Foolish Fridays 11
Brennan Manning in his The Importance of Being Foolish builds upon the base he is suggesting for coming to a place where we may begin to have the mind of Christ. A few weeks ago we read that we need to understand the devotion of Jesus to the Father. Now Manning suggests we look to formation of a heart of forgiveness. He draws our attention to the great parable of the Good Samaritan and the direction given to the expert who answered correctly, “the one who had mercy” and “go and do likewise.”
Manning then points us to the commonly understood point of mercy to others:
Jesus’ gentleness with sinners flowed from his ability to read their hearts and to detect the sincerity and essential goodness there. Behind people’s grumpiest poses or most puzzling defense mechanisms, behind their dignified airs, coarseness, or sneers, behind their silence or their curses, Jesus saw a little child who hadn’t been loved enough and who had ceased growing because those around him had ceased believing in him.
Manning then adds a point not commonly understood within this context, and suggests we need to turn the eye of mercy upon ourselves as well.
Self-esteem consists of how we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of others. This in turn conditions our perceptions of the world and our interaction with the community…. In order to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must come to recognize our intrinsic worth and dignity, and to love ourselves in the wholesome, appreciative way that Jesus commanded.
Looking at these points has to make a person shudder. First we appear to be called to deal kindly, that is with mercy and grace, to those who don’t deserve it. And to be honest I’m not sure I can do that. Jesus has the ability to see all the way through to the heart, and frankly I’m pretty lousy at such things.
As well, we must be honest with ourselves in order to come to a place where our self-esteem and internal sense of mercy and grace, no longer are capable of being contained within and most importantly are NOT flowing from that often messed up idea our value is a function of how others perceive us. To me, we must have that foundation of understanding the devotion to the Father of Jesus, which in turns tells me it isn’t me that will be showing mercy and grace, but solely through the power of the Holy Spirit, who will bring to mind the work and life of Jesus. Humble hearts I think.
We can’t read the hearts of others like Jesus. I gather then that we simply stand in a place where we can see others through the eyes of Jesus, and through the eyes of the other – I think that is the point Manning makes with his second reference, our point of view is crucial for how we interact with the number of divine encounters sent to us.
I guess one way of summarizing all of this; it’s all about coming to learn how to live with and through that gift called grace.
What do you think?
Be blessed and be a blessing today.