Posted in Words!

Being Divinely Human and Humanly Divine

We have these words in the gospel today according to Matthew, chapter 16:

“But he [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.'”

One might perhaps sympathize with Peter, who earlier in the chapter, as read last week, was the recipient of divine revelation, the man of insight, the Rock, and who this week is called “Satan,” by the same Jesus and told to get behind, get in line. Whether one sympathizes in this case in the petrine direction or not, Jesus’ words quoted above seem to do more than imply Jesus’ direction that we human beings are in fact able – and expected! – to set our minds not on human things, but on divine.

His words also make clear, as I suspect most of us would admit, that our default setting is indeed to think in human ways, to set our mind on human things. In this particular case, to do so would seem, according to Peter’s example, to shy away from both the possibility and the reality of suffering – either for ourselves or for those whom we love. And yes, humanly this shying away does seem to be reasonable.

Yet Jesus makes it apparent that in this and other affairs, both our possibility and our call is to begin to think divinely! That is, to set our mind on divine things.

How to do this?

Paul’s words in the second verse of his twelfth chapter of the letter to the church at Rome seems to point the way:

“Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV). Or, as Eugene Peterson’s rendering puts it in The Message: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

Peterson is on to something I think. To think as we automatically do, as humans, is in effect to ‘not think’ at all. It is simply to go along. To me, this in turn points to the idea that to think divinely, to set our minds on things divine, is somehow to do more, It is perhaps, as the Eastern traditions would say – and with them them mystical traditions of the West – to be mindful, to live life alive and aware of reality around us, of the meaning of our actions, of the words we speak and hear, of the miraculous persons with whom we share our days.

Perhaps today we can hear this invitation – demand? – of Jesus anew, and with Peter begin to open ourselves already, now, to the fact that more than human reality is already happening in and around us.


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Thoughts in a 3-Season Room, Entering the 3rd Season

Just one
breath in and out
of the cool clear clean air
of this Sunday morning
prayer affirms silently
that no army that can create
fear mayhem sorrow disorder
and death
can overwhelm
He who already has
nor can it kill
He who already has given Himself
all the way to death.

Rather the one breath
the breeze through the morning leaves
the voice of the child calling out
with confidence nearby to her father,
all and each proclaim
that all good has been done,
and that the noise and armor
and fire and fright
cannot conquer He who
has been conquered,
whose life is all
and in all.


(JPM 8.31.14)

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The heavens streamed overnight
Noah-like torrents in the darkness before dawn;
By noon the sun casting shadows,
Heavy wet air pulling up the
Humus-rich aroma of earth and growing-green.
Walking the dog through thousands of blades

Each carefully raising its water-drop back toward heaven.
Their perfume recalls summer in Edinburgh 1982
Good and full; the dog’s right ear all the way
Is curled back, revealing white skin beneath;
As if trying to name what the soil announces
At each sodden step.

(JPM, 8.13.14)

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Faith in Days of Violence

In a world suffering such pain, should we not seek to be healing?

In a landscape of houses destroyed, should I not desire to be a home?

In a time of unrest, should we not be refuge?

In a scene of blood, should I not be a tourniquet?

In an era of belief armed and firing, should we not be faith unarmed?

In a moment of fear, should I not be courage?

In a world at a loss, should we not share fullness?

In a place of crying, should my silence not embrace?

In a era of absolute answers, should we not pose a question?

In a wounded world, should we not willingly share the pain?

[JPM 8.11.14]