"Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for Him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because He cannot be at home in it, because He is out of place in it, His place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, who are tortured, bombed, and exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in the world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst... It is in these that He hides Himself, for whom there is no room." (Thomas Merton)
If this teaching by Merton is true, then it must also be true that Christ is not to be found in the rants of millionaire propagandists on talk radio. If this teaching by Merton is true, then it must also be true that Christ is not to be found in policy justifications for killing civilians, nor would He be found in racist hatred directed to illegal immigrants (economic refugees). If this teaching by Merton is true, then where is Christ actually present in a capitalist-consumer culture?
If this teaching by Merton is true, then we must look to the furthest margins of this world and of our society to find the One for whom our hearts most hunger. So, equal rights for our LGBT neighbors, for example, become much more than a "progressive policy position": "welcome home" to genuine human community is the radical praxis of Christ Alive. So if the New Year is calling to you to live your faith -- whether christian, jew, muslim, hindu, buddhist, indigenous, etc. -- by practice and not creed, this single paragraph from Merton is enough to take you all the way Home.
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.