I really need to point out a very interesting fact….what you heard in the first reading tonight from Acts of the Apostles..15:1-29 is the minutes of the First Ecumenical Council of Jerusalem…..can you imagine, the entire first council of the Church was summarized in 29 verses….that alone is an accomplishment….but more importantly, it is the model of decision making that lays at the core of the Old Catholic Church….first…gather…second…admit the problem….third pray….fourth…discuss….fifth pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…sixth…move forward with the decision after discussion, consultation and collaboration…..
Those who love me will be true to my word….
For two weeks we have been speaking about love….Rev. Colleen spoke about it last week..
how it can be challenging, beautiful, scary, delightful, joyous and tough.
But what does love look like in the here and now….right here in the midst of us….how can we see it?
We seem to know it…when we do…but we are challenged to name it….
I have been trying to pay attention to the whole concept of love for quite some time….
Looking for it, naming it, unearthing it and celebrating it…and it is amazing to me where it has appeared
And it is also amazing to me where I have seen and heard the opposite of love…which I believe by the way is not hate, but fear…
Fear seems to be everywhere….
if you ever sit back and look and listen, almost every political discussion or dialogue centers around fear…..
someone has less than us,
someone has more than us…
someone has too much…
someone has too little…
someone is too evil or
someone is too unlike us.
Fear it racks our world…
and it often racks our own conversations and in the end ultimately it destroys love…
My spiritual director and mentor at St Pius X Seminary in Erlanger KY once told me the story of the Trappist monestary in Bardstown KY….most of us know it as Gethsemene…
how in the late 30s’ was in drastic decline….men were leaving the monastery, there was general turmoil and a feeling of doom….
into which a bright young novice came in 1941….
over the following year he met as was common practice once a month with the Abbott…after about 6 months…the Abbott asked the novice…
“What in your estimation is the greatest challenge we face here at Gethsemene?”
The novice replied—“We struggle to love”….surprised by the novice’s answer they continued their conversation….the novice pointed out to the Abbott, that even in the complex Trappist sign language that they had developed in order to maintain silence,
rarely did the monks offer gratitude to each other….everything was task, and usually around something that one or another hadn’t done….
the novice continued….
the monks talk about each other rather than the God the profess to serve….that is what I believe is destroying our community….
The Abbott took the conversation to heart and in the following month at the evening prayer, the Abbott broke tradition and addressed the entire community.
It is reported that he said to the monks….from now on, I am forbidding anyone to speak about another, even in sign,
other than to offer gratitude, or to foster holiness. You are allowed to speak about ideas, but you are forbidden from talking about each other, outside of gratitude.
The following months and years saw the greatest influx of new novices and the monestary grew in unparalleled numbers….
The novice was Thomas Merton who in his memoirs wrote:
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.
I have a sign in my office…a saying attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that says:
Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
When I look and listen to the rhetoric of world today, I wonder how much we could transform the world into a little bit more like the Kingdom of God if we fostered these concepts….
Just imagine….if to every problem we brought a solution.
Just imagine….if to every conversation we simply refused to talk about another, unless it was to help them to grow in holiness.
Just imagine…if we said thank you every day to every person
Just imagine…if we refused to accept fear
Just imagine…if we lived every day as if it were our last
and every conversation as if we would never see that person again….
I would venture to imagine….it might…
It might… look like the Kingdom of God
Do you think so too?