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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


Genesis 45:1-8: Making Ourselves Known

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Konstantin Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

The story of Joseph and his many-colored coat, his journey into slavery, his rise to power and his rescue of the Jewish nation are all familiar to us.  One of the most poignant moments in this long saga is when he reveals himself to his brothers . . . the very brothers who plotted his death and then – after the intercession of Reuben – decided to sell the younger favored brother into slavery.

As I grew up the fourth of five children, it became clear to me that a position of favor usually brought more danger than safety.  Envy begins as a tiny seed when one of a group is seen as exceptional, beyond or above the rest.  In my quiet observation of older and younger siblings vying for attention in the family and in the world, it became clear to me that disfavor often follows hard on the heels of distinction – the presence of natural gifts and good works so often causes jealousy in others Tribal law too often wants to weed out dissimilarity, seeks to bring all denominators to a common lowness.

Joseph is sold out by his brothers and arrives in Egypt as a slave.  Once there, his good looks and honest behavior bring him to the notice of a woman in search of an illicit, sexual relationship – which he rejects.  She falsely accuses him and he is imprisoned.  We see the pattern in Joseph’s life that he arrives in dark places as a result of his grace and blessings, and perhaps that is a pattern we find in our own lives.  If so, we might easily identify with this kind of life.  Do we find ourselves in places we do not seek through no fault of our own, even as we follow the voice of God?

We might read with interest today’s citation and reflect on its meaning for us.  Joseph survives the treachery of his brothers, rises to a position of prestige and power, and when these brothers come to Egypt in search of food, Joseph does not react to their presence with anger or despair.  On the contrary, rather than mete out revenge on those who sent him into slavery, he recognizes that it was through this evil that he was sent ahead to prepare a place of refuge for his family and the entire Jewish nation.  A man coveting old wounds does not hear this wisdom, cannot see this good, does not meet evil with mercy.  Joseph, moving through and beyond his pain, welcomes his brothers to a new home.  This is the miracle of the story of Joseph: In the very moment when he has the power to retaliate with an eye for an eye, he chooses to respond with joy and compassion.


To read more about Joseph and his brothers, click on the image above or go to: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm

First written on September 20, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm

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Ezekiel 25: Against the Nations

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bridge over the Drina in Mostar, Bosnia

As we read this chapter of Ezekiel we might be lured into what Richard Rohr – and many others – calls dualistic thinking.  Decisions are made in a yes/no, black/white, off/on world.  If we are able to step outside of our small perspective and move into a greater view of the world we understand that this kind of reasoning is dangerous in that it limits our vision . . . and therefore limits us.  Rohr examines how life is a paradox in his blog posts at http://richardrohr.wordpress.com They are worth visiting as are his CD lectures, the webcasts and other resources on his Rohr Institute site at http://www.cac.org/ as we reflect on the way we think, the way we respond to conflict, and the way we seek resolutions to the difficult passages in our lives.

The portion of Ezekiel that we read today may be used as fuel for the fire of prejudice . . . if we allow the voice of revenge and conquest to go unchecked.  As the recent events in our global community unfold, we are reminded that fanaticism can never be good. As my siblings and I grew, my Dad intoned to us regularly: Anything is a bad thing when taken to extremes . . . even a good thing.  He understood that words like the ones we read today can be taken out of context, can be blown out of context and morphed in importance. Any single verse, Dad would say, when taken in isolation does not tell the whole story. Read the story.  When my father and grandfather told us to read the whole story what they meant was this: stop, think, pray, listen, think, read, think, pray, share ideas, pray, think, pray . . . and act.  We want to take this method with us as we plunge into Ezekiel’s words against the nations.  To what does he call us?

The Old Testament Yahweh can be seen here as a god of vengeance and when we read these verses with anger in our hearts we might believe that God himself justifies the revenge we feel against those who have injured us; but we are also reminded that Yahweh’s love for creation knows no bounds.

The Old Testament Yahweh can be seen here as a god who exacts precise payment for wrongs committed; but we know that Yahweh’s generosity and compassion cannot be outdone when we remember his care for the enslaved and powerless.

The New Testament Jesus fulfills the promise of reunion and union first uttered by Yahweh.

The New Testament Jesus brings human hands and feet and voice to the mercy and compassion first shown by Yahweh.

When we find ourselves in turmoil and wishing to take revenge against the people who have injured us we must not let dualistic thinking close off possibilities of healing, reconciliation and union.

When we find ourselves in deep sorrow over a loss we have suffered we must not let simplistic rule-following to replace decision-making by a well-formed conscience.

When we feel ourselves being pulled into the vortex of darkness that would have us chant slogans that condemn, that would lead us to take an eye for an eye, that would ask us to rail against the nations . . . we must first stop to think and to pray, and to seek so that we might find . . . the forgiving, open, healing way of Christ.  For it is Christ who embodies all that is good.  It is Christ who brings us the outrageous hope that even the most dire circumstances may be righted. It is Christ who will help us to build bridges to the nations.


A re-post from September 15, 2012.

The name “Mostar” means “the city of bridges”.  To read more about what happened to the bridges in Bosnia during the most recent Balkan wars, click on the image above or go to: http://balkansnet.org/mostar.html  Follow more links on that page to read and reflect on reconciliation and revenge.

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Obadiah: Revenge and Forgiveness

Sunday, September 29, 2019

French School, 17th Century: Salomé

More thoughts on Salomé who sought revenge . . . and who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

“We know nothing about Obadiah beyond his name, nor is the place of the book’s composition certain . . . Obadiah did not specify that his message came at the time of any specific king or event.  On the other hand Obadiah 11-14 indicates that a major calamity had struck Judah and that the Edomites had capitalized on Judah’s troubles to their own advantage . . . common sense and a broad consensus suggest that the calamity was in fact the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

“Obadiah was written to the people of Judah about the Edomites (descendents of Esau), condemning them for their treachery and violence toward the people of Judah, as well as for their arrogance and indifference toward God”.  (Zondervan 1464)

This is the kind of prophecy which makes us cringe as we understand that revenge is not something we want as part of our value complex.  Seeking vengeance is the kind of thinking my parents continually warned us against for it can never be good.  We were often reminded in our growing years that when we dig a grave for our enemy we ought to dig two: one for them and one for us.  “The truth will always come out in the end”, Dad would remind us. “Don’t worry about the other guy getting credit that is not due him, or the other guy getting away with things.  It’ll all come out in the end.  Just keep your eye on yourself and your God.  And let God handle the other guy”. Dad warned us that human depravity was too crooked and too frightening for us to correct; he knew from personal experience that only God can deal effectively with deep evil.  We humans – even when we are in the best of places and times – cannot conquer forces that have spent eons gathering strength in the dark.  It is far better, according to Dad, to go to the light and stay there.  “That way God can see you and pick you up on his way home”.

Mother always intoned her mantra of “Kill your enemies with kindness.  Pray for them and you will never be alone; because you can bet on it that when people are that naughty lots of people will be praying along with you.  Think of the message God will hear when all those voices join together”, she would remind us.   “Yes, I know you want to get back at them but just pray for them. They will need your prayers.  And besides, the results are better”. 

These simple lessons were either never delivered or they were lost on Salomé who asked for and received John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Yesterday we spent time reflecting on her portrait and we saw her sultry stare and sullen posture, arms draped around the killing knife and the platter that would deliver the head of her enemy.  Today we  see a similar likeness; she looks out at us in apparent satisfaction yet we know that revenge is not sweet.  It does not last and it does not satisfy.  It only brings about our own destruction and doom.  These are the truths spoken by Obadiah more than two millennia ago . . . and they are truths we can still use today.  We must wipe revenge from our hearts and replace it with forgiveness for the measure that we measure with is measured out to us.

And so we pray . . .

When we are most hurt by others, we must not strike back, we must forgive.

When we are most neglected by others, we must not plot their downfall, we must forgive.

When we are most abused by others, we must ask for their redemption and we must forgive.

When we are most abandoned by others, we must not treat them in like fashion, we must forgive.

When we are most damaged by others, we must not in turn inflict damage, we must forgive.

God forgives.  God restores.  God repairs.  God cures.  We are each called to do the same.  Amen.


A re-post from September 9, 2012.

Image from: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20016/lot/55/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1464. Print.

For more on the prophecy of Obadiah go to the Obadiah – Outrageous Hope page on this blog.

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Acts 18:23-28: Re-Visitation

Monday, June 3, 2019

Aquila and Priscilla

Just when we think we have arrived at a safe plateau, we feel the ground beneath us tremble.  Just as we gain new confidence in the journey, we realize that a new chapter into unknown territory is about to open.  Just as soon as we find a safe place to stand, we realize that we must move on.  Life is a series of treks between oases; it is a process, a journey.  We are never fully complete.  We are never without new horizons.  And when we believe that we have settled a part of ourselves once and for all, we are quickly shown that the lesson we believe we have learned can be honed anew.  God always finds ways to make us better.

In today’s Noontime we read of how Paul returns to a people of whom he is particularly fond, the people of Ephesus.  It is to them that he writes the beautiful letter about the dynamism of our human experience, about how we are to arm ourselves with the armor of Christ, and of how our lives are a special journey of collaboration with one another and our creator.  Just when we think we know all we need to know about who we are and what we must do, God shuffles are circumstances just enough to keep us learning.  We ought not balk at this.

Paul does not consider his work done once he delivers his message and moves on.  He returns, he sends letters, he reconsiders, re-states.  Just when we believe that our faith cannot be stronger, our hope bigger and our love more merciful, a new experience calls us to new depths and heights.

Today we read of how Priscilla and Aquila re-instruct Apollos to bring him to a more accurate understanding of The Way so that he can give great assistance to those who have come to believe through grace.

My Dad used to say: You never know what you can do until you do it.  When we believe we are too lost, when we believe we know it all, when we believe there is no hope, when we believe that nothing can harm us, when we believe that there is no love, when we believe that we have seen the limits of love . . . in all of these we are mistaken.  For God can take us to new heights, new depths, new breadths of ourselves.  And with each new revelation we grow closer to him, we gain a more accurate understanding of The Way . . . so that we can give great assistance to those who have come to believe through grace. 

There is no greater gift than the opportunity to re-investigate who we are, what we do, and why we do it.  As we read of how the first followers of Christ re-visited places, relationships and ideas, let us also be unafraid to re-visit old territory with a new eye.  We may find joy in people and places we thought were lost to us.


For more on Aquila. Priscilla and Apollos click on the image above or go to: http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/?blogsub=confirmed#blog_subscription-2

A re-post from May 20, 2012.

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Acts 26:1-23: Agrippa Hears Paul

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 19, 2019

Nikolai Bodarevsky: Paul’s Trial before King Agrippa

One of the things we notice about Paul is that he is so intelligent he customizes his words for his particular audience.  We see him in Greek cities where there are few Jews but where the people are open to new thoughts and new ideas.  He appeals to their affinity to mythology by relating to their willingness to have a shrine to an unknown God.  He tells these people that there is such a god, and his name is Jesus.  He captures many in his apostolic net.  When he travels to towns populated by people accustomed to reading scripture (towns more heavily populated with Jews) he bases his oratory on Hebrew Scripture.  Both Paul and the Holy Spirit work mightily to bring all into the church, into Christ’s mystical body.

Last year when we read about the reaction to Paul’s speech we reflected and concluded the following: Having people believe that we are crazy is often the cost of discipleship.

We read his words today and see that he has given them a layman’s version of the Creed, this is what Paul believes, it is what we believe.  And like Paul, when we speak truth and light to power, corruption and darkness . . . we can rest in the understanding that people will think we are crazy!

There are so many places in our lives when this happens.  My parents would always say that you know you are doing God’s work when the establishment gets a bit uncomfortable . . . when the status quo resists change . . . not just any change . . . change that comes from the Spirit.  They would emphasis, as we hear so many times in scripture, if God speaks to you . . . and you do not speak, you do not move, you will have to answer for your omission of action and voice.

This labeling of disciples as crazy numbers us among the brokenhearted, so let us pray the morning intercessions from MAGNIFICAT.

You sent your Son to bring glad tidings to the lowly: may the lowly in our midst read the Gospel in your peoples’ acts of love.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

You sent your Son to heal the brokenhearted: may the brokenhearted of our world find relief in your peoples’ compassion.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

You sent your Son to proclaim liberty to captives: may those imprisoned in addiction, loneliness, and despair find hope in your peoples’ active concern.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

We are Church.  We are Jesus’ Mystical Body.  We are adopted sisters and brothers of the Christ.  We are disciples.  Let us read the words which Paul spoke to power.  Let us take them in.  Let us be The Word that moves into the world.  Let us remember and hold close . . . the knowledge that we are the brokenhearted, but we are not alone.  Amen.


A re-post from May 4, 2012.

Tomorrow we will see how Paul gives a succinct accounting of his work as a disciple to Agrippa.

For more on Paul’s speech before Agrippa including a video clip, click on the image above or go to: http://tyotb.blogspot.com/2012/03/pauls-trial-before-king-agrippa-acts-26.html

Written on March 11, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2008). Print.  

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Acts 27: Shipwreck

Thursday, May 16, 2019

This week we spend time reflecting on St. Paul and his role in kingdom building.  We take this opportunity to think about the number of times Paul came up against overwhelming odds . . . and was rescued by God.  We take confidence in this knowledge for we too, are rescued from the shipwrecks of life.

We have all been tossed onto the shoals of an island, sometimes with friends, sometimes with captors, and sometimes with both . . . rarely do we find ourselves alone in shipwreck.

If you can find the time, spend a dedicated portion of your day or evening with this chapter because it reveals much to us.  In my view, the most significant lines are the last . . . [The centurion] ordered those on board who could swim to jump overboard first and get to the shore, and then the rest, some on planks, others on debris from the ship.  In this way, they all arrived safely to the shore.

Sometimes we are ordered to go to Rome, to the center of the universe, to the place where all things and all people go – to the place where all roads meet, where all communications converge.  Sometimes we go willingly; sometimes we are taken in shackles.  Life is at times a forced march, and at other times it is freedom which can be more frightening than captivity.  Paul and his companions find themselves en route to the capital city of the empire – Paul wants to have his say before the highest court in order to bring Christ to his largest audience yet.

When we read the description of the storm and its effect upon the travelers, we can liken it to the voyage of our lives – an unpredictable passage through uncertain and open waters.  As the ship takes on water and threatens to disintegrate beneath these travelers with their Roman guards, the sailors want to kill the prisoners before they jump to escape the break-up of the foundering boat.  I am fascinated by Paul’s calm amidst the chaos of his physical and spiritual life.  He has – as a willing servant of the Lord – been thrust into difficult waters and into dangerous arguments . . . yet he continues the journey.  He does as he is asked.

The Roman centurion, who had beforehand paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship than to Paul, now re-assesses the situation and does not choose to kill the prisoners; rather he orders those who can swim to go overboard first, the rest to follow.  Before this part of the story, Paul exhorts all aboard to take heart; and he relates the dream he had the night before – an angel has told him that all will be well.  He outwits the sailors who would abandon ship to leave them adrift to die.  He encourages everyone to eat in order to keep up their strength.  He offers them the communion of bread to share.  Paul ministers to both his captors and his would-be executioners.  This is the role of a true apostle.

As my Dad used to say, “If we are taking on water and we are all in the same boat, why are we all not bailing?”

When we find the ship breaking beneath us, as followers of Christ we do not fend for ourselves, we do not accuse or abandon.  We are to bring Christ to one another.  We are to rebuke those who need rebuking, listen to any admonition a fellow Christian might offer us, tend to those who are weakest, bring all together in Christ and for Christ . . . for Christ knows what lies ahead.  Then surely, as loyal and faith-filled servants, we will jump into the surging waters and grab hold of the flotsam of the wreck . . . and riding the roller coaster of the waves of life . . . all will arrive safely to the shore.

Amen.


A re-post from May 1, 2012.

Images from: http://twistedsifter.com/2011/04/25-haunting-shipwrecks-around-the-world/

Written on September 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For 25 haunting images of shipwrecks around the world, click on the images above or go to: http://twistedsifter.com/2011/04/25-haunting-shipwrecks-around-the-world/

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Sirach 14:20-27, 15:1-10: Terror and Wisdom

Holy Thursday, April 18, 2019

Happiness is found in the pursuit of our vocation as an integral part of God’s plan in God’s time.  Today’s reading tells us that we are to take individual responsibility for our actions, or lack of them.  We remind ourselves that so frequently we become targets of anger when we work in God’s vineyard.  We also remind ourselves that Wisdom serves a double function: it helps us in our search for our place in God’s plan, and she is also our bulwark in times of fear.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: John 15:18,20: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  No slave is greater than his master”.  Disciples who follow Jesus faithfully must expect to follow him into dislike, ridicule, even persecution from those who find the Gospel threatening to their ways of thinking and acting.

Psalm 31 tells us that sometimes In the face of all my foes I am a reproach, an object of scorn to my neighbors and of fear to my friends.  As my Dad used to say, You know who your friends are when it’s “stand up” time. 

Wisdom 2:12-14 Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.  He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord.  To us he is censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us. 

Jeremiah 6:25: Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads, for the enemy has a sword, and there is terror on every side. 

As we know, so often when we are doing the work we are called to do we encounter huge opposition.  When we stand to witness, a wave of resistance greets us.  This is when we need to rest in Wisdom.

Mother-like she meets and embraces us.  She shelters us from the heat and dwells in our home.  We can lean upon her and not fall.  We can put our trust in her and not be shamed.  We will find joy and gladness and everlasting name in her. 

Where do we find Wisdom?

We pursue her like a scout, peep through her windows and listen at her doorways.  We encamp near her house and fasten our tent pegs near her walls.  We build nests in her leafage and lodge in her branches.

We learn from scripture that Wisdom comes from patient and active waiting on the word of God.  When we meditate on this word, we receive the answers we seek.  These answers will come in God’s time and in God’s way . . . but they will arrive.

So let us pray for those who would terrorize us.  Let us forgive those who wish us ill and bring them with us as we ask Wisdom to open her doors to us.

And let us pray.

Psalm 31As for me, I trust in you, Lord, I say: “You are my God.  My life is in your hands, deliver me from the hands of those who hate me”.

And grant us the Wisdom to see goodness in all things and all people, just as you see goodness in each of us.  Amen.


A re-post from March 4, 2012.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 11.3 (2009). Print.  

Image from: http://akshatrathi.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/the-happiness-paradox/

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John 8:1-11Letting God Worry

Thursday, January 30, 2019

Guercino: Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery

Our pastor once began his sermon on the Sunday we heard this story by saying, “So where is the man?” He allowed silence to settle over us and then he continued, “If a woman is committing adultery, a man has been with her.   So where is he?  And why have the scribes and Pharisees not brought him along with this woman to confront Jesus?”  I remember this sermon well because it surprised me.  I had settled into my seat to listen to the familiar lesson about not making accusations quickly lest we find ourselves melting away in embarrassment with the crowd; and instead of the usual line I heard . . . So where is he? 

As I listened to the homily I thought about the times I have stepped forward when I ought to – as we were taught to do by our parents – and I knew why people do not come forward then they should.  We fear retribution; we are afraid we may be cast out or punished; we are ashamed; we lack the strength.  I remembered when I was in the first grade and a friend of mine and I broke a classroom rule together.  It was innocuous but we intended to break the rule; in fact, I think we found it to be silly.  During recess one day, we took new chalk from the box on the teacher’s desk to write on the board instead of using the short stubby pieces on the chalk tray.  When the question came – as we knew it would – I stepped forward as we had agreed – we were going to show the teacher how senseless this rule was – but my friend did not.  I was stunned but suffered the punishment alone.  No afternoon recess.

When I arrived home I told my Mother what had happened.  She first reprimanded me softly but with certainty, telling me that the teachers often bought their own supplies and that I had no right to decide how to use the donated chalk.  After listening to my insistence that my friend had let me take the punishment alone, my mother said patiently, “I guess she just couldn’t fess up . . . but that doesn’t mean she didn’t want to.  Maybe she just didn’t have the strength.  She probably wanted to admit she had broken a classroom rule and just couldn’t.  Instead of fussing about what she did or didn’t do, just be glad that you did the right thing”.  She was right.

When I told my Dad that I had been punished for breaking a class rule but that my friend had not admitted her own guilt and had gotten off with no consequence, he replied as I thought he would, “Let God worry about her.  You have to let people come along in their own time and way”.  I could not let go of the thought that the circumstances were not fair and when I insisted that things weren’t equal my Dad answered, “Maybe not, but you will have to leave the equality part of this to God.  What does or does not happen to her is really none of your business.  I think you need to let God take care of this one.  This is something you can’t fix by force.  You’ll have to use kindness”.  And then Dad added, “Now don’t snub her when you see her tomorrow.  She knows she’s done wrong and she knows she should have taken her punishment just like you did.  You have to get over this and smile at her.  She’ll come around if you do.  You’ll see”.  And of course, he was right.

As I listened to the homily that day about the man who did not come forward to admit his guilt, knowing that the Law focused on the act of the woman and not her partner, I thanked my deceased parents for their wisdom and patience.  I thanked God in heaven that we are created by such a kind, patient and gentle God.  And I thanked Mother and Dad for teaching us how important it is . . . to act in kindness, and to let God do the worrying.


A re-post from January 30, 2012. 

Image from: http://emsworth.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/an-audacious-five-picture-exhibit-at-the-frick-collection/

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Matthew 18:21-35The Unforgiving Servant

Thursay, January 17, 2019

Rembrandt: The Unforgiving Servant

It is so very difficult to forgive those who have wronged us grievously; and it is also difficult to curb the pressing urge to seek revenge against our enemies.  Jesus tells us today that we must endlessly forgive those who harm us . . . otherwise we are like the unforgiving servant in today’s parable.  And the frightening outcome of his life is not one we want for ourselves or our loved ones.

Seventy-seven times, we are told by scholars and experts, represents a number of completion.  By forgiving endlessly we near the perfection or completion we yearn for.  The irony here is that when we become the unforgiving servant we distance ourselves from the very fullness we seek.  We label ourselves as partial and lacking.  Jesus warns us of this today.

Luke also records that Jesus tells his followers they must forgive endlessly (17:4).  This is something they and we struggle to understand.  Our instincts tell us to attack, defend, justify and explain.  We want to come out of any dispute or confrontation as the clear and evident winner.  We want to survive.  For most of us it is difficult to walk away from an argument or to allow another to have the last word; yet Jesus tells us that our first step toward wholeness is to forgive.  Reconciliation will follow if we remain open.  Isolation, anger and fear become more distant and even impossible when we turn our backs on revenge and seek union instead.  Jesus calls us to this today.

St. Paul reminds the Ephesians (4:32) to be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  Which one of us, he implies, is so perfect that we cannot forgive?  And how do we hold a grudge when Jesus – God among us – does not?  St. Paul points this out to us today.

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Following the horrific genocide in Rwanda, the warring Hutus and the Tutsis were brought together in a journey from fighting to forgiveness.  We follow events as they unfold; we want this reconciliation to work because this coming together of bitter enemies tells us that we are worth redeeming.  It shows us what God sees in us.  It reminds us of God’s covenant promise to us.  Powerful testimonials to our capacity to forgive can be found in both print and video media and here are only a few examples.  http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/8564297/ns/today/t/fighting-forgiveness-rwanda/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0W4jx2OZY  and http://articles.cnn.com/2008-05-15/world/amanpour.rwanda_1_hutu-gitarama-tutsis?_s=PM:WORLDWhen we read, hear or view these stories, we take heart.  We once again bolster ourselves for the difficult yet redeeming task of forgiving others.  We once more feel the stirrings of hope in our tired hearts.  We again pull ourselves away from our fear to love our enemies into goodness.

Kill them with kindness, my mother always advised, taking her example from Jesus.  Let God worry about the other guy, Dad always told us, knowing that evil is too enormous and too dangerous for us to conquer on our own.  In her book entitled Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide, Immaculée Ilibagiza tells her story that echoes those of so many other holocaust survivors that God resides even in the center of hell itself if that is where he has to be in order to save us.  This is how much God loves us.  This is how much we can love one another.

When we feel ourselves drawn into this story as the master or the servants, we know that it holds something for us.  When we find ourselves giving over to the anger within us and fear that it will control our thoughts, words and actions, we will want to turn to this story.  When someone who has wronged us approaches us in humble fear of our retaliation, let us reach out a warm and welcoming hand and remember the words that Jesus taught us to pray . . .  Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And let us remember the story of the unforgiving servant.


A re-post from January 17, 2012.

Images from: http://australiaincognita.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/thumblg_immaculee1.jpg

To read more about Immaculée Ilibagiza, see: http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Most-Inspiring-Person-Of-The-Year/2006/Immacule-Ilibagiza.aspx

For more on Rwando, go to: http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide_in_rwanda.htm

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