Aloha Friday Message – March 23, 2012 – Fifth Friday in Lent

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

KJV 1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

NIV 1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

NAB 1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today we are going to look at a beautiful letter attributed to Peter, also called Cephas (KAY-phus) which means Rock in Aramaic and is also a Greek word for rock Κηφᾶς.

In this letter, Peter gives us many beautiful images, draws many examples from Old Testament writers, and presents a wide array of topics that address many aspect of life in the early Church. The one I chose for the open in this message is one of my very favorites. In this he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is ζῶντα zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from za,w zao {dzah’-o}. za,w is the verb “to live,” and ζῶντα is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind!

Peter tells us Christ was “chosen by God and precious to him.” Christ, the Messiah is “called ‘elect,’ as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable.” And we are called to that same life as his servants. We are called the elect, the chosen because “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4) This word is ἐκλεκτός eklektos {ek-lek-tos’} and it denotes the best of its kind or class.

As living stones, we are to be built into a “spiritual house,” a family for generations, offering up ” spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That is such a powerful statement, because it describes not only our calling, but also the fulfillment of that calling.

In 1 Peter 1:8-9 Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What is that inexpressible joy and how do we feel it? How do we recognize it? It is the power of his love as delivered to us in and through the Holy Spirit that makes our hearts and minds leap for joy as we raise hearts and hands and voices to praise god for his generous love, unfailing promise, and awesome presence in our lives.

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us the reason God has fashioned us a living stone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God is Light. We are called to live in the Light, to let our Light shine, to be the Light shining in the darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

There are dozens of power-packed images like that in this single short letter. Scholars generally agree that it was written by Peter, with help from Silas (who may have been a “professional writer,” helping Peter achieve a very polished Greek text which might have been a bit out of Peter’s reach normally). The letter is addressed to churches planted by Paul and his fellow sojourners in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That may have been the order in which a courier might have delivered the letter to those churches.

The letter mentions persecutions, suffering with Christ as we daily take up our cross, even dying under persecutions for the Gospel and for the joy we have of being so close to our Savior and God. I looked at several analyses of how this letter is put together, and here is a listing based on those reviews:

 

  1. 1 Peter 1:112: The JOY we have in knowing God loves us so much he provided a Perfect Sacrifice for our salvation – his only begotten son.
  2. 1 Peter 1:132:3: God’s love should inspire us to v-be some much like him that we strive mightily to be holy as he is holy.
  3. 1 Peter 2:412: Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the People God chose to be distinctly his own, the People of the First Covenant. Despite the many times they ignored that, God honored his promises, and not only made Abraham the father of many nations, he also us part of Abraham’s descendants through Jesus sacrificial suffering.
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-23: We can share in, identify with, and submit to persecution and suffering with Jesus and for the Gospel. Whenever we do so, we die a bit to ourselves and to the world, but we also glorify God.
  5. 1 Peter 2:2425: Jesus’ expiation (The complete reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus) of our sins is a powerful, awesome, incomprehensibly valuable gift – it is a gift given through the Grace of God, and that brings us back to the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls – our Creator, God. How can we begin to measure how grateful that can make us feel?!?
  6. 1 Peter 3:17: God is community as the Trinity. He established family as a community through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives can honor this sacred vocation by honoring one another, loving one another as God has loved them. Dishonoring one’s spouse is point-blank dishonoring God.
  7. 1 Peter 3:822: This passage begins, ” Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on to say that under no circumstance or persecution and suffering should we seek to harm those who bring about that persecution and suffering. If we suffer for doing what is good, that is so much better than suffering for doing evil!
  8. 1 Peter 4:111: The World wants us to be like them, and constantly entices us to live “in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” They make fun of us for being “religious nuts,” but when Judgment comes, they will have one hell of a time coming to them. As for us, we are to ” keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (theirs and ours). Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. Jesus blood cleansed you of your sins – the ways you have hurt yourself, your community, and your God; is blood also cleansed the sins of those who hurt you, hurt your community, and offend our God. His sacrifice covers all completely, permanently, eternally.
  9. 1 Peter 4:1219: “No matter how you struggle or strive, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” And struggle and strive as we might, we will always be facing situations where our suffering persists. Rather than wail and gnash or teeth, we can rejoice because are blessed, in that suffering when “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us. ” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  10. 1 Peter 5:16: When the World sees us acting this way – joyous in serving, joyous in suffering – they will want to know more about our joy and more about our shepherd. Those who are chosen for servant- leadership through the gifts of God will serve gladly, equitably, humbly – as did Christ. I probably will never be easy, but Peter tells us ” after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  11. 1 Peter 5:714: God will do all these powerful and wonderful things to and for us because of his intense, eternal, infallible LOVE. No matter what Satan tries to do to us to destroy our relationship with God, that relationship is always restored when we reconfirm our alliance with God and rejoice in the wonder of his uncompromising love and care.

Share-A-Prayer

M&PC wrote to tell us, “We are praying for whole world for peace, safety, and wellbeing everywhere.” What an excellent prayer intention. Maybe you can add it to your list of intentions. So many places around the world are experiencing terrible weather, terrible acts of evil, terrible acts of violence. Pray that Peace will rule the planet, and let it begin with you.

Please continue to pray for the family of Baby Cheyanne. She lost her battle with multiple health problems. It has been so difficult for Mom and Dad, and for the whole family. They know Cheyanne has found 100% healing in the Light of His Glory and Love. The loss of that sweet child, however, was a hard blow. Pray for them to return to the joy they anticipated the moment she was born.

Pray for those who suffer for their faith. You would think that “in this day and age” religious persecution – even to the point of martyrdom – would be nonexistent. But it is not.

Pray for everyone who suffers poverty, injustice, hunger, loss of work or loss of income; for those who suffer through illnesses like cancer, mental illness, chronic disease, acute or chronic pain; pray for those whose family are falling apart and for those whose families are just beginning or just beginning to heal.

Finally beloved, pray for one another. You know there is a Daily Intercessory Prayer List. Whenever you pray the MBN prayer, that short prayer includes all of the intentions in the Intercessory prayer list – over 100 now.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

Today I am thinking about Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a wonderful story is there. We’ve heard it before, maybe seen it enacted in a movie or a play, and we have a pretty good idea of the events. I want to look at some of the characters and symbols in this story. In Matthew it goes like this:

Matthew 21:1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.'” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

In Zechariah 9:9 we read: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey was, in part, a fulfillment of scripture. But there’s more. In Jesus day, and in many Eastern cultures, a donkey is seen as symbol of peace. A king who rides in on a donkey is coming peacefully. A king who rides in on a horse is coming in war. It is also significant that the colt Jesus’ disciples borrow is one that has never been ridden. Here the King of Peace is so gentle and so humble that even a young colt never before ridden submits to Jesus’ presence. Instead of bucking him off, the colt meekly carries a full-grown man. It is interesting to me that the disciples who went to fetch it did so without question, and then they put their own cloaks on the back of the colt to make a more comfortable seat. I think it might have also been more comfortable for the colt! And you know, I think that colt’s mama walked next to him on that journey. Read it again and see if you think so, too. But how did this come about?

How did the owner know it was OK to lend his animal to Jesus’ Disciples? The gospels don’t say, but as often as Jesus traveled through that area, he sure must have had more friends than just Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Since this must have been shortly after Lazarus was raised, maybe the guy who owned the colt had told Jesus, “If you ever need anything at all just let me know. It’s yours!” Just speculating about that is kind of fun, but really, we don’t know exactly what happened in that part of the story.

Jesus was in Bethany, close to Bethphage (“Place of new – or unripe – figs”) somewhere perhaps around the Mount of Olives. He gets on the colt in Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and heads into town. On the way people who have seen him, who know him – some intimately, some only be reputation – get excited about seeing him, and they begin to remember Zechariah 9:9. They start pulling down palm fronds and laying them on the path in front of him or waving them in the air. The palm was a symbol of victory – even Holy Victory. In addition people were laying their cloaks down in the road and letting the little donkey pass over them. A similar event is reported in 2 Kings 9. [They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”] Elisha had just anointed Jehu (“Yahweh is He”) as King of Israel, and had ordered him to go avenge the murders committed by Jezebel’s forces when she had the prophets slaughtered. The king, Ahab, had permitted this, and Jehu was told to destroy Ahab as well.

Spreading cloaks or other object to “pave the way” was a common demonstration of respect for the dignity and power of a person – a King, a general, even a prophet. So now we have Jesus on a baby donkey (my mind keeps hearing the Christmas Carol “Little Donkey, Little Donkey, With a heavy load,”) and everyone is shouting and happy and cheering and dancing and running ahead and coming back and just going nuts over what Jesus is doing. He is finally defining himself as the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, The Son of David! And, they surely thought he was about to kick the Romans out of town as the Rightful Ruler.

But, he was on a donkey, not a horse.

Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’ head? He’s going to Jerusalem in just six day to celebrate Passover for the last time. Then he will die a most horrible, terrifying, painful death. And he will be forsaken by his Father. On the way into town he looks out over Jerusalem and sheds tears because of what they have missed out on while he was with them, and then He just goes into town and busts up … Not the Romans! The Temple!!

Whoa! That was a surprise! And from there on, things sort of unfolded into The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, the pavement at Gabbatha, and finally Golgotha. In less than a week he went from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!”

Now you know a little about the story. When you are holding your palm branches Sunday, think about that little donkey and what a privilege it was to carry Jesus. Beloved, you can carry him too; in your heart, not on your back. Spread out your best things for him and invite him to have a seat. Carry him wherever you go and once in a while, just for the sheer JOY of it, shout, I said SHOUT, “HOSANNA!!”

Share-A-Prayer

• A special request from WT to pray for J. Joseph who was admitted to the hospital in her continuing fight with cancer. Pray for hope, healing, and health.
• Our MBN friends I Haiti report that many of the children and the workers too are ill. Sounds like a virus is sweeping through their numbers. Pray for return to health, and that the many new infants they have with them can stay hydrated and be strong enough to recover.
• Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks. Please go back and look at the prayer requests from the beginning of Lent. I believe as you take the time to look at them, God will move your heart to make a special effort to embrace one or more of those requests.
• Thanks for the family of EW for sharing the news that E had gone to meet his Lord. He was – and still is – a remarkable man. You might remember him here.
• Thanks also from KV who reports prayer has been working for her and she feels pretty darn good!

Thanks everyone. Next week the message will be about Good Friday – sort of. Please watch for it on a computer screen near you!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

chick

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Aloha Friday, August 10, 2004 – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

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Aloha, dear friend! Another week comes to an end. For so many people, this has been a week of severe testing – Florida, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sudan and Indonesia. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

These difficulties are so prevalent that we can sometimes feel – and see – hope is defeated. Not so. If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follow that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

What can we do about all this? Perhaps we can choose to live a spiritual life at home, at work, at school, at play, and even (incredible!) at church. Here’s a little quote from NIV Bible:

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In a recent article that appeared in THE CATHOLIC HERALD the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control is a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this note, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall (I made a really pretty one with fancy lettering and images). It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

Love in Christ,

Chick

PS: Here’s a bonus just for you. http://m11.t3media.net/t/15274/8554348/694/0/

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Aloha Friday Message – September 18, 2020 – Truly Right and Just

2038AFC091820 – Truly Right and Just

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Matthew 20:4 and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right*.’ So they went.

Matthew 20:13 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong*; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? (a denarius)

* δίκαιον (dikaion) {dik’-ah-yon} dikaion Whatsoever is right; just and fair; correct, righteous, by implication innocent especially, just in the eyes of God; upright, virtuous, honest, especially, just in the eyes of God. This word in Scripture describes what is in conformity to God’s own being.

1 Denarius ↓ showing the image of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor in Jesus’ day. The coin was silver, originally the payment for 10 donkeys – decem (10) → deni (10s) → denarius nummus (ten donkeys) → Denarius. It was the common wage for a day’s work by a soldier or itinerant laborer. It was considered “the usual payment” sufficient for subsistence. Something like “an honest dollar for an honest day’s work.” This is the wage the first workers expected when they started working for the land owner in The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. This could also be called The Parable of the Compassionate Employer. In many translations, there is an additional statement at the end of the parable that says, “For many are called, but few chosen.” (See Matthew 20:16 and search for “chosen.”)

If you remember this parable, you will recall the owner of a vineyard went outside his gate early in the morning to find laborers to work. He hired several who were nearby and told them he would pay them “what is right.” A little later he looked for more workers – around 9:00, and several more started working being assured they would be paid “whatever is right.” Then he made two more trips – one around noon and one at 3:00 – and sent others to help those already in the vineyard. As evening drew nigh, the owner called his foreman and told him to assemble the workers to pay them and to start with the last ones hired. To the great surprise of those workers, they received a full day’s pay for their work. They were likely expecting to be paid less on a prorated basis, but instead they got one denarius, the fair and usual pay for a full day of work. Next came the group hired at noon, then the ones hired at 9:00, and lastly the ones who started early in the morning. All of them received a full denarius. It was unheard of to pay people “more than they were worth.”

One of the laborers stepped up and told the boss he thought that it was unfair that he should get “only” 1 denarius when he had worked the full day while the guys who had worked the least – only an hour or so also got a full-day’s wages. The owner told him, “You agreed to work for a fair wage and I have treated you fairly. You got exactly what we agreed to. I told these others I would ‘pay them whatever is right,’ and I have done that. Are you angry with me because I choose to be generous? It’s my money, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I be able to use it as I see fit?” Jesus’ concluding statement is perhaps a bit cryptic: 1So the last will be first, and the first will be last. There was no prorated reimbursement for work done in that vineyard on that day. That’s also the way it works with God. He always rewards us with what is right and just; we never get too much or too little, but always what God’s generosity provides. And who can fault God’s generosity? The sun shines and the rain falls on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45) because God is generous. But he is also fair. The righteous receive the reward of life with God. The unrighteous do not. Our Responsorial Psalm for Sunday comes from Psalm 145. There we find Psalm 145:17-20 17 The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

In some of my research for these topics, I’ve read how certain scholars have figured out that those who live the most righteous life receive the highest rewards in Heaven. Maybe instead of a room they get upgraded to a suite, or instead of a suite they get a condo, or beyond that a real castle or palace. Whoever is most unrighteous receives emptiness – the Second Death. God knows what we do, what we say, what we think even before we do, and there is no one who can be more familiar with us than God is. We also know God is present in every aspect of life. Now, these laborers most likely knew the fellow who owned the vineyard. He must have been pretty flush with money because he had a BIG vineyard and hired “plenty people” to work in it. They knew who he was and what he could afford, and they trusted him when he said, “I’ll pay you what is fair if you come to work for me.” They knew he was good for the money because he had a good reputation in the community. These days, I think that is less true for God’s reputation! Too many people these days think like this: “God HAD BETTER give me what I want, or I’m going to destroy everything he’s done!” These are the folks who “conveniently overlook” that part which says “but all the wicked he will destroy.

Belovéd, I confess I watch daily for that destruction to be carried out. Most of the people I love also love God enough to be obedient to his Word. Those who do not love God in that way are remembered in my daily list of prayers as I pray for “their deep and lasting conversion.” If you read these messages, you, too, have a thirst for souls, and you also know that the towering tsunami of evil washing over us now is a prelude to the massive suffering, pain, distress, fear, hardship, and misery that seems to be just days away. We believe God will protect us. We believe God will save us and destroy the evil. We trust that God’s mercy will shield us from his wrath. We place our hope in our God who always is and always does everything that is “truly right and just.” But, we need to be cautious about our certainty.

You may remember Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Hm. “For many are called, but few chosen.” Now, think about the guys loitering in the town square outside the vineyard. The owner came out several times to hire workers. He called for them. Several answered. Not ALL of them answered, and only those who did answer got paid. The reward came only to those who answered the call. Doesn’t that remind us of John 6:44? 44 No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. What will Jesus say to those of us, to our loved ones, to the rioters in the street, to the haters and child abusers, to the murderers and rebels against Good if they will not turn to him and give their lives to God? You can get a pretty clear understanding of that if you will carefully read John 5:30-47. (Please DO follow that link!)

We who love the Lord should be able to see easily that God is always truly right and just. Honestly, I believe the people who do not know and love him also expect him to be right and just; however, they believe that “right outcomes” and “just reward” always mean “pleasant compensation” – trophies, sprinkles, free stuff, and no job requirements. Jesus has certainly made it clear that it will not always work out that way. Even if we respond late, it is always necessary to respond and accept the Gift so as to honor the Giver. We refuse God’s gifts of Grace, Salvation, and Eternal Joy at the peril of living eternity without any of those things.

Belovéd, if we are going to expect to receive from God what is truly right and just, it is only right and just that we give him all that is truly right and just from our own lives – a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.” (See Romans 12:1-3).

In this time of great stress, confusion, and turmoil, we find ourselves longing for security, peace, and comfort. How shall we find them and to whom shall we turn? Belovéd, you already know the answer! You might have even memorized it already in Matthew 6:33 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, for “Whosoever Will May Come.” (↔ Music Link) See John 6:37 and Revelation 22:17. (Seriously. Go read those so you’ll know how easy it is to hear the call.)

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.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – September 11, 2020 – Memento Mori

2037AFC091120 – Memento mori

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Sirach 28:6-7 Remember the end of your life, and set enmity aside; remember corruption and death, and be true to the commandments. Remember the commandments, and do not be angry with your neighbor; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Perhaps you do not recognize the phrases in this image. The Latin translates as “Time flees, Remember You Must Die.” Well, that’s not a very cheerful way to start off your Friday morning, is it? Look at our Key Verse for today. It is part of the first reading for Sunday, September 13, 2020: Sirach 27:30—28:7. It speaks to us of resentments that are nurtured and fortified by the desire for vengeance. The writer is named Joshua ben Sira, translated as “Jesus the son of Sirach of Jerusalem.” Ben Sira wrote in Hebrew, but his grandson later translated the book into Greek. The content of this lovely book is, in many ways, like the familiar Book of Proverbs, and is included in the list of writing called “Wisdom Literature.”

There is also Wisdom in the Epistle for this Sunday. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 14:7-9 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Jesus lives for the living and the dead; he has been both, and he rules over both. If we are living in Jesus, we are living with the living and dying with the dead. Time flees and death waits. We’re not going to be able to change that. If death is waiting a little farther down the road, we can choose to fill our lives with Life or empty our lives with Death. Life is founded in Love – Love of God and neighbor; Death is founded in indifference – indifference to God and to neighbor. Why do I say indifference instead of hate? Hate requires effort, the effort of acknowledging the other. Indifference won’t make that effort. Hate does require some work. Take, for example, the bearing of a grudge, the nurturing of enmity.

I think most of us have read the story (← Check it out!) about the black wolf and the white wolf inside of us, fighting for control. The story ends with the promise that the wolf we feed is the one that wins. In everything in our lives we face the same kind of dichotomy – the conflict between good and evil, between carnal and spiritual, between conscience and consciousness of the effect of our choices.

Many of us know – either directly or indirectly – of someone who has carried anger or hurt and nurtured it until it became huge and vicious, a snapping, snarling, terrifying beast, a black wolf that endangers the person and everyone who comes near. It has been said that hurt and anger when caged and constantly provoked become bitterness and a blind grudge takes its place in our hearts and minds. Grudges are heavy, difficult to carry because they have no handles, and dangerous because they can suddenly grow teeth and claws and tear us to shreds. They are the most fearsome and deadly form of self-awareness and the cause of much suffering. Forgiveness is the anti-grudge, the “grudge-icide” if you will, and it is something that all of us have within us because all of us need it. It is part of the Image of God which resides in our souls.

We often recall that God has created us in his image, and that we are to be like him as much as possible. We are called to be holy – that is, wholly whole, complete, and prepared for every good work – as God is Holy. He forgives our sins. He removes them so far from us that we cannot grasp how far; he not only forgives, but he also forgets. (See Isaiah 43:25) Can you forget your sins? I cannot forget mine, and often that’s because I have forgotten they are forgiven by God. Perhaps, though, they have not been forgiven by me or by those against whom I have sinned. That’s not what God intends, and Jesus very carefully explains it to the Apostles.

Perhaps you will recall the passage in Matthew 18 where Jesus set out the parameters for fraternal correction (2036AFC090420 – Watching the Watchers) in the Church – privately between you and another member, then with 2-3 witnesses, then with the church. If they will still refuse to repent and reform, they are to be considered as living outside the fraternity of the Saints. Nonetheless, we must always bear in mind that repentance and reform are always possible, so we forgive them. Forgiveness can be a tough pill to swallow!

Immediately following the passage in Matthew on fraternal correction we read in Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. There is a similar admonition in Luke 17:3-4 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” If we don’t, we are faking our “holiness.”

We are held responsible for the ways we may mislead others. If what we show them in our lives leads them to sin, that is charged to us. How can this be? We have enough trouble managing our own holiness and our own sinfulness. How is it we can be held accountable for something someone else does? The “why” of it is simple: That is God’s plan. It is the law of love. If we know love, we know God, and if we love God, we must love one another. If we love one another we must not sin against them – that is also a sin against God – but if they sin against us we must forgive them. That is, as God forgives us, we forgive others. What is the requisite step to forgiveness from God? It is repentance, and repentance includes the intention of reforming one’s life so as to avoid sin and the desire to be tempted.

“But s/he made me so angry! I just want to make them suffer for what they did to me! I cannot and will not forgive them, ever!” That is God’s option; it is not our option. Leviticus 19:18 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. So why do we keep grudges? Is that not what God abhors? We cling to our anger and nurture it. Do we really need to carry that burden? When we remember to live up to that image, we realize we are not here in the World for our own gratification (which is a surprise to many these days); no, indeed – we are here for the sake of others. It’s not so much what we are to receive as we live out our lives, but rather what we are to give.

Belovéd, let us give Love, share Love, receive Love, be Love. Honor the Giver by accepting the Gift.

In another passage in Sirach 27:30 – 28:1 we read 30 Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them. 28 1The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance, for he keeps a strict account of their sins. We all know about that Bible verse that says “Vengeance is mine.” (See Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19). God’s vengeance comes only after whopping-long periods of Grace and divine correction. Being forgiven, therefore, is something that we desperately need and hope for; it also causes us to rejoice when it happens: Psalm 32:1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. That joy comes to us not only when we are forgiven, but also when we forgive generously (as does God) and not begrudgingly. Another way to think of this is “the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” so give forgiveness cheerfully!

The point most often missed is this: Be forgiving and become forgiven. Ask and offer. Always seek, and expect to receive, the greater gift: The gift of giving. Peace and Joy are the result: John 16:24 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. In other words, “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” In fraternal correction we love our fellow Disciples enough to help them meld with the community. In the Love of Christ, we forgive one another as he forgives us – as meaning “in the same way as” not “while.”

   This is what Jesus taught to the Apostles on that day in his journey to Jerusalem (and of course to us as well). We know that they learned that lesson because of what the Apostle Peter later wrote in 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. The hardships of forgiveness are minor compared to the blessings we have in Christ Jesus.

Do we recite The Lord’s Prayer, or do we pray it? What do we mean, what is our intention, when we say, as in Matthew 6:12-1412 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. That little word “as” is so powerful! Do we want God to forgive us precisely the way we forgive others? Selah. How often do we have to forgive? The Pharisees in Jesus’ day said three times was enough. Peter was showing off in front of the others and tried to show that he would be more generous than the Pharisees in his forgiveness by forgiving 7 times; they said three, Jesus said, “every time.”

That term in Greek is ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά (hebdomēkontakis hepta’) { heb-dom-ay-kon-tak-is hep-tah’} and it means 70 X 7, 490 times. I’ve heard some scholars say it means 77 X 7; that’s 539 times! Seriously, who among us is going to keep track that long? And if so, how could keeping track for that long possibly be forgiveness as God intends? Jesus shows Peter – and us – that God never runs out of forgiveness. Remember, even if a mother could forget the child in her womb, God will not forget us; but he does forget our sins!

What about those who are not members of the Church? How often do we forgive them? They are our neighbors, and we are to love them as we love ourselves and each other, so 490 sounds about right for them, too. We need to stop revolting against God. How can he forgive our treason if we continue to fight against him? We need to repent and believe the Gospel. Do not think of your repentance as the cause of your forgiveness, but rather understand that forgiveness is the companion of repentance.

Time is flying and death is waiting. We can choose to make the journey peaceful or terrifying. Choose Peace, therefore, that you may live, and live as the Lord’s!

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.

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

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

 

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Aloha Friday Message – September 4, 2020 – Watching the Watchers

2036AFC090420 – Watching the Watchers

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Ezekiel 33:7-8 So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. (NRSVCE)

You, human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear me speaking, you must give them warning from me. If I pronounce a death sentence on wicked people, and you don’t warn them to turn from their way, they will die in their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. Common English Bible (CEB)

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. I want to begin by thanking all of you who have offered prayers for my sister-in-law, Paula. This week she was transferred from ICU to Hospice care. We continue to pray for her, for her husband and daughter, and her grandchildren as well as her siblings. We pray that God will be merciful as we watch and wait. We also have family in Lake Charles – my brother John and his wife Dixie and daughter Amanda – and other grandchildren, cousins, and siblings. Lake Charles was decimated by hurricane Laura. All of them suffered many losses. All of them also have health issues in addition to the COVID-19 VIRUS and the hurricane damage. Now, on with our lesson for today.

In today’s topic we have allusions to being on watch. With everything that’s going on across the world, we sometimes wonder who is watching over us and who is watching the watchers. It seems the concept and practice of accountability has been tossed out the window. It is as if no one is in charge despite there being so many people who claim to be in charge. This is happening in every aspect of human life including – but not limited to – religion, politics, government, law, production of every type of consumable (from food to fantasy to fiddle-faddle), family, ethnicity, and even life itself. It’s like the whole world turned into the persecutors and the persecuted worse than Rodney Dangerfield’s constant complaint of “I get no respect.” (← Check it out!) Even if we turn to God, there are those who will say it’s wrong, or try to corrupt our faith, or even oppose us with everything from heresy to hearsay. How are we supposed to know what to do?

Well, if you read these posts, you probably know what’s coming next. We are supposed to have faith, trust in the Lord, do the right thing, love God and neighbor, and keep an eye on the folks around us – especially our fellow Christians. Wha-a-a-a-a-t? Let me give you some examples. We can start with a quote from Sunday’s Gospel from Matthew 18. Jesus is telling the Apostles how to deal with “backsliders,” and folks who misrepresent the values and practice of Christian living. What Jesus tells them is too 1 – privately alert them, 2 – meet with them and 2-3 witnesses, and 3 – if all else fails, take the matter to the Church – the Fellowship of Saints to which you both belong. If the errant member will not accept the rule of the Church, that one is to be treated as “Gentile or a tax collector,” that is, as someone outside the fellowship of the Church. Does that seem inconsistent with our beliefs about “Christian values?” Hmm, maybe it is not only consistent, but also necessary.

Take another look at our Key Verse for today. What has God told Ezekiel? “I’m setting you as a watchman over the House of Israel,” … and he is charged with the responsibility of warning them when they are wrong. If he does warn them and they persist in being wrong, they will die (be denied Life in God) in their own iniquity, and he shall be credited with doing God/s Will. HOWEVER, if he fails to warn them and they persist in sinning, they will still die, but he will be blamed for their death. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Do you recall the Judgment of the Nations in Matthew 25:31-46? It’s where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats, the good and the evil, the faithful and the opposers of faith. It contains this stark prophecy: Matthew 25:41 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; and further, in Matthew 25:46 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

We have previously learned (↔ Click Link) what mercy is and how it has a role in our lives. What we learned is that works of mercy – being merciful – affects us body and soul. There are corporal works of mercy, traditionally seven.

  1. Feed the hungry, 2. Give drink to the thirsty, 3. Welcome the stranger, 4. Clothe the naked, 5. Care for the ill, 6. Visit the imprisoned, 7. Bury the dead

There are also seven spiritual works of mercy, six taught to us by Jesus, and the seventh added to affirm respect for human life.

  1. Admonish sinners, 2. Instruct the uninformed, 3. Counsel the doubtful, 4. Comfort the sorrowful, 5. Be patient with those in error, 6. Forgive offenses, 7. Pray for the living and the dead.

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is teaching us how to admonish sinners and how to instruct the uninformed (in this day and age we might say misinformed). What Ezekiel was assigned, and what Jesus described, is – in a way – “combined” in James 4:17 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. As Christians we are charged to love God and neighbor, and in that love we are required to be as sentinels – like a watchman – for the sake of the Gospel. The Word is jam-packed with admonitions about relying on the Lord and helping each other serve him. Here are a few that show up frequently:

Psalm 127:1-2 1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, and to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. New American Standard Bible (NASB) [1]

Ephesians 5:29 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church

Hebrews 12:15 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

2 Timothy 3:1-8 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. (Jannes and Jambres were the sorcerers in Pharaoh’s court who contrived to imitate and confuse Moses’ message.)

Let me recommend a short but very valuable side excursion for you. Please find your Bible and open it to The Letter of Jude. It’s near the end of the New Testament. It’s only about 600 words and will take less than two minutes to read; however in it you will find directions for dealing with nearly every crazy, sinful, and distressing thing that is going in the World today. Pay particular attention to Jude 1:17-22 17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering;

AND WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT WATCHERS? LOOK TO Daniel 4:13 13 I continued looking, in the visions of my head as I lay in bed, and there was a holy watcher, coming down from heaven. These were/are holy angels who watch over every soul and nation. Why are we watching them? Because they do what is right and just. They encourage leaders, and everyone in authority (including judges) to serve with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom and justice. That is how we must serve.

Beloved, this is the lesson I want you to take from this: We should know our faith, and that we should start by knowing when God is speaking to us. That is why we have the Bible, the inspired Word of God. Next we must learn to discern between false and true teachings, and there again we turn to the Bible in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 4:12 we read that the Word is like a two-edged sword, so effective that it cuts right into us, differentiating between the soul and the spirit, between the joints and bones of our lives, and judges the content of our hearts. Paul calls the Word the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17. Get into the Word, get into your Bible, then get you and your Bible into Church and good, sincere, holy Bible study. Just keep a sharp eye and ear for those lurkers that proffer slander, hatred, lust, and self-serving greed. We are charged to watch for them because …

WE, too, are sentinels, set to watch the Church. Let me reiterate that much of what we read in the New Testament is directed toward believers in Christ Jesus, and not so much to the World. In the World, people all too often fail to perceive the power of the Grace that is already in them and they resist that Grace and refuse to repent. THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN. Do you recall what Jesus himself told us? Luke 17:3 Be on your guard! If another Disciple [ἀδελφός (adelphos) {ad-el-fos’} brother in Christ] sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. “Well, OK but I don’t really think I can call out someone else.” “Why should I warn them? I’m no saint.” “Isn’t that the job of the Pastor or Deacon?” “I wouldn’t know how to do that without causing a big stir!” “Everybody’s entitled to their own beliefs.” Belovéd, we are asked to watch each other in a loving way. Romans 13:10 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. This is our charge as sentinels: Restoration, adjudication, and reconciliation done individually, as a community of believers, and as the Church. We know what is right, so we must do what is right: 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Let us remember the promise related to us by James in James 5:19-20 19 My brothers and sisters [adelphos], if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20 you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. How will we know an adelphos is wandering unless we are watching as we have been told to do? Watch your adelphos through the lens of Love.

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.

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

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

 

 

 

[1] Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Aloha Friday Message – August 28, 2020 – Kickin’ The Rock

2035AFC082820 – Kickin’ The Rock

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Matthew 16:21-23 21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block* to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

*Σκάνδαλον (skandalon) {skan’-dal-on} a stick for bait (of a trap), generally a snare,  an offense; a snare, stumbling-block, cause for error. The most common designation is as the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim), and it connotes an offense as in putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion. It is used to illustrate how someone is caught by their own devices (like their personal bias, carnal thinking). It is also the native rock rising up through the earth, which trips up the traveler, hence, of Jesus the Messiah, to the Jews who refused him. Note that this word is also translated as offense or offended – scandalized: Skandalon (↔ Music Link). LYRICS HERE.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we looked at the remarkable moment when the Church was formed as Jesus commissioned Peter to be the Rock on which the Church would be built. He commands that the Disciples not tell anyone that he is the Messiah. But then their world is turned upside down: Jesus begins to tell them that he will die in Jerusalem “at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” We don’t know the time interval between the moment when Jesus appointed Peter as the head of his Church and the moment when Peter took it upon himself to chastise Jesus for saying that he was going to die. Jesus, who has only recently commended Peter for learning from his Heavenly Father that Jesus is the Christ, now turns as tells him, “Get behind me Satan!” Wow! What is that all about, and why was Jesus so cruel to say such a thing? That’s what we need to explore.

Do you recall the first time Jesus said that to someone? We can find that in Matthew 4:8-11 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. To whom was Jesus speaking at that time? Satan, that’s who. I recall a time when someone tried to convince me that it wasn’t actually the Satan, but a high-ranking minion. His argument was that the real Satan would consider himself too important to do “the dirty work” and would give the assignment to a trusted henchman, a minion who would do what he was told. My view is that Satan was indeed so very vain that he tackled the job on his own – “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.” Satan had to walk away in defeat from that encounter, and the wrath of the Lord was certainly kindled against him in a very confident way. Jesus spoke with the full authority of the Only Begotten Son of God. Was it the same wrath that was directed against Peter? I see it differently; that sharp rebuke was not born of anger, but of pain.

The words are the same, the terms are the same, but the circumstance is different. Jesus knows that Peter will fail him soon, desert him, and misunderstand him. He is still astounded by the lack of faith and understanding in all his Disciples, but for Peter to  miss the point so completely must have been hard for Jesus to hear. It almost sounds as if Jesus is kicking The Rock that will become his Church! “Stop thinking in human terms! Don’t you understand that God has appointed this death to me? How could you even dare try to dissuade me from doing my Father’s Will?!?” This was a repeat of the same temptation Jesus endured in the wilderness, but more of an end run – using someone Jesus genuinely loved and trusted to tempt him to give up on his mission. There was a trap set, and Peter was supposed to be the stick that brought it down. We recall what Symeon told Mary in the Temple: Luke 2:34-35 34 Then Symeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” The prophecy about the stone the builders rejected becoming a stumbling stone for many was confirmed in that declaration from Symeon. The history of Israel is abounding in examples of stumbling over the Law. We all have a problem at one time or another with getting tripped up, trapped, or stumbling over the smallest thing that makes us doubt our faith. Oh! We of little faith!

Kick a big rock to solve obstacles

Do we, at times, stumble over the Gospel, feel trapped by sin and shame, or try to kick the rock that is firmly planted? We know it’s going to happen; Jesus even told us so in Matthew 18:7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! Why do we stumble over the Gospel, over the salvific power of Christ’s life, passion, death, and resurrection? As we saw last week, he is the Living Stone, the cornerstone of the entire foundation of God’s plan for salvation and restitution of our right relationship with him. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:30-33 30 What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31 but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32 Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (See Isaiah 28:16) When we stumble, it is the age-old cause of stumbling over God’s provisions for us: Insufficient faith, and the often incomprehensible decision that we can do a better job of salvation than God has done. There, now it’s in front of us in black and white, and doesn’t it look absurd? So what are we to do? To whom can we turn as an exemplar of faith restored and strengthened? How about Peter, The Rock?

Ponder these words of his in 1 Peter 2:4-9 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood (← Check it out!), to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Where are we most likely to stumble – in the darkness or in the light? John 11:9-10 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” Jesus is the Light of the World, and that Light is in us. When we hide the light, deliberately suppressing our consciences, we walk in darkness. In fact, we are surrounded in every direction by “this present darkness” (See Ephesians 6:12, please), and there humongous consequences for trying to kick the Rock of Ages. Belovéd, we cannot afford to set our “mind not on divine things but on human things.” That’s really like what happens to this little guy. ‘Nuff said!

 ↑ © OmorashiTea, April23, 2020 (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) ↑ 

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

GBA 16 year-old boy in Minnesota who is seriously ill due to kidney failure. A Seminarian there is helping him prepare for Sacraments of Initiation, and requests our prayers for the complete return to health.

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Aloha Friday Message – August 21, 2020 – We Will Rock You!

2034AFC082120 – We Will Rock You!

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Isaiah 22:22-23 22 I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.23 I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house.

Romans 11:33 33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Matthew 16:18 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, [Petros or Cephas] and on this rock [petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Exodus 33:20-23 20 “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” 21 And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23 then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

About three weeks ago, we studied the passage in 1 Kings where Elijah was holed up in a cave in the mountains as God passed by. There was a mighty wind, and earthquake, and an immense fire preceding the soft and gentle whisper of God’s voice. In this passage from Exodus, Moses is on the mountain with God and Moses asks to see God’s Glory. God tells him to stand in a gap in the rock as he passes by so that God can cover Moses’ eyes as he passes. You know, that reminds us of that great old hymn by Fanny Crosby, He Hideth My Soul (↔ Music Link)

Belovéd, in every aspect of life we have a safe place to stand and be sheltered from everything that can harm us. We stand in the cleft of the rock, and as God passes by, we feel the Glory of the Lord around us and know that our foundation is solid! Christ has passed the badge of authority to The Church, and through that foundation, all who live in Christ are standing on solid ground. Our foundation is Christ and we build our lives on that foundation as living stones. He is the Solid Rock (↔ Music Link) on which we stand, and as we learn in 1 Peter 2:4-5 (←Use this link to see it in context) we know we can … Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. […]

This week, the Church brings us the story of Eliakim whom God chose to replace a corrupt and sinful ruler named Shebna. God says Eliakim will be a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house. Eliakim (God has raised up) son of Hilkiah (My Portion is Jehovah) is God’s chosen and he alone has power to open and shut which is historically symbolic of his absolute authority as the king’s representative called by such titles as Chamberlain, or Steward, or Treasurer. (Isaiah 22:22) Only the Master Steward had the Keys. We look at this passage as a “type,” a prefiguring, of what Jesus said to Peter about the keys of the Kingdom. Peter will be the Master Steward, the leader of the congregation that would be eventually called Christians.

God has always picked leaders whom he could trust to shepherd the People he has chosen and gathered together to save them from slavery and death. He has given us his Chosen, his Belovéd, his Only Begotten Son so that we can know God by knowing the Son. We can see God by seeing the Son (though we still will not see the Father’s face). When we don’t know Christ, our choices exclude an afterlife. In reality, our lives as earthlings are just the introduction to Eternity. Our comportment here affects our demeanor there. Whatever we suck up or suck down on earth has no effect on transitioning to eternal life. No great fame, or honor, or wealth, or notoriety, or skill, or genius, or anything of the World can earn any of us a place in heaven. When we look at our lives and the gifts God has put into us and see it all through our Father’s eyes, the perspective and perception are quite a bit different. Check out these Cross References: Psalm 49:7-9; Matthew 4:8-9 See also Luke 9:25 and Mark 8:35 (with notes).

We’ve seen it so often among The Golden Ones in Hollywood, Washington D.C., or pop music. The World sits down to a feast with them and then devours the feasters. The “biggies” (piggies?) “had everything” and lost it all – taken away by drugs, or booze, or sex, or shame in a thousand different colors. They become trash, castaways, washouts, has-beens, and some even become dead. What kills them? What brings them down? It is a severe Spiritual damage that destroys this present life and imperils or even destroys Eternal Life. We can get back on the wagon, or the stage, or the train, or whatever we fall off of, but we cannot earn a “Get Out of Hell Free” card and go to heaven. Heaven is reserved for those who have chosen to believe in Christ and thereby gain everlasting life because God has chosen us. We can sing joyfully with David as in Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. That is the kind of Joy the Apostle Paul describes here: Romans 11:33 33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! We become “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.” (See 1 Corinthians 4:1) We become ekklēsia – Church.

In Sunday’s passage from Matthew, the word used for church is ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) {ek-klay-see’-ah}. In the New Testament it denotes a specific gathering of Christians. It is also used to represent – connote – the entirety of believers, all the people who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The same word, ekklēsia, is used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to represent the Hebrew term קָהָל (qāhāl) {kaw-hawl’}, “assembly” or “congregation.” (See for example Numbers 14:5) As Israel gathered together to appear before God they were designated as “the assembly” or Congregation. It is also used similarly to ekklēsia as a term describing all of Israel. It is this assembly, this Church, that Peter will build on the Rock of Ages – Christ Jesus.

Jesus tells Peter that he will give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” Just as God gave the authority over Israel to Eliakim, God gives the authority over the Church to Peter. He is Rock (not “Rocky” as some irreverently suggest). You will also see him referred to a Cephas. (See for example John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 1 Corinthians 9:5, 1 Corinthians 15:5, and Galatians 2:9.) That name, Cephas, is an Aramaic word. It is not pronounced “see-fuss.” The word is Cephas: Κηφᾶς Kēphas (kay-fas’) (Aramaic for rock) Jesus gave this new name to Simon Peter, the apostle. The Aramaic comes from כֵּף keph kafe; in Aramaic כֵּיפָא from kaphaph as to curve or bend down. Cephas is translated into Greek as Πέτρος (Petros) – Peter. Jesus chose Peter because it was time to build the Church of Jesus Christ. We know there is a right time for everything. We often recall the words from Ecclesiastes when we think about Time.

Ecclesiastes is a wonderful book to read, and even more wonderful to study. It is one of the “Wisdom Books.” There are all kinds of good, practical advice there. You’ll probably recall the 1965 song by The Byrds called Turn! Turn! Turn! It was actually written by Pete Seeger in the 1950’s. It comes directly from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. The writer of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth (The Teacher), goes on to say (Ecclesiastes 9:10b), “… for in the realm of the dead [Sheol, Hades, Hell], where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission.) All rights reserved worldwide.) It’s kind of like the old adage, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” which is similar to Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 24 There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; 25 for apart from him, who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Everything – every thing – is a Gift from God. Therefore everything that is worth doing is worth doing well, because it all comes from God and it all goes to God. Even if we can’t admit that in our own lives, we see it so often we can be sure that it is true! It is indeed a Mystery, a Mystery of Truth that is solid as The Rock who is indeed our Awesome God!! (↔ Music Link) Belovéd, we are called to serve that Awesome God, so strong, so protective, so God! I have known some folks in the past who stood with the Church, who professed their belief in Christ Jesus, but their joy was insipid. Think of what the Apostle Paul said about that joy: Galatians 6:10 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Romans 12:11 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. And David wrote, Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. (See Psalm 100:2)

We are the Church, the Living Stones built on The Cornerstone that Was Rejected. We have the Master Steward who founded the Church of the Kingdom of God – Peter – and our Church is the cleft in the Rock where we stand praising God as he passes into us in the Eucharist. Now doesn’t that just rock your world? How about we take that to The Mountain Top for a little Praise session?!

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.

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

 

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

2033AFC081420 – Now what do you want?

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    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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Aloha Friday Message – August 7, 2020 – Power, Proximity, and Permanence of God’s Providence

2032AFC080720 – Power, Proximity, and Permanence of God’s Providence

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

1 KINGS 19:11-13 [The Lord said] 11 “Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain,” the Lord said to him. Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks—but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice.

13 When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” (Scripture taken from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.)

With The Voice of God in mind, today’s message comes from the story of Elijah’s fearful flight from Ahab and Jezebel. In this passage – part of Sunday’s readings – Elijah has put to death all of the prophets of Baal after God sent down fire on Elijah’s sacrifice. Now Ahab and Jezebel are out to kill him. Elijah tells God he’d rather be dead than wait for them to find him, so God tells him to go to Mount Horeb and to find a certain cave and wait for Him there. Elijah obeys. Our Key Verse passage for today is what happened in that cave. Elijah had some very powerful enemies, and God told him to flee from them. He did that so he could demonstrate his mighty Power by emphasizing his gentleness.

Now, there are many things here from which we can learn about God’s communications with us. The first is that Elijah was always in communication with God. As a prophet, he could not help but hear God speak, nor could he help but obey God’s command to convey His words; it’s what prophets do. We may not think of ourselves as prophets, but we are called upon to witness to others about what God has said and done, and in that way we fulfill one component of our threefold-purpose in life to be Priest, Prophet, and King. God has made his way known to us. He has written His Word into our hearts (see Jeremiah 31:33), and – like a prophet – we feel it bubble up in us at times and we have to share it. That’s a good habit to have, and not that difficult to develop. You just have to say with Isaiah (← Check it out!), “Here I am. Send me.” When we dialog with God, great things happen!

   Another lesson drawn from Elijah is that we need to do what God tells us. Recently I reread the story about Jonah. You’ll remember he bristled at the idea of God expecting him to do something, and it ended up in some troubled days for him. When he finally did as God asked, the results were spectacular. We often complain that it’s hard for us to know what God wants us to do. Really? I mean we’ve got the best Instruction Manual in the world – the Bible. Probably one of the easiest passages to remember is Micah 6:8 (you probably have this memorized by now because I cite it all the time). Another is the passage in Matthew where the lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus’ reply was that we must love God completely and love our neighbors as ourselves. So, you see, it’s not so hard to know what God wants us to do because he’s constantly telling us! Even our conscience, our internal moral compass, tells us that we can’t live life only for our own pleasure; others have to be part of our life. Even the people who trouble us can be part of God’s plan for Salvation for all, even those who trouble us.

Elijah was certainly troubled by Ahab and Jezebel! Remember he thought he’d be better off dead – but was not in a rush to have Jezebel do that. God spoke to him with very specific instructions about where to go, and even provided him with provisions to make the journey (read all of 1 Kings 19 for that story; it will take about 8 minutes.) God gave Elijah the strength to carry on, not only to survive, but to also to prevail against his enemies. This is because Elijah was always and all ways in close proximity to God – God was with him. We are all familiar with what the Apostle Paul said about getting strength from God: Philippians 4:13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Many of us are nodding in agreement while recalling that memory verse.

Paul had that certainty of strength because he, too, listened to what God said. He knew what he did was risky, but for him the risk was nothing compared to the reward! He knew full well that being a “testimony for Jesus Christ” was the job of a martyr – one who testifies. Perhaps he had heard accounts of Jesus telling the Twelve before sending them out to preach the Good news, Matthew 10:32[Jesus said] 32 Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have speaking up for me other than Jesus! That happens only when we speak up for him, for then he will speak up for us. Elijah knew that God spoke up for him by speaking through him; he will do the same for us.

“But it’s so hard! I’m no good at that; it’s too much to ask, too big of a job.” OK, then just do the little things – those are the ones that really count. Remember this passage: Luke 16:10 Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. You’ll remember St. Mother Teresa said, Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Just do a good job with the little stuff. Preach the Gospel every day, and if absolutely necessary, use words (tip of the hat to St. Francis there!) There is an interesting example of that second method in a movie called God is not Dead – the moviethat did well in theaters and also came  out on DVD. Crucita and I watched that some time ago, and one of the topics touched on was “Why is there evil?” Of course the answer was that ultimately God’s gift to us was Free Will. The dialog in the movie supported the conclusion that evil is temporary because it comes from the Devil, but free will is permanent because it is a gift from God. The Permanence of God’s Gifts of Grace are living proof that he is with us whenever we are with him. Here is an excerpt fromGod is not Dead – the movie” – Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want people turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. ‘Til one day time runs out and the door slams shut and suddenly it’s too late to get out.

However, we have the key to the jail cell! The parts of that key – the shank, the setting or bitting (teeth cut into the key’s blade), all “little things” that turn the tumblers in that lock are … the Bible verses in this message! And that’s only one possible key out of gazillions! We have the Key, we have the Life, and we have the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.). What is stopping us from using them? (See Romans 8:35-39). What’s the answer? NOTHING! God is the God of the living, we are alive, and we can do all the little stuff in Christ who strengthens us, and we know all this because – even at this very moment – we hear God’s tiny whisper saying, “What are you doing here?”

What are we doing here? I dearly hope we are listening to God asking us in our hearts, “Who shall we send,” and we are ready to say, “Here I am LORD, Send ME!” Back to the movie for just a second: God is not dead, but I am, and there are actually two ways that can be true! I can be dead in sin, or dead to sin. If only the Spirit of God lives in me, in you, in us, we are ALIVE in God! And living in Christ Jesus I am alive because, like him, I have a resurrection to a new-and-eternal life. He told us so in the Voice of the Holy Spirit. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (See Luke 14:35 for example).

We want to see God move, but even more, God longs for us to see Him move with His presence and power. Wouldn’t you agree that we need to do all we can to help others to stand in awe of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, even our enemies? It seems our Nation has many “enemies, foreign and domestic” and especially spiritual enemies. Here are some thoughts on enemies:

“Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt.” ~~ Graham Greene

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” ~~ General James Mattis

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Matthew 5:43-45 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Luke 10:19 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.

Never doubt that Satan is intelligent and corrupt, and that he corrupts all who indulge him. Our war is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (See Ephesians 6:10-20) so we must  “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.” God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” (See Romans 1:20-26) We just need to “do the right thing,” and God will take care of the rest!

Psalm 41:11 11 By this I know that you are pleased with me;
because my enemy has not triumphed over me.

And how is that possible? It is possible because of the Power, the Proximity, and the Permanence of God’s Providence. Great Things Happen (↔ Music Link) when God mixes with us! We need only wait through the tumult surrounding us until we are centered in the sheer silence of the presence of God and perhaps we, too, will hear him whisper, “What are you doing here, Belovéd?”

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

And here’s a photo of our Mimi-girl – Lady Miriam – who passed away Wednesday around 2 PM. She was 16 years old – that’s 112 in cat years – and age finally caught up with her.

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Aloha Friday Message – July 31, 2020 – Uh-oh, Aloha Friday no go

Happy aloha Friday beloved. This is just a short note to tell you that my computer has died and I am waiting for replacement parts,  so I will not be sending terrific Tuesday or Aloha Friday messages — probably until mid August. I apologize for the delay. I have to do this on my iPhone and it is REALLY slow going!

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

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Aloha Friday Message – July 24, 2020 – A Bucket Wish

2030AFC072420 – A Bucket Wish

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

A pile of keys outside an antique shop in Eton.

Matthew 13:47-50 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. What’s on your “bucket list?” Is there something you would really wish for before you check out? There have been some pretty silly movies about going after The Bucket List. And come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone ever telling me they wanted to end up as a basket case, or get crated off at the end. “What is the geezer talking about?” I am thinking about the response King Solomon gave when God said to him: that night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”  (See 1 Kings 3:5, NLT[1]) Solomon asked for wisdom to be able to judge right from wrong – Verse 9 in 1 Kings 3 says – Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people? Well, as you certainly know by now, I am no Solomon (thank God for that because Solomon was declared to be the first and last man of his endowments), but I do know there is a strong scriptural basis for the understanding that God is open to our requests. In the story of Bartimaeus (← Check it out!), Jesus asks “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asks to see. In Matthew 8:2 and Luke 5:12, there is a man with leprosy who says, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” In Luke 5:13 we read 13 Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. Jesus touched him and said I do choose.” The healing was instantaneous and complete.

We also have Jesus’ declarations about praying in faith. In the Parable of the Unjust Judge (See Luke 18:1-8) Jesus says to pray and not lose heart. In Matthew 7:7, we read Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. We have another promise of Jesus’ help in Mark 11:24 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Jesus gives some remarkable advice – and great assurances of aid – in John 14:10-17. These two verses are especially important: 13 I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. 14 When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it. (CEB)[2] What would I ask Jesus if he said to me, “Tell me what you want, and you can have it.”?

My answer would be found in verse 48 in today’s Key Verse selection – [they] put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. That word “baskets” gets translated several different ways. In the King James Version, and American Standard Version, it says “vessels.” In the New American Bible, it says “buckets.” In the New Revised Standard Version it says “Baskets.” In the New Living Translation it says “crates.” The Greek word is ἄγγη (angē) from ἀγγεῖον (aggeion) {ang-eye’-on} – vessel, especially a container for a catch of fish. The word in Hebrew is כְּלִ֣י (kə-lî) {kel-ee’} is something that is made for a purpose such as a vessel, armor, baskets, pots, and even a yoke. The point here is that what is good is put in a place designed to keep it in good condition; whatever is not good – not serviceable, not useful, not acceptable, not pure – is discarded. If Jesus’ question to me would be “What do you want me to do for you?”, I would say, “I want to end up in the bucket, put me in the basket, crate me up and put me by you safely forever.” That’s my “bucket wish.” Why would I wish for that? Because of verses 49-50! 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That wish to be crated off, however, is the wrong request.

Say what? Let’s go back and look at Solomon’s request. Did he ask for a guaranteed spot on the Beulah Land Express? No, he asked for an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil. He asked for the proper tools to do the work God had given him, a way to take responsibility for doing the right thing. Here is one way Jesus put that in John 6:26-29 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The proper tools I need then are whatever is necessary to believe in him whom God the Father has sent. Do you remember the story of the boy affected by an unclean spirit? The Disciples couldn’t cast the spirit out. The boy’s father asked Jesus to help his son, saying “if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus replied, “’If you are able!’—All things can be done for the one who believes.” The father’s response is a paradoxical prayer in which all of us can take hope: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (See Mark 9:14-29) The tool I most need to do the work God has given me is FAITH, and it is faith that will help me to discern between good and evil. It is also faith that will help me choose that which I discern as good over that which is evil. If my goal is to end up in the bucket because what is good is put in a place designed to keep it in good condition, then my work is to believe, to discern, to choose, and to do that which is good – every time.

Do you remember the story of The Rich Young Ruler? (See Matthew 19:16-22) He started off by asking, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus told him to keep the commandments, to which the enquirer responded he was already doing that followed by “I have kept all these since I was a youth; what do I still lack?” Jesus’ response floored the guy: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” That young man’s job was to leave comfort behind and follow Jesus. He didn’t, as far as we know. He was looking for “that one thing” we all want to do to get Eternal Life. “That one thing” is to do the right thing.

KNOWING the right thing takes discernment, faith, and the act of choosing faith that will help me to discern between good and evil and then choose that which I discern as good over that which is evil. Where, how, in what circumstances do we experience that which is good and get sorted into the House of God? There’s a really good answer in the Epistle for this Sunday. Look at Romans 8:28 28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. If we love God (in Three Persons), good will come our way because we will discern what is right, choose what is right, do what is right, and live our faith well beyond our unbelief. We will be caught up in that net cast into the sea of humanity and be sorted into the vessels that are destined for Glory. We need never find out what it means to experience weeping and gnashing of teeth. Perhaps in addition to praying, “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!” we can also pray “Lord I love. Help my lack of love.”

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.

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

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


[1] Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[2] Scripture quotations marked CEB Common English Bible (CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

 

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Aloha Friday Message – July 17, 2020 – Plowed under

2029AFC071720 – Plowed under

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Wisdom 12:18-21 18 Still, though you rule absolutely, you exercise careful judgment. You govern us with amazing restraint. If you wanted to, you could do anything you wished. 19 By your actions, you taught your people that those who do what is right must always want what is best for others. Your sons and daughters saw that you give to those who have sinned a chance to change their hearts and minds. In this way you encouraged them. 20 They knew if you gave their enemies the opportunity to free themselves from evil, punishing them with such care, and even letting them go free when they clearly deserved death, 21 how much more care would you exercise in judging your children, to whose fathers you had given such rich promises by means of solemn pledges and covenants?  CEB Common English Bible (CEB)  Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible Used with permission; Copyright 2012 by Common English Bible and/or its suppliers. All rights reserved.

Matthew 13:24-30 24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” New American Standard Bible (NASB) “Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

This coming Sunday will be a continuation of the exploration of the parables in the Gospel of Matthew. We will again look to the parables to help us clarify our Mission as Disciples. One of the most interesting parables in the passage in Matthew 13 is the parable of the wheat and the weeds. You may have learned the title of that story as “The Wheat and the Tares.” This parable is given to us shortly after The Parable of the Sower (see last week’s post 2028AFC071020 – Grow Where I Send Thee) and comes immediately after the Parable of the Mustard Seed (See 1824AFC061518 – DEEP-SEE Diving) I want to share with you some background on this Parable of “The Wheat and the Tares.” Before we get into that too deeply I first have to note down some thoughts about the Key Verse entry for today from the Book of Wisdom. Non-Catholic readers will not find this passage in their Bibles because the Book of Wisdom is not included in their canon of Scripture. Nonetheless, there is indeed some wisdom in the passage quoted, and I chose it to reiterate something we share often here: God loves everyone so much that he gives anyone the opportunity to respond to his call for obedience and repentance. Everything God has told us in Scripture and Nature speaks to the fact that he will give to those who have sinned a chance to change their hearts and minds. You probably recognize the word Metanoia because last year we did a whole series (← Check it out!) on that concept of a 180º turnaround. Metanoia is the built-in reset button God gives us; it is the do-over we all desire whenever we realize we’ve moved away from God – again. It takes effort of will – I call that volition – to do that. The really cool thing is that there is no limit to how many times we can “hit reset.” We know there are many things in our lives that require going back and doing it again – washing the dishes, taking a bath, mowing the lawn, going to church, studying for a test, making up with someone we’ve offended (especially God, yeah?), and planting crops. God is always giving second chances. We just have to use them. In the day-to-day things I’ve just listed, we usually have no problem getting into the task required. Getting “right with God” by using a second chance is something we have a little more trouble with because we have to admit we were wrong, and then all the good things we have done seem to have ben jeopardized. That’s not really the case because God forgets everything he has forgiven, but we get hung up on it anyway. Farming, though, is a bit like that second-chance process with God. We have to do all the right things at the right times to get the right results for the right reasons. Otherwise, what’s the point of planting a field? If we want a harvest, we’ve got to put in the work, just like repenting before God. Now, how does the farmer prepare for the harvest?

Let’s just list a few things that have to be done in the proper order:

  • Get the seed. Usually this comes from a previous year’s harvest somewhere by someone.
  • Prepare the soil. You’ll recall that the sower is the previous parable just went out and threw out LOTS of seeds, but what the parable does not specify is that first the ground was broken – plowed. The dirt is broken up, the clods separated.
    • BUT the plowing doesn’t go on forever. Listen to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 28:23-29 23 Listen, and hear my voice; Pay attention, and hear my speech. 24 Do those who plow for sowing plow continually? Do they continually open and harrow their ground?
  • After the ground is broken, the seeds are planted – sown in their proper places (see the entire passage above for examples)
  • The field is irrigated, watched, tended, weeded, protected, and brought to full fruition
  • Then comes the harvest – some 30-fold, some 60-fold, and some 100-fold.

But something bad happened to that farmer’s field in this parable. An enemy came and sowed a dangerous weed among that farmer’s wheat. His day-laborers spotted it and realized something terrible had befallen their boss. That’s what we need to look at. What they found were TARES.

In Jesus’ day the TARE was a plant that looked very much like wheat when it started growing, but when the time came around for harvest, the tare, also called darnel, a type of rye grass, not only looked different from the wheat, but also was poisonous rather than nutritious. Back in that time, an enemy might sow tare seeds in a neighbor’s wheat field as a kind of economic sabotage. The unlucky neighbor would not know this until the plants started to mature. Darnel parasitizes wheat fields, and deprives the wheat of vital nutrients in the soil – it is a weed, and that is how it is translated in many bible translations. The Greek for this is ζιζάνια (zizania) {dziz-an’-ee-on}. It is a plant that grows in Palestine and Eurasia. It resembles wheat in many ways but is worthless. It cannot be used for food because it is toxic. It is named as Lolium temulentum (also often referred to as darnel, poison darnel, darnel ryegrass, or cockle), and is an annual plant (it must be sown every year). It strongly resembles wheat in the early growing stages but soon can be distinguished by is rougher appearance and darker grain head – often black instead of gold or brown. The fact that the enemy sowed tares would be of keen interest to Jesus’ listeners because they knew the effects of this darnel seed.

Darnel is one of those “weeds” that mimics other grains. It is a form of rye grass or rye grains. It’s closely related to wheat and barley, and grows in much the same way. And like those healthy grains, darnel cannot thrive without human assistance! But darnel is dangerous. Eating the grains produces dizziness, loss of balance, nausea, and the person seems drunk. Their vision is impaired and their speech slurred. Some folks actually used it in breads and even beer to give those foods a little “extra punch.” It is even a mild hallucinogen. In fact, darnel is more susceptible to ergot (a fungus that produces the basis for what came to be known as LSD), so – in large doses – it can produce hallucinations, convulsions, and even death. That darnel has some bad side effects. The enemy wanted the farmer to suffer the economic hardships that would come from either failing to remove the darnel, or having to endanger his crop to weed it out. In Jesus’ parable, the wise farmer told his crew to wait until the seeds fruited, and then carefully remove the darnel and leave the wheat to be harvested and stored away.

The same thing will happen with people who are being raised to be God’s gift of finest wheat. Our enemy comes amongst us in the darkness and sows poisonous seeds – evil people and ideas – to contaminate the harvest. Jesus was making the point that the enemy, the Accuser, was the one who sowed seeds of dissension, anguish, poison, and death into the potentially fruitful fields of our lives. When those things first enter our lives, they can go unnoticed until they begin to differentiate from the good things in our lives. By then, it can be hard to uproot them because so many other things get uprooted with them. We all know it’s usually best to weed the garden, or the wheat field, as soon as you spot the weeds. But there are situations where you have to wait until what’s good is strong enough to tolerate the trauma of separation from what’s bad.

Addicts can’t quit their addiction until they are strong enough to turn away from it. As with the wheat field, where it takes skill and trained workers to gently unravel the weeds from the wheat, so also with our lives. Sometimes it takes an expert counselor, or a pastor, a loved one, or a close friend to help us tell the good stuff from the bad stuff and get the bad stuff out of the way of the good stuff.

Parents are familiar with this process. The number of bad influences that assault our children is growing at an alarming rate, and parents are hard pressed to head off disaster when those influences tip the scales of our child’s judgment by upping the distractions in their lives. Kids pick up habits and ideas that, in later years, can poison their thinking and choke out the good stuff parents have been carefully planting all through childhood.

Even as adults, we sometimes hoard things that are actually not good for us and should be discarded. Then, when we need to weigh the difference between good choices and bad choices, our discernment system is all out of whack. When these things happen to us as children or adults, we have to find ways to discard them out of our lives without destroying everything else. We need to cleave the soil in which our lives are nourished and take the bad stuff out by the roots and leave the good stuff better-rooted. Often those are some really difficult decisions, and we struggle with them – often on our own – hoping that we can figure it out. This is the time –and times – in our lives when we plow under the past, repent, and prepare our hearts for a fresh seeding with the Word of God.

But if you look back at the Parable of the Tares, there is a huge clue about how to do that with optimal success. Take the problem to the Lord of the Harvest! He has the plan for defeating the enemy! Let the wheat and tares grow until the wheat is ready for harvest, ripe enough and strong enough to withstand the weeding process. At the harvest, the wheat will be brown and the heads of the stalks will be bowed over because of the weight of their fruits. The tares will stand up straight and dark, a smaller yield per stalk than the wheat, but deadly even in small amounts. We will be standing with our heads bowed in prayer like the stalks of wheat while the wickedness surrounding us stands out proud and stark, ready to be plucked up and cast into the fire. Even then, God’s mercy may yet cause them to turn. Do what is right and let wrong condemn itself, because those who do what is right must always want what is best for others. We know the field must be plowed under again to prepare it for the next sowing. Let us pray that a fruitful harvest comes before the ground is broken again.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

BONUS SONG SELECTION: PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO SEE A FINE OLD HYMN ABOUT THIS PARABLE. USE THE TAB THAT SAYS FULL TEXT TO SEE ALL THE VERSES.

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.

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

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

 

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