Posts Tagged ‘Radical Love’


Historically we know that Jesus was not born at Christmas time. It is symbolic, but what a powerful symbol. Overlaying the ancient Winter Solstice celebration, it becomes a breathing allegory of the Gospel of John 1…the light in the darkness. This is what the Johannine Community resonated with. Mysticism. Living rituals to understand faith in action. John wrote beautifully of this in the fourth chapter. A great reflection for the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is waiting, and preparing. It is a journey into the darkest day, when light is born, and the days keep getting brighter from there.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Holy visions since the early Church have taken the form of Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ mother. This is because she can easily bring the story of Love and Hope without the baggage the institution has laid on her son. It is the resonating message of the gospel, in a different form. Sadly, yes the anti-christs have co-opted the spiritual life and teachers for many forms of evil.. terrorism, pedophilia, rape, fraud, money laundering, wealth building, oppression, and political power. This is why sometimes the messenger has to be different than the way that the Holy Mystery came in Brother Jesus. Yet there are many paths for the love light to shine in our world.

At this time of year the greatest reminder is the jolly elf himself, as my son terms him in his spastic verbalness, “ho ho ho”. That’s right: Santa Claus. The spirit of joy and giving this season.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13¬†By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.¬†14¬†And¬†we have seen and testify that¬†the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of¬†the world.¬†15¬†Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.¬†16¬†So¬†we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.¬†God is love, and¬†whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17¬†By this¬†is love perfected with us, so that¬†we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because¬†as he is so also are we in this world.18¬†There is no fear in love, but¬†perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not¬†been perfected in love.19¬†We love because he first loved us.¬†20¬†If anyone says, ‚ÄúI love God,‚ÄĚ and¬†hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a]¬†love God¬†whom he has not seen.¬†21¬†And¬†this commandment we have from him:¬†whoever loves God must also love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:7-21 (English Standard Version)

Some like to default to the rampant consumerism. But miss the point, there are always those that will look for the darkness in the light. Not the fact that it brings together community, it is a time to celebrate. It is also a time of year in which the story of the creche (as Francis of Assisi was the first to bring to life) is about a family in which the world had no room for them. Sadly, the fastest growing demographic of homelessness in Calgary is like the Holy Family of the Nativity. 30 years ago the Government of Canada pledged to eradicate child poverty in Canada, and now we accept homeless shelters for families.

Our society will be judged on how we love the least of these. That is our elders, our differently abled brothers and sisters, our children. Do we want to be known as the generation that normalized institutional hopelessness? Or do we want to be known as the generation that transfigured a city, province and country and truly made love of neighbour happen and complete a 30 year promise?

Suggested reflection listening: Toby Keith’s (1995)¬†Santa I’m Right Here


Prayer of faith. Pretty strong words are coming from James. Yet prayer is something that his brother spoke about quite a bit before he was lynched. Brother Jesus spoke out against showy-falsity and being authentic in the mystic aspect of our lives. Why? Because it allows us to break through the world imposed soundtrack of our lives, to the one at our true core…the core fashioned and resonating within the Holy Mystery.

That is James’ first step when someone is suffering, afflicted, ill or troubled even. Take time to centre our very being into our true nature. Yet even James understands there are times when this can be an impossibility, so this spills from his scribes’ quill:

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[a] 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

-Epistle of James 5:13-20 (English Standard Version)

Notice the words first before we jump into the role of Elders. The words of centering in life regardless of what is thrown at us. In Franciscan Charism it is called “Daily Examin”; not a time of counting the F’up list, but rather honestly looking at your day for times of growth, opportunity, regret, fulfillment, reconciliation and blessing. Truly turning your day into a Psalm, just like James counsels here, to be in contemplation constantly.

Yet he also touches on those moments when we cannot see who we are. When we are lost in the woods, or have veered off the path illuminated by the light, when we are Peter walking on water and look down and fall. Those moments of doubt when the soundtrack of the world sucks us into believing we are only good enough based on bank account, societal ladder labels, power amassing or material goods. Those are the moments when we seek out the Elders. Today the term may be prayer counsellor; mentor; life coach; spiritual director; those people that can see through the B.S. we are drowning in and bring us back to our core.

This is the authentic you. The you others within the Holy Mystery see you as, and when we journey together we see the love that made us, and the intrinsic value within us.

The Epistle of James is a prayer of faith to the early church and the church now. It is the little brother’s reminder that structures, fancy words, worldly power, or money or great shows do not matter. If it is all upon the surface it is for nought. The transformation for integrity and authenticity goes deep to our core, by burning away the muck of our souls to be who we are truly meant to be in community.

It was termed the Epistle of Straw and derided throughout history for that very reason. It is the words like those of Jesus of Nazareth in the original gospel, challenging the status quo. Challenging through a very simple concept, that would be recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (and the text that got me to attend church at 19 years old):

34¬†But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced¬†the Sadducees, they gathered together.¬†35¬†And one of them,¬†a lawyer, asked him a question¬†to test him.¬†36¬†‚ÄúTeacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?‚Ä̬†37¬†And he said to him,¬†‚ÄúYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.¬†38¬†This is the great and first commandment.¬†39¬†And¬†a second is like it:¬†You shall love your neighbor as yourself.¬†40¬†On these two commandments depend¬†all the Law and the Prophets.‚ÄĚ

-Gospel of Matthew 22:34- 40 (ESV)

And the simple task put before us, was to simply go and do like wise in L-O-V-E (no qualifiers).


There are many Empty Tomb or resurrection narratives found within the Canonical Gospels, never mind the ones in the pseudepigraph (apocrypha-gnostic‚ÄĒthe ones Constantine‚Äôs Scholars did not want). There is scenes we are familiar with of Doubting St. Thomas putting his fingers in Brother Jesus‚Äô wounds; talking with disciples on the road; eating fish with them.

BUT-

The oldest text ending we have was what is believed by tradition to originally been recited to John Mark (his folks owned the Upper Room, yeah that one, he was there at the arrest and ran away naked, and he journeyed a bit with Paul) by Peter (the one that Jesus called Satan in one moment, and in another was being called the foundation stone of the Christianities, and Brother Jesus entrusting him with the keys if you will).

This was the original ‚Äúending-beginning‚ÄĚ (original Sonrise):

¬†When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus‚Äô dead body.¬†2¬†Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb.¬†3¬†They were saying to each other, ‚ÄúWho‚Äôs going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?‚Ä̬†4¬†When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!)¬†5¬†Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; and they were startled.¬†6¬†But he said to them, ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.[a]¬†He has been raised. He isn‚Äôt here. Look, here‚Äôs the place where they laid him.¬†7¬†Go, tell his disciples, especially Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.‚Ä̬†8¬†Overcome with terror and dread, they fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

-Mark 16:1-8 (Common English Bible)

Fear? Seems an apt human response to finding your friend’s body missing. Even with the message, these women had heard the rumblings of the authorities, or of other factions on what to do with the body to break the back of the movement.

Yet the message went to three strong women. It was the true community message time. In ancient world customs took 2 women to equal one man in testimony. Yet here you had a Trinity. Much like a mirror reflection of the Trinity of God (Creator), Jesus (master teacher/way shower) and the promised Holy Spirit (community empowerer). The women were Mary, Mother of James (who was Jesus‚Äô brother)‚ÄĒthe co-creator of the life of Jesus; Salome (Herod‚Äôs niece who was manipulated in killing John, reborn within the movement, a new child mentored by the women); and Mary Magdalene (once written off as a sex worker in a derogatory manner, now history showing that she was the major sustainer of the community, through her monies keeping things going, and very possibly the wife of Brother Jesus).

An earthly feminist trinity receiving the truth. That even the plans of evil, power, Empire and Religious Controllers were undone. They had heard the message (the Gospel proclaimed of the new Kingdom to come) and they had seen the signs…yet in the midst of the reality. Truly having their society’s meta-narrative shattered, the caste system of religion, economics and colonialism blown away…the fear of change gripped them and they rolled through it as they ran.

Who would do any different in the midst of such drastic change?

With each change in life no matter how minuscule, our emotional intelligence goes through the journey of grief. That is what this group was going through, later accounts tried to alleviate that understanding. This earliest account allows you to enter into it.

Not only enter into it, but after the fear rolls through and you are left with the acknowledgement of what just happened.

Flowing into that moment of new reality. That moment when one realizes nothing can stop radical love. Nobody can stop true belonging. No matter how much ‚Äúpower they have‚ÄĚ. For all the powers of the known world attempted to and looked as if they had succeeded in silencing the peasant labourer from Nazareth‚Ķand the Holy Mystery and a big Nu-Uh for them as the sun rose on a Sunday.

They may have run in fear…

But what came next is how each of them, and cascading into each member continued to write their own Gospel story.

Empires and religious controllers to come may have tried to set and seal the Christian Testament, but they too missed the moment of fear of the women. For it was in that moment of fear, that they knew the story was no longer about the life lived of Brother Jesus. It was now about the lives living the way of radical love of Brother Jesus and the transformed world to come.

It was now their Gospel. Their political proclamation of radical love and belonging.

It was their answer to the question, who is my Neighbour?

This Easter Sunday, as the sun rose, and you were confronted with the man in white telling you the tomb was empty…where is your fear taking you?

            What is your Gospel? Your political proclamation of radical love and belonging?

            What is your answer to the question, who is my neighbour?


There is at least 2 times in the Canonical (those that post-Constantine church elders chose to be in the Christian Testament) Gospels where Jesus is shown throwing tables and ‚Äúcleansing‚ÄĚ the den of thieves from his Dad‚Äôs house. One is early in his earthly ministry, the other is during what we term Holy Week liturgically. Or rather after he arrives in Jerusalem and challenged Empire authority and Religious Controllers with his own festival.

In the Temple we try to reconcile our sanitized-westernized-personal salvation-prosperity gospel Jesus with what happens next. Is this our Buddy? Is this our brother?

In seminary and bible college I learned the other way of seeing the act. The changing of money was so no graven image entered the Temple, it was necessary. The sacrificial animals had to be without blemish so they had to be sold. As bringing a sacrifice on a journey could create blemish by travel. Essentially that these processes were necessary, and it wasn’t the process Jesus was mad at, it was the turning of profit. Yet I believe it is more than that.

Just look at Cain and Abel, Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t pure that is why YHWH rejected. Totally missing the point it was the heart behind the sacrifice, not the sacrifice that mattered to YHWH. In today’s terms imaging only being able to partake in communion or the pot luck or baptism if your Toonie/Loonie/Fin note were crisp and new without blemish? Or you had to purchase your pew (yes historic cause of Free church movement I am looking at you).  Sound ridiculous?

What these practices were/are barriers to belonging in the community. They stop accessibility and inclusion from those that were seen as ‚Äúless than‚ÄĚ and not fit to ‚Äúbe apart of‚ÄĚ. This is the system that Brother Jesus walked in on, and if I may be blunt, lost his shit about. The cleansing was about shattering the power barriers of control that kept the blessed Children (read the beatitudes in Matthew 5) from belonging.

In the act of the scourging. In the act of flipping tables. Jesus was showing us that we had to shatter our pre-conceived notions. We had to get our hearts right for our neighbour. That the radical love being called for was not about perfection. It was messy, it was shattering what was seen as ‚Äúholy‚ÄĚ for what truly was. Being present with one another:

Belonging.

We may not have money changers today or sacrifice sellers in our temples, but what tables need to be tossed out? Literally shattering the barrier of belonging. So join me in flipping some tables and freeing folks from chains imposed by Religious Controllers.

Let us shatter these lies across the board:

  1.             The lie that LGBTTQ2+ do not belong or are sinners.
  2.             That Polyamory or common-law relationships between consenting adults are sin.
  3.             Persons with Disabilities need to be healed for they are not complete.
  4.             You are born depraved and evil in Original Sin.
  5.             Women are less than.
  6.             Children should be seen and not heard.
  7.             Elders cannot learn new things.
  8.             Different cultures/races/religions are to be feared.
  9.             A healthy sexual life is only about procreation.
  10. Reproductive Rights are only about abortion (complete body autonomy is a progressive lie told to you).
  11. Mental illness is due to weakness or lack of faith.
  12. If wealthy donors do something to harm the community it is okay, because we cannot afford to lose their money.
  13. That the building erected for worship is where God resides.
  14. Life is about the amount of wealth you can get, the things you can accumulate for this shows how much God loves you. If you are suffering it is because you have no faith.
  15. Addicts, the poor, the sex trafficked, the abused all brought it upon themselves.
  16. Dying with Dignity is an affront to God.

These are only some of the tables I believe Jesus would toss and shatter upon entering our temples today. He would scourge out the Neo-Nazis from Christianity (feel free to insert whatever euphemism you prefer for their bile hatred) as he and his cousin, John the Baptist called out the Sanhedrin. They would stand firmly with #timesup, #metoo, #Marchforourlives, and the bubble zones of safety around pro-choice clinics as those hurting or in need seek out solutions. They would stand with those that speak for full belonging for persons with disabilities; the spectrum of sexual identity; for the New Canadians (Immigrant or refugee), for the seniors and the young trying to afford medications (Universal Pharmacare and Medicare would be no brainers for them). There would be righteous anger at those that imposed values tests for those seeking welfare or entitlements designed as a safety net…for those needs tests come from the Upper socio-economic classes.

These are ancient stories, but the journey through is not ancient. It is now. The calling is to vocational radical love and transformation of self and community.

For radical belonging.

As each of us responds to the answer of the question:

Who is my neighbour?

Tossing tables and cleansing the temple, what calls to belonging resonate within you:

15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

-Mark 11:15-19 (also found in Matthew 21:22-17, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:13-22)