November 24th, 2021

The Gospel According to Luke 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd: “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to the prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I, myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your advisories will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Opening Prayer: Stir up the will of your faithful, we pray, O, Lord, that, striving more eagerly to bring your divine work to fruitful completion, they may receive in greater measure the healing remedies your kindness bestows. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

This week I would like to offer and share another perspective from Father Richard Rohr that was published earlier this month. I hope this will affirm the fact that we are indeed all connected.

 Hope you enjoy.

Accepting What Is

Father Richard has often said that transformation mostly comes through great love and great suffering. The First Noble Truth of Buddhism shows how accepting the inescapable nature of suffering can lead to greater freedom. Kaira Jewel Lingo, a former Buddhist nun in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village community in France, reflects on coming to terms with the unpredictable challenges of life: 

In the Buddha’s most essential teaching of the Four Noble Truths, he shares his discovery that suffering is a part of life, and there is no escape from it. This is the first Noble Truth and acknowledging it can help us to suffer less. If we can accept where we are, and not judge the disruption in our life as wrong or bad, we can touch great freedom. This is because fighting what is doesn’t actually work. As the saying goes, “whatever we resist persists.”

Thay [Thich Nhath Hanh] often said, “A true practitioner isn’t someone who doesn’t suffer, but someone who knows how to handle their suffering.” We could say that the measure of our accomplishment or success is not that our life has no ups and downs, but that we can surf the waves!

This attitude of acceptance is freeing when we apply it not only to our personal suffering but also to the suffering in the world. Once, as a young nun, when I was practicing a classic Plum Village guided meditation, I came to the final exercise, “Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment; breathing out, I know this is a wonderful moment.” Suddenly I found myself stuck when I did this practice, questioning how we could truly affirm it was “a wonderful moment” with all the violence, hatred, inequality, and preventable tragedies that are happening in the present moment all over the world. . . 

I sat in the question of it and began to see that along with all the suffering and pain, there are also many beings that are supporting others in the present moment. There are many hearts of compassion, opening to relieve suffering, to care for others, to teach, to show a different way. There are people who are courageous and standing up for what they believe is right, protecting our oceans, cleaning rivers and beaches, advocating for those who are oppressed. There are those in every corner of the planet who are quietly doing the things no one else wants to do: caring for the forgotten people, places, species, and doing what needs to be done.

When I focused on that other part of the larger picture, I was able to touch that, yes, this present moment is also a wonderful moment. I saw that suffering doesn’t have to disappear in order for beauty to be there. That life is about all of these things. . . The reality is that there is great terror and pain, and there is great love and great wisdom. They’re all here, coexisting in this moment.

Kaira Jewel Lingo, We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons on Moving through Change, Loss, and Disruption (Parallax Press: 2021), 28, 30–31.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we know that it is easy for some to measure their self-worth by the number of “likes” they accumulate, but you ask us not to confuse popularity with happiness. Help us, we pray, to keep our eyes on what is of true value.

Action of the day: Give thanks to God, not only for all of His blessings on us, but also for ALL of His people and all of His creations. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. 

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