November 26, 2022

The word “abomination” is a serious biblical term that sometimes gets thrown around carelessly in public religious discourse.  It might be best translated as “horrifying” or “disgusting” and is most often aimed at same-sex-attracted people (cf. Lev 18:22).  Nevertheless, a more rigorous exploration of the scriptural text reveals that there were lots of abominations in the ancient Jewish mind: eating shellfish (Lev 11:12), shaving (Lev 19:27), and getting a tattoo (Lev 19:28) to name a few.  In one way or another, each of these activities jeopardized the growth of the fledgling covenant community whose sole purpose was to establish a nation that could survive in adverse geopolitical conditions.  As the story of salvation has unfolded, however, the dignity of each person (Gen 1:26), beyond national identity or ethnic purity, has emerged as the focal point of authentic human living.  It has thus become increasingly clear that the real abomination is a heart that is “fat and gross” (Ps 119:70), when we choose pietism over communion with our sisters and brothers  (Lk 10:31-32), or any other behavior that keeps us from our deepest identity as children of the living God (1 Jn 4:19).  Let’s, therefore, have the courage to relinquish the moralism that has us obsessing about “specks” when there is a “beam” obstructing our own vision of things (Mt 7:3).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

November 19, 2022

Repression is such a pitfall!  This desire scares me so I’ll push it back down.  This memory haunts me so I’ll just avoid it.  This emotion is painful so I’ll pretend it’s not there.  How long can this go on?  How much energy will we spend fighting against ourselves?  How does one live like that?!  The juxtaposition of the lost son with his repressed brother (Lk 15:11-32) says it all:  yes, living by the spirit may cause us to go astray for a period of time, but the alternative is a self-imposed prison that keeps us stuck for life.  Our willingness to feel our feelings and be vulnerable to the spirit – as messy as that may seem – is sufficient.  The living God will rejoice in our openness and draw us down paths that will align us and allow us to be integrated.  The next time, therefore, we are tempted to prove our “holiness” by tamping down our longing for life, let’s remember that Jesus specifically identifies prostitutes – not the self-controlled religious leaders – as the ones entering the kingdom (Mt 21:31).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

November 12, 2022

Do you stand outside the fire?  It is an obvious place to be, especially if we have been through the painful experience of getting burned in the past, but it is not a long-term vision for human living.  I think of the angel with the fiery sword placed at the entrance to Eden (Gen 3:24), a purifying force that we must have the courage to eventually pass through as we, lost to sin, make the journey back to our inner gardens.  I think of Moses, a man who was scarred by the red-hot identity issues of his day, but who nevertheless returned to his raging homeland after the flaming bush taught him how to “burn without being consumed” (Ex 3:2).  I think of Christ crucified, his life “consummated” at the moment of death (Jn 19:30), sending down literal bursts of fire from beyond to remind us of our spiritual destinies (Act 2:3).  Let’s therefore not be contented with a lukewarm life on the outside (Mk 14:54), but instead have enough faith to enter into the “fiery furnace” of our present circumstances (Dan 3:19-30).  Having been transformed by this trial, we, alongside Jesus, shall “set the world on fire” (Lk 12:49) with a blazing love that “cannot be quenched” (Song 8:7).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

November 5, 2022

We think our first kiss will be awkward and stress out about how to pucker our lips, what to do with hands, or whether to close our eyes, but in the moment we discover that we are built for such an encounter all the way down to the subatomic level of our being.  Indeed, everything that is was kissed into existence by the mouth of our loving God who spoke and brought forth all of life (Gen 1:1-31) in a big-bang kind of kiss.  We human beings have the special honor of coming into consciousness with those divine lips still fresh on our faces, as we received the breath of life (Gen 2:7) from the one who constantly makes all things new (Rev 21:5).  It should thus be no surprise that one of the most commented on verses of the Bible is “let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song 1:2), and it is fitting that Jesus was betrayed with a kiss from a person who was spiritually confused.  The next time we find ourselves in a kissing situation, let’s rejoice in our shared capacity for connection.  May every word that escapes my mouth be a kiss that anoints others with the good news, and may every movement of my heart be an act of worship of the one who kissed me first (1 Jn 4:19).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica