Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry over the gourd plant?” Jonah answered, “I have a right to be angry—angry enough to die.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You are concerned* over the gourd plant which cost you no effort and which you did not grow; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. 11 And should I not be concerned over the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot know their right hand from their left, not to mention all the animals?” NABRE Jonah 4:9-11
Missionary activity is nothing else and nothing less than an epiphany, or a manifesting of God’s decree, and its fulfillment in the world and in world history, in the course of which God, by means of mission, manifestly works out the history of salvation. By the preaching of the word and by the celebration of the sacraments, the center and summit of which is the most holy Eucharist, He brings about the presence of Christ, the author of salvation. (1)
“I have learnt with sadness of the killing this morning at the Church of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray. The three victims: the priest, Father Jacques Hamel, 84, and the authors of the assassination. Three other people were injured, one very seriously. I cry out to God with all men of good will. I would invite non-believers to join in the cry! “ (2)
A lot of people focus on the fish (some call it a whale) in the story of the prophet Jonah. To be honest, the controversy there is silly, a game played to avoid what is truly controversial. The sin that is challenged there, and not met with repentance, the sin of Jonah.
Imagine today if an evangelical leader was called to go to Iraq or Syria, to preach repentance to the cadres of ISIL, or to AAfghanistanand preach to ISIL’s history enemy, Al Quaeda. Would they look for the nearest beach, rather than taking a ship to the location of their new ministry? Would they and their friends get mad if they saw their enemies repent, throwing a tantrum as Jonah did?
There is the controversy, there is the place where ministry could occur, and those who know the grace of God are tempted to turn their back on not only the people God would have heard their gospel, but on the mission of God, and really on the heart of God.
God calling you on not loving your enemies? God calling you on loving a “thing” ( in his case a plant, of for us, our way of living ) more than you love the people. That’s controversial. There is a conversation that will hurt, that may drive us from the room, or perhaps to our knees in repentance.
Look at the quote of the ArchBishop of the priest who became a martyr. He prays for the two assassins – and calls them victims! That is controversial! Even more controversial than Pope Francis reminding the cChurch that Christians can be very violent as well.
We are all sinners, we are all victims of unrighteousness as well. The unrighteousness of sins committed against us, the unrighteousness that springs from our being led into sin by those who should be carrying us to the cross. From those who should help us see our epiphany, who should help us see Jesus revealed as the one who cleanse all people of all sin, and all unrighteousness. Who desires that so much, that he is even patient with us as He waits for us to get our act together, to live as Christ lived, to love our enemies even as Christ loved us.
Jonah was pissed at God, for he couldn’t see why God would let a plant die. Yet Jonah was willing to write off a city, and was ticked at their repentance. God called him on that…
And perhaps now, or perhaps as we head forward to communion this weekend, we need to examine ourselves, confess our sins, our time of acting like Jonah. To get past the little miracle to the big issue of Jonah.
God loves our enemies as much as He loves us.
It’s time to rejoice over that fact… and realize those who like us, were enemies of God, are our brothers and sisters. Whether they are Muslim, or Sikh, Jewish by faith, or simply genetically, atheist or agnostic, Lutheran or Catholic. God is calling them, and calling us to deliver that message.
Lord have mercy on us ALL!
(1) Catholic Church. (2011). Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church: Ad Gentes. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
(2) Archbishop LeBrun http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/general/press-release-of-the-archbishop-of-rouen-following-hostage-situation-at-church-of-saint-etienne-du-rouvray
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. 12 Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. Jeremiah 29:11-12 (TEV)
545 Live a special Communion of the Saints, and at the moment of interior struggle, as well as during the long hours of your work, each of you will feel the joy and the strength of not being alone. (1)
The above quote from scripture (the red quote) is often used to lift people’s spirits, It appears on cards and meme’s with beautiful sunrises and glorious backgrounds. People share it with those they know need a spiritual boost, a holy “pick me up,” assurance. jeremiah, the prophet of troubling messages assured us of a light at the end of the tunnel. He promises, as God’s spokesman, that there is hope, and it is found in the presence of God. The presence that we are believers dwell in, for we are His people!
He will hear our prayer, He has a plan, He has an answer, and all of that is true.
You might ask where the fine print is, and there is something in the context of this verse that you need to hear. Read this carefully,
7 Work for the good of the cities where I have made you go as prisoners. Pray to me on their behalf, because if they are prosperous, you will be prosperous too. Jeremiah 29:7 (TEV)
Read the verse again? Do you realize that God is tieing the future of the Babylonians to the future of the Jewish people? That God’s people are to pray for their enemies, their persecutors, that the future and hope of both Jews and Gentiles is linked? That the people of God should work hard to benefit those who oppress them,
We are called to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute. That is what we do, as we trust in Jesus’ promise to us in the sermon on the Mount. And it is nothing really new. That kind of love Israel was supposed to show people back in the Old Testament. It is very radical, it is not logical by man’s standards! Yet in 1 Cor. 5 we are told that we don’t judge men by those standards, but by the value Jesus has placed on them. They will become part fo the Communion of Saints, the very people that will lift you up.
God has radical plans for you, plans that are beyond awesome. Those plans include all He brings into His family, all He wants to bring into His family. That includes those people, the ones you struggle to love. The ones who take every bit of trust you have in God to deal with, and then some.
Pray for them, do everything you can to help them… trusting not in their response, but in God’s role in your life. You will be amazed at His plans, at the reconciliation and restoration he accomplishes!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1317-1319). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
1 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1 (NLT)
756 I advised you to inject a great deal of supernatural outlook into every detail of your ordinary life. And I added immediately that living with other people provided you with ample opportunity throughout the day. (1)
I’ve heard a lot of speculation recently on Israel and Palestine, people trying to justify the killing that is going on, from one side or the other. Even the passages from scripture, about wars and rumours of wars have been used to justify war, ( I think those passages can bring us comfort and solace – but to justify it?) The same kind of speculation about what is going on in Iraq, and in the Ukraine, and in a dozen other places around this world.
Yeah, there are going to be wars. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it! It doesn’t mean, that like Pope Francis, we can’t pray diligently that these brothers would stop warring against each other. (It amazes me For them to realize they are brothers and sisters, that who they are killing are their own.
(Yeah, I realize that what I am saying is going to tick them both off at me – but hey – it just proves that they can agree on something!)
Its hard for them to see, I realize, that they are all related through Noah, and perhaps through Abraham. That even more, as people who Jesus Christ was crucified to redeem, they could be brothers via the application of His blood for all the sins that separate them. After all, we see such an example in people like the Apostles Matthew and Simon the Zealot, and of course in the Apostle Paul
Peace, real peace, not just a passing cease fire, or a UN mediated true, has to come spiritually, It has to come from the One who died to end sin, to bring hope, to establish peace in our hearts. As St Josemaria wrote, we have to increase our awareness of the supernatural, of the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Only then will we see our brothers and sisters in a different light, only then will we see them as children of God, as righteous in Christ, and realize that to cause them sorrow, is to cause ourselves sorrow. Consider these verses, and God’s call to love your adversaries,
14 Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:14-16 (NLT)
That is true whether we are talking about national and international battles, or the battles that can rage in our workplaces, or homes. Or the relationships that cause us stress, anxiety, even mild cases of paranoia.
Is it possible to live at peace? I do not know. I know it is possible to live In peace, the peace of Christ.
May you find yourself drawn into that peace, and may you draw those you are “at war” with, into that peace as well.
And pray, for the peace of Israel, and for those who oppress them! (Jeremiah 29:7)
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3142-3144). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.