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Posts Tagged ‘loving our enemies’


Job 2:11-13Great Suffering

Monday, November 5, 2018

Written on June 14 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

At first glance, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar seem to be Job’s intimate friends.  When they arrive and see that Job is greatly changed and greatly affected by his new circumstances, they do not accuse Job or offer him platitudes; rather, they join him in grief and abide with him in his great suffering.  Once we begin to read the speeches these three offer, we change our thinking.  They urge Job to confess the hidden sin which they believe is the root cause of his pain . . . even though Job has nothing to confess.  This is when we realize that these three acquaintances are not able to think much beyond their immediate world and code.  They cannot really accompany Job in his great pain.

This week, the first Mass readings have been taken from Second Corinthians and Paul has been reminding his sisters and brothers in Christ that for your sake [Christ] became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich (8:9) We are rich enough, according to this thinking, that we can afford to love even our enemies . . . and it is our willingness to enter into suffering with Christ that brings us this wealth.

In the Gospels this week, we have been reading a similar message from Matthew 5: Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles.  Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn you back on one who wants to borrow . . . 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, that you may be children of your heavenly Father.  These are difficult reversals to understand, thorny inversions to believe . . . these are hard lessons to model and to live.  Yet they are the fabric of Christian life.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar do their best to comprehend and even help Job but they cannot really abide with him because they do not understand the underpinning creed that suffering through and with and in Christ brings about true and lasting serenity.  They do not realize that suffering is not always a curse . . . and that great suffering may even be a blessing from God.


A re-post from October 3, 2011.

Image from: http://calvarybiblefellowshipmass.org/2011/08/27/1-year-bible-reading-08-28-09-03-11/

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Romans 15:7-9: Reaching Out

Monday, May 9, 2016GodsPromises

It is too easy to exclude those with whom we do not get along. It is too simple to reject enemies and assume negative thinking. It is too simple to form ourselves with dualistic thinking, creating tribes of those for and those against our way of thinking. Paul tells us that there is another way to behave when faced with the real meaning of the Gospel.

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!

It is so difficult to put down our fears to extend a hand to those who announced our destruction as their intent. It is so disruptive to invite discordant voices into the symphony. It is so chaotic to have to explain ourselves yet again to those who will not listen.

Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them.

It is so simple when we place out trust in God. It is so authentic when we live as Jesus does. It is so refreshing to witness truth to lies by responding with patience rather than anger

As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God.

It is so surprising when we discover what God has in mind for us. It is so uplifting when we allow God’s will to transform us. It is so salvific when we do as Jesus asks and as the Spirit directs.

Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! 

god-hands-610x233It is so promising when we allow ourselves to reach out to others, even our enemies . . . especially our enemies. It is so rewarding when we stay true to the Gospel Jesus lives for us. It is so comforting when we rest in God’s enormous, wise and immutable hands . . . that reach out to bring us into the fold.

Click on the image of the flower above for a series of reflections that remind us of the many promises God makes and keeps, or visit: http://www.fwnl.org/tag/gods-promises/ 

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joyTuesday, November 25, 2014

Esther 9

Joy and Killing

Much like the Book of Judith, the story of Esther is another that is full of danger and violence but this time counterpointed by trust in God . . . and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite palace intrigue, envy and anger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of massacre and war.

Chapter 9 of Esther’s story describes the origin of the Purim festival, a celebration of the Jewish nation’s deliverance. We know that after a plot against these faithful was thwarted and as too often happens when power changes hands, wide-scale killing takes place. Old feuds rise and are settled. Grudges surface and are acted upon. Personal agendas take over.

Andrea del Castagna: Queen Esther (detail)

Andrea del Castagna: Queen Esther (detail)

We humans have not moved much past these ancient rituals of slaughtering the conquered. Despite the fact that in many cultures leaders are elected by free and fair elections, too many peoples suffer at the hands of those who see instability as a time to take over, to amass power, and to use corruption as a governing tool rather than social justice or the rule of law. And we need not look to the evening news to find examples of how we repress one another in the hope of currying favor or gaining control. Our workplaces, neighborhoods and even our homes sometimes serve as microcosms of the problems we see on a more global scale.

Today we may be horrified at the acts of revenge we read in the Book of Esther. And today we might also be surprised at the elation that sweeps through these people who thought themselves dead. Today we remember that we witness many small killings too frequently in our lives, the killing of the spirit, the killing of the heart, mind and soul, the killing of ideas, hopes and dreams. The killing of innocence. And then . . . let us reflect on how we might find joy in times when insanity reigns and reason disappears.

Verses 9:17-23: This was on the thirteenth day of Adar. On the next day, the fourteenth, there was no more killing, and they made it a joyful day of feasting. The Jews of Susa, however, made the fifteenth a holiday, since they had slaughtered their enemies on the thirteenth and fourteenth and then stopped on the fifteenth. This is why Jews who live in small towns observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a joyous holiday, a time for feasting and giving gifts of food to one another. Mordecai had these events written down and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, throughout the Persian Empire, telling them to observe the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar as holidays every year. These were the days on which the Jews had rid themselves of their enemies; this was a month that had been turned from a time of grief and despair into a time of joy and happiness. They were told to observe these days with feasts and parties, giving gifts of food to one another and to the poor. So the Jews followed Mordecai’s instructions, and the celebration became an annual custom.

Let us pause and consider how we might refrain from seeking revenge when we have been wronged. Let us mediate on the meaning of interceding for our enemies. And let us celebrate deliverance from evil and killing we too often find in our own lives.

For more information about the feast of Purim, click on the image of Queen Esther above, or visit: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/645309/jewish/What-Is-Purim.htm and http://www.mythicmaps.net/Festival_calendar/March/Purim.htm

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Esther into the blog search bar and explore.

Read the rest of this story in Esther 9-10.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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imagesCAYBROG0Thursday, June 5, 2014

1 John 5:1-5

Victory Over the World

We study John’s first letter and we see the logic in believing that our faith will help us to move away from the easy commandment the world gives us of taking care of self.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God . . .

We also feel the tug of faith based on Christ, the certainty of hope placed in God and the serenity of love found in the Spirit.

Everyone who loves the father also loves the one begotten by him . . .

Yet still we may struggle with how it is that this victory that John describes – and the victory we want to experience – takes place in us.

In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey God’s commandments . . .

We might look for certain answers to our many questions and ask for more solid information, but this negates the process that John describes of coming to know Christ through faith.

For the love of God is this, that we keep God’s commandments. God’s commandments are not burdensome . . .

If we fight against loving our enemies we must remember that the more we practice interceding for those who harm us the more we find ourselves awaking to God’s Law of Love.

For whoever is begotten by God conquers the world . . .

We need not struggle against exterior forces of darkness; rather, we struggle with our own reluctance to trust God . . . even a reluctance which seems to be founded on logic and prudence.

And the victory that conquers the world is our faith . . .

We need not look to others to find happiness and even serenity; rather, we need look only to ourselves and our willingness to love God in everyone we meet . . . even those who wish us harm.

Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

When we believe that we can find no victory in this world . . . perhaps we might reconsider what kind of victory we seek . . . and if our victory finds it foundation in Christ himself.

Enter the word victory into the blog search bar and consider what victory looks like to those who trust God.

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weeds and wheatTuesday, May 27, 2014

1 John 3:4-10

The Weeds and the Wheat

Today we hear some difficult words that we must not take too casually or too harshly. Today we are given the opportunity to heal rifts and bridge gaps in our relationships. Today we have the opportunity to turn away from judging one another and to turn toward loving one another . . . even our enemies.

It is of paramount importance to read these verses carefully lest we use them as a club against one another.

The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil.

It is imperative to enact these words with love lest we convince ourselves too quickly that it is our responsibility to see that no one breaks any rules.

No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God.

It is essential for our eternal well-being that we see these words as a license to forgive with deep compassion.

No one who fails to love his brother belongs to God.

It is vital for our own serenity that we allow these words to transform any small-mindedness we might harbor . . . so that we become passionate in our love for the universal Christ that lives in each of us.

In Jesus’ Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) we realize that each of God’s children is a field of wheat and weeds that God patiently tends as we grow, knowing that the weeds will be sifted from the wheat when the harvest time arrives. Therefore, rather than judge or condemn ourselves or our fellow pilgrims, let us do as John asks and love each of our sisters and brothers into goodness . . . just as Christ loves each and every one of us into goodness.

While thinking of these verses, click on the scripture link above and study the four pre-select versions of this citation. Choose another version and read these words again and reflect on the opportunity to love that John brings to us.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011 – Sirach 36:1-17 – The Ends of the Earth

The New American Bible labels this portion of Sirach as A Prayer for God’s People; it seems to be an invocation against enemies; it is a cry for help.  I am uncomfortable with verses that ask God to rain down violence on those who harm us.  Perhaps I have begun to let Jesus’ words filter into my bone and marrow.  Maybe, just maybe, I am beginning to live the words I have listened to for so long: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?   Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-48)

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.   If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.Do to others as you would have them do to you. 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 are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?   Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them,and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High,because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:27-35)

Jesus warns us that our enemies will be members of our own household (Matthew 10:36).  Our enemies will build bulwarks against us and do all they can to destroy us.  They will encircle us and hem us in on every side.  (Luke 19:43)  Yet we need not plan an attack against them.  All we need to is stand in and with God . . . and in God’s time and in God’s way, the enemies of the faithful will come to know that God is great and God is good. 

With these words, Sirach counsels us that we keep ourselves safe from destruction not by building parapets against battalions of evils; rather, we survive pain and sorrow by turning to God in hope.

With these verses, Sirach advises us that we keep ourselves secure from annihilation not by preempting evil or by attempting to outrun wickedness; rather, we endure pain and suffering by holding firm in our faith that God turns all evil to good.

With this prayer of the people, Sirach encourages us to turn to God in prayer for all things; and in this way God’s graciousness, compassion and glory will be known to the very ends of the earth.

And so we pray . . .

Good and gentle God, you have told us so many times that you will keep us from harm; yet we forget in our anxiety.

Good and kind God, you have accompanied us through heartache and loss; yet we forget in our grief.

Good and knowing God, you always offer a new opportunity to know you; yet we forget in our shame.

Good and gracious God, you remind us that love conquers evil; yet we forget in our anger.

Keep us with you.  Keep us true to you.  Remind us of the lessons you teach in the stories of the Good News so that thus it will be ever known to the ends of the earth that you are the eternal God.  Amen. 

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