Saturday, August 7, 2010

Brennan Manning

After the video, the following words are from the final chapter of Brennan Manning's book, Ruthless Trust.

I spent Christmas Eve in the Bowery of New York City in 1970. During the day I worked with a Catholic Worker team that tended to the hungry and homeless. After helping serve an evening meal to perhaps eighty or ninety people, I was invited upstairs to visit with Dorothy Day, the 73 year old founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. Crocheting in a battered old rocker, she welcomed me warmly and said, "Brennan, I'm sure that you are familiar with Peter Claver."

"Yes, ma'am," I replied. "Back around the 1640s he had a ministry to blacks who had been commandeered into the slave trade, often beaten to a pulp and left for dead. Claver burned out his short life, like a modern-day paramedic, alleviating their suffering or providing them care and spiritual comfort when they died."

This wizened old woman who cried the gospel with her life said, "One night Peter recruited a couple of volunteers to help minister to a dying man whose suppurating flesh had been eaten away because of years in chains. When the volunteers saw the oozing flesh and smelled the putrid odor, they ran panic-stricken from the room. Peter cried out, "You musn't go. You can't leave him --- it is Christ."

Dorothy nodded, indicating that our visit was over, and asked my blessing. I kissed her hand and then, shaking in my shoes, walked out the door.

Our culture says that ruthless competition is the key to success. Jesus says that ruthless compassion is the purpose of our journey.

In a world where the only plea is "not guilty," what possibility is there of an honest encounter with Jesus, "who died for our sins"? We can only pretend that we are sinners, and thus only pretend that we are forgiven.

To knife through our pretense, cowardice, and evasions, to see the truth about ourselves and the true state of our souls before God --- this requires enormous courage and ruthless trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God. Put simply, sin must be acknowledged and confessed before there can be forgiveness and real transformation.

As we enter the third millennium, ruthless trust is the courageous confidence that despite suffering and evil, terrorism and domestic conflict, God's plan in Jesus Christ cannot fail. The ensuing years will bring slow but steady progress in Kingdom values, and the day will dawn when the lion will lie down with the lamb; East will learn the language of the West (and vice versa); blacks, whites, Asians, and Hispanics will truly communicate; our cities of garbage, apathy, and despair will experience the sunshine of a better life; and all men and women will rejoice in the Spirit that makes us one in Christ the Lord.

We do not have to do anything, except let your unworthy, ungrateful selves be loved as we are. Trust happens! You will trust him to the degree that you know you are loved by him.

Ruthless trust ultimately comes down to this: faith in the person of Jesus and hope in his promise. In spite of all disconcerting appearances, we stare down death without nervousness and anticipate resurrection solely because Jesus has said, "You have my word on it."

Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God. (Copyright 2000)