“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
Rumi’s insightful thoughts are very challenging. His words are an invitation to live the fullness of life in peace and harmony. They open the door to a deeper spiritual life and the beginning of the mystical. If we let ourselves be drawn into that door our relationship with the Divine will gradually deepen until it explodes into total trust and we are forever drunk in Divine love. It is then that the total acceptance and unconditional love of God becomes an experience and a celebration!
This Divine drunkenness inspires us to die while we are still alive in order to be free from our sacred golden cages — die to the securities that come from material possessions, cultural and religious identities. In dying we are free from the chains of false havens and the transitory aspects of life. We burst forth and become one with a universal culture and turn religion into a dance of life – free from creeds, theologies and dogmas; walls begin to crumble and the whole of creation merges into a kaleidoscope of a Divine symphony. We let go of our sanctuaries and fly on the wings of the Divine power, presence and essence.
Every saint was condemned as crazy before they were canonized saints. Live Rumi’s madness just for a moment or a day and experience the ecstasy of Divine love and Divine life! Even when the ecstasy fades you will remember it as your horizon of life!
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates’ insightful and challenging statement prompts us to check our beliefs against actual facts. The messages that were given to us as little children that affects our self-worth; life experiences that have determined our self-image; social and religious norms that have created separation and hierarchies among people of different nations and cultures; media images, labels and propaganda that instill fear, hatred and prejudice against a group of people.
When Karl Marx exclaimed that religion is the opium of the people he was not condemning religion but the way religion is used to disillusion and manipulate people. This statement reflects how religion is used to sustain the rich and subdue the poor. It is critical of the life style and indomitable security of the religious powers. It condemns wars that are initiated and fought in the name of religion. In the face of ignorance and injustice religion offers a bandage response and renders the smart ones brain dead.
The fruit of the tree of knowledge and consciousness is still forbidden to humans with the threat of punishment, alienation and suffering; our divine and spiritual essence and oneness is covered with external skins that separate us by race, color, religion and a million different ways. The tree of life is now guarded by religion with flaming swords swinging in every direction.
The unexamined life can easily turn into opium that deadens the intellect and the will to respond to the human atrocities all around us. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Silence between the notes… Holy Week (Final Lenten Reflection)
“Music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” This famous saying is true in the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. As Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives singing the Passover hymn (Mk 14:26), the silence between the words of this song gives us a little window into his heart. The silence between Jesus’ prayer and the silence of God in the Agony in the Garden helps us understand the deepest relationship with God and the power of the human spirit when confronted with unfathomable pain.
We keep our eyes fixed on the heart and spirit of Jesus as he goes through his passion and pause in silence at the foot of the cross and the sepulcher. We watch the whole mystery of Jesus’ life begin to unfold in the heart of his mother Mary. In the silence at the core of her being we recognize courage and tranquility that springs from tremendous hope and a deep relationship with God. Finally, it is in the silence of the dawn that we experience the fullness of the Resurrection.
As we contemplate the mysteries of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus we come to realize that in the silence of our tears we begin to see the rainbow in our hearts and in the darkness of our lives we find our place among the stars. It is in the silence of life experiences and the silent moments in our prayer that the real presence of the Divine comes alive and we come to realize our true divine identity.
April 12, 2014
Mark 10:46 – 52 2 Cor. 4:13 – 18
In today’s reading we see Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem and he will not walk through Jericho again. This was Bartimaeus’ last opportunity to encounter Jesus. He began to shout out and ask Jesus to help him. But once again Jesus’ close followers want to keep him away from Jesus and “STERNLY ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly.” Jesus stood still and called him to himself. The blind man threw away his beggars cloak, symbols of his past life, and “sprang up and came to Jesus.” When he experienced the loving gaze of Jesus he followed him in an ever deepening relationship with God.
St. Paul also reminds us that it is our faith, our intimate relationship with God that will be the most convincing sermon we can preach.
April 11, 2014
Mark 10: 32-45
Jesus is on his final journey to Jerusalem and he shares with his close followers for the third time about the horrendous end that is imminent. Mark gives us the typical and consistent response from Jesus’ close followers – amazement or fear but no faith! They miss that intimate relationship with God.
While Jesus is contemplating on his certain torture and death his close followers are caught up with their personal ambitions and power. Totally insensitive to what Jesus is going through, James, and his brother John, the ‘so-called’ beloved disciple come up to Jesus with an obnoxious request, “’Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you. . . Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory’” The other ten also had their eye and their hearts on these power positions. And so, “When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John”
St. Paul is convinced that his life and mission in this world is a treasure he holds in clay jars. The good that we do in our lives is God’s initiative and the fruit of our lives, God’s doing. “This extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”
April 10, 2014
Mark 10: 17- 31 2 Cor 3: 7-18
A rich young man comes enthusiastically to Jesus and asks what he should DO to inherit eternal life. Jesus loves this young enthusiast and responds to him by gently challenges his way of thinking. The rich young man will not find what he is looking for by keeping the Ten Commandments. All that is needed is one commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (LK 10:27).
The second challenge is to find emotional freedom from all the blessings in life. Sometimes God’s most precious gifts become the very obstacle in deepening our life and relationship with God.
Jesus then gets to the core of his problem. He will not inherit eternal life by all the good that he is doing but by following God; following God by opening himself to God, like a sunflower follows the sun. God’s love cannot be earned. We cannot do anything to experience God’s love; all we can do is to let God love us and allow ourselves to receive everything that belongs to God and all who God is.
Finally, Jesus caps his teaching by saying, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” We have to learn to let go and let God! St. Paul tells us that the more we let God the more we will experience God as God truly is and be transformed into the Divine image “from one degree of glory to another.”
April 9, 2014
Mark 10: 1-16 2 Cor 2: 14-3:6
Jesus comes to “the region of Judea and beyond the Jordon.” This is where John the Baptist was preaching against Herod’s adultery and got beheaded. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus into the same situation. Jesus responds by saying, “What God puts together let no one separate.” And that is the challenge, ‘how does one really know what God puts together?’
Jesus wants us to deal with every situation with compassion. His close followers don’t get it. We read that “the disciples spoke STERNLY to the little children. But when Jesus saw this, he was INDIGNANT!” The kingdom of God belongs to the little ones seeking compassion: social and religious outcasts. Jesus “took them up in his arms!
If we allow ourselves be drawn into intimacy with God then St. Paul tells us that we become the aroma of Christ to God and the rest of the world. Our lives will spread the fragrance of God everywhere we go and bring about the reign of God.