THREEFOLD MEDICINE – MATTHEW 6:1-6, 16-18
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving,
these are part of the threefold medicine
that provides the true remedy
for the illnesses of our broken world.
Your Gospel is all about healing and salvation,
the deep healing of our inmost hearts,
and, in this way, of the rest of our being as well.
Yet when we focus only on the surface level,
on the many problems and questions in our life,
we lose sight of the truth in which alone
all else truly reveals its meaning,
bathed as it is in the light of your Love
and in the truth of our childhood in you.
Every moment of our life, loving Father,
is important to you, radiant in your sight.
And yet let us not hide in its multiplicity
as Adam and Eve hid among the trees of the garden.
Rather, may we dwell in you unceasingly,
in the very sanctuary of intimacy, the joy of embrace,
and from this place welcome and embrace,
in accordance with your gift and your will,
all things too, in their proper place.
Everything is meant to be transparent to your gaze,
open in receptivity to your all-penetrating light,
and thus, and thus alone, to find its meaning
and its rightful place in the context of the whole.
But we cannot see this place, or embrace it,
unless there is first an interior letting-go
so that we may descend, fully,
into the interior truth of the heart,
naked and vulnerable before you, God,
with nothing to cling to but your Love alone.
Our preoccupations with so many other things
can often be a way of remaining “outside”
so that we do not face this vulnerability within.
If only I eat the right foods, or sleep enough,
or take the right medication, my life will be better.
Or if I find that perfect person, or the right job,
or that “secret” that will enable me, mysteriously,
to overcome the obstacles of my fear.
But this is often but covering over the deeper truth,
that insecurity in my inmost self
that is crying out for the sheltering Love
in which I can rest, trusting and surrendered,
even when all external things are taken away.
Indeed, we can be preoccupied with guilt,
with a feeling of inadequacy and failure,
for we struggle with this transparency,
this vulnerability of heart.
We feel that we should be doing more,
that perhaps we are missing something,
and being irresponsible with the gift of life.
Ah, but dear Father!
Responsibility simply means responsiveness
to the unique gift of each moment,
to the gift of your Love unceasingly given,
and enfolding us gently within itself.
It is already here, now, in this instant!
It is enfolding us, even when we do not see!
If responsibility is but responsiveness,
then surrender is but relaxation
—not a “generous” gift of self-offering
made from some ideal height—
but the simply restfulness of a child
held in the arms of one who loves.
Or indeed a child who is crying in fright,
but does so in its father’s or mother’s arms.
In all things, this is what you seek:
it is but acceptance of this Love…
and abiding within it as a little child…
If we do this, what else matters?
For this is the very reason you created us,
and that very place where all is sheltered
in its authentic truth in your embrace.
“Man does not live on bread alone.”
Let us learn to fast, to surrender,
to let go of idols and securities, fears and hesitations,
in order to allow ourselves to be held,
to be sheltered, nourished, and sustained by you.
And this movement of courageous surrender
is itself but the echo of your own tender self-giving,
which awakens in us the certainty of your Love,
the certainty that you will provide always for us,
seeking our good and our happiness
in all things, both big and small.
And so too is almsgiving simply an expression,
the spontaneous blossoming of this vulnerability of heart!
For when I allow myself to descend into this place
of vulnerability and nakedness before you, God,
I find my heart descending into the concrete truth
of my poverty and dependency on the unceasing gift of life.
I realize that I am but a beggar, crying out for love…
and receiving this Love at each instant from your hands!
If you, dear God, have so opened yourself to me,
making yourself vulnerable before me in Jesus Christ,
to touch, embrace, and heal me in my vulnerability—
then what can I do but open my own heart,
in the same vulnerability, before my brothers and sisters?
To stand with open hands and open heart, defenseless,
and yet sheltered unceasingly in your Love.
This is the disposition, the truth of childhood…
the joyful intimacy for which you, Father, have made us.
In fasting I let go in courage and in trust,
and in prayer I turn this open place to you,
and in charity I welcome, in this same place,
the needs, the beauty, the longing of others too.
And these three expressions of love, ultimately,
become inseparably one, united, in the heart.
They are but the unceasing movement
of trusting acceptance and loving surrender,
before you, my God, and before every person,
from within the sanctuary of my own inner heart,
touched, loved, healed, and transformed by you.