Celebrating the Ascension gives me pause . . . It’s really the culmination of Christ’s redemptive action. It’s not his “leave-taking.” But what is that to you and me?
My morning reading today brought together one theme from several very different perspectives: What is redemption / salvation anyway? And so what? Why the cross? What difference does the Body of Christ, and my being a member of it, make to the fate of the world / universe?
First, Richard Rohr’s newsletter this morning begins what I think will be a very auspicious week:
Week Twenty: Choosing Love in a Time of Evil
How Do We “Save” the World?
The Divine Mind transforms all human suffering by identifying completely with the human predicament and standing in full solidarity with it from beginning to end. This is the real meaning of the crucifixion. The cross is not just a singular event. It’s a statement from God that reality has a cruciform pattern. Jesus was killed in a collision of cross-purposes, conflicting interests, and half-truths, caught between the demands of an empire and the religious establishment of his day. The cross was the price Jesus paid for living in a “mixed” world, which is both human and divine, simultaneously broken and utterly whole.
In so doing, Jesus demonstrated that Reality is not meaningless and absurd, even if it isn’t always perfectly logical or consistent. Reality is filled with contradictions, what St. Bonaventure and others (such as Alan of Lille and Nicholas of Cusa) called the “coincidence of opposites.”
Jesus the Christ, in his crucifixion and resurrection, “recapitulated all things in himself, everything in heaven and everything on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). This one verse is the summary of Franciscan Christology. Jesus agreed to carry the mystery of universal suffering. He allowed it to change him (resurrection) and—it is to be hoped—us, too. Christ frees us from the endless cycle of projecting our pain elsewhere or remaining trapped inside of it.
This is the fully resurrected life, the only way to be happy, free, loving, and therefore “saved.” In effect, Jesus was saying, “If I can trust it, you can too.” We are indeed saved by the cross—more than we realize. The people who hold the contradictions and resolve them in themselves are the saviors of the world. They are the only real agents of transformation, reconciliation, and newness.
These “saviors” exist in every period of time and in every faith tradition. At times they exist even with no “faith” at all, beyond a consciously held belief that solidarity with all of life is, in fact, the meaning of life. For whatever reason, such people agree to share the fate of God for the life of the world now. These people feel called and agree to not hide from the shadow side of things or the rejected group, but in fact draw close to the pain of the world and allow it to radically change their perspective. They agree to embrace the imperfection and even the injustices of our world, allowing these situations to change them from the inside out, which is the only way things are changed anyway.
The Gospel is simply the wisdom of those who agree to carry their part of the infinite suffering of God. It must be recognized that many non-Christians fully accept this vocation with greater freedom than many Christians. This week, we will be focusing on people, both Jewish and Christian, who chose to act out of solidarity and compassion during the genocidal evil of the Holocaust, what many Jewish people refer to as the “Shoah” or “catastrophe.”
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (Convergent: 2021, 2019), 147–148.
Check out all of Rohr’s Daily Meditations and subscribe at:
Right after that, I opened Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper to find a very timely example of “taking on the sins of others.” See if you agree:
I’ve Been Thinking…
As this past week came to an end, I found myself thinking a lot about Liz Cheney. I found myself thinking about her brave stand and the fear it generated within her party. I also thought about what it takes to make a stand in one’s life and the consequences that inevitably result from such a bold move.
Much was made on the news about the Congresswoman being stripped of her leadership position and her power in Washington D.C. and within her own party. But that’s not what I saw. In fact, I saw the opposite story unfold.
I saw a woman step into her power and step into her leadership. I saw a woman speak her mind. And when she was told that the party was going to come after her in her own state, she said bring it on. There is a lesson here for all of us.
When you take a stand against the so-called powers that be—at work or at home—well, they aren’t going to like it at all. There is going to be pushback. There is going to be pressure. There is going to be intimidation.
People you thought were your friends will coalesce around perceived power. People you thought you could count on to stand with you will be scared and may disappear. Life as you knew it will no longer be the same after you take a stand. There will be a before and after.
Liz Cheney is now in her moment after taking a stand. I, for one, find it inspiring to witness. I have no idea what will happen in her political life, but if I were to bet, I would bet that she is feeling newly invigorated. I would bet that instead of being scared, she’s emboldened. And instead of being fearful, I bet she’s feeling braver than she ever has. That’s what taking a stand does for you that the perceived power brokers don’t see, can’t understand, or misjudge. They think the power is in the office, but the power is actually in the person.
Each and every one of us has so much power within us and yet, fear plays such a big part in our lives. From our earliest age, we are told, “Don’t do this. Don’t touch that. Don’t speak like that. Don’t dress like that.” We are told, “If you do that, you will make people mad. You will rock the boat.” Then, before we know it, we are scared and fearful people who are living anything but brave, authentic lives.
The truth is, you have to be brave to live your own authentic life. You have to be brave to chart your own course. You have to be brave to stand up for yourself and against what you believe is wrong. I don’t know if Liz Cheney was scared when she gave her speech, but if she was, that would be human. The fact that she gave it anyway is courageous.
“Our freedom,” she said, “only survives if we protect it… We must speak the truth, our election was not stolen, and America has not failed.”
America will only fail if we all allow it to. Our democracy will crumble if we allow it to. The truth will give way to big lies when we don’t push back against them. At different times in our lives each of us is asked to push past our fear and be brave. Each of us is asked to muster up our courage on behalf of others, on behalf of ourselves, and on behalf of our country.
When that moment presents itself, in your life (and it will) take a deep breath, dig down, dig in and always, always choose your own truth over the fancy job, the big title, or the perceived power. When you do, you will find something deep inside you. It might be something you never knew existed, but if you don’t choose your truth, you will never know what difference you could’ve made in your life, the life of another, or in the life of your country.
That’s one regret Liz Cheney will not have to face. This week, she set an example. She gave us all something to think about.
If you’re not already getting it, you can subscribe to Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper (there’s also a Wednesday Midweek Edition) here:
And, Fr. Med Laz notes the Ascension (the whole Paschal Mystery, actually, “reminds us that there are two kinds of death – Terminal and Seminal.” Here’s the whole “Treat”:
Bringing values and meaning to our troubled world
In the 05/16/2021 edition:
The Stairway to Heaven!
Someone once said, “Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.” How do you take life? Its ups and downs? Its hot and humid days? Its lonely and depressing times? How did our mothers and fathers show us how to take life? How did Jesus show us how to take life?
So often I find that I’m riding an escalator at a shopping mall, an airport or a theater. Once in a while the escalator breaks down and the “OUT OF ORDER” sign goes up. Awhile back I encountered an escalator that was not running. It had an interesting sign: “THIS ESCALATOR IS TEMPORARILY A STAIRWAY”.
Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it. When Jesus ascended up to heaven, he didn’t take the escalator. He took the stairway to heaven.
Today’s Feast of the Ascension (Mark 16:15-20) allowed Jesus to leave the earth and become the glorified Lord of heaven. Our departed loved ones do much the same. They leave their body behind and reach the fullness of life in heaven with Jesus.
The Ascension reminds us that there are two kinds of death – Terminal and Seminal. Terminal death brings an end to the joys and the sorrows of this world. Seminal death means a loss of life so there can be a new life and a new spirit.
Jesus talks about Seminal death when he says, “Unless a seed falls to the earth and dies, it remains a seed. But if it dies it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). For us the Ascension means a Seminal death that leads us to a new life and eventually to heaven with Jesus and our loved ones.
How has a Seminal death brought YOU into a new life in this world?
LIFE BEGINS ONCE JESUS BECOMES THE REASON YOU LIVE IT!
Finally, I was reminded that this is “Laudato Si’ Week 2021“.
Summed up in this quote from Pope Francis:
“I invite all men and women in our world to make good use of the gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us to preserve and make His creation even more beautiful… In order to ensure the proper care of our common home, we must become a “we” that is ever wider and more co-responsible, in the profound conviction that whatever good is done in our world is done for present and future generations. Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer… A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”
MESSAGE FOR THE 107th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2021
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