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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 5’


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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Meekness


Saturday, April 20, 2013

meek_earth_001[1]Psalm 37 – Meekness

The meek shall inherit the earth.    

From the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  I always understood the quality of meekness to be sweetness and affability, not strength.  Here, however, the word is used to indicate a controlled strength.

To possess the meekness of Jesus is to be teachable.  Meek disciples have submitted their strength to God for God’s use.  They have no arrogance.  They do not seek status or fame.  They do not hoard goods or information.  They become fully open to God.  They demonstrate that they can be trusted with God’s authority since they allow God to work through them.  When we follow this thinking we begin to see a holy paradox unfold.

The story of Jesus and how we are to imitate him is a challenging one because it asks us to let go of our ego in order to allow God to take us over. It asks us to take our work as Easter people seriously.  It calls us to live in the Spirit rather than in the world.  All of this is difficult but when we find ourselves stumbling with this kind of attitude before God, we might explore Psalm 37 as a guide for discipleship.

The meekness of Christ is not mere submission.  Nor is it a cowering before overwhelming odds.  Rather, it is an emptying of self to allow God to enter and fill us.  It is a putting away of personal agendas and small plans to allow ourselves to become part of God’s universal agenda and God’s immense, all-encompassing plan.  The meekness of Christ is more powerful than any known force, and more enduring and dynamic than any known philosophy.  And it is this gift of meekness that once received, must be polished and honed through discipleship.  It is really that simple.

The MAGNIFICAT Meditation on March 7, 2009 is taken from the writings of Father Alfred Delp, S.J. who was condemned to death in Nazi Germany.  Even in that ugly little room filled with hatred where men were making a travesty of justice, [the word Father] never left me . . . All we do is remember faithfully that God does not call himself our Father, that we are bidden to call on him by that name and to know him as such – and that this pompous, self-important world in which we live is only the foreground to the center of reality which so many scarcely notice in the noise and tumult surrounding them . . .The person of faith is aware of the solicitude, the compassion, the deep-seated support of providence in innumerable silent ways even when he is attacked from all sides and the outlook seems hopeless.  God offers words full of wonderful comfort and encouragement; he has ways of dealing with the most desperate situations.  All things have a purpose and they help again and again to bring us back to our Father.

Delp reminds us that the father who created all of us provides for us, watches over us, suffers with us and is joyful with us.  It is this father who sends his son in human form to teach us how to be meek.  Let us join with one another in our own humble way to encounter this meek Jesus even when we find ourselves in desperate places.  Let us look for strength in one another and in Jesus even when we find ourselves in hopeless places.  And let us always seek to return to one another the comfort of the Spirit, the solicitude of the Christ, and the compassion of the Father.  For it is in this way that we find true meekness.  It is in this way that we encounter the Christ.  It is in this way that we become true disciples of God.

Tomorrow, what results when we practice meekness . . .

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.3 (2009). Print.    

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Monday, April 23, 2012  – Jeremiah 18:18-23 – A Prayer for Revenge

Yesterday we considered the words of Jeremiah and how a marvelous inversion takes place when we allow God to move in our lives.  The sorrow of the Good Friday grace becomes the Easter joy of new life.  Today we share with you a reflection written on February 16, 2008.  It is Jesus’ call to a new kind of life, a life of turning the other cheek, a life of intercession for our enemies.

My mother was so wise.  Her mantra was: Kill your enemies with prayer.  Kill them with kindness.  Her words have always served me so well.  Today as we let the poetry of these lines filter through us, we can also look at the words of the one who fulfilled this prophecy of Jeremiah.  The words of Christ brought to us in Matthew’s Gospel . . . which happens to be the Gospel reading for today’s Mass.

Jeremiah: Heed me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say. 

Jesus: You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 

Jeremiah: Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life?

Jesus: But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

Jeremiah: Forgive not their crime, blot not out their sin in your sight!

Jesus: For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?  . . .  And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that?  Do not the pagans do the same?

Jeremiah: For they have dug a pit to capture me, they have hid snares at my feet; but you, O Lord, know all their plans to slay me. 

Jesus: So be perfect, just as your heavenly father is perfect.

This perfection which Jesus speaks of is the New Law which fulfills the old Mosaic Law.  It is the perfection which Paul describes in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 . . . it is Love . . . patient, kind, enduring, bearing all things, longing for unity and not separation.

Today’s Morning Prayer in MAGNIFICAT gives us more to reflect on from Romans 12: Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them.  Do not repay anyone with evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.

The MAGNIFICAT Morning Intercessions lead us to intercede for those who hurt us most . . .

Let us pray for those with whom we do not live in peace; asking God through the intercession of Mary:

Grant them every blessing, Lord.

For those who have hurt or harmed us.

            Grant them every blessing, Lord.

For those who dislike us.

            Grant them every blessing, Lord.

For those who look down on us.

            Grant them every blessing, Lord.

For those who refuse to speak to us.

            Grant them every blessing, Lord.

Amen.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 2.16(2008). Print.

For more insight about killing our enemies with insight, click on the image above or visit The Daily Awe.com at: http://www.thedailyawe.com/2010/10/kill-them-with-kindness/

For more on the book of Jeremiah, go to the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog.

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Monday, October 3, 2011 – Job 2:11-13 – Great Suffering

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.

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Friday, August 12, 2011 – Isaiah 58 – Fasting

Many religions and cults include the practice of fasting as a form of worship; and in most cases the act of abstaining from food, drink or activities is meant to indicate one’s belief in or attitude toward some higher power.  In the case of Christians, fasting is prescribed on certain days in the liturgical calendar; the practice of denying one’s self food and drink is meant not as an outward sign or status but as an expression of interior penance.   The Catholic catechism states the following: “Fasting: Refraining from food and drink as an expression of interior penance, in imitation of the fast of Jesus for forty days in the desert.  Fasting is an ascetical practice recommended in Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers; it is sometimes prescribed by a precept of the Church, especially during the liturgical season of Lent”.  (“Glossary” 879)  Prayer and almsgiving are other forms of this interior penance described in paragraph 1434 of the catechism.

None of this should be a surprise to those who are familiar with the prophecy of Isaiah in which we hear today that this, rather, is the fasting that I [the Lord] wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bead with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.  These words are echoed beautifully in the Beatitudes spoken by Jesus in Matthew 5 . . . yet we persist in thinking that the poor are without resources because they are lazy or ignorant, victims have somehow brought their circumstances upon themselves, and the hungry and homeless just have not planned their lives well.  We continue to believe that refugees have gotten themselves in their sorry state; and immigrants need to “go back home”. It seems that many of us prefer to believe that life’s circumstances can be controlled yet . . . there but for the grace of God are we. 

I am wondering if we might feel better about ourselves as a society if once a month we prepared casseroles of food and took them along with gently used clothing to shelters for women, children and men who find themselves in circumstances they do not deserve and have not asked for.  Of course, we would want to do this without judging how or why some of us need such help from others.  I am imagining how the world might be different if we stood up to corruption and the abuse of power.  I am visualizing our communities if we were to come together in small or large groups to exert all our efforts to the improvement of life for all of us and not just some of us.  I am thinking that we would be happy with the results . . . and that we might even enjoy ourselves in the process.

There are worthy organizations that build homes for the marginalized and take on legal cases for victims who cannot afford decent advocacy; there are medical and legal professionals who quietly give of themselves in pro bono work for the disadvantaged.  The least we can do is to support these groups with our own resources of time, treasure, talent and prayer.  We always receive far more than we give once we find time in our busy lives to exert ourselves and to expend our energy in true kingdom-building.

The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 40:7-8: Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am . . .” 

And so we pray . . .

Here I am . . . to do your will, Lord . . . here I am.

Here I am . . . to answer your call, Lord . . . here I am.

Here I am . . . to do offer my gifts, Lord . . . here I am.

Here I am . . . to love your sheep, Lord . . . here I am.  Amen. 

 “Glossary.” CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 2nd ed. Vatican: Libreria Editice Vaticana, 2997. Print.

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