Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Before going any further, I have a special request to make. Please click on this coming Sunday’s assigned lectionary reading from Romans, and read through it at least three times.
I almost feel as if I don’t have to add any additional comments to this excellent lection. It is as complete a set of directives for developing human relationships as one will ever find in Holy Scripture.
If you’ve never engaged in the practice of Lectio Divina, a way of reading scripture contemplatively, this would be an excellent reading with which to start. There are countless number of places on the internet where you can find out more about the method. The Bible Gateway site is one of many.
The level of conflict in the world and in our society today is maddening. Were it not for God’s abiding presence, I would fear for our future. This is why I highly suggest that we calm down, practice compassion over confrontation.
Let me quickly add that I harbor no illusions that all will soon be perfect. As Christians, we don’t always get along with each other. We will sin against one another, as has been true throughout all of history. Even Jesus and the disciples didn’t always see eye to eye. Read the Gospel lesson (Matthew 16:21-28) and see for yourself.
But the readings for the subsequent couple weeks will focus on forgiveness and reconciliation. So, in a sense, this week’s readings are a preview to give us a head start. In the meantime, what I am asking you to do is dream.
Ponder the following questions: what kind of a society, or community, would you like to see? Or, to put it even more directly, what kind of society, or community, do you want to be? And in addition to that: are you willing to work at becoming that kind of society, or community, you want to be?
I will warn you if you haven’t figured it out already that it’s not easy. Any family can attest to that.
So, I leave you with this prayer attributed to St. Francis, which is one that would be well worth putting into practice:
I really have little more to add to these two resources. Hopefully, you will be able to do the work, and let the Spirit of peace guide you along the way.
I’m away on vacation this week, and with the Labor Day holiday coming up, we will be publishing a Tuesday edition of Monday Musings on September 5.
May your heart be filled with calmness and joy this week and always!
+Bishop Abraham Allende