Anakin and Mussolini
March 13, 2022 Abbey Church Abraham
We know the story: Jesus was a good guy doing the right thing – healing and helping people with love and compassion; Herod was a bad guy doing the wrong thing – controlling and exploiting people with greed and fear. Our own stories are not so obvious.
Helping and healing people is never wrong, but sometimes we can do it in ways that are not best for everyone. Wielding power and authority and keeping public order and tradition in place are not always wrong – in fact, those things can be a means of helping and healing people. Many evil tyrants do not start out that way. They truly want to do the best thing for people, but allow fear or ego to take over their motives. Many people who start out helping and healing people and speaking out against corrupt and hurtful governments and traditions become evil tyrants in their own way, allowing fear or ego to take over their motives, and becoming rigid in their rules of how to be helped and healed.
We need to be always checking our motives and methods and never be smug about our correctness and our foes’ incorrectness. Healing and helping people is never wrong, but the way we go about it might need some refining. Keeping public order and safeguarding tradition is usually not wrong, unless it keeps people from being helped and healed.
We must always be open to the possibility that we are wrong and the people who oppose us might be right. It takes a lot of maturity, prayer, and advice to make sure our motives and methods are good. It is important to do the right thing, but it is even more important to do it in a way that is helpful.
We don’t have all the answers, but we can open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit so that we can be always learning. We can stop obsessing about ourselves so much so that Jesus can grow in us, helping us to be more helpful and healing. We can watch ourselves, so that when the Herod part of us takes over, we can catch it and put the Jesus part of us in its place. It takes time and effort, but God’s grace is always there to begin and complete the task. We can start by coming to be fed at this table by Jesus, who wants to fill and satisfy us and give us strength for the work ahead of us. AMEN
II Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Policy of Truth
February 27, 2022 Abbey Church Abraham
Hazrat Rabia from Basra in the eighth century has given us this beautiful prayer:
“O Lord, if I worship you because of Fear of Hell,
then burn me in Hell;
If I worship you because I desire Paradise,
then exclude me from Paradise;
But if I worship you for Yourself alone,
the deny me not your Eternal Beauty.”
Fear and hope are self-centered, while love is God-centered, but the truth is: everything revolves around God, not around us. So, getting rid of fear and even hope as motivators and living solely from love is a good thing. It is a goal we might never reach, but at least we have been given the next several weeks as a special time to work on it.
We work not to gain salvation, but rather to clear our eyes so that we can see it. Like the disciples on the mountain, when we see God, it can be confusing and scarey, because it is so different from the way we are used to living. But like Moses on the mountain, we can also be a source of God’s light to those around us, even if it is confusing and scarey for them.
All of this is a reason to keep looking at God alone, so we can always be getting more used to it. It is confusing and scarey because it is not our usual way of living (which is mostly thinking about ourselves). The more we get used to having God in the center of our lives, the more beautiful the light becomes to us, and the more we can see reality.
May this be our goal for the next several weeks: looking less at ourselves and more at God, so that when Easter finally arrives, it is the most real one we have ever experienced. AMEN
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