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1 Thessalonians 4 and 5: Our Conduct

Sunday, September 8, 2019

We have looked at Chapter 5 of this letter before and when we did we reflected on God’s time as being different from our own, and how in this immense time of God’s there is always the opportunity to begin again, to offer friendship to those who have harmed us . . . and to have the impossible become possible through God.  Today when we reflect on chapter 4 along with chapter 5 we have the benefit of reading how Paul begins a list of general exhortations for our Christian conduct.  He gives a list of “to dos”: Be holy and honorable in your intimate relationships, aspire to a tranquil life while minding your own affairs, pray for those who have died before us, be prepared for the coming of Jesus, magnify Christ’s light in the darkness of the world.

These guidelines seem simple enough as we read them; yet oh how difficult they become in practice.  How many of us use and are used in our closest connections?  How many of us are drawn in by the private affairs of others?  How many of us remember with hope those who have died?  How many of us are prepared for the Parousia?  How many of us stand in the light . . . and call others to that light?

Honor, Holiness, Charity, Hope and Vigilance.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians and he reminds us that our conduct is an outward sign of our interior relationship with God.

What do our actions have to tell us about our most intimate relationship of all?

What do our gestures and demeanor tell our God about how we see him?

What do we want to change?

First written on August 4, 2008, re-written and posted today as a  Favorite.


For additional thoughts on What is Holiness, click on the image above or go to: http://thecostaricanews.com/what-is-holiness/9997 

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Acts 17:26: Loving Others – Part VI

First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2016hands-touching

As we enter the season of hope, we reflect on – and determine to act in – God’s call to love one another. 

From one human being God created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. (GNT)

We must never doubt that each of us is integral to God’s economy. Each of us is endowed with specific gifts that are essential to God’s plan. All of us – not matter how diverse – are loved and cherished by God.

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live. (NRSV)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that all peoples are loved in the eyes of God; yet despite their many formal and informal religions, God asks only one commandment: that we respect and love one another.

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. (MSG)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that both genders, male and female, are equal in the eyes of God. It may be even more difficult to accept that God loves those of mixed or ambiguous genders; yet despite our many creeds and goals, Christ asks that we follow him and do as he does: living the Law of Love.

And God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (ESVUK)

It may be difficult for some of us to believe that the Spirit lives in each of us, creating a holy indwelling that we are meant to share. When we are asked to love one another, we are asked to love even those who do us harm. We are meant to return hatred with blessing, greed with generosity, and prejudice with charity. All the rest, we place in the hands of God.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we begin to see how difficult – and simple – it is, to love others as God does. 

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jeremiah 49

god-is-in-our-midstGod in Our Midst

As I knelt at Mass today I asked for special help in a special situation.  Help arrived, as it always does.  Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.  Matthew 14:27 was part of today’s Morning Prayer.

There was also a citation from Zephaniah 3:16-18 and as I move through my day I cling to this petition about singing joyfully in the face of great odds because God is among us.

Today’s Noontime is a series of petitions that God rain down punishment on our enemies.  But revenge is not a New Testament concept.

Charity, true charity, has come to live among us.

Charity, true charity, prays for one’s enemies.

Charity, true charity, seeks goodness rather than evil.

Charity, true charity, heals wounds with love and patience.

Charity, true charity, insists on hoping that the wicked will turn back to God.

Charity, true charity, does as my mother recommended . . . it calls people to goodness through kindness.

So when we are confronted by the enemy, we must remember that God is among us and he tells us this:  Fear not, be not discouraged!  The lord, your God, is in your midst.  He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.  I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace.

God is in our midst.  Let us pray that through him we convert our anxiety to patience, our desperation to hope, our anger to love . . . so that none may recount our disgrace.

Written on October 8, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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God's love language stewardshipFriday, May 30, 2014

1 John 3

True Children

“The greatest sign of God’s love is the gift of his Son (Jn 3, 16) that has made Christians true children of God. This relationship is a present reality and also part of the life to come; true knowledge of God will ultimately be gained, and Christians prepare themselves now by virtuous lives in imitation of the Son . . . Love, even to the point of self-sacrifice, is the point of the commandment [verses 11-18]. The story of Cain and Abel . . . presents the rivalry of two brothers, in a contrast of evil and righteousness, where envy led to murder. For Christians, proof of deliverance is love toward others, after the example of Christ. This includes concrete acts of charity, out of our material gain . . . Living a life of faith in Jesus and of Christian love assures us of abiding in God no matter what our feelings may at times tell us. Our obedience gives us confidence in prayer and trust in God’s judgment. This obedience includes our belief in Christ and love for one another”. (Senior 390-391)

Knowledge of God leading to virtuous lives. Concrete acts of charity from our material gain. A life of faith in Christ. Confidence in prayer and trust in God. We have spent several days with the third chapter of John’s first letter and we might pause today to consider . . . what have we learned? What might we have changed in our relationships?

Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel

When someone new joins our work or play community, do they see us as holy? If someone new arrives at our place of worship, do they see us as authentic and genuine? Do they see us as brothers and sisters who support one another rather than envy? Do our actions indicate that we know we have been released from bondage? Do our deeds say that we are grateful for all that we have and that we covet nothing, envy no one? Do others see us supporting one another out of our material gain and spiritual gifts? Do others hope to be one with us as children of the Living God and as building blocks of The Kingdom? Do they see us as true children of God?

Tomorrow, considering Cain and Abel.

Adapted from a reflection first written on July 20, 2010.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.390-391. Print.

 

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Trust in God Alone


Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – Psalm 62 – Trust in God Alone

My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation, God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall. 

From the footnotes in the New American Bible: “A song of trust displaying serenity from experiencing God’s power [the refrains of 2-3 and 6-7] and anger toward unjust enemies [4-5].  From the experience of being rescued, the psalmist can teach others to trust in God [10-13]”.  (Senior 686)

We lament the lack of trust in our society; we complain that we cannot rely on civic or religious leaders; but before we complain we must examine ourselves.  Are we worthy of trust?  Do we act with authenticity?  Do we live a life of integrity?

We look at the corruption we see in high places and point out abuses of power; but before we criticize others we must live a life devoid of corruption ourselves.  Have we eliminated words of bias from our lexicon?  Have we removed acts of favoritism from our lives?  Do we rely on nepotism to get ahead?

We look back through our own trials and when we are honest we can number the times we have been rescued by God; but before we grumble about God’s absence when we need him we must be candid about the powerful presence God is in the universe.  Does God exist to please us alone?  Do our own wants go before those of others?  Do we expect God to appease us at the expense of the common good?

We lose patience with those who are forever negative, downcast or anxious; but before we grumble about our neighbors we must take a look at how often we have helped others to find their way to a positive way of living.  Do we gossip about the broken-hearted?  Do we remain happy by avoiding those who suffer a series of difficult events?  Do we hoard happiness and fear that those who appear to be unlucky may contaminate the Eden we have set up for ourselves?

We fool ourselves if we believe that we alone rescue ourselves from calamity.

We trick ourselves if we say that we do not need God.

We disappoint ourselves if we say that God has abandoned us.

We deceive ourselves if we say that God is not the source of goodness and kindness.

The psalmist today tells us one idea, and he tells it simply: God is good, God saves, God abides, God rescues, we can rely totally and fully on God, we must pray for our enemies and leave them in God’s hands, we must sing God’s praise for keeping us from the fall.

Before we complain about how God does not answer our petitions, we must look for goodness in ourselves and in others . . . for this goodness reflects God’s kindness.  Tell others how God has rescued us. 

Before we complain about how God does not answer our call, we must look for trustworthiness in ourselves and in others . . . for this trustworthiness reflects God’s constancy.  Tell others how God has answered us. 

Before we complain about how God does not answer our prayers, we must look for charity in ourselves and in others . . . for this charity reflects God’s love.  Tell others how much God is devoted to us, and . . . trust God, trust God alone. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.686. Print.   

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