The Way of Abraham with a Good Disposition

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5.8)

Purification includes saying yes to the Abrahamic invitation. It includes letting go of our pre-disposition to judge, using our rational faculties to make distinctions that are life-robbing rather than life-giving. The judging mind tends to be committed to comparing, measuring, based on preferences. We become satisfied or disappointed; approving or resentful. All of this is a distraction to the way of abundant life.

As one of my mentors has recently reminded me: “Our task is to love God, without distraction, to love our neighbor without distraction.”

Being on the way of Abraham and being vigilant regarding our disposition is crucial.

Genesis 12:1-9 (RSV)
12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sar′ai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of theLord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

Matthew 7:1-5 (RSV)
7 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

St. Dorotheus of Gaza (c.500-?), monk in Palestine, Letter no. 1

“Then you will see clearly”
Some people change every food they absorb into a bad mood, even if the food is healthy. The fault does not lie in the food but in their temperament, which changes the food. Even so, if our soul has a bad disposition, everything harms it; it transforms even useful things into things that are harmful to it. If you throw a little bit of bitter herbs into a pot of honey, won’t they change the whole pot by making all the honey bitter? That is what we do: we spread a little of our bitterness and we destroy our neighbor’s good by looking at him according to our bad disposition.

Other people have a temperament that transforms everything into a good mood, even bad food… Pigs have a very good constitution. They eat pods, date seeds and garbage. But they transform that food into succulent meat. In the same way, if we have good habits and a good state of the soul, we can benefit from everything, even from what is not beneficial. The Book of Proverbs says it very well: “The one who sees with gentleness will obtain mercy.” And in another place: “For the foolish person, everything is contrary.”

I heard it said of a brother that if, when he went to see someone else, he found his cell in a state of neglect and in disorder, he told himself: “How happy is this brother to be completely detached from earthly things and to carry his spirit on high so well that he doesn’t even have the time to tidy his cell!” If he then went to another brother and found his cell tidy, clean, and in good order, he told himself: “This brother’s cell is as clean as his soul. As is the state of his soul, so is the state of his cell!” He never said of anyone: “This one is untidy,” or: “That one is frivolous.” Because of his excellent state, he benefited from everything. May God in his goodness also give us a good state so that we might benefit from everything and never think badly of our neighbor. If our malice inspires us to pass judgment or to be suspicious, let us quickly transform that into a good thought. For with God’s help, not seeing what is bad in our neighbor brings forth kindness.
Source: Daily Gospel

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