Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grace abounding…

Grace—it’s a strange concept for those of us who’ve become used to the “no such thing as a free lunch” way of thinking. It seems literally to be too good to be true. We cannot believe the universe works this way, that, as Cynthia Bourgeault writes:

…you will suddenly find yourself set down in a very different universe from the one we have grown accustomed to inhabiting in these recent, post-Enlightenment centuries. Rather than living in a “clockwork” universe run on implacable scientific principles by an absentee landlord God—or, even more desolate, a totally random, nobody-in-charge universe where the only law is the law of the jungle—instead you wake up inside a warm-hearted and purposive intelligence, a coherence of which you yourself are part of the expression…

Everything is given—and this is not some theoretical, abstract theological concept, a kind of story religious people tell each other to take their minds of the cold and the dark. Nothing is of final value earned—we could never deserve that. As Richard Rohr once said,

If it's too idealized and pretty, if it's somewhere floating around up in the air, it's probably not the Gospel. We come back, again and again, to this marvellous touchstone of orthodoxy, the Eucharist. Eucharist, in the first physical incarnation in the body of Jesus, is now continued in space and time in ordinary food…

You don’t have to put spirit and matter together; they have been together ever since the Big Bang, 14.6 billion years ago (see Genesis 1.1-2 and John 1.1-5). You have to get on your knees and recognize this momentous truth as already and always so. The Eucharist offers microcosmic moments of belief, and love of what is cosmically true. It will surely take a lifetime of kneeling and surrendering, trusting and letting go, believing and saying, “How could this be true?”

It is all gift. What we need, at the very deepest level, is already there, in the open, pierced hand held out to us. And yet it is very concrete—in our sisters and brothers we know that sustaining love in very truth, warm and breathing. We have only to be broken enough to need it. And love is strong as death… it outlasts the grave, lifts the orbits of the spheres, nourishes the star-fields… it is God himself.

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