Recently, I read a challenging meditation by Richard Rohr. He wrote, “The Apostle Paul had a concrete missionary strategy of building living communities able to produce a visible and believable message. Yet for centuries we’ve interpreted his message as if he is speaking about individuals being privately ‘saved.’ This has made Paul seem more like a mere moralist than the mystic he is. Mystics tend to see things in wholes rather than getting preoccupied with the parts.
Paul believes corporate evil can only be overcome or confronted with corporate good. He uses primitive yet powerful words for the negative side of corporations, institutions, and nations: he calls them ‘thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers’ (Colossians 1:16). These are not ‘bad angels’ as much as collective attitudes that are almost impossible to break. Because they are so widely shared as mass consciousness—the way we’re programmed to think—they no longer look like evil and are hard to resist. Murder is bad, but war is good; greedy people are bad, but capitalism is going to save the world; ambition and pride are supposedly major sins, but not in the good ol’ USA. Do you see the problem? I’ve never heard a single sermon my entire life on the tenth commandment—‘Thou shalt not covet . . . anything that is thy neighbor’s’ (Exodus 20:17)—because coveting goods is the only game in town now. It’s called consumerism! In Paul’s thinking, those big cultural blind spots can only be overcome by a group of people living and affirming and supporting one another. For Paul, community is the living organism that communicates the Gospel message. Paul, like Jesus, wants to change culture here, not just send people away to a far-off heaven later! If Christ’s cosmic message doesn’t take form in a concrete group of people, then, as far as Paul is concerned, it is an unbelievable message.”
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:9-10
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
What is challenging for you in Rohr’s reflection?
How are you making the message of God’s love more believable?
What makes you special in God’s eyes?
Prayer: Holy God, you invite me to share with others that life matters. Help me make it real and tangible so someone this day or in the days ahead may receive the mystery of your presence and follow your wonderful ways. Amen.
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