Aloha Friday Message – March 25, 2016 – Good Friday

1613AFC032515 – 2016 Lenten Series #7

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Genesis 39:1919 When his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, saying, “This is the way your servant treated me,” he became enraged. [burning with wrath]

Exodus 22:22-2422 You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. 23 If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; 24 my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

LentenSeries_ME pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika’i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Today is Good Friday, the last Friday before Easter. Technically, Lent is over as of yesterday, and we have entered into the Triduum – Holy Thursday the Day of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday, the Day of the Lord’s Passion, and Holy Saturday, the Eve of the Lord’s Resurrection. From the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, “[t]hough chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.” (Read more here.)

We have already looked at Pride and Humility, Envy and Kindness, the tough topics of Gluttony and Temperance, the surprising topics of Sloth and Diligence, Lust and Chastity, and Avarice and Charity. Today we finish up this list with Wrath and Patience.

Let’s begin with the Stumbling Block in the room – The Wrath of God. So many people focus on this and humanize God’s Wrath, portraying it in the same way we feel Wrath. We are convinced that God is vengeful, mean, cruel, vindictive, perpetually angry, even violent. That is just not true. Let’s set the record straight. God is Love, God is our Loving Father, and God wants all of us to be his loving children. This negative image of God as some sort of “iron fist in a velvet glove” comes from a misunderstanding of  how he expresses his Love when we earthlings reject that Love. Most of the passages that describe this Wrath of God are passages where God’s People, the Israelites, have failed to keep their side of the Covenant. They have disobeyed, lost their love for God, do not reverence God as he commanded (and deserves), and they are in dire need of correction. As a loving Father, he corrects his children. Let me give you an example of how that works for those of us who are parents.

“Don’t make me come back there!” “If you don’t cut that out right now, I’ll knock you clear into next Tuesday!” “You’d better behave yourself, or you’re going to be grounded until you’re 21.” “As long as you’re living under my roof, you will do as I say, or you can get out!”

You’ve probably heard at least one of those. Did your parents say that to you (or did you say that to your kids) because they hated you? NO! Mom and Dad were frustrated with your disobedience and threatened you with dire consequences if you didn’t clean up your act. Despite previous warnings like “Honey, don’t do that. Mommy’s afraid you’ll get hurt,” or “Son, be careful be careful with that stuff. It can ruin your whole life,” you and I did what we were told not to do, and our parents threatened to “pound some sense into your head.” This is “The Wrath of Love.”

In the Old Testament, one of the principal words in Hebrew for Wrath is אַפּ֔וֹ (’ap·pōw) from אַף (‘aph) {af}. This word has a sort of weird derivation. It actually comes from a root word meaning nose or nostril, snout, or face. Think about the face of someone who is really angry. Do we not say that his nostrils are flared, or that his face is burning red? When we feel that deep-seated, all-consuming anger flare up in our hearts and minds, we want to be vindictive, unforgiving, vengeful, merciless. God is simply not like that! God is Love and his loving response to our disobedience and lack of love is to correct us and show us the path to redemption because of his Infinite Mercy. God’s wrath is redemptive, saving, forgiving, compensating for all our failings, atoning and making reparation for our sins, indemnifying us from his just recompense for our sins. God does not force us to obey; we are free to choose obedience or disobedience. But, he certainly does give very strong hints to us about how he wants us to respond to his love.

The passage at the top – Genesis 39:19 – is from the story of Joseph and Potifar’s wife. She has a crush on Joseph and thinks she can seduce him. When he doesn’t “cooperate,” she pull off his cloak and tells her husband Joseph abused her trust. Potifar becomes filled with fury and punishes Joseph severely. This is a great example of human wrath – violent, punitive, jealous rage, and fury.

In the passage from Exodus 22, we see God’s warning about mistreating others. He says, in effect, if you treat others badly, I will give you a taste of your own medicine. To help see this better, I want to show you a number of passages that illustrate how God chastises us for our own good, so here we go.

Exodus 32:1212 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.

Proverbs 11:2323 The desire of the righteous ends only in good;
the expectation of the wicked in wrath. (impartial punishment)

In this verse, Wrath is עֶבְרָה (ebrah) {eb-raw’} as in an arrogant and excessive outburst overflowing with rage or furious anger.

We see the same word in Isaiah 60:1010 Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you down,
but in my favor I have had mercy on you.

Zechariah 8:13-1513 Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong. 14 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the Lord of hosts, 15 so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid.

In the New Testament, we see many allusions to the Old Testament “Wrath of God,” such as Matthew 3:7But when he [John the Baptist] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Here, the word in Greek for Wrath is ὀργή (orgé) {or-gay’} meaning anger, wrath, passion; punishment, vengeance.

– And

Luke 4:2828 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage [wrath]. The word used here for RAGE is Θυμός (thumos) {thoo-mos’} This means indignation with passionate anger that boils up and dies down again soon thereafter.

Romans 2:5But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

To really understand how “God’s Wrath” is an act of Love, take a few moments to read Romans, Chapter 9. (Please do that sometime soon. It’s a great read!)

As for our own wrath, it is consistently condemned as sin, almost as an amalgam of all the other sins we have studied in this series. For example, we read in Galatians 5:19-2119 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger [wrath], quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (The Kingdom of Love)

God is Love. God is Righteousness. God is Holy. He wants us to be Holy. He waits for us to be Holy. He is patient with us – mostly. When we stubbornly refuse to return his love, he corrects us to encourage us to be patient. In the New Testament, the word for patience is ὑπομονή, (hupomone) {hoop-om-on-ay’}. This is interpreted as ” … the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” It is patiently enduring all trials, persevering in all ordeals, trusting in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and trusting that God can be trusted to “deliver us from all evil.” Here are some biblical quotes about patience:

Psalm 37:7Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

Psalm 40:1I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.

Ecclesiastes 7:8Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.

Luke 8:1515 But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

Luke 21:17-1917 You will be hated by all because of my name.18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance [patience] you will gain your souls.

Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance [patience], and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Galatians 5:22-2322 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Patience is the outcome of living out the combination of Humility, Kindness, Temperance, Diligence, Chastity, and Charity. Take a look at that list. When I see those listed together, I realize I am short of the mark on all of them. It a strange way, it is almost as if those shortfalls are cumulative so that when it’s all added up, the deficit in the virtue of Patience is pretty imposing. Ask the people closest to me, and they will tell you that I have a short fuse that is easily ignited and burns quickly to spark a significant BOOM. I don’t know for sure, but I think other people’s tallies may come together in such a way that some other virtue seems to consistently fall short. It makes me wonder why these Virtues cannot effectively prevent those Sins. I mean, don’t we have these Virtues to counteract those Sins? Maybe not, if you look at which came first.

We had these Virtues first. Yes, before The Fall, Adam and Eve lived in a state of Grace in the Presence of God (all those capital letter emphasizing what an important and perfect relationship that was). Then Sin happened – starting with Pride which led to disobedience and failure to fully Love God. Sin was Satan’s tool to mess up the perfect world God had created. His spiteful interference and arrogant conduct helped permeate Creation with Death, Duplicity, and Destruction. It was like stirring in a tablespoon of baking soda mixed with salt into a cup of hot chocolate. It ruined everything – almost. I say almost, because God provided a way to “desalinate” that which Satan tried to destroy. He gave us his own sweetness to help neutralize and filter out the bitterness Satan had added. Our challenge in this life is to recapture these Virtues by giving them our uppermost attention instead of allowing those Sins to pollute our hearts and minds. The Virtues are there. Our sinful natures interfere with their full expression – we are imperfect because we are sinful. Jesus “fixed” that for us when he willingly allowed his enemies to fix him to a rough wooden cross with horrific iron nails. All of our failures and all of the just punishments that accompany them were wiped out because God allowed his Only Begotten Son to take all of that Wrath – God’s ultimate loving correction – upon himself. And then, with Sin and Death conquered, the Christ of God rose in victory over the bitterness of Death, Duplicity, and Destruction.

In Revelation 19:11-16, we are told that a rider called Faithful and True and named The Word of God comes to battle riding a white warhorse, slaying God’s enemies with a sharp sword which comes from his mouth. He treads down the wicked as if they were grapes, ripe and ready for utter destruction. Then at last, all that is will become as it was and more. These Virtues will be restored, and those Sins will not survive God’s triumph. Only Satan and his angels will burn with Wrath.

rev-19-11-rider-on-the-white-horse-david-miles-500wWhatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Pray for Peace. Pray for our Country. Pray for those who will soon be leading this One Great Indivisible Nation Under God. Pray for us sinners that we remember these Virtues as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of The Lord.

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.

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

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About Chick Todd

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

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