A Loving Challenge to Change
I was really struck by a passage on the Center for Action and Contemplation’s website – “A Communion Paradigm”. It captures so well the roots of Vincent’s ministry and the invitation to those following in his footsteps.
The following selections explore how Jesus imparted his own intimate experience of Trinitarian love as a mindset of empowerment for his followers.
First, Jesus offers people unconditional positive regard. He gives full attention, sympathetic support, respect, and something else… he does not interact on the basis of one’s social description. In by-passing the description, he is going to something deeper and more real in the person. When he turns his unconditional positive regard on this deeper self beyond the descriptions, that self has the opportunity to wake up, to experience itself. When it does, it discovers itself as full of being; it no longer feels deficient…
Second, Jesus explains to people that each person is a child of God… God does not play favorites. God loves all equally. Children of God are supremely safe in this love (but not protected in the world), and children of God are themselves capable of this kind of loving…
Third, Jesus gathers people into communities in which… each person does the same thing that Jesus originally did: loving another person on the level beyond any description, beaming full attention (with all one’s heart, soul, mind, strength) of positive regard. This can awaken the sense of selfhood in one who has not yet known it, and in this way the community expands… all people are absolutely equal and each is absolutely unique. The sharing within the community is thus richly textured and very creative. Being unified, loving, and creative, the community is the “outreach” of God, the very Presence of God as world.
Vincentian Embodiment of the Jesus Movement
What a description of the Vincentian Movement rooted in his experience of the love of God urging the neglected to become aware of their dignity!
Vincent takes his experience and “pays it forward” so they can experience what transformed him. He tells them this experience being loved urges them to be signs of God’s love. He gathers them in communities dedicated to doing what Jesus did!
Notice how it begins rooted in an awareness of God’s love and radiates out in widening circles. A far cry from the pyramidal structure and hierarchy built into our usual world-view.
Changing our way of thinking
(Today) people are encouraged to think of themselves as identified by their descriptions and to see themselves as real insofar as they are distinct from others… “I am I by virtue of being not-you.”
So defined, people feel the insufficiency of their being, which is always vulnerable, always at risk. Consequently, people are insecure and anxious. Strongly pressed to preserve and enhance what being they have, people are easily tempted to believe that helping others may hurt themselves and that hurting others may be the best way to help themselves. After all, the others are “others,” and our first priority is ourselves. “My” well-being has to take precedence over “yours.”
This is certainly a radical change from “me and Jesus” to “we and Jesus”. The reflections help us shift from thinking in hierarchical structures of top and bottom to thinking ripples of love expanding in ever-widening circles.
I strongly encourage …
Let your mind and heart walk through the 6 short reflections from August 8-13, 2021 on the Power of God at work in… and through us.