You’re no better.

The name of this blog comes from the Bible passage recording the one written document attributed to the Prophet Elijah.

The passage might be summarized as You’re no better.  The King and people of Judah believed themselves to be entitled to God’s favor, even as they behaved in ways no better than neighboring nations.  Elijah warns them of God’s disfavor, and the prophecy comes to pass as the kingdom is devastated by those it considered lesser people.

You’re no better runs through my head as the American political reality show plays on in the two major party conventions, and in the news and social media surrounding them.  There is a whiff of perception in people saying I don’t think I can vote for either one.  But that avoids any recognition of how we might might enable both.

This morning I saw this well done video about the rise of Hitler.  Comments on it, as you might guess, tend to be Yeah that’s exactly what the other side is like.  Which cries out for the warning, You’re no better.  Both “sides” play to our resentments and real and imagined problems; we behave in ways that allow them to grab and maintain power.

You’re no better.  We’re no better.  We need that kind of humility  and realism to stop ceding more and more power to Caesar to slay our bogeymen, who are all to often just flesh and blood neighbors.

But even from the religious or spiritual community, which should carry the prophetic voice, we hear Wait, yes, we are better.  There’s an opinion piece trending, in which the writer condemns a key penitential prayer and demands that Pope Francis abolish it.  Yes, some kind of cosmic peace and love is to be attained by appealing to an authority figure to ban what bugs you, never mind what it means to others.

Which is to say to the author, You’re no better.  

Confession of sin is a great equalizer and can be a source of peace.  It asks us to stop and question what we’re feeling, thinking and doing.  It is to hold up the constant possibility and probability that we’re no better and to restrain action based on the false narrative that we are.  It is to admit that we all stand in need of mercy and, as we receive it, are all obligated to offer it.

I’m no better for sure.  I’m as bad as the next person when it comes to saying There oughtta be a law.  But most laws beyond a few big ones that value and protect all people equally – You shall not commit murder, for example – are just one group of people considering themselves entitled to impose themselves upon others.

Watching the Hitler video can be a good spiritual exercise.  If you can watch and say, Yeah, that’s those other guys.  Glad I wouldn’t have been part of that, it is worthwhile to ponder what Jesus says in Matthew 23:29-30,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

Because the odds are we’re no better.

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I’m not saying much about Presidential politics or the racial turmoil roiling the nation.  In fact, I’m trying to say less about all kinds of things.

There is great temptation to post the “mic drop” comment or meme on social media.  It doesn’t add to the truth, just to the noise.  For all our proclamation of “listening to one another” and “dialogue,” and with the superabundant means of communication at our fingertips, we don’t seem to be advancing good will and common interest.

shh-dont-tell-sm11I’m rediscovering the virtue of silence.  Especially my own.

Again the Lord says in the gospel: an account will have to be given on the day of judgement for every vain word. Each of you is to weigh his words and have a proper restraint for his mouth, so that he may not stumble and fall through speech and his fall be irreparable and fatal. He is with the prophet to guard his ways so that he does not offend through the tongue. Silence, which is the promotion of justice, is to be diligently and carefully observed.  (The Rule of Albert #21, 1247 AD)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV)

 

The Incarnational Path of Deification

Beautiful thoughts and visuals presenting a model for our spiritual progress.

the theological beard

Man’s greatest desire is nothing less than God Himself. It’s not just a desire to be with God though; it is a desire to be God. This is what the most Holy Trinity made us for: to partake of His very nature and, hence, to become divine. The only way that this can happen is through union with Jesus Christ the Lord God.

Annunciation

God came into the world through the Incarnation, His conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We too are called to conceive Christ within us. He desires to be conceived spiritually in our hearts.

Visitation

In imitation of Mary, having conceived Him we are to bring Him to others proclaiming the Good News of our salvation. Others are to encounter Him and be aware of His presence through their encounter with those who have conceived Him in their hearts.

Nativity

And like, His mother, we are to…

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Just leave the light on

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42-44 ESV)
 
Even if we dwell in Christ and he dwells in us, the great secret of the time of his return will be a surprise. Our preparation is not an anxious effort to guess the day and time, but to “be awake,” which his Apostles say is to be living every moment as children of light, disciples of Jesus,
 
But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5 ESV
judgement08Those who live as disciples are out of the dark, no matter how obscure some of God’s mysteries remain to us.  And for disciples, the surprise of Christ’s return is a pleasant one (and that’s an understatement),

 

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.  (Luke 21:25-28 ESV)

 

When the secret is uncovered, those bowed down by affliction in a fallen world will stand tall and look with joy upon what is causing Christ’s enemies to faint with fear.

 

So it is that the Lord teaches us to pray for the coming of the kingdom, and John was blessed with the final words of our Bible, a prayer longing for Christ Jesus’ return and for those who belong to him to do no more than abide in the light of unmerited, undeserved favor by which we are his brothers and sisters,

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)