Our Holiness Is God’s Holiness

Love: Week 2

Our Holiness Is God’s Holiness
Sunday, November 4, 2018

Self-hatred is also the hatred of God, because God and ourselves are united. —Thomas Keating [1]

There is only one thing you must definitely answer for yourself: “Who am I?” Or, restated, “Where do I abide?” If you can get that right, the rest largely takes care of itself. Paul answers the questions directly: “You are hidden with Christ in God, and Christ is your life” (Colossians 3:3-4). Every time you start hating yourself, ask, “Who am I?” The answer will come: “I am hidden with Christ in God” in every part of my life. I am bearing both the mystery of suffering humanity and the mystery of God’s glory, which is precisely the mystery of Christ. (Allow yourself to be shocked by the universality of Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, 15:22-28 or Colossians 1:15-20.)

God looks at us and always sees Christ, and God thus finds us always and entirely lovable. God fixes God’s gaze intently where we refuse to look, on our shared, divine nature as God’s children (1 John 3:2). And one day our gaze will match God’s gaze. We will find God entirely lovable and ourselves fully lovable in the same moment. Why? Because it is the same set of eyes that is doing the looking. “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

All we have to do is receive God’s gaze and then return what we have received. We simply complete the divine circuit, “love returning love” as my father St. Francis put it. This is our spiritual agenda for our whole life.

We are saved by standing consciously and confidently inside the force field that is Christ, not by getting it right in our private selves. This is too big a truth for the small self to even imagine. We’re too tiny, too insecure, too ready to beat ourselves up. We do not need to be correct, but we can always try to remain connected to our Source. The great and, for some, disappointing surprise is that many people who are not at all correct are the most connected by reason of their intense need and desire.

All we can do is fall into the Eternal Mercy—into Love—which we can never really fall out of because “we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God,” as Paul so beautifully stated (1 Corinthians 3:23). Eventually, we know that we are all saved by mercy in spite of ourselves. That must be the final humiliation to the ego.

Our holiness is first of all and really only God’s holiness, and that is why it’s certain and secure. It is a participation in love, a mutual indwelling, not an achievement or performance on our part. “If anyone wants to boast, let them boast in the Lord,” Paul shouts at the end of his long argument (1 Corinthians 1:31). Jeremiah said the same long before Paul: “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, nor the strong boast of their strength, nor the rich boast of their riches. But rather, let those who boast, boast of this, that they know me” (Jeremiah 9:22-23).

References:
[1] Thomas Keating and Betty Sue Flowers, Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ (Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.: 2010), 100.

Adapted from Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, eds. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018), 186-187.

Image credit: “Ladybug” (detail) photograph, Roderico Y. Diaz.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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