Two Standards and Two Value Systems
Jesus Christ's norms for action and values for judgment differ so starkly from all others that those others seem all the same when compared with His. So you put yourself to work, with God's help, asking what values move the world around you, what standards does it judge by, and what values and standards does Jesus use.
I come into God's presence and feel His loving gaze, and then I offer myself completely to God.
First, I recall for a second that I am going to think about sacred history. Here I just recall that St. John's Gospel keeps repeating how darkness fights against light, the Liar against Truth, and death against life. More important, Jesus Himself plainly talks about two kingdoms, fighting to the death. His teaching is that there are two titanic forces at work in the world, both driven from within to dominate.
Second, I compose myself in this embattled world. I could imagine Jesus Christ and His followers on a splendid green plain, with wonderfully colored pavilions and bright flags billowing in gentle breezes. And then I could imagine the Liar with his followers in a deep ravine, all greys and shadows with the air dead still. But I must not let this imaginary geography obscure the real geography. That shapes the heights and deeps of my own heart, where dark and light, evil and good, still battle.
Third, I ask God to give me the courage to see clearly the face of good and the face of evil. I ask Him to teach me to understand intimately the way the Mind of Christ works ? and also the way people who have chosen only this life make their decision and value things.
First, fantasize something that novels and films have portrayed: Here is a person totally depraved. Inside a roiling anger, keen desire to destroy, vicious hatred for life. Now, imagine that interior comes to the exterior: What will the person look like? How will the face change? the hands? the eyes and mouth? Well, that's what the Liar looks like, if you really see him.
Second, consider how the Spirit of Evil wishes
to clasp every one to itself. Evil wants to elicit evil; it's like radioactivity:
whatever it touches, it radio-activates and poisons. It's like the plague
caused by a highly contagious virus; open yourself to living contact with
a victim, and you have contracted the plague. Whether you believe in a
personal Prince of Evil (as Jesus surely did) or not, you know that evil
But third, how about those who want to serve God and keep good? How does evil touch them? Consider this: Time is money, and with money you can buy anyone's time. Money means privilege, and the privileged can always get money. Money means power because you can simply buy what you want done, and the powerful are without exception rich and getting richer. The monied can buy the best health care, and indeed absolutely demand it. They require attention whenever they want it. They acquire authority whether they have inner worth or not. You have to recognize that the mechanisms of disorder among people are lubricated by wealth.
Well, the Prince of Darkness - who always works by deception and in the dark - gets at the good person through that reality. First, you acquire something and you say to yourself, "Look at what I have." Then you grow convinced that you are someone special because of what you have, and you start talking to yourself in these terms: "Look at me with all this stuff!" You have shifted your focus from all the stuff (for which you might at first have been grateful to God) to your own self. In time, you grow convinced that what you have, you have by right - you have in and of your own self the right to all this stuff and to a lot more. You now think of yourself this way: "Look at ME!" You have begun to grow into pride, which is the conviction that you can decide what will make you happy and what values you ought to serve. In the end you say, "Look at me! Listen to me! I have a right!" Up to this very point, you may have done nothing sinful, but you have utterly forgotten how all comes to you as a gift (Not came, but comes), and have grown convinced that you are the origin and source of your own values. Once the Prince of Darkness has led you to that position, you have no defense against any opportunity to sin, even deadly sin.
You may find it difficult to think about all this, but beg God the Lord to teach you how an evil spirit can get hold of good people.
This requires less space and time.
First, imagine Jesus leading His friends. How does He command? Does He tell them the Truth? What gestures does He use when sending a friend on a mission? what tone of voice? He claimed to be a king ? what kind of king?
Second, notice that He explicitly and publicly told His disciples that they were to go throughout the whole world announcing Good News. They are to help, always ? the outcast, the poor, the imprisoned. They are to heal and to feed, to clothe and to house. They are to speak openly and to invite all to believe and repent.
Third, Jesus also has His program: First, invite each person to live as though all were gift and they owned nothing of themselves. Even when they are rich, invite them to live so as to show that all they have is gift. Then next, help them to treat privileges, honors, and fame as the smoke that they are. Help them to see that the only legitimate power is that exercised for the sake of serving those over whom it is wielded. Help them to see that a life of frugality and powerlessness, freely embraced, brings tremendous safety and gives great authority. Then, finally, they will come most securely to know that they are totally created, momently, from nothing, by God the Lord. They will live convinced that God sets their values for them and decides what will make them happy. So, they will have grown humble. Once humble, no temptation will throw them and they will live the Mind of Christ Jesus.
AT THE END
First ask our Lady to beg Jesus for these gifts for you: to be received under His standard, and to have the courage to buy into Jesus' value system wholeheartedly. Ask, if you can, that if God the Lord wants it, you will live a poor and obscure life, the way Jesus did, thought little of by the rich and powerful as He was thought little of. (In all this, of course, you would yourself want to do nothing to offend God, and you would want no one else to do anything that would offend God.) End with the Hail Mary.
Then ask Jesus Himself for the privilege of standing
with Him under His standard. End by repeating the Jesus Prayer for a while.
Finally, turn to the Father and ask for these gifts. End with an Our Father.