It’s the last Sunday before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. We enter this period of examination of our lives before the great celebration of Easter. This time of year we often survey various religious and spiritual practices we might try during lent to help us to grow closer to God and our true self. So here is a follow up to last week’s class with a challenge for us.
Last week’s Gospel reading from Matthew (5:38-48) has some of the most provocative and singular calls for us as Christians. We often will say to ourselves that all of the major religions say similar things in terms of how we are to behave, e.g. be good to your neighbors, welcome the stranger, take care of those less fortunate.
But, here Christianity seems to go a step of two further. Love your enemy? Pray for those who persecute you? Be perfect as your father is perfect?
I think we get to that last phrase and say, aha – we know we can’t be perfect like God, so this part must all be sort of tongue-in-cheek, or something to aspire to, but no one really expects us to really do. After all, we’re only humans, and God is, well, God.
And then there’s Jesus. Jesus’s coming to live and die among us seems to say something different. Humanity is special and yes, we have a fantastic arsenal of god-like powers at our disposal. Forgiveness, humor, sacrifice, thought, love, prayer, and of course, God’s grace.
Humanity, as Fr Steve said, can’t be seen as a barrier to us, but rather a means to reaching towards God. It is not an obstacle to be human, it’s a ladder. But we have to extend the darn thing, and take a step or two up.
So this week we are aiming high. Love our enemies? We’ll try.
Come and see how – 9:15 am in the library!
PS – here’s a link to some of the information about opioid abuse in TN that has come up in the past few weeks. Is there anything we can do? http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/health/2016/09/19/there-more-opioid-prescriptions-than-people-tennessee/90358404/