Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Today’s reading

Philippians 2:14-18

“Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you--and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me” (Phil. 2:14-18).


My stomach churns at the passion and vulnerability I hear in Paul’s words. The depth of his care marks a surrender to the Spirit’s call. It subjects him to immense pain and disappointment, emotions against which I do my best to protect myself. To love is know pain. To love greatly is to know great pain from the struggle and need of the beloved, pain you can neither stop or control.

Paul risks great pain. Passionately poured out for the faith and souls of those he loves, their failure to live in Christian witness would mean his failure, his loss, his collapse. It is not enough for him to name Christ among them with whatever power and persuasion he possesses, and then walk away. Not nearly. All is vanity unless they live in faith, in gentle peace and unity in the Spirit of the One Love that won’t let him go.

So different from my ways. Failures of grace and love within your holy church make me want to walk away, troubled, depressed, wounded, wanting only to distance myself from the disappointment of again not finding the incarnation of your love my soul most needs. So I seek to tell my little stories, make my witness and press on.

But it is not enough. Do I care enough to struggle, to suffer pain, to subject myself to the risk of running in vain so that my efforts amount to nothing? Is this really your call, to invest so heavily in the souls and faith of those I serve that their murmuring, their failures to live in the peace of your Spirit, their turning from the depth of soul’s commitment you would work in them becomes my pain, my sorrow, my grief?

If so, I haven’t the reserves for this kind of life. I cannot do it, not without you. Be with me my blessed brother. Grant me my measure of the Spirit in which you loved all the way to the cross. Maybe then I will know Paul’s passion and participate in the Love you are. Amen.

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