Grace: Week 1
Scarcity or Abundance?
Friday, January 29, 2016
The flow of grace through us is largely blocked when we are living inside a worldview of scarcity, a feeling that there’s just not enough: enough of God, enough of me, enough food, enough mercy to include and forgive all faults. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the mind is apparently unable to imagine anything infinite or eternal. So it cannot imagine an infinite love, or a God whose “love is everlasting” as the Psalms continually shout.
A foundational abundance within reality is clearly exemplified in all of the “multiplication” of food stories in the Gospels, when Jesus feeds a crowd with very little (for example, Matthew 14:15-21). The real spiritual point is grace and not some mere physical miracle. Notice in almost every case, the good old apostles, who represent our worldview of scarcity, advise Jesus against it: “But how will two fish and five loaves be enough for so many?” Jesus is trying to move them from their worldview of scarcity to a worldview of abundance, but does it with great difficulty. In the end there is always much food left over, which should communicate the point: reality always has more than enough of itself to give, it is an inherent overflowing. Observe the seeds, spermatozoa, and pollen of the natural world.
Our unhealthy economics and politics persist because even Christians largely operate out of a worldview of scarcity: there is not enough land, healthcare, water, money, and housing for all of us; and in America there are never enough guns to keep us safe. A saint always knows that there is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed. In the midst of the structural stinginess and over-consumption of our present world, how do you possibly change consciousness and teach the mind to operate from mercy and graciousness? It will always be an uphill battle, and it will always depend upon a foundational and sustained conversion.
Only a personal experience of unconditional, unearned, and infinite love and forgiveness can move you from the normal worldview of scarcity to the divine world of infinite abundance. That’s when the doors of mercy blow wide open! That’s when you begin to understand the scale-breaking nature of the Gospel. Catholics and much of the world are now stunned to observe a Pope who actually exemplifies this worldview in our time. We can no longer say it is impossible idealism.
Gateway to Silence:
Open me to grace upon grace upon grace.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Today Is a Time for Mercy,” December 10, 2015, https://cac.org/richard-rohr-on-mercy-mp3.