I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”, you would not have condemned the guiltless. Matthew 12:6-7
Far too often we make assumptions that later are proven wrong. We don’t take the time to see beyond the grandiose images and exaggerated stories that people tell. We must always look deeper. We can not know the untold story without first asking, nor the burdens of century old “walls” in desperate need of maintenance, both longing for love and not judgment. Martin Luther King Jr. understood both the compassion that was necessary for human dignity and the lasting damage of promises made by false gods. His message would not be deterred nor his dream broken. In the midst of a new day we too must labor on.
“Wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matt. 11) Wouldn’t it be nice if we just woke up all knowing, totally clued in to the world and all its ways? However, sometimes all knowing doesn’t keep us from doing the wrong thing. It’s kind of like understanding that fire is hot because of our learning, but we don’t really know that it’s hot until we try to touch it. We can’t really know something until we’ve experienced it for ourselves. If we allow Wisdom to have its way, out of those experiences, comes opportunity for growth.
Just now sitting down to write, I am reminded of Matthew 9 “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. If you’ve ever had one of those days when you feel pulled in many different directions. All the things you’ve planned for the day get pushed back or redirected but you plow through because really what else is there to do but to fulfill the call. Waiting at the end of the day was a letter in the voice of my mother that I’d written to myself and mailed by a long time friend; and a phone call from a gentleman who thanked me for helping him at a time when he needed faith the most. He’d kept his promise to call and I was encouraged once again. So tonight I rest, because the tomorrow yet again, the harvest is plentiful and I’m one of the laborers.
For various reasons, we all don’t flourish at the same time. Yet, at every moment someone is rejoicing in some flourishment. If we rejoice in our own success, and also rejoice in the success of others, then it stands to reason that we are always rejoicing. In time we should see that the practice of rejoicing, whether it be for our self or someone else, will eventually replace the negative emotions we sometimes feel when we are struggling, with the joy and happiness of God’s goodness towards all humanity. We begin to understand that the world does not revolve around us alone, but rather our interconnectedness to one another collectively and to God.
Lord, remind me to rejoice when others flourish, especially during those times when my own rejoicing seems averted, delayed or held up. Help me to conquer my impatience complicated by envy, competitiveness and judgement, with praise for your everlasting love for all.
The awesome thing about the Christian faith is that we are never alone. The sad thing is that we too often forget. Lord, open my heart everyday that I may feel and know that your presence is like chicken soup for the soul and daily may I meet the world with an offering of your warmth.
Hope is the antidote to despair. It requires faith even if it is simply the very persistence of life to find a way. An interesting situation happened just yesterday that in hindsight could have gone terribly wrong. It never crossed my mind. Somehow, amidst the deepest of defaults in our society, by the grace of God I still have hope. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t have hope. As early as 3 or 4 years of age I can remember hoping for something. Some things came to fruition, other things I am today still hoping for. With hope must come expectation otherwise I hope in vain. There are others who are hoping as well, some we gather with on a regular basis and others seeking for that one open door in order that they may find just enough hope to get them through the next day. We never know when God will ask us to be that open door that gives someone else the hope that we’ve stored up over so many years. So today I am reminded to hold on to the inherent goodness of humankind and let God judge the intentions of humanity. I am grateful for the blessing of hope that is within me. I am grateful especially for those who trusted me enough to help give hope to someone who needed it in the midst of their own despair. I am grateful because I realized that hope is a fruit of Love and Love, I truly believe never fails.
…And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you… Matthew 25
Too much tiredness can lead us to feel frustration and anger. In my own case when I encounter some difficult situation in the morning, my mind is calm, and it is much easier. When the same situation happens in the late evening, and I am a little bit tired, then I feel annoyed. So your basic physical condition makes a difference, whether your body is fresh, whether your mind is fresh. So this also shows how much depends on your own perception and your limited subjective view. DALAI LAMA – The Book of Joy
When exhaustion takes over, we don’t do ourselves any favors by pushing through. Take a break. Take time for yourself. Take time to let God minister to you and refresh.
When we want something we did not get or we get something we did not want, we become frustrated. Frustration leads to anger. Anger leads to action and it’s not always good. To our defense Jesus got frustrated (Matt. 17:14-18). He got angry as well (Matt. 21:12-13). Somehow I think he knew that verbal backlash and flipping tables wasn’t going to solve the issues at hand. At the heart of it all is the fear that we won’t get what we need. It’s the fear that in God’s Kingdom there simply isn’t enough. For people of faith this kind of thinking is not an option. We must not use it as a defense mechanism to justify why we can’t have what we need. A woman, a card carrying member of the oldest marginalized group in the existence of the world, fights her way through a crowd to touch the hem of a cloak worn by the only person with the true power to save, is healed. She suffered twelve years and it seems unfair that she would have to fight so hard. Yet with one purpose alone she makes her way through the crowd unnoticed until she makes contact. Would that our own persistence be as strong, much stronger than the fear of not getting what we need, because we are a people of faith and God’s perfect love and desires for us is far greater than our fears.
When we see others as part of us, as connected, as interdependent, then there is no challenge we cannot face together (Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Book of Joy. p. 100) The most simplest of needs is Love and in the palm of it’s hand is connectedness. From birth, it’s all the infant child really needs to know. So it’s safe to say that how we experience and respond to the world is related to how we receive love and how we are connected. Both words require “the other”, someone else, a relationship. To be loved and connected is not the same as being dependent. It is love that encourages us that we can be all that God has called us to be and connectedness that strengthens us because we know that we are not alone. Dependency doesn’t give us that much freedom. It becomes a fallback, not altogether bad, that is until we realize that we’ve remained back. Yet if we fall back to Love, it won’t allow us to remain back. Love will thrust us forward to try again without letting us go. Lord, let your love sown in me be the love I sow in others and may we always be forever connected by your Love.
You are made for perfection, but you are not yet perfect. You are a masterpiece in the making (Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Book of Joy p.92). This seemed contrary to the Genesis story of humankind being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). I believe God to be perfect, so I must be perfect – right?. Yes and No. We had power and authority over all the earth. What we didn’t have was all knowledge, the knowledge that could only be had by eating what was forbidden. I can only assume that when humankind was created we were not meant to know everything, at least without first having experiencing something. We are spiritual beings in physical form, each of us given the face of God. Therefore our physical body is perfect but mastery involves action that leads to skill, proficiency and knowledge. Skill and proficiency comes with time. Skill and proficiency is different from perfection. Perfection is absolute. Nothing else needs to be done. Mastery can always be improved upon, actions (hopefully good ones), which we strive to maintain. Thank you God for another day. Let me not be drawn to instant gratification, but rather help me to remember throughout my days, the true value of your masterpiece in faith and action and the promise of your spiritual reward.