Monday, September 2, 2019

See Me



"On a Sabbath, Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He told a parable to those who had been invited . . . 'When you hold a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.  Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability repay you.' "- [Luke 14: 1, 7-14].


I once knew an important man, who went about boasting that he attended all the big charity dinners and concerts. He regaled all, with stories of those glittering evenings. He showed around photos of banquets laden with gourmet food, photos of the stellar guests dressed in their finest designer clothing. 'Oh, ' he would say, ' By the way, this was all for charity.'

It seemed like he was more motivated by the fine accoutrements offered, or by the personal pleasure enjoyed in such luxurious trappings. The people whom he was meant to serve were an afterthought. They were strangers to him, or mere props in his pursuit of pleasure.

He seemed more interested in toting up the value of what he had received, as against the charitable donation that he had made. The charity banquet became a financial transaction - "I gave $100 but received things worth far more than that in the course of an evening."

In this Scripture, Jesus advises us to invite "the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind".  These are neighbors or acquaintances who cannot possibly pay us back for our generosity. This kind of banquet is not designed to make our guests feel guilty.

This kind of banquet is designed to make us feel a whole lot less entitled. When we do not feel "owed" something, we suddenly become a whole lot more humble.

Love is the great leveler, is it not? Love asks us to give generously, from the heart. Love requires true sacrifice. Not forking over a few bucks, to get a guaranteed pay-off, now or in the future.

Love does not mean keeping score - 'I did this for you, now you owe me this.'

Love also requires us to meet ALL people, where they are.

Love requires me to accept that you are a "mere carpenter", and to find the value, the humanity and the Soul in that.

Love does not put certain people on a pedestal, and place others beneath us in status. Love is not a constant measuring up.

Jesus treated the dreaded tax collector, the woman of ill-repute, the Pharisee and the blind man, all with Love and respect. He truly saw them, but from the inside.

When I was a little girl, I was bullied. People "accused me" of coming from a rich family, as if that necessarily meant that I was a snob. They "accused me" of being intelligent, as if that necessarily meant that I was a know-it-all. They mocked my strong aquiline nose, they criticized my ethnicity, as if that meant that I did not belong in the place where I lived.

After awhile, even as a child, I realized that people were rejecting me because of things I could not control. Things I was born to be.

It was then that I vowed to never reject or criticize someone for who they were. I could wish that someone could change a bit - learn to be kinder, to work harder, to be more patient.

But I would never reject someone for being blind, poor, lame, a stranger from a foreign land, etc. These are characteristics that simply ARE, that say nothing about the person's talents, or their capacity to love, or to be of value in our world.

As a little girl, I longed for someone to see me for who I really was, from the inside. I longed for people to see past the superficialities, and to understand me to the core.

I cannot fix all the bullying from the past. But I can try to be more like Jesus, meeting people where they are.

I approach people where they are, with Love.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Reserved.

[Related Postings: "The Banquet", 10/12/14.]






Monday, August 26, 2019

God's Sandpaper



"Brothers and sisters, You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: 'My child, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reported by Him; for whom the lord loves, He disciplines; He scourges every child [whom] He acknowledges.'   Endure your trials as 'discipline'; God treats you as sons and daughters. For what "child" is there whom his father does to discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed." -[Hebrews 12: 5-7, 11-13].

A Christian friend has explained the phrase, "God's Sandpaper" to me. It means that oftentimes in life, the same difficult personal issue will keep coming up. If we take the time to reflect upon some of the tough times in our life, and upon our attitudes and beliefs, we may see a pattern.

This friend explains that the same kind of trials may keep coming up over the years; and what ensues may be harsh consequences, or may be our own blindness to the patterns, or may ultimately become deeply healing lessons.

In my friend's case, she endured a childhood of poverty and abuse. God did not cause these circumstances in her life! God certainly does not believe that she ever deserved these experiences. But, my friend admits that she often reacts to completely unrelated events in her life with anger. She has had to apologize countless times, she has suffered impaired relationships because of it.

From a dysfunctional marriage, to bosses who took advantage of her extreme work ethic, to friends or family who took their own dysfunctions out on her - it took my friend a lot of prayer and trials and reflection to see that what God wants her to learn in all of this is that anger so often comes from the fear of being diminished or even lost.

And God wants her to learn that He has her back, and she does not need to live in fear or believe that she is marginalized. It took my friend a lot of pain and feelings of abandonment to begin to see that she IS a daughter of God and she does have value.

In my own case, my reaction to childhood abuse and trauma was to "go invisible". Over only a few years, I ate little, I slept little, I hid in my room, I numbed my emotions, and finally by age ten, I stopped speaking.

I have this belief that I matter to no one, and no one matters to me. I still half believe I am invisible. I still have a horror of being noticed or acknowledged. At times, the pain I bear from what I went through is so intense, I feel as if absolutely no one could have had it worse than I have had.

The first thing I did to heal, was to join a church. I was astonished that one of the pastors noticed that I never went up the aisle for Communion. What astonished me is that anyone would notice me at all! When I told him "Oh! I thought I was invisible!", he laughed out loud and assured me that I am NOT invisible.

The next thing I noticed is that the people at church learned my name and said hello. I was astonished at that, too. For a time I would actually look behind me to see if the greeter was talking to someone else, because she could not be addressing ME.

Soon I was invited to participate in church ministries. I was astonished at that, too. This meant that people really saw me, and wanted me to be actively involved. Even more, they wanted to hear my voice.

Finally, through church, I met two young men, who were former Lost Boys of South Sudan. I found myself unable to quell my curiosity about them and their stories. What I learned is that they went through far, far worse than I ever did. Where I was hungry and neighbors fed me, so often they went without food for days. Where I lived in fear, they forged ahead despite drought, monsoons, swollen rivers, rapacious lions, goring antelope; they braved the impossible, because they did not have the luxury of merely existing, they had to survive.

I asked one of the young men how he could possibly be so calm and at peace today? He replied, "What I went through made me into the man I am today."

My attitude has transformed totally. Yes, I still struggle to accept what happened to me. But I now have a much more finely-honed sense of compassion for others. All around me, I see others who have had it just as bad, and even much, much worse.

And then, in His final act of discipline and Healing, God called me to help these Lost Boys and their village. Suddenly, I am caring deeply for these men and their village. They truly matter to me, like the family I never had.

Ultimately, they have told me that I matter to them. In fact, they call me "Mom" because of my protective Love and counsel. I grew up never feeling that I belonged to anyone, or that anyone belonged to me. "God's Sandpaper" - all those times that someone has called me by name and gathered me close-  has made me visible and possessing of value.

I have had to be very brave to learn to feel and speak and sleep peacefully again. But the rewards of God's healing hand are great. I will never be invisible again.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Reserved.















 

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Rich Man

 “Jesus said to the crowd, ‘ Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.’  Then He told them a parable. ‘There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest? I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, ‘Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink and be merry!’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus it will be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.’ “
-[Luke 12: 13-21.]


In times gone by, we used to admire a person who had amassed wealth. People would say, ‘THAT man must be smart and hard-working and gifted, look at how successful he is!’

Today, we see a person who has amassed wealth and we see a person who must be, by definition, Evil. The wealthy person must have taken advantage of others to amass those riches. Maybe he practically stole the riches. He must have broken the law or walked over others to get ahead. We assume that we must hate wealthy persons, because wealth = evil.

Each of these notions of wealth is somewhat of a stereotype. A person who is wealthy may be honest, hard-working and fair. OR, he may be corrupt and evil. Every person’s bank account has a personal story behind the riches.

This Scripture says that “though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”  Luke also warns about those who “store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

God does not love us more, or less, based on our wealth. He loves everyone where they are.

What God does measure us by, is if we store up treasure for ourselves. He measures us by seeing if the wealth itself becomes an idol, something we worship more than we worship Him.

Wealth does make it harder to keep a clear head and put God first.  Putting God first is not impossible for a person who is wealthy. But the riches can easily get in the way of generosity and humility.

Getting wealth and keeping wealth can become more important than the qualities of Love, generosity, tolerance, peace, humility, patience and so on. Keeping wealth can become hoarding, or competing with others who have more wealth, or feeling envious of others who may have more than even we do.

I have seen countless times when a person comes into riches, and the wealth changes that person for the worse. Sometimes the wealthy person confuses the money with God’s approval. A rich person is in danger of believing that God must favor him because He has blessed him with wealth.

A wealthy person is in danger of  believing that those with fewer resources are somehow inferior.

For me, I remember when I was grateful to have a few dollars to buy the basic things I needed. I remember living paycheck to paycheck. I remember eating rice and beans for the last few nights before I got paid again, and the panic that set in after I had paid all my bills and I had so little left.

Now that I am comfortable, I find that my bank balance does not matter on a day to day basis. I find myself working on deep and loving relationships. People have told me that I am the most generous and selfless person they know.

I examine myself each time I make a decision, to ensure that my motivation comes from selflessness and humility, and not greed or self promotion.

The blessings that I have do not make me a better person, more worthy or admirable. The blessings that I have DO enable me to be loving and generous to others.

I always try to ensure that the material blessings that I have do no harm, or at least remain neutral to who and what I am. I am embarrassed if anyone thinks I have material assets, because I do not want anyone to confuse my presumed material riches, with who I am as a human being.

Even better, I try to ensure that the material blessings that I have can become a source of blessing to others. Perhaps since I am comfortable, I can utilize my extra time when I am not earning, to help others. Often, I donate to charity or quietly assist a friend or neighbor, since I can.

For, the kind of wealth which I count precious must be “what matters to God.”  And that is the kind of wealth that multiplies, the more I give it away.

(C) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Reserved.



Thursday, August 1, 2019

I AM Martha

 “Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at His feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’ “ - [Luke 10:38-42].

Life today has become a To-Do List. A Bucket List. A Checklist.

We measure ourselves by what we DO. Not by who we ARE.

Have we climbed a higher mountain than the next person? Have we visited more states? More countries?

Have we won more trophies or awards? Have we logged more hours? Run more miles?

It has come to the point that people ask,  “What are you going to DO on your vacation?”  DO?

 How about, Sit in a chair and watch the sun rise. Or the sun set? How about strolling in the woods, not with the goal of how many miles traveled, but with the vague sensation of happening upon a tiny butterfly, or some wild roses with their sweet scent, or the feel of a cooling breeze?

Sometimes, I wonder what the future will bring? I race around trying to control every eventuality.
Will my son do well in college and get a good paying job? Will I plan my savings well for retirement? Will I keep my health as I age?

Sometimes I think we humans race around trying to rack up accomplishments, in a desperate attempt to feel that we are in control of our lives. ‘Look at me’, we say, ‘ I am in good stead, I volunteered 150 hours this year. Look at me, I am an interesting and worthy person, I am global, I have seen many tourist sites.’

But, as I told an acquisitive person in my life, “ There is ALWAYS someone out there with a bigger boat.”

Anything we own or think we have acquired can be taken from us in an instant. Busyness is not godliness. Our possessions do not equate with our inherent value.

If I came upon Jesus, I am afraid I would be Martha, not Mary. I would want to “create the moment” rather than being serenely still and drinking it all in.

How wrong I would be!

If I am too busy, I will never really see life. Or, enjoy it. I will race down that circuitous path with an eye only to the end of the trail. I will never pause long enough to even see the butterfly. Let alone to delight in its meandering flight.

Sometimes, when an issue in life arises, I want to see it resolved NOW. If there are twists and turns along the way, I actually try to say to Life, “Well?! HURRY up”.

I cannot stand the suspense. I want the denouement and I want it to be a happy ending, and I want it NOW. So I run around trying to prevent any eventualities.

What God wants me to do is to sit with Jesus sometimes, and trust in all Faith that He will walk with me as Life unfolds.

I need to remember that I cannot control what happens, just by staying insanely busy, desperately attempting to plug all the holes in life, to adjust for others’ shortcomings, or my own. The Mary in me understands that the Peace which comes from sitting with Jesus is the ONLY thing that cannot be taken away from me.

[Related Postings: “The Martha Complex”, 7/16/16; “Are you Martha or Mary?’, 7/21/13].

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Resserved.

 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Near To Your Heart



"[Turn] to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul. For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'  Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." -[Deuteronomy 30: 10-14].


When I was a little girl, I was not fed consistently. I was verbally abused, called a failure, struck and bruised. I began to shut down, not speaking, not sleeping. All I wanted was for someone to hug me and say, "I love you." More than that, I wanted someone to show me Love.

I thought- 'I will be happy if I keep my stuffed animals near me, my teddy bear, my tiger striped cat, my dachshund toy, my kangaroo toy, my baby doll.' I had names for all of these, and they all had their distinct personalities. But one day, my mother saw me lovingly arranging them on a wooden bench in my room. I was about 12 years old. When I came home from school the next day, they were all gone! I ran to my mother to ask where my "friends" were? She said, "I gave them away." I cried.

So then I thought- I will be happy if I study hard and get all A's in school. I had to study extra hard in Math, it was not my best subject. One evening at dinner, I told my parents that I gotten an A- on my Math test. My mother told me icily, "Next time it will be an A." I had to swallow hard to eat my supper.

So then I thought - I will be happy if I get accepted to my first choice in college. I WAS accepted and I was very happy there. I made friends and did well; except that when spring of my senior year came, I cried because I knew that I would be leaving that happy place. . But then, my mother told me that I would major in what she told me to study because she was paying the tuition. And if I did not follow her plan for me, I would be kicked out of the house and I was on my own. I did follow her plan for me because she forced her will on me. But my soul was crushed by living someone else's life.

So then I thought - I will be happy if I get a good job and make a generous salary. I did get that good job. But I hated the work. Every Sunday night, when the Sunday night programs came on TV, I cried because I knew that meant I would be back at the job I hated by Monday morning. Every time I tried to quit, I got a big raise and a nice promotion. I kept working harder than anyone else and lobbying for more and more responsibility. Why wasn't I happy?

So then I thought - I will be happy if I can meet the guy of my dreams and get married. Through a mutual friend, I did meet the man of my dreams, one who is kind, patient, smart and incredibly funny. We got engaged but my mother was furious. This was not the man SHE would have picked for me. My parents refused to stand in the receiving line at my wedding, and they cut us out of family holidays.

So then I thought- I will be happy if we can buy a house. We did find the house of our dreams. But then my parents refused to give us any support, monetary or otherwise, to fix it up, and then they refused to come to our house, because it was not "nice enough."

So then I thought - I will be happy if I became a mother. That joyous day came, when our son was born. But then my parents, and just about everyone else I knew, began giving me unsolicited parenting advice. And, I found out that caring for another tiny human being never can cure the longings and gaps in our own psyches.

All these years later, I am a whole lot older and wiser. I understand now that the longing in my wounded soul is with God. And God is not "out there" somewhere.  He is not too mysterious and remote that He can never be found or embraced.

I once asked a neighbor, "What is beyond Space, beyond all the skies and stars that we can see, and even the ones we cannot see?" She gave me a funny look and said, "I think that beyond that there is just more Space."

But that was not the answer that I was looking for. The way I figured it, Heaven was somewhere beyond the farthest reaches of Space, just no telling HOW far? What I wanted to know was, "Exactly how far away is God? How far away is Heaven?"

In reality, we don't need to locate God or the Divine in some indefinable place "Out There". God is NOT too mysterious and remote.

We do not need to go across the sea or through the skies to find Him. We do not need to ask anyone to bring Him TO us.

God is not found in only certain places - such as just in church.

I was looking for Love and happiness in all the wrong places. I wanted experiences and accomplishments and milestones in life to heal my Soul.

I thought I could heal my soul and find Love in comfort objects. In recognition for good grades. In acceptance at a college. In a job title and a certain salary. In the status of being married to another person. In motherhood.

But what I found out is that God IS Love. And God is no farther than my own lips and my own heart.

When I carry out that Love of God within me, FOR others and WITH others, I slowly heal my Soul. When I turn to God with all my heart and with all my Soul, I find the comfort and joy that I have always craved.

Today, I cannot say that I am "happy" in a secular sense. But I have found wisdom, peace, contentment, awe, Faith and peace. Who could for ask more that that?

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Wolf Factor



"Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh [selfish personal desires]; rather, serve one another through Love. . . But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say then: live by the Spirit. . . For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so you may not do what you want." -[Galatians 5:1, 13-18].


A dear friend tells me that I am the most humble, the least selfish person she knows. I was happy to hear that. But I told her, that this takes constant vigilance on my part. I ask myself, at every action and transaction, 'Where do my selfish desires end, and where does my Love and compassion for the other person begin?'

Always, I understand that I cannot always do whatever I want. I have to separate out what I want, from what the other person needs or deserves. Because what I selfishly want may actually harm, or even destroy another person.

What the Bible calls "the flesh" is a shorthand way of saying "selfish personal desires". There is even a list for that : immorality, idolatry [worshipping celebrity, or fame, or material wealth], hatred, discourse, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness." -[Galatians 5: 19].

A pressing desire for alcohol, for excessive eating, for jealousy, for gossiping, of fault-finding, for anger, feelings of superiority and arrogance, for cheating, for greed, for the lies we tell to make ourselves look in better standing- all of these enslave us.

A person may fight the urge to indulge in these, may fall into that selfish trap, then descend into an emotional fall-out over the whole sordid mess. This is not freedom, it is slavery to an impulse which we hate.

All of the human temptations which trap us are now played out on an international stage. When Social Media was invented, we were told, "Together, we can change the world."

Yes, digital media can promote and multiply the good. But it can also multiply and expand the evil, as well.

A nasty epithet can be retweeted or re-sent millions of times. What passes for News is essentially Gossip, repackaged in bright, throbbing colors, with just the barest soup├žon of veracity, to make it seem like the Truth. In this digital media age, we are devouring each other, with innuendo and outright lies.

 We mince and parse others' words, pouncing on each other with a loud, "Aha!", if we detect an insult that is not even intended. Someone who absolutely denies the charges is considered even more guilty.

People in the Western world believe that it is our "inalienable right" to do whatever we want. Our greatest goal in life is to amass enough money and enough power, to not have to answer to anyone.
In fact, this "personal freedom" is packaged as the American Dream.

 But cheating one's way to the top; believing oneself superior because of power or money; descending into fits of rage, are NOT Love.

The temporary, ill-gotten gains of this world are not Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because these fruits are priceless. They cannot be bought for any coin or power or money.

Here is a radical freedom: What if this Life's Dream is to love others? What if our dream is to do no harm? What if the most precious things in Life cannot be bought for money or power?

Selfish freedom, completely unfettered, (doing whatever I want, whenever I want) is ugly, cruel, voracious and arrogant - like a Wolf.

Even for all the wine, power, money, superiority or material wealth in the world, I do not want to be a Wolf.

What I want above all, is to Love and be loved. If the things of this world, such as money and power, cannot buy my greatest desire, which is Love- then money and power suddenly have absolutely no power over me.

I grew up in a home with plenty of money, power, greed, alcohol, fault-finding, anger, feelings of superiority, arrogance, hatred, racism, ambition, jealousy, envy. In other words, I grew up with nothing to feed my soul. I entered the world, after my childhood, broken and empty.

I could not find any value in their money, power or status. These were worthless and even dangerous to me. I had to make them meaningless and without value. The power of these false idols could have devoured me. I had to render them worthless to my Life.

Chasing money and power could not fill my soul. Only Love could.

When I am gone from this world, I do not want to be remembered by what I owned, or by the power I wielded, or by the fear I invoked, or by the lies I told, or by the superiority I displayed.

I want to be remembered by how I loved. Without Love, we devour and destroy each other.

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019.




Monday, June 24, 2019

One Body



"The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to Him and said, ' Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions, for we are here in a deserted place.' But He said to them, 'You give them something to eat.' They said, 'We have no more than five loaves and two fish- unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.' For there were about five thousand men. . . Jesus, taking the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to Heaven and blesses and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was leftover was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces." -[Luke 9: 12-17.]

Just today, I helped the Community Outreach ministry, by transporting some of the over 200 bags of groceries donated by parishioners, to the town food pantry.

The director of the town food pantry greeted us joyfully. It is summer and the shelves of the pantry are almost bare. Low-income children who eat free breakfast and lunch at school are out of school, so they go hungry. Hunger knows no season or even social class. A family living in a mansion may find that the main bread winner has been laid off. The house is worth a lot but you cannot eat from an asset value.

People for centuries have wondered about the meaning and the explanation of the parable of the Loaves and Fishes.

At its heart, this parable speaks to me about hunger. In the crowd around Jesus, the hunger was not visible. And yet, it was there.

I grew up a hungry child. In my dysfunctional family, we had money and we had assets but I was fed inconsistently. At age five, I had learned the signs that would portend what nights I would receive no dinner. I had to learn the days of the week. Wednesdays were a poor bet for dinner. I would eat a bigger lunch at school. Then, I would appear at a neighbor's house, looking very hungry. Often, the neighbor, a poor widow herself, would give me a piece of bread with butter and a glass or two of milk. One mom would see that I might be cold and give me a bowl of chicken soup.

Today, I wonder if we see the hunger in others? I had a physical hunger as a child. But I also had a spiritual and emotional hunger. I was never hugged or told, "I love you." I was called a failure. If I reported that I was cold, I was told to, 'Stop acting up.'

The tender Love in this parable makes me teary-eyed. It is all that I longed for as a child. All that I lacked.

In a Christian church, we are one Body. We are all different, with different races, social classes, needs, gifts and talents. We are equal in the eyes of God, but we are not the same. Each of us is critical to the health of the whole.

The Body of Christ is not just in the community, but is in each one of us. Upon our Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and draws us closer to God's Son.

In case anyone believes that all this is just theological "mumbo-jumbo", there are real life consequences for this belief-

When I help another person, I am seeing and aiding the Jesus who abides in him.

When I tear another person apart, with my words or my actions, I am tearing apart Jesus.

I cannot even walk away and ignore another person in the world. . . because we are all part of one body. I am responsible for you, and you are responsible for me. We are one. If I walk away from another person, leaving him to flounder on their own, I am walking away from Jesus!

I can say, "Well, you are Jewish, or a slave, or a woman or, or. . ."  But the call is to encounter everyone, Jewish or Gentile, man or woman, slave or free.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, " In a real sense, all life is inter-related. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

This is the meaning of the parable of the Loaves and Fishes. Jesus multiplies the Love exponentially, by offering His Body up for us. He says, Whatever you do unto the least of my brothers, you do unto me.

As a child, I received one bowl of soup, one piece of bread and butter. I received a ride home from a neighbor, on a cold day. Now, the great multiplier is Jesus Himself. As I see His face, His need, in all the people who are hungry, I feed the many.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in his book, "The Cost of Discipleship", "It is impossible to become a [new creation in Christ], as a solitary individual. It is the Spirit who brings Christ to each several member, who builds up the Church by gathering individual members together."

This is why Jesus says to His disciples, "YOU give them something to eat."  This is why Jesus says to His disciples, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -[John 13:35].

(c) Spiritual Devotional 2019. All Rights Reserved.