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Posts Tagged ‘Law of Love’


Hebrews 1:5-14: They will perish but you will remain . . .

Sunday, December 1, 2019

These are welcome words; they bring us union when we feel disconnected from all that surrounds us.

This is a heartening verse; it tells of our salvation when we feel that all is lost or useless.

This is an important message; it assures us of our own divinity when the world tells us that we are mere humans.

The message of this letter is the Good News that we are free from the petty chains we believe bind us, and that we are divine.  When we read this letter we realize that we have much to be grateful for . . . if only we might open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

Rather than seeing Christ as a distant perfection we cannot attain, let us instead see ourselves as God does . . . as sisters and brothers of Christ, God’s adopted children.

Rather than bowing to slander, innuendo or social pressure, let us instead revere The Law of Love . . . as sisters and brothers of Christ, Jesus’ adopted siblings.

Rather than spend our energy wishing to be angels and gods, let us instead focus on refining our relationship with God . . .  as sisters and brothers of Jesus, one in the Spirit.

The opening portion of this letter holds reminders we read today but will want to hold forever . . .

To which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”?

The angels are made wind and ministers a fiery flame . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

God loves justice and scorns wickedness . . .

The wicked will perish, but you will remain . . .

God anoints Christ with the oil of gladness . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

The earth and the heavens are works of God’s hands . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

To which of the angels has God said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”?

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

There are seasons in our lives when we doubt and stumble.  There are times when our grief overwhelms us and overshadows all happiness.  There are people and events that challenge us beyond our strength.  There are obstacle courses that call us to the last ounce of our stamina. Yet, the trials and sorrow will perish . . . and we will remain for we are Children of God. The roadblocks and turmoil will come to nothing . . . and we will remain for we are the Beloved of God.  The storms and turmoil of our days will evaporate . . . and we will remain . . . for we are called to inherit salvation.

We have much to be grateful for . . . if only we might open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.


A re-post from November 10, 2012.

For more about this letter, read the Hebrews – Motivation page on this blog.

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Jeremiah 16: Candor and Hope

Monday, November 25, 2019

We seek better things to come . . .

What are we to think of the words recorded here by the prophet Jeremiah?  A paraphrasing from the HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY, page 559, tells us:  This section contains reports of three symbolic actions, followed by an interpretation that puts them in the context of the Exile.  The prophet is to remain unmarried and childless since the upcoming warfare will be utterly destructive of families.  He is told not to participate in mourning rites because Yahweh intends to remove peace from the land that will undermine the normal mourning customs.  A third requirement of the prophet is that he not participate in festivities of any kind as all celebration will cease.  Following these admonitions is a justification for the punishment they are to receive, the cause is their apostasy.  So we see the domination of two concerns of the community in exile: to identify the cause of its present situation and to contemplate a more favorable future.

Suffering, as we know, is not necessarily castigation; sometimes the innocent suffer through no fault of their own because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control.  What we can take away from today’s reading is the underlined thought above.  When we feel ourselves suffering in exile, two exercises are useful: first, reflecting on our behavior prior to exile to investigate the need to change as appropriate and second, anticipating a better future in active hope.  These are hallmark characteristics of the Christian.  Candid self assessments, the search for improvement, and petitioning God for better things to come.  Even . . . and especially . . . when things seem darkest . . . and without hope of any kind.

When we find ourselves in pain or in exile, suffering either innocently or as a consequence of our own actions, we may choose to become bitter, angry, resentful, and intent on making others suffer.  This does not align with the Law of Love as described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 when he writes that love does not brood over injury or rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 

When we find ourselves in exile, it is best to regard the time as a period of retreat and reflection, going inward to hear the voice of truth, looking outward in expectation of the good news which will arrive.  As children of God, we benefit from knowing this good news even before it reaches us.  It is the news of our release.  The news of our freedom.  The news that we are created and held by one who loves us more than we can imagine.


Written on November 26, 2008, re-written and posted today.   To see how one community contemplates and moves toward a more favorable future, click on the image above or go to: http://www.hopeinspiredministries.org/

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 559. Print.

Image from: http://www.hopeinspiredministries.org/

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Luke 17:1-4: Temptation

Easter Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Jesus is well aware of how difficult it is to live in this world.  Jesus understands the human tendency to take the comfortable route.  Jesus knows all about temptationAnd he also knows about union and resurrection.

Matthew records Jesus as saying that if our right eye offends we are to pluck it out (5:29).  This is a harsh saying but Jesus gives us more advice to help our understanding.  He gives us a prescription for mending walls and building bridges; it is advice that we often ignore. On this day of celebration in new life, let us take a moment to pause and ponder the goodness of God’s word to us, the compassion Jesus shows to us, the love the Spirit bestows on us.

Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, Jesus tells us today.  And when they do, here is a path to follow.

If a brother sins [against you] go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  (Matthew 18:15)  It is so difficult to take this first step.  Our pride and our fear of rejection get in the way; yet it is what Jesus suggests to us.

If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that “every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses”.  (Matthew 18:16)  Jesus enacts the old Mosaic Law spelled out in Deuteronomy 19:15 that witnesses are needed to establish guilt.   He understands how our refusal to accept a truth that others see is common; yet he asks us to remove the beam from our own eyes before we point out splinters in others.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:17)  We must use caution in taking this final step and it is one with which I struggle.  We must be certain not to allow our own ego to take over and we must not step over the mark into gossip, libel and slander.  Social dynamics are difficult and we must exercise patience and kindness more than stir up scandal.  Jesus understands our inability to see the big picture and for that reason he also tells us to turn the other check when we are offended. (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29)  He knows too well the slippery slope of false accusation; he has seen the crowds whipped up in frenzy.  He shows us how to stand as truth against falsehood.

During this Holy Week we have heard the Passion read out to us several times.  We have journeyed from Genesis to Revelation and what we hear is a single message: There is only one Law; it is the Law of Love.

The apostle Paul describes to the Ephesians – and to us – how to bridge gaps and forgive offenses: All bitterness, fury, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.  [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  (4:31-32)

Paul tells the Colossians – and us – the mindset we must have in order to build these bridges: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.   (3:13)

On this Easter Day we celebrate the gift of newness that we receive through no goodness of our own, but solely through the goodness and generosity of God.  What a fitting gift is might be if on this day we ask the Creator for the strength to follow his Word, and for the determination to enact his Law of Love.  Let us become Easter People who acknowledge that even when we walk away from solutions we are not so lost that Jesus cannot find us; our sins are not so great that God does not forgive them; and we are never so alone that the Holy Spirit does not accompany us on our journey home.


A re-post from Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.

For more on building bridges and reconciliation, see The Jesus Bridge page on this blog. 

For a reflection on Jesus’ temptations, see the Temptations page on this blog.

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Matthew 5:17-20: Teaching on the Law

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Joseph Mallord William Turner: A Mountain Scene, Val d’Aosta

A re-post from Good Friday 2012 . . . 

We might notice that the teaching on the Law finds its place among other teachings: the new Law of Love expressed in the Beatitudes, being salt and light, teachings on anger, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation and love of enemies.  In Chapter 6 we find teachings on alms giving, prayer, fasting, treasure and our dependence on God.  Chapter 7 reveals more teachings on casting pearls before swine, expecting answers to prayers, judging others, the Golden Rule, the Narrow Gate, false prophets and true disciples, and finally . . . where and how to build a foundation that lasts.  These 3 chapters are an exact and simple road map to find our way when we are lost.  Today we focus on a portion but if there is time in our schedule to read through these chapters, we will find that we will have made an excellent investment for ourselves.  We will have made another payment into our real retirement plan . . . our plan to live in the house the Father has built for us.

My friend Lucy gave me a book for Easter several years ago. I have read it many times, and passed on copies to friends. Because I often have grandchildren fluttering under my wings during a holiday, I find it more important than ever to remind myself that I need to live in the second half of life if I hope to impart any wisdom to those who watch what I do more than what I say. Perhaps on this Friday we might find time to rest in Rohr’s message that we must do more than build a container for life.

Joseph Mallord William Turner: A Sail Yacht Approaches the Coast

Once we spend time with his meditation, we might consider the following: Do we truly wish for our old systems to crash so that a new flourishing might begin? Do we strive for a righteousness that holds us up, or take refuge in what we know? Do we long for union with Christ enough that we agree to enter into a dialog with the God who creates us and our world? Do we believe that God’s kingdom is here and now?

And Jesus says . . . I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 

For a Richard Rohr reflection on the two halves of life, visit: https://cac.org/two-halves-life-2015-10-12/


If you are looking for more information on a Jungian approach to finding meaning in the second half of life, go to: http://www.psychceu.com/hollis/findingmeaning.asp

If you are looking for something that will lead you to investigate how you live God’s Law of Love, you will find a simple study guide to reflect on Rohr’s ideas in FALLING UPWARD at: http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/programs/pastwebcasts/wc-fallingupward 

To reflect on the narrow gates in your own life and how to grow from them, go The Narrow Gate page on this blog.

Adapted from a reflection posted on April 5, 2012.

Images from: http://www.psychceu.com/hollis/findingmeaning.asp

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1 Corinthians 1:10-17: Groups and Slogans

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Church in Corinth must have been a cantankerous lot.  In this citation we hear Paul’s words of exhortation that we all follow Christ rather than divide ourselves into petty groups.  I like Jesus’ admonition to us in the Gospel of Matthew: When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your father who sees in secret will repay you.  In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them.  Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  (6:6-8)

We have the false idea that we may do anything in order to save ourselves . . .  when the inverse is actually true . . . we can do nothing to save ourselves . . . and we best become selves by emptying out the self to make room for God . . . the all.

We believe erroneously that our secret thoughts have no effect on the world . . . but they do, because our thoughts form our actions.

We must allow ourselves to be searched by God, as the psalmist sings in Psalm 139: Oh God, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar.

Temple of Apollo in Corinth

Paul wrote to the contentious group in Corinth, telling them that the Spirit moves best when there is a diversity of voices and obedience to the Law of Love.  We too might remember this as we go about our work and our play with those who would follow those other than Christ.

And so we pray:  Help us to listen to one another, to help one another, to witness to your Oneness in us.  Help us to see one another, to empathize with one another, to act as Christ in all circumstances.  Help us to be guided by one another, to find union with one another, to see that only when we bridge differences will we truly be the One you seek.  Amen. 


A re-post from December 8, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.tourismnewsinfo.com/corinth-famous-city-in-greece-with-amazing-view-of-coastal-archaeological-site-and-village-of-ancient-corinth/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrocorinth

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TitusSlaves for Christ

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today’s Noontime offering is a personal reflection on Paul’s Letter to Titus, a brief epistle in which we find valuable advice on bringing disparate voices together.  It was this letter that united many in the formation of churches for Christ in the first century.  If we savor the wisdom we find here, we may still find unity through this short letter two thousand years after its writing.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

Paul speaks of rebuking fellow Christians and I believe that when Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers (Matthew 21, Mark 11 and John 2) he was acting in this way of rebuking those who refuse to hear.  Jesus extends that advice to his apostles whom he sends like sheep among wolves in Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 9 when he says that when they enter a town where the people do not return the peace they are offered, these disciples are to shake the very dust of the town from their feet.  We also hear Jesus lament the fact that he is rejected by his hometown of Capernaum in Matthew 11 and in Luke 10 he laments the lack of faith displayed by the inhabitants Bethsaida and Chorazin, saying that the Sodomites will fare better than these people in God’s eye.  Scary stuff . . . and for this reason I am reluctant to separate myself from those who demonstrate a lack of faith . . . with me, hope dies slowly.

And so we pray that our acts of hope and our endless intercessory prayers for these reluctant travelers will reach God’s ears.  We must constantly communicate with God – and always with a smile – that a plan that does not allow for the conversion of sinners will be a plan with holes in it.  We must be as persistent as the widow in Luke 18 who rails against the unfair judge when it comes to those who distort God’s love in a perverse homage to self rather than to the will of God.  We understand that we must keep ourselves safe from this kind of corruption . . . but we do not give up . . . we continue to ask for transformation . . . our own as well as that of those who choose to do harm to us, ourselves and others.  We cannot abandon someone with whom we have spent a portion of our journey . . . even though that person demonstrates clearly that they wish to take a fork in the road that puts distance between us.  So these people we will continue to hold in prayer . . . in the expectation that God’s will – and not ours – be done.

The Persistent Widow

How do we maintain this kind of dichotomy?  We turn back to Paul who offers Titus . . . and us . . . the solution.  He says that we are to tell the people that . . . They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone.  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful of ourselves and hating one another.  Eventually we will all put aside this hateful world to choose the peaceable kingdom which God offers so patiently each day.

Like Paul, let us all be slaves to Christ, slaves to this Law of Love which keeps vigil, which hopes for good, and which sends endless petitions rising to God like incense for the transformation of the world, the transformation of others as well as for ourselves . . . that we all may one day find union with one another and with Christ.


Images from: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and http://www.free-stories.net/children-bible-stories/new-testament-stories/parable-of-the-persistent-widow.html

For more on Paul’s Letter to Titus, see the Titus – Church as Community page on this blog.

For a wonderful way to experience the cities Jesus and Paul knew, visit:  www.bibleplaces.com

A re-post from February 16, 2019. 

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Matthew 17:24-27The Temple Tax

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2018

Today we celebrate the coming of the One who teaches us how to pay the Temple tax, how to live in this world while not being part of it. 

L.L.Effler: Paying the Temple Tax

When we throw ourselves into understanding and living the Gospel we run the risk of becoming fanatic about its meaning and implications.  Ultimately, God speaks to each of us in our hearts to answer questions and to clear up ambiguities.  In due course, God makes the meaning of his Word known . . . and it is for each of us to learn how to best live out this Word.

The story of Jesus paying the temple tax with a coin found in a fish is one that appears simple but is, in fact, complex.  It calls us to examine our relationship with the society’s civil and religious structures.  It asks us to evaluate our own concept of personal freedom.

 “The point [here] is not that Jesus rejects the temple cult.  He rather rejects the idea that theocratic taxation is the appropriate means of maintaining that cult.  But with the miracle – not actually narrated – of the coin in the fish (which sounds like a piece of folklore), Jesus makes arrangements for payment.  He thereby avoids offending the devout people who, in collecting the money, think themselves to be serving God.  Personal freedom must be delimited because it must be frequently exercised, which means it must take into account the effect upon others (cf. 1 Cor. 8:13).  At the same time, by not giving his own money but by giving a lost coin, Jesus does not acknowledge the legitimacy of a mandatory tax”.  (Barton and Muddiman 866)

As a youngster I was fascinated by the idea that my personal liberty ends where others’ liberty begins.  I remember the animated discussions my middle school teachers sparked with their blanket statements; these generalities were blatant syllogisms of reason used poorly and we young people responded enthusiastically.  We honed our systems of well-ordered logic and practiced the art of zeroing in a specious argument with respect and courtesy.

As a young woman the realities of life asked me to draw lines and determine boundaries; and I began to learn how to effectively and politely use the phrase that is not my problem while still taking responsibility for my actions.  It was a time of separation from the old with an exciting entrance into to new.  I tried to fully comprehend my Dad’s warning that it’s not so bad to be ignorant of the facts but it is unforgivable to be stupid!  Dad encouraged us to learn as much as possible in order to keep our risk of being ignorant low; and he was clear that there was no excuse for a lack of common sense.  Stupidity, in his view, was a willful neglecting of the facts that blocked our own liberty or the liberty of others.  Dad worked hard at being open and he encouraged that openness in us.

In today’s Noontime Jesus teaches by his example.  As happens so many times in the Gospel accounts Jesus lays open reality for us to examine.  He gives us an opportunity to educate ourselves.  He encourages us to hone our sense of fair play.  He asks us to think about others while at the same time we refine our sense of fair play and propriety.  Jesus asks us to think for ourselves, to use divine logic and in brief . . . Jesus asks us to grow up.

It is clear from his actions and words that Jesus places prime importance on taking care of others even to the point of sacrifice.  But it is also clear that we are responsible for observing spiritual and actual parameters.  We are not encouraged to enable or pretend but rather, we are asked to serve others before self, act in kindness, hold true to the commandment of love we have been given, and to exercise our own freedom while not trampling of the right of others to likewise be free.

Many of us have difficulty with this lesson and yet once learned it is not forgotten because the sweet joy of personal liberty has a value beyond price.  The boundary between self and others is clearly delineated by courtesy and kindness.  The rule of generosity and compassion pertains to each and to all of us.  The temple tax is to be paid out of respect for others . . . but the legitimacy of our own relationship with God is never to be forfeited.


A re-post from November 21, 2011.

Image from: http://www.revelationart.org/Gallery1.html

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001.866. Print.

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Psalm 89Steadfast Love

Friday, October 12, 2018

Written on March 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Righteousness, justice, faithfulness and steadfast love – these are the tenets of God’s covenant with David and we see steadfast love repeated in this song.  This puts me in mind of Paul’s beautiful anthem to love in 1 CorinthiansLove is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know it in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears.  When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Mosaic Law has many parts and multiple nuances.  The Law that Christ brings, the Law of Love, is but one that supersedes all others; this one law is the perfection of love as we see it lived by Jesus.

In today’s Psalm we see the “creative work of God as a defeat of the powers of chaos”.  The references to the north and south signify the entire whole universe.  The great height of mounts Tabor and Hermon imply God’s might and omniscience.  Steadfast love and faithfulness are “personified here as companions or servants who lead the way of the Lord”.  Festal shouts describe the joy of the people.  We may be taunted from time to time that God has abandoned us as is the king in this psalm, but we know that it is impossible for God to abandon his creatures.  This hymn of praise to the creator himself helps to put us in proper relationship to God; and it reminds us of God’s most salient characteristic . . . God is steadfast love.  (Mays 883-885)

In today’s Gospel from Mark (12:1-12) Jesus reminds us that although he is the cornerstone rejected by builders he will remain faithful and constant.  He tells the parable of the farmer who erects a vineyard and wine press and leaves it with tenants to go on a journey.  When the master wishes to collect what is due him, his servants and even his son are rejected and even put to death.  So too are those who follow Christ; but we are to remain steadfast just as God is steadfast.  We are to remain in love, just as Christ remains in love.  And we are to sing of God’s steadfast love and proclaim God’s faithfulness to the generations.  For this faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.  There is no other cornerstone that holds up the heavens and stands firm on the earth.  There is no other cornerstone on which to build our faith. 


A re-post from September 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/245315/relaxation-candles-heart-light.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 883-885. Print.

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1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13: The Way of Love

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This week we continue our exploration of the manner in which Jesus defines himself, helping us to better understand the importance of his example, to better respond to the Creator’s call, and to better practice the Spirit’s New Law of Love. Today we share this reflection adapted from a Favorite written on April 24, 2007.

These words are so well known. They are so beautiful and complete. They embody the paradox that is our life. All fades away except for the one vibrating and constantly resonating truth. Love. There is nothing else. It is a gift freely given to us by the Creator, Incarnate in the Son of Man, and ever present in the In-Dwelling of the Spirit. All we need do is return the love. Because God alone is enough.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

We constantly look for presence and miracles; yet we too often ignore The Way that lies before us. Yesterday we remembered the guidance we receive from Jesus, The Good Shepherd. Today we step boldly onto Christ’s Way.

God says: I understand that The Way I lay before you is full of pitfalls and stumbling blocks. Today I ask you to remember that every obstacle that obstructs your path is a stepping-stone for you to use as you grow and live in me. I ask you to remember that every gaping hole that suddenly appears to gobble up The Way, is an opportunity for you to rely on me. I will guide and protect. I will lead and heal. I will restore and transform. I am The Way, and I send my son to you to live in that Way with you.

When we consider Paul’s description of Jesus’ Law of Love, we open our hearts to possibility.


Tomorrow, Jesus says, “I am The Way”.

Image from: https://joshfred90.deviantart.com/art/Love-Never-Ends-251907145

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