Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest, owns a wicked sense of humour and writes like Ann Lamott… only better. He has more tats than you can count but only because you can’t see them… they’re on his heart.
Leukemia and Guns
His writing is peppered with an eclectic mix of quips from Dillard, Shelley, Borg, Gandhi, Eckert, Rumi and Jesus. Boyle can make you laugh out loud while blowing up your preconceptions with his insights into the character of God. He has faced down leukemia and the barrel of a gun.
Boyle’s parish of over 20 years is in the capital of the gang capital of America – aptly named Boyle Heights, L.A.
Not Much Makes Sense Outside of God
Boyle says, “Not much in my life makes any sense outside of God. Certainly a place like “Homeboy Industries” is all folly and bad business unless the core of the endeavor seeks to imitate the kind of God one ought to believe in.” (page 21)
Read his book. Still not convinced of God’s total, unequivocal, unconditional, expansive, and remarkable love.
5 Lessons On Love
1. Assume the answer to every question is compassion.
“Compassion is no fleeting, occasional emotion rising to the surface like eros or anger. It is full-throttled.” (page 63)
On his first day of teaching at Loyola High School in LA he asked a veteran teacher for her advice on how to deal with the homeboys. She advised him to learn all their names by the next day. “It’s more important that they know you know them, than that they know what you know.”
2. Compassion stands in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than standing in judgment at how they carry it.
Boyle tells the story of a former member driving up to the church and starting a conversation. The now well-to-do man looked around at the gang members gathered by the bell tower, the homeless men and women being fed in great numbers in the parking lot, folks arriving for the AA and NA meetings and the ESL classes.
He shook his head and said to Boyle, “You know this used to be a church.”
3. Compassion is giving a home to the outcast.
Boyle arrived at his parish one morning to find an overnight guest had spray-painted “wetback” on the front steps of the church.
He held a meeting later that morning with staff and said he would find someone to scrub the stairs clean. One of the ladies corrected him, “You will not scrub the stairs. If there is a member of our community who is disparaged because they are a wetback then we shall be proud to call ourselves a wetback church.”
“When we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments, our ceaseless withholding, and our constant exclusion, we have wandered into God’s own jurisdiction.”
4. Compassion isn’t just about feeling the pain of others; it’s about bringing them in toward yourself.
“If we love what God loves, then, in compassion, margins get erased. Compassion means dismantling the barriers that exclude.” (page 75)
The strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues but rather in standing in the right place with the outcast and those relegated to the margins. (page 72)
5. Compassion is not “for” others, it is “with” others.
Jesus was one with us. He was not a man FOR others. He was a man WITH others.
Jesus didn’t seek the rights of lepers. He touched lepers before he got around to curing them.
He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast, he was the outcast.
Watch Greg’s talk on TED.
How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you? How does compassion occur to you? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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