Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Psalm 5:1-8

Pentecost +3 - Year C

Psalm 5:1-8

It is wonderful to come to an understanding that I have been shown an abundance of steadfast love. Whether this abundance comes from G*D, Creation, Neighbor, You, even a mistake of mine Enemy, or Myself it is wondrous to behold.

Then comes the tricky part of what to do with such abundance. My temptation is to store it away in a big barn and to get an even bigger one, if necessary.

Once in awhile I can restate verse 8 into a more expansive reading of living with abundance: "Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness and make a way straight from you to me to my enemies that your abundant love might be known in their life as well."

The rest of the Psalm, as written, continues to divide those who have already received a touch of abundance from those who have not yet received that gift. The Psalmist seems to carve this moment of division into stone - the currently blessed are blessed forever and the unblessed will ever be so.

If one can postulate a greater receptivity on the part of Psalmist, from unheeded to heeded, what keeps them from granting the possibility of change and growth to those now deemed enemies? Would the Psalmist recognize a woman with ointment surprising Pharisees and Jesus with an anointing or would the door have been especially barred to her ever having such an opportunity?

Here abundance turns out to be a curse inasmuch as it asks a huge change in relationships that is seldom able to be lived into. May you be blessed with such a curse and the wisdom to better use it.

This quote from Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr is another lens through which a lack of grace might be recognized (for one but not for all) and transformed through a different response to our encounter with an amazing abundance of grace.

"It comes like a gentle dew" (Isaiah 45:8). Grace comes when you stop being preoccupied and stop thinking that by your own meddling, managing and manufacturing you can create it.

We're trained to be managers, to organize life, to make things happen. That's what's built our culture, and it's not all bad. But if you transfer that to the spiritual life, it's pure heresy. It doesn't work. You can't manage and maneuver and manipulate spiritual energy. It's a matter of letting go. It's a matter of getting the self out of the way, and becoming smaller, as John the Baptist said. It's a matter of the great kenosis, as Paul talks about in Philippians 2:6-11, the emptying of the self so that there's room for another.

It's very hard for us not to fix and manage life and to wait upon it, "like a gentle dew."


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