Aloha Friday Message – August 14, 2020 – Now what do you want?

2033AFC081420 – Now what do you want?

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    Isaiah 56:1 1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 

Isaiah 56:6-7 And the foreigners* who join themselves to the Lord, … their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (The covenant is extended to all who obey)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We are already at the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s flying by so fast! With the hectic pace of our lives these days, even as we are held distanced from each other, it can be difficult to slow down and contemplate the Lord and his goodness. I’d like to do that with you today, so let’s look at a few gems from the Sunday readings.

My heart is deeply grieving for the people who have suffered at the hands of violent men and women. From the murder of innocents around the world – infants through elderly – to the persecution of humans in the name of a god, and the destruction of property – from churches, and businesses, and arts to the very planet we live on – out of greed and arrogance … I mourn for those who endure this suffering as well as for those who cause it. This is not what God created us to be, and somewhere inside their hearts every violent person knows that. Our Key Verse today says “Maintain justice, and do what is right” and that is good advice for every earthling then, now, and always. Where we seem to get hung up  – what we think we don’t understand – is knowing what is right. Let’s look into that.

It appears that not everyone has had the kind of upbringing that looks out for others, and even those who may have learned that lesson have set it aside for whatever reason and chosen a different path. They do not know or do not remember – they do not choose to maintain justice; and yet they “justify” their violence by claiming to be “restoring justice.” The method they chose for that restoration is known in biblical terms as vengeance.” People who know how to do the right thing know that vengeance in human hands is always the wrong thing. It is not the way of Peace; it is the way of destruction. That is not God’s plan for any of us. We see a glimmer of his plan a little farther down the page in Isaiah.

Isaiah 56:6-7 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Just who are “all peoples” as described here? The Hebrew word used is hā-‘am-mîm {ha-ya-mim’}, and it carries the connotation of nations, groups of people, who share among themselves language and culture. One can also look at the word house here and see that it refers not only to a structure, a human abode, or even a temple, but also a family as “of the house and lineage of David.” Along with many other verses that express this promise of God with regard to his plan for salvation, this verse characterizes God’s family (house) as widely diverse and wisely obedient – a house of prayer. As the news of the past few weeks has unfolded, I do not see a house of prayer for all peoples; I see houses of cursing from many peoples. This simply cannot be the right thing.

In Sunday’s responsorial Psalm, we will pray together: Psalm 67:1-3 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selahthat your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. If you watch the news, you may possibly agree that many of the things you saw certainly in no way praised the Lord. How, then, can those instigating and committing such violence – whatever their motivation – believe that they are doing the right thing? What is the right thing? Once again for the umpteenth time we return to Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? If you ask some of those demonstrating, they will tell you they are restoring justice because of the injustices done to them or to others with whom they “identify.” Unfortunately, with regard to this Scripture, they stop there. The rest of it is and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. There was very little kindness in many of the actions we have seen lately – although of course those acts of kindness, or humbly walking with God – are not often what gets broadcast via the MSMO’s. In this very, very difficult time of pandemic disease, it seems we also have a pandemic of selfishness which leads to a pandemic of foolishness. It’s time to wake up, wash up, mask up, and wise up! IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO! But one wonders, “How can so many people believe they are so right when they are truly so wrong?”

I think perhaps it is because we earthlings – generally speaking – have forgotten what the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. So many people these days – all around the world – go out of their way to curse, to violate, to denigrate, and to discriminate against everyone who doesn’t think like them. We ignore instructions such as those in 1 Peter 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 to have (as St. Peter puts it) unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. “Ah!” you say, “you forget, not everyone is Christian. Non-Christians will never accept that.” Actually, only the most evil persons cannot accept that. ALL major religions at their core preach and teach respect for each other and encourage peace as the preferred way of life. Even people who have nothing to do with any religion can be good and kind and generous. Hate is definitely a perversion of God’s intent for human nature. God wishes to bless everyone, even the unjust, and he does so in many ways (← Check it out!). That is because God is infinitely Just which allows him to be infinitely Merciful because he has Perfect Integrity. His Mercy endures forever – for those who trust in his ways. For those who do not trust in his ways, his justice falls heavily on those who will not accept the Power of his Grace. That Grace has an amazing effect when we can do some very simple things such as these:

James 4:17 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. OUCH! You know, I know, we all know the right things to do; but we don’t always do them, and that’s what makes us sinners – or maybe we are sinners because we can’t or won’t do the right thing.

Hosea 10:12 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (See 2 Corinthians 9:6 please.)

There it is. “Do the right thing.” We “hunger and thirst for righteousness” if we are doing the right thing. Rather than oppress others – violently or passively, personally or institutionally, willingly or ignorantly – we are to uplift and care for others, ALL others, not just the ones who share our personal proclivities for evil. How does one find a list, or an instruction, or some guidelines or boundaries to at least get started on such a mission of mercy and peace with our fellow earthlings? Virtually the whole Bible gives us that instruction, but there are a few passages like the ones in this post that help clarify our To-Do list. Here’s one I find particularly clear; read the underlined part carefully:

Isaiah 58:6-11 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. If I use that as my checklist, I still have a lot of work to do! I choose, therefore, to begin with blessings rather than curses, with understanding rather than resentment, and with the resolve to work even harder to do the right thing. I thank the Lord for his blessings on me (↔ Music Link) and counting them (↔ Music Link) is far better than worrying about what life would be like without them.

As we come to the conclusion of this post, let’s take a moment to look at the “a” part of today’s Key Verse for additional guidance:

The foreigners* who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants — all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, (for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.) In my heart and mind, I find I must confess that it is difficult for me to accept that “all peoples” belong in the house – the family – of God. What I have often failed to realize is that it is not I who gets to make that decision; I am not the one to discern between us and them, this and that, you and me. God alone is our judge, and he always judges with fairness and rules with equity. If I truly want to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with … God, then I have to do the right thing. It’s what I want; it’s not always what I get; it is always what I need.

What about you, Belovéd? What do you want to do? Because, as he says in Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed, we have good things coming to us when we do the right thing. Now isn’t that what you really want?

*Please consider these examples of “foreigners” who displayed remarkable faith and were rewarded with miraculous Mercy.

  • Canaanite woman (Syrophoenician) Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus replies that the bread of life that is intended for God’s children should not be wasted on the dogs of society. THE WOMAN’S FAITH CHANGES HIS RESPONSE. See also Luke 13:11-17
  • Samaritan woman (at the well) John 4:5-42
  • Roman centurion (“only say the word”) Matthew 8:5-10
  • Jairus – a synagogue official (daughter dying, but Jesus stops for the woman with hemorrhaging who, in faith, reaches out “just to touch the hem of his garment.”) Matthew 9:18-25

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Aloha Friday Messages by
Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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