Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Reflection
Divine Love is more than feelings, deeper than sentiment. Love is active. Love does something, changing us and the world. If you’ve ever been in a relationship you know this. If you truly love another person you grow, change, and begin to think less of yourself. Last week’s reflection looked at love as transformation. This week the scriptures tell us love is all about connection and that love is eminently practical. God transforms us when we connect to love and it leads to concrete practices: choices, behaviors, and disciplining our minds. So in this reflection we will ponder love’s deep connectivity and practical nature.
We start with Paul’s image of the Body of Christ in our second reading. Paul writes, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” We are all one body in Christ through the Spirit. Even though we may seem separate and like individual parts, we are one whole. This is a startlingly amazing metaphor when we think of what quantum physics now tells us. This branch of science speaks of the unbroken wholeness of the universe. Physicist Fritjof Capra writes: “Quantum theory…reveals a basic oneness of the universe…As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated ‘basic building blocks,’ but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole.”(The Tao of Physics). This is truly incredible, for quantum physics says we are all one! Just like Paul’s spiritual vision of the Body of Christ, we may seem separate but that is an illusion. Everything is one undivided whole.
Now, because of this undivided wholeness that is the universe, quantum physics also talks about a phenomenon called entanglement. Ilia Delio describes it: “Quantum entanglement is nonlocal interaction or unmediated action at a distance, without crossing space, without decay, and without delay…The idea of nonlocal action at a distance requires a connection that travels faster than light.” This means that something done in New Jersey, for instance, instantly affects people in Mongolia, and everywhere else too! Later Delio notes, “Our human thoughts are linked to nature by non local connections.” Not only what we do, but what we think affects the world, because everything and everyone is part of an undivided wholeness.
So what does this have to do with the love Jesus preached in the Gospels? What we do affects everything and everyone. Whether we are acting selfishly or selflessly in our lives, we are affecting the whole world negatively or positively. Quantum physics confirms what the mystics know, namely, that our thoughts and actions matter. They have a real effect on everything! We can’t afford negative thinking because it hurts the world, literally. Ilia Delio says, “Our thoughts are not neutral or private; they do something.” Our consciousness affects the world for good or ill. Contemplative prayer, then, is incredibly important! We need to commune with the God within. For, with this consciousness of deep connection with God and the universe (which is contemplative prayer), we will transform the world. Our thoughts, actions, and our very consciousness influence everything.
Because love is deep connection, love is incredibly practical. Love becomes more practical than ever! We are so connected, so one, that whatever we do – even whatever we think – has an effect on the universe. If you think negative thoughts, that shapes the world. If, instead, you are thinking about people with love, if you are present and open to God in this moment, that has a much greater and even transformative effect on the universe.
If you want to do something about all the social ills of our time, start by little acts of love – interior acts and exterior acts. Putting it concretely, we can help Syrian refugees by forgiving the person who cuts us off on the highway. We can positively affect the starving through intentional acts of kindness. In short, the liberation Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel reading is fulfilled when we love.
Jesus reads from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” He announces that this passage is fulfilled because he is love incarnate. His God-consciousness, his absolute oneness with God, made him like a star’s furnace constantly churning out nuclear explosions of divine love that affected all existence because of the undivided wholeness of the universe. He liberates the poor and oppressed because he radiates love. He fends off war, violence, and all evil because he IS love. We will do the same when we love with the love of Christ.
Etty Hilesum makes this connecting and practical love very real when she writes, “Why is there war? Perhaps because now and then I might be inclined to snap at my neighbor. Because I and my neighbor and everyone else do not have enough love. . . . Yet there is love bound up inside us, and if we could release it into the world, a little each day, we would be fighting war and everything that comes with it.”
Love is connection. It is the deep connectivity proved by science and described by Paul. This deep connectivity is possible only because of God. In fact God IS this deep connectivity, its center and power. God sustains and moves this unbroken wholeness. To love most powerfully we have to love with God’s love. We have to plug into the infinite energy of divine love pulsing within us and waiting to be unleashed on the world. We do this through prayer. In prayer we connect with the God within and by doing just this we change the world. For, remember, our thoughts matter. Our consciousness affects the world. Prayer, then, is the most powerful thing we can do! As our first reading from Nehemiah says, “rejoicing in the Lord is our strength.”
Ilia Delio writes, “Prayer is centering the mind on ultimate life-energy—God—through which we are connected to the entire universe.” So, God-centered-ness, God-consciousness or the mind of Christ, will be infinitely more powerful and explosively transformative than anything we do on our own. In truth, we will love only when we are centered in the God within. We truly pray when we let go of our thinking, abandon all our distractions, and center on God by an inner silence and interior nothingness. Only when we are aware and open and empty in the moment are we in God and therefore in love. Then we can change the world through the undivided wholeness that is our universe.
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Reflection