Thinking of Father Clay for Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. My kids and I have plenty of public school teachers to thank with notes and emails. On this forum, I am thinking of Father Clay, and what he’s taught me. He’s helped me develop a litmus test for whether I’m doing the right thing or need to rethink my actions or attitude: Is this the most loving thing I could be doing right now, or is there a more loving way for me to show up?

I ask myself that when I’m trying to get my kids to comply or cooperate, when I’m being hard on myself, when I’m judging someone for not wearing a mask in public, when I’m choosing whether to offer to help or to sit back and let someone struggle because their problem isn’t my problem.

I believe that my purpose on this earth is to put more love and truth into the world than I take out of it. Father Clay has helped me articulate that purpose, and I am so grateful that he has been a teacher to me and my family.

What Jesus Told Us About Love

Jesus’ words

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” and John 15:4-5a “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.”

The big picture:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.” “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

  • This can help us to see how Love (love) is the central energy that flows through the whole process of spirituality.
  • God is the spirit, the loving energy from where everything comes. Without being born from the Love (love) there would be no universe. Everything exists and is sustained in existence by Love.
  • Love is continually drawing everything to the thrilling active state of total love and harmony that we name heaven. It is theoretically possible for someone to refuse to be drawn into that state. However, I have the suspicion that Love is so big and good that Love will win over the most recalcitrant of us. I think that this is what Fr. Karl Rahner meant when he said: “We have to believe in hell but we don’t have to believe that anyone goes there”.
  • This infinite Loving Energy flows into Jesus. I understand this to mean “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower”.
  • This Loving Energy that transformed Jesus in his humanity flows into us to transform us. As Christians we believe this transformation in both Jesus and in us is real. We do not however equate them.
  • We bear fruit – that is the transformation into loving, compassionate, merciful, forgiving and understanding people-only by being connected to the vine. We need to be willing but the transformation can’t be accomplished by our own power.

In conclusion, since God is love, it seems to me that if we are to follow Jesus, love must be the theme of our lives as individuals and as the people of God. For me the primary question (though not the only question) is: “Is this truly loving?” I must also be aware that my selfishness and my ego needs will incline me to see my words and action as loving when they really aren’t. It is imperative that I keep a healthy “self-doubt” always before me. Also, I want to be willing to allow Love to change and transform in me anything I say, do, think or believe, ~ especially what I cling to most tenaciously.

Excerpted from Father John Clay’s letter, What Jesus Told Us About Love.” Jan. 1, 2014

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