Discussion and Devotional THought of the Day:
13 When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” 14 “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.” At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?” 15 The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. Joshua 5:13-15 (NLT)
759 You complain that he shows you no understanding. I am certain he does as much as he can to try to understand you. But what about you? When will you make a bit of an effort to understand him? (1)
It is getting near that time of year when men pray more consistently on Sundays. They thank God more often, they pray too him more deeply, the acknowledge His presence and ask His blessings (and quote all the passages about cursing and defeating their enemies…)
Well, those men who are football fans, and those who are fanatics.
I wonder if God ever tires of those prayers, if he ever gets tired of the rivalries that He is included in by prayer? As if God really had a favorite football team, as if he really has a favorite team or a favorite player, or even a favorite sport?
I think of Joshua’s words above – he wanted to be sure this soldier was on his side…… and that was even before he knew the Soldier was Christ Jesus.
Whose side are you on?
Which football team is favored by God? Neither.
With that out of the way – let’s get on to what is important. I am here.. you are here, therefore this is Holy Ground.
The purpose of God isn’t to have this team or that team win, or even this nation or that nation be the dominant power. People will get mad at me, but it is not whether the Ukraine or Russia prevails, whether ISIS is in power in Iraq, or some other group. Or who is guiltier in the war between Hamas and Israel.
Even if those who oppose God are “victorious”, or seem to be, that doesn’t mean God is not working in their lives. That is why God raised up Nineveh, why Jeremiah 29:7 talks about praying for oppressors, why Jesus commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
Do we understand people enough to see their need for God in their lives? Do we see that we, as His people, as to be beacons, to bring light into their darkness?
Those steps are needed, but first we desperately need to know that we are in the presence of God. That it is not our agenda, or even our nation’s agenda that is important. There is only one agenda, there is only one will that matters. God’s.
It is His – that none should perish – but that all wold come to repentance, as St Peter instructs. Raider fans, Bills fans, Broncos Fans, even Patriots fans. Russians, Ukrainians, Iraqi’s of every ethnicity and culture, Palestinians, those in Hamas, even the Israeli’s.
That they would come to know they live in God’s presence, that the Holy Spirit would replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, that they would have the breath of God, the Holy Spirit, give them life.
That is why Joshua would meet the pre-incarnate Christ, it is why Israel was loved, and protected, SO that we could heed the words of King David in the second Psalm,
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. Psalm 2:11-12 (NKJV)
Lord have mercy on us!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3155-3157). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
7 And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray for her, for if Babylon has peace, so will you.” Jeremiah 29:7 (TLB)
760 All right, I agree! That person has behaved badly; his behaviour has been reprehensible and unworthy; he deserves no merit at all. Humanly speaking he deserves to be utterly despised, you added. I understand what you mean, I can assure you, but I do not share this concluding view of yours. That life which seems so mean is sacred. Christ has died to save it. If He did not despise it, how can you dare to? (1)
I am on vacation, and we’ve driven a bit here and there, and my memories go back to my childhood vacations in the lake region and in White Mountains of New Hampshire. Three kids in the back of the old Chevy Malibu, and later in the Monte Carlo. God a bit cramped back there, and let’s just say it is was about as peaceful as the Holy Land. There was even the innocent victim (me) caught in between the rival factions.. I can still hear my dad and mom instructing my siblings to get along, to love each other, sometimes even to give each other a hug… a nice gentle one.
And the loud pitched, whining reply, ‘do I really have too???????”
Move forward to today. Even if we are not caught into a political and historical mess like Israel and Palestine, we find ourselves in serious disagreements, We have rivals, we have those we don’t like, and we have those we are seemed destined to hate, because they hate us. We are at war, sometimes in our workplaces, other times in our neighborhoods, with distant family, and sometimes, sad to say, in our homes.
We justify our anger, we get protective to stop the pain, to defend our reputations, even our families. There is a meme going around, saying that if they drop their guns, there will be peace, but if we drop ours, we will be annihilated. Not sure how true this is, but we take it is as truth, and apply that truth in our lives. We want at least the personal version of Mutually Assured Destruction.
We don’t realize how damaging this is, this dealing with enemies, this always defending ourselves.
Israel was in captivity when Jeremiah wrote these words, with the ancestors of those they have been engaged in hostilities with for centuries. The prophet’s words are different, they don’t call for strategy, they don’t call for defensive posturing. I chose the translation from the Living Bible because it identifies the city, these enemies. Here it is, as we would normally here it,
7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7 (NLT)
Do I really have to? Do I really have to love them, to pray for them? Do I have to sacrifice time and energy to work for their peace and not just survival, but prosperity?
Do I really have to?
I mean St Josemaria described them so well, “All right, I agree! That person has behaved badly; his behaviour has been reprehensible and unworthy; he deserves no merit at all. Humanly speaking he deserves to be utterly despised, you added.”
And the response, read it again,
I understand what you mean, I can assure you, but I do not share this concluding view of yours. That life which seems so mean is sacred. Christ has died to save it. If He did not despise it, how can you dare to?
Here is a way, similar to the words above, that helps. Hear Jesus words from the cross, Father, forgive (insert your name), for they know not what they do. See Him utter those words, even as He is dieing, even as the pain wracks His body, even as the blood drips to the ground. Now, Look at your adversary, see Jesus on the cross, begging the Father to forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing as well. Let this thought be pondered in your heart for 10 or 15 minutes…. really dwell on it. Not just picture it for a second – go that’s nice. But dwell on it until the tears come, till the pain is pulsing in your body, and then purged of it, the peace rushes into your soul.
See both of you, broken there… yet being lifted by Christ. For in Christ, that which divides us is broken, in Christ there is mercy, in Christ, there is healing.
That’s why Jeremiah calls for us to pray for those who oppress us, because as God makes Himself known to them, as He calls them to be His children, as He blesses them, the blessing to us is beyond compare.
St Paul mentions this in his words to the Church in Galatia…
27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28 (NLT)
There is our goal, this is our mission, our apostolate, to long for this healing, this reconciliation. Tough? Yes. Painful? Yes? Calling us to sacrifice beyond our means? Yes.
In Christ, there is no other choice. It is our vocation, our life.
We pray, “Lord, have mercy on us sinners!”
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3158-3162). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.