“Everything belongs and everything can be received.
I have a confession to make.
I got a little two wrapped up in the news this week and now I'm grumpy. To be honest, this happens more often than I like to admit. It's not even the news itself (whether its good or bad) that makes me grumpy. It's usually my inner dialogue about who's right and who's wrong and how I wish everyone would just see the world the same way I do. I stress myself out over the potential for conflict and my own need to be right.
In his book, Everything Belongs, Father Richard Rohr reminds us that one of the best ways to deepen your relationship with God is to accept things as they are, both outside and within yourself. Not to fight them, but to accept them.
I think most of us struggle to accept things as they are. We fight against our own imperfections. We battle our insecurities. We rage against those who disagree with us. We struggle to make the world into what we want it to be.
And in the process, we tie our souls up in knots and sometimes lose our grip on "the peace that passes understanding." In times like this, when I've gotten a little too caught up in the fight, I've found the prayer below (written by another great Catholic, the late Father Thomas Keating) a helpful reminder of God's sovereignty and peace. I pray it may be the same for you.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it's for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God's action within. Amen
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
It seems that God is not particularly concerned with our outward expressions of worship, at least not as much as he is with our mercy toward others and inward acknowledgement of his lordship. For those of us well-versed in church-ism, this should give us pause to think.
But what does it really mean to "acknowledge God"? I mean, the mercy part feels obvious—engaging in ministries of compassion and justice, caring for the poor, intentionally fostering an attitude of non-judgmental acceptance of people—but how do we acknowledge God?
I think gratitude and prayer play a significant part. Acknowledging God involves recognizing in our hearts and minds that everything of real value that we have comes from him. It's all grace. It's all a gift. This recognition leads to a deep sense of gratitude. It also leads to true humility, to not taking credit away from God for the successes in our lives. It's a recognition that we are--none of us--the captains of our own souls.
While this is humbling—and maybe even humiliating—it is, in the end, freeing. This is what God wants for you: freedom. And it comes through mercy and acknowledging that God is God and you are not.
God of grace, I acknowledge you in this moment.
Every success, every moment of productivity and inspiration,
indeed every breath — it all comes from you.
I confess that I am often blinded by self-importance
and ask for your grace to see the world (and my self)
as it really is and to engage it in a spirit of mercy and grace.
“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him
The time is near.
John, the human author of Revelation, scribbled these words on parchment in 95 A.D. It's now 2019. In the intervening years, the world has seen wars, plagues, the rise and fall of empires, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. And with every generation there have been people in the Christian church assuring the world, "No really, the time really is near." Sometimes these people are scholars. Sometimes they are street preachers. But they are always there. They have always been there, in every generation, every time, every place. And yet, here we are 1,924 years later...
Was John wrong? Or did all these people after him just misunderstand him?
Well, the short answer is yes. John was wrong.
And no. He wasn't.
Yes, John was wrong because it's likely that he honestly believed that "the time is near" meant that Jesus was going to return during his lifetime, or at least during the lifetimes of his followers in Asia Minor. This belief is why he wrote with such urgency and its what gave the original recipients of Revelation the courage and conviction to stand up for Jesus and face the social and economic repercussions of their faith. Their belief, though it turned out to be chronologically inaccurate, led them to a faithful response to the word of God.
These original hearers of Revelation are like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11: "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised." (Heb. 11:39, NIV)
At the same time, I think it's also accurate to say that John and his followers were not wrong at all, nor were those who proclaimed "the end is near" from the 2nd Century up until the 21st. Because the actual point of John's claim of the nearness of the end is proximity not chronology.
We're always near the end, whether it comes tomorrow or 3,000 years from now.
Jesus himself recognized this and often said, "The kingdom of heaven is near."
It's like the Doomsday Clock, the symbol used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to "warn the public about how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making" (thebulletin.org). During the Clock's existence, it has never been ore than 17 minutes to midnight. As of 2019, it is 2 minutes to midnight.
The nearness of Jesus' return is like the Doomsday clock: it is always near midnight, and we should always be prepared for it. The fact that we didn't wipe ourselves out during the Cold War doesn't mean that it didn't nearly happen. In the same way, the fact that Jesus didn't return in the last 1900 years doesn't mean that his return wasn't immanent that entire time.
So the question we're left with is the same one that John's original readers were given: what will you do with the time you have? What will you do in preparation for Jesus' immanent return?
Because the time is near.