We’ve arrived at the middle of July far too quickly.
Here’s the wisdom I’ve found for this week.
First the Gospel reading from The Message: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
He told another story. “God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn. When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
“The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn’t it? Where did these thistles come from?’
“He answered, ‘Some enemy did this.’
“The farmhands asked, ‘Should we weed out the thistles?’
“He said, ‘No, if you weed the thistles, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’”
Jesus dismissed the congregation and went into the house. His disciples came in and said, “Explain to us that story of the thistles in the field.”
So he explained. “The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, the curtain of history. The harvest hands are angels.
“The picture of thistles pulled up and burned is a scene from the final act. The Son of Man will send his angels, weed out the thistles from his kingdom, pitch them in the trash, and be done with them. They are going to complain to high heaven, but nobody is going to listen. At the same time, ripe, holy lives will mature and adorn the kingdom of their Father.
“Are you listening to this? Really listening?
Jesus clearly taught the twelve disciples about surrender, the necessity of suffering, humility, servant leadership, and nonviolence. The men resisted him every time, and so he finally had to make the journey himself and tell them, “Follow me!” But we avoided that, too, by making the message into something he never said: “Worship me.” Worship of Jesus is rather harmless and risk-free; actually following Jesus changes everything.
Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? Because we need to stand in that position for our own conversion. We need to be in a position to actually need the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, the grace of God. When we are too smug and content, then grace and mercy have almost no real meaning. They are just words. Forgiveness is not even desired or thought necessary (see Luke 7:47).
Jesus is always on the side of the crucified ones. He changes sides in the twinkling of an eye to go wherever the pain is. He is not loyal to one religion, to this or that group, or to the worthy; Jesus is only and always loyal to human suffering. Jesus is what mythology called a “shape-shifter,” and no one seeking power can use him for their private purposes. Those whose hearts are opened to human pain will see Jesus everywhere, and their old dualistic minds will serve them less and less, for the Shape-Shifter ends up shifting our very shape, too.
The Gospel gives our suffering personal and cosmic meaning, by connecting our pain to the pain of others and, finally, by connecting us to the very pain of God. Any form of contemplation is a gradual sinking into this fullness, or what I call the unified field, which always produces a deep, irrational, and yet very certain hope. And we never know exactly where it came from!
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Dwight D Eisenhower
Source: presidential address, April 16, 1953
The Sufi tell of the disciple who asked the elder, “Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?”
“As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”
“Then, of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?”
“To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”
For the Unknown Self
So much of what delights and troubles you
Happens on a surface
You take for ground.
Your mind thinks your life alone,
Your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor,
Yet it seems that a little below your heart
There houses in you an unknown self
Who prefers the patterns of the dark
And is not persuaded by the eye’s affection
Or caught by the flash of thought.
It is a self that enjoys contemplative patience
With all your unfolding expression,
Is never drawn to break into light
Though you entangle yourself in unworthiness
And misjudge what you do and who you are.
It presides within like an evening freedom
That will often see you enchanted by twilight
Without ever recognizing the falling night,
It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
Deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.
It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
That is not ruffled by disappointment;
It presides in a deeper current of time
Free from the force of cause and sequence
That otherwise shapes your life.
Were it to break forth into day,
Its dark light might quench your mind,
For it knows how your primeval heart
Sisters every cell of your life
To all your known mind would avoid,
Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
Offering you only discrete glimpses
Of how you construct your life.
At times, it will lead you strangely,
Magnetized by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.
It works most resolutely at night
As the poet who draws your dreams,
Creating for you many secret doors,
Decorated with pictures of your hunger;
It has the dignity of the angelic
That knows you to your roots,
Always awaiting your deeper befriending
To take you beyond the threshold of want,
Where all your diverse strainings
Can come to wholesome ease.
~ John O’Donohue ~