In the teaching from the last two sessions, Fr. Thomas pointed out that “We are not the same as we were when we began.” Some of us may feel as if we are backsliding. Our spiritual practices, rituals, reading of Scripture and even our ministry may no longer have the same effect; gone are consolations and spiritual experiences, replaced instead by dryness and little satisfaction in anything. Fr. Thomas assures this is a sign of progress on the spiritual journey because “human props” that we previously relied on are no longer working. It’s because we are not the same as we were when we began!
In Manifesting God, Fr. Thomas says “The heart of the journey is not rooted in such experiences. Rather, it is rooted in the transformation of our spiritual faculties, attitudes and motivation, and the growing conviction of God’s closeness in all our activities, even the most profane and inconsequential.” He compares this closeness to a divine dance where our dance partner invites us to co-create the dance in the details of everyday life – walking, sitting, breathing, speaking, working, playing, eating, sleeping. We expect God’s closeness in the big things in life, in what we think of as the important things. It may surprise us to know how close God is in all of daily life. Living a contemplative life is to grow in awareness that God is in all and all is in God.
Fr. Thomas uses the parable of the Great Feast or the Divine Banquet to illustrate the unconditional love that God extends to all of humanity, just as we are, regardless of our station in life. In Meditations on the Parables of Jesus, Fr. Thomas says, “In Jesus’ parable, the householder (God) does not raise up the oppressed but joins them in their various forms of human misery… It is our desperate need that attracts divine mercy, not our virtues or anything else… God comes to those who consent to come to God with their lives just as they are.” God joins us just as we are.
It’s not really what we do that matters; it’s the energy with which we do it. To be in love is to be standing in a different space. Love is not what you do; it’s how you do it… When you stand in the state of love that Jesus offers, you live inside of a different energy. You’re not entirely self-preoccupied. You try to care for the world. You say, ‘I have one life and when I leave here, I want to make sure this world is a little better because I was here.’ What might happen if we woke up each day with this intention: ‘How can my existence on this earth increase the quality of life on this planet?’
God is not saying, ‘I demand this of you.’ Rather, God is saying, ‘I invite you into this mystery of who you already are in me.’ Love is not something you decide to do now and then. Love is who you are! Your basic, foundational existence—created in the image of the Trinity—is love. Remember, Trinity is saying that God is not an isolated divine being; God is a quality of relationship itself, an event of communion, an infinite flow of outpouring. God is an action more than a substance, to put it succinctly.
-Richard Rohr, “Disciples: Those Who Love Others,” Daily Meditations, December 20, 2016
- View the video excerpt “The Divine Banquet and Dance, Part 1” which is about 29 minutes in length.
- In this session’s video, Fr. Thomas says that as love increases, you feel at times that you are an instrument of God; that if you have certain gifts, it feels as if someone else is supplying you with the inspiration and energy you need to exercise them. And Richard Rohr asks, “What might happen if we woke up each day with this intention: ‘How can my existence on this earth increase the quality of life on this planet?'” How might these teachings transform your daily life?