Thursday, June 11, 2020

PS - More From Pope Francis: Prayer Is a Fight With God (Like Jacob, See Explanation Below)

The article from The National Catholic reporter focuses on another aspect of his June 10th weekly address, which may have been overlooked, but is equally important. 

As I've mentioned before, though I'm  not Catholic, I'm Episcopal - I can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and his voice can be found anywhere and through anyone, at any time  - and I can discern and hear my master's voice through this man as opposed to false prophets :)

(John 10:26), " But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 

The true sheep of the Good Shepherd will always hear their master's voice of love, grace, and mercy - if not immediately, then when the smoke, tear gas, and confusion clear :)

And if you still can't hear it?

Hmm -  not sure what to tell ya ;)

On June 10th, in addition to Pope Francis' condemnation of racism as sin, as well as prayer for George Floyd (and family), as well as and others killed in racial hatred, he also talked about a variety of other things, to include condemning child labor, sweatshop labor, and economic enslavement in general. 

He also gave a very astute homily, that many might have missed the point of - thinking about someone else rather than themselves -  about mistake human arrogance and deceit resulting in prosperity as "God's blessing" or worse, being "self-made."

Then he retells the story of Jacob, who's name literally means "swindler, trickster" - and how he tricked his brother out of his birthright, defrauded, and swindled many for his own benefit.

Pope Francis says:

"Before, he (Jacob) was a confident man, he trusted in his own cunning. He was a man impervious to grace, resistant to mercy. But God saved what was lost."

Then one day, he comes face to face with a man (some interpretations say angel, but who says God doesn't use men as angels?) who challenges him to do God's will instead and they wrestle - resulting in lifelong hip injury for Jacob, and with Jacob finally understanding that God is bigger than him, stronger than him, and that life is more than just being about him - and Jacob is humbled and begins to do God's will :)

Thus, Pope Francis says, prayer is often like that, like a fight with God - we often pray for what we want to see happen, in our own time frame, from our limited perspective - but that the act of prayer, , in and of itself, forces us to recognize a higher power and sovereignty greater than ourselves, self-examine,  and be humbled by it :)

"Overcome by a strike to the hip, the stranger — whom Jacob later realized is God — blesses him and gives him the name "Israel." The pope said that Jacob ultimately enters the promised land with a limp, but also "with a new heart."

In other words, God often allows suffering to humble us - but suffering sanctifies the soul.

Amen :)

It's interesting, I was just speaking with my left-leaning Christian therapist about what to pray for, during all of this, and how she reconciles the lack of justice, false accusations, and truth and fact getting lost in the fray, sometimes not being revealed in our lifetime, George Floyd being killed, children being killed. 

Like me, she understands that we have free will and that God will not intervene in our free will, and most of the horrible things that happen are the free-will choices we make. 

And she, too, has accepted that justice may not be served in our lifetime, Christ never promised it would be, or that we'd even receive justice or vindication until the afterlife (because frankly, that's what it took even for him), but that something good can result, positive change, if we allow it too.  

But she says she finds that sometimes, as humans, we crave definition, we want to know all there is to know, but even if we did, it's limited by our own subjective human thought organization and perception, instead of just sitting in the gray area of mystery.  

True - and that's a hard thing to do.

Hearts can be softened in mercy and humility, like Jacob's - but we have to subject our free will to a higher power in humility first, which isn't easy for anyone to do, in this day and age.

Even if/when hearts change - there's a lot that needs to be coordinated first - I think of it much like a traffic-light system in a huge city - no easy feat.

And we can never forget that whatever good is done, there is always evil, right alongside, to try to outmaneuver it and stop it, sometimes even in Christ's name - and evil is always willing to stoop lower than good men will go - and often win, because of it - but wins are always temporary :) 

However, God eventually volleys back, I've seen it - just not always in the way or method you think he should ;)

Regardless, at least for today, I'm going to sit in the mystery of NOT knowing - and let God be God and do his thing, in his own time frame :)


PS - You know, some people made a huge deal out of his hand-slapping the woman that grabbed onto him/wouldn't let him move on.

First of all, he IS human, after all, and apologized - but she clearly scared him - and remember, Pope John Paul II was actually shot!

However, Pope Francis insists on still getting on the same level, up close and personal, and laying hands on the people in blessing, as Christ did :)

And actually, this interaction further illustrates the above point.

People today still love to stake claims on people, land, government, faith/religion, and even God himself, as if they personally own them - reminding me of the flock of seagulls, from  the Disney movie, "Finding Nemo" ...


Now, I understand that everyone is hungry for something spiritual, in their lives, right now, more than ever, but -  No - I'm sorry, we u can't just be grabbing and holding onto the Pope, like he's meant just for you.

Not because he's holier/better, but because he does not belong just to you, he's not your personal treasure, and you don't you personally own him - he belongs to everybody - and the same is true with God himself  - and Christianity, for that matter :)

As much as holy men may pledge to be servants of humanity, that still does not mean you actually own them and that they're meant just for you.

You actually don't personally own celebrities, politicians, religious people, icons, or even the doctrine of your declare faith/religion  - any more than you own God.

These people, things, and ideas are meant to be shared with everyone equally, experienced according to each person's  subjective interpretation of God - and it's a blessing to even have witnessed them at all :) 

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