“Our Report”: Who Has Believed Our Report?

The core of the Gospel is the birth of a “new being” a “new man” in Christ Jesus. The Church Fathers and Mothers proclaim, that He became like us in every way — human — without ceasing to be fully Divine; so we might become like Him in every way — partakers of His divine nature (energies not essence), that we might be fully human.

We become, by our baptism, completely His offspring. There is no inconsistency between Christ Jesus and us.

It would be like having an apple tree whose branches bear oranges. The tree and the branch do not share the same nature. The Mustard Seed Iconbranch must be an apple branch to bear the apples that are the fruit of the apple tree. Complete at-one-ment. Complete union. Complete harmony.

To continue the little analogy. For you and me, who, in our fallenness have ceased to be apple branches and become orange branches, we must die to our orange-ness and be reborn to our apple-ness.

Our witness (martyrdom) is dying to what is false and being raised (reborn) and growing up into what is true. The result is our “good and perfect report” that goes out into the world. It is the report of the truth of the Gospel. This is our one and only “sermon.” What is true of the tree is true of the branches. What is true of Christ is true of us. And, as a result, the fruit of the tree is born out.

The report of our life (apple tree life) goes out (apples). It is the report of Christ Jesus (the fruit of the apple tree). And, it is received by those who have hearts that are ready to receive it (People who want oranges will not eat our apples and people who do will.).

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. (John 12.37-41)

Here is the way St. Gregory the Great articulates this mystery.

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“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12.24)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'” (Mt 13.31). This small seed is for us the symbol of Jesus Christ, who, sowed into the garden where he was buried, rose from it shortly after, through his resurrection, as a big tree.

One could say that when he died he was like a small seed: a small seed because of the humiliation of his flesh, but a big tree because of the glorification of his majesty. He was like a small seed when he appeared completely disfigured before our eyes; but like a large tree when he rose again like “the most handsome of men” (Ps 44[45].3).

The branches of this mysterious tree are the holy preachers of the Gospel, of whom one of the Psalms indicates the reach: “Their report goes forth through all the earth, their message, to the ends of the world“ (Ps 19.5; cf Rom 10.18). The birds rest on these branches while the souls of the just, who have been raised up above earth’s attractions on the wings of holiness, find in the words of these preachers of the Gospel the consolation they need in the sorrows and difficulties of this life. Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Homilies on Matthew, ch.13

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My Sister and Brother Are My Life

The Gospel reading for today, Mark 4.13-21, is a strikingly Mark in style – brief, to the point, and yet covering the topic completely. He establishes the essential interplay between my personal profession of faith in the risen Lord and the salvation of others. Discipleship is not individualistic. It is personal which means that in order for it to be about me in any meaningful way it must be about you and you and you too!

My salvation is interwoven with the work of Christ Jesus to save others. My life of transformation is not just about me. It is about others. Mine and yours is a saving witness. Salvation is about true personhood and true humanity and the true heaven and earth. The right (saving) relationship between “I” and “we.”(Orthodox theologian Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas has written about this in several books. Fr. Stephen Freeman reflects on the work Zizioulas has done in this regard on his blog.)

All of this is about the essential nature of missional expression to the healthy life of discipleship. (There is no need to limit it to this expression and no need to exclude it from this expression. No need to engineer it in either direction…)

If you haven’t guessed it, this means that the heart of the message of evangelism is the message of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation in life-giving actuality. Listen to that statement and hear the deep mystery that the saving message is the recovery of and living out of authentic personhood in and through and as Christ Jesus by grace. All of our “sacred vocabulary” and interpretive operations are defined by and made possible by the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation not as doctrines but as articulations of actual life-giving relationship(s). The Holy Trinity and the Incarnation are to be lived at the dinner table, on the bus, at the ball field, not argued about in ivory towers. These are simply ways of speaking of authentic life — the best way to live life. The theologian is the woman and man who struggles faithfully to live out the “practical mysteries” not the “impractical doctrines.” (Tragically, that is what they are understood to be for many — “impractical doctrines”.)

Pope Francis reflects on the missionary aspect of my journey of salvation.

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Evangelization takes place in obedience to the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28,19-20)… The risen Christ sent his followers to preach the Gospel in every time and place, so that faith in him might spread to every corner of the earth.

The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for a new land (Gen 12,1-3). Moses heard God’s call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3,10) and led the people towards the promised land . To Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you shall go” (Jer 1,7)… All of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth”. Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.

The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (Lk 10,17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit… This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1,38)… In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. Source

Let us pray…

O God of truth and love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, hear our prayer for those who do not know You, that they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Grant them wisdom and courage to proclaim Your message effectively, to endure the hardships they face, to trust in Your mercy, and to see all their sufferings as part of the suffering Your dear Son Jesus Christ endured on the cross and let the joy of the Holy Spirit working in their lives ever strengthen them in their resolve to see Christ proclaimed in every nation. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness, full of love, of strength and of faith, for Your glory and for the salvation of the entire world. Through the Prayers of St. Paul, Saints Cyril and Methodius, St. Rostislav of Moravia, St. Maxym Sandovich, St. Herman of Alaska, St. Innocent the Enlightener and all the missionary saints, have mercy on us and save us. Amen. Source

And

Christ our God, the source of wisdom and  Bridegroom of the Church, You called the Apostles to follow You and to become fishers of men, giving them authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and infirmity.

You commissioned them to make disciples of all  nations and to feed your sheep. On the day of Pentecost, You sent the Holy Spirit to fortify them, enabling them to fill peoples lives with Your saving love. Continue to act today, loving Savior, for the good of Your Holy Church.  Send Your Holy Spirit upon dedicated men and women; inspire them to respond to Your Great Commission and to serve You as missionaries, for the building up of Your Body, the Church.

Through the prayers of all the holy missionary Saints, strengthen all who are preparing to serve Your Holy  Church in humility and love.  For You are a loving and merciful God, and unto You we give glory, together with Your eternal Father, and Your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.  Amen. Source

 

Come and See – Go and Tell: All Heaven and Hell Breaks Loose

Hope your Christmas day was amazingly wonderful. But Christmas is not over. In the Holy Tradition offered to us by the Holy Spirit, we are just getting started !!!

Today and the next couple of days are very important. The Church desires to share an essential aspect of the character of the saving message of Christmas.

The following is the fruit of my quiet time this morning. It is my meager articulation, of the point the Church has sought, over the centuries to make, so we do not get the wrong idea about Christmas or the gospel. I say meager because you can find, if you do some “googling” a wealth of reflections by the saints on all of this.

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Christmas – December 25
Feast of the Protomartyr Stephen – December 26 (December 27th in East)
Feast of the Holy Innocents – December 28 (December 29th in East)

That may seem strange…

The story says,

[8] And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
[9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
[10] And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;
[11] for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
[12] And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
[14] “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
[15] When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
[16] And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
[17] And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;
[18] and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
[19] But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
[20] And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2.8-20)

The shepherds:

  • Were told Good News
  • Invited to come and see the verification – experience the truth – of the Good News apparently without subtracting or adding anything (“as it had been told them”)
  • They went and saw
  • They made known the truth that had been told them and their experience
  • Those who heard it wondered
  • The shepherds returned to their previous occupations filled with praise to God

So, “coming and seeing” results in “experiencing” which results in “going and telling.”

Such are the raw materials of witnessing.

Notice the lack of argumentation and debate and the like and the abundance of wonder and pondering and considering deeply.

All seems well. Everyone is happy. Well, not everyone.

Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr (witness) of the faith. Why the day after the feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?!

Juxtaposition. Remember what St. John says,

[4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
[5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
[7] He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.
[8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
[9] The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.
[10] He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.
[11] He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. (John 1.4-11)

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born to reconcile and reunite what had been alienated and divided.

[18] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
[19] that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
[20] So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
[21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5.18-21)

The Christmas story – narrative witness – is not just one of affirmation. It is one that includes repudiation, rejection, violence. It involves not just birth but death. The fullness of life in the setting in which the Word of God became incarnate testifies to a victory that includes BOTH acceptance and birth, the words of Mary sum up all of them – “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1.38); and rejection and death , the words of St. Luke regarding the reaction of those who heard the witness of Stephen sum up all of them – “when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him” (Acts 7.54).

This is the reason today’s feast of St. Stephen is followed, on December 29th, by the feast of the Holy Innocents – the story of Herod’s reaction to the birth of Jesus Christ and the consequences of it.

St. Cyprian speaks of this mysterious juxtaposition,

The Apostle John said: “Whoever says he abides in Christ, ought to walk even as Christ walked” (1Jn 2,6). Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches us, saying: “We are God’s children; but if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together” (Rm 8,16f.)… Let us, beloved brethren, imitate righteous Abel, who initiated martyrdom, he being the first to be slain for righteousness’ sake (Gn 4,8)…; let us imitate the three children Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, who… overcame the king by the power of faith (Dn 3)… What of the prophets whom the Holy Spirit quickened to a foreknowledge of future events? What of the apostles whom the Lord chose? Since these righteous men were slain for righteousness’ sake, have they not taught us also to die?

The nativity of Christ at once witnessed the martyrdom of infants, so that they who were two years old and under were slain for his name’s sake. An age not yet fitted for the battle appeared fit for the crown. That it might be manifest that they who are slain for Christ’s sake are innocent, innocent infancy was put to death for his name’s sake… How grave is the case of a Christian, if he, a servant, is unwilling to suffer when his Master first suffered…! The Son of God suffered that he might make us sons of God, and the son of man will not suffer that he may continue to be a son of God!… The Maker and Lord of the world also warns us, saying: “If the world hate you, remember that it hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world… remember the word that I said to you: “The servant is not greater than his lord” (Jn 15,18-20). (Letter 55)

AND, let’s be careful to allow juxtaposition to be an invitation into a life of mystery not an invitation to attempt to solve a contradiction and smooth out the difficult territory (edgy life) into which the “Glad Tidings” of Christmas invite us. To solve it and separate the happy stories from the sad ones would be to oppose the very thing the Incarnation is intended to do, reunite what has been divided and alienated. We have divided the happy and the sad because we cannot conceive what only the eyes of the heart and a heart of love can know and in which it can participate and facilitate; namely that the union of these “opposites” is the key to our salvation (the cross and empty tomb). The angels did say, after all, “I bring you good news of a great joy.” Well, this is the architecture of joy.

The Good News always defies and frustrates our attempts to corral and manage and control it and institutionalize it (the liberal or the conservative versions). It breaks out… The Good News challenges us to lean into juxtaposition not as an example of contradiction but as an example of a new territory in which to live. An new heaven and a new earth in which Mystery is descriptive of what is normal rather than a word we invent for the abnormal or miraculous.

The light shines in the darkness to overcome the darkness. And darkness is dark and does the deeds of darkness.  But, the darkness does not overcome the light. It is overcome by the light. The Mystery of the Incarnation is the Mystery of the recreation of “what is” into a new “what is.” It involves not just Mary and Joseph but Stephen and the Holy Innocents.

The story of the mystery of the Incarnation must include the reaction of evil to it. The joy the angels proclaim to the shepherds and to the world, mysteriously necessitates not just birth but also death. Not just acceptance but the possibility of rejection. The victory of new and abundant life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ necessitates a life lived in the environment of mystery, wonder, love, and praise which is the messy environment of salvation.

Catechizing the World by Christ’s Love

What is the greatest evangelistic tool we have at our disposal as the Church? Is it clever words or lofty arguments? Is it a “do this and this will happen” formula?Follow_Me pilgrim icon

In none of these does the essence of the power of the Gospel reside. In this and this alone — a scandalously particular love that is not according to the definitions the world, but the love of God the Father in God the Son as displayed and enabled by God the Holy Spirit through the Church and her members — you and me. The concrete, enduring, relational love of Christ Himself through you and me is the best apology for the Gospel. It is into this living narrative of salvation, into which we have been baptized and participate, we invite others for the sake of their salvation and our own. Those who seek to “see Jesus” deserve the opportunity to do just that!! The Holy Tradition was created and is maintained in all its dynamism for this main work — to reunite God and mankind and cause that union to mature and be consummately manifest in the everyday life of people like you and me. For this purpose God seeks to make His personal appeal of concrete love through us.

Hear what St. Augustine says:

But what greater reason exists then of our Lord’s coming, than that God might shew in us His Love, commending it mightily, in that whilst we were yet enemies Christ died for us? And that for this cause, seeing that love is the end of the commandment and the fulfilling of the Law,that we also may love one another, and in like manner as He laid down His life for us, so we also may lay down our life for the brethren; and in respect of God Himself, since He first loved us, and spared not His own only Son, but gave Him up for us all, that, even if to love Him were irksome, yet that, now at least, it may not be irksome to return His love. For there is no greater invitation to love, than loving first … [T]he soul which was before torpid, is aroused as soon as it hath perceived itself to be the object of love, and that which was already warm, is the more enkindled as it hath learnt that its love is returned, it is clear that there exists no greater cause either for the beginning or for the increase of love, than when he who as yet loves not, perceives that he is beloved, or he who loves before, either hopes that he may be, or is already assured that he is, loved in return: and if this is the case even in shameful loves, how much more in friendship? For what else do we guard against in that which causes discontent in friendship, but this, that our friend may not judge that we either do not love him at all, or love him less than he loves us? …

If therefore for this cause especially Christ came, that man might understand how greatly he is beloved of God; and to this end might understand it, that he might grow fervent in the love of Him, by Whom he was first loved, and might love his neighbour, at His bidding and His shewing, Who was made man’s neighbour, in that He loved him when not his neighbour, but far off sojourning; and if all divine Scripture which was written before, was written to proclaim beforehand the coming of the Lord; and whatever afterwards was committed to writing, and confirmed by divine authority, telleth of Christ, and admonisheth of love: it is clear that on these two commandments, of the love of God, and of our neighbour, hang not only the whole Law and the Prophets, which as yet, when our Lord thus spake, formed the whole of Holy Scripture, but also whatsoever portions of the divine volume have since been written for our health, and committed to our remembrance.

Wherefore in the Old Testament there is a veiling of the New, in the New Testament there is an unveiling of the Old. According to that veiling carnal men understanding after a carnal manner, both then and now, have been bowed down by a penal yoke of fear. But according to this revelation spiritual men, both then as many as knocking piously had even hidden things opened to them, and now as many as seek not proudly, lest even open things be closed to them, understanding after a spiritual manner, have been made free by that love with which they have been gifted. Wherefore seeing nothing is more opposed to love than envying, and that the mother of envying is pride, that same our Lord Jesus Christ, God-Man, is both a token of the divine love towards us, and an example of the divine humility among us, that thus our great swelling might be healed by a more powerful remedy counteracting it. Great misery indeed is it, proud mau; but greater commiseration, God humbled! This love therefore being taken by you as your proposed end, to which to refer all things which you say, whatever you narrate, do you so narrate it, as that he whom you are addressing may by hearing believe, by believing hope, by hoping love.
St. Augustine, The Catechizing of the Unlearned, 7,8

Hear also the witness of St. John:

John 1.35-51
[35] The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples;
[36] and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
[37] The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
[38] Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
[39] He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
[40] One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
[41] He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
[42] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
[43] The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
[44] Now Philip was from Beth-sa’ida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
[45] Philip found Nathan’a-el, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
[46] Nathan’a-el said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
[47] Jesus saw Nathan’a-el coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”
[48] Nathan’a-el said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
[49] Nathan’a-el answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
[50] Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.”
[51] And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

The height, depth, length and width of the kind of love which is Christ Jesus — the only life-giving love there is — measurable only by the standard of what occurs when the relationship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share is Incarnate in the context of human circumstance and where that love takes and requires of those who offer it. That is perceived as risky for us who are encountered by it inside our neat self-created universes. That requires trust. It requires us to venture into the regions of love we have only seen from afar and never dared to set foot. We can no longer maintain our status as the ones “in charge of the result” even though we are confident regarding the result — the very life of Christ Jesus will indwell those who receive this love and they will live the Christ-life. That has never failed to be the perfect result, in God’s timing, because He Who loves is the victorious One.

Words and Human Being Fulfilled

Language, vocabulary, the need to learn, the need to articulate, be it in written or spoken form, and, hopefully, communicate for good what has been learned are essentially human. The yearning and fulfillment of that desire are one characteristic of a life that has earned the right to be labeled “authentically human.” In this regard, the educational enterprise, the journey toward maturity and the transformation it requires is a warfare against ignorance, delusion, the serving of selfish interests, and ultimately the desire (known or unknown) to thwart the will and purpose of God who created us in His image with the yearning to “know and make known.” It is the heartbeat of the “great commission” (Matthew 28.16-20).

Sadly, I find that words are viewed and used as a cheap commodity. I fall prey to treating them cheaply (in the way I receive and offer them) and am saddened when I realize that I have done so. The Rev. J.P. Gulliver related, in an article in The New York Independent, on September 4, 1864, Abraham Lincoln’s recollections about his early education and the underlying ambition he possessed regarding it. Here is the pertinent excerpt.

Gulliver: “I want very much to know how you got this unusual power of ‘putting things.’ I [sic] must have been a matter of education. No man has it by nature alone. What has your education been?”

Lincoln: “Well as to education, the newspapers are correct – I never went to school more than six months in my life. But as you say, this must be a product of culture in some form. I have been putting the question you ask me, to myself, while you have been talking. I can say this, that, among my earliest recollections, I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand. I don’t think I ever got angry at anything else in my life. But that always disturbed my temper, and has ever since. I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending no small part of the night walking up and down, and trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some of their, to me, dark sayings. I could not sleep, though I often tried to, when I got on such a hunt after an idea, until I had caught it; and when I thought I had got it, I was not satisfied until I had repeated it over and over, until I had put it in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend. This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck by me, for I am never easy now, when I am handling a thought, till I have bounded it north and bounded it south, and bounded it east and bounded it west. Perhaps that accounts for the characteristic you observe in my speeches, though I never put the two things together before.”

Gulliver: “Mr. Lincoln, I thank you for this. It is the most splendid educational fact I ever happened upon. This is genius, with all its impulsive, inspiring, dominating power over the mind of its possessor, developed by education into talent, with its uniformity, its permanence, and its disciplined strength, always ready, always available, never capricious — the highest possession of the human intellect…”

There are very few among us who can lay claim to the right to stand in the company of Abraham Lincoln as an example of the fulfillment of what Abe portrays as a core value that governed his life — the acquisition and effective communication of knowledge. He does not stand alone. We can, of course, think of many men and women who could stand with him. They are few and far between. One of the things we do know about this attritbute is how costly it is to obey. You can see the cost become etched on the face of Lincoln as he perseveres to be and become “authentically human.” Nonetheless, we can share the desire to do so at some future point in time. At least I do… I too yearn to possess the degree of humility and teachable soul in companionship with others that Lincoln possessed. I share this intentionality. I believe it to be one of the keys to progressing along the way in the “upward call”…

Fr. Thomas