Bishop Jake Owensby, of the Church of England, on his blog ‘Finding God in Messy Church’, has much to say about the need for a personal encounter with the God who is Love – like that of Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi and other Mystics of the Christian Tradition Bishop Jake offers the example of American Franciscan and theologian Richard Rohr – whose understanding of the theory of ‘atonement’ I have mentioned already in a previous post of’ kiwianglo
The Mystics must often have been seen as ‘rebels’ by the Church authorities of their time, speaking of their experience of God as Love, rather than Wrath – a characteristic that seems to have been (and, in certain places, still is) the subject of power over others that speaks more of harsh discipline than loving discipleship.
In his statement: “They will know you are my disciples by your LOVE”, Jesus showed the perfect paradigm of what it means to be part of the Body of Christ in the world.
Saint Francis is often quoted as being the author of the well-known prayer: “Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace”. However, whether he was the actual author or not, Francis’s whole life -after his experience of marks of The Crucified Jesus – was one of kenosis (self-emptying), in emulation of Christ on the Cross, exemplifying what God gave up for ALL people.
Julian of Norwich, contemplating the Love of God in her own experience made the amazing statement that in the end; “All shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”.
Hildegard’s awareness of God’s loving presence led her often to sing God’s praises in pure, ecstatic acknowledgement of the power and majesty her encounters with God. Such understanding is that which informs the hearts and minds of those ‘Religious’ whose whole lives are bound together into Christ. Their daily round of study, work, prayer and song is their offering to God.
“The great love of God as revealed in the Son” are the words of a hymn which describes the tenor of the outworking of the Good News of the Gospel – a theme that should attract the attention of all who seek to love and serve other people in the world around us. Too often, the theme of God’s Wrath is offered to a world that needs, above all, a sign of God’s Love and Mercy. Pope Francis is one Church Leader who advocates this tool of radical evangelisation, and is often criticised by those whose motivation is different.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
(My wife, Diana and I will be taking a break on a Pacific Cruise for the next 2 weeks, so blogging will be at a minimum during that time. Blessings to all, Fr.Ron)