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Posts Tagged ‘Law of Love’


Exodus 22:20-26: Seek Love

Sunday, November 12, 2017

We have sought wisdom; we have sought justice. Today we seek Christ’s way of love, and we begin with the Book of Exodus.

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner; remember that you were foreigners in Egypt. Do not mistreat any widow or orphan. If you do, I, the Lord, will answer them when they cry out to me for help . . . If you lend money to any of my people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and require him to pay interest. If you take someone’s cloak as a pledge that he will pay you, you must give it back to him before the sun sets.

Sophia – – – Wisdom

The Hebrew people were called to remember that they had once been aliens in a foreign land. Today we have the opportunity to answer to this call by caring for the most vulnerable among us. The Hebrew people were called to put aside self-interest and to respond to the divine call to be generous as God is generous.

When Jesus both tells and shows us how to live in a world centered on itself, Matthew records this recipe in Matthew 5 as he describes true happiness. Jesus further refines this formula to a simple rule of love when the Pharisees quiz him. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:34-40)

Each morning when we rise, we have the opportunity to pledge to both seek and enact love that day. Each noontime when we pause, we have the opportunity to reflect on the depth of that pledge. And each evening when we consider our work and prayer, we have the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to seeking love with ample hearts, with focused minds and with full strength.

When we use the scripture links and the drop-down menus to compare varying translations of these verses, we come upon new ways to discover God’s love. To discover ways we might find wisdom and justice, click on the images above, or visit: http://www.uscatholic.org/church/scripture-and-theology/2008/07/desperately-seeking-sophia and https://joequatronejr.com/2014/02/19/justice/ 

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Nehemiah 10: The Agreement

Sunday, October 22, 2017

How many times do we stumble after we agree to live out Christ’s Law of Love? Yet God forgives us because God loves us still.

Richard Rohr, OFM, writes, “Grace is the Divine Unmerited Generosity that is everywhere available, totally given, usually detected as such, and often undesired. Grace cannot be understood by any ledger of merits and demerits. It cannot be held to any patterns of buying, losing, earning, achieving, or manipulating, which is where, unfortunately, most of us live our lives. Grace is, quite literally, ‘for the taking’. It is God eternally giving away God – for nothing, except the giving itself. Quite simply, to experience grace you must stop all counting!” (Rohr 145)

In today’s Noontime we hear the familiar words of the ancient Covenant Israel agreed to live out. In Nehemiah 10 we see the listing of all those who again agree to live the Law of Moses: priests, Levites, leaders, musicians, workers. Yet, history tells us their story of continual union, lapse, separation and return. It is the same tale we all live for we are creatures of God.

Jesus arrives to bring this law to all those both in and beyond the nation of Israel. This new Law of Love surprises many. Awes multitudes. Disappoints some. Today we have this same returning we see in Nehemiah 10 of the hopeless finding new hope, the broken encountering healing, and the abandoned entering a new home.

Once we stop counting, we find ourselves more open to the grace showered upon us. When we stop accumulating, we find ourselves more aware of the love that embodies us. On the day we stop judging, we find ourselves eager to enter the new covenant of the new law. Let us rejoice with those who sign the new agreement that is old, the new covenant that is eternal, the new Law that is our everlasting rescue.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

For a resource of verses on love, click on the image above or visit: http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/debbie-mcdaniel/50-verses-of-love-to-cover-any-shade-of-grey.html

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Romans 8:35-39: Nothing

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What can cut us off from the love of Christ?  Hardships, crises, distress, lack of food or clothes, threats or violence?  No, we move through all of these things by the power of the Christ.  For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God . . . God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This version of verses from Romans appears in today’s Noonday prayer in THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SUMMERTIME by Phyllis Tickle.  It reminds us that in times of trouble there is nothing more we need say or think. There is nothing more we need do but attempt to live a life that communicates this belief to others.  At times, this Love of Christ is lived in our compassion as we abide with a loved one who is in pain.  At other times, it is lived in our witness to injustice.  At still other times, it is demonstrated when we must rebuke or step away from a situation or relationship.  Always it is experienced by our enemies when we intercede for them in Jesus’ name.

This Love of Christ is complex yet simple.  It is difficult for us to walk away from our inherited and learned behaviors that lead us away from Christ.  It is simple to put all anxieties aside and take on the new robe of Christ that empowers us to follow the new law, the Law of Love.

When we are in doubt, we can always turn to scripture, to the Christ-Written-as Story-for-Us.  When we open scripture, lines of The Story leap out at us and always these lines show us the way we must take, The Way, The Love of Christ.  Nothing must keep us from this Love.

Tickle, Phyllis.  THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SUMMERTIME. New York: Doubleday, 2000. Print.

A Favorite from August 20, 2008.

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Micah 5:4: Reflecting God’s Mercy

Monday, August 28, 2017

Achille Tominetti: Downpour in the Mountains of Italy with Herd

We have heard the advice given to us by ancient sages; we know the advice we hear today; yet struggling with the reality that surrounds us is difficult. Sapping our energies and challenging our individual and collective imagination, current events ask for our fidelity to God’s Law of Love. Christ’s simple call to love our enemies asks us to stretch beyond the goals we set for ourselves. The Spirit rests in us and guides us always and all times. This is mercy we will want to take in for our own transformation. This is mercy we will want to reflect to the world.

Even in the rains that drench our enthusiasm when the Shepherd leads us.

And the people will have a good and safe home,
    for the whole world will hold him in respect—
    Peacemaker of the world! (MSG)

Even in the mountains that challenge our resources when God is with us.

And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth. (NRSV)

Achille Tominetti: Returning from the Pasture

Even in the moments that take all our energies when Christ carries us.

When God comes, God will rule the people with the strength that comes from the Lord and with the majesty of the Lord God. God’s people will live in safety because people all over the earth will acknowledge God’s greatness. (GNT)

Even in the places and with people who ask too much of us when the Spirit abides.

And this will be peace. (CJB)

When we compare translations of these verses, we find the strength to reflect God’s mercy. 

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Ezekiel 43: God’s Glory Returns

archway-roman-ruins-tyre-lebanon_12240_600x450

National Geographic: Ruins of Roman Archway in Tyre, Lebanon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As a counterbalance to the description of the downfall of Tyre on which we have reflected before, today we have a description of the temple in the New Jerusalem. What we see described here is God living with all of the Israelites forever. The man leading the prophet through this beautiful scenario says: Describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangements, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is full of detailed descriptions of the place and the people who make up this new city where God dwells forever with his people. It was meant to both instruct and to bring comfort to those who lived in exile with this prophet. The footnotes in the NAB point out that in the new Israel the temple is free, even physically, from civil jurisdiction – moving away from the habit of corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh who treated it as a private chapel for pagan rites.

Jerusalem _ Old City Walls _ Noam Chen_IMOT

Noam Chen: Old City of  Jerusalem

When Jesus arrived on the scene hundreds of years later as the true Messiah, he upset much of this separatist and purist thinking. It was for his openness and universality that he was hunted down, condemned and put to death.  Because his new Law of Love fulfilled and superseded the old Law of Moses, he and his apostles were hounded out of towns and executed. Even in the early Christian church we see the struggle with this idea of openness and universality with the first Council which convened in Jerusalem to determine the importance of circumcision as a requirement for church membership. After discussion, and when the dust settles, we read in Acts that circumcision was not determined necessary.  God’s church is open to Gentile and Jew, slave or free, woman or man – to all those who will be faithful to the Covenant first established with Adam and Eve.

This is how we see the New Temple and the New Jerusalem as revealed by Ezekiel millennia ago. This place of worship where God dwells is where we live even today . . . if we might only choose to open our eyes and ears to it. This prophet was painting a picture of radiance for his exiled peope, and they must have taken heart at the memories these words stirred of how it is to gather together as Yahweh’s faithful to repent, to petition, to give thanks, to worship.

As Easter people who believe in the Resurrected Jesus, we too, can relax into these images and make them our own. We can carry them into the world with us each day as we encounter and then counter the darkness that wishes to prevail. We can arm ourselves with these pictures of the universal gathering of all of God’s People . . . the Faithful to the Covenant . . . the Hopeful in all things hopeless . . . the Truthful in all relationships . . . the Struggling with the cares of this world . . . the Freed who have escaped the chains of doubt and anxiety. For we are Easter people who live the Resurrection even now. For God’s Glory has returned in us . . . in our willingness to serve . . . our willingness to be vulnerable . . . our willingness to witness . . . our willingness to be Christ and Light and Truth to a world struggling to be free of the darkness.

This is God’s Plan. This is God’s Design. This is God’s Law.

Amen.  Alleluia!

A Favorite from April 13, 2008.

For a Noontime reflection on Tyre, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/18/tyre/ 

For more National Geographic images of Lebanon, click on the image above. 

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Deuteronomy 23: Fruit that will Remain

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Favorite from May 29, 2011 reminds us that just as Peter decides to remain faithful to Christ the shepherd, so might we. Just as Peter works to plant himself in Christ so might we. And just as Peter becomes fruit that remains in Christ . . . so do we. 

When we read these many rules that try to cover all the permutations of a concept, we can understand how societies become top-heavy and stray too far from the hope that originally brought them together.  If we need legions of lawyers to tell us what we believe, we know that tyranny has taken hold and that power has become more important than people.  When control is the driving force in our lives rather than understanding or discernment, someone or something has gone too far; and this is why the simple elegance of The Word that Jesus brings to us – Love one another as I have loved youcannot be outdone.  There is no greater Law, no greater authority on earth or in heaven.  Love is all there is.  Love is everything that is.

I am always startled to hear people describe the connection they have with God as if it were some sort of membership in some kind of club.  Jesus is not looking to have the greatest number of fans or friends.  He is not trying to beat Satan by some specific amount in the tally of souls won or lost.  He is not trying to best his last year’s soul-count by a certain margin.  Jesus looks to redeem all those whom the Father has sent to him.  Jesus asks us to bear fruit just as he bears fruit.  Jesus is not issuing passports or validating passes.  Jesus calls; we are to respond.  And when we do, we must know that this is difficult work.

From Friday’s Gospel (John 15:12-17): I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

From yesterday’s Gospel (John 15:18-21): Jesus said to his disciples: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world that hates you.

And today’s Gospel (John 14:15-21) begins with this same message in the event we did not hear it the first time: If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . . you know him because he remains with you, and will be in you.

We who believe in Jesus do not belong to an elite organization.  There are no dues to pay, no membership to renew.  All that is asked of us is that we be open to the Spirit and that we allow that Spirit to find a dwelling place in us.  And we do this so that we might bear much fruit . . . fruit that will remain.

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part I

Sunday, February 19, 2017god-is-love1

For the next several days we will explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. Today, what does Jesus tell us about the freedom we find when we stay clear of the temptation to seek revenge?

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: “Don’t hit back at all”. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

Jesus challenges us to live generously; yet what does this mean?

This is impossible, we say to ourselves as we hear his words. And a life lived in this way will never work. Who will protect me and my loved ones if I do not? How will I keep the bullies at bay? And how will I avoid being everyone’s doormat? This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

confucious-revenge-two-gravesGod says: I am quite aware that many of you see Jesus’ suggestion as an idealistic, and even ridiculous, plan for living. You see the Law of Freedom as a threat to your autonomy. You see the world viewed from this perspective of love – without defenses and using liberal amounts of revenge – as childish. But I say to you that it is childlike. I do not ask you to go into the world completely open to assault; rather, I ask that you use my enormous power, presence and love as a bulwark and as your rock of safety. I ask you to trust me more than you trust your own resources and your little powers. I also ask that you replace your bluster and bravado with my own call to love those who hate you and wish you harm. When you surrender to my Law of Freedom, you give up all pretense of power – and yet you will have more power than you ever imagined. When you remain in and with me, you need not build the walls you falsely believe will protect you. I ask that you put away your childish ways of dependence of self and replace them the childlike life of generosity and openness. I tell you that this new interaction with the world brings you a new freedom . . . and even a new authority, the authority of my love that surpasses all.

Jesus challenges us to live generously. Do we see ourselves as able to follow this call?

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Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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Matthew 5:3: The Inverted Kingdom – Part I

Wednesday, January 11, 2017poor-in-spirit

We have heard the words, “Do not fear”. We have struggled to recognize the Christ who accompanies us always. For the next few days we will reflect on the structure of society Jesus proposes when he asks us to forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. We think through the new Law of Love that supersedes the old Mosaic Law. And we spend a bit of time considering the inverted nature of God’s Kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees the broken-hearted as close to God.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees the broken-hearted as central to God’s design.

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (ICB)

This view of the world sees the wealth as non-essential in God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees wealth as a barrier to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word walks among the poor in spirit. They show us that Jesus makes a choice to dwell with the lame, the mourning, the betrayed and the ignored. They show us that the Spirit is always hovering along the margins of society, rather than with those who hold great amounts of wealth.

How do we see ourselves as fitting into God’s designs and plans?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open ourselves to the joy of living in poverty with Jesus and the millions of poor who people the earth. 

For more on Jesus’ teaching and experience on poverty, click on the image above or  visit: http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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