Archive for August, 2021

kisses of Jesus

August 18, 2021 1 comment


Pain, humiliation, sickness and failure—

is but a kiss of Jesus.

Once I met a lady who had a terrible cancer.

She was suffering so much.

I told her,

“Now you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he is kissing you.”

Then she joined hands and said,

“Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me.”

It was so beautiful.

She understood.

Suffering is a gift of God

A gift that makes us most Christlike.

People must not accept suffering as punishment.

—From “Words to Love By” by Mother Teresa

It’s been a couple of months since I first read these words by Mother Teresa on suffering.  Since then, I’ve read this offering at least 50 times. I’ve wanted to push back on the blessed sister, but I don’t think I’ve got enough secure footing to even bring it up. This whole genre of suffering makes me feel that I don’t really understand too much. I can identify with brokenness and discomfort at some level, but suffering? I know people who have suffered, not only in body, but also in heart, and soul, and mental anguish. I’ve lost some people that I’ve cared about, and I know the disappointment of failure, betrayal, and my own sins. But this kind of pain and suffering, this “thing” Mother Teresa addresses, has yet to show up on my own doorstep.

These last three lines bore into you, if you allowed them to:

“Suffering is a gift of God.”

“A gift that makes us most Christlike.”

“People must not accept suffering as punishment.”

This exposes how shallow I am. Seriously. She doesn’t say this is the only way to make us Christlike, but I get the feeling it might be the only true way to get there. I don’t think I trust religion or our spiritual processes to get us there, or anything else which requires our own choices or energies. She calls it a “gift,” and for it to be a “gift,” it must be given from elsewhere, and received by me. In other words, I can’t fabricate and declare my own “gift.” A gift ends up in my lap, and how I interact with that gift has everything to do with how that gift affects me.

The last line is also telling: If your ideas of God are enveloped with and supported by punitive notions and theology, then, of course you’ll see suffering as punishment.  What Mother Teresa teaches us, is that our “fear” of a punitive God is misplaced, and doing us no favors. God is either good or God isn’t.  So, which is it?

You may just have to sit with this one for a while (her words, not mine). I feel a massive pull to trust the love of God here. I talk and preach about it ALL OF THE TIME, but trusting that Love when you cannot always see it or feel it is another matter altogether. The Saint is tells us that Jesus is kissing us in our suffering. This feels like something other than “religion” as usual. —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized


August 4, 2021 Leave a comment

The joy that Jesus offers his disciples is his own joy, which flows from his intimate communion with the one who sent him. It is a joy that does not separate happy days from sad days, successful moments from moments of failure, experiences of honor from experiences of dishonor, passion from resurrection. This joy is a divine gift that does not leave us during times of illness, poverty, oppression, or persecution. It is present even when the world laughs or tortures, robs or maims, fights or kills. It is truly a static, always moving us away from the House of fear into the House of love, and always proclaiming that death no longer has the final say, though its noise remains loud and its devastation visible. The joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated.

—From “Lifesigns” by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Until we understand and enter the truth of the very first sentence of this offering by Nouwen, it is impossible to enter into the magnificence of the remaining truths. Joy can’t be obtained by right theology, dualistic swordplay, declarations of, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” externals of any kind, winning or trophies, or any other religious activity that serves or attempts to validate earned righteousness. Joy comes from another realm altogether. It is maintained by intimacy: a “knowing,” downloaded only by prolonged exposure to the ultimate Source of joy. A belief system cannot deliver this. This is about Spirit-to-spirit communion. Direct contact with Joy itself.

You’ll know when you’ve met a person who lives in that flow. They’re different. I’ve met a few in my lifetime. They’ve made the move from the House of fear to the House of love. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Maybe I’ll get there myself someday. Hopefully, all of us will. —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized