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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’


Saturday, June 20, 2020

headline14[1]Matthew 5:38-48

Vengeance

We hear this message often; yet it cannot be overstated.  True love is one which exacts no payment or punishment.  True love – this Law of Love which Jesus brings to us – does not sink to the depths of the abuser.  My mother was fond of telling us: Do not sink to your opponent’s level.  Be a lady/gentleman.  Do not fight fire with fire.  Kill you enemy with kindness.  My mother was a good shepherd.

Today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation is entitled “Do you Love Me?” and it is written by Fr. Julián Carrón, a professor of theology at the University of Milan.  He writes: Our astonishment at Christ’s love for each of us dominates our life.  Carrón proposes that there is a nothingness that constantly looms over every man, and that often makes him doubt that there is an answer that corresponds to the need for truth, for beauty, for justice, and for happiness in his heart, because nothing is able to totally fascinate him for long.  Carrón writes that once God becomes overwhelming attractive to us, we begin to understand and even feel the depth of this kind of love born of suffering, resurrection and restoration.  This is a love which cannot be turned away, nor can it be extinguished.  God’s holiness reveals itself as a passionate love for his people [and] . . . all man’s frailty, his betrayal, all the dreadful possibilities of history are traversed by that question put to Peter on the lake that morning [after his resurrection], “Do you love me?”

How much do we love God?  Enough to give up our petty fascination with payback and vengeance?  Enough to feed his sheep?  Enough to petition for our abusers?

Peter replies to Christ’s question:  Yes, Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.  Carrón writes: In this free “yes” of the creature, in every circumstance of life, the glory of God echoes and is at work.

Imagine if we all might put aside our personal hurts – knowing that God knows all – and allow Christ to mediate our disagreements and our battles.  Imagine what a world it might be.  Imagine what happiness we might find.

When we say yes to putting aside our desire to retaliate, we give God our own YesThe nothingness that constantly looms over every one of us is dispelled.  And we begin to know the depths of a true love which does not tolerate or even recognize the desire to take revenge.

As we ponder what to do about those who scheme against us at work or even at home, as we contemplate how God stands plots on their heads to bring goodness out of harm, as we consider that every lesson the Spirit teaches is about inversion, we might want to take Jesus’ advice to us and pray for those who seek our end rather than ask for revenge.  And as my mother so often reminded us when we struggled with praying for those negative or dangerous people who came into our own lives, we might want to begin by killing them with our kindness.


Image from: http://www.whatdidjesussay.com/14-anyone-can-love-their-friends-love-your-enemies-and-pray-for-them-jesus/

Adapted from a reflection written on May 29, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.5 (2012). Print.

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Ezra 3: A Great Shout

Friday, November 1, 2019

I love this story of a joyful people who realize that they have been saved from the teeth of death.  They fully know that their God loves them despite their collective and individual transgressions, and they also recognize that they have another opportunity to begin anew.  We can all use this message from time to time.

The people in today’s story are still close to the bitterness of their exile experience and they have not allowed time to dim or re-write their reality.  They have not yet given in to the temptation to morph memories into events which did not happen.  They are still being honest with themselves.

St. Paul writes to the Colossians (3:12-14) and to us to remind us of how we are to live in our new life after our own exile and return.  He tells us what we yearn to know: How are we to be when we come into God’s presence?  How are we to wear Christ as a garment into a society which is focused on the things of the world?  Paul says simply: Put on, then, as God’s chosen, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

The people in today’s reading are chosen and loved by God.  We today are also chosen and loved.  We so often seek perfection in our actions and words.  We try to avoid error in order to steer clear of pain.  We return from our exile times and wonder how to begin again.

Today we read about a great shout of joy and weeping that goes up from the returned.  We might want to add our own tears and voices to the chorus.


Written on September 25, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite. 

To read more about Ezra click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/people/ezra.htm

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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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Psalms 35 – 37Seek Justice

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Favorite from November 12, 2009.

Yesterday we reflected on the value of seeking wisdom in times of trial.  Today we focus on seeking justice in times of injustice and these three psalms serve as a kind of trilogy of prayer.  I am struck by the titles of these songs in English first and then in Spanish.

35 – An Appeal for Help against Injustice, I am Your Salvation

36 – Human Weakness and Divine Goodness, By Your Light we see Light

37 – Fate of the Wicked and reward of the Righteous, The Humble Shall Inherit the Earth

We are lead from naming injustice, through seeking God in order that we see what is good about our situation, to arrive at the result of God’s way of being.  In God’s world, the wicked suffer consequences for their descent into darkness and secrecy while the faithful are rewarded for their perseverance and patience.  When we feel pummeled by life we might want to turn to these three prayers and give them our full focus.

Rescue me from these ravening beasts; preserve my precious life from these lions.

If we can identify the wicked ways of others then we know when and where to step cautiously.

Do not allow my treacherous enemies to gloat over me; do not permit those who hate me without reason to wink their eyes at me.

Humans fear that the darkness will encompass them; yet we have been promised the light.

Sin speaks to the wicked one in the heart; . . . there is no fear of God.  He deludes himself with the idea that his guilt will not be discovered and hated.

In the end, nothing remains hidden.  Those who engage in darkness forget that the light will reveal all.

Oh Lord, your kindness extends to the heavens; your faithfulness to the skies . . . With you is the fountain of life, and by your light we see light.

We must appeal to God to show us how to find strength through our kindness.

Do not fume because of evildoers or envy those who do wrong.  They will wither quickly like the grass and fade away like the green herb.  Put your trust in the Lord and do good . . .

Sinking to the level of the wicked only makes the darkness more intense and brings it closer.

In a short while, the wicked will be no more; no matter how diligently you search, you will not be able to find him. 

We must not allow our anxieties and preoccupations to close in on us.  Seek God in order to find stillness and quiet.

But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy an abundance of peace. 

We must be meek as Jesus is meek, humble as The Lamb is humble.

Two words struck me from today’s closing prayer at Mass which I will carry with me for awhile: Courage and Peace.  If we have these two, we have all.  This Psalm Trilogy today is a roadmap for our exodus out of fear and our arrival at promised serenity.  We must have Courage in our God, for this is where we find a small pocket or a tiny island of tranquility . . . even amidst the trials and darkness that we suffer because of the wicked.    When we find ourselves in pain at the hand of evil, we must take courage and seek justice . . . in order to arrive at peace.

 

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Colossians 3:12-14: Chosen

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We may well want to consider how we react to the news that we are chosen loved ones.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Do we step ahead quickly to shove our way forward in response to God’s call? Or do we tend to those along the margins who cannot find a way into the unifying force of God’s hope?

Bear with one another . . .

Do we follow Christ in fits and starts? Or do we move constantly and slowly forward, always remaining faithful in reflection of God’s fidelity?

If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other . . .

Do we greet one another with greed or compassion? Anger or mercy? Chaos or peace?

Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Do we welcome the stranger, speak out against injustice, console the sorrowful, and heal the sick?

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Do we work for reconciliation? Do we open our eyes, ears, hearts, hands and minds? Do we act as if we are chosen in God’s humble love?

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we find that being chosen is more than we have first thought.

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Luke 6:36-38: Our God-Created Identity

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why must we be cautious in judging others?

Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. (GNT)

Who is our model in this difficult challenge?

Show compassion, just as your Father shows compassion. (CJB)

What do we gain by refraining from judging?

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

Is the promise of union with Christ in his love of enemies enough for us? Does kindness hold the same allure as power, fame and wealth?

As we compare varying versions of Jesus’ words, we continue to consider where we put our concerns and how we act on them; and we reflect on how we live out our God-created identity.

Pierre Subleyras: Christ at the House of Simon the Pharisee

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David, another of God’s imperfect leaders, we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service, or it can make us even more strongly bound to God.  The choice is always ours to make.

These readings continue the theme. Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.

We are further advised that if resentment is a constant companion in our lives, we will never understand the mercy God wants to show us in this world and the next. Therefore, we will want to learn to live without bitterness. It is not the treasure we want to set aside: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth but rather, store up treasures in heaven. And heaven’s treasures are mercy, kindness and love. Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

And so we consider . . . Rather than foment division, we want to add to the world’s serenity. But what about the kind of uproar that Paul causes? How does this fit into God’s design?

Today and tomorrow we reflect on an idea proposed by biologist E.O. Wilson and consider how his proposals affront or enact God’s kingdom. Visit the Smithsonian magazine to read, Can the world really set aside half the planet for Wildlife?

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-world-really-set-aside-half-planet-wildlife-180952379/?no-ist

Tomorrow, God’s uproar.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

 

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Matthew 5:17-19: Teaching on the Law, A Reprise

Wednesday, March 2, 2016Kingdom-of-God-570x379

Do we fully understand the depth of Jesus’ words? Do we fully open ourselves to Jesus’ transformation?

Jesus says: Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

Do we fully understand that when we mock creation we mock ourselves? Do we fully open ourselves to the wonders of God’s universe?

Jesus says: Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

God says: You work inordinate hours. You fret over the past and worry about the future. You wriggle through plans that you lay for yourselves. You create rules and parameters that you hope will keep you safe. The Law I speak about is simple indeed – it is the only law the actually keeps you safe. It is the Law of Love. The Law of forgiveness. The Law of generosity and kindness. The Law of healing and comfort. The Law of mercy. Rest in me. Bring your worries to me. Allow my Law of Love to reconcile, restore and rebuild. Allow yourself to step into my kingdom of love.

We continue our Lenten practice as we consider how we might bring others to God’s kingdom of love. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For another post on these verses, go to:  https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/06/teaching-on-the-law/

Tomorrow, Beelzebub.

 

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2 Corinthians 13:11-13: Prayer for Openingholding-hands-peace-planet-earth-painted

Saturday, July 18, 2015

As we close our reflections on 2 Corinthians this week we determine to open ourselves to the message Paul delivers to his church in Corinth and to us wherever we find ourselves.

Finally, rejoice . . .

No matter our circumstance we can thank God for the gift of today.

Mend your ways . . .

No matter our situation we can find ways to improve.

Encourage one another . . .

No matter our state of mind we can say and do some act of kindness today.

Live in peace . . .

No matter our state of being we can forgive those who have harmed us.

Greet one another with a holy kiss . . .

No matter our condition we must find a way to meet all with the kiss of peace.

May the grace of the lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you . . .

No matter what, we care called. This is our opening to a new way of life. No matter what, we must respond in peace.

Amen.

 

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