Yesterday the official teaching of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is that at its root to be a Christian means to live out a radical, sacrificial love for God and for anyone. Give to those who ask. Give to those in need. Turn the other cheek. Forget about your self. This is what we are trying our best to personally do here at the Parkland Worker farm. We have been hard at work on this throughout our lives and in this place for the past seventeen years. It is beyond us that so many call themselves Christians but either live just the opposite or choose to ignore this; it boggles our minds and vexes our souls that we find no one willing to likewise launch out. When we have freely given to others too many of them have responded, We don’t believe in getting anything for free. Over the years we have come to realize that at root that means, We don’t believe in giving anything for free. What a pity. The very nature of God remains opaque to them; the doors of their very salvation remain shut to them. What can free them keeps them enslaved to sin and false Gods.
How does this happen? We find people interested across our culture in accumulating their own personal wealth. We find people who believe that they need to build their own security. We find people who want to satisfy their own pleasures. We find clergy and parishioners who think that their own self-generated creativity is a gift, refusing to lay their own designs aside, refusing to personally see Christ in the poor, refusing to simply be a faithful slave of Christ’s and to wait for God’s leadership in silence. For them their selfishly built wealth and ways of living binds them and makes them impotent. The way this works its way out in the Church vexes us because we have found the deepest satisfaction in just the opposite and which is the basic teaching of scripture…security and peace only comes in fully letting go of everything and of radically loving God, and compared to that anything we can want for ourselves amounts to only so much rubbish. Indeed, What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. What unworthy fodder Christians involve themselves with! If one had ever experienced the love of God in Christ, what could possibly more powerfully persuade them to not simply fall into the arms of God’s love minute by minute throughout their lives? …to make God their only security. But the darkness around us is deep. We are awash in this shit (a strong, but apt word). Indeed, the world rushes headlong in self-destructive behaviour, socially-destructive behaviour, and fleeting riches which can never satisfy. Those who have never experienced God are victims of culturally generated myopia and the murder of God. But Christians should be tempered by the love of God…not the misconception of God’s demands…but by a love that begets love…a self-forgetfulness that discovers delight in rising to serve others…out of love, because they themselves have been bathed in God’s love. This love is oblivious to: plans, vacations, careers, pampering, acquisition, family, pleasure, freedom, and individuality. To let go of everything – everything – is adventure of the highest order because it embraces being a slave of the lowest order…a slave to the love of God. Funny how being a slave of God’s love is of a higher rank than being a king of the world’s power and riches! Yet this understanding, experience, attitude, and its actions are absent in the church across the board: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. Sell everything you have, give the proceeds to the poor and come and follow me...this isn’t a mandate for the few, friends. I want to see church leaders of the highest order stop being pitiful functionaries and do this and actually start leading their people. Are they fearful of the fallout? In a culture awash with wealth it is incumbent on all who claim to call Christ, Lord, to live this way. It lifts us higher than anything this world can offer. it is time for Christians to wipe the sleep from their eyes. It is foolishness to the worldly and a scandal to the churchly (St. Paul’s words, not mine), but to us it is the very power of God.
Don’t be obstinate asses who need to be curbed by a bit and bridle. Beat your swords into plowshares. Give everything away. God will take care of you. And you will find salvation and peace. And if you cannot do this, may God have mercy on your soul (although I doubt it’s going to go that well).