Aloha Friday Message – August 18, 2017 – What do you want to do?

1733AFC081817 – What do you want to do?

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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, 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.

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 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

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 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 every violent person knows that. Our opening verse 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 is knowing what is right. Let’s look into that.

When our children were in grade school, we put up two banners on opposite walls in their room. On one side the banner read, What do you want to do? The banner on the other wall read, The right thing. It was an easy object lesson to use because when guidance and/or correction were necessary, we’d just point to the first banner. They learned to point to the second banner. That opened up the opportunity to decide on what the right thing would be. They were learning how to make those decisions. Regrettably, it appears that not everyone has had that kind of upbringing, and even those who may have learned that lesson have set it aside for whatever reason and chosen a different path. The do not know or do not remember – or 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 {hayamim’}, 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, Selah  that 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. 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. 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. That is because God is infinitely Just which allows him to be infinitely Merciful. His mercy endures forever – for those who trust in his ways. For those who do not trust in his ways, his justice falls upon 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.

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.

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 those here 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. There is something in the Book of Numbers that often comes to my mind. I have adapted it for use as my own personal blessing on some occasions. You’ll find it in Numbers 6:24-26, and it goes like this: 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. To that I add, “May Almighty God bless you, and I bless you, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” as I trace a cross on a person’s forehead. It’s a small thing, but it also is a right thing. Let’s take a moment to look at the “a” part of today’s 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.

Share-A-Prayer (continued)

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • AD – Working her way through breast-cancer recovery in a remarkably positive way despite the fatigue associated with treatments.
  • IDC – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (six down, about 10 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook, and looking beautiful.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; IVIG infusions (please no side effects), dental issues
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • RV – Advanced metastatic cancer. Recently admitted to ICU for septicemia. Now requiring frequent surgeries for debridement of leg infections
  • DP – Husband with advancing Alzheimer’s and she needs a broader support base for respite-time.
  • EP – Peripheral polyneuropathies which make mobility difficult and painful.
  • VLC – Needs to sell the house; facing foreclosure

 

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

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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