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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’


1 Timothy 1:3-20: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love Conclusion

Living the Yardsticklawoflove or loveoflaw

Monday, January 23, 2023

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the New Testament, with Christ’s Law of Love superseding the Old Testament Mosaic Law.

Paul writes to Timothy, the disciple he left in Ephesus, to continue the work they began in Christ. Paul might be writing these words to us today.

Stay on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience.

Paul might also remind us today that the laws of the world too often stand at odds with the Law of Love that Christ teaches. When we find ourselves between these two ends, we need only come to the center where Christ always is. In love.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

Paul might also urge us to share the Good News of the coming and in-dwelling of the Spirit. He might caution us that we will meet opposition. And he might remind us that we only need act in love as Jesus does.

It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

Tissot_Lost_Drachma_710

James Tissot: The Lost Drachma

Paul might thank us as he thanks Timothy. He might remind all of us of our inadequacies. And he might also urge us to place these liabilities in God’s great hands, the hands that created each of us to be blessed with Beatitude and nourished with Love.

I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

Paul might tell us that God’s mercy will overcome all adversity; that the Spirit will heal any injury; that Jesus will accompany any and each of us in our journey. He might urge us to persist in sharing this message with the same diligence as the woman who seeks the one lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). When we read Paul’s words we might realize that he speaks not only to Timothy but to each of us, urging us to rely on the Spirit and to remain in Christ. Paul might remind us that we come from God’s love and are to return this love in all we say and do. Paul might speak to us of this great Law of Love. Might we persist in sharing this love today?

Tomorrow, Mattathias.


When we use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses with The Message translation we find here, we the opportunity Christ offers to explore his Law of Love . . . and to live this measure of God’s love more fully each day.

For a reflection on 1 Timothy 1:12-17, click on the image of the painting by Tissot. To read the Parable of the Lost Coin and consider how this story calls us to the Law of Love, read Luke 15:8-10.

For a sermon on the Law of Love, click on the Old Testament image or visit: http://lakeharborumc.org/2014/06/june-22-2014-message-love-of-the-law-or-law-of-love/

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James 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Saturday, October 29, 2022

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us, indeed all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humble ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.


Images from: https://www.happierhuman.com/patience-affirmations/ and https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible-heart

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James 2: Faith and Wisdom – Part IV

Wednesday, October 12, 2022faithblocks

From the Book of Wisdom 7:7-11: I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things came to me in her company, and countless riches to hand.

God’s wisdom is greater than silver or gold, more treasured than gems, beauty, or health. Prudence, prayer, and daily orientation to God’s ways bring us to God’s love.

Both Abraham and Rahab recognize that faith must be lived and not merely thought; they see that with care and practice we learn to act with God’s wisdom. They understand that through faith interwoven with works we receive God’s countless riches to hand.

Today we conclude the second chapter of James’ letter with a prayer as we reflect on how God’s wisdom becomes evident . . . through the interweaving of our offering of faith and works. And so we pray.

Faith-and-worksDear Lord, we will have to remember that our goal is not to be powerful or popular as the world so often tells us. Continue to remind us that our goal must be to act as you act, with mercy, humility and compassion. Continue to share your presence with us and keep us always close to you. Help us to integrate with you through our daily practice of prayer and works. And continue to shower on us your countless riches of love. Amen.


Images from: http://www.catholicbryan.org/blog/faith-and-works/ and http://bensternke.com/why-we-have-to-learn-faith-before-wisdom/

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James 2:1-14: Balancing Difficulty and Joy

Saturday, October 8, 2022balance

We have spent a number of days with James and although we hear his message that when we live by the rule of love above all else we begin to see life through a different lens. We may have difficulty taking in the full impact of this message.

In order to maintain a balanced view, we must first value the obstacles we meet; and as we struggle with difficulties we must avoid solutions that lead to segregation and partiality. In order to experience life and even more life, we must insist on living in God’s garden of love and on resting in the great river of life that flows from Christ. In this way we begin to more fully understand God’s mercy and compassion for each of us.

As we rest in the Spirit, let us delight in and affirm God’s love that we find in ourselves and others, let us pray.

Dear Lord, it is so difficult to trust in you alone. The world can be such a frightening place that we too often forget that you constantly watch over and protect us. In our human survival reaction to all our fears we forget to rely on you alone. Guide us to see as you see. Move us with your deep compassion. Grace us with the gift of your love. Help us to free ourselves by freeing others. May we react to both the terrors and joys of life in humility, mercy and forgiveness. We ask this in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Tomorrow, faith and wisdom intertwined.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/rock-stacked-as-arch.html

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James 1:16-18: Rivers of Light

Saturday, October 1, 2022rivers of light

This first chapter of James’ letter contains beautiful imagery. This man who knew Jesus so well reminds us that in our hectic, chattering world we must work to stay on the path of Christ.

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course.

James repeats that every good thing in our lives comes from God.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.

James likens God’s gifts to a flowing, sustaining ribbon of goodness that nourishes and sustains.

The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

James reminds us that in God there is no darkness at all. There is only goodness, and truth and mercy.

There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

James tells us again that God comes to us in a very tangible way in the person of Jesus.

God brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

And it is Jesus who longs to love our sadness into joy. It is Jesus who wants to heal where there is pain and wounded-ness. It is Jesus who shares eternal life with us in the Father and in the Spirit.

And so my dear friends, James says, do not be thrown off course by the tragedies that stalk you. Remember that Christ is an ever-present, ever-giving, ever-transforming force that cannot be quenched. Remember that in order to maintain a balanced view you must ask loudly, and you must expect patiently that with God all things are possible. With God, all obstacles become gifts and all harm is turned to good. With God . . . there is always a river of light to lead, and guard and guide. We have only to be open to its presence. 

Tomorrow, what makes us wise?


Use the scripture link to reflect on other versions of these verses, and to open the possibilities of Christ’s great river of light.

Image from: http://www.adverblog.com/2012/07/23/rivers-of-light-in-colombia/

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1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21). We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing. We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new. The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places. We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom? Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives? Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives? Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives? Can we love those who harm us?  an we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God? Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons. The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises. Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3). Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human willfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, willfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.


Image from: http://findfruit.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

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2 Corinthians 10: God’s ToolsMicah6_8

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Explore THE MESSAGE version of these verses at the scripture link and compare it to other versions to allow Paul’s message to open in us more fully.

Can we apply Paul’s words to our lives today? Do they describe our world of social media and connectivity?

I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. 

Can we see our world in Paul’s words today? What do we consider to be the tools of our trade and how do we use them?

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. 

Do Paul’s assertions call us to God or send us away? Do we affirm or deny their truth?

What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.

God says: When my servant Paul speaks of an unprincipled world, he does not mean to frighten you into obedience to me. No. He knows that the faithful respond best to love rather than fear. Yet, I understand that his words may seem harsh, strident or bitter to you. I do not hear them this way. No. What I hear is his deep devotion to living life in and through Christ. And I hear his earnest desire that all experience the warm and loving bond with me that he shares. So this is what I ask of you today and all days, and these are the tools I ask you to use. Walk with me humbly and willingly. If you do not want to be by my side, go apart for a while. I am always here when you are ready to be with me. I also that you love others gently and mercifully. It is my hope that you will live in me as I live in you, and that you will show this love to the world. And finally, I ask that you act justly. Rather than simper or berate, intercede for those who need my help. Ask forgiveness, pardon others, and act prudently and compassionately so that my justice will roll from your hands and hearts. Turn away from what you see is corrupt. Use the modern tools you have at your hands, but use my ancient ones as well for all else is meaningless. All else holds empty promise and false hope. All else is useless. Remain in my mercy, enact my justice, and live in my humble love. Become my tools in the world you experience in and around you today. 

Spend time with Micah 6:8. Consider how the prophet’s words are pertinent to our modern world, and consider how we might better become mercy, wisdom, humility, justice and love as we go through our days.


 Image from: http://www.4catholiceducators.com/Micah_6-8-poster.htm

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Genesis 1:9-31: The Mystery of IncarnationNativity_450x259

Monday, June 13, 2015

Richard Rohr, OFM in his June 5, 2015 tells us: “If incarnation is the big thing, then Christmas is bigger than Easter (which it actually is in most Western Christian countries). If God became a human being, then it’s good to be human and incarnation is already redemption. Francis and the Franciscans were the first to popularize Christmas. For the first 1,000 years of the church, there was greater celebration and emphasis on Easter. For Francis, if the Incarnation was true, then Easter took care of itself. Resurrection is simply incarnation coming to its logical conclusion: we are returning to our original union with God. If God is already in everything, then everything is unto glory! Much of the early church did not have trouble with what many would now call universal salvation (apocatastasis, as in Acts 3:21). We are all saved by infinite love and mercy anyway. ‘God alone is good’ (Mark 10:18), so there’s no point in distinguishing degrees of worthiness. Everything in creation merely participates in God’s infinite goodness, and our job is to trust and allow that as much as possible.

“As Matthew Fox said, we made a terrible mistake by starting with ‘original sin’ (a phrase not in the Bible); we absolutely must begin with original blessing. ‘God created it, and it was good’ is stated six times in a row in our Creation story (Genesis 1:9-31), ending with ‘indeed it was very good!’ But, up to the present time, most of Christianity concentrated on what went wrong with our original goodness . . .

“The Franciscan starting point is not sin; our starting point is Divine Incarnation itself. So our ending point is inevitable and predictable: resurrection. God will lead all things to their glorious conclusion, despite the crucifixions in between. Jesus is the standing icon of the entire spiritual journey from start to finish: divine conception, ordinary life, moments of enlightenment (such as his baptism, Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ transfiguration), works of love and healing, rejection, death, resurrection, and ascension. That is not just Jesus; it is true for all of us.”

Richard Rohr, OFM, Adapted from an unpublished talk and posted on June 5, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Christ is present in all of creation. Christ is present in each of us. This is the mystery of incarnation. We know that God creates the universe and the microverse out of great love and deep compassion. We know that Christ comes to walk among us as salvation and redemption. We know that the Spirit abides with us to console and heal. This we know and yet it is mystery when we wonder . . . how is it that God loves us this deeply and this well? And how is it that we fail to trust this great love?

To read a commentary about the mystery of the incarnation, click on the image above or visit: http://www.catholica.com.au/ianstake/023_it_print.php 

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Matthew 9:1-8: Taking Up Our Bedtake up your bed

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 22, 2021

They brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed . . .

Jesus says: Take courage . . . Get up . . . pick up your bed and go home . . .

God says: Each little incident that paralyzes you with fear is not from me. I only bring you love. Each enormous obstacle that looms before you is not from me. I only bring you hope. When you are paralyzed with fear, reach for me. When you are knocked off your feet, take up the bed of sorrow onto which you have fallen, and come home.

When we give ourselves over to fear we let go of God’s hand. When we languish in our sorrow and remain on our paralytic bed we reject the offer of newness God brings. If depression or anxiety overwhelm us we must seek professional guidance and help. God wants to convert the paralysis in our lives to loving acts of kindness, mercy and justice.

 


Image from: https://www.wordonfire.org/articles/fellows/pick-up-your-mat/

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