Aloha Friday Message – March 15, 2013 – A Mountain-Top Reality

1311AFC031513 – Mountain-Top Reality

Read it online here, please.

mountain top seek and ye shall findJesus often went up into the mountains to pray. Sometimes when we feel really connected to God in prayer we call it a Mountain-Top Experience. It is an epiphany. It is a joyous moment when we are overcome and overwhelmed with the grace and love of God. We do not have to be standing on a mountain, though, to have a Mount-Top Experience. We can have one in our car, or in church, or at the lake or beach, or even in the hospital. These moments are brilliant and real in our memories. But, we could also be standing on a beautiful mountain with a stupendous view and be utterly lacking in closeness to God. Recall this instance of prayer in the Temple.

 

Luke 18:11The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

Last week I included a contemporary prayer that I’ve received several times as one of the endlessly recycling Internet offerings. Here are some of the opening words to a couple of the paragraphs: ” Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic tonight …” “Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow …” And here is something from a Bible study I recently read: “James the Apostle understood that the poor, needy, and under-resourced are fertile ground for the good news we call the gospel message. They are often broken people who are keenly aware of their need.” As the days went by in this past week, I realized my prayers were at times more like invectives than intercessions. I put a link there because I want you to understand how revulsed I felt about those statements. Revulsion is a: a sudden or strong reaction or change b: a sense of utter distaste or repugnance. I found them embarrassing. I found them Pharisaical like the prayer in the Bible verse I quoted.

If you read that Bible study about offending the homeless, you will perhaps understand that sometimes when we are trying hard to say something right, we fail so miserably that we completely undo the good we intend. Politicians suffer from this foot-in-mouth disease constantly. Of course, one usually ends up saying, “That was taken completely out of context,” but really, how can the context help clarify something arrogant we have tried to disguise as something compassionate? Say what? Here, please take a look at this picture. I understand that it may hurt your eyes to do so, but give it a try anyway.

Does this image make your eyes go crazy?

Does this image make your eyes go crazy? Does it look like it is moving?

 

This image – part of a Mandelbrot set – appears in a discussion of how to camouflage vehicles in the war in Afghanistan with “Dazzle Camouflage.” This technique was used to some degree in WWI and to a lesser degree in WWII, but its effects in our current wartime strategies would be hardly worth the effort. I mention this because I think sometimes we do this in our Spiritual Warfare. We cover our prayer with nearly infinite self-justifications that are, in fact, judgments of ourselves and others.

Remember the tax collector’s prayer? Luke 18:13But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” He prays to God, but to whom does the Pharisee pray? Look at that verse again. Yes, Beloved, he prayed to himself, and all of us have heard prayers like that. Sometimes we hear them in our own voice because they are in our own prayers. Other times we hear them in the voices of others. Sometimes we hear “extension prayers” that are a summary of a sermon, homily, or Bible study: “O God we know that you have told us that we are to pray like this tax collector who humbled himself before you and confessed to you that he was a sinful man. We thank you that when we feel like praying in the same fashion as the Pharisee, you are there to remind us that his prayer went nowhere. We thank you, Lord, for giving us these parables to teach us ….” Where is the Love in that? Where is the humility? “The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.”

Some of us are used to praying in litanies, others are not, but I ask you to consider this Litany of Humility. Try it more than once. See if you can pray it at least once a day for the next seven days. It is an edifying experience to pray – rather than simply read – this prayer. And please, do not overly concern yourself with the authorship of this Litany. Instead look at the content, intent, and extent of the words here. I have never been able to memorize this whole Litany, but I always feel better when I pray my way through it. It is a difficult and dangerous prayer because if you pray it fervently and in Spirit and Truth, your life will be irrevocably changed. Remember the words we find in Proverbs 3:36 and James 4:6 – “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor;” and “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Jesus asks us to learn from Him for He is “meek and humble of heart.” Therefore let us humbly pray …

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

God, grant that all our small prayers be offered up in much love.

Of all the things we can do for Jesus’ honor and glory, surely among the best available is to love all persons – you, me, and everyone else – as he has Loved us. He told his contemporaries many times that he did and said only what saw and heard his Father doing and saying. How closely do we resemble our Father, and his Son who is for us the face of God? Let us then ask the Spirit for greater humility that we will be conformed to his image. Then, whatever ground we stand upon will be a Holy mountain-top and we will pray to God and not to our self.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

 

To God be the Glory!!

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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