Where Heaven & Earth Meet
#WhereHeavenAndEarthMeet is the podcast for August 12, 2018. The current political climate gives us a good point at which to distinguish God’s view of humanity and the human view of humanity. We have villains, says columnist Jerry Davich. Do we? Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #John #John6 #PostTribune #JerryDavich #Alinsky #RulesforRadicals #Rule13 #Villains #Heroes #Incarnation #WordMadeFlesh
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here (For Our Deaf and H/H Brethren)
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/12/2018 The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read John 6:41-51.
In describing the political climate in the United States today, one of my local newspaper’s columnists, Jerry Davich, wrote this past week, “There’s always an enemy of some kind in our lives, a villain who should be despised and not trusted. It taps into our DNA and our primal instincts of self-preservation. This is consistently reflected in our movies, our TV shows, and our national politics.” The interesting thing is that this is the underlying tenant of a political organizer named Sol Alinsky.
Alinsky wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals”. It is a Machiavellian treatise on how to organize and win political battles. Alinsky was considered an anti-establishment guy, so conservatives often single him out as bad. The funny thing is that over the last 40 years, I have noticed that the conservatives themselves use his 13 rules pretty effectively. Of the 13 rules, rule 13 is of what Jerry Davich is speaking: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” In other words, if you want to win, villainize your opponent, whatever opponent you pick. This is how you can assert your power and authority, says Alinsky.
The people who hear Jesus in the Gospel Lesson from John 6, hear him through the lens of power and authority. They hear him through the lens of villains and heroes. Is Jesus a villain or a hero? Everything they hear from him is a collection of evidence for or against. This is a problem, but it is also the way that a lot of people view religion, especially Christianity. Because we speak of heaven and hell, it is thought that God is doing the sorting, um, right now. So, when we hear people speak religiously, it is hard for us, and hard for the people hearing Jesus in John 6, to separate themselves from the idea of power and authority because heaven and hell make us think of winners and losers. Where there are winners and losers, then there is always this power dynamic.
So, if you are listening to Jesus through the lens of power, think of what Jesus sounds like, “I am the bread from heaven.” The word you would focus on is “heaven”. You would think of him as a power broker between God and us. This is why the people “murmur” among themselves. Biblical commentator and spiritual formator Jack Shea wrote in his commentary on this passage that murmuring bordered on an “inner state of smoldering that could erupt into anger and violence. It is ‘I don’t get it’ and ‘I don’t like it’,” at the same time. The New American Bible says that Jesus tells them to “stop murmuring among yourselves.” This murmuring is centered in the viewpoint of religion as power and authority.
This is not the project of God when it comes to Jesus. Seriously, who could hold a candle to God when it comes to power? This is where the people who hear Jesus in the Gospel of John and hear about Jesus today get it wrong. Who, seriously, is God’s enemy? The devil? Satan? The one whom God created and has complete power over? Satan is not God’s enemy because Satan is a ‘poser’. His only claim to fame is that he is like God, but he is not God. He is not the equal of the Father, Jesus the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, Three in One. Satan is not the enemy of the Lord, he is our enemy.
So, God has no enemies, in reality. This “supposed” enemy is a poser, a thief, a charlatan who wants people to delude themselves into thinking that God hates them, they are not good enough to be loved, that somehow they are right and God is wrong, that there is something better here on earth currently than any promised restoration of heaven and earth at the beginning of the New Heaven and New Earth. The whole enterprise of God is not to fight an enemy, really, it is to join humanity to himself. What Jesus offers us is the joining of humanity with God, in the present, in our hearts spiritually, yes, but also in the physical reception of the Bread, which is his Body, and the Cup, which is his Blood.
So, the reason that the people cannot understand Jesus or believe in him is because the idea is not to exert his power to prove anything to anyone, through signs, wonders, or what we think is miraculous. It is an humble invitation to believe in Jesus as the Bread come down from Heaven. It is an invitation to become one with God. This, then, is where we just cannot fathom the Lord of Heaven and earth.
If you had no needs, like the Lord in Heaven has no needs, then there is no need to exert your power. I can assure you, there is no Napoleonic complex with the Father. There is no necessary thirst for power, or unnecessary thirst for power. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need our approval. He doesn’t need our acceptance. He doesn’t need. So, when Jesus comes down as the Bread from Heaven, it is not to prove a thing. It is to invite us to believe so that we can connect with the Father in Heaven.
In the continuation of the Gospel next week, Jesus will give us a common ordinary way that we can experience him, but for this week, we are asked to recognize him for who he is and what he offers. When we say in the creed, ‘We believe in Jesus Christ, who for us…and for our salvation, came down from Heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary and became man,” we are saying that in Jesus is the connection, the nexus, of God and humanity.
“Nexus” comes from the Latin “to bind together”. There is a fundamental binding of God and humanity in Jesus Christ. In him, all the pleasure of God was pleased to dwell, not as a power grab, or an exertion of authority, but as an invitation for us to meet God in Him. When we say, “Through or by Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours Almighty Father,” we are proclaiming this nexus, this binding where we have access to the Father in Heaven.
How is it that the God of the universe, who has no needs, comes to offer himself as a human being to us to see, feel, touch, and next week we will see, smell and taste? How is it? It is because of love. It is not because of need. It is because of love. It is not because of authority. It is because of love. It is not because of power. It is because of a desire to reach out to us and give us love.
If you think of the vastness of God and us on a tiny planet in a small galaxy in a vast universe, then who is it that has the Napoleonic complex? Who is it that is always trying to claim that they are bigger, better, and the solution to all of our problems in three easy payments? God has no enemies to speak of. It is we who make enemies. If the Lord has enemies, it is not people. It is lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath or anger, envy, and the chief of all sins, pride. They are his enemies because they cause us to kill each other to prove that we are powerful and authoritative, like a god (with a small ‘g’) of our own making. If the Lord is our enemy, it is only by our choice, not His desire.
God has no villains, as Jerry Davich says we do. He is just God, standing in front of his people, asking them to love Him. He is asking us to look beyond the bread we eat. He is asking us to look beyond the cup we drink. He is asking us to be his people. He is asking us to follow him as our God. When we believe in him, our whole perspective will change. We will no longer need villains, because we will have our Hero, with a capital ‘H’. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
Donate $2 for This Podcast
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian