Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘rich versus poor’


Luke 18:15-17Inversion

Friday, October 5, 2018

This portion of Luke’s Gospel is full of inversion; Jesus continues to confound his followers with the simple idea that what appears to be strong and powerful and pious may actually be weak and humble and deceptive – and what appears to be powerless and impotent and simple is actually loyal and trusting and confident.  We are told that whoever does not accept God’s kingdom in child-like dependence on God cannot expect to enter it.  This is an outrageous statement in a society that did not believe that children had the power to reason; these are hard words for a people who consider that children are expendable and of little importance.  Jesus tells his listeners – and us – something that seems to stand all reasoning on its head: that if we are innocent and accepting as children we will have no problems navigating the byways of the kingdom, that if we are self-centered and prideful like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 or the rich official in Luke 18:18-23, we will not recognize the gates to the kingdom even if they open before us.

These famous verses about the preeminence of children in God’s Kingdom are familiar ones and we might be tempted to skim through them quickly; perhaps we remember a homily we heard that pointed out that Jesus’ words tell us that it is the child-like who enter into the kingdom willingly and eagerly.  Maybe we remember a reflection we read reminding us that Jesus does not say that we are to be child-ish.  We may have spent time meditating on how to allow ourselves to be governed by empathy and compassion for others rather than concern for our own survival.  We may already have spent ample time coming to grips with these difficult words that form a bridge between parables: the rich and influential grope in the darkness for the kingdom while the poor earn immediate entry into Gods presence and the humble move to the front of the line.

We are called to give of ourselves in child-like innocence; we are to love one another – even those who hate us.  We are not called to put ourselves first or to demand unmitigated leniency from God and our neighbors; we are not to be the center of all decisions.

Let the children come to me and do not prevent them . . .

When I am worried about a major car or house repair, I must allow the child in me to give the problem to God.

When I am anxious about a colleague or friend at work, I must allow the child in me to listen for the wisdom of God.

When I am disappointed by ugliness or betrayal of a loved one, I must allow the child in me to trust that God has everything in hand.

When I am saddened by the way we treat one another and God’s beautiful creation, I must allow the child in me to be open to the possibility of a change for the better.

Let the children come to me and do not prevent them . . .

The door to God’s great wisdom is never closed to us when we present our child-selves to the Creator.

The arms of Jesus are never folded in rebuke against us when we present our innocent selves to the Redeemer.

The comfort of the Spirit is never withheld from us when we present our trusting selves to the Counselor.

I am thinking that all of the big and small worries we have wrestled with during sleepless nights have been perfect bundles of woe to place at God’s feet; and I am wondering why we are so stubborn in clinging to our childish, self-centered demands.  I am considering how easily God can handle all of our big and small problems; and I am knowing that what is required of us is our full and total trust that God can and will resolve the conflicts that overwhelm us.  And I am also knowing that all that is required of us is that we put aside our bravado and our fear . . . to become the eager and willing Children of God that we are meant to be.  This is an inversion that is almost too difficult to take in or believe . . . but it is the amazing inversion that will bring us safely home.


A re-post from September 2, 2011.

Images from: http://pregnancyandbaby.sheknows.com/pregnancy/baby/How-to-get-baby-to-sleep-through-the-night-6475.htm 

Read Full Post »


In this week when we give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, let us reflect on what it means to be first or last. 

Monday, November 19, 2012 – Mark 10:17-31 – Being Last

The rich man asks Jesus how he can gain admission to heaven.  Jesus answers plainly: Put aside all that you have . . . and follow me.  How simple.  How difficult.

Jesus calls each of us to put away all that enthralls us . . . for love of him.  This means that we put aside all that secures our identity, all that maintains our confidence . . . and trust solely in him.  This means that we learn to live in liminal space . . . because that is where heaven is.

Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.

For your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you.

I have not sat with the worthless, nor do I consort with the deceitful.

I have hated the company of evildoers; I will not sit down with the wicked.

I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord; that I may go in procession round your altar;

Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving and recounting all your wonderful deeds.

                                                                                          Psalm 26:2-7

I have learned an important lesson and have lately felt its echo come back to me as it reverberates through a lifetime.  Of our own will we can do nothing.  We best acknowledge this by letting go of all that secures us to life.  We best experience this by falling backward over what appears to be a precipice.  In the letting go of familiarity . . . in the floating . . . we feel God’s presence.  This is what happens when we put God first.  This is what we feel when we put ourselves last.

Jesus says:  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that it is for a rich man to enter heaven. 

And we reply:  But where are we to go?  What are we do?  How will we live?  Surely we will die!  We are only human!

And Jesus replies: With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God. 

Do we trust our maker to catch us when we fall?  Do we understand that his love is greater than all else?  Can we put God first . . . and ourselves last?

Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.  For your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you . . .

Let us go in procession around the Lord’s altar . . . Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving and recounting all [God’s] wonderful deeds . . . and let us trust him who loves us . . . him for whom all things are possible.  Let us be willing to go last in the altar procession as we sing our altar song.

Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.  For your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you . . .

First written on November 15, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

To better understand our call to “fall” into Christ, please see: Rohr, Richard. FALLING UPWARD: A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE TWO HALVES OF LIFE. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.  (Rohr 65)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: