On June 16, 2019 Rev. Tony Ponticello, addressed those attending the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. Below is a lightly edited transcription of his talk..
Good morning! I am so glad that you can join us here, or on ACIM Gather. Welcome to those who join with us by watching the YouTube video of this talk prepared now by Garrick Wilhelm, one of CMC's office assistants. Rev. Kelly has been busy with doing the Conferences so Garrick is now handling the videos. We are so happy and grateful to have him doing that.
We need to be grateful to our Heavenly Father, to our Divine Father, for all the gifts that He gives us. All we have to do is open ourselves up to receive them. I think A Course in Miracles is a big teaching on how to truly receive these gifts and – to show that we've received the gifts – how to extend them out afterwards. I believe A Course in Miracles teaches us that when we actually accept ourselves as a holy Child of God, then we extend that truth, or that awareness, to ourselves and to our brothers and sisters by healing. We extend it by healing.
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The Course says, "Be you content with healing, for Christ's gift you can bestow ..." (OrEd.Tx.13.7) Healing is Christ's gift and we can bestow that. "… and your Father's gift you cannot lose. Offer Christ's gift to everyone and everywhere, for miracles offered the Son of God through the Holy Spirit attune you to reality." (OrEd.Tx.13.7) We offer that gift of healing to everyone, to everything. Those miracles that we offer are the gift of Christ and attune us to reality, to the truth of who we are. They attune us to really be able to accept God's gifts, our Heavenly Father's gifts.
Healing is a big focus for me. There is so much about healing in A Course in Miracles, and there is a command in A Course in Miracles that we need to devote ourselves to healing, to the best of our ability, wherever we are at with it. We are just to keep up the good work of healing.
It says, "Do not allow the body to be a mirror of a split mind. Do not let it be an image of your own perception of littleness. Do not let it reflect your will to attack." (OrEd.Tx.8.79) I think that is a command. Don't do it. Don't allow that to happen. Work at it. Accept the work of our Father. Give the gift of Christ which is healing. Give it to ourselves; give it to everyone else.
In another place in A Course in Miracles it says, "Your mission is very simple. You have been chosen to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego." (OrEd.Tx.4.89) Only an ego can be sick. We have to heal that. Only an ego could be a victim, so we have to heal that. Only an ego could live in darkness, so we have to heal that too. Everything that is involved with ego reality is a challenge for us to heal. It is by extending that healing to others and taking it into ourselves that we are giving the gift of Christ both to ourselves and others. That is what attunes us to Reality. That is what truly attunes us to Everything.
If we really want to know God, we have to be in that flow of healing. I think it changes the whole way that we relate to the world. I think it is very common, even for sincere A Course in Miracles students and other spiritual students, to relate to the world in a way that actually strengthens the world even though they think they are doing just the opposite. "Good" spiritual people, "good" A Course in Miracles students tend to relate to the world like it's this mad, insane illusion and that we shouldn't pay attention to it. They have the thought that they will be peaceful in the midst of the insanity and will let the world be as crazy as it wants. They try to back away from the world somehow. They try to not engage with it.
I don't think that is what A Course in Miracles is teaching us. A Course in Miracles doesn't teach that the world is actually insane itself, even when it says things which sound like that, but it's our perception of the world that is insane. That is where the madness is, and we do have to heal that. We have to heal that madness and perception of insanity that is in our mind. When we do that, we will perceive a different world. We won't perceive that insane world anymore. People think the world is just inherently insane, but I don't believe that. I think the world is insane when we choose to see it in an insane way. We have habituated ourselves to that, but now it's time to habituate ourselves to something else. We have to habituate ourselves in seeing like Christ sees things, to heal, so we can attune ourselves to Reality.
A Course in Miracles says, "You can reflect Heaven here. Yet no reflections of the images of other gods must dim the mirror that would hold God's reflection in it. Earth can reflect Heaven or hell; God or the ego." (OrEd.Tx.14.42) Earth, this place, can reflect Heaven. It can reflect hell also and it's our choice to make. It's our choice. Again I see people unknowingly and continually trying to choose to have earth reflect hell, even though they think they are "good" spiritual people. They have taught themselves what they believe. They believe it's an insane world, and so they back away from it. That is separation. That is saying the world isn't you. But the world is really just us. If we are going to think of ourselves as Divine then we have to see the Divine reflected in the world. "I bless the world because I bless myself" (OrEd.WkBk.187) means the world is us.
One thing that struck me recently – it's always struck me and it struck me at the Conference too – is how many people actually feel really good about Jesus. People are usuually pretty cool about Jesus. A lot of people really love Jesus. They talk about their love for Jesus. You can feel it. You can really feel that people, not everybody, but a lot of people have accepted Jesus into their lives. They really love Jesus, and they relate to Jesus in a very loving way. That is a challenge for me because I've never really had that. I'm more like the Doobie Brothers. You know, "Jesus is just alright by me."
That's about as far as I go. He's ok. He's a good guy. I don't have a deep personal relationship with him. Sometimes I feel his energy around. He never really talks to me. He just hangs around. He's just – alright. He's an alright guy. However, I continually challenge myself with that because I see other people who do have this other relationship with Jesus and it is very valuable for them. It probably is just not my ilk, or my predilection, but I could move a little more in that direction.
I do know of course that A Course in Miracles comes from Jesus and that Jesus has a lot of things to say about our relationship with him in A Course in Miracles. In one place he says, "I must found His church on you because you who accept me as a model are literally my disciples." (OrEd.Tx.6.12) We are supposed to accept Jesus as a model and when we do so, we are his disciples. We are his followers. That is a challenge. I see some people doing better with that challenge than I have actually done.
There is another interesting statement in A Course in Miracles about being a disciple of Jesus. Hear what this one I am going to quote now says. "The disciples were specifically told to be physicians of the Lord and to heal others. They were also told to heal themselves and were promised that I would never leave them or forsake them." (OrEd.Tx.1.34) Again it is that command that if we are a disciple of Jesus then we are supposed to be about healing. That is what we are supposed to be doing. We are supposed to be about healing ourselves and others.
Jesus is always there. I do feel that. Jesus is cool. I said that. I'm cool with Jesus. Sometimes I picture him seated near me. When I'm in a situation where I am tense or nervous and fear is coming up, I can feel Jesus with me or near me. It helps me. It calms me down when I feel his presence. It soothes me. He just doesn't talk much to me. He doesn't have much to say.
What comes next in this passage is interesting. The disciples were told specifically to be physicians for the Lord and to heal others. They were also told to heal themselves. Then they were promised by Jesus, "I would never leave them or forsake them." (OrEd.Tx.1.34)
Then it says, "‘Heaven and earth shall pass away' simply means that they will not continue to exist as separate states." (OrEd.Tx.1.34) When we are real disciples of the Lord, when we are engaged in healing, and we know Jesus is always with us – what we are really doing is turning earth into Heaven. I take this literally. We are literally turning earth into Heaven. Heaven and earth will stop existing as separate states.
That is actually what we are doing when we are healing. We are taking part in the turning of earth into Heaven. That was in the reading that was read earlier. There is another quote in that reading that I want to highlight. It says, "And who is drawn to Christ is drawn to God as surely as both are drawn to every holy relationship, the home prepared for them as earth is turned to Heaven." (OrEd.Tx.22.15)
Turning earth into Heaven – that message is truly all throughout A Course in Miracles. I don't think it's a message that people have actually embraced yet in the A Course in Miracles community. Maybe we are about to embrace it. Maybe we dabble in it a little bit, but I know that I want to challenge myself. I've challenged myself with the healing thing. I feel I'm doing pretty good with that. Now I understand that the healing thing is just to set up an energy that makes earth into Heaven. I had always thought that we were to get peaceful with healing and to end violence. We learn to love each other as ourselves. Then something happens and God takes the final step and earth gets turned into Heaven.
What I'm beginning to get is that it's more than that. It's more than that. This world has a lot of things in it that we don't even think of as a problem but they are actually very un-heavenly. The whole day and night thing. The whole day light and night dark thing. I mean, if we are going to turn earth into Heaven, we have got to heal this darkness thing – literally meaning night time – the night thing. That's hard to even wrap your mind around.
A Course in Miracles has a very profound teaching about this thing called the real world. I think it is up for us to challenge ourselves about this because that is the theme for the next Conference, "20/20 Vision for the Real World." We need to have a very clear, precise, 20/20 vision for the real world. We are here to bring the real world about. The real world isn't Heaven. It's that last state, the perfected world state, that exists just before Heaven. The Course says "For as Heaven and earth become one, even the real world will vanish from your sight. The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into Heaven." (OrEd.Tx.10.75)
We achieve the real world, which is a very profound and difficult state to currently grasp, and then God takes the final step. However, it is still our step to achieve the real world. It's still our step to heal this world so much that it becomes such a close reflection of Heaven that God can then take the final step. This is a very challenging teaching in A Course in Miracles. I am really interested to see how the other presenters handle this teaching at the Los Angeles 2020 Conference. This is something nobody, not really anybody, in the A Course in Miracles community wanted to touch because it just seems too "out there." But this is what A Course in Miracles says the real world is:
"The real world is not like this. It has no buildings, and there are no streets where people walk alone and separate. There are no stores where people buy an endless list of things they do not need. It is not lit with artificial light, and night comes not upon it. There is no day that brightens and grows dim. There is no loss. Nothing is there but shines, and shines forever." (OrEd.Tx.12.59)
It is our job to manifest that world. It's not God's job to manifest that world. It's our job to manifest the real world. That's a profound challenge, because I can't even really conceptualize it, but I did read something in A Course of Love that was interesting. It carried this thought a little further. A Course of Love says that we can't fathom how there could be no night. We don't know how science would explain that. What Jesus tells Mari Perron in A Course of Love is that when it happens, science will just find a way to describe it. We will find a way to explain it because that's what science does. That's what science always does. Science always finds a logical way to describe what's going on.
Look at these little computers that we carry around with us that we can use to talk to everyone: videos, pictures, everywhere, all the time. I mean, we are in communication! But one hundred years ago, this absolutely would just have been unfathomable. Now we do it; we trust it. Science explains it. It is cool. That is what will happen when we heal night time. Science will find some way to explain it. I don't know how that will look, but it will happen.
I want to engage my mind because I want to achieve the real world that it is talking about here. That real world is not Heaven. It is the state that exists before Heaven. That means it is our job. That's what I'm getting really clear about. It's our job to do that. It's not God's job. We have to heal the world enough. We have to be open enough. We have to not just heal bodies – our bodies and other bodies – but we need to heal physical reality in its entirety.
A Course in Miracles says moving mountains isn't really that big of a deal. I think it means that literally. We really need to get that we are manifesting this whole world, this whole reality, and we can manifest it differently if we collectively decide to do that. You know A Course in Miracles says the world is a dream so we can dream it however we want. So if this teaching is actually true – and I believe it is true because I've seen its effectiveness in my life – it means we can really manipulate and change physical reality.
I think that's why in our fantasy movies, we think about all the things we'd like to engage our mind with. Superheroes have all these fantastic super powers that can manipulate reality. The reason that is engaging to us is because we know it is true. There is a part of our mind that knows that we all have that kind of power. We actually could do that right now. We can't fathom that kind of power though. We can watch it in a fantasy movie and think, "Oh, that's cool!" I see we are keeping those fantasy thoughts alive by watching those movies and we are strengthening those ideas and bringing them closer to manifestation.
I think we all are going to become like superheros in some way that I can't fathom right now. I am open to it. I am working on it because Heaven and earth are going to become one. Earth is going to become such a close reflection of Heaven that they stop being separate states. That is the challenge. That is the continual challenge of A Course in Miracles, to keep us moving in that direction.
The Course says, "For God's will is done in earth and Heaven." (WkBk.292.1) That reminds me of the "Our Father" prayer, or "The Lord's Prayer as you non-Catholics say. "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10, KJV) These aren't really new ideas. The idea that both earth and Heaven are a reflection of God's Will has been around for thousands of years. Even longer. It's been around. I think it's time we bring it more into the conscious awareness. Actually, I think the world is indeed doing that.
This world, I believe, is going to continue to become a closer and closer reflection of Heaven and as it does become that, it will just seem normal. It will be normal. Science will have a way to describe it. It won't be a big deal. It will be like these cell phones. I can communicate with anyone all over the planet and see them and talk with them. It will be just like that. Something will happen and we will manifest that entirely different world than it appears to us now.
"You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this and all the world is free. Remember this and earth and Heaven are one." (OrEd.WkBk.191.13) That means the same, appear the same – until there is no appearance at all anymore. "It is His holiness that lights up Heaven and that brings to earth the pure reflection of the light above, wherein are earth and Heaven joined as one." (OrEd.WkBk.182.4)
We don't leave this place. We don't identify earth as an insane place we need to leave to go to this "other" place. There is no other place. There is just only Reality. We heal this world and we turn this earth into Heaven. Then we are ready for that final step taken by God.
That's it! That's my talk for today. Thank you very much! (applause) ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently (04.18.22) serves as the CMC's Executive Minister and is President of CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the August 2019 (Vol. 33 No. 6) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.