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Take a look at “The Great Unifier.” I love it, T.
“Prayer is freedom and affirmation growing out of nothingness into love. Prayer is the flowering of our inmost freedom in response to the Word of God.”
Thomas Merton. Contemplation in A World of Action (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1973: 345.
In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.
Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love.
Jesus says: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him … take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). He does not say: “Make a cross” or “Look for a cross.” Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. The cross we have is hard enough for us! But are we willing to take it up, to accept it as our cross?
Maybe we can’t study, maybe we are handicapped, maybe we suffer from depression, maybe we experience conflict in our families, maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn’t choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus with them.
“If you want clues to how this year’s presidential election will be fought, look no further than this past week’s Meet the Press on NBC, where the GOP telegraphed its aggressive messaging offensive and Democrats, as usual, sought to play at the smug intersection of fairness and above-the-fray.”
“It was what Republicans do best—character-assassination politics, not unlike the attacks that Democrats allowed to define Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
Sure, Republicans will attempt on some level to engage Obama on the issues, but there is little for them to work with there, given the advantages Democrats enjoy on the economy, health care and on Iraq. McCain will try to challenge Obama on national security and the war on terrorism. And his campaign will make daily attacks on Obama’s experience and preparedness to lead.”
“Republicans will make Obama’s character a central issue in this election, every day, on every news show and repeated by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, The New York Post, the Washington Times editorial page, until Election Day. It will be relentless. And it will be tiring. And swaths of the public will begin to believe it.”
This is what we’ll hear. Think for yourself. Do not believe everything you hear.
The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up. Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.
The way of Jesus is radically different. It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility. It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place! Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing? Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.
Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.
Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.