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Posts Tagged ‘Law of Love’


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Psalm 119: 9-16

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Treasuring God’s Promise

Mary kept the Word of God in her body as the pre-natal Jesus grew in strength. She also kept the Word in her heart with reflection and prayer. We are told that she pondered the verbal and physical message she was brought. She knew that she was to bear light to the nations. She also knew that she need only allow God’s Word to transform her life in order for her to bear fruit. She knew that trust in God alone was enough . . . and in this way she treasured God’s promise.

As we explore God’s word, let us also treasure the promise we know it holds. Today, let us reflect on the first three letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the psalmist shares them with us. And let us consider what lessons and promises they unfold.

Aleph: The Paradox of God and Humans – God calls humans into creation.  How do we respond?

Beth: God’s Dwelling Place Below – Mary agrees to serve as the ark for God’s New Covenant.  How does she find the courage to say yes?

Gimel: Reward and Punishment – The duality we find in this letter reminds us that we are created with a free will.  We are free to choose a world of either/or, a choice that divides.  We are also free to choose a world of “and,” a choice that includes.  Which world do we choose?

Tomorrow, a prayer to fulfill God’s promise in us.


Adapted from a reflection written on the Feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary on June 16, 2007.

For more information on the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://robinandersonfineart.blogspot.com/2011/02/mary-holding-baby-jesus-looking-up.html 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Over the next few weeks we will look closely at Psalm 119, the longest chapter in Scripture. In this time of pandemic, transition, and social and political unrest, we turn to this acrostic poem that brings us God’s beautiful message of love in groups of eight verses named for the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. 

Psalm 119:1-8

aleph[1]Aleph

Walk in the law . . .

Laws, precepts, testimonies, statutes, precepts, commandments, decrees, ordinances, the Way. So many words to express a concept so simple.

We are made in God’s image and so we are called to nourish God’s Law of Love within ourselves and in others. We are made as creatures of mercy and so we are called to nurture God’s Testimony of Mercy wherever and whenever we find it. We are made to love boldly and well and so let us move among both our friends and our enemies to serve as catalysts of God’s Way of Love for the world.

God says: Do not be overwhelmed when I call you to love as I do. I have placed seeds of love in each of you and I nourish them daily so that they might bloom in you. You are too often downcast at the obstacles you find before you, but I tell you that when you lift your eyes above these barriers you find me. When you love for my sake you bring a new eternal life into the world for me. When you endure as I do . . . you last forever as I do. 

We too often see our limitations rather than our promise.

Today we reflect on the first lesson in Psalm 119.  It is God’s simple request that we walk in the way the Lord shows to us.  Tomorrow, Beth.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, God’s love endures forever . . . (Psalm 118:1)


To learn more about the Hebrew letter Aleph, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://biblehub.com/topical/a/aleph.htm and http://alephjournal.wordpress.com/about/

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord

Today, as we recall Jesus’ willingness to submerge himself in the goodness of the Spirit, we mark the end of the liturgical celebration of Christmas. As we begin to plan the life we will lead once we can safely emerge from our pandemic lockdown, let us consider how we will let the gift of God’s testimony wash over us. How will we allow this heavy cleansing to renew us? How will we once again greet estranged sisters and brothers? How will we continue to live as Christmas people who bring light to a darkened world?

We do well to consider the Lord’s own testimony to us about God’s love of all creation. 

1 John 5:11-12

Gerrit van Honthorst: Adoration of the Shepherds

God’s Testimony

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son does not have life. 

There is really no mystery about what God thinks of us. We are gifted with God’s presence in the child Jesus who grows into a man to sacrifice all for us. Jesus lives according to the Mosaic Law and then institutes a new law, the Law of Love. Through his living out for us this new law and through his sacrificial dying, Jesus brings us God’s testimony: life eternal.

There is really no struggle in finding union with God for God loves us dearly and constantly and already dwells in us. All we need do is acknowledge this presence. All we need do is allow ourselves to be children of God. All we need do is live this new Law of Love.

And so, we pray . . . Good and gracious God, we hear your testimony and still we doubt. Remind us that you are as gentle as the small child and as strong as the man who dies for all. Remind us that you dwell in each of us although we forget this too often. Remind us that with the birth of the child Jesus you offer us your testimony of light and love. Remind us that with your act of submission to baptism in the Spirit, you offer each of us the humility of this Jordan experience. Remind us that as we move closer to you we free ourselves to take up the invitation to become your Christmas people. Amen.  


Spend time with a study Bible and 1 John 5:5-13.  Read the commentary and decide how God’s Testimony calls us to be Christmas people.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

12_30_presentation[1]Luke 2:29-35

Nunc Dimittis

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen tour salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Nunc Dimittis, also called the Song of Simeon, in the New Testament, a brief hymn of praise sung by the aged Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Simeon was at the Temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph came to present the infant Jesus for the rite of purification according to Jewish law and custom. Simeon recognized the baby as the promised Saviour, took him in his arms, and raised his hymn of praise. Found in Luke 2:29–32, it is called the Nunc Dimittis for its first words in the Latin of the Vulgate Bible: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum, in pace, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised.” Because of its implications of fulfillment, peace, and rest, the early church viewed it as appropriate for the ending of the day. Since the 4th century it has been used in such evening worship services as Compline, Vespers, and Evensong”.  (“Nunc Dimittis”)

“A third Lucan theme is offered by old Simeon in his inspired benediction, the Nunc Dimittis . . . Simeon, a pious man longing for “the consolation of Israel” (the messianic age), is assured by the Holy Spirit that he will live to see it.  The Holy Spirit leads him to the Temple at the time of Jesus’ presentation and inspires him to know the child is God’s Messiah.  In his inspired song, he declares Jesus to be the means of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile.  On that conviction rests Jesus’ ministry and the mission of the church”.  (Mays 932)

How blessed are we that we need not await God’s coming to live among us, for Christ lives in us today.  How sanctified are we to be children of God, for we are sisters and brothers of Christ. How holy are we to have God the creator to guide us, Jesus the Redeemer to lead us, and the Spirit Consoler to abide with us, for we are called to live the new Law of Love.

The child for whom Simeon waited for a lifetime is among us this day.  Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace.  Now, Master . . .


To hear this canticle set to music and sung by the Ely Cathedral Choir, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGotSUuwjaY 

For more information and the Latin version of this canticle, click on the image above or go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=982

For more reflections on this evening canticle and Simeon, enter the word Simeon in the blog search bar.

“Nunc Dimittis.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Second Sunday of Advent

jwelcom[1]December 6, 2020

Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

Welcome

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright by the land’s afflicted.

Isaiah shows us a vision of God’s Kingdom and of the world as it might be. We are welcome to paint our own images upon this enormous canvas of hope. The prophet describes a dominion the hunters live peacefully with their prey. A child plays near a venomous serpent; division, harm and ruin have come to an end. Our superficial system of judging and choosing no long functions. God’s justice sees what is in the heart and mind. Our empty gestures are seen for what they are, hollow hope, false hospitality and silly pandering. We forget that those who live on the margins are the closest to God’s heart. When we exclude the poorest among us we exclude Christ.

What might we do to welcome this vision of the kingdom in honesty? How might we welcome Christ as generously as he has welcomed us?

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Paul speaks to an audience in conflict; his listeners and readers have allowed petty differences to divide them and they have openly ignored the beauty and wealth of God’s offer of this peaceable Kingdom. With clear reason Paul presents his cogent argument: God’s Kingdom is not a club with rules; rather, it is a state of being in which everyone speaks the Language of Love.

How might we examine our own actions and thoughts to root out our pettiness? How might we nurture our growth in God’s Law of Love?

Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. 

In the end there is one sure way to know if we are hearing, speaking and acting in God’s love: our personal yardstick is the fruit our labor bears. If we call on candor and patient waiting, we will quickly see how much we welcome the Christ in others and how much we exclude.

lion and lambDo we invite everyone to learn about Jesus by the way we live? Do we chase away lions and bears assuming that they do not belong in the Kingdom? Do we exclude adders and vipers because we cannot see their potential for change? Do we welcome only those who look and act and believe as we do?

On this Second Sunday of Advent we are welcomed by Christ – along with countless billions – to prepare for his arrival. Let us ready our hearts and our minds to receive the greatest gift of all time and space – the gift of an amazing Kingdom, the gift of unbelievable peace, the gift of Christ’s universal welcome.


Images from: http://users.elite.net/runner/jennifers/welcome1.htm and https://atsunnyside.blog/2019/01/14/edward-hicks-peaceable-kingdom-1833/ and http://www.abolitionist-society.com/

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

stteresaofavila[1]Matthew 5:17-20

A Manual for Living

Matthew creates a bridge between Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and his many teachings which describe how we might understand, embrace and then enact this new Law of Love now that we have heard it. As people who have spent some time with both the Old and New Testaments, we will recognize these teachings and this new attitude before the Law as the fulfillment of the old law. We will see Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people – the promise he foretold through his prophets – that he will save, that we can do nothing on our own, and that there is only one force in the universe that makes the impossible possible, God’s Love . . . as shown to us in the person of Jesus.

This portion of Matthew’s Gospel serve as a manual for living. Jesus puts into plain words how his followers will deal with communal and conjugal relationship, with anger, hate and revenge. Jesus explains the importance of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. He tells us why we must refrain from judging, from cheapening ourselves, from believing false prophets. He reminds us of God’s providence.

When there is conflict and confusion, chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew bring tranquility and clarity. They lay out a clear path which leads to a narrow gate. We need fear no thing and no one when we apply this code to our lives for as we are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Romans (8), there is always life in the Spirit through Christ.

Teresa of Avila’s words are so true: Anyone who perseveres in seeking God’s friendship is amply rewarded . . . Place yourself in the presence of God, and do not exhaust yourself searching for reasons for understanding what lies beyond your reach. Do not lay blame on your soul, for the good of your soul consists not in thinking much, but in loving much. (Let Nothing Disturb You)

This, then, is the New Law as explained in this new Manual for Living: We are not called to exhaust ourselves with worry or with work; rather, we are to place ourselves within the bounds of this new Law of Love, for this alone saves.


http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/74226.Teresa_of_vila 

Image from: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/stteresaofavila.htm

Adapted from a reflection written on June 24, 2009.

Enter the words Manual for Living into the blog search bar and continue to reflect.

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Saturday, July 25, 2020

6157010118[1]John 13:34

The New Commandment

I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so should you love one another.

This is so simple and yet so complicated.  This is so clear and yet so foggy.  This is so down-to-earth and yet so mystical.  Jesus is quite clear about how we are to live and why. All else stems from this one commandment of love.

God says: I know that when you see or hear these words you are perplexed.  Many of you are looking for something more vertical and less horizontal, with layers of rules and bureaucracy, with rating systems and hierarchy, but your relationship with me is as simple as this law.  Others want only comfort and drifting forgetfulness but my love is wider and deeper, and more intense than a mere longing.  I know that you look for guarantees, escape hatches and safety values, but none are needed here.  Life with me is really this simple.  Love one another. Put away your anger and hate.  Put aside your gossiping and comparing.  I love each of you.  Deal with your greed and envy.  Laziness and pride are tools you do not need for the work you complete in my vineyard.  I call each of you and you need only this one quality: Love.  It is all.  It is everything.  It is more than enough.  All else stems from this one practice I long to see you embrace.  Love one another as I have loved you.  It is all I ask of you.  It is the only command I give to you.  And yet it is everything.

We humans tend to over-complicate our relationship with God.  We spend lifetimes seeking wisdom and knowledge when all we need to know is walking with us in the person of God all the while.  We spend hours obsessing and harboring when all we need do is forgive, trust God and live in the Spirit.  We spend years alternately ignoring and anguishing about who and what Jesus is while the risen Christ takes up our heavy yoke with us each day.  God gives us this one command.  There is really nothing more we need do.

In John 8:1-11, the Pharisees ask Jesus a question as they try to entrap him.  Read the story to see what happens when Jesus bends to write on the ground with his finger . . . and imagine what he wrote.  Then imagine where you are standing and what you are thinking . . . and tell this story to someone else today.


Image from: http://www.christianbook.com/as-have-loved-you-bulletins-100/pd/117078

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Monday, June 1, 2020

296345-46014-43[1]Proverbs 23:1-25

Goodness Within

We have been reflecting on the Trinity this past week and have concluded that the goodness and compassion lives within each of us even though it may be difficult to discern.  Today we consider the goodness that lives within each of us – the well-behaved along with those who intend destruction.  And in Proverbs we find sound advice that blooms when read through the lens of the New Testament and the covenant of the new Law of Love.

Toil not to gain wealth; cease to be concerned about it; while your glance flits to it, it is gone! . . .

Remove not the ancient landmark, nor invade the fields of orphans; for their redeemer is strong; he will defend their cause against you . . .

Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge . . .

Get the truth and sell it not – wisdom, instruction and understanding . . .

Let your father and mother have joy; let her who bore you exult . . .

We are also told to beat our boys with a rod so that they do not die.  Of course when we consider the context of this advice we understand the wisdom of the era; today we know that brutality only begets more brutality, brings on depression and initiates waves of violence.

The Book of Proverbs has much to say to us.  It is best taken in parts and considered in light of its era.  When allowed to rest in our hearts for a time, it nurtures the seeds of wisdom planted within by the Maker, redeemed and transformed by the Savior, and cherished and graced by the Spirit.  We have only to open our hearts and ears; we have only to meditate on the Word . . .  to know that goodness created us . . . and longs to live within us.

Tomorrow, finding the stamina to survive . . .


Image from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/trinity-celtic-symbol.html

Adapted from a reflection written on September 30, 2010.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Isaiah 50:6: The Universal Message

He gave his back to those who beat him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.  Isaiah 50:6

Jerusalem: The Jaffa Gate

Jerusalem: The Jaffa Gate – For a panoramic view, click on the image and use the tools

What a strange movement this Christ and his followers have begun.  Jesus tells us that we must give so that we might receive, we must die so that we might live, and we must love everyone, even those who wish to see the end of us.  We have a startling newness mixed with an old fidelity. The ancient Shema calls God’s children to give themselves over totally to the God who created them.  The new Law of Love requires only one action of us: that every thought, word and deed come from God’s love alone.  The prophet Isaiah foresees great conflict but it leads to great joy.

Jerusalem has witnessed the arrival and departure of many who would be great.  She has sheltered the dispossessed and given over her citizens to determined raiders.  She has seen dreams rise and fall.  Her walls have held invading hordes at bay and her gates have fallen open too easily, succumbing to the enemy from within.  She has been the epicenter of the world and she has been a trash heap impossible to traverse on horseback.  There is nothing that she has not seen, no fear she has not felt in her belly, no hope she has not lifted to heaven.  And so we find, as we first thought a few days ago, that Jerusalem is a larger than life version of our own lives.  There is no sin she has not committed, no incident she has not tried to hide, no celebration she has not proudly shown to the world and still she persists, held closely as a sacred place by three great religions . . . and it is this universal Jerusalem that plays out the story of our lives, this Jerusalem that shows us – if we look – how we might find redemption beyond suffering.

Paging through this long story of Jerusalem can bring us closer to God; the city offers us herself when she holds up a mirror so that we might see our own defects and virtues, our vices and hopes.  She brings us a universal message of fall and rise – a message we do not want to miss in this most holy of weeks.


For a panoramic view of the Jaffa Gate, click on the image above or go to: http://www.samrohn.com/360-panorama/jaffa-gate-jerusalem/

For more on the ancient Hebrew prayer, type the word “Shema” into the blog search box and choose a reflection. 

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