Archive for February, 2006
I was hoping the missile launched by James today might whiz by me and skewer some other hapless target. After all who’s rich? Bill Gates. David Beckham. Queen Elizabeth. Not me. Not you.
But here’s James’ description of the rich: they have stuff enough to store; they have enough to live in comfort; they have enough economic clout to drive a hard bargain; they have blood on their hands.
The first three make me wriggle a little. The last shakes me to the core. Because globally speaking I know I am rich and I know I’m part of a world economy that coolly sacrifices the distant poor for my sake. I’m not bringing in the big bucks but I’m wound into the web of it all. And I don’t know a way out. I do have blood on my hands. And James sees that double tragedy: first the sacrificed poor and the world we ravage for profit and fear; and second we who buy our safety only to find we have bought a corrosive fire to eat at our souls.
February 23rd, 2006
Brandon over at Siris has a bunch of Jesuit jokes today.
My own favourite joke at our expense is this one:
February 22nd, 2006
There have been several cases of people blind from birth who in adulthood have been cured—or at least the physical impediment to their sight is removed. Sometimes it’s a tumour removed or cataracts, sometimes new corneas grafted in. But even though the cure is complete in one sense the person still has to learn to see for the first time.
That learning can be terrifying, the light painful, the chaos of colour disorientating, the formless field of light confusing. And nothing they had once imagined about the visual world seems to fit the unbelievable experience they are undergoing. They cannot believe their fingers or their ears. Before they could cross the road by ear alone and now the only way to do it is to close their new found eyes and let the familiar skills of darkness take care of them.
February 16th, 2006
We’ve been talking about discernment today, about the way experience moves us and about the risk in that, the risk and the joy and the freedom and the cost. It’s all on show in the gospel too, in Jesus.
It’s all too easy to imagine a Jesus who is a little above it all, who knows a little too much to get upset by life, a Jesus who wears his compassion like pity. Shakespeare has a description of the ideal holy person: “Unmoved, cold and to temptation slow,” he says, “they rightly do inherit heaven’s graces and husband nature’s riches from expense. They are the Lords and owners of their faces.” … I used to think Shakespeare was serious, that he’d hit the nail on the head, and here was the way to be. I was wrong.
February 12th, 2006
I wonder, after today’s piece from Mark’s gospel, what it would have been like if Jesus’ self-imposed secret had been kept? If the silence he asked for, and kept asking for, had, in fact, been respected? Could it all have turned out differently in the end? Would the crowds have been more loyal at the end? Might his message have found a deeper home among the faith of his fathers? Would his reception by the authorities have been somewhat warmer, somehow less confrontational, in some way less lethal? If his silence had been kept?
You can only wonder. And wonder for yourself too. How do I hear him—today, this evening, now—how do I hear him and do I keep his words the way he wants or do I run my own way with them, even in good faith, somewhere he doesn’t want them to go?
February 10th, 2006
In the pagan calendars Candlemas is a halfway feast—halfway between solstice and equinox—halfway between winter and spring—halfway between darkness and light. The Celtic name for the celebration says it perfectly, Imbolc, meaning something like “in the womb”. Today we are in the womb and celebrating it—we are not yet fully alive but by no means dead.
So today we celebrate in-between-ness. Inbetweenness as a place, a place of meeting, a place where life and death bump into each other: light and dark, old and new.
February 2nd, 2006