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Posts Tagged ‘love enemies’


Luke 20:20-26: Mercy

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gustave Dore: Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount

In today’s Noontime we listen to Jesus as he gives us a homily and we watch as Jesus puts himself at great risk by speaking to and about the power structure that governs his society.  Much like Moses, Jesus descends from the summit to gather his leadership; Jesus draws together his apostles and disciples.  Moses leads the former slaves to a promise; Jesus aligns himself with the disadvantaged, and speaks aloud the message of hope and rescue that he brings from God.  And it is this way that he forms his kingdom from the rejected and deprived.

The keystone of Jesus’ sermon is in the difficult teaching which many of his followers cannot accept: that he requires us to change our behavior.  Rather than launch weapons and force at our enemies, rather than gather up allies to join us in the shunning or destruction of one who crosses us in any way; we are called by Jesus to love our enemies into goodness.  In this sermon Jesus expands upon the Law as presented to and then by Moses.  Whereas the Old Law focuses on the rules of the Sinai covenant that unite the Hebrew people to hold them together, apart from the world, the New Law asks that we now focus on building our capacity to tolerate, accept and even advocate for the destitute . . . and those who harm us.  We are asked to see that these are the people who make up this new kingdom . . . these wounded and ousted people are our neighbors . . . these people are us.

God does not return like behavior, curse for curse, blow for blow.  He does not walk away when frustrated.  He does not turn away in disgust.  He does not curse us in anger.  He does not plot in hiding.  Rather, in spite of the fact that we reject him in that we refuse to love our enemies, he loves us all the same.  He waits infinitely and patiently for us to return to him.

Jesus knows how difficult all of this is for us; yet he lays down before us the thorniest challenge we will ever meet.  For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do the same.  If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners and get back the same amount.  But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

And so we that God show us mercy . . . and that God show us how to act in mercy ourselves.

Lord, grant us mercy.  Mercy in the face of ugliness.  Mercy against cruelty.  Mercy before deception.  Mercy rather than retribution.  Mercy after all.  Mercy before for all.  Mercy for all.  Mercy in all.  Mercy in Christ’s name.  Amen.


A re-post from May 13, 2012.

Image from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/manifesto/0_preface.htm

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2 Maccabees 13: The Fire Tower

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Ruins at Shiraz: a city in ancient Persia

Upheaval in the Middle East seems to be a human curse.  It is a land over which many civilizations – both ancient and modern – have fought, and continue to fight.  Today’s Noontime reading is as brutal as any modern headline.  Intrigue, slaughter, deception, parlay, betrayal, treaty, treason, murder, truce, assault, skirmish, daring, withdrawal, indignation, victory, defeat, and death – we find all of these in today’s story.  We find persuasion but we do not find peace.  We see wrangling but we do not see union.  We read about standoffs and stand-downs but we do not find true coming together.  In this ancient story we might change a few details and find ourselves reading a press release from our favored news source about the conflagration that is the Middle East.

Old tribal fears and alliances govern the lives of those we read about today.  Compromise is often seen as a weakness.  Honesty is employed only by the foolish.  Integrity is not valued.  And love of enemy is regarded as idiotic.  We also find these clannish tendencies in our own culture despite the fact that we may define ourselves as a mosaic or melting pot or amalgam of ethnicity and customs.  Even in our own modern political arena we have the smoking infernos that resemble the fire towers of ancient Persia that we read about here.  We will want to study this story in the hope that when we recognize it as our own . . . we will know to turn back to the God who calls us forward together . . . rather than follow the little gods who doom us to our own fiery tower and smoldering pit of ash.

Ahura Mazda

Commentary tells us that the tower we see in verse 5 resembles those erected to Ahura Mazda, or the Wise Lord, who “was the supreme deity of Persian mythology. The Zoroastrians identified him with purifying fire and tended fires on towers as part of their worship”.  (“Myth Encyclopedia”)  And this leads us to our examination of conscience today as we continue our Lenten journey.  What fiery towers to self do we erect?  Into what smoldering ash pits do we lead ourselves and others?  How do we react to tribalism and the worship of false deities?  Do we hate or love our enemies?  Do we prefer the fire of self destruction to the salvific love of Christ?  Do we seek comfort in our hope to avoid suffering rather than willingly follow the living God whose only focus is our salvation?Today’s narrative is so violent that we might pass it off as an episode in ancient history that deserves only a moment of our time.  We might also see it as sectarian violence that takes place only in far off places on the other side of the ocean.  We might fool ourselves into thinking that there is nothing here for us to learn.  And in this thinking we evade God’s word to us today for when we look closely we can find ourselves.  As we enter into interactions with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and strangers we see all the characters of our intimate and public lives: the invader versus the defender, charioteers who ride swiftly through our days swinging swords and mahouts who seat unmoving elephants in our path, foot soldiers who obey and distant leaders who reign over the lowly, Jews and Gentiles, pagans and believers, rebels and loyalists.  We brush against these people each day as we move from sun up to sun down, and through it all we have only one question to ask ourselves.Do we throw ourselves from the fiery tower we have built to the gods that have become so important to us that we foolishly take part in daily scenarios that we read about today . . . or do we love our enemies despite the ash pits they build . . . do we ask for peace through our own actions and not just our words . . . and do we love the Living God who saves us more than the tumult of war? 


A re-post from February 25, 2012.

Images from: http://www.infohub.com/vacation_packages/26382.html and and http://history.factoidz.com/mysteries-of-the-persian-empire-the-faith-of-zarathustra/

Read more: Persian Mythology – Myth Encyclopedia – Greek, god, legend, names, ancient, war, world, Roman, creation http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Pa-Pr/Persian-Mythology.html#ixzz1nPJV2ALp  “Persian Mythology.” Myth Encyclopedia. Advameg, Inc., n.d. Web. 25 Feb 2012. 

http://www.usccb.org/bible/2maccabees/13/

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1 John 4:16: We Ourselves Know

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. (GNT)

If only we might believe these words as we move along the route of our global and personal pilgrimage.

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (NRSV)

If only we might take up the words of hope the disciples of Christ share with us.

Also we have come to know and trust the love that God has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them. (CJB)

If only we might show compassion for our enemies and pray for the Spirit’s healing and consolation.

Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God. (MSG)

If only we might be Christ in the world, restoration for the marginalized, and steadfastness with all who yearn for peace.


When we compare varying translations of these words, we come to know for ourselves the promise of Christ, the hope of the Spirit, and the wisdom of God.

Image from: https://areasonablefaithdotme/files.wordpress.com/2015/09/god-is-love.jpg

 

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2 Samuel 16: Adversaries

William Brassey: Hole: David Fleeing Jerusalem is Cursed by Shimei 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We have journeyed through Christmastide. We have spent time with the magi and their gifts of wisdom, mystery and grace. Today we reflect on one of Jesus’ major messages: Loving our enemies.

Various translations present today’s story with varying titles; yet despite the words, the story of David’s patience, wisdom and forgiveness remains the same. David – who seeks forgiveness from Yahweh himself – understands the importance of mercy. David says that we need to allow our foes to curse us if that is the will of God, for who are we to stand in the way of God’s design?  When Shimei curses him, David says, Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. Later, in Chapter 19, Shimei returns to David and repents his cursing.  David forgives him.

What do we learn today? We never know when someone is on his or her conversion path, and to allow someone conversion of heart is correct, just, and God-like.

As we move forward into this new year, we will want to give thought to the benefit, the beauty and the grace we might find in allowing our adversaries to curse us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore various versions of these verses, we discover the many gifts that come to us when we love our enemies. 

For an in-depth look at today’s story, visit: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/blogs/what-about-reconciliation-a-lesson-from-shimei-and-king-david 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 4, 2008.

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Fruits: Living in the Spirit

The Ninth Day of Christmas, January 2, 2018

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me nine ladies dancing.

But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. (Galatians 5:22-23 GNT)

Are we able to think of others before ourselves? Are we willing to love our enemies into goodness? This is the love that Jesus describes.

Are we able to rejoice in our suffering? Do we praise God even in times of stress and turmoil? This is the joy that Jesus describes.

Do we rely on our relationship with God to guide us in all we do? Are we able to settle into the peace of this relationship despite the confusion the world promises? This is the peace that God brings us.

Are we willing to listen more than we speak? Do we wait for God to tell us which way we are to walk and what we are to say? This is the patience Jesus practices.

Do we offer our words gently when we speak truth that is difficult to hear? Are we able to act with compassion no matter the circumstances? This is the kindness that bears fruit in the Spirit.

Are we able to obey Jesus’ call to return good for evil? Are we open to seeing the good that comes out of harm when we allow Christ to lead us?  This is the goodness we see in the Spirit.

Are we willing to abide with those who live on the margins? Do we maintain a steady course without falling to temptation? This is the faithfulness Jesus models for us.

Can we put aside our desire to get ahead and to find comfort at all cost? Do we put our ego aside to allow others to share scare resources? This is the gentleness that flourishes in the Spirit.

Do we work toward consensus? Do we collaborate as we share in decision-making? It is the gentle invitation to others to join us in kingdom-building that exhibits the Spirit’s gift of self-control.

These nine fruits of the Spirit are difficult to practice but they are essential to life in the Spirit; and they are the mark of one who follows Christ. Today we reflect on the presence of these gifts in our daily thoughts and actions.

But what happens when we live God’s way? God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. (MSG)

When we compare versions of these verses, we begin to see that the fruits of our life in the Spirit are essential to life as a follower of Christ.

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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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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

February 26, 2015

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jeremiah 17:14-18

search-me-oh-godThe Day Without Remedy

Jeremiah’s frustration runs high; his disappointment in the social and religious structure is enormous; his passion grows larger than his own life. The prophet cries out in a beautiful and poignant prayer for vengeance.

Heal me, O Lord, that I may be healed; save me, that I may be saved, for it is you whom I praise.

We have followed your precepts and still we suffer. The day of calamity is upon us.

See how they say to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come to pass!”

No one remembers your loving care; the number of your faithful dwindles.

Yet I did not press you to send calamity; the day without remedy I have not desired.

We have walked in The Way the Christ has shown us and we have turned the other cheek, offered clothes to the naked, fed the poor and housed the homeless.

You know what passed my lips; it is present before you.

We have refrained from gossip; we have spoken of our love for you.

Do not be my ruin, you, my refuge in the day of misfortune.

Abide with us here, remain with us now.

Let my persecutors, not me, be broken.

Bring peace to my enemies; soften the hearts of the stiff-necked.

Bring upon them the day of misfortune, crush them with repeated destruction.

Bring upon my adversaries your serenity that heals shattered hearts, your love that mends broken minds, and your peace that restores fragmented spirits.

Heal us, O Lord, that we may be healed . . .

For in this healing that we find reconciliation . . .

Save us, that we may be saved . . .

For it in this saving that we find eternal peace . . .

It is you whom we praise . . .

It is you alone who brings life that endures all things. It is you alone who brings an end to our days without remedy. Amen.

For more on asking intercession for those who harm us, see the Prayer for Revenge post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/23/a-prayer-of-revenge/

Go to the sidebar on the right of the blog page and scroll down to find another Prayer for Revenge based on 1 Samuel 24.

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God’s Love


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

god-faith-and-love-god-28925578-1024-7681 John 4:7-12

God’s Love

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.

We use the word love easily and perhaps without thinking.

Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

We enact the word love with our gestures and actions more than with our words.

In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might have life through him.

We seek God, wisdom, comfort, happiness and we look past the simple fact that we are . . . that we have the capacity to love . . . and that we are loved by our creator. We are an action of God’s love.

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that God loved us and sent his son as expiation for our sins.

We give ourselves credit for all the good that we do and the goods we possess and we look past the simple fact that we are nothing without first being created by God . . . in and for and to . . . love.

Beloved, if God so loved us we also must love one another.

We easily love our friends, family members and colleagues with whom we see eye to eye and we ignore or even reject those who disagree with us or even do us harm.

No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

We praise ourselves for all that goes well and curse God for all that does not. We go to God in times of distress and forget to include God in our celebrations of joy.

Today, let us commit to including God in every meal, in every meeting, in every chore, and in every relationship. Let us commit to living as if we are in love with God in every gesture, with every word and in every moment and place. And let us remember to thank God for all his gift of expiation . . . for as we are forgiven so must we forgive.  As we are loved . . . so must we love.

Enter the words God’s Love or God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar and reflect on the gift of love that we are freely and generously given.

Tomorrow, this is how we know that we remain in God. 

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