Jesus of Nazareth: Week 2
Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. (Sunday)
God leads people beyond the idea of a bilateral contract in which we must earn, deserve, and merit, to an experience of pure, unearned grace—an entirely unilateral “new covenant” initiated and maintained from God’s side. (Monday)
The way of Jesus was both personal and political. It was about personal transformation. And it was political, a path of [nonviolent] resistance to the domination system and advocacy of an alternative vision of life together under God. —Marcus Borg (Tuesday)
Jesus takes on our suffering, bears it, and moves through it to resurrection. This is “the paschal mystery.” We too can follow this path, actively joining God’s loving solidarity with all suffering since the foundation of the world. (Wednesday)
The incarnation reveals that human bodies and all of creation are good and blessed and move toward divine fulfillment. (Thursday)
The price for real transformation is high. It means that we have to change our loyalties from power, success, money, ego, and control to the imitation of a Vulnerable God where servanthood, surrender, and simplicity reign. (Friday)
Practice: The Jesus Prayer
Today I invite you into a contemplative practice with the familiar Eastern Orthodox prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.” Let’s look closely at some of the words:
Lord: While “lord” can connote dominion and hierarchical authority (the Greek, kurios, means “master”), remember the authority with which Jesus taught was an inner authority, born of his awareness that he was God’s own child. And we have inherited this power!
Jesus Christ: Jesus is both human and divine, personal and infinite. “Jesus” was a common name (Joshua in Hebrew); “Christ” means anointed, chosen. We need both to ground us in the ordinary, suffering world and to draw us toward the “heaven” of union.
Sinner: “Sin” is simply that which keeps us from knowing and living out of our True Self. We are forgetful of our inherent belovedness. Don’t think of sin as just individual “nastiness,” which is largely shame-based thinking and in itself does not get you to a good place. Understand this in the context of mystical union rather than moralism.
Mercy: We need the “salvation” of Love to overcome our fear-based disconnection, to return us to wholeness. Abundant, never withheld, restorative grace brings us back into intimacy with self, God, and others. Pope Francis says that mercy is the highest virtue in the hierarchy of Christian truths.
Using this prayer as a focal point, say the words repeatedly until the prayer moves from your head into your heart and you connect with the Presence already praying ceaselessly within.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016), 226-227.
For Further Study:
Marcus Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary (HarperSanFrancisco: 2006)
Richard Rohr, The New Great Themes of Scripture (Franciscan Media: 2003), CD
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008)