Tag Archives: Matthew

Beyond Gender

English: the first of the Epistles to the Colo...

Julian of Norwich sometimes refers to God as Father and sometimes refers to Jesus as Mother. Gender means almost nothing to her because she is beyond that. There’s something deeper than gender. As alluring and as important as gender is, as it is our metaphor held in our body, it is not our ontological identity. It is not our foundational, essential truth. Your gender is not the True Self. It’s part of the False Self. That’s what Jesus is referring to when he says, “…in heaven, they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Mark 12:25). But because gender is so deep in our early conditioning, in many of our lives we cling to it until the very end.

Male and female are most different at their most immature levels and most alike at their most mature levels. When you have matured to the point where you are beyond the dualisms that our dualistic minds have imposed on reality, then you know you are children of the resurrection. You are children of light and there is no male or female, as both Paul and the Gospel of Thomas say. People who already begin to experience such unity in this world will usually find it very easy to be compassionate toward lesbian, gay, and transgendered people, because they know that the True Self, who we objectively are in God, is prior and superior to any issues of gender, culture, or sexuality. Gender is important, but it is still an “accidental” part of the human person and not its substance.

The object and goal of all spirituality is finally the same for all genders: union, divine love, inner aliveness, soul abundance, forgiveness of offenses, and generous service to the neighbor and the world. Here “there is no distinction…between male and female” (Galatians 3:28). Mature Christian spirituality leads us toward such universals and essentials. Yet people invariably divide and argue about nonessentials!

Gratefully, Christ “holds all things in unity…the fullness is found in him, and all things are reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and on earth” (Colossians 1:17, 19-20)—including everything sexual that seems to always be unwhole or split in halves (sectare=to cut or divide).

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Soul Intimacy

The soul defines itself by expansion and inclusion-not by saying “no,” but by offering a kind of courageous, risky “yes”: “Yes, I am like everybody else, capable of the same good and the same bad. They are all my brothers and sisters.” The soul knows that we are all equally naked underneath our clothes. Can you feel the scariness in that? When you allow the face of the other, the opinion of the other, the worldview of the other, to break through your barriers and boundaries, there is always a bit of fear, as in the first moments of nakedness or intimacy.

I can see why Jesus said, “For the gate is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). He is talking, Homeless1first, about life in this world. On the unconscious level, I know that true intimacy with anything is going to change me. And if there is one thing that the ego hates more than anything else, is to change. I know that if I keep meditating, it is going to change my worldview, my priorities, and my preferences. It will be a new world, and I am comfortably hunkered down in this old one. It is a wonder that anyone continues the dangerous journey of prayer, step-by-step, into divine and soul intimacy.

Adapted from 
Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer

By Richard Rhor

 

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Using All Your Strength

helpersI remember an old story about a little boy who was out helping dad with the yard work. Dad asked him to pick up the rocks in a certain area of the yard. Dad looked over and saw him struggling to pull up a huge rock buried in the dirt. The little boy struggled and struggled while Dad watched. Finally, the boy gave up and said, “I can’t do it.” Dad asked, “Did you use all of your strength?” The little boy looked hurt and said, “Yes, sir. I used every ounce of strength I have.” The father smiled and said, “No you didn’t. You didn’t ask me to help.” The father walked over and then the two of them pulled that big rock out of the dirt.

28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

—- Matthew 11:28-30

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It All Hangs Together

Someone will say: “You worry about birds. Why not worry about people?” I worry about both birds and people. We are in the world and part of it, and we are destroying everything because we are destroying ourselves spiritually, morally, and in every way. It is all part of the same sickness, it all hangs together.

——Thomas Merton from his Journals

I find Merton’s approach to creation care well worth considering. Far too often care of God’s creation is presented as an “either or choice,” but it is not so simple. We ALL share this planet that was created by God and entrusted, BY HIM, to our care. Many of us are frightened by the changes we see in our world around us. As a ”marsh dweller,” (I live in New Orleans and we are surrounded by marsh land), I find myself very disturbed by the constant loss of this land that protects from tides and hurricanes. There are various answers to the loss of wetlands, but one thread runs through them all, man messed this thing up. For us to properly worry about birds and people, we must take seriously our roles as stewards of the earth.

Stewards are never owners, but always caretakers. They are to exercise their roles for the true owner. In the case of the earth, God is the owner/creator. What is good for the land is always good for the people who dwell on that land.

environmental-cleanupHow different it would be if we saw creation care as vitally linked to our spirituality. Merton makes this link in short order when he tells us that as we go down the road of moral depravity, we destroy the land entrusted to us as well. This all seems to be a part of a “don’t care” attitude that descends upon us when we are in full rebellion against God. Merton seems to propose that as we turn toward God, we will become better stewards of His creation. Now that’s something to think about.

Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Prayer Thought — Lord make me aware of what I consume each day. Help me to see a link between my spiritual heath and care of your creation. Amen

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St. Joseph

The Flight into Egypt by Giotto di Bondone (13...

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.

We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). He wasn’t rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph’s genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as “son of David,” a royal title used also for Jesus.

We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).

We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

As celebrate St. Joseph with feasting let also remember his commitment to our Savior.

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Sayings of the Master

Sermon On The Mount

Matthew 4:16-25

  • No one can live only on food. People need every word God has spoken.
  • When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven.
  • When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.
  • Don’t store up treasures on earth! Instead, store up your treasures in heaven.
  • Your heart will always be where your treasure is
  • Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself.
  • I tell you not to worry about your life. Can worry make you live longer?
  • Why do you have such little faith? Put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.
  • God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.
  • Ask, and you will receive. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be open for you.
  • Treat others, as you want them to treat you.
  • You can tell what they are by what they do.
  • I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.
  • Anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded.
  • If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.
  • Good people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things out of their hearts.
  • What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?
  • Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.
  • Everyone who is now first will be last, and everyone who is last will be first.
  • Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”
  • If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
  • I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.

Reflection – Choose one of these sayings of Christ to become your focus each day as you journey.

Monica Boudreaux

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You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
Matthew 5:13
How many people do you meet on an average day ? Do you bother to even say hello ? Most of us go through our days ignoring the persons we encounter on a typical day. Christians are the salt and light of the world. It is our presence in this world that can make all the difference. If we are silent and fail to engage the world in conversation ten we have little impact. I can’t help but regret all the nice things I have left unsaid. all too often we are quick to criticize but oh so slow to compliment.
In our busy and anonymous world people are just blurs that pass us by and we think nothing of them. I wonder how different the world would be if we all just started a few conversations. Just randomly and casually. Here’s the suggestion. Take a day, just one day, and be very intentional about saying more than hello to the people you see that day. Who are those people ?
A possible list: (yours may be different)
  • The cashier at the coffee shop,grocery …
  • The postman
  • The garbage collector
  • The person who is 50 feet away from you at the office.
  • The kid in your class that never utters a word.
  • The members of the church choir.
  • The person who walks (jogs-they may not want to speak but who knows)by your house every day.
  • That person you see every time you are in that restaurant.

That just a list to get you started. There are so many more. If you have a few suggestions just  post a comment. Take time to be the “salt and light” of the world.

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Salt on Ice

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

Matthew 5:13
How many people do you meet on an average day ? Do you bother to even say hello ? Most of us go through our days ignoring the persons we encounter on a typical day. Christians are the salt and light of the world. It is our presence in this world that can make all the difference. If we are silent and fail to engage the world in conversation ten we have little impact. I can’t help but regret all the nice things I have left unsaid. all too often we are quick to criticize but oh so slow to compliment.
In our busy and anonymous world people are just blurs that pass us by and we think nothing of them. I wonder how different the world would be if we all just started a few conversations. Just randomly and casually. Here’s the suggestion. Take a day, just one day, and be very intentional about saying more than hello to the people you see that day. Who are those people ?
A possible list: (yours may be different)
  • The cashier at the coffee shop,grocery …
  • The postman
  • The garbage collector
  • The person who is 50 feet away from you at the office.
  • The kid in your class that never utters a word.
  • The members of the church choir.
  • The person who walks (jogs-they may not want to speak but who knows)by your house every day.
  • That person you see every time you are in that restaurant.

That just a list to get you started. There are so many more. If you have a few suggestions just  post a comment. Take time to be the “salt and light” of the world.

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Filed under Christian Journey, Community, Evangelism, Missional Living

Success Traits

Bible

Howard Fisher and Associates conducted a survey of top CEO’s for a major business magazine.The primary goal of the survey was to determine what the CEO’s thought were the keys to their success. It may surprise you to see what these “top dogs” said about success. We are led to believe that being on top means that you must be less than honest or just plain ruthless. This survey seems to cut across the grain of that presumption. Let’s see what some top performers have to say about their own success.

  • Be persistent and never give up.
  • Have a vision of where you are going and communicate it often.
  • Know what you stand for, set high standards, and don’t be afraid to take on tough problems despite the risk.
  • Spend less time managing and more time leading.  Lead by example.
  • Bring out the best in others.  Hire the best people you can find, then delegate authority and responsibility, but stay in touch.
  • Have confidence in yourself and in those around you, and trust others.
  • Accept blame for failures and credit others with success.  Possess integrity and personal courage.

If I didn’t know better, I could think that the biblical teachings of Jesus were the primary guide for these executives. Jesus says for us to “seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added .”(Matthew 6:33) It is the constant promise of the scripture that righteous living has abundant rewards. This simple fact seems to elude us today. The Bible has additional advice: practice meekness, experience grief, show mercy, make peace. These truths are found in the Beatitudes.(Matthew 5:1-7)

This week forget what you think you must do to get ahead, take the advice of top executives and Jesus, put others first, and you will have success beyond your dreams. Let’s allow the great “success traits” of the Bible to guide our lives and provide for us the peace, joy,and happiness that we all long for in this world.

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