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Archives: May 2015
I have been using the same books to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (formerly the Breviary) for over 35 years, and yet on a regular basis a word in the psalms or scripture readings, or one of the prayers, will catch me by surprise and be a source of prayer and reflection for me. Most recently this happened with one of the prayers of intercession for Thursday of the fourth week of the psalter. The prayer was simple: “Grant, Lord, that we may see in each person the dignity of one redeemed by your Son's blood, so that we may respect the freedom and the conscience of all.”
As I reflected on this prayer it struck me how easy it is for me to not to see the dignity in each person, let alone respect their freedom and their conscience. More often than I care to admit I view someone do something or I hear someone say something, and I assign a negative meaning to their words or actions, without ever bothering to check to see if there was any accuracy to my interpretation.
Perhaps I am looking for company in this particular failing, but I suspect this is something we all do—at least occasionally. Someone will say something or do something and we take offense, without bothering to check to see if our interpretation of their behavior or their words was correct. When we do this, we fail to see in that person the dignity of one redeemed by Jesus’ blood. And instead we have sat in judgment of them.
In addition to respecting the dignity of others, though, it is also important to remember that even if we disagree with their behaviors and/or words, we are still called to respect their freedom and their conscience. In saying this there is a need for clarity. Respecting someone’s freedom and conscience does not mean we are giving assent to their behavior or words. Nor does it mean that we can’t voice our disagreement. Rather, respecting someone’s freedom and conscience means that we must strive to see and love in them what God sees and loves in them. Certainly this is not always easy. And clearly from time to time we all fail at it. As followers of Jesus, though, it is a task from which we cannot shrink.
Christ did not come to redeem only a select few. He came to redeem all of us. None of us by dint of our own effort can achieve our own salvation. We all stand in need of the salvation that is offered us through Jesus Christ. This is one of the fundamental truths of our faith. I believe we only begin to understand the depth of this truth when we are able to see in each person the dignity of one redeemed by Jesus’ blood and respect the freedom and the conscience of all.
The employment ministry class "Relationship Building" scheduled for May 14 has been cancelled due to the Twin Cities One Mile happening in the area. For more information, or to find out about the next employment ministry class, contact Janet or call 612.317.3508.
For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051015.cfm
“I love you:” Three simple words, but words that can carry many meanings. Saying “I love you” to a spouse has one meaning, another when said to an offspring, still another when said to a friend or acquaintance. In our Gospel today we hear Jesus say: “…I also love you.” To understand what Jesus means by these words we need to read the five words that precede them: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” The Father’s love for Jesus and Jesus’ love for the Father is not a romantic love (Eros) or the love of one friend for another (Philios), but rather an intense, absolute, and unwavering love (Agape).
Jesus’ love for us is not dependent on our ability to recognize and respond to it, nor is it conditioned on our acceptance of it. Rather, Jesus loves us as we are, simply because we are. As importantly, Jesus loves us with the same love with which the Father loves him. It is an intense, absolute and unwavering love. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we are chosen and invited to be his friends, and called to love one another.
Of course, we always have the choice whether or not to accept Jesus’ love for us. The question is, though, why wouldn’t we accept it?
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles shares the theme of the Gospel. In that reading we hear Peter proclaim: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Our second reading this Sunday elaborates on this theme as St. John reminds us that we are called and “to love one another because love is of God.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Perhaps I am deliberately naïve, but it seems to me that Jesus is eminently clear that God loves us. Yet many people believe in a seemingly vengeful and/or angry God. Why do you think this is?
- If we truly believe that God shows no partiality, why do some people try to restrict God’s love?
- What prevents us from loving one another?