Morning has broken like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
– Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) from “Morning Has Broken” (1931)
Two millennia after Jesus taught us how to love as the Godhead loves, that perfect divine love of the Godhead still is vanishingly rare in the world. Which fact should not surprise us! The truth is that we never have made much of an effort to understand the phenomenon that came to us long ago as Jesus the Christ. Anyone who reads the Gospels can see Jesus openly living God’s love at such a wise and fearless level that for millennia we have altogether misunderstood both the Lord’s actions and His words. We have seen Jesus associating with lepers (MT 8:2-3; LK 17:11-15), dining with tax collectors (MT 9:10), confronting authorities (MK 11:28-29), turning the other cheek (LK 6:29), using the powers of His mind to invoke the powers of the minds of other people (MT 9:28-29), and then choosing to suffer an excruciating death for the sake of all of humankind (JN 19). Each of these acts would be unusual even today. Two thousand years ago, for someone to do all of them together must have been incomprehensible! So all along we have been assuming that Jesus was so different from regular folks that we had no way to relate to Him. His Gospel teachings were seen by Christians not as directives, but just as aspirational thoughts. In fact, however, the Lord’s Gospel teachings are something more like precision tools that can easily raise our consciousness vibrations. That fact is extremely important, since raising our vibrations is the whole reason why we chose to enter these earth-lives. Following the Lord’s teachings is the most rapid way for us to raise the consciousness of this planet, and thereby bring the kingdom of God on earth.
We have been missing the point of Jesus’s message, and of His entire life!
What Jesus demonstrates in the Gospels is just the natural spiritual state of humankind. Beneath our grabby egos, our amnesia-enforced ignorance, our human-made fears, and the daily battering of negativity that comes with living lives on earth, each of us is already a highly advanced spiritual being! So each of us, once we are free of the negative detritus of our lives on earth, will be able at last to easily live the perfect love that Jesus taught.
What Jesus is doing in the Gospels is actually telling us what our life-goal is, how important it is, and also how we can best achieve it:
* The goal that Jesus has for us is that we help to bring the kingdom of God on earth. He tells us this repeatedly! It is even the first request in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (MT 6:9-10). Nothing could be plainer! Our first and greatest request in The Lord’s Prayer is that we be empowered to bring the spiritual development of the kingdom of God to all the people on the face of the earth.
* Our efforts to attain the kingdom of God will also empower us to get what we need. Jesus said of our need for clothing and sustenance, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you” (MT 6:33).
* We can best achieve this greatest of all goals by closely following the Lord’s Gospel teachings. As He says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32). He tells us that our following His teachings is our basic and most essential requirement.
In sum, as we work to bring the kingdom of God on earth by closely adhering to the Lord’s Gospel teaching, God promises in return to supply all our needs. That seems like a pretty fair deal to me! The teachings of Jesus are very effective at raising our personal consciousness vibrations so we can begin to purge negativity from the minds of all of humankind.
The Lord’s teachings are earth-shakingly powerful. Jesus tells us that if we will follow His teachings, we soon will attain something like His Own powers. He says, “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father” (JN 14:12). It seems clear that transcribers got this somewhat wrong. They made the Lord’s promise dependent on the fact that He would be returning to God, but so do all of us return to God. No, what is important here is Jesus’s astonishing insistence that we all will attain even greater powers than His Own! Indeed, the very core of what Jesus taught culminates in this glorious announcement: “If you believe Me and follow My teachings, you also will do the work that I do. And you will do even greater works than I do!”
But still, until we can sufficiently raise the consciousness vibrations of humankind, we are living in a world rife with fear and rage. We desperately want things to be a lot better! We can envision a much more loving world in which humankind lives in peace and plenty, and we want that liberation so badly that we think we would do almost anything to get it.
Our dear friend Father Richard Rohr is calling for “a new story” that will encompass “new paradigms and visions” to enable us to “discern where and how God is calling us to act.” He offers the example of the Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder Câmara (1909‒1999), who was a saintly man “well-known in his lifetime for his love for the poor and his embrace of nonviolence.” Fr. Rohr tells us that “his teachings have shaped many of my thoughts on the nature of evil and our freedom to choose how we respond to the suffering and injustice present in the world.” And he quotes the good Archbishop as saying:
“When you look at our continent [of South America], where more than two-thirds of the people live in sub-human conditions as a result of injustices, and when you see that the same situation is repeated all over the world, how can you help wanting to work towards human liberation? Just as the Father, the Creator, wants us to be co-creators, so the Son, the Redeemer, wants us to be co-redeemers. So it is up to us to continue the work of liberation begun by the Son: the liberation from sin and the consequences of sin, the liberation from egoism and the consequences of egoism. That is what the theology of liberation means to us, and I see no reason why anyone should be afraid of a true, authentic theology of liberation.”
Each time I read these words that were spoken by a profoundly good Christian man so long after Jesus taught us how to love, I want to weep for all of humankind. This one passage conclusively demonstrates that we still have learned almost nothing from Jesus! You and I know very well why we are “afraid of a true, authentic theology of liberation.” If we were all Jesus, we could make it happen easily! But since nobody on earth is Jesus, such a deeply good society based in lovingly helping the least of us would have to be imposed by a government. And we already know that every attempt to structure from above a “more just” society has ended in tyranny and death. It is estimated that Communism alone resulted in more than a hundred million human deaths in the course of the twentieth century. By comparison, about thirty percent of those living in South America are deeply poor, which amounts to some 185 million people. So human beings are so altogether benighted that in an attempt to help the most disadvantaged among us, we tragically killed innocents in such ghastly numbers that they were more than half of the number of people the saintly Archbishop was trying to help! A “true, authentic theology of liberation” can never arise naturally or be sustained for long unless just about everyone is operating at a spiritual level that approaches the perfect love of the Godhead.
It is clear now that for us to begin to live the love that Jesus taught is going to require that we internalize a whole new way of thinking. The love that Jesus taught is not just a coat that we can put on. No, that perfect love of the eternal Godhead is something that we must BECOME.
Living divine love is a transformation! What Jesus gives us in the Gospels by the examples from His life shared above is a glimpse of how each of us actually WILL BE when we have BECOME the love that Jesus taught! What we are witnessing in action in the life of Jesus are the core characteristics of a Being so spiritually elevated that He has attained the level of the Godhead. So none of what Jesus taught is aspirational! He isn’t only telling us how we should think and act so we can behave a little better. No, in the Gospels Jesus shows us who He is and who you and I already are!
Fr. Rohr tells us more about “the new story” that humankind so desperately needs. He says, “This new story is, of course, as old as incarnation itself! Somewhere along the line, we lost the thread of the true story of union, of wholeness, of God-with-us and us-for-each other.” And he is precisely right! But that new story is in fact the old story that still survives in the teachings and in the exemplary life of Jesus as they are preserved for us in the Gospels.
It will be up to you and me now to take seriously the Lord’s Gospel directives. The “new story” that Father Richard Rohr dreams of, and that you and I yearn to bring into being, is the very old story that Jesus tells, and that we still today can choose to become! But meanwhile, we will look next week at how it will be for us to live in that very much better future when significant numbers of people are living the perfect love that Jesus taught….
Sweet the rains new fall, sunlit from Heaven,
Like the first dewfall on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God’s recreation of the new day.
– Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) from “Morning Has Broken” (1931)