Reflections on the Heart of the Gospel (from some old notes)

I found all these handwritten quotations from my journaling in 2012 when I last stayed in Mt. Angel - at  the Queen of Angels Monastery.

In their meditation library I found all sorts of quotations like these, revealing the heart of God.

It's interesting to reflect on them now, as I've been reading black liberation theology.  There is nothing very radical about black liberation theology, not really.  Except that it is so shocking how the Gospel has been robbed of its inherent radicalness.  We are surprised when the Gospel doesn't conform to our capitalism, our consumption, our politics, priorities and values.  It becomes offensive to our senses.  Counterintuitive.  Unpragmatic and unreasonable.

Pope Francis is (rightly) getting a lot of credit for his words on compassion, and his challenge to the First World.  But these words shouldn't be surprising.  They are the heart of Christian Orthodoxy.  Care for the suffering and liberation for the marginalized is the Gospel.  Here are some beautiful demonstrations:
"You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich." 
     - St. Ambrose 
"Those who make private property of the gifts of God pretend in vain to be innocent. For in this retaining the subsistence of the poor, they are murderers of those who die every day for want of it." 
     - Pope St. Gregory the Great 
"Who is the covetous man? One for whom plenty is not enough. Who is the defrauder? One who takes away what belongs to everyone. And are not you covetous, and are you not a defrauder, when you keep for private use what you were given for distribution? When someone strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not - should not he be given the same name? The bread in your hand belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let not belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not - to all these you are doing wrong." 
     - Basil the Elder 
"The disease was this - that Christians who would be horrified to have their devotion to Jesus questioned, did not in fact find him very interesting." 
     - Frank Sheed
"Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come, uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, his place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in the world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst... It is in these that he hides himself, for whom there is no room." 
     - Thomas Merton

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