Monday, January 16, 2017
Scripture as validated by experience and experience as validated by Tradition are good scales for one’s spiritual worldview. (Sunday)
The Bible is the best book in the world and the worst book in the world. It is the worst when it is used for bullying and self-justification; it is the best when it is used for the healing of the world and for transformation of the self. (Monday)
Jesus taught us how to see, what to emphasize, and also what could be de-emphasized or ignored. Jesus himself is our hermeneutic! (Tuesday)
The very inclusion of the Hebrew Bible into the official canon of the Christian Bible is forever a standing statement about inclusivity. (Wednesday)
The genius of the biblical revelation is that we come to God through “the actual,” the here and now, or quite simply what is. (Thursday)
We have created an artificial divide or dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual. This dualism is precisely what Jesus came to reveal as a lie. (Friday)
Practice: Lectio Divina
Jesus knows how to connect the dots and find out where the sacred text is truly heading, beyond the low-level consciousness of a particular moment, individual, or circumstance. He knows there is a bigger arc to the story—one that reveals a God that is compassionate and inclusive.
Jesus doesn’t quote lines that are punitive, imperialistic (“My country is the best!”), wrathful, or exclusionary. He does not mention the list of 28 “thou shall nots” in Leviticus 18 and 20, but chooses to echo the one positive command of Leviticus 19:18: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”
The longest single passage he quotes (in Luke 4:18-19) is from Isaiah 61. Jesus closes with the words “proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” deliberately omitting the next line—“and the day of vengeance of our God”—because he did not come here to announce vengeance.
This is what the Spirit teaches any faithful person to do—read Scripture (and the very experiences of life) with a gaze of love. Contemplative practice helps you develop a third eye that reads between the lines and finds the thread always moving toward inclusivity, mercy, and justice.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Jesus often used similes in his parables: “The kingdom of heaven is like. . . .” (See Matthew 13: 31, 33, 44.) In other places, the Bible uses metaphors for God, such as rock (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 62:3) and shepherd (Psalm 23:1; Ezekiel 34:11-16). Jesus describes himself metaphorically as the bread of life (John 6:35-51) and the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). The Spirit is portrayed as breath (Genesis 2:7; Job 32:8) and wind (John 3:8). Can’t literalists be honest and admit these are all fingers pointing to the moon? God is not literally a rock or an actual shepherd on a hillside somewhere, yet we need these images to “imagine” the unsayable Mystery.
Christians must also admit that the New Testament was largely written in Greek—a language which Jesus did not speak or understand—and the text was mostly written thirty to seventy years after Jesus’ death, centuries before the age of digital recorders. We have only a few snippets of Jesus’ precise words in his native Aramaic. We can only conclude that Jesus’ exact words were apparently not that important for the Holy Spirit—or for us. This should keep us all humble and searching for our own experience of the Risen Christ now instead of arguing over Greek verbs and tenses.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, an unpublished talk, Canossian Spirituality Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 3, 2016