Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"This man's gift and that man's scope": Ash Wednesday 2016

Ash Wednesday is a good day to stop and consider that we need the community of believers, the "clouds of witness," if we are ever to have a gospel.

And that the gospel is never something we take with us away from that community.  The gospel is not something we know in our individual hearts, and which we rescue from the church, the congregation, the people, who are the corruption of it.  If anything corrupts the gospel, it is our selfish certainty that we know the truth, and that the truth has set us free; free from the need to struggle with God, to struggle in the community of faith, to humble ourselves and know God in the other.-The Desert Fathers did not flee into the wilderness to keep their holiness pure from the taint of the congregation.  They went out in humility to find the presence of God in their service.  They set themselves apart from the laity, but not above them, for they were laypersons themselves.  If the hierarchy of the Church has any advantage for us, it is to teach us to be humble before at least one other person, to recognize the spiritual authority of God in the physical presence of at least one person.  It is not an authority of control and superiority; it is an object lesson in humility and how much we truly need each other.

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