Loving Our Spiritual Leaders

Religious leaders, priests, ministers, rabbis, and imams can be admired and revered but also hated and despised.  We expect that our religious leaders will bring us closer to God through their prayers, teaching, and guidance.  Therefore, we watch their behavior carefully and listen critically to their words.

But precisely because we expect them, often without fully realising it, to be superhuman, we are easily disappointed or even feel betrayed when they prove to be just as human as we are.  Thus, our unmitigated admiration quickly turns into unrestrained anger.

Let’s try to love our religious leaders, forgive them their faults, and see them as brothers and sisters.  Then we will enable them, in their brokenness, to lead us closer to the heart of God.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

Taken from Bread for the Journey, by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lenten Reflection, Br. Nicholas

Readings: Isa 42:1-7 / John 12:1-11

“You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

One of the tenants for Lent is almsgiving, but it can almost appear that in this passage Christ is suggesting we hold off on serving the poor. If we look closer, we’ll see something completely different.

Why was it acceptable for Mary to pour expensive oil on Christ’s feet for his burial instead of giving it to the poor? We can even use poor in the broad sense to include those who are poor in health, poor in their spiritual life, poor in mental health, poor in their relationship with God and others, etc. Wasn’t Christ all about the poor? Yes and no, Christ was all about the reign of God, which was announced to the poor. The reign of God will be truly ushered in with Christ’s defeat over sin and death. On that cross, Christ will deliver us from humanity’s greatest poverty, the poverty of knowing God’s love. Perhaps Mary’s gift was acceptable, so that we could announce to the poor God’s love for them, reigning on the cross. Having now come to know God’s love on the cross, we can give something of eternal worth to the poor, rather than temporal worth: God’s love which brings hope to hopeless.

There will always be someone who needs our help, but I can do something unique and specifically Dominican. We can do something unique and specifically Dominican. We can preach the reign of God both in word and in action. We give our bread to the hungry because God has nourished us with his love. We give our clothes to the naked because God clothes us in love. We speak love into the world and hope to the hopeless. We say things and do things for those who are most in need and forgotten, because the One who loves us hasn’t nor will ever forget us.

Br. Nicholas