Reflection on 15th Sunday: 14 July 2019

Love your neighbour as being yourself

“Love your neighbour as yourself.”  So often we think of our ‘neighbour’ as separate from ourselves, someone whom we try to love with the same amount of love as we love ourselves, when it really means that it is the same Source and the same Love that allows each of us to love ourself, others, and God at the same time! In and with God, we can love everything and everyone—even our enemies. Alone and by ourselves, our willpower and intellect will seldom be able to love in difficult situations over time. Many people try to love by willpower, with themselves as the only source. They try to obey the second commandment without the first. When we grow in our awareness that “in Him we all live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), we will grow in the realisation that we are all truly in Love and we will then hear Jesus’ words to mean “Love your neighbour as being yourself.”

Pietro Archiati

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix) (detail), Vincent Van Gogh, 1890.

Our transformed consciousness will enable us to surrender to Love, to allow God to see our woundedness, to see and love us as we really are rather than what we ideally wish to be. We will then want to give others this same experience of divine love, of being looked upon tenderly in their woundedness, be it physical, emotional or psychological. We will want to reach out to our ‘neighbour’ with compassion, notice his/her wounds and touch them with gentleness. For us all to grow in love, “all must come to the light, both the dark parts of oneself that need healing and the light parts that need birthing. “

Cynthia Bourgeault

Often young children are more in touch with the ‘light parts that need birthing’. When asked by their four-year old child what ‘Namaste’ meant, the parents explained that each person is saying, “I bow to God in you.” With an all-knowing look, the child replied, “But Mama. The God in you is the same God that’s in me.”  Out of the mouths of babes…

Main source: Richard Rohr’s meditations. Adapted

Reflection on Trinity Sunday: 16 June 2019

In the beginning was relationship

In the beginning was relationship. “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). When we start with God as relationship, we begin the spiritual journey with an awareness that there has to be a “DNA connection,” between the One who creates and what is created. The energy in the universe is not in the planets, nor in the atomic particles, but very surprisingly in the relationship between them. The energy in the Trinity is not in any precise definition or in the partly arbitrary names of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three. We must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving—and this is the very nature of being! We are intrinsically like the Trinity, living in an absolute relatedness, standing inside a continuous flow which we call love. Jesus invites us to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead.

When we describe God, we can only use similes, analogies, and metaphors. All theological language is an approximation, offered tentatively in holy awe. That’s the best human language can achieve. We absolutely must maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery; otherwise, religion worships itself and its formulations instead of God. Yet Mystery isn’t something we cannot understand. Mystery is endlessly understandable. “The Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth”

John 16:13

God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see you in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Richard Rohr (adapted)

Calendar update: A talk on parenting the teenager you love

Sarah Marie Place is giving a talk on parenting teenagers at the Centre on Tuesday 25th June at 7pm. The talk is applicable to both Parents and Grandparents. As usual there will be an opportunity for tea/coffee and conversation both before and after the event.

The talk is based on a book by Gary Chapman called “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers”.

If you want to ask Sarah anything beforehand then please use the contact form on the the calendar event which can be found by clicking here.

Reflection on 5th Sunday of Easter: 19th May 2019

“Love one another just as I have loved you.”

Surely Jesus’ command to love one another was nothing new for the disciples and those of their time. The commandment is well known in the Old Testament: Love God with your whole heart and your neighbour as yourself.’ So what is new?  — “Love as I have loved you.” This is how we are to love. Love is not what we do, it is how we do it.

When we reflect on the words ‘…as I have loved you’, what are our thought processes?  Do we look for various Scripture references which speak of God’s love for us and in them find a God who loves unconditionally, a God whose love is indiscriminate: a God who is loving, caring, forgiving, compassionate, understanding and self-sacrificing. We find so many qualities of love for us to emulate. We are constantly looking for ways in which we can do this, ways in which we can show that we love as Jesus loved. Do we have the correct starting point? We are familiar with the story of the traveller who stopped to ask someone the directions to his destination. “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here,” was the reply. Jesus’ starting point was his awareness that “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (John 14:11)

How we embark on our journey of loving others is rooted in our personal experience of who we are. Love is not something we decide to do now and then. Love is who we are.  We are created in the image of God and God is love. We were created by a loving God to be love in the world. When we get the “who” right and realise that who I am is love, then we will do what we came to do: Love God and love all that God has created. It is not really what we do that matters. It is the energy we do it with. We can tell immediately if there is love energy coming from the person we are with.  When we truly experience God who is Love, when we know that our heart keeps beating with His energy, then we become Love. We also know this to be true of others as well as ourselves. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” (Les Miserables)

Various sources

Reflection on the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 3rd March 2019

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first

We are familiar with the pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.” The same is true spiritually; we must breathe deeply of God’s Spirit ourselves before attempting to help others. When we attempt to teach or lead others, and we haven’t opened ourselves to God’s Spirit within us, we’re putting on a front, a mask, a costume. The word hypocrite is from the Greek word meaning play-actor.

In his letter to the Galatians, St Paul describes the working of the Spirit of God as the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Joyce Rupp says that she used to think of these fruits as ‘things’ given to us, something in a gift box. Then she began to think of them as energies, dynamic sources of growth already within in us. We can choose whether or not to act upon these energies, whether or not to allow them to become effective in us.”

When we are asked to take the risk of reaching out to another, to offer forgiveness to the heart that rejects us…..

Spirit of God, fill us with the energy of your love.

When we walk with sadness …..

Spirit of God, stir the energy of your joy within us.

When anxiety and concern take over our spirit…..

Spirit of God, deepen in us the energy of your peace.

On those days when our anger flares because our agendas aren’t met…..

Spirit of God, draw us towards the energy of your patience.

When we stop giving people our acceptance and understanding…..

Spirit of God,awaken in us the energy of your kindness

As we struggle to believe in our own gifts and blessings…..

Spirit of God, strengthen in us the energy of your goodness.

As we struggle amid the many changes of growth…..

Spirit of God, move us with the energy of your faithfulness.

When harshness or abruptness dominates our moods…..

Spirit of God, bless us with the energy of your gentleness.

During those experiences of growth when we are tempted to doubt all the ways we have known you…..

Spirit of God, renew in us the energy of awareness of our true self in you.

Spirit of God, you call us to open our minds and our hearts to receive your energising, transforming radiance so that we will follow your loving movement within our lives. We trust in your powerful presence within us.

Joyce Rupp

Reflection on the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 24th Feb 2019

Be compassionate

Compassionate action means working with ourselves as much as working with others. In order to feel compassion for other people, we have to feel compassion for ourselves and as we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others becomes wider. In choosing to be compassionate, we are yielding to the compassionate nature of God flowing through us. Compassion is the love that recognises and goes forth to identify with the preciousness of all that is lost and broken within ourselves and others. To care about people who are fearful, angry, jealous, overpowered by addictions of all kinds, arrogant, proud, miserly, selfish, mean, you name it—to have compassion and to care for these people means not to run from the pain of finding these things in ourselves. It means acknowledging our need for healing if we are to heal others.

Pema Chodron. James Finlay

May you desire to be healed.
May what is wounded in your life be restored to good health.
May you be receptive to the ways in which healing needs to happen.
May you take good care of yourself.
May you extend compassion to all that hurts within your body, mind, and spirit.
May you be patient with the time it takes to heal.
May you be aware of the wonders of your body, mind, and spirit and their ability in returning you to good health.
May you be open to receive from those who extend kindness, care, and compassion to you.
May you rest peacefully under the sheltering wings of divine love, trusting in this gracious presence.
May you find little moments of beauty and joy to sustain you.
May you keep hope in your heart.

Joyce Rupp