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Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus 19:17-18’


Obadiah 1:10-14Gentleness

Friday, January 11, 2019

Written on January 10, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Growing up in a family of five with parents who came from families of more than 10 children each, and having lived and learned with siblings who tumbled over one another as puppies in a litter, I have always been fascinated by the stories in scripture of rivalry in families.  Indeed, just last evening I had dinner with a friend and we spent lots of time sharing and laughing about the “one-upping” that goes on in all families.  We so often forget that God is in charge.

Today’s reading is from Obadiah, a prophet who wrote about five centuries before Christ at a time when the Edomites were forced west out of their own territory near the gulf of Aqaba, and moved into Judah to take up Jewish land.  The Edomites and Israelites had been separated as a result of the division which occurred between brothers at the time of Jacob and Esau.  We can read about the beginning of this division in Genesis, but today we are looking at and reflecting on the long-standing feud which existed between these tribes.  Obadiah warns that we are to be gentle to our enemies, especially when they suffer.  This is an idea which fully blooms when Jesus arrives: intercession for those who do us harm is the first work of the disciple.  And it is difficult work.  Demanding, soul-searching, transforming and glorious work.  There is no other way to love.

Today’s first reading at Mass is 1 John 4:19-5:4.  It is well worth reading in light of Obadiah.  I am particularly struck by these verses:  Whoever does not love a brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he has not seen . . . His commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

When we are up against someone or some group doing us damage, we are to “kill them with kindness” as my mother always instructed us.  We are to “let God worry about the other guy” as my Dad always told us.  When we release the anguish and anxiety about how to handle someone difficult, when we give the task over to God who converts harm to good, the pain eases, goes away, and even begins to convert to something glorious and joyful.  We begin to transform.  We may be called to rebuke our neighbor, but when we are . . . we must be gentle.  We may be called to reprove . . . and when we are we must be gentle.  We ourselves may be rebuked by a friend or an enemy . . . and when we are . . . we must listen.  For in these words may be the voice of God.  This is what Obadiah and John are both telling us.  Joy awaits those who seek healing for their brothers and sisters . . . all brothers and sisters . . . those we love . . . and those we find difficult to love.  In this way we heal not only others but ourselves.  This is the work of a disciple.

From Leviticus and Romans as cited in MAGNIFICAT in the Morning Prayer: You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.  Though you may have to reprove your fellow-man, do not incur sin because of him.  Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.  (Leviticus 19:17-18)  Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Romans 13:10)

And so we pray . . .

Awesome yet Gentle God,

Teach us your Ways.

Teach us your Precepts.

Teach us your Mercy.

Teach us your Law.

Teach us your Gentleness.

Teach us your Justice.

Teach us your Love.

Amen.


A re-post from January 11, 2012.

Image from: http://developingyourspirit.blogspot.com/2010/05/gentleness.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.1 (2008). Print.  

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