The Election and the Beatitudes

Richard Rohr has introduced me to Joanna Macy and her concept of deep time. Today, liturgically we celebrate deep time. We feel our connection with the holy ones—named and unnamed—who have gone before. We are in thin places (My Celtic forebears understood that there is a very thin place between us and those who have gone before.) where we are one in the communion of saints. Rohr says our concept of the communion of saints is our rendition of reincarnation.  We look to the past and remember. We live in the present and understand relationships and connectedness. We gaze toward the future with hope for the full coming of the Kin-dom. This is the big picture.

Thomas Merton described it in this way:

The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices—beyond routine choice—become manifest. It should create a new experience of time, not as stopgap, stillness, but as temps vierge—virginal time—not a blank to be filled or an untouched space to be conquered and violated, but a space which can enjoy its own potentiality and hope—its own presence to itself. One’s own time. But not dominated by one’s own ego and its demands. Hence, open to others—compassionate time, rooted in the sense of common illusion and in criticism of it. (A Year with Thomas Merton, 562)

Today, we are struggling with the concept of Church. Is church the hierarchical, patriarchal, absolutist monarchical rule of the papacy and the curia that is fully intent on rolling back the reforms of Vatican II which defined Church as “the people of God,” a communio as in communion of saints. We are the Church. All the faithful—ordained and non-ordained—are the people of God.

Communio is an important concept because it is timeless. Communio includes those who went before, those who live in union now, and those who are to come. In its deepest sense communio is Eucharist. Communio takes us far beyond the material, the verifiable, and the technical. Communio is not about instant solutions and quick fixes. Communio is about enduring relationships—with one another, with God and with creation. The Book of Wisdom says, “O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! All things! God’s presence permeates creation down to the essence of a rock.

Communio looks toward the future. It is about legacy. What will we leave to enrich the lives of those who come after us? Legacy can be materialistic as when the politicians ask us to vote tomorrow to save America’s future. They envision a future built on consumption, acquisition and the domination of others when necessary to achieve affluence. On behalf of the fat cats who back them, they are asking for our vote. They want less government and less regulation. They want to give free swing to market forces. Gordon Gekko called it greed.

Jesus calls upon us to envision a different future—a future built on the Beatitudes. The only judgment standard is what have you done to and for the least among you? Here the future is not about amassing personal fortunes in silos. It is about making sure that every human being has dignity. In the concrete dignity is spelled thus—adequate shelter, food and drink without price, education, medical care, and meaningful work. The legacy for the future is about mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and justice (right order and right relationships.)

In the long haul, what happens or does not happen at the polls tomorrow matters little because it will not be about kin-dom values. We need to remember that we have been set free to be compassionate as God is compassionate. We have to understand our call to live by Gospel values. The Gordon Gekkos of the world and the politicians they have bought stand counter to our vision, to our legacy as a Christian people.

They will prevail until we wake up to the call. It is not easy to speak up for kin-dom values in a society that is built on possessions, power, greed, and consumption. Jesus showed us how to confront the religious leaders and politicians who oppress others for their own gain. Is this not what “Do this in remembrance of Me” is all about?

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