If forgiveness isn’t denial or a detour, if forgiveness isn’t quick — then what is it? What is Jesus asking of us when he invites us to love, bless, pray, give, lend, do good, withhold judgment, extend mercy, and turn the other cheek?
A timely meditation by Debie Thomas, one of my favorite teachers, on a favorite website, Journey with Jesus. Here, Debie examines Jesus’ teaching we will hear on Sunday, February 20, 2022, from Luke 6:27-38.
She pays particular attention to “the rising tide of rage and meanness in our Covid-weary culture” and confesses that the readings appointed for Sunday cause her some discomfort. Why? She answers: “Because the readings are about forgiveness. They are about the work of forgiveness, and the challenges they pose to our ‘shove or be shoved’ culture are daunting.”
I encourage you to read her essay. I encourage you to take to heart her exploration of Jesus’ teaching and, as you follow Jesus, please engage in the work of forgiveness.
[Hannah] was deeply distressed
and prayed to the Lord,
and wept bitterly.
Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard
1 Samuel 1:10, 13 NRSV
Like a prayer, again, the wind sounds the chimes. What do you hear?
Prayer as a quest
The purpose of prayer is not prayer. The purpose of prayer is to come to love God as much as possible with all the insights into the nature and presence of God this world allows. […] in prayer we are seeking the God who is seeking us. … Prayer is the process of learning to listen.
Prayer is more like breathing. At times we may be especially conscious of it.…But breathing is never just one more task on our list of things to do. It is essential to life; without it we die. Prayer, like breathing, is essential to our life in God. Without it, our spiritual lives cannot be sustained.
“The Church is part of God’s mission and work
but by no means the entirety.”
This is the “Word” given today by Brother Kevin Hackett, SSJE. It stopped me (first) and then awakened me to affirm that God has no boundaries, no constraints, in proclaiming everywhere, at all times, through agents of all kinds, the magnificence and wonder of Divine Love at work in all of the created order. Read Brother Hackett’s Word for Today: Brother, Give Us A Word | Subscribe to a Daily Meditation from the SSJE Brothers.
Words are important. We use a lot of words in the Sunday Morning Forum. We hear a lot of words—from scripture and from each other. In Sunday’s Gospel account (12/4/11) we heard that John “appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4. Once again the SSJE brothers give us a word:
“Repentance is one of the essential words of the Scriptures. It’s found on the lips of the prophets, it’s found on the lips of John the Baptist, and it’s found on the lips of Jesus himself…. We’re almost programmed to expect words like hellfire and brimstone to follow, and sometimes they do, but we can’t avoid it or do without because it is one of our essential words—and practices.”
-Br. Kevin Hackett via Brother, Give Us A Word a ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Boston, MA (members are also known as “The Cowley Fathers”)
More on the word:
Repentance: A change of mind or behaviour; this may be attributed even to God in OT (1 Sam. 15: 11). It was demanded of the people whose repentance was often merely formalized in cultic actions and as such condemned by prophets as inadequate and empty (Amos 4: 6; Hosea 6: 4; Isa. 1: 10–17) and without the radical change demanded by the Law. The hope lay in the possibility that one day God would give his people a new heart (Ezek. 36: 26–31) and there would be forgiveness to all who repented (Isa. 1: 18–19). In the NT repentance is called for by John the Baptist (Matt. 3: 9–10) and is to be validated by baptism. The call is repeated by Jesus (Luke 5: 32) and sometimes Paul (e.g. Rom. 2: 4) and in Rev. (2: 5).
“repentance.” In A Dictionary of the Bible. , edited by W. R. F. BROWNING. Oxford Biblical Studies Online http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/article/opr/t94/e1610 (accessed 07-Dec-2011).
Wilderness is a word that marks the Second Week of Advent 2011. In Sunday’s Gospel selection we heard that “John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness” (Mark 1:4).
In your meditations this week consider the word, WILDERNESS. From the timely meditations offered by Suzanne Guthrie let these words help you:
Meditation One (introit) the inner desert
There is a physical desert, inhabited by a few exceptional men and women who are called to live there; but more importantly, there is an inner desert, into which each one of us must one day venture. It is a void; an empty space for solitude and testing.
-Frere Ivan The Desert and the City quoted from The Desert, An Anthology for Lent
He [John the Baptist] is in the wilderness. Obviously because he finds these surroundings appropriate to his life- the parched solitude, the endless spaces, where no one can feel at home. Inevitably we keep discovering that we too are in the wilderness, the wilderness of a great city, the wilderness of isolation, a wilderness that seems to have no center, a wilderness we cannot feel at home in. And we are also men and women who would live in a wilderness if we have to give our outward environment the shape of that which is within us.
-Karl Rahner 1904-1984 sermon for Advent 3(B) from The Great Church Year
In the Forum over the last several weeks we have talked about and learned from Moses, our great ancestor in the faith. Brother Give Us A Word is a daily word of wisdom delivered via email. Here is today’s word, as if Br. Geoffrey was listening in to the Forum discussion:
“Why have you laid the burden of these people on me…? I’ve had enough. I can’t do it anymore. I cannot carry all these people on my own. They’re too heavy for me. I’m so miserable, I’d rather die…” How is it that Moses…dared to speak to God with such a bold and forthright prayer? It is because Moses had, over time, come to know God in a very intimate way. We are told that Moses walked with God and, a couple chapters later in the Book of Numbers, God says, “I am pleased with you Moses. I know you by name….” Moses talked with God in this way because he was God’s friend.
Listening to what God is saying to us in Holy Scripture, in our hearts as we pray and meditate, and as we hear other people speak about God, is important to us as we seek spiritual growth and understanding.