Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Mystery of God's Love

           Last week we celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of Paul. At both Morning and Evening Prayer we prayed: God of grace and transformation, you chose Paul who zealously persecuted your Church to preach the Gospel. We give you thanks for the way you work in our lives and use what we would reject to spread the gospel.
            I was thinking about the reaction of Ananias and the Christians in Damascus at the change in Saul/Paul. I’m sure they were wondering what God was doing and when they finally accepted that he “was an instrument whom God had chosen” some of them wondered about God’s terrible taste in choosing people.
            I was reminded of a seminary faculty member on the Formation Team when I was working at the seminary. He was an impressive theologian and a brilliant teacher, but he also had terrible taste in people. He chose to be friends with and nurture people who ended up disappointing and betraying him. We rejoiced one day when he finally said, “I refuse to be part of this person’s ongoing soap opera drama any more.”
            I also thought of two times in my life when I was hurt and betrayed by two separate persons. As I was trying to work through each of  the experiences, talking to myself, whining, and running around in a useless loop of emotions, I heard God say, “Deborah, I love that person as much as I love you.” And I thought, “God, you have terrible taste in people.” But it was a powerful recognition for me.
            Today in all of the chaos in the world and our country, this insight comes back to remind me that I am not God and that God is better than anyone I know. I show my biases and share with you that:
            God loves Donald Trump as much as God loves Nancy Pelosi
            God loves Vladimir Putin as much as God loves Pope Francis
            God loves Mitch McConnell as much as God loves Bernie Sanders
God loves the ICE officials as much as God loves the immigrants at our borders.
            Try it yourself. Take the most disparate people you can think of and realize that God loves each of them as much as God loves any of them. God may not love their actions but God loves them.
            As a human being, I can’t stay with that thought very long, but when I return to it and try to process what to do with it, it is always an amazing insight and reminds me to be compassionate and to try to face my biases and prejudices..
            But God has terrible taste in people.

       Sr. Deborah Harmeling, OSB

1 comment:

  1. Wisdom is here, dear sister, and I confess I taste awful to myself let alone anyone else. But surely Saint Paul tasted bitter then and there are plentiful examples. Why do the holy have to smell so highly? Why do the good have to be so ghastly? Patience between us and more patience. We need to work with those people whom we were told to detest despise and obstruct for centuries -- why is that? You give the answer. The way forward is there, if we can only overcome the ancient program. They must help us survive and we must welcome them. God bless OSB amen