A Bodhisattva is a being who has attained enlightenment and is dedicated to helping others attain it as well. This is a good thing because Bodhisattvas serve as teachers, guides, and role models of compassion and selflessness, inspiring others to strive for the same level of enlightenment. Bodhisattvas also remind us that all beings are connected and that we should treat each other with respect and kindness.
It is easy to be aware of the injustices that exist in society due to privilege. Whether it be gender, race, or class, there are distinct advantages that certain groups have over others. But being aware of these disparities is not enough. We must go beyond acknowledging the existence of social injustice and strive to be comfortable in our own privilege.
Being comfortable with privilege means understanding the implications of privilege, both as a source of privilege and as a source of oppression. It means being conscious of the fact that the advantages someone has come from the disenfranchisement of others. It means being conscious of the power dynamics that exist between different groups and using that knowledge to advocate for the rights of the marginalized.
Furthermore, being comfortable with privilege means taking an active role in the fight for social justice. It means educating ourselves and others on the realities of oppression and taking action to fight against it. It means standing in solidarity with those who are most affected by injustice and doing our part to bring about change.
It is not enough to simply be aware of social injustice. We must do our part to ensure that those who are most adversely affected by injustice can access justice and the resources they need to survive and thrive. We must strive to be comfortable in our privilege and take action to ensure that the privileges we enjoy do not come at the expense of those who are less fortunate.
“From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet the earth and fields were not made, or any of the dust of the earth”
Those were the words of the first reading at today’s celebration of Trinity Sunday. Fr. Dan Riley, OFM read some words prior to the beginning of Mass from Robert Lax’s “Circus of the Sun”. Lax’s poem prefaced the words from Proverbs. I was struck by the similarity of the words.
Lately I’ve been attending Quaker meetings on Zoom and as many of you know there’s a lot of silence in those services. Quaker liturgy is devoid of images and the absence of wrote prayers is refreshing too. The encounter with God is wordless and yet the presence is there. Silence has often been the voice of God in my life. When I visit monasteries I love the silence. When I walk along the creeks and among the trees in the wooded areas that surround our villlage I’m struck by the presence and power of creation but at the same time by its stillness.
I grew up surrounded by images of God, Jesus, and the saints. More often than not they looked white like me. Lately I’ve seen more depictions of Jesus, Mary and the disciples as darker which is what they probably looked like. What struck me about today’s reading is that it was a description of a force without form or shape. It was a presence but not a depiction. Everyday I’m surrounded by trees, grass, flowers and people yet I fail to reflect that all of these sentient beings are animated by a power and spirit that is without form. The presence of God is within and without all that I see whether Republican or Democrat, man or woman, woodchuck, squirrel, sparrow, rock, stream and sky. I’m surrounded by goodness and some badness too but it’s all permeated by this presence that’s described in Proverbs and other sacred writings from other traditions.
God always seemed forbidding and distant to me because I saw God as a angry man like my father. I couldn’t feel close to a force like that. In the past few years after a challenge from my wife I’ve been reconsidering my concepts and beliefs and it’s led me to a new conception of a supreme force for good in my life. More often than not that force has been feminine. EMDR therapy has helped me to discover the roots of that belief. It was my grandmother who was my early nurture and to whom I could always go for help. She had the time to spend with me that my mother could not because she was working with my father. That hurt my mother and I understand that now but it was Grandma who I felt close to.
Fr. Lou was sitting next to me at Mass this morning and he said “The Shack” had given him the perfect description of the trinity. That fit for me. Octavia Spencer portrayed God in that film. Sumire Matsubara played the holy spirit and Jesus was played by Aviv Alush. None of the characters were threatening. There’s a feminine spirit that’s missing in much of western Christianity that needs to be reclaimed. The world needs more of the feminine and less of toxic masculinity that pervades. We need more of the nurturer at least I have found it so in my life.
Saw this on Representative Mike Thompson’s Twitter feed this morning. Mike Thompson represents California’s 5th Congressional District. This letter from a Catholic Priest friend says it all about Arch Bishop Cordileone’s latest misguided decision:
“Bishops, priests, etc. are neither the hosts nor the bouncers nor the ones who wrote the guest list. The Eucharist is the resurrected body of Christ given for the life of the world…
Jesus Christ is the one who invites the guests (“all you who labor”); he is the host of those who come; he is the setter of the table; and he is the feast which is shared (“Take this, all of you. this is my body, this is my blood”)…
We are guests at the meal, and sometimes (by his calling) servers. So stay in your lane, please. The wait staff doesn’t get to exclude those who want to come. If you don’t like the company Christ calls (and, admittedly, it is a rag tag bunch of sinners, one and all), it’s… you who need to leave the table, not them.”
This week a catholic cleric in the state of California has stated that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi cannot receive holy communion because of her stance on abortion rights. Pope Francis openly suggested that American catholic clerics not politicize the abortion issue. The catholic church is the only entity in the western christian world that has had this stance. Not all catholics are anti-abortion. Many practice birth control and have for years. How does a celibate make policy for the rest of us including those Americans who are not catholic. None of these doctrines of birth control or abortion are included in any of the gospels. Neither is celibacy, nor the college of cardinals, the appointment of archbishops and the provision of ostentatious houses of worship and residence for these pretentious pricks. If you really believed the eucharist is the body of Christ and you thought Nancy Pelosi needed spiritual uplift then you’d insist she receive it more often.
“How do we put on the mind of Christ? How do we see through his eyes? How do we feel through his heart? How do we learn to respond to the world with that same wholeness and healing love? That’s what Christian orthodoxy really is all about. It’s not about right belief; it’s about right practice.”
— The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault
Cynthia Bourgeault’s last book “The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart.”was so engaging that I was excited to read this one too. I’m not disappointed. I feel like the Samaritan woman at the well. Just last week in one of my posts I wrote about how knowing Jesus was a lot different than following him and doing what he did. I was ripe for this journey.
The possible overturn of Roe v Wade and the gradual erosion of individual liberties in the United States leaves me very concerned for the future of our country and our planet. Our land is on fire. The southwest and other parts of the country are becoming uninhabitable due to climate change which is not being addressed in any meaningful fashion. Today Justice Roberts said that the leak of the draft opinion of Justice Alito was a breach of trust. Doesn’t Justice Roberts realize that the Supreme Court’s possible move to ban abortion in the United States of America is also a breach of trust from one of our co-equal branches of government.
These old white men on the court are hardly representative of the citizens of the United States. They are a ruling minority appointed to life time terms on the court mostly by presidents who did not win the popular vote. They are an anachronism. They are out of step with a country where seventy percent of its citizens support a woman’s right to chose what she will do with her body. Imagine if men were held to the same standard.
They call themselves pro-life but really they’re just pro-birth. Once the child is born they don’t give a rats ass what happens to them. There isn’t mandated state supported prenatal care nor is there any help for mothers and children afterward. Many of the children are born into poverty or addiction. There is no thought of how the child was conceived nor the ability of the mother to bear the child. No exception for rape, incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage.
Tonight one of my conservative relatives attempted shame me into supporting this diabolical agenda by virtue of membership in the Catholic Church. It got me to thinking. Maybe I don’t belong in the Catholic Church. Maybe it really doesn’t reflect the values that are important to me. The majority of these conservative justices are Catholic. Maybe I’d be better off as an Episcopalian, a Quaker or maybe no church at all. I don’t have to belong to a church to find God or follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow me!” He didn’t say join this church or that church. The historical Jesus was Jewish and there is no mention of abortion in any of the Gospels because Jewish folks don’t believe that life begins at conception. They believe that ensoulment happens after a child is born.
The United States is not a theocracy. It’s founders were keen to make the first amendment to the Constitution about the separation of church and state. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” My religion is kindness and I believe that you have a right to worship as you chose but you do not have a right to insist that I believe as you do. I believe that the divine light is found in all sentient beings. That includes people, animals, trees, rocks, water, the blue sky and more.
Yesterday on Vietnam Veterans Day I had the privilege of listening to a lecture from a guy who’s pissed that Joe Biden is president and that gas prices are high. In the spring of 1972 I registered for classes that coming fall. I went home like all the other kids expecting to see them in August or September. When I got home there was a notice of pre induction physical for the draft. There was no sophomore year nor junior and senior year either. In August when my former classmates were slapping each other on the back and shaking hands I was in recruit training at Great Lakes, Illinois.
I don’t regret my naval service. I’m proud to have served this country. I still have my dress blues even though they don’t fit. There was a time I prayed that my brother and later my son wouldn’t have to serve in the armed forces but I’ve come to believe compulsory national service would be a good thing. A recent poll of Americans revealed that only 55 percent would come to the aid of the country if we were invaded.
We’ve spawned several generations of folks who think they’re entitled to life on their own terms no matter what. On the world stage we’re witnessing the brave people of Ukraine fend off invaders and the disruption of life as they knew it by a bunch of lawless thugs led by the man who tried to subvert our democracy. I’m sure they’d be willing to endure high energy prices for some peace and freedom.
Freedom isn’t free. Doing what you want when you want how you want with no regard for others isn’t citizenship. It’s lawless and childish. If you’re still driving a gas guzzler 50 years after the energy crunch we lived through in the 1970s then you’re not too bright. End of rant.
This book gets to the heart of the Jesus message which is not about piety but about radical mercy and compassion. This book is a collection of stories that are told or in my case read by the author in a light but powerful manner. I look forward to meeting Gregory Boyle when he comes to St. Bonaventure University later this year.