatever we learn and understand about Him is but a shadow of the reality. The essence of true spirituality, therefore, is the close relationship which grows between a believer and the Manifestation of God and, therefore, with God, which enables the believer to pass through the vicissitudes of this life in confidence and serenity and achieve things which he knows are far beyond his own capacity.
I go public, that is, I let others know about my convictions, from time to time when it seems appropriate to do so. I have kept my energetic evangelism, my enthusiasm, quiet and unobtrusive due to the cultural conservatism, the customs and mores, the social milieux in which I have lived from the s to this second decade of the 21st century.
That knowledge, and those convictions I have espoused now for more than half a century, were also kept hidden from others because the emotional reorientation that others needed to assimilate the new truths of this Faith, if truths they be, almost always seemed too great. I, of course, regarded these views as truths but I have often had a tendency to go to extremes of either applying my framework of understanding too rigidly or ignoring it completely. I have also had the problem, one shared with most of my fellow believers of not learning to live within and work within the framework of the administrative order.
As the Guardian wrote many decades ago Lights of Guidance, p. Most of those who came across my path never joined me in my spiritual journey in this Cause which I have now been associated with for some 60 years. The philosophical and religious inertia, if inertia it was, of others, the hardening of attitudes, other interests which captured people's time and their enthusiasms, their resistence to fundamental change in their religious and philosophical perspectives and orientations; the nature, extent, and the emotional strength of their existing assumptions, the very complexity of not only the issues involved, but of the great shifts and changes in the wider society itself with its myriad of religious and political groupings in recent decades, as well as many other difficulties which others had and have in even investigating this new Faith from a distancethis all resulted for most people who crossed my path in too much of a wall of words, concepts, and ideas.
This is a common experience of those who have entered the Cause in my lifetime and, I hesitate to say, I think this will likely continue for some time to come, inspite of all the expressions of enthusiasm and zeal, publicity and media scrutiny. I still wear my enthusiasms and convictions far from the aggressive proselytizing of many political and religious groups. My evangelizing is a cautious and measured one. There is often, too, an aggressive advocacy which impels many in our largely secular society to be stridently propagandistic in relation to their many views and causes, interests and enthusiasms.
People's interest in sport and gardening, entertainment, job and family often has an enthusiasm, indeed, excitement which occupies people's lives in ways very similar to religion or a philosophy of life. As one famous theologian, Paul Tillich, once put it, everyone has what might be called 'a ground to their being', everyone possesses a certain set of values, beliefs and attitudes, which is the centre of his or her life.
Call that centre their religion or their philosophy, if you like; and, if you don't like those terms or that use of words and views, call their centre: secular humanism, agnosticism, atheism, theism, or any one of a number of other words which attempt to capture the core of people's value and belief system.
When one gives some serious thought to these sorts of questions, the subject becomes quite complex, and it can not be dealt with in a sentence or a paragraph--although it often is dealt with in a dismissive line or two due to people's incapacity or their disinclination to discuss such fundamental aspects of their lives. This has been true of most, except for a small handful of people, mostly youth, from to in my lifespan.
After living in some two dozen towns, travelling to more than , and dwelling in more than 3 dozen houses in the years to , my life as a travelling teacher-lecturer-pioneer now takes place in cyberspace from the comfort of my study: to My life-style now, with less than 5 months to go to the age of 70, is a highly sedentary one similar, in many respects, to that of my maternal grandfather whose autobiography has inspired my own memoiristic literary efforts. In the wider world though, which grew from about 2.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica it is the second most widespread religion on the planet. The latest of the Abrahamic religions, which is what this new Faith claims to be, entered the 21st century with a structural-base that was just in embryo. It was, and still is, in what you might call the chrysalis phase, even after more than a century of its evolution. The community-building that has been taking-place in the last two decades, to , has been built on this structure, a structure which was in its earliest stages and phases of development in the last half of the 19th century.
This new religion has grown up in the light of modern history and there is much to study, in some ways, far too much for any of us to really take in to its fullest. The rudimentary institutions of this Faith had already been erected under the leadership of Abdul-Baha, and the very fabric of these institutions was to evolve from to In those years, the Spirit born in Shiraz in the s, was incarnated in institutions designed to canalize the energies and stimulate the growth of this new Faith.
GPB, p. In the last 20 years, to , the focus has been on "community" in addition to "structure. The latest messages from the House of Justice during this current Five Year Plan, to , are examples, par excellence, of the elaboration of the details of this community building focus. Section 6. By summaries of Ridvan messages were available for students, and those who wanted to seriously examine each Ridvan message.
I try to keep up-to-date with the latest in a series of documents, beginning in , a document of some 12, words. All of these documents have been issued to provide a broad overview of the progress being made across the globe in advancing the process of entry by troops, and the latest issue came out in January But I do this only briefly. In today's world, of course, with so much to read and so much to take in from the electronic media, the average individual is swamped and those messages from the Supreme Body often languish in an archive that is rarely revisited after the message has first been examined.
At the same time, however, we may also argue that solitary reading creates some kind of what you might call a virtual community. The text is not for me alone ' there might be other rooms, in other times, in other places, where someone is having the same kind of experience with the same text as I am, as if nothing could disturb their ecstatic communication. And I feel certain complicity with that unknown other.
Yes, we both are within this text, and the text is in both of us; we both belong to the community of its readers, even though we will probably never meet each other in real life. And here a community of solitary readers seems to differ from the community of lovers who share a text. In textual encounters, there is usually no jealousy, no need to appropriate the other. Texts are promiscuous, even though we perhaps do not like the idea that literally everyone reads them we perhaps still want to think that communities have an outside.
With the help of singular texts, we identify with communities that are perhaps not visible but that still have at least one distinctive feature: they are formed by readers of the same singular text. In fact, every book creates several textual communities. I do not necessarily feel a sense of being-together with all the readers of a given book; I mostly only identify myself with those readers who share my values, who share the same 'interpretive community' as I do ' an interpretive community that is defined in many different ways.
But is any interpretive community really one? The secret sense of complicity that we feel when we read in solitude, the sense that 'there are people out there that are reading the same lines and understanding the same thing as I do', is, in fact, mostly an illusion. In reality, we do not know what other readers get out of the text, how they interpret it, or what enjoyment they draw from it. This often becomes evident when textual communities become public, when we learn to know who our virtual reading companions were and how they actually received the book. It is always a shock when I learn that an old friend of mine, a friend whose values and thoughts I have always believed to be similar to my own, has read and understood some book, or some portion of a book, in a totally different light than I.
Should I doubt my judgment of the book, or my judgment of my friend? Do we live in the same world? It seems that in order to think communities of solitary readers we need a new concept of community that is not based on the ideas of a shared time, space, or identity. They might include: gaining cultural capital, developing our emotional skills, learning more about other cultures, satisfying our curiosity, enjoying voyeurism, wanting to kill time, etc.
But for the most part, these 'reasons' imply that there is some other, more fundamental desire for reading together, desire that cannot be pinpointed or defined exactly, except perhaps by the following loose and not really very clear definition. When we read and listen to other read there is, ideally, an openness to the vocative that we hear in the voice of others, openness that precedes what is said and whatever reasoning is taking place.
This openness constitutes subjectivity and also the possibility to form instrumentalist working communities around the text. It is what one student of the subject calls 'friendship prior to friendship', readiness of the reader to welcome the other that takes place before we actually read, before we even know what to expect.
Without this openness, there cannot be any genuine reading at all. The voice, the call, the words, may become, however, forgotten as soon as they are read. The words may be replaced by the insistent daily life, its work, and all those good or not so good reasons that we use in order to justify our reading. The dimension of otherness in reading, in literature, is multiple, and the emphasis differs from genre to genre, text to text, and reading to reading: sometimes the other in the text is experienced primarily as the author's voice, sometimes as a presence of a fictive person or entity, sometimes as History or Nature, sometimes as the sheer materiality of language.
However, in every textual encounter, the other in the text is in some way transformed from a sheer object or machine to something that carries marks of subjectivity; the text becomes a prosopopoeia, a personification of the other. In a textual encounter, the reader feels that he or she is no longer only reading a text, but, in a curious and paradoxical way, the text is also reading him or her.
In reading, we are both active and passive: we use texts for our own desires and purposes, but we also, in a way, encounter texts, almost as we encounter other human beings, taking the risk that the encounter may change us in a way that we cannot totally know or control beforehand. Section 7: The House of Justice noted, in forwarding the document entitled "Insights from the Frontiers of Learning," the vital role that the ITC continues to play in the prosecution of the global Plans of the Faith and its diligent efforts to capture, in documents such as this one, the richness of the experience of the believers and institutions on every continent.
The House of Justice also expressed the hope that this material would lend an impetus to the endeavors of the friends who, in diverse circumstances, were tirelessly engaged in building vibrant communities. Because he insisted on being given hard evidence, he found himself alienated by his friends, cut off from the group to which he thought he belonged. When Jesus announced his intention to return to Bethany after receiving news of the death of his friend, Lazarus, all the disciples, except Thomas, tried to dissuade him, for it had been in Bethany that some Jews had tried to stone Jesus.
And you know the way to the place where I am going. His first words were clear indication that he had neither isolated nor rejected Thomas. He simply invited him to set aside his doubts and believe. Even though Mary Magdalen had told them of her encounter with the risen Lord, all of them except Thomas stayed in hiding, while he, the practical one, might well have been out doing the shopping or even trying to verify what Mary Magdalen had claimed.
Yet, if we are honest, we have to admit that we, too, waver between faith and doubt, but come down eventually in favour of faith. In the course of our lives, we gain knowledge through direct experience, deduction or reasoning and through putting our faith in what others tell us. Whenever I board a plane, I take it on trust that the crew members are qualified to fly the plane. However, if we experience severe turbulence on a flight, we might catch ourselves questioning the competence of the captain. When we stop to reflect on an intangible reality like religion, most of us experience intellectual doubts from time to time.
We catch ourselves wondering if the miracles in the Gospel actually happened. We have doubts about the divinity of Jesus and the existence of God. These days, we are aware of lots of Catholics doubting how a Church with a history of terrible sexual abuse can really be the Church that Jesus founded on Peter.
And then there are our emotional doubts that come to the surface when tragedy and illness strike us or those we know and love. Those who have been faithful to their religious practice find themselves thinking that they are entitled to better treatment from a God who allegedly loves them. Thomas wanted assurance and evidence. He also wanted Jesus and needed personal connection to dispel his doubts. While others can inspire and encourage us, they cannot give us their faith. The journey to faith in God and Jesus is ultimately personal and sometimes lonely.
In the long run, we come to understand that it is faith, shaken at times by doubt, that keeps us on the path of searching for our own experience of Jesus. And we need the support of community to help us along that path. To grow into these is the journey of a lifetime. And we human beings will never achieve them perfectly. Easter Sunday Then the other disciple John who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. John 20, Moreover, there has been a spate of books describing near-death, out-of-body experiences attesting to a life after death.
Kevin later admitted that the story was a fabrication. In stark contrast, Heaven Is For Real, also published in , has sold more than 10 million copies. It recounts the out-of-body experience of Colton Burpo during emergency surgery to remove his burst appendix. While I am not inclined to recommend either of these books to anyone, the volume of sales point to the urge in people to want to believe in heaven or an afterlife.
The programme is so popular in Australia that Foxtel tied up rights to it, preventing fans from buying weekly episodes from iTunes and Google Sydney Morning Herald, October Despite the advent of rationalism and the cynicism of Post-Modernism, there seems to still exist a deep conscious or unconscious longing in much of humanity for the existence of an afterlife. Somehow, very ordinary people instinctively conclude that the efforts they make to live decent, honest lives really come to nothing if death is the ultimate winner. Whether we are of any religious faith or none, deep down we cling to an intuition that we are going to die into life albeit different rather than away from life.
We have within us a sense that the intangible realities of love, faith, hope, kindness, compassion and beauty will never die. The very fact that so much of humanity experiences a longing for more is testimony that there really is something more. I am writing this reflection in New Rochelle N. Yesterday, I came upon a story recounted by Michael Shermer, a member of the Skeptics Society and founder of their magazine Skeptic.
The story was published in the magazine and is an account of an incident that happened on the day he married Jennifer Graf, who had emigrated from Germany to the United States in They married a year or so later. All efforts to repair the transistor radio proved fruitless. Following their wedding, and during the reception held in their home, Jennifer confided to Michael that, despite her happiness, she felt really sad that there was nobody from her German family at the wedding and that the person she missed most was her grandfather.
Shortly after confiding this to Michael, they farewelled guests and went up to their bedroom, where they heard music coming from somewhere. Eventually they traced it to a drawer in one of the cupboards. The Phillips transistor radio had come to life, and with tears running down her face, Jennifer acknowledged that her grandfather was at the wedding after all.
By next morning, the music had stopped, and the transistor did not work again. One final story: People who knew Pope Francis when he was a bishop and cardinal in Buenos Aires, find it difficult to understand what they see as a marked change in his personality since his election. In Argentina, he had a reputation for being shy, even boring, with no spark in his interpersonal engagements.
That is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner. Stories like the ones above give me reason to pause and ponder. They challenge me to ask myself exactly what it is to which I am committing myself when I recite the Creed at Mass on Sundays. These have been some of my thoughts and ruminations as I approach Easter. Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, confronts all of us, the sisters and brothers of Jesus, with the prospect and hope of renewed life.
It is resounding testimony to the power of love. In the latter years of his life, the great impressionist painter Renoir suffered severely from arthritis. His arms and legs became stiffened and his hands twisted and distorted. His efforts brought him cruel execution from those who could or would not see or listen. But God raised him as proof positive that beauty, love and life will ultimately triumph. All the puzzling pieces he had heard previously from Jesus fell into place.
He needed no further convincing. Do we? The following poem is an introduction into the first of those themes. Love's as warm as tears, Love is tears: Pressure within the brain, Tension at the throat, Deluge, weeks of rain, Haystacks afloat, Featureless seas between Hedges, where once was green. Love's as fierce as fire, Love is fire: All sorts--infernal heat Clinkered with greed and pride, Lyric desire, sharp-sweet, Laughing, even when denied, And that empyreal flame Whence all loves came.
Love's as fresh as spring, Love is spring: Bird-song hung in the air, Cool smells in a wood, Whispering 'Dare! Love's as hard as nails, Love is nails: Blunt, thick, hammered through The medial nerves of One Who, having made us, knew The thing He had done, seeing with all that is Our cross, and His. That will do! The readings of today are held up to us like a mirror which reflects to us the fickleness of our feelings, attitudes and actions.
Crucify him! Reflection on our own life experience teaches us that we can delude ourselves into acting as though we are messiahs, acting as though we can save others from visiting disaster and destruction on themselves and others. Alternatively, we can put on others such heavy expectations that we elevate them to the status of messiah. There are also moments in our lives when we can be drawn into crucifixion. They occur when we launch into demolishing the reputations of those we perceive as threats to us, of those we regard as competitors, of those on whom we look with jealousy and envy.
Whenever we engage in stifling the life in others or blocking the life-giving actions of others, we are pursuing the way of crucifixion. The liturgy and readings of today and the next few weeks are a powerful reminder to us that we have a God who knows the rhythm of what we call the paschal mystery. Our God is one whose love and mercy for us is so powerfully expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. As we try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus as his disciples, we, too, experience the pattern of death and new life as circumstances deprive us of our hopes and aspirations and lead us through the pain of loss to claim new life and new hope.
One after the other, the three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost, prodigal son reinforce the message that God does not give up on us, however lost and alienated we may be. The point of all this, of course, is that we are invited to express those attitudes to everyone who comes into our life. We have no control over how they relate to us, what they feel about us or what they think of us, but it is our choice as to how we relate and respond to them.
We will always experience people and situations that threaten our integrity or the values and principles on which we want to base our lives. The extent to which our lives reflect the love, compassion and forgiveness that Jesus expressed as he was humiliated, degraded, tortured and executed is the extent to which our story coincides with his. Neither God nor Jesus expects us to do any of those things perfectly. Today we are asked if we can imitate Jesus in at least some small way.
Has no one condemned you? In fact, it was added in the early part of the Third Century, when Christians were involved in heated argument as to whether there could be forgiveness of sin after baptism. Christianity has been plagued by those whose only solution to immorality has been drastic action designed to discourage anyone inclined to repeat the immorality. Advocates of capital punishment belong to that group. And the Spanish Inquisition pursued such remedies with a vengeance.
Jesus, however, promoted mercy and conversion of heart as the only effective and lasting answer. He names it for the sin that it is, but he does not condemn the sinner. He urges her not to become trapped in guilt but to let go of her past and live her life with her heart renewed. Memory is an integral part of Jewish culture. Remember in the sense of calling to mind the past and re-member in the sense of putting back together the broken pieces.
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Remembering tells us something of our life journey, including both the good things we have done and experienced and the not so good. But we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of living in the past or being controlled by our past. In the gospel reading, we learn how Jesus rescued the woman whom the Pharisees wanted to condemn to death by stoning. He rescued her from being imprisoned by her shameful past, encouraging her to put back together the pieces of her broken life.
The risk for the woman in the story was that she had a lot to live down. While those in the group that brought her to Jesus were pressured by him to reflect on their private sinfulness, she had the reputation of being a public sinner. She would have to live with gossip and the way that these Pharisees would continue to stare leeringly at her. She would have doubts as to whether her husband would forgive her. It was one thing to be assured by Jesus that God had forgiven her, but what about all her friends and neighbours?
She ran the risk of being trapped in guilt. Perhaps there are times when we wonder if we have been really forgiven by God for our past failures and infidelities. And most of us have probably met people who are wracked by scruples, unable to trust that God has forgiven them. One wonders what kind of God they have. And that prompts us to ask ourselves what kind of God we have. Do we believe that God loves us endlessly and unconditionally, no matter how broken our past lives have been?
Yet this story Is as much about the challenge Jesus puts to the Pharisees as it is about the forgiveness of the woman. He does not deny the degradation of adultery or try to minimize it. But he does press the point that, before any of us wants to set about demanding that others change their evil ways, we must first change our own hearts. To make the kingdom of God a reality in the here and now, we need to develop both a lived conviction that God really does forgive us and a way of relating to others that is built on generous heartedness, forgiveness, mercy and compassion.
There is nothing to be gained by comparing ourselves with those we judge to be sinners in order to give ourselves a self-satisfying pat on the back. Robert Cormier, in his book entitled Table Talk: Beginning a conversation on the Gospel of Luke , tells the story of an old priest who often wondered about the difference between heaven and hell. One night he had a dream in which he experienced God telling him what that difference really was. God showed him hell first, and he was stunned to see that there were no flames and no horned and pointy-tailed devils prodding others with forks.
But there was a crowd of very angry people, all holding foot-long wooden spoons and jostling one another as they struggled to get their spoons into large wooden bowls that were placed in the centre of picnic tables and filled to overflowing with food. But, when any of them managed to fill their spoons, they were not able to turn the spoons around and get them into their mouths.
The frustration, the arguing and the bitterness were sheer hell! Then God gave the priest a look at heaven. He saw the same wooden tables and bowls and people with the same foot-long wooden spoons. But there was no jostling and pushing. There was an atmosphere of real peace and contentment. Here the people were happily engaged in feeding one another. It is futile to think we can credibly pass judgement on others until we assess our own lives and seek the healing that God offers us.
We have the capacity to create both heaven and hell in our own time and place. Hell is nothing but the abundance of selfishness and the endless presence of bitterness and spiteful competition. Today we are invited to put down our stones of indignation, bitterness and superiority and to look within ourselves at the place where good and evil meet and wrestle with one another. Any of us without sin can lead the stone-throwing. Fourth Sunday of Lent The tax collectors and sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and scribes complained. Luke 15, , So, what will this story evoke from you and me?
I want to suggest that the context in which Jesus first told this story is of equal importance to the story itself. Luke tells us that Jesus is among tax collectors and sinners, all eager to hear what he had to say. Meanwhile, the Pharisees and scribes were looking on, tut-tutting at the fact that Jesus was associating and even eating with the dregs of society, those detested for their depravity and corruption.
It is all gift. And there is an additional message for all those among us who see themselves as upright, religious people. A heavy investment in religious knowledge and practice, however impressive it might look, is no proof that we have a healthy relationship with God. What we display on the outside is not always a good indication of what is going on in our hearts. Impeccable religious observance may be doing more for our own ego than for those around us.
It may also be doing little to nourish our relationship with God. So, I am suggesting that this parable is especially directed at the good religious onlookers who would not even think of mixing with the group of sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors close to Jesus, let alone eat with them. They were the ones with status, power and control in the society of the day. And these characters all have their modern-day equivalents. We all know from bitter experience that none of us is above sin.
We all fail, and fall from grace in one way or another. We also know that we can be quick to identify those whose sin is public while we do our utmost to keep our sinfulness away from the public gaze. But among us there are many so-called religious people who are intent on hiding their sin and their human frailty. We now know from bitter experience that even the administrators of some religious institutions colluded in keeping hidden the sins of their leaders. And the story is apparently directed at the public sinners, as the religious leaders smugly look on. But as the story unfolds we come to see that the younger son is a public sinner and the elder a private sinner.
It is true that the younger son sank to the depths of depravity and infidelity. By demanding his share of the inheritance, he effectively told his father that he wished he were dead. Interested only in himself, he rejected his father, his family, his Jewishness and his religious practice. In so doing, he earned the hatred of his brother. Moreover, his reasons for deciding to return home are based on self-interest.
He returns on his own terms. And his father bends over backwards to welcome him back and restore him to his former status. His father asks no questions as to why he has returned. He is simply overjoyed that his wayward son has come back. But while the younger son left in a way that humiliated his father, and went on to pursue a scandalous life-style, the older one was never really at home for his father.
It is clear that he, too, was just waiting for his father to die. He adopted a martyr complex, regarding himself as a servant who spent his time slaving away on the estate, but was resentful, totally selfish, and full of anger and passive aggression. When his father left the party and went outside to coax him to come in and join the celebration, the elder son angrily pushed him away and blamed him for being forgiving and indulgent. All he wanted was a private party for himself and his friends. As the elder brother in a Jewish family, he had a responsibility for both his younger brother and his father.
It was his job to go searching for his little brother and his job to protect his father from being humiliated in front of all his friends and neighbours. The younger of the two, despite his callousness, irresponsibility and utter selfishness, eventually came home. And we are left wondering if the older one relented, stopped pouting, let go of his anger and came into the party and back into the family.
When all is said and done, this parable invites us to look into the mirror to see for ourselves with which of the two we identify. In that sense we can say that Jesus becomes the parable of God. And therein lies the challenge to those of us who like to pride ourselves on our fidelity and regular religious practice. Have we yet discovered who God is and do we ever reach out in welcome to and acceptance of those who have apparently gone astray?
The parable invites us to reach out in mercy and forgiveness to others, and also to come in and celebrate whenever those we might be inclined to avoid accept the mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love of God which we sometimes take for granted. Finally, there is something about this parable which is ageless. The younger son does not really want a father and the older one does not want a brother.
Their attitudes are alive and well in our contemporary world. We meet any number of people who want no one to answer to, who shun the commitment of close relationships, who refuse to be accountable to anyone, who see themselves above and beyond the law. They want to be unrestrained to pursue a lifestyle that ultimately leads them to self-destruct. In addition, there are those around us who want neither sister nor brother.
They are intolerant of difference, and slip with ease into racism, discrimination and religious bigotry. Can we find it within us to reach out to these too? So, cut it down. Why should I exhaust the soil? At first sight, this gospel reading looks to be made up of two separate and unrelated sections. The first section outlines a discussion between Jesus and some people who wanted to talk about disasters and their causes. The second is a parable about a non-productive fig tree. Both sections are challenges to us to stop and look at the concept of God on which we base our thinking, our religious belief, and our way of conducting our lives.
That was a popularly held belief in Judaism at the time of Jesus. Most of us are quick to point out that questions like this, to say the least, are grotesque. A modern version of the questions put to Jesus would look something like this: Were the 43 people who died in the bridge collapse in Genoa last August all living in sin?
We wonder what it is that motivates people to ask questions like this? What is their image of God? Even allowing that the people who confronted Jesus might well have been hoping that Pilate would add another Galilean Jesus himself to his list of victims or that Jesus, too, might have a building collapse on him, we still scratch our heads in puzzlement at people who go on living their lives as though the vindictive God they seem to believe in is not going to obliterate them when they themselves are less than perfect.
Perhaps we might just have to be satisfied with the conclusion that the people who ask this kind of question are revealing how they would go about righting the world if they were God. Another interpretation is that we have among us people who, with the best of intentions, use this distorted view of God as a way of motivating others to change their ways. These things all happened as warnings for us, not to have the wicked lusts for forbidden things that they had. You must never complain: some of them did, and they were killed by the Angel of Death.
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From Paul all the way up this present day, people have slipped into making faulty presuppositions about God. And most of us have probably met people whose God is a cross between a nit-picking bean-counter and Sherlock Holmes. In the s and 80s, George McCauley S. A god of special confidences and secret winks. A competitive god whose pastime is to take on all comers at spiritual arm-wrestling.
Sit up straight. Who was that you were just talking to? Whatever our current image of God might be, we can be sure that it will change in time. Moreover, we hope it will grow and develop. But it will take more than one Lent or one year for that to happen. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil? Yet, that is part of their value.
They raise questions for us to ponder. Did the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son eventually join the party? What happened when the Samaritan returned to pay the bill for the injured stranger? Did the Samaritan return at all? And in this parable, was the gardener successful in making the fig tree productive, or did he just delay the inevitable? And that last question is significant, because we know that the fig tree will eventually die. Jesus did not say that death would not touch us. But he, the prophets before him and saints and religious leaders after him have reminded us of our social responsibilities: feeding the starving, providing clean water for all, addressing homelessness, protecting the vulnerable and abused, caring for the earth, working to prevent people-trafficking.
What is alien to Jesus and the Gospel is sterility and non-productiveness. In this parable of the barren fig tree, we are reminded that death will come to us all but that, in the meantime, we have a responsibility to be productive with the lives and talents with which we have been blessed. If we heed the call of Lent to change our hearts not just our actions , to allow ourselves to be transformed by the hope that God offers us, we will not stave off the chaos of suffering and death but open ourselves to the one who can nurture us, to the gardener who wants to bring us to blossom.
We are the fig tree of the parable, given yet another chance to realise our productive potential. As the parable unfolds, we listen to justice and mercy in dialogue. And the vineyard is a scriptural image for the people of Israel, and, by extension, for the people of God, the Church. If the extraordinary measures proposed by the gardener mercy fail, then Mercy will agree to abide by the verdict of Justice the owner. That fruit will be produced only through the severe measures that will bring to all of us a change of heart and the life that issues from that change of heart.
Only we, the fig tree, will provide the end to this parable waiting to be completed. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. As we grow older and wiser, we come to realise that where we stand influences what we see, and what we see influences what we say and do. One of the great paradoxes that emerged from the interpersonal engagements Jesus had in the course of his ministry was that the religious leaders who had two good eyes were blind to what they saw him doing, while those who were physically blind were able to see very clearly.
Such seeing grows out of investing time in quiet and deep reflection. Whether or not we are practiced in deep reflection, we do know one thing to which modern psychology has drawn our attention: what and how we see has a significant impact on how we behave. Essentially, the book is an exploration of how we impact on other people. In giving us insights about ourselves, Covey opens up for us possible changes that might improve the ways in which we relate to, and communicate with, others.
One of his stories offers a powerful insight into how and what we see can influence our thinking and acting. People in the section I was in were sitting quietly reading their newspapers or just dozing. At one stop, a man and his children got into our car and in next to no time the peace was shattered, and replaced by something resembling mayhem. The kids were yelling at one another as they ran around the carriage. While all this was happening, their father sat quietly next to me and did nothing to quell the riot.
I could see the annoyance on the faces of all the people around me. I wonder if you could control them just a little bit. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. Suddenly I saw things differently. Because I saw differently, I felt differently. I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. Feelings of compassion and sympathy flowed freely. Can you tell me about it? What can I do to help? For Covey, that was an experience of transfiguration, a moment of insight that turned him upside down and carried him through a very difficult situation.
Are we any different? We, too, are given revelations of God in the ordinary events of our daily lives. In commenting on these two experiences shared by Jesus with Peter, John and James, scripture scholar Bill Bausch notes that while the memory of the transfiguration was meant to bolster the three disciples when the going got tough, do the rest of us have only stories on which to rely when things are grim and when our faith is tested? The Steve Covey story demonstrates that our transfiguration experiences come to us wrapped up in the very ordinary, but there are times when we miss them because we are preoccupied with other things, or with ourselves.
Inevitably there have been times when one of us has outrun the other and has had to wait patiently for the other to catch up. I do not believe there is any marriage where this does not happen. The growth of love is not a straight line, but a series of hills and valleys. I suspect that in every good marriage there are times when love seems to be over. Sometimes these desert lines are simply the only way to the next oasis, which is far more lush and beautiful after the desert crossing than it could possibly have been without it.
His second transfiguration was his resurrection, described in subdued terms, because nobody witnessed it. Jesus had to go through all these things on the way to his second transfiguration into glory. Along that way, he felt abandoned by God. From time to time, we get a glimpse of the glory to come, but along the way we have to learn to shed whatever it is that holds us back.
We have to struggle through the hills, the valleys and the deserts that life puts in our way. We have to remember that we are not alone as we travel that journey. He stated that this is really a poor translation of the original, pointing out that a loving God does not lead people into temptation just to see how they will cope.
In making his comments, he referred to the opening verses of chapter 4 of both Matthew and Luke. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was hungry. Jesus had just been baptized by John in the Jordan and, as preparation for what he saw was his unfolding mission, he decided to spend time in prayer and reflection in the solitude of the desert, to work out for himself how he was going to go about doing the preaching and teaching he felt inspired to do. Luke and Matthew present him as doing much the same as two other giants of the Jewish tradition had done.
In their encounters with God, both Moses and Elijah went without food and water for forty days. Moses spent forty days in the presence of God when the Ten Commandments were inscribed on stone tablets on Mt Sinai Exodus 34, Elijah also fasted for forty days and nights before journeying to Mt Horeb another name for Mt Sinai where he encountered God in a cave in the form of a gentle breeze 1Kings However, consolation for Jesus arrived only after he had battled his way for forty days and nights through temptations to take shortcuts to reach quick and easy ways to achieve his goals.
He was tempted to dodge the kind of struggles that the rest of humanity also has to deal with as they set out to be true to themselves and to live with integrity. Having taken on the human condition, Jesus was tempted to avoid having to do things the normal human way. Luke is really saying that, just beneath the surface, Jesus was being tempted to expect God to collude with such a plan.
That was the nature of his temptation. Underlying all three temptations is the question as to whether a way of living and acting built on faith in God is really worth spending a life on. Jesus realized that he had been invited to take on the role of being the Messiah for his people, and here he was being tempted to win people over with magic, razzle dazzle and impressive, superman tactics.
Yet, the temptations that Jesus faced were, in essence, the very same things that tempt us. There are times in our lives when we catch ourselves wanting to control God. The first temptation Jesus experienced is presented in terms of bread. Jesus was struggling with the temptation to base his appeal to the people he encountered on what in the way of security and material well-being he could offer them.
We, too, can get so involved in accumulating money, security and gadgets that we erode our ability to trust in God as one who is both competent and willing to care for us. Watch that trouble looming up in the distance. As for Jesus, he did overcome the first temptation by deciding that he would himself be bread and nourishment for people instead of trying to base his public ministry on hand-outs.
He proceeded to nourish people with his presence, his encouragement, his wisdom, his concern, his fidelity and the challenges he put to them. He came to know that we all grow through affirmation, encouragement and healthy challenge. He did not set out to win the support of people through promises of material goods or by offering them shortcuts to success.
In order to proceed along the path he chose, he knew that he had to place his trust first, foremost and entirely in God. I ask myself if I will ever grow to the point of trusting God to that extent. The next two temptations were further attempts at undermining the trust Jesus had grown to place in God. While they are presented as offers by the devil, they were more likely considerations by Jesus in his mind about the benefits that might flow from doing deals with the corrupt and the powerful of his day.
I find the third temptation a little more difficult to grasp. Jesus was invited to test out whether God really cared for him or would let him die if he were to throw himself off the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus probably knew nothing about gravity. But he knew enough to appreciate that jumping from a great height onto stone would be fatal, and that God was not in the business of letting down gently anyone stupid enough to jump off the roof of the Temple.
However, I want to suggest that Jesus struggled with something more subtle than that. Jesus must have been tempted to doubt whether God would really support him when the going got tough, when religious leaders might think of having him removed. And we know from the description of his arrest, torture and execution that such doubts plagued him right up to the time of his death. I want to suggest that these are the kinds of doubts and temptations with which Jesus struggled in the solitude of the wilderness and at other times in his life.
Moreover, I am convinced that we would be wrong to conclude that Jesus easily brushed aside these temptations. They hung around in his consciousness for forty days and nights. Trusting God was not something that came to him spontaneously and automatically. If that were the case, he would not have been tempted in the first place.
So, when we find ourselves struggling with our faith and trust in God, we might get some consolation and comfort from knowing that Jesus has been there before us. If I want to experience a good homily, the best thing I can do is to go around with my eyes and ears wide open, attentive to the extraordinarily good things that very ordinary people say and do. We do that with a story from Pastor, Bill Bausch:.
A small cruise ship, caught up in a very violent storm, lost power, drifted onto rocks and quickly sank. Only two men survived the disaster. They clung to floating debris and were washed up on a deserted island.