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Breath of the Spirit

Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.

Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.

 

We Christians constantly thank Jesus for dying for our sins, but we forget he also had a Dream; a Dream he passed on to those committed to imitating his dying and rising.

 

JUNE 14TH, 2015: ELEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

Readings:

Ezekiel 17:22-24
II Corinthians 5:6-10
Mark 4:26-34

One of the “parables” in Fr. Ed Hays’ classic book Twelve and a Half Keys describes an encounter between a young man and the Devil. When the young man discovers Satan’s identity, he instinctively surmises he’s trying to buy his soul. “Hardly,” the Devil states, “although I must confess that’s the common belief. I mean that the Devil is interested in souls. . . . I do not buy secondhand souls. What I want to buy from you is your Dream.”

“I don’t understand,” says the young man. “Why would you want to buy my Dream and not my soul?”

“Because, my young friend, if I were to obtain your soul I’d have just a soul, but if I’m able to purchase – at a fair price, mind you – your Dream, then I’ve changed the course of history! Your soul affects only you, but your Dream – ah, that’s something different. Your Dream touches the lives of countless people and, who knows, maybe people yet to be born? The effect of your Dream is cosmic; that’s why I’m interested in it.”

We Christians constantly thank Jesus for dying for our sins, but we forget he also had a Dream; a Dream he passed on to those committed to imitating his dying and rising.

The evangelists tell us Jesus began his public ministry by proclaiming, “The kingdom of God is close at hand!” Scholars believe “the kingdom of God” in this context refers to God working effectively in our daily lives. The historical Jesus’ Dream – his “Good News” -  revolved around helping those around him achieve the same insight he had into God’s unique presence in their lives, an insight which would not only change their lives, but the lives of everyone they encountered.

Of course, there’s some “fine print” in the process of experiencing God: repentance. Those who are serious about achieving this experience are, like Jesus, expected to completely change their value systems.  People are now to be at the center of their lives, especially those in need.  Rules and regulations are to be relegated to the background of our relationships. Service to others is to be front and center. Only when we become “other-oriented” will God’s presence begin to be evident to us.

That means, as Paul reminds the Corinthian community, that we’re constantly walking “by faith, not by sight.” Like all dreamers, we’re committed to doing things which don’t make sense if we’re not guided by a deep faith in our dream. Sight only arrives after the dream is lived.

The prophet Ezekiel demands something similar from his people. He’s prophesying during the Babylonian Exile. Jerusalem and its temple are in ruins. The captives listening to him are living in a foreign country, hundreds of miles from the Promised Land. They can only dream of that “tender shoot” eventually “putting forth branches and bearing fruit.” Yet, if they don’t do anything to make that dream a reality, they and their descendants will never see the “withered tree bloom.” Judaism, as they know it, will simply die.

That seems to be why, when Jesus talks about his Dream, he frequently employs “growth” imagery. In today’s gospel pericope, for instance, he describes the kingdom of God as a seed that takes a long time to grow, and as a bush which eventually becomes so large that “the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

The gospel Jesus presumes we’re committed to this “faith thing” for the long term. We won’t immediately surface God working in our lives every time we give ourselves for others. But if we stop giving, the Dream for which Jesus died will never become real.

 

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