Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Abundance of Compassion

Sermon Berkley Lake Chapel
August 11, 2013
Matthew 14: 13-21
Psalm 145

“When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick… Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples… And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

“He had compassion.”  It sounds like compassion is a powerful thing.

Indeed it is, as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 145, verse 9, to describe the nature of God, writing, “The Lord is loving toward everyone; his compassion covers all his works.”
Friends, compassion is a powerful thing and a big thing too, big enough to cover all of God’s creation.

But how is compassion different from love, or sympathy or empathy?
The word we use for compassion is derived from the Latin “compati” which means to “suffer in” and “suffer with”. For ancient Romans and Greek alike, as well as in Christian traditions which followed, compassion is also of the highest spiritual value and a virtue reflecting one’s development in spiritual practice and faith.

The ancient Hebrew word for compassion or compassionate is “RaŠł•mana” and carries some complexity to it as it has several implications which give depth to its meaning. Rahmana is one of the names of God, as Father of Mercy, and derives meaning which reflects pity, mercy, and the desire to provide relief to the sufferer. It also relates to an active forgiveness. What’s really interesting as well, and worth some thought, is that the origin for the word Rahmana is “Rehem” which means from the Mother and from the womb. We almost have the trinity represented in one word, Rahmana, which expresses a divine state of Father, Mother and compassionate action coming from the womb of God, like Jesus being born of Mary and the Holy Spirit.  All of which is to say, we are dealing with a word, which is in our tradition of scripture, a very powerful word.

Which brings me to one more aspect to this word compassion, in Hebrew Rahmana, also means “the revealed word of God.” One last thing to hold in your mind also as we consider compassion, is the Compassion Verse, Psalm 145:9, which is also the motto of our Order, this verse  is the turning point in the Old Testament, moving past a God seen to be vengeful to one who  manifests love and compassion for all of God’s creations. From here through the rest of the Psalms, the Psalms become songs of joy and praise. Past are the mournful cries and calls for vengeance mixed in with the first 144 Psalms, but now in the last five Psalms are the praises and celebrations of justice, music, spirit and dances. Now we can turn to the prophets of mercy, and compassionate justice. Now we can point to the Realm of Jesus. Compassion is a powerful, powerful thing.

Let’s return now to our reading from Matthew, but first let’s consider the first twelve verses of Chapter 14. In these opening verses we read of John the Baptist’s execution. John’s disciples come to inform Jesus of John’s execution and he immediately withdraws to a deserted place. One can only imagine what Jesus was feeling at the news of his cousin John’s execution: sorrow, anger, perhaps fear even, he might have wondered if he might be next. We can be sure that the death of his cousin left Jesus grieving, as we all have grieved at the loss of a loved one. So Jesus goes to a lonely place by himself, the place of grieving, sorrow and pain. Isn’t grief and sorrow a lonely place? I mean, who can truly experience my grief but me? Isn’t that what makes it so difficult to deal with, that we feel alone in our grief, that it is singular and alone and unbearable? Isn’t this why our natural response to our grief, pain and suffering is to deny it, to deny the pain we feel?

“Don’t wanna talk about it!”

“I’m not gonna cry over spilt milk!”

These approaches don’t relieve the pain, they just mask it, as do alcohol, drugs, anger, sex, depression, even religion: you know, the list of the responses of denial go on and on, right? Grief, pain, denial, these are spiritual and emotional hardships not to be born alone. They are to be shared. Jesus goes to a lonely place he knows all too well. We read he is always going off to pray in the silence and solitude, into the place of the heart where he can always find, Abba, Rahmana, the Compassionate Father. He gives, in honesty and truth, his grief to God, and God transforms Jesus’ grief from the very life giving center of God’s being, the Rehem, God’s womb. From here grief is reborn, transformed into compassion.

The power of compassion comes from the very real power of our grief and pain, transformed by love and God’s love. There are two very real things all of us, all humans experience: love and suffering. We think that they are at odds with each other, but I think that’s a misunderstanding. In Christ, on the cross, we see clearly where love and suffering come together, and if we can wait, we can see the resurrection of Jesus’ love and suffering as the New Life for us to live. The great power that God grants us is the power of love overcoming suffering, transforming our sorrow into the new life of compassion.

So Jesus comes from his lonely place of sorrow and he sees the crowd waiting and he is filled with compassion. With compassion, he heals all who are sick. With compassion, he feeds everyone, 5000 men, plus women and children, and there is food- left- over. From a few loaves and fishes over five thousand fed- and left overs. What abundance! I think this story is a story of abundance which is born out of compassion.

Jesus promises his followers that they “will have life and have it more abundantly,” Right? We have read God’s compassion “covers all his works” and we see this great compassion at work on the cross and in the resurrection. It’s been said that compassion is the advanced work in Christianity. I think this is true. It’s one thing, a wonderful thing, to be merciful, sympathetic and empathetic, and it’s another to be compassionate, because in being compassionate one integrates the suffering of them self, with the suffering of another. This is to join Jesus in the great vulnerability of the servant Jesus.

Being compassionate also requires us to dig down deep into ourselves to yield the great treasure of abundance which is found in God’s great gift of compassion. We dig down, we mine through our grief to recognize and collect the great treasure of a full and deep love, of God residing in us, so to heal us, to wash away the slag with our tears and God’s tears, revealing that this great gift is the one with which we follow Jesus, to care for everyone, without discrimination and beyond our comfort zone. This is an abundance which moves, and moves us, way beyond the borders of what we thought we were capable of.

This is the hope my Brothers, and someday, Sisters in the Society of Jesus Compassionate pursue and seek to share with the world, the hope found in Jesus Compassionate. We are evangelists for the compassionate nature of God. Remember the Hebrew word for compassion is Rahmana, which means “the word of God revealed,” so all who know compassion and seek to share it, in doing so also reveal the word of God.  We seek to extend God’s compassion for the world to take in, to join us as we grow in, and share in, this wonderful gift of God’s abundance. We seek to share our ministries from out of the gratitude for our lives in God.

We take it as a given, that like the bread of life, our lives will be broken, and for bread to gives us life it must be broken and shared, and for us to accept the bounty of life, we must accept that our lives will at times be broken and to share in it. Yet, we first come with prayer, and then thanksgiving; as it is from our brokenness we may learn compassion.

With compassion Jesus comes to us in the desolate place of our grief to heal us, and tells us to sit down, stop running he says, and he commands us to sit still, to sit still and let him love us deeply, as he feeds us with his bread, from which our deep hunger; our deep longing; our deep suffering; can finally be relieved.

The great 19th century Congregationalist minister Henry Ward Beecher said of compassion, “Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.”  He’s right, because when I am compassionate with you, or you with another, we are both finding healing in the same single act of compassion.

Friends, I invite you to be relieved. I invite you to take the glorious journey where grief meets God’s loving presence and is transformed into compassion, abundance and joy, in all its giving’s and receiving’s, beyond all your imaginings, in the deep communion of our lives, and the life in God, through Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mea Culpa

Dear friends,

It has been a long time! I apologize for being away so long.  Rather than blogging here I've been focused on The Society of Jesus Compassionate facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TheSocietyOfJesusCompassionate?ref=hl

I will again post here as my personal blog in the future and post some photos from time to time as well.

Do visit our facebook page and when I do post something new here I will have a link to it from our fb page.

Thank you for visiting here and I hope it brings you some thoughtfulness and joy.

Peace to you,

Br. John Magdalene Agel, SJC

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013


"Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord."
The Gospel According to John, Easter 2013

This past year has for me seen many passings and dyings in my life. I have bid farewell to one community. I left a job. I left one home for another and had to leave it also. I've been on the move, having four residences since June and will be taking on a fifth in two weeks, and will move again and then, God willing, I will again settle down. I have lived under many shadows and faced many challenges. This past year I was again confronted by my being a childhood survivor of sex abuse.

This year has been decidedly different from years past. Five years ago my friend and priest encouraged me to return to the practice of the Daily Office and by implication to live an intentional life, which for me was to again seek Christ as the center of my life. This intention served me well and held me together when I lost my job in the Crash of 2007. I poured the time not spent job hunting into my spiritual health and growth. Eventually my intentionality led me to live in a vowed community. Two years ago I took vows. Last year, I realized my concept of spirituality was at odds with that community. Others came to the same realization in their separate ways which we realized when we shared with each other that we would not be renewing vows in that order. We realized we were all on the same page, or rather in the same book filled with unique pages being composed by different authors. So we formed a new community, The Society of Jesus Compassionate. We died. We were resurrected. We died and were resurrected joyfully!

My Brothers have been with me in the difficulty of the past year, helping me up when I broke down under the renewed weight of guilt and shame from my childhood abuse and how it had dominated my life, all of it, by having created an inner culture of deception and secrets. I was living as a shadow in the shadow lands.  I also had to come to terms with having been abused by the church as a young adult. Though these were similar, they were not directly related, but both of these disasters were bound by secrecy, and around which my whole life had been governed by deception. And there were the addictions which helped to smother the truth from myself. I’ve been clean thirty plus years and sober since 1995, but I had not come to healing until this year. Yes, I’ve been in therapy of some sort for 23 years now. And it was good, and is good. It gave me a healthy way to cope with and examine the aspects of my persona which were doing me harm, but it was not and is not healing. Healing comes from another source.  Therapy helped and continues to help me prepare fertile ground for the seeds of healing, it breaks the top soil. It some ways, the breaking of that top soil, was breaking away from what was done to me, and by whom, to begin understanding how I am being affected by it in my life. and how I can begin to effect my life from it.

Healing comes from another source. Healing comes from God. Healing comes from the immortal witness of Jesus Christ. Healing comes first to me as a light which first reveals the shadows and then begins to dispel them. Today, healing comes from beyond the grave. This Easter is the first day of healing from a risen Jesus who for a little while made himself lower than angels to live, suffer, die and then rise again on the third day, this day, so that we may know for ourselves, by his example, how to deal with the pain and death which comes with being alive. God, in God’s infinite love for creation and for us, gave his Son Jesus to be absolutely free to live and die as he chooses. God trusted Jesus and Jesus trusted God to manifest absolute love in the world as tangible and real. Jesus chose love, again and again, and in doing so exercised vulnerability. Jesus chose compassion, and compassion compelled him beyond his suffering to fill the needs of the world, to heal the sick, invite the outcasts, and to feed them all. There are seasons and cycles of life, some compressed, some which extend through a life time. Birth, life, death, resurrection; all of these make up the cycle of life. Yes, though we’re not taught to see this, resurrection is a part of the Cycle of Life? Don’t think so? Look around, all of nature proclaims it, life always wins! Death gives way to life, life give ways to death, and death gives way again to life. Life changes forms, but life persists. Our very presence now announces, from countless generations which have come before us, “Life always wins!”

Our lives change. Whether we like it or not, we do ride tides and currents beyond our control. And we die. Many times over we pass through veils of living and dying and the sooner one accepts that fact, the easier the living becomes. We fall, fail; suffer disappointments, and great sorrows of suffering, of heartbreak. We all too suffer the abuse of others, physical and emotional. We all experience tremendous loss when we lose someone in our lives, from changes and disagreements, from distance, and from death. Yet, we who find ourselves in Christ, in the Body of Christ can be resurrected, reborn into new being, a new creation.

How? It is something we can’t do alone as secluded in ourselves. We need help, help born of God’s compassion, found in Jesus, and found in each other. There are those who have walked this path, who have allowed themselves to be vulnerable to their own suffering, with which they can compassionately avail themselves to the suffering of others. There are people in my life who have helped me in my healing, who have given me the holy space between us, formed in safety and trust. My family, friends, my counselor, my Brothers, my priests and my confessor, all companions, have at different times revealed the Risen Lord in their love for me and their earnest desire for my healing, in their allowing me to be vulnerable to the dying in me, and to the life in me to come. From them, like Mary Magdalene, I have heard the call away from the tomb, I have seen the Lord.

The story continues. Life continues. Parts of my persona die and new aspects of my persona grow into fullness, where before there was before decay and illness. We can all experience the joy of a new life. These are gifts from God, to live and suffer, in our dying to the past and its anger, its fear and resentful delusions, and live again into a new life, like Jesus, always vulnerable to loving and healing, growing in us God’s gift of compassion, for ourselves and each other and for the community that is the world. Resurrection and compassion comes from knowing suffering, intimately, without delusion or deception. They come from embracing life’s sufferings for what they are as real, but not as the end, as the stopping place. Sufferings, and the deaths they yield to, are but transitory places, as  one part of the seasons of living which we can all move through, death, healing, love and joy, all pointing to resurrection.

God gives us the way to a life lived in full freedom, by the liberation of our hearts and minds to the healing which comes from the truth of ourselves as vulnerable creatures born to live and die and live again. We celebrate it every year and should celebrate it every day. Celebrate the pain which comes as the herald of new healing, found in God, and found in Jesus. Let the new fire of Easter be kindled in your hearts and let its light shine into the recesses of your hearts, minds and the whole persona of your life. Today, from beyond the shadows of our understanding, is the joy of our resurrection, found in the light and Resurrection of our Christ Jesus, our Lord of compassion. I have seen the Lord, and he is risen!




Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday


“Do you work wonders for the dead? *
will those who have died stand up and give you thanks?
Will your loving-kindness be declared in the grave? *
your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Will your wonders be known in the dark? *
or your righteousness in the country where all is forgotten?”
Psalm 88, Holy Saturday, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

There are times when we are in the dark, when shadows engulf us. This is how it is for us. There are times, when despair is all around us in worries and in real trials of life. It seems that there is no hope, and that all we sought and cherished is slipping away. There are times of unspeakable suffering. We must face them straight on. Embrace the time. Sit with the trial, the despair, even embrace it, be vulnerable to it and learn your truth revealed in it. Enter into the silence. Own it, embrace it as yours. We know this is a part of the wholeness of our being. It is not an endless night we face, though moonless and deep in darkness, it is not without yet a light rising, just beyond the horizon, to meet us again. Though the shadows of hardship may cast a deep dark shadow over our hearts and our minds, and it may seem over our very being, Christ will rise again, and again, and again, to our need for the light within. God’s great compassionate gift is the heart we now possess, once immersed in God’s love, this new heart never forgets. We need only to sit, like Mary Magdalene, releasing our tears in the dark of the deadly night, resting in the silence, still trusting our hearts to remember and the light within to again emerge.




Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday


“For innumerable troubles have crowded upon me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see; *
they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; *
O LORD, make haste to help me.”
Psalm 40, Good Friday, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Honestly when I look back on the 53 years of my life, I can’t begin to count the transgressions and the painful wounds I caused myself and others. Still this God I know is the one who always has the mercy of love to give to me, or to anyone willing to come to honest terms with themselves. Today is the judgment day, the terrible great day of reckoning, where you, I and all who came before us and follow us, are condemned  as worthy of love, God’s love and the love of each other. We are judged and our hearts are changed, our minds are changed, we forevermore are changed. Today shows us the way to The Life, Jesus shows us without vulnerability there is no love and without love there is no life. Remember the end of Advent and we sang “Emanuel!” as this Jesus was birthed, “God is with us!” From Epiphany, through Lent, and now on the cross in his dying, Jesus, God is with us, and in his compassionate prayers for us, he remains with us. Love is living with us. And we look to Easter when again Jesus, God is with us, remains with us beyond death. At Pentecost, Jesus will give his spirit to us to keep always. Then back with us in Advent, again reminding us we are expectant of God within us. Always God is with us. There it is laid out in our calendar year, ever present reminders that God is with us. In different forms represented by different seasons, yet all seasons saying the same, God is with us.

Today, Good Friday, reminds us that there are times when it seems God is gone from us, when our pain is so overwhelming, we have no sense of anything else. Yet, God does remain and like Mary, in the midst of our suffering, we can’t recognize the Master before us even as he calls our name, “Mary!” We again stare blankly at the presence who will not hasten to leave us, but instead he says our name, “Mary!” Until again we see.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday


“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’
then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones;
I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
Jeremiah 20, Maundy Thursday, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

I believe that there is in everyone an immortal soul, a body of consciousness which survives our human mortality. I believe it is the spark of God, the eternal life of all things and individuals, the first source of our perceptions of all that is innately good in us, which propels us to the virtues which include love, mercy, reason, beauty, the sanctity of the life and compassion, which are also personified in our hearts and minds by the image of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.  I think here is where our individual personalities are conceived, in the creative tension in the relationship between our soul's known reality and the world's directed reality, all towards our individual expressions of life and its living. 

Therein is the struggle, the struggle between our Christ nature and our misdirected sense of survialism, out of balance and run amok constructing so many defensive walls which we think are built to keep ourselves safe from outside threat, when in truth they serve as prison walls. The Spirit in us, God’s breath, the first gift of our creation, longs to be set free, and we instinctively know that our true joy is to be found in living out that joyous love, but we resist because the first predicate of love is to be vulnerable. We know this and it burns like a fire, in our hearts, minds, bodies and eyes. There is a time when we seek to quench that fire by focusing on some obsession; work, money, success, fame, alcohol, sex, drugs, shopping, virtually anything. There are times when for some, the obsessions run very dark towards the absolute evil denial of anything good who acknowledge only their emptiness and pain. Then they seek to convey that lone thing they acknowledge, their utter self-absorption, through acts of destruction; physical, emotional and spiritual, either to themselves or others, seeking to be the last one standing, and therefore the only reality. 

Yet, the fire remains, the reality of the truth of our being. No amount of denial can quench it, and eventually, in this world or the next, we become weary of holding it in. How is the fire quenched? By the breath of God within you, the reality of who you are, who we all are. How do we deal with the defenses we've built? Let the breath of God blow them down.

“You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon her; *
indeed, the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants love her very rubble, *
and are moved to pity even for her dust.”

This portion of this morning’s Psalm 102 is for me the real promise of God, to all who surrender their defenses, laid low to rubble and dust, when we accept that today, every day, is the day appointed to receive God’s compassion and mercy! For me this is the practice of living out the soul within, the great gift of who we are in the friction of our daily living. Every day we, out of God’s compassion, can look upon the ruin of what we were, and love the very cause of our ruin, ourselves who built the fortress in the first place, who saw the weight of vanity collapse it upon itself, into rubble and dust. Through God’s compassion we can love our desolation; we can again love ourselves, heart and soul. We can again complete the circuit in God’s love and again begin living the joyful life of vulnerability, for better and for worse, all healing in our shared love with God.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday Holy Week


"Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17, Wednesday Holy Week, the Reading, the Daily Office Book, Year One

The deeper we  prayerfully enter into our deeper selves, the deeper we enter into our true being, and we set deep roots by the silent banks of our hearts where forever flows the cool waters of Spirit. We learn to know the crises at hand, the tribulation, is just a harsh season which will pass by again and though it is a hot harsh wind blowing across the landscape of life, our roots are set deep and draw water from the cool waters of the ever present Life. We learn. We know. We love. We become more fearless the longer we remain, we offer the birds a roost in the cover of our branches and the fawn lingers under the cool shade of our limbs. Our roots run deeper still with every passing year, they run deeper and we are firm in the ground of Being.




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Holy Week


“…Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts…
Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?...”
Jeremiah 15, Tuesday Holy Week, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

I have been blessed, graced, to know healing, truly, deeply and in a way which has left me both transformed and transforming, healed by the God of love and life. I too have known others who, like me, also know the shared experience, the truth of healing and the transformation born of resurrection. Though the cynical world’s voice would have us believe otherwise so to hold us bound to its misery, people can and people do change. These are the people who then are changed into the citizens of the world of hope and beauty.

Yet, there are wounds which remain, which persist in themselves it seems, to refuse healing. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. After many, many years of therapy and healing, I thought I had closed the book on the old wounds but I came to realize those wounds remain. A while back I was taking a required class for church leaders on child sexual abuse during which I again felt myself reliving the pain of that abuse, reliving it deeply and had to use every bit of will power to keep it together during that class until I had a chance to share it with one of my priests afterward. I was overcome with pain, guilt and shame. In the past, I had addressed the abuse as the feelings arose in therapy, or to try to understand periods of self-destructive behavior, or as a way to understand the “whys” of my addictions. But this time, I saw it not as part of the patchwork of living, but as the thing which propelled the arc of my life.

I don’t pretend to understand it all yet, but I do trust it now, to sit with the abused and wounded me, in the way my priest sat with me that day after the class. As she sat with me in our chapel, and listened, and held my hand as I cried my story out to her and to God, as she then prayed with me and over me, as she made the sign of the cross on my forehead with holy oil in healing and forgiveness (because I needed and wanted forgiveness), and as she put her arms around me and let me cry, and as she reminded me that I am God’s beloved child in whom God is well pleased, I can now sit with the abused child I was, and love him as he is. I'm even learning to not judge him.

God is compassion. When I look back at the chaos of my life, done to me and done to myself, I can offer no explanation of the mystery that brought to where I am, other than to say, I never quit believing what I had been taught early in life, that God will always love me unconditionally as long as I can remember this about God. So I kept trying to remember and kept searching for this God. The God I kept coming to was this compassionate God of unconditional love. True, I’d then start running away again, but the God of compassionate love kept calling me back. I also knew that for me there would never be happiness unless I answered that call.

These wounds still remain though, I must be honest. Yet, I am different. I have thought often of how the New Testament presents the Risen Lord as Jesus, with his wounds intact, and beyond Easter, as Jesus ascending to the Father, with wounds intact. Talk about mystery! Here is God presented as dead, resurrected and ascended, with wounds from beginning to end! Though this still boggles the mind, it does say a few things to me. While the wounds of Jesus remain, the man who bears the wounds is a changed man, a glorious human transformed around his wounds, who is at peace with his wounds and can offer healing through his wounds. “Through” his wounds can mean many things here, but they speak to me as a journey through his wounds, and that his wounds may be a portal through which he traveled to be resurrected and to extend healing to us all, to the history of the world. 

Perhaps, he traveled a resurrection journey of a new life, strengthened by healing, so to offer healing. The journey may be to the depth of human experience into the one thing all humans experience, pain and death. Sadly, I can’t say with certainty that all people experience much love on this earth. Maybe that is why Jesus’ wounds remain, to hold the suffering of those abandoned and those from whom love is withheld, to always remain connected to the suffering of the world until the release of death’s hold on us. Maybe this is why some of our wounds remain with us, to serve as the passage to the resurrections in our lives as a restored humanity, to keep us connected to those who suffer around us, to restore healing compassion to ourselves, so we may also may help restore love to this world.

Here’s the thing, none of this happened to me alone. The violations done to me were done by others. They've also been done to countless number of children. My journey towards healing didn't happen alone either. There were people involved with my healing, friends, family, therapists, companions and priests. These people helped open the doors for God’s healing in my persona; they helped create a space for God’s healing simply by loving me as I am, while encouraging me to be more. They were for me and are for me, the Body of Christ, formed too by the wounds of their lives. This is what they taught me, it is our shared woundedness, healing in God’s love for each other, which makes up the Body of Christ. As the body of Christ still bears his wounds, so too does the Body of Christ continue to bear its wounds, without shame, as a real offering to the world: Here, come join us, we are the same, come and share your wounds in our healing journey.

Loving God, living God: We pray our wounds not be a life killing end unto themselves, but rather, by Christ's loving guidance, that our wounds might be portals of salving grace towards our resurrection, into the living compassionate Body of Christ, and in healing service to this earth and humanity. Amen.






Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Holy Week


“Thus says the LORD concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage that I have given my people Israel to inherit: I am about to pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again to their heritage and to their land, everyone of them.”
Jeremiah 12, Monday Holy Week, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Through God’s compassion, I am given the gift to deeply, rightfully and truthfully examine my heart and life for the evil which resides in me as my selfishness, and in my turning a blind eye to the evil which persists in the selfishness of the world. We are all given the ability to offer the truth of ourselves to God, to pluck them from our fearful hearts with compassion, and to restore our hearts to the compassion we inherit from God. Ultimately, there is nothing to fear about ourselves and lives that can’t be viewed as healing by God’s eternal compassion. We can be forgiven as we accept the offer of forgiveness, and we can forgive as well. We can come again to know the truth of our being as souls born of God’s breath. We can again come to the only joy and happiness which lasts, the joy of loving and being loved. We can again emerge from the shadows of our shame, driven by our ever-present fears, to again know the cascading light which is the comfortable knowledge of God’s eternal life for us and God’s equally eternal love for us.




Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday


“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
and he shall command peace to the nations;
his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
Zechariah 9, Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Peace. Peace of heart. Peace of mind. Peace as our way into the world. Peace as our way through the world. Rejoice in this! Live in this! Compassion is the way of our God, which makes us prisoners of hope. Our hearts return again and again into our stronghold, the heart of God, in silence and in peace, and we are restored and even more.

We enter this Holy Week at once in the joy of our Messiah’s hope, and the promise of his peace, and then again we will face the tribulation of Jesus’ Passion, the tribulation God came to share with us in Jesus, not in supernatural terms beyond us as the mysterious Spirit beyond the veil of our world, but in Jesus who came to suffer death, our death, not even the quiet death of old age, but to suffer all human abuse and to die a senseless violent death, cut from the prime of his life. Yet as he lives and dies to the terms of human mortality, in his being tortured, in his being nailed to a cross, he does so in his terms, in peace, love and the compassion which promises paradise to a repentant killer by his side, and declares forgiveness to the humanity whose cruelty hung him and murdered him on the tree. In this peace of Jesus, in this compassion of Jesus, is the power of his Resurrection, God’s answer to the injustice, tyranny and death which marks the human life on earth; love does overcome and life is victorious over death. Are we willing to be prisoners of hope, to be vulnerable, to be compassionate, and to lovingly and peacefully take up our own fragile cross towards the promise of new life and new peace in the Resurrected Christ? It is my hope that we are able, in the peace of confidence, to again surrender and die to those things which restrain us from the fullness of our realization in God, the fullness of our humanity exemplified through Jesus, all to the joy of our resurrection, in new life and our new creation, fostered in God's ever-present offering of compassion. This week take to the place where life and death embrace each other as one in the mysterious dance of recreation, join in the dance, feel its rhythmic sway and pulse, to the eternal song of joy.

Have a blessed Holy Week to the joy of our Lord and Creator!

Loving God, grant us this Holy Week the wisdom and courage to see the truth of ourselves and our fears, that we may offer them up to you as a sacrifice,  so that we also may take up our crosses as prisoners of hope, as Christ peacefully bore his cross as a prisoner of human cruelty: Grant us strength in the hope, that as Christ died on the cross, so too may our fears die on the cross of our bearing, by knowing the assurance of his forgiveness, in his last life’s blood and breath, we too may again joyfully share in the Resurrection of our risen Jesus,  and in the fullness of his new peace. Amen.




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Lent Five


“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 31, Saturday Lent Five, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Such is the great grace and wisdom given to us by God’s compassion: that we can come through our travails; we can be made new, should we but make our hearts available to God’s loving promise, a new covenant written in love and forgiveness. It may be difficult to accept, but we do know each other as ourselves, in our hearts illumined by Christ's truth, we are no better or worse than ourselves or the other. We are all variations on the same tune, at times we all hide in the shadows in our shame, and at times we dance in the light of our truest being; why is this so hard to accept? We are all music and harmonic discord made a symphony before God in God's loving Oneness. 

The questions which keep returning to me are: Am I willing to abandon the twisted security of the familiar bondage, the bondage of my heart and mind, bound in chains of anger, fear, doubt and shame? Am I willing to surrender and risk, trusting God to hold my heart and to write the perfect law upon my heart, and know the compassion of Christ within me? Am I willing to let go of the security of my perception of you, to see the Christ in you? Honestly, not always. Yet, the more I give of my heart to God, the more my trust grows, because the greater strength is gained in willingness to be vulnerable, and to have it affirmed in experience of God’s presence, through my vulnerability, as to the humility and the poverty of knowing the reality that our fullness of being comes only in the dependence of relationship, to the need of Christ’s love, and the need to continue to seek out and serve Christ’s love in each other. 




Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Lent Five


“Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29, Friday Easter Five, the Reading, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office, Year One

I pray the Office, I pray in community, I pray for the needs of others, I pray as most people who pray, and I pray contemplative prayer, the prayer which seeks the deep silence of God’s presence. Contemplative prayer is a form of meditation which seeks fullness of God’s presence in the moment.

For me and my community the focus of our contemplative prayer is compassion, seeking out God’s compassion within ourselves, within the sanctuary of the heart, in order to better align the whole persona in balance of spirit, heart, mind and body, all to better realize the compassionate nature of Christ in ourselves, and so to better approach creation with open hearts, open minds and open hands, all open to receiving and giving. When our hearts and minds are open to Christ’s spirit then we are inclined to search out Christ in all, and if with our hearts we are searching out Christ, we will find Christ wherever the search leads us, for as the greater parts of our hearts become committed to our relationship with God, the more we find the space around us to be the Holy and Sacred.We become the New Creation transformed by Christ’s love, with new eyes to see God before us. 

Wherever our eyes fall, they fall on the vision of God and onto God’s invitation to live in compassionate relationship with whomever our eyes come to rest on. Where are your eyes leading you? Where are your heart and eyes inviting you to live your vision of compassion?




Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Lent Five


“I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the poor *
and render justice to the needy.”
Psalm 140, Thursday Lent Five, Evening Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Do I dare claim Christ as my healing, resurrection, and as my ruler, my Lord? If I do then I am accepted into his body, his person, his heart and spirit. Then as he is in me, and I in him, in this relationship then I too am compelled by God’s compassion, infused into me, to honor God’s compassionate call, in his spirit, and in the truth of my life, to maintain in this relationship, the cause of the poor and to render justice to the needy. It’s not enough, for me, to simply accept God’s graces, as God’s grace does not come in a vacuum, nor do I live in a vacuum smugly sure of my place in the order of things, but as Christ serves me, serves us, we too must serve the concerns of the needy. The more we love each other, and all others in need, the closer we come to God, the more we mature in Christ, and the more Christ comes to fully reside in us.




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wednesday Lent Five


“Hear my voice, O LORD, according to your loving-kindness;*
according to your judgments, give me life…
Deliverance is far from the wicked,*for they do not study your statutes…
Great is your compassion, O LORD;*preserve my life, according to your judgments…
The heart of your word is truth;*all your righteous judgments endure for evermore.”
Psalm 119, Wednesday Lent Five, Morning Prayer, the Daily Office, Year One

The fullness of our lives runs the course with which we embrace the fullness of loving, to which God has judged us as “worthy” of since before creation. We deceive ourselves if we believe otherwise, we fall to the snares of The Accuser if we ever accept the deception that we are never worthy of God’s love, of any love. All humanity, past, present and future is subject to God’s compassion as realized in the love of Jesus Christ by his great offering of love, sanctified by his utter selflessness before all creation, by which he proves us all worthy to be loved and to love. Jesus has realized God’s statutes by loving God completely, in his loving us completely, by his willingness to die an innocent man on the cross, to satisfy our blood-lust once and for all. Jesus reminds us that God's will is for us to love one another, to subject ourselves into loving each other. Therefore if anyone says you are not worthy of God’s love, turn away from them, for the truth that is at the heart of God’s word is love, and this love is “righteousness” which endures forevermore. God's capacity to love is a mystery to the mind which seeks to be in control.  Yet God's mystery is manifest as God's love extends into everyone and everything of his creation and revealed in the surrendering mystery of Jesus's great compassion, which pushes our willing hearts into the widening mystery of our growing love. To deny God’s love for all his works of creation, of you and me, is to deny God his truth, and worse for me, should anyone deny another person the knowledge of God’s unmitigated love for them, is to play God. God’s love is always available for the ones who confess their transgressions, in spirit and truth, and then accept God’s love by reciprocating the love in living the life,  the way of Jesus, the way of loving, mercy, transformation and compassion.




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Lent Five; Joseph, Guardian of Jesus


“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted *
and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous, *
but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.”
Psalm 34; Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord; Evening Prayer, the Daily Office, Year One


To be with God is to have a vulnerable heart, a vulnerable life. To be righteous is to be aware and vulnerable to the needs of the suffering of humanity and creation, and to be willing to experience one’s own suffering with their suffering, so to serve and tend to the needs of suffering. It is the broken heart which becomes the broken ground ready to accept the seeds of compassion, the good soil from which the bounty of joy is ultimately raised to the nourishment of self and others. In my experience, and with those of others, this is the realization of God’s promise. There are times when the broken heart’s reality seems the closest intersect with God’s presence, when the Spirit of Christ’s love is real and tangible, when the choice is made to keep on loving, to keep risking the vulnerability Jesus, God, experienced towards the cross and on the cross, who persisted in loving his tormentors even to his last breath. It is at the moment of brokenness, when we are aware of our vulnerability, and fully present in it, that the fullness of our humanity comes into view, when too, the fullness of God within us comes into our field of view as something real and tangible: mysteriously and miraculously, we can still rise up again with Christ, we can still love.




Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Lent Five


“I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
Jeremiah 24, Monday Lent Five, the Reading, the Daily Office Book, Year One

Our culture has been amiss since Descartes famously got things wrong. Ergo cogito sum. Historically this is translated as “I think therefore I am.” This is a logical misconstruction as being must precede awareness of being. If I don’t exist, I cannot think. “I”, the pronoun which initiates the statement’s existence, suffices to make the case that being precedes self-awareness, which allows for one to conceive the notion of "I" in “I think…” What is so attractive about “I think therefore I am” as a concept is that it places emphasis on the intellect and that human intellect is the superior force of reality. It seduces me to consider then the misunderstanding that as intellect precedes being, then intellect has priority over being, my intellect over your being. Our culture is top-heavy in intellect, especially left-brain intellect, placing intellect, human intellect, as the sovereign definer of reality and arbiter of being. This rationale has invaded religion as well, expressed in cultures of dogma and domination rather than spirituality and compassion. With the notion that I can build a rationale around what “I believe” and “We believe” in the authority of consenting minds, I can find a means to create or participate a religion of domination, I can even find a way to rationalize killing people in God’s name, or to ignore the suffering of the world. If "I" is the predicate of being, then "I" can justify and rationalize any selfishness, any narcissism, or any cruelty by act or omission.

Yet, God, eternal truth, calls us to love one another, in peace and with compassion. These are not functions of intellect, as the mind can only perceive, then consent, or dissent, and then construct ordered series of conclusion structured around the mental act of either consent or dissent. This is what makes “the truth” such a tricky concept, as truth and reality in our perceptions and evaluations are in perpetual flux. Yet, we all know the truth of love and of compassion. We all also possess an organ which perceives the truth and functions as the brain of the soul and of conscience, the heart. Yes the heart is an organ which pumps blood, even the ancients knew that, and they also knew it was more than that.  “Conscience” and “science” share the same Latin root, scio, which means “know” or “knowledge”. So, conscience is the knowledge of the heart. It is through the heart the spirituality is perceived, where God is perceived and resides, from where our elemental understanding of right and wrong originates, where the truth of love and it's absence are perceived, "felt". Then the relationship of the mind’s consent or dissent comes into play. To the point, we need both heart and brain fully functional if we ever hope to be ourselves fully functional humans and God bearers. The truth is, we don’t need a heart, or a God for that matter, to have a religion, any ordered sequence will suffice. We have hearts that we may know God. We need a heart to be in relationship with God, and to then be in a healthy, balanced, liberating relationship serving ourselves and each other. The heart is the seat of our spirituality, our elemental truth. The journey of liberation and joy, which is the journey God calls humanity to enjoin, begins first in liberating the heart from the bonds of the dissenting mind, and then for the mind to consent to the whole heart, formed in God’s compassion. Easy? No. Painful? At times. Yet what of value ever comes easy without sacrifice or the potential of pain? To be in the restorative journey of health and balance, we are all obliged: Open your heart, open your mind, open your hands.




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Lent Five


“Am I a God near by, says the LORD, and not a God far off? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? … See, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the LORD, and who tell them, and who lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or appoint them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 23, Sunday Lent Five, the Reading, the Daily Office, Year One

There is no escaping the truth of who I am, in spirit and in truth. Who can hide from the truth of who they are? I cannot. I can only accept it or deny it, and no matter how much I deny it and hide it from others, there is no changing its fact. My inner “prophets” may dream their escapist dreams and fanaticize their escapist fantasies, but they don’t change the ultimate reality of who I am. I may dream my escapes, but call them what they are, is what I have to do. There is nothing gained in playing the pretend game, other than more emotional, spiritual and physical ruin to rain down upon me and those with who I’m in relationships with. If I’m not careful I could reap the tempest of ruin. As uncomfortable as it may be, compassion requires honesty, even hard honesty, first with ourselves, then in the gauging of our society and culture as witnessed in our economics and politics, those two things which mark whether “the people profit”. Then from the profound compassion of Christ’s giving, we may discern where we can help form justice for the whole community, as compassion without action is an empty ruinous dream.




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Lent Four


“He loves righteousness and justice; *
the loving-kindness of the LORD fills the whole earth.”
Psalm 33, Saturday Lent Four, Evening Prayer, the Daily Office Book, Year One

We who claim Christ also claim to be in Christ and Christ in us. Then we are in the peculiar position to claim his attributes, righteousness, justice born of loving kindness. The claim to Christ is also a claim to be in relationship, where relationships are the beginning and end of our intention. This is a bold claim which I’m not always feeling up to and at times were I doubt myself and even despair, but I have a community to help me up, I have a parish to lift me up, by their example and by their concern for me. I have too scripture and prayer to remind me of nature of life. There will be times when I will experience the desert, and times when again I will feel the cool relief of restoring waters. My sense of abundance will give way to a sense of emptiness, but again I will know abundance, like a vineyard heavy with grapes. This is life.  I must remember its cycles and during the dry times and empty times, I need to not cede my living life, but with persistence, instead continue to pursue the loving-kindness of the Spirit which fills the whole earth, as the Spirit remains and love remains there in my communities. These are the times when I must put the relationship first, and get out of my worries if nothing else, for a while. There are times when all I can do is show up. Sometimes that is enough; sometimes just being present is relief. Fortunately, the claim to Christ is not, and cannot be, a solitary thing, as the claim to Christ is a claim to be in fellowship, in abundant seasons and in lean season, to be there for others in their lean time and to let them be there for me in mine.




Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Lent Four


Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.
Jeremiah, 23, Friday Lent Four, the Reading, the Daily Office Book, Year One

The flocks have been dispersed. Memberships in churches have been in steady decline and with good reason. The message of the Gospel has been at odds with many loud scapegoating commentators, “shepherds” of religion who have abandoned God’s compassion, with the truth that God is love, and have ignored Jesus’ requiring call to discipleship as followers of his way: to love neighbors and enemies, to be merciful, to be non-judgmental, to be peacemakers, to care for the sick, the poor and prisoners.

In the face of hypocrisy, it is reasonable to abandon dysfunctional communities such as these. Why would anyone attend a community which claims to follow Christ while ignoring the teachings of Christ and the intention to live the teachings of Christ? As well, we should be asking ourselves and communities, am I/we being true to Christ’s teachings, am I/we satisfied that I/we continue to grow in my/our intention to the joy of serving Christ, in service to humanity and in stewardship of creation? The sense of self-satisfaction can lead to the killing atrophy of spirit and service, we need to be aware then, and review our lives, so to be renewed in our lives, and in our intention to live in spirit and in truth. The living Church of the living God is always moving to the realization of God’s compassionate justice and peace.

The Holy Spirit is moving though. New Shepherds are being raised up who take the promise of God’s compassion, realized in Christ Jesus, very seriously. We may be seeing the true Church reemerging across historical, social and cultural differences, liturgical differences, denominational differences, and even religious differences. We may be witnessing the rising up of a renewed faith rooted in mercy, justice, compassion and care, people who believe Jesus and believe him when he says heaven is at hand, that the kingdom be on earth, now. There are those who use religion as a means to wealth and power, don’t let them get to you, pray for them and take the lead by the example of compassion in your life. Seek out the workings of spirit and faith in the workings of social justice of Jesus’s teaching. Seek out churches which show the fruits of Spirit’s love in their works for the sick, poor and the prisoners. Seek out the churches which offer full-inclusion, which hope to be as broad as “the compassion which covers all his works.” Seek them out. Seek each other out, encourage each other in the truth of Christ, working through each other, and work together to the joy of love’s greater glory. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Lent Four


“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; who says, ‘I will build myself a spacious house with large upper rooms,’ and who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar, and painting it with vermilion. Are you a king because you compete in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 22, Thursday Lent Four, the Reading, the Daily Office Book, Year One

This is one of those passages which forces itself upon me, where I have to face the responsibilities of being in Christ, which are the responsibilities to which I must be committed in order to grow in God’s compassion. I have to be concerned with the unrighteousness and injustices of the world. I have to “judge the cause of the poor and needy” and make it "well", to the best of my ability, first in how I treat those around me and to do the best I can to compel my community and nation to do likewise. I must be an activist to the cause of justice, economic justice first, as economic injustice is the root of all injustice. I must tend to the needs of the poor, but I also must be vocal in advocacy of justice, I also must boycott those businesses which gather wealth at the expense of human needs and decency. This isn't easy, but I must minimize their profitability which comes at the expense of the food, shelter, health and well being stolen from the labor force, who truly make the wheels of commerce turn. There are times when even compassion has hard requirements, including those of my sense of desire and comfort, and of those of my nation.  




Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday Lent Four


“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: ‘Come, go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done?”
Jeremiah 18, Wednesday Lent Four, the Reading, the Daily Office, Year One

Ever since God’s compassion came to be the core of my reality and the means to my joy and peace, I have come to realize that my heart, mind and being are in never ending cycles of being reshaped.... Among other things my older brother is a gifted potter. There have been times when making a tall vessel that the vessel will get out of shape, in fact, the taller a vessel becomes, the more chances it will get out of shape in its formation. At these times, he must begin again. The hands which were lovingly caressing the vase in its shaping will now become balled fists, pounding down the misshapen clay to a form with which his hands may begin again the careful process of building the vase back up. Does my brother beat down the clay out of anger or to punish it? No, he’s simply preparing the clay to begin again. Compassion has taught me that God doesn't beat us down in anger either, the hardships of life, they are just how life is, yet we are given the opportunity to learn and start again. This is the nature of God’s love working in is, to see through Christ, with new eyes and a new heart, that we are ever changing, we are in Paul's words, the New Creation. And the New Creation never stops emerging, it is always new! We are constantly and forever given new life if we will participate in it. We of the New Creation are ever being restored to our true nature, the God within, Christ made manifest. Though not without challenges and hardships, for as we grow taller in Christ, in our formation and relationships of compassion, like the vase, the more likely we are to get out of shape. But that is not our end, to just be beat down, as we are in loving hands, God’s hands, the community’s hands, the hands of fellowship and in our own open hands. Like the clay reshaped, trust that we too will be raised up again in the fellowship of Christ’s compassion.




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Lent Four


“Happy are they whom you instruct, O Lord! *
whom you teach out of your law;
To give them rest in evil days, *
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the LORD will not abandon his people, *
nor will he forsake his own.
For judgment will again be just, *
and all the true of heart will follow it.
Who rose up for me against the wicked? *
who took my part against the evildoers?
If the LORD had not come to my help, *
I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence.
As often as I said, "My foot has slipped," *
your love, O LORD, upheld me.
When many cares fill my mind, *
your consolations cheer my soul.”
Psalm 94, Tuesday Lent Four, Evening Prayer, the Daily Office, Year One

The truest happiness I can know, joy, comes from the realization that God’s law, while not easy to live, is simple to understand: love God in our loving God’s creation, in caring for the sick, poor, outcast, prisoners and our enemies. This love we too should come to realize in ourselves, we should strive to ammend those aspects of our persona which inhibit our capacity to love and live out compassion. “Evil” is in the places wherein people hold an absence of regard for the suffering of the world. Again, it is the holding, that is maintaining, an absence of regard for the suffering, either in ignoring it’s presence around us, or worse, in the manifestation of it. This is the difference between “sin” and “evil”. Sin, as Paul reminds us, is missing the mark of love’s measure, through a transgression, our inhibiting the growth of Christ in us. Evil is the absence of love’s capacity in the human heart and mind, the absence of empathy and compassion in an absolute objective of intention. We in Christ must stand against evil. Christ is calling us to act. We need to allow ourselves to intentionally follow Christ's nature, as our objective, and rush in to fill the vacuum of evil in the world with compassion, care and consolation.