I find that my Lectio Divina meditations tend to group themselves in clusters of topics. My center is always the same: “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) This current cluster is about what is important in my spiritual travels each day and what is not. Here are some examples.
I DON’T WORRY ABOUT MY FUTURE ON THIS EARTH. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan to make whatever time I have left as convenient for my survivors as possible. Do your best and forget the rest, my Dad always said to me.
I DON’T WORRY ABOUT DOING LECTIO DIVINA AT A CERTAIN HOUR. I have written about making a schedule to reduce my retirement to watching the plastic flowers grow on my shelf. That was about ten years ago. Now, I don’t worry about schedules. The transformation just happened due to constantly and consistently doing Lectio Divina each day at 10:00 a.m. Now, I do Lectio several times a day, and it may be while I am sitting in the bathtub, waiting for my wife to shop at Costco or Trader Joe’s, and even while watching my favorite movies about Jesse Stone starring Tom Sellick. I have moved from following a schedule as part of a habit of behavior to assuming the whole day as my timeframe and seeking ways to match whatever comes my way to the Christ Principle. Some days are better than others.
Monks follow a schedule for their day of prayer and work that in all things God be glorified. As a Lay Cistercian, my schedule is whatever faces me during the day and how I use the Christ Principle to link whatever it is to Christ. How I don’t worry about. I just do it and wait for the Holy Spirit to overshadow me as I am open to the energy of God (capacitas dei) within me.
I DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHO GOES TO HEAVEN. I do worry that I continue to fulfill my promises to the Abbot of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), the ones I made to Christ in the presence of those gathered in his name (monks, Lay Cistercians, friends). Promises are only as good as my ability to sustain my resolve to put them at my center. Christ Principle is my center. I interpret everything else in terms of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, alive now just as He was at the Last Supper.
As the Gospel from last Sunday’s Gospel (21 Sunday in Ordinary Time) suggests that not everyone will accept the, everyone is entitled to the banquet. Still, not all will accept the conditions of the host of the banquet– you must have a wedding garment. Read the passage in silence.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
This vignette into the teachings of Jesus confirms what I have long felt was true, namely, that Jesus’ words were not accepted by many because they demanded too much, at least from the viewpoint of those receiving those words. The Scriptures point out that “many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him.” I think the same is true today. It is only with the grace of God (Faith) can we can call God Father. This is not limited to those who belong to the Roman Rite of the Catholic Universal Church. All humans have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, but not all will accept this challenge and will turn away because it is too hard.
If you take the time to read Gaudium and Spes, the Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, this provides a wonderful context into which the question of who goes to heaven is approached.
In a recent Lectio Divina meditation at 4:00 a.m., the Holy Spirit presented me with a story or parable about who goes to Heaven. Some believe only Roman Catholics go to Heaven, and the idea that there is no salvation outside the Church. Before I share that story, here are some of my assumptions about Extra Ecclesia, nulla salus (outside the Church, there is no salvation.)
The Christ Principle saves all humanity (all humans regardless of sex, race, belief, religion, non-belief, un-belief) from just being human. The next step in our evolution as humans is to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father and fulfill our humanity in Heaven.
Individually, each person exists on earth to discover and answer the six questions that propel us to our intended destiny. These are: What is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of my life within that purpose? What does reality look like? How does it all fit together? How to love fiercely? You know you are going to die, now what? Depending on what we select as answers, we can solve The Divine Equation and claim our inheritance.
These questions are beyond human capability to be answered based on just the physical and mental universes of reason and free choice. God provides us with both the questions and the answers that will propel us to fulfill our humanity. The Christ Principle is the way, the truth, and the life we must lead to move to the spiritual universe, in addition to the physical and mental universes.
There is a problem. The spiritual universe is the opposite of the physical and mental universes, which is called the World. The spiritual universe is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, now and throughout each age.
In the reading above, people left Jesus because his sayings were hard; they could not accept Christ’s proposal. That saying was so hard and incredibly against reason and what the mind says is true, how we should proceed, and the life we lead. Read this passage in John 6 that is as true this very day as it was when Christ uttered it.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”a52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54 Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.b58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”59These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/6
Christianity is the easiest to believe if you don’t have to do what you say you believe. Of the people who say they believe in Christ, it runs the gamut of Jesus is a philosopher or prophet to Jesus is present (transubstantiation) in the Eucharist (no longer bread and wine but the living Jesus.) This is the shibboleth of the Catholic Universal Church. Many people leave Christ because it is so incredible to believe and a hard saying, so they walk away.
What happens to people when they have part of the Faith but not the whole, let’s say 30%? People believe that Jesus is Lord but don’t have the fullness of Christ’s coming to give us gifts to help us get to Heaven.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE. IT HAS CONSEQUENCES
Once, a very wealthy man threw his retirement part for his company. He would retire and leave all of his stock to people who had worked for him all these years. He decided to surprise them by throwing a banquet of the ten best foods he had ever tasted to share them with them, then surprise them with the announcement of the stock.
Everyone received an invitation to the banquet. No exceptions. All they had to do is bring their invitations to the banquet hall, enter, eat their fill of whatever they wanted, then receive the reward from the owner.
Some employees received the invitation but did not like the owner and decided not to attend because he made them angry with all his wealth they thought he should have shared with them. Others did not take time to open the invitation, just looking at who sent it and thinking it was a plea for money. Still, others were too busy to attend to anything their employer threw and made excuses that they would be out of town. About two in ten people accepted the invitation to attend and showed up at the appointed time.
The owner had planned to share with them the ten most succulent dishes he had ever eaten. It was a sit-down banquet complete with the best of wines, served by waiters on the finest dishes. To make it easy on people, the owner told them as they entered the hall that they did not have to eat all the dishes but only those that they would choose. No questions asked.
As the waiters brought out each course, the guests would either each course or refuse it. As it turned out, only less than one hundred forty-four persons tasted all 10 dishes and shared their employers’ gifts. Others ate from one dish to nine dishes but were amazed at how good the taste was. Some said they did not like a dish because of its appearance; others wanted to avoid calories and did not eat it; some were vegans and held their noses when the meat dishes were brought out.
When the banquet had concluded, the owner got up to make a speech. He thanked the employees for their contributions to the company and said that he had an announcement. He said he was retiring and was giving the company to those who had shared the banquet with him, each according to the number of dishes they had eaten. And, he added, this will be what you eat after your die…forever.
Many are called, but few are chosen. Those chosen have to choose to eat what comes from the Master’s table, not what they would like to eat.
What is the meaning of the parable of the retiring executive?
Who are those who chose not to attend? What was their reward?
Why were all not given an equal share in the shares of the company? Does that have any application to today?