Taking the Next Step
No Man Is An Island
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
In the Sermon on the Mount we have Matthew’s compilation of Jesus’ teaching. It is a delightful read: with the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, sayings about light, salt. love for enemies, treasures and lilies and birds. Sort of gives one pause and sets one on the right track. With the Sermon on the Mount we begin to understand that there is a texture to life lived as we participate in the Kingdom (Realm) of God.
Sunday’s readings actually do the same for us, however, at first reading the pill seems bitter, judgmental and hard to swallow.
What I see in the Sermon is a call to a deeper life, one lived in community, and intimacy with others; a life lived not on the externals – did you murder or call someone a fool today – but one that focuses on our common Life in Beloved Community. Here is the deep truth in Jesus’ vision of God’s realm: we are connected to one another in a seamless fabric of grace. To receive the Realm of God is to see that we are woven in, a part of this tapestry. Then Jesus’ check list – murder, anger, name-calling, lust, divorce, adultery – is no check list at all. Rather, the check list denotes mere symptoms of a far deeper malaise: a tearing of the fabric, an unweaving of Life itself. I use the metaphor of fabric and tapestry. The poem above, John Donne’s No Man is an Island does the same with land forms, islands and continents.