“In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.
Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love.”
“If you dare to believe that you are beloved before you are born, you may suddenly realize that your life is very, very special. You become conscious that you were sent here just for a short time, for twenty, forty, or eighty years, to discover and believe that you are a beloved child of God. The length of time doesn’t matter. You are sent into this world to believe in yourself as God’s chosen one and then to help your brothers and sisters know that they are also beloved sons and daughters of God who belong together. You’re sent into this world to be a people of reconciliation. You are sent to heal, to break down the walls between you and your neighbors, locally, nationally, and globally. Before all distinctions, the separations, and the walls built on foundations of fear, there was a unity in the mind and heart of God. Out of that unity, you are sent into this world for a little while to claim that you and every other human being belongs to the same God of Love who lives from eternity to eternity.”
“To bless means to say good things. We have to bless one another constantly. Parents need to bless their children, children their parents, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, friends their friends. In our society, so full of curses, we must fill each place we enter with our blessings. We forget so quickly that we are God’s beloved children and allow the many curses of our world to darken our hearts. Therefore we have to be reminded of our belovedness and remind others of theirs. Whether the blessing is given in words or with gestures, in a solemn or an informal way, our lives need to be blessed lives.”
(Full disclosure: The author of this book is my friend.)
Yesterday, while in the middle of reading Jeff Blake’s new book “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross,” I had to stop and write to tell him how powerful it is. This short book is HANDS DOWN the best book I’ve read on the message of Jesus. At less than 40 pages the message is distilled to perfection, cutting through any filler or unnecessary repetition while also offering brief personal experiences by Mr. Blake that never take the reader off course.
My belief or faith is far, far away from rock solid. Like reading a passage from Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton the words in these pages feel like an anchor of truth. How so? While reading I felt the “how it isness” wash over me. I felt carried and at peace. I also became aware of wanting to flee to distraction in the other direction to avoid letting it all sink in. Am I the only one who does this? Stoping mid-chapter to write an email is a pretty good indicator I am misdirecting myself. (“Stop reading! Do something else! Tell the world!” You gotta love the ego. No really, you have to or it won’t leave you alone.)
I can’t say enough good things about “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross”, by Jeff Blake, so I won’t try. It’s awesome. Pick it up for Lent and read it. Read it more than once. You’ll be very happy you did.
“Henri Nouwen’s Wonded Healer is a classic writing in spirituality. Nouwen understood the well-known Australian Aboriginal activists quote, “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Grace is understanding our oneness with all people.
“This leaves us with the urgent question: How can we be or become a caring community, a community of people not trying to cover the pain or to avoid it by sophisticated bypasses, but rather share it as the source of healing and new life? It is important to realize that you cannot get a Ph.D. in caring, that caring cannot be delegated by specialists, and that therefore nobody can be excused from caring. Still, in a society like ours, we have a strong tendency to refer to specialists. When someone does not feel well, we quickly think, ‘Where can we find a doctor?’ When someone is confused, we easily advise him to go to a counselor. And when someone is dying, we quickly call a priest. Even when someone wants to pray we wonder if there is a minister around.”