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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS

~ Back to the Future ~

My sister found an early writing of mine, the first newsletter I published as a student on the Villanova University campus. Titled, Moments and Meditations in the Christian Spirit, it was written in the Fall of 1973, an era of protest songs, Vietnam, hippies and counterculture demonstrations. My sister delightfully handed it to me suggesting that was my first Reflection and that I should consider publishing it again. Written on a manual typewriter during pre-Internet days, a time when the university computer filled an entire building yet had less memory and capability than the lap top I am typing on now, that newsletter had to be duplicated on a primitive copier and distributed by hand. I told my sister, "Sure, for old times sake, I'll publish it." You will be able to tell it was influenced by the social milieu of the early 70s. Yet we will be reminded that "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Here are some excerpts...dedicated to my loving sister.

In the beginning was the Word - the Logos - which was God (John 1:1).
He came into a world intoxicated with pain, suffering, death.

And though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him (John 1:10).
Who is this Jesus? He has no name. He said, "I Am He Who Is" (Exodus 3:14, John 8:58)

And the I AM became flesh and bones and lived among us in this incarnate form for a while,
and we actually saw His Glory. (John 1:14)
But the world did not know him and the dog turns back to his own vomit and the pig is washed
only to wallow again in the mire (Proverbs 26:11, 2 Peter 2:22).

So the world technologized death and built systems to preserve us from each other and from ourselves.
Children are rolling down a grassy hill. I hear them laughing.
Who can say to them, "Your deaths are a needed part of war and self-preservation. We all regret it, mind you.
But we are also caught in a bind. Either kill or get killed"?

But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, overcome evil with love.
Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me. (Matthew 6:44, Romans 12:21, Matthew 25:40)

Can't we read? I will not call on Caesar for instruction in The Way.
Who then can save us from ourselves? Social workers? Priests and ministers? Caesar?

Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world (John 16:33)
Deny yourself and follow Me. If you lose your life for Me, you will gain it, will find it (Matthew 16:24-25)

Is it not better to die for justice, love, others, than live in a "regrettable bind"?
"This child was born to die in the name of Caesar! We can't do anything about it."

Blessed are you who suffer for justice sake! (Matthew 5:10)
Keep yourself uncontaminated from the world system (James 1:27).

"We are prepared to use force to back our demands in the interest of world peace."
What does that mean? That we are prepared to drop napalm, A-bombs, and vesicants on men, woman and children?

Non-violent non-cooperation with the structures of evil:
Herod was happy when they brought Jesus to him because he had heard about Him and hoped to see Him work some great sign.
So he asked Him questions for a while, but Jesus did not answer him at all (Luke 23:8-9).
He made Himself free of the principalities and powers. He made public spectacle of them (Colossians 2:15).

S
o what can a child of God do?

You are the salt of the earth. No man who has light hides it under a cover (Matthew 5:13, 15).

Then we must lead, show, point to the Way of liberation!
Stop! I smell bad things in the air, like false pride, egoism, and I-will-enlighten-the-world-complexes.
True leadership takes on the form of servant.

Jesus girded Himself and washed His disciples' feet (John 13:4-5).
He did not count equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied Himself. He became servant (Philippians 2:6-7).
The one who is least among you is greatest (Luke 9:48).
His disciples started arguing over who was the greatest of them. Jesus, perceiving the thought of their minds,
put a child in their midst (Luke 9:46-47).

By emptying myself I am continually filled. In giving I am strong. In sharing I am rich.
In withholding I am weak. In being afraid to lose I am already poor.

Lose your life for Me and you will find it. Hold on to it and you will lose it (Matthew 16:25).

Pluck a flower and it dies. Catch wind in a bag and it becomes stagnant air. Cup bouncing, running water from a stream in your hands,
and it becomes lifeless.
Love is the supreme manifestation and embodiment of giving and vice versa. It is an emptying that continually fills.

Love Me and I will make myself real to you (John 14:21).

Through this love and this spirit of servant, one will feel identity with the Christ, and so realize His union and His Kingdom.

A traveler stopped at a house who Christians had established a community. He was depressed from his months on the streets, knowing he had not found what he sought and needed to fit meaningfully into the life around him. Of a wild and restless spirit, he was not interested in commitments. But he needed a rest and asked the community leader permission to stay for a while.

The leader asked, "Are you committed to any kind of pursuit or interest at all?"

"I'm not into studying religion or philosophy for prolonged lengths of time. I do practice a style of the martial arts."

The leader summoned a particular brother and said to them both, "You are versed in the martial arts and I will ask you to contend with each other. The first to move off the mat will lose and have to find another place to sleep as long as the winner remains here."

They began. Soon, the brother made an error putting the traveler in the advantage. The traveler began to think, "Now what am I doing? Here I am, a stranger, ready to force this guy out of his home." He then began to deliberately make mindless moves. The leader stopped the match and announced, "No one wins or loses. You [the traveler] showed great concentration and involvement, and yet could maintain compassion enough to sacrifice yourself. Whether or not you realize it, you already possessed these qualities within you and they are strengths in following The Way. Stay here for a while and apply them in the Spirit and teachings of Jesus, and your spiritual rebirth and growth will come."

He did and it happened.

The kingdom of God does not come with signs or visible display, nor should people say, "Look! Here it is!" or "See, it's there!" For the kingdom of God is within you in your hearts and among you, surrounding you. Do not be afraid, my children, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom! (Luke 17:20-21, 12:32).
Give freely: Provide yourselves with purses and handbags that do not grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in the heavens where no thief comes near and no moth eats away -- For where your treasure is, wherever your values are, that is where your heart will be also (Luke 12:33-34).

[A free-style poem by Molly Steward, undergraduate Villanova University student in 1973:]

If I am not peaceful, who will be?
If I do not turn a cheek, will anyone?
If all now fight and quarrel, when will the turmoil end?
Discord, hatred, war must cease, but who will stop it?

It has been said that war is in the hearts of men;
Then peace must be there also.
Peace is that love, tranquility, beauty,
That casts out fear and hate.

Truth also comes to aid,
Rising above the battlefield, calling us to follow.

And we were told through Him who is all Love,
"Be of good cheer, for I have overcome..."
But where does the victory start?
In a heart, in any heart.

In my heart the victory must begin.
I cannot expect peace in the Middle East,
If I myself give place to hate.
I cannot expect peace in my country,
If I espouse violence or condone corruption.
I cannot expect peace with my neighbor,
If I fear and am jealous.

We need this fruit of the Spirit.
We need a tranquil mind.
We need a transformed mind.
I need those fruits and transformation.

Since I cannot expect others to do what I will not,
I will start.
Let peace begin in my heart.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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