Father Richard shares that both Genesis and the Gospels point us to the truth that “everyone belongs.” He believes several of his meditations this week are the very heart and foundation of his teaching. Read them twice!
Try to think of the Reign of God as Jesus’ way of saying “the Big Picture” or “in the Largest Frame.” It is not a place as much as the ultimate perspective, the perspective of God. Whenever we open ourselves to the Big Frame, our little frame of reference shrinks into proper perspective or even falls away entirely.
Life can’t be based on what is passing; it can’t be based on transitory images. Instead, we have to base it on the lasting truth, on the truth of who we are, on the truth of this creation, which God says is “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Our problem seems to consist in the fact that we’re convinced of not being good. And we need a great deal of trust to believe God’s pronouncement that everything God created is very good—even in its imperfect state. We seem to believe that only perfect things are lovable. Yet the Gospels say very clearly that God loves imperfect things, which is really everything! Perfection is invariably our own self-created notion, manufactured largely in our own thinking mind or by our culture; thus, it is both delusional and, finally, self-defeating—as well as a major enemy and obstacle to loving what is right in front of us.
Only God can lay claim to perfection. Yet we keep plowing ahead, demanding a desired and expected response from ourselves and from the world, even when we seldom get it. We then use this disappointing information to notice everyone else’s imperfection! Such a false crusade only gets more compulsive and demanding the older we get.
Those who don’t have anything to prove or protect believe they are loved as they are. But we who have spent our lives ascending the spiritual ladder have a harder time hearing this truth. For the truth isn’t found up at the top of our striving, but down at the bottom in our deepest nature. By trying to climb the ladder upward we miss Christ, who comes down through the Incarnation.
The proclamation of the Reign of God is a radical political and theological statement. It has nothing to do with being perfect. It has to do with living inside the Big Frame, the final and full state of affairs, the lasting perspective. The gospel is before all else a call to live differently, so that life can be shared with others. In other words, the gospel is ultimately calling us to a stance of simplicity, vulnerability, dialogue, powerlessness, and humility. These are the only virtues that make communion and community and intimacy possible.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2003), 56, 57, 58; and
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard and Brian McLaren on God’s justice and the Reign of God.
- Read Richard on the Reign of God as an alternative to domination systems.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image Credit: Brian McLaren, Untitled 10-12 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Brian McLaren as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. His photos are featured here in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image Inspiration: The two outside photos in this triptych can appear spare, bare, or apart. The photo in the middle brings together a collection of unique items supported by the table. What happens when we are intentional about connection, or together-ing, rather than other-ing?
Story from Our Community:
Through my own practice of contemplative photography, I enter a state of wonder and open all my senses to seeking and receiving the divine in the thin spaces that surround us. Through my camera lens, I witness the sparks of grace that reside in the mundane. Photography has given me the gift of mission and glimpses of grace and divinity.
—Mary Beth W.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.