[This year on the First Friday in Lent, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter trumps the Lenten readings. Being I do not wish to reflect on the Patriarchal Chair of Peter, I have reflected on today’s Lenten Readings from Ezekiel and Jesus.
One theory holds that matriarchal societies persisted until about 2500 BCE. The picture of the pelican reminds us that pelican fossils date back to 40 million years ago. They may carry memories of the goddesses and matriarchy.]
“You have heard it said . . . but I say to you. . . .” These words of Jesus alert us to the reality of the Kin-dom Jesus is proclaiming. Jesus is warning us that, as the Kin-dom dawns here and now, it cannot be business as usual.
In the first reading, Ezekiel painted two pictures—the deeds of the just man and the deeds of the wicked man. His undergirding theology was that God will directly punish the wicked and reward the just. Our experience does not square with that as the Bible also says that the sun shall rise on the wicked and the just and that rain (grace) shall fall on the just and the wicked alike.
Whether it is Jesus or Ezekiel, the point is that we are accountable for what we do. While God does not directly heap rewards upon the just and punishment on the wicked, what goes around comes around—the karma of life in the world.
Jesus would rather place his emphasis on a call, on an invitation rather than a threat. “Come, follow me.” “Come and see.” Yes, take a risk, cross the line of the comfortable, and SEE what life can and should be like as you now live in the power of the Spirit, my Spirit. This is the Spirit of the Risen Cosmic Christ who permeates all of reality to its very depths.
I am reading a wonderful, inspiring, eye-opening book by Andrew Harvey, a co-presenter with Matt Fox in the upcoming webinar series on Creation Spirituality (http://www.christpathseminar.org/faculty/brian-swimme/). The book is entitled, The Return of the Mother. As I toured the Greek Isles last summer, I learned more and more about the Mother Goddess who has been relegated to the backroom under the sway of patriarchy. In the second half of his life, Thomas Merton, was very much influenced by the Divine Feminine, the Goddess. The Goddess is a symbol of the other side of patriarchal reality. The Goddess speaks of mercy, love, compassion, seeing with new eyes. Merton wrote in “Hagia Sophia”:
O blessed, silent one, who speaks everywhere!
We do not hear the soft voice, the gentle voice, the
merciful and feminine.
We do not hear mercy, or yielding love, or non-resistance,
or non-reprisal. In her there are no reasons and no answers.
Yet she is the candor of God’s light, the expression of His
We do not hear the uncomplaining pardon that bows
down the innocent visages of flowers to the dewy
earth. We do not see the Child who is prisoner in all
the people, and who says nothing. She smiles, for
though they have bound her, she cannot be a prisoner.
Not that she is strong, or clever, but simply that
she does not understand imprisonment.
The helpless one, abandoned to sweet sleep, him the
gentle one will awake: Sophia.
All that is sweet in her tenderness will speak to him
on all sides in everything, without ceasing, and he
will never be the same again. He will have awakened
not to conquest and dark pleasure but to the impeccable
pure simplicity of One consciousness in all and through all:
one Wisdom, one Child, one Meaning, one Sister. (http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/poetry/merton01.html)
In a chapter on Rumi, Harvey reminds us that we must be crushed like grapes by the winemaker before we can become the wine of mercy, compassion, and love. Life itself which is the Divine flaring forth has a way of crushing us like grapes. Rumi wrote:
The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit, like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing,
“I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty!”
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears:
“I am not working in ignorance
You can deny me, if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am Master of this work.
When, through my fashion, you reach perfection,
you will never be done praising my name.
He also reflected in a rather Eucharistic way:
Till the bread is broken,
How can it serve as food?
Till the grapes are crushed,
How can they yield wine?
Lent reminds us of our calling and it also reminds us that we must be broken like bread and crushed like grapes before we can fully enter into the experience of the Divine Mother/Father. Lent is about going beyond not killing to not hating. Lent is about going beyond vengeance to forgiveness. Lent is about being broken and crushed so we can enter into the oneness symbolized by Divine Motherhood—unity of the One in All and the All in One. Lent ultimately reminds us that resurrected life is our true destiny; however, Good Friday and the cross must come before it.
Rumi reminds us that there will be many Good Friday experiences followed by many little resurrections before the Kin-dom is full reality at the Omega Point.