Life is a continual learning process. I am slowly beginning to see very late on in life, (better late than never) that the most important lesson we have to learn is Love, REAL LOVE or Agape Love. This is the kind of love that Jesus taught and is in my opinion and in the opinion of many others the summit of spirituality. I mentioned once before in a previous letter how amazed I was 43 odd years ago to find how completely opposite the teachings of Jesus were to what I and my peers had been taught or rather what had been ingrained by brain washing in my military upbringing in Boarding Schools.
I was 25 when I first started to read the Gospel of John on my two hour train journey to work in London every day. This made a tremendous impact but I was never able to really implement Jesus' teachings until almost 50 years later. Even now I am a long way off from mastering this process but am daily struggling in the applications. I can say that I am now extremely aware and awake to this all important Agape Love, whereas before I missed the point most of the time.
John's Gospel is the most spiritual one of the four written in the New Testament. This is a very good place to start reading when picking up a Bible for the first time. The Bible is not just one book. It is many books collected in two volumes. Old and New testaments. In this best seller for centuries one can find Poetry, History, Parables and much more. The important fact of the Bible, the Word of God, is not necessarily the Historical accuracy but the many extremely important lessons that it contains and that need to be learned and applied to one's personal life. B.I.B.L.E. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!
We are surrounded by very imperfect people. When you first meet someone they can seem awesome but soon all their flaws will come to your notice. This is a universal problem and is so acute that most people would rather live with their dog than make the effort to get along with their imperfect partner, children or neighbour. The fact that you and I are also severely flawed is quickly overlooked and having to admit that would be too hard on our insatiable pride. It always seems to be the other's fault.
I have been praying this simple prayer from the Two hearts of Love, many times a day and I have noticed a great change in my attitude towards others. This change in attitude helps the other to change too. The essence is in one particular part of the prayer where it says, "Please take my poor sinful heart to Thyself and do not give it back to me until it becomes a flaming fire of Your Love."
This was highlighted the other day when My wife and I were at an unexpected meeting with about 30 young men students who were interviewing the House Mother of the Tafel, a humanitarian help soup kitchen and place for cheap shopping for vegetables and products. Everyone in need is allowed to take part. One of the questions a student asked the House Mother went like this. "Don't you think it is the fault of these people who have no work and have drug and alcohol problems? How can you tell which people are genuinely poor?" The reply was so excellent and such a great and real Christian response even though the lady in charge is not an openly professing Christian. She said, "It is not our job to judge. I believe people with alcohol and drug weaknesses are people with a sickness. In a few minutes after you all leave I too will have to go outside to smoke a cigarette. I am tobacco dependent!" I was amazed at her honest and very loving response. She and her husband just want to help and not to judge. This spoke volumes to me and I hope to you too. It is so important to overlook the seeming faults of others and concentrate on the good you see. There is always some good in you and me. We are not all just good or just bad but a mixture.
Another matter to take into serious account is the fact that if we do understand these truths and others do not, then it is very necessary to give the credit to God. It is by His Grace that we have been allowed to see what others are still finding out. Once we lift ourselves up then we will be in trouble, deep trouble. Self righteousness the sin of the Pharisees will be ours. Have you noticed that Jesus never got angry with the poor wretched sinner but very angry with the self righteous Pharisees?
Yet another very important point and an easy trap to fall into is to always keep in mind that it is only the grace of God that prevents us from falling into the worst possible kinds of sin. It is so easy to say, "I would never do that!" "I just can't imagine how a person could do that?" Well watch out because it's only the Grace of God that you are not doing those very same sins. It is like a lady was saying about one of the TV evangelists that had embezzled the cash and was going to prison for it, how she would never do such a thing! Her Pastor overheard her and exclaimed, "Nancy! God would never trust you with such large sums of money!"
Many times I and others have complained about the hypocrisy of all the people that warm the benches in Church and then live like the Devil for the rest of the week. It sounds so true and makes one feel so good that we are not those kinds of people. Well would we prefer that those people would not take the time to go to church? How do we know anyway what is going on in their minds? It is once again falling into the judging syndrome.
When I go to prisons and such places and meet the poor and the misfits of society, I have learned to think "But for the grace of God go I!" If I had their circumstances, I would probably have ended up far worse than them. When studying the Saints I am happy to see that they all thought very poorly of themselves. One very famous latter 20th century saint Padre Pio thought he could go to hell at one point in his very effective ministry. If I have attained a slight degree of sanctity I had better watch out as I can so easily blot my copy book today or tomorrow or sometime in the future, if I get my eyes off Jesus.
Yesterday we watched a movie about two boys brought up in Afghanistan during the Russian Invasion and then the take over by the Taliban. It is a true story taken from a best selling book and I think the full name is The Kite Runner. The characters are extremely interesting. Sometimes they display cowardice and then extraordinary bravery. It is a real mixture. Maybe rather like you and me? I can thoroughly recommend it. The main religion portrayed is Moslem but the hero displayed very Christ like qualities. Well worth watching with no famous actors but many awards.
I hope this was a help and I would dearly love to hear your reactions. Maybe you can see better than I have been allowed to and then I can learn from you. God bless you! Peace be with you!