"Yesterday, in Louisville, at the corner of 4th and Walnut, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun." ~Thomas Merton
Friday, February 10, 2017
Thomas Merton, in the quote at the end of this post [go ahead, drop down and read it now], highlights a very simple, yet profound truth. A truth that inevitably flows from the Gospel when we understand it.
God is love. God loves me. God loves people. I love people.
Not a series of “shoulds” and “oughts,” but a discovery of the reality of who God is. A discovery of how the world looks through the Gospel and in Jesus.
It is obvious to say that Christian spirituality, worship, prayer and calling brings us to the love of God. But it doesn't stop there, Christian spirituality, worship, prayer and calling brings us to the love of people. When we see and know God most clearly, compassion and love for people overflows.
If our expression of Christianity bears the fruit of hostility towards the world of humanity, and directs us away from that world’s brokenness and reality, then we have missed the heart of the Gospel and the heart of God. Hans Kung [On Being A Christian, 1974] , wrote how on "being Christian [...is] being radically human." Merton, recognizes that there was more to his life than his calling to the monastery. He reminds himself and us, that we are human, and, we are called to be people (both as individuals and together as the church) who live out this humanness, demonstrating to the world and the people in it that the heart and glory of God wants to break in. We are called by God into this world.