Father Richard believes that Jesus’ life and teachings offer us a foundational example of God’s all-inclusive love that we are asked to emulate:
The absolute religious genius of Jesus is that he utterly refuses all debt codes, purity codes, religious quarantines, and the searching for sinners. He refuses the very starting point of historic religions. He refuses to divide the world into the pure and the impure, much to the chagrin of almost everybody—then and now.
Jesus is shockingly not upset with sinners. This is a shock so total that most Christians, to this day, refuse to see it. He is only upset with people who do not think they are sinners: these denying, fearful, and illusory individuals are the actual blockage. They are much more likely to hate and feel no compunction. Formerly, religion thought its mission was to expel sin and evil. Through Jesus, we learn that sin lies in the very act of expelling. There is no place to expel it to. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us. We either carry and transform the evil of human history as our own problem, or we increase its efficiency and power by hating and punishing it “over there.” The Jesus pattern was put precisely and concisely by Paul: “for our sake he made the sinless one a victim for sin, so that in him we might become the uprightness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). I admit, that is counterintuitive for most people. Only mystics and sinners seem to get it.
In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37), Jesus tells of a man by the side of the road waking up in enemy territory, realizing that he has been loved by the very one who is supposed to hate him and whom he is supposed to fear. Could this be everybody’s awakening? Could this be an accurate image of discovering God and truth? Jesus is clearly presenting the foreign Samaritan as an image of God. He ends the shocking parable by saying, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:37). The human task has become the very imitation of God, which seems almost unthinkable. God, the one that history has been taught to fear, is in fact the utter Goodness that enfolds us and creates a safe and nonthreatening universe for us—a renewed universe that we can now pass on to others. For Jesus, there are no postures, group memberships, behaviors, prayer rituals, dietary rules, asceticism, or social awareness that, of themselves, transform us or make us enlightened, saved, or superior. There are no contaminating elements or people to expel or exclude. These answers are exposed as inadequate only when goodness is exposed as the divine field of action. Everyone and everything belongs.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2001, 2020), 168–170.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on God’s inclusive solidarity instead of judgment.
- Listen to Jacqui Lewis and Brian McLaren discuss thinking inclusively on the CAC podcast Love. Period.
- 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.