Since the early part of January, I’ve recounted stories of how peace and justice issues have impinged on my life. I began on January 12 with “Call Me Stubborn.” In my following posting, I introduced the woman who has most influenced my way of thinking about these issues—my mother: Hellen O’Mara Ready. She gave me “My First Lesson in Respect.” Basically, all I’ve ever tried to do throughout my life is respect others.
Hellen O’Mara Ready in the early 1930s.
Before I relate the final story of how peace and justice issues have changed my life, I want to introduce you to Yeshua, the man who has most influenced my life. Most of you know him by his Greek name, which came down to us in Latin usage as Jesus. I call him Yeshua because that is what his own Hebrew parents would have called him and that is my way of being respectful of his culture and its names.
What is there about this man that has influenced my life?
Early on, when I was a practicing Roman Catholic, I thought of him as the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Having departed from the Christian tradition, I no longer believe that. What I do believe is that he is as much a son of God as you and I and all people are. We are all syllables of Oneness. We are all sparks of divinity. He and you and I.
And yet he differs from me because he realized within himself—all those years ago in first-century Palestine—a fullness, a wholeness, of humanity. Did he live only one life and achieve this wholeness through the grace of the Holy Oneness of All Creation? I don’t know. I know only that his life, his words, and the meaning he found in relationship draw forth from me my deepest admiration. He is, quite simply, the love of my life.
This is the oldest icon of the “Christos.”
It can be viewed in Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai.
It is Yeshua whose actions, like my mother’s, taught me how to respond to others so as to bring peace into our world. How to respond respectfully. Compassionately. Empathically.
I’ll end this series with a story in which a magazine article used the word outcast. Immediately, I thought of Yeshua. He reached out to the outcasts of his world—those whom his society castigated as unclean. For the people of Palestine in the first century, these would have been thieves, lepers, prostitutes, the sick, the possessed, the crazed. And even women who were menstruating.
Why were they unclean? The general public believed they had sinned. Sickness was a result of sin—either by the person affected or by the parents of that person. To touch an unclean person was to become unclean. So cast them off, run them out, berate them, ignore them. But always steer clear of them.
And in every culture throughout history, we have witnessed the deep fissures that can arise between a people when they begin to look at others as unworthy or unclean or "not like us."
Through words and actions, Yeshua taught that we must cease to separate people into groups of the clean and unclean. We must cease to judge one person more worthy than another. We must cease to look at those around us and see “them” and “us.” We must embrace differences and see these only as varied facets of the single diamond of Oneness.
Hellen O’Mara Ready and Yeshua are the two people who have taught me that we must seek out those whom others ignore and treat as unclean, unworthy, disreputable. We must choose Oneness.
In my next posting, I will share with you one final choice.
Afterword: If you have any interest in learning more about how Twelve Habits of Successful Cats and Their Humans came to be, please read my guest posting this past Tuesday on the blog ecwrites.
Icon from Wikipedia.