Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time July 3rd 2011 : In The World But Not Of the World

Mass Readings for today are here
Various reflections on the readings can be found here

Second reading from Romans 8 : 9, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. 

Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh. 

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

This reflection below is taken from From the Catholic Northwest Progress June 16, 2005 by Father Ron Rolheiser and puts the situation well ...

“Be In The World. But Not Of The World!”
Great advice, but not easy to follow.

“We struggle with this tension.

On the one side, the temptation is to keep ourselves pure and unstained by the world, but at the cost of excessively separating ourselves from it, not loving it, not leaving ourselves vulnerable as Jesus did to feel its pains, and not modeling how someone can live inside the world and still have a vibrant faith and church life. 

The other temptation is the opposite: To enter the world and love and bless its energy, but to do so in a way that ultimately offers nothing in the way being salt and light for the world.

We will never be free of this tension. Such is the price of paradox. However in order to live within it more healthily, we need a certain theology and spirituality to guide us and we need a greater personal maturity to sustain us.

What kind of theology and spirituality can help us? What kind of personal and collective maturity is being asked of us?

In terms of a theology and spirituality, what we need is a vision that holds in proper tension our love for the world and our love for God.

One may not be sacrificed for the other – they must be brought into proper relation.

We need to be able to love the world in such a way that we bless and honor its goodness, its energy, its color, its zest, and its moral strengths, even as we stand where the cross of Jesus is forever being erected and speak prophetic words of challenge in the face of the world's moral deficiencies, injustices, self-preoccupation, proclivity to greed, and less-than-full vision.

But prophecy is predicated on love. 

Unless we first honor and bless what is good in the world we don't have the moral right to criticize it.

We need to be in solidarity with the world in everything but sin, blessing it with one hand, even as we hold the cross of Christ with the other.

But that's not easy.

We don't just lack the vision, we also lack the moral and emotional strength needed to imitate Jesus. 

He could walk with sinners, eat with them, embrace them, forgive their sins, feel the pain and chaos of sin, yet not sin himself.

He could challenge the world, even as he blessed and enjoyed its energies.

And the struggle to do that is not abstract, but earthy: Mostly we can't live as Jesus did simply because we lack the maturity to walk amidst the temptations, distractions, and comforts offered by the world without either losing ourselves in them, selling out our message, or unhealthily withdrawing into safe enclaves to huddle in fear, against the world, protected from it, but at the cost of denigrating its goodness, energy, colour, and zest.

It's no accident that our church communities sometimes look fearful, grey, sexless, and uninviting in comparison to the freedom, color, eros, and energy that's manifest in the world. 

We remain religious, but often at the cost of being unhealthily fearful, timid, frigid, and depressed.

But Jesus was never fearful, timid, frigid, or depressed. We often are because we need to protect ourselves, given that we haven't got Jesus' maturity and our timidity has its own wisdom, but...

In the 16th century, Ignatius of Loyola looked at the church and thought a new maturity – was needed. He founded the Jesuits in response.

We need that today. Someone needs to found a religious community with no rules because, for its members, none would be needed.

Everyone would be mature enough to live out a poverty, chastity, and obedience that does not need to be externally prescribed and over-protected by symbols that set it apart. 

Attitudes and behaviour would be shaped from inside and would emanate from a commitment to a community, a vision, and a God that puts one under an obedience that is more demanding than any outside rule. 

The community would be mixed, men and women together, but strong enough to affectively love each other, remain chaste, and model friendship and family beyond sex and without denigrating sex. 

The community would be radically immersed in the world.
Its members, sustained by prayer and community, would, be free, like Jesus, of curfews and laws, to dine with everyone, saint and sinners alike, without sinning themselves. 
This community would give itself to the world even as it resisted being of the world.

'Where can I find that ?
I'll join tomorrow !!"
Perhaps that's naive, but whenever I voice this fantasy to an audience the reaction is always very strong: Where can I find that? I'll join tomorrow!

The world needs mature Christians who, like Jesus, have the strength to walk inside the world, right inside the chaos of sin itself, without sinning themselves.

Like the young men in the Book of Daniel, Christians must be able to walk around inside the flames without being consumed themselves, safe, singing sacred songs in the heart of the blaze.”


And God said to me, Write:

Leave the cruelty to kings.
Without that angel barring the way to love
there would be no bridge for me
into time.

And God said to me, Paint:

Time is the canvas
stretched by my pain:
the wounding of woman,
the brothers’ betrayal,
the city’s sad bacchanals,
the madness of kings.

And God said to me, Go forth:

For I am king of time.
But to you I am only the shadowy one who knows with you your loneliness and sees through your eyes.

He sees through my eyes
in all the ages.

Rainer Maria Rilke

From the Gospel Matthew 11: 25-30
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

This is an instrumental version of the hymn All That We Offer

All that we have, and all that we offer
Comes from a heart both frightened and free
Take what we bring now, and give what we need
All done in His name.

Some would rely on their power
Others put trust in their gold
Some have only their Saviour
Whose faithfulness never grows old.

Sometimes the road may be lonesome
Often we may lose our way
Take courage and always remember
Love isn't just for a day.

Sometimes when troubles are many
Life can seem empty, it's true
But look at the life of the Master
Who lovingly suffered for you.

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