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A Reflection: Late Night Musings

October 9, 2021
Sister Moon over our house tonight

I came across the following quote from a letter that Thomas Merton wrote to Dorothy Day in 1961. She was knee deep in the fight for those whom society and the establishment ignored and abused in their quest for riches and power.

Persons are not known by intellect alone, not by principles alone, but only by love. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is, and who we are. It is only this realization that can open to us the real nature of our duty, and of right action. (letter from Thomas Merton to Dorothy Day, 20 December 1961 from The Hidden Ground of Love)

The real nature of our duty and right action… we need to hear this challenge today. Yes, these are indeed challenging times for communities of all kinds. Tomorrow’s lectionary readings from the prophet Amos (Amos 5:6-7, 10-15) and the gospel of Mark (Mark 10:17:31) talk about division between the haves and the have-nots. They also point to a divide that was not created by God.

In verse twelve of Amos 5 we read the following: For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins– you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate. Instead of a community that supports and nurtures all members, there was division according to Amos. This was a similar challenge which Jesus faced during his ministry on earth.

When a man came up to Jesus and asked him how he could inherit eternal life Jesus said, you know the commandments. The man, thinking he was on easy street said, I’ve kept all of the commandments since my youth. The challenge Jesus offered was to look beyond himself by selling all that he owns and give the money to the poor. The man went away grieving because he had a great many possessions. I wonder if Jesus was being more than simply literal in his comment.

Yes, some have done just that in their faith journeys. Francis of Assisi is one individual who comes to my mind. The question is: did Francis do this for his own individual salvation or did he realize that focusing on “things” takes our focus off of our neighbor.

How do we move from a faith that is self-centered to a faith that is God and neighbor centered? Amos had the following to say in verse fifteen: Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate… establish justice for all, especially the downtrodden, those who have been denied justice by the ruling elite, including the church itself.

Perhaps the challenge of Jesus was about more than wealth. Perhaps it had more to do with what controls us. Do things control us? Does the need for absolute power control us? Does the need to base our self-worth by debasing others control us? These are questions that each one of us, including this Padre, need to wrestle with.

Coretta Scott King had the following to say about freedom, justice, and equality for all people—Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.

The challenge is to look beyond ourselves and look to the common good for all of God’s creation. Perhaps it is then that we will understand who God is and who we are called to be as children of God.

4 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Anniegoose's Blog and commented:
    Love love love

  2. love is love is love is love …….. [channeling Lin-Manuel Miranda]

  3. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Most excellent reflection

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