March 31st Reflection


"My dear friend Dr. Gerald May made a distinction years ago that I have found myself using frequently.  He says spirituality is not to encourage willfulness, but in fact willingness.  Spirituality creates willing people who let go of their need to be first, to be right, to be saved, to be superior, and to define themselves as better than other people.  That game is over and gone; and if you haven't come to the willing level--'not my will but Thy will be done' as Jesus says (Matthew 26:39)--then I think the bible will almost always be misused.

    I would like to say that the goal in general is to be serious about the Scriptures.  We have often substituted being literal with being serious, and they are not the same!  (Read that a second time, please).  The point I would like to make is that literalism is not to take the text seriously at all!  Pure literalism, in fact, avoids the real impact, the real message.  Literalism is the lowest and least level of meaning in a spiritual text.  Willful people use Scripture literally when it serves their purposes, and they use it figuratively when it gets in the way of their cultural biases; willing people let the Scriptures change them instead of using them to change others."

This serious discussion given to us by Fr. Rohr is one we should not take lightly.  The Bible offers us so much richness if we do not cheapen it down to simply a literal "Take it or leave it" object.  What comes of reading the Bible literarily (letting the literature of each writing be what it was meant to be) while also acknowledging what Bruce Metzger (one of the leading scholars/translators of the 20th century) points out when he says "The Bible does not always mean what it says, but it always means what it means" is the opportunity to truly encounter God in the text and in our lives.  We have to put down our own will if we ever hope to discover God's will when we read our Bibles.

    I imagine that some consider these words and are stunned, even angry.  I imagine some consider these words and are relieved.  Ask yourself, "Why am I feeling what I am feeling?"  Pray to God to enter into your experience and lead you in such a way that you begin to embrace willingness over willfulness.  May God bring you Grace, Peace, and Fullness of Life in your pursuit of God's will above all else.