Monday, March 10, 2014

Strangers in Paradise?

I read the first couple of lines from today's gospel (Matthew 25) and, for a moment, could get no further.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,and all the nations will be assembled before him."
In the end, the final consummation, with the closing of one seemingly massive book of history, and before the opening of Another Book which will in fact be the Beginning of All Things, we will find all of humanity and all of the angels (an immense mass of trillions and trillions of persons) gathered before the Word Made Flesh. Not a single person that ever existed will be excluded, human or angelic. You and I are included in the mix.

You and I, and your entire family tree, and mine, and the cashier at the grocery store, and the girl you had a crush on in the 8th grade, and Adolf Hitler, and your Guardian Angel, and Brad Pitt and that homeless lady you always felt uncomfortable passing on the way to the office, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, and well, you get the idea. Wow. A total reckoning. A total and definitive conglomeration of the unique and unrepeatable personal mysteries that we all are.... gathered before the Divine Heart from whence our essences we first came forth.

But at this final gathering, as seen in the gospel of today, this crowd seemed, if I might say... a little... clueless.
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Huh? Why? How?
"For I was hungry and you gave me food,I was thirsty and you gave me drink,a stranger and you welcomed me..."
What? "Lord, when did we see you... Hungry. Thirsty. Naked. Locked up. Alone. Isolated. Ill. Aching for intimacy?"

When you saw another, you saw Me.

Wait, whaaaat.... YOU were in our mix? Here? Beside us... all along? I thought You were in the clouds, in my mind, in my "spiritual life" but what? You were mixed up in it all? In the blood, sweat and tears? The pots and pans, the dark nights, the bright mornings, the magnificent joys and the mediocrity? You? Here?

Yes. Where else would I be? Where else would Love desire to dwell than with the Beloved?

I discovered a man named Lee Jeffries this morning. He is a photographer who has given us a beautiful and sometimes disturbing window into the reality of the God Who is in our mix, of the naked, poor, broken, bruised and beautiful God Who is among us through his visual meditations. Find his work here. And may the portal he has opened up through his camera lens fill in the rest of these words. May the fruit of your meditation blossom into a new way of seeing today.... of seeing everyone. It's preparation for that final gathering, it's the social before we enter the Main Hall where the Feast and the Dance begins. So let's introduce ourselves to one another now. There can't be any strangers in Paradise.
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