Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt:
[ The Fates lead him who will; him who won’t, they drag. ]

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher (1st C. BCE)

“The Fates”. Here’s a little background … since most Americans would have no idea about them. Our educational system is abysmally bankrupt. I’ll bet if I asked people under 20 who Seneca was, they wouldn’t have the faintest idea.

The Fates, were goddesses supposed to preside over the accidents and events, and to determine the date or period of human life. They were believed by the ancients to be three in number, because all things have a beginning, progress, and end. They were the daughters of Jupiter and Themis, and sisters to the Horae or Hours.

Their names, amongst the Greeks, were Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, and among the Latins, Nona, Decima and Morta. They are called Parcae, because, as Varro thinks, they distributed to mankind good and bad things at their birth; or, as the common and received opinion is, because they spare nobody. They were always of the same mind, so that though dissensions sometimes arose among the other gods, no difference was ever known to subsist among these three sisters, whose decrees were immutable. To them was entrusted the spinning and management of the thread of life; Clotho held the distaff, Lachesis turned the wheel, and Atropos cut the thread.

So, here’s my thought for today  -  how does Life “work”? Does “Life” have a trajectory, a trajectory that’s built in? If it does, is it the same for every human being, or is it different for each person? Is it built into the nature of Life? Is there some Force/God/Determinism that determines it? Is there a “Ground of Being”, a Conscious Being, who makes arbitrary decisions about the trajectory of our lives … or is it a “given” about the Mystery we call Life??

Seneca seems to indicate that there is a Path set out for human life … and the “Fates” are a metaphor for the concept that human beings must make a connection, or be taught it, with what Life is and learn how to negotiate it best to our advantage … or that if we do not make the effort to discover, to learn, this path, we shall be dragged along with probably not very happy outcome. The positive indication here is perhaps that we human beings are intended to have, not necessarily “control” over our lives, but at least a capacity for choosing to cooperate with and shaping our destiny, both individually and as the human race.

So, while you go about your day today, ponder these things. And if you want to know what I think … well, give me a buzz! But, the really important thing is … what do you think? And what do your thoughts have to do with how you live your Life? Atropos/Nona will eventually cut the thread. But:  who’s “holding the distaff”? And who’s “turning the wheel”?


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, January 27, 2013

Just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body, though many,
are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one
Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews
or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made
to drink of one Spirit.

from the First Letter to the Church in Corinth, Chap 12
Readings for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C

[ The full Readings for Epiphany III, Year C, RCL, can be found at

What to think about this Third Sunday after Epiphany? Unity … and cooperation.

Christians, like Buddhists and Muslims and most of the World’s profound religions, have a message not just for themselves, but for all of Humanity. That’s the way … I believe … “God” works. God is Life Itself …. and “God” is a useless concept unless God is at work in all of human culture revealing the Wisdom of Life. “Religion” is only worthy of respect of it teaches us how to make Life the most beautiful and compassionate it can be.

What Jesus did in the Temple today … reading the prophet Isaiah and saying that the Scripture had been fulfilled for the people listening on that day … is exactly what every Christian Church that has kept faith with Jesus will be doing today  -  sitting amongst the people of the World and saying that we human beings are “one”, that we work together each with our own character and gifts … as “eyes”, “ears”, “feet”, etc … to help every human being find our own most profound nature, and the Human Race it’s most profound nature, Being, and meaning.

The Writer says, If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”   

We Americans value the individual. This is necessary … if we do not value our Self, we are not likely to be able to value God or our “neighbour”. But we need to remember: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”

Jesus preached that we are “one with God” as He was one with His Father. The World, the Human Community, is deeply fragmented. Today’s Gospel begs with us to see our oneness … and to commit ourselves to shaping that unity  -  and with that, peace, justice, compassion.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, January 6, 2013 [ in the Christian Kalendar, the Feast of the Epiphany ]

"revelation of the whatness of a thing,"
the moment when
"the soul of the commonest object [...] seems to us radiant."

-       attributed to James Joyce

[ The Readings for the Feast of the Epiphany – the story of the Three Kings led by a star to the Infant Jesus – can be found at:

A fully-alive, vibrant, powerfully loving and compassionate human being is a threat to many! Such a person challenges any one of us who lives for “earthly” power and control … something we all, at some level and at some times in our lives, are tempted to – more often than perhaps we would like. The story of the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents by King Herod illustrates this.

The Magi – Wise Men from the East – come seeking a King … a figure which to them would represent Divinity, as their gifts imply. The Magi were not seeking just an Israelite king, but a showing forth, a revelation – an “epiphainein” (Greek), an epiphany of the Presence of the Divine in the World. What is “the divine”? An important question. I think, as I ponder the world’s religions and faiths, that it is essentially Compassion, which binds all things together in the deep Mystery of Love.

Not only does Jesus represent this Holy Epiphany; He also represents you and me. The manger represents the core center of each of us … that place where the Divine Compassion is “born” and resides  -  that which makes us fully human, alive.

A hymnologist once wrote the simple words, “wise men continue to seek Him”. The story of the Magi seeking Jesus is the journey each of us is on, of discovering and nourishing the Compassion and Love which will make us fully human.

The poet John Keats wrote:

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced - even a proverb is not a proverb till your life has illustrated it.

To illustrate by our daily lives “Divine Compassion” is the path that this beautiful story calls us to each year … the installation of Love at our core, and the daily work of avoiding all those things destructive to our deepest and finest humanity that Herod represents.