Rabbi Heschel cautions that it is not enough to have a regard for the Ground of Being. We must also have “concern for the unregarded.” This is another way of saying, “love your neighbor as yourself” and “love God with your whole mind and body and soul.”
We are to be the hands of the divine compassion and it is our conscience that urges us. We respond to a divine challenge, what Heschel calls a “challenging transcendence,” to act out of love and concern for other beings.
Thus God is not only the ground of being but the ground of conscience that challenges us to be bigger and more aware and more generous and more steadfast in our commitment.
“Conscience is more to be obeyed than authority imposed from the outside” Aquinas tells us. Being dictates our actions. Whether we are truthful and facing the truths of human suffering and searching for the causes—and the cures—to human suffering and the suffering of other beings has to do with having a lively and grounded conscience.
If we are interdependent with all beings, then surely The Ground of Being challenges us to act on behalf of other beings by our caring deeply and by working fiercely for justice and compassion.
Eckhart declares that “God is as it were justice itself” and “God and justice are completely one.” Furthermore, “compassion means justice” since the prophets of Israel make so clear that compassion and justice are interchangeable. “Compassion is where peace and justice kiss,” declares Eckhart.
Eckhart applies this teaching to our practical work in the world when he observes that “for the just person as such to act justly is to live; indeed, justice is her life, her being alive, her being insofar as she is just.”
This same teaching, that God is Justice, is found in Thomas Aquinas who says “to the extent that the just love justice, they will take pleasure in doing just deeds….No one will call that person just who does not rejoice in doing just deeds.”
And Julian of Norwich instructs us that “the working of compassion keeps us in love,” and justice is integral to compassion for “God is Justice.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 50f.
And Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 111, 117-120.
And Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, p. 103.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Refugee camp on the Colombia-Venezuelan border. Photo by Mussi Katz on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you rejoice in doing just deeds? Don’t you wish everybody did? How true is it that “peace and justice kiss”?
Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times
A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book! Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond
Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.” –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.