Saturday, February 17, 2007

Safety First? Nah… How About Jesus?

I was in a unique meeting last week with a handful of faith-filled souls; we were discerning what to do with an issue that's weighed down with debt, filled with a foggy future, and stymied by staffing problems. There was lots of concerned talk, lots of questions, and then... there was prayer.

We had reached a point where our words ran dry, when suddenly God opened up the floodgates of grace. We said, "Come, Lord Jesus!" And He came. It was like the dam bursting and the clear water of the Entwash flowing in over the failed machinery of Isengard. The last ten minutes of that meeting was something so invigorating, so refreshing, that it made me deeply sad to think of the times I've failed to let Him in, how many times we as a Church have kept Him out.

It's ironic, I know, to keep from a meeting the very One Whose Name you are working in. But in our blindness we can block the influx of grace, the flow of the Spirit, the fire of the New that can rekindle our Old. Why do we do this? Why block out Life? I think it's because we want to be in control. We want everything to be "safe." We confidently assert that "we are Church," and we've got an image to protect, forgetting that our Leader was almost reckless in His trust of the Father, and Jesus couldn't have cared less about His image. It became in fact a blood-stained, thorn-crowned, ridiculed Face. But who wants that image in today's world!

I've been in meetings before that played it safe; meetings that began with "prayer" but only as a formality; a dry, sterile blurb before we started our business. Some of those meetings never seemed open to the possibility of Life; they were "protected" gatherings whose minutes revealed that people did in fact come together, but never seemed to yield any fruit.

Last week's meeting was a reckless embrace of the Spirit. We all felt the rush of the Divine, a great rumbling that filled the place where we were gathered. It seemed to give a new direction to our thoughts, opening up new doors in the mind and heart. This seems to me to be the posture that Pope John Paul II was trying to lead us into in the last few years of his beautiful life. It's the posture of receptivity; the radical dependence of the Bride Church waiting to receive the gift of the Bridegroom. And when He comes, to let Him in, let Him lead us in the great dance that is "new in ardour, methods and expressions" - this is the New Evangelization.

Pope Benedict is moving to this rhythm as well; he has been for years. Let's hearken to the voice of this shepherd and follow his lead:

"The more administrative machinery we construct, be it the most modern, the less place there is for the Spirit, the less place there is for the Lord, and the less freedom there is. It is my opinion that we ought to begin an unsparing examination of conscience on this point at all levels in the Church."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, from his book Called to Communion

May the Bride Church be filled with this spirit of Fearless Love and Radical Trust at all levels and in every gathering of Her children! Come, Lord Jesus!

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