Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Just Judge

Those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation. I can do nothing by myself; I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just.

Jesus has just healed the invalid at the pool of Bethesda and is answering the criticism of the Pharisees. He states he only does the will of the Father, including being judge at the end of time.

There is a fallacy sometimes heard in the Church that everyone is going to heaven, being handed out baskets of kittens as they float blissfully through the pearly gates. Not according to Jesus. There will be judgement, sheep and goats, some to eternal life and others to condemnation.  Our saving grace is that Jesus is the judge, not us ...not me.

There is a little judge in me that is constantly pulling at the leash I have placed around his neck. Sometimes he escapes and I blush at what I hear him saying about others. I call judgement on myself when this happens. I choose again to leave all judgement up to Jesus. He alone knows all the facts.

Lord Jesus, you are the just judge. Have mercy on me a sinner. Help me be an encourager, not a judge of others today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Scandal of Mercy

“You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”

Jesus is telling the parable of the unmerciful servant in response to Peter's question on how many times should he forgive. Jesus answer... never stop forgiving.

I don't think I've ever been severely wronged to the point where I've held resentment. But this goes beyond mere resentment. Jesus is demanding that I be always merciful, that I always have an attitude of mercy.  That covers everything from the little niggles of family life, the careless driver cutting me off when I'm cycling to work, the work colleagues not pulling their weight... everything.

Mercy is surprisingly controversial in the Church. I hear many people retreat angrily to the law when mercy is being proposed. I think there is a misunderstanding of mercy and people fear it will be demanded as a right. That's not mercy. That's a free ticket to do what you want. Mercy doesn't say a wrong is suddenly right. Wrong is still wrong, a debt is still a debt. Mercy aligns me with the debtor saying I too have owed much and have been forgiven much. You and I are brothers in that regard. Somehow, in this process we are both lifted up from the dung heap we deserve.

Lord Jesus, I have been forgiven much. Help me be an agent of mercy today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Give and Get

"Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back."

Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount. Generosity strikes at the heart of what it means to live a Christian life.

Some call this verse the Sermon on the Amount. Of course, it's not just referring to the giving of money. It can be time, talents, anything that is of value to me and to the recipient. However, my attitude to giving money says a lot about how seriously I take what Jesus is saying here.

My wife is great at stuffing $20.00 notes into the letterboxes of needy families. I find that hard. Yet, if I believe in what Jesus says, what I give is the measure of what I will get and get back generously.

I love the story of Scrooge in Dickens's Christmas Carol. From a miserly, tight-fisted, mean old man he is transformed into a "letterbox stuffer" in the extreme. From a sour old grump he becomes a giggling, joyous child as he buys the largest Christmas goose in the shop to secretly gift to Bob Crachit and his family.

Joy. Here is the immediate fruit of generosity. What can I give to another today? I will know I have found it and given it when joy overtakes me.

Lord Jesus, you know how tight-fisted I can be. Help me become a joyous giver today that I may become an authentic witness of you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Taught to Love

But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven...

Jesus is giving his great teaching on what it is to live the Christian life authentically, his Sermon on the Mount. He unfolds the true meaning of the law of Moses, in this instance the true duty on how to love.

Loving an enemy seems an impossible ask. It can only be contemplated when looking at my persecutor through the eyes of Jesus. He sees the child that grew to become the person now acrimonious. He sees what made them become who they now are.

It was Nelson Mandela who famously said, "No child is born hating.... people learn to hate and if they learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally".  I can be taught to love, even those who are my enemies.

Lord Jesus, you cause the sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and  rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike.  Help me be as generous in this day you have placed me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.