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Author Topic: February 25, 2010 Thursday of the First Week in Lent. Est C, Ps138, Matt 7  (Read 2936 times)
Alan
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piggysiggy
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« on: February 25, 2010, 02:07:32 AM »

Today's readings are at: http://www.usccb.org/nab/022510.shtml

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... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Alan
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2010, 02:54:02 AM »

Oh, gosh.

After just a few days I think I'm getting slap happy with trying to write reflections on the readings.  No big deal, I hope; it's been a while since I tried to do that so maybe I just have to get used to it again ... or let some things go like the Jonah stories yesterday that really didn't speak to me.

I don't know anything about Esther other than what is in today's first reading.  The "Oh, gosh" is that the first image I got reading it, was of people groveling, which in turn reminded me of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

In case I burn in hell for saying these things, I guess I will regret the "fun" I had while on this planet.  Wink
--------------------
After that, maybe I'd better leave reading 1 alone and let others have a chance at more "sincere" commentary.

As for the Gospel reading ... just about anything in Matt 5-7 speaks to me, including today's passage.

I do, though, have a few questions about this part of it:

Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.


When I hear people say they prayed for something but got the opposite, they say, "well, it seems God had a 'better' plan for me."  How does that reconcile with this passage?

Same thing about the Golden Rule:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”


If this is the law, why would God break that law and kill people, throw them into hell, or whatever.  I just don't get the "wrathful" image of God.  I know there is lots of scholarly people who say the God of the New Testament, Jesus, and the God of the Old Testament are all the same and they do things the same way, but to me it seems like He must have had a major moodswing or something.  Then, though, the apostles go around commanding fire down from the heavens again, and the like.  I realize these are their enemies, so I guess we have to qualify the Golden Rule.

I'm really not trying to be cynical.  I simply cannot accept the Bible word-for-word, on its surface, at this point in my life, and what's worse is that doesn't bother me.  What I cannot accept even more, are the ways that Christians try to "explain" how God is in control of everything and how God does whatever we ask, shows us what we seek, etc. when it seems more like what happens is totally random and not related to the prayer at all.

Most of the time I think prayer to God asking for things, is really to condition our own minds more than actually petitioning the Creator to do us a favor of some sort.  In the "Our Father" Jesus simply asks for our "daily bread," which means to me that we are to have faith that we will be fed like the birds and clothed like the lilies.

Grrrr.  I feel like I'm writing like a grouch, yet right now I actually feel great peace amid whatever problems I have.  The only unsettled aspect I have now is due to the leftover pizza I had too close to bed time.  Am I missing something?  Am I going to burn in hell?  Am I just happy because I'm ignorant or detached from God, or am I learning to care more about loving myself and one another than other things?  I don't know, but I can say this: Jesus's example and teachings have helped me attain a great sense of peace here on earth.  However flawed my "interpretation" of Scripture, I wish more people could experience what I am feeling now.

Alan

P.S. yesterday I got an idea what I might like to do with the rest of my life -- embark on a quest to stamp out anger.  I hate anger, and I think it is almost always destructive.  I cannot deal with anger, even on the part of some of my own relatives.  I first learned the basics about anger from a chapter devoted to it in Bob Conklin's book, "How To Get People To Do Things."

Note the book is NOT called, "How To Get People To Do What You Want."  Funny, though, when I tell people about the book then later ask if they remember the name, almost invariably they remember it this way... go figure.

I would like to study more about anger, and find ways to help people overcome it.  Also I'd like strategies of dealing with anger directed toward me or at least occurring around me -- I hate it and feel sorry for the angry person and all, but I tend to shy away and leave them alone even to the detriment of my own goals; I'd like to improve that part of myself.
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Alan
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2010, 05:13:45 AM »

I wonder if I wasn't a bit manic while writing that last missive.  Undecided
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2010, 11:56:46 AM »

After being home sick yesterday and having to catch up today at work, I may or may not make it back to comment on these particular readings and your thoughts on them. There is something I did want to address though, which I can do quickly.

Am I missing something?  Am I going to burn in hell?  Am I just happy because I'm ignorant or detached from God, or am I learning to care more about loving myself and one another than other things?  I don't know, but I can say this: Jesus's example and teachings have helped me attain a great sense of peace here on earth.  However flawed my "interpretation" of Scripture, I wish more people could experience what I am feeling now.


I've spent my share of time with theology and such. It's an interesting pursuit and I'm sure that it does in fact inform my belief system to some level. But I also believe that it can be very negative, especially when I consider that the great sin of the Garden of Eden was eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And why was this so? Because in doing so we would start to think that we are like God and can truly know such things. I truly believe that it is people thinking they understand what God is thinking and doing that has led to much of the true evil in history.

My true theology is very basic and states: Those who truly seek God will find Him. It has lots of little theological subsets on how this might occur that are unquestionably informed by my own upbringing and theological pursuits, but in the end I do believe that one who honestly struggles with God, both in good and in bad, is being totally sincere in their quest and is doing exactly what we are put here to do. I have further found that most people doing so are then aware that we all must struggle with this and are more willing to accomodate other's struggles without judging them for those struggles. Caring more about loving ourselves and one another would be very indicative of this and a very positive thing, IMO.

I wonder if I wasn't a bit manic while writing that last missive.

I will admit to keeping a close eye for this possibility. I remember the ascent last time from reflective to manic was petty steep and quick. This still seems to be in the reflective mode but I don't have a baseline for where the starting point is, or any way to know that one stage necessarily leads to another. The fact that it occurs to you to think about it would seem to indicate that you aren't manic though from my limited experience. From the little I've seen, when one is there the possibility doesn't seem to occur and a question will bring on a refusal to consider the possibility.

John
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This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2010, 11:22:36 PM »

quote: Alan
Oh, gosh.

After just a few days I think I'm getting slap happy with trying to write reflections on the readings.  No big deal, I hope; it's been a while since I tried to do that so maybe I just have to get used to it again ... or let some things go like the Jonah stories yesterday that really didn't speak to me.


On Saturday, I plan to catch up with this thread, Alan.
Off the top of my head, what spoke to me, in the story of Jonah,
was Jonah's fit of annoyance, when God forgave the citizens of Nineveh,
when they repented.

For some reason, this reminds me of the story of the workers in the vineyard,
who became angry when the workers who only worked for an hour were
given the same recompense as those who had worked in the heat of the sun at mid-day.

And this then makes me think of the Lord of the Dance.
One who loves God would rejoice - that the 'late commers' were dancing, too.

This recalls the words of Augustine, as to those who arrived 'late.'

"Late have I loved Thee, O Thou Beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved Thee."
 

reens

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reen
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2010, 12:35:27 AM »

quote: Alan
Same thing about the Golden Rule:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law and the prophets.”


If this is the law, why would God break that law and kill people, throw them into hell, or whatever.  I just don't get the "wrathful" image of God.  I know there is lots of scholarly people who say the God of the New Testament, Jesus, and the God of the Old Testament are all the same and they do things the same way, but to me it seems like He must have had a major moodswing or something.  Then, though, the apostles go around commanding fire down from the heavens again, and the like.  I realize these are their enemies, so I guess we have to qualify the Golden Rule.

I'm really not trying to be cynical.  I simply cannot accept the Bible word-for-word, on its surface, at this point in my life, and what's worse is that doesn't bother me.


I've given up trying to interpret what both the older and the newer scriptures say about God,
and His relationship with human beings. The scriptures seem to give a hint of Who God is,
once one wades through the violence, and violent imagery, encountered in both sets of scriptures.
There are a certain amount of 'double-messages' being given, in both the old and the new.
This is both confusing and upsetting, I find. And as you said, Alan:

Then, though, the apostles go around commanding fire down from the heavens again, and the like.  I realize these are their enemies, so I guess we have to qualify the Golden Rule.
 
All I can figure is, many people 'compartmentalize,' so they don't have to face the
double-messages squarely.  "But I thought you said...?"  Then what's with the
"flames that never quench?" I think that no rational person would wish that on any
human being who ever lived. There is the Judaic belief that those who did
great evil in life will have their souls extinguished. This seems far more rational to me.

In any event, God created all that is. He separated the night from the day,
the firmament from the heavens. All is His to command. I have no idea, whatsoever,
as to why this earthly sojourn is called for. There is so much suffering and loss in life.
Yet it is not up to me to gainsay God. We're here, because God willed this to be so.
It all has to do with trust.

I cannot sufficiently 'compartmentalize.' This is why I think that the scriptures
give us hints about God.


reens
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2010, 03:27:30 PM »

"But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
...Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
 Luke 6: 27ff

--------------------------------------------

"Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."
Matt. 10: 14-15

--------------------------------------------

What am I to make of these juxtaposed passages?

I think of the words of King Solomon, at the dedication of the first Temple:    

"To the foreigner, likewise, who is not of Your people Israel, but comes from a distant land to honor You
- since men will learn of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm -
 when he comes and prays toward this temple, listen from Your heavenly dwelling.
 Do all that the foreigner asks of You, that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name,
 may fear You as do Your people Israel, and may acknowledge that this temple
 which I have built is dedicated to Your honor."  1Kings 8: 41-43


Yet one would find the psalmist saying - with reference to the destruction of the first Temple,
built by Solomon:

Remember, Lord, against Edom that day at Jerusalem. They said: "Level it, level it down to its foundations!"
Fair Babylon, you destroyer, happy those who pay you back the evil you have done us!
Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.

Psalm 137: 7-9

To think of monks chanting the words of verse 9, as part of the Divine Office,
is wholly beyond the pale of comprehension.


reen
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2010, 04:11:19 PM »

quote: Reen
"But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
...Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
  Luke 6: 27ff

--------------------------------------------

"Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."
Matt. 10: 14-15
--------------------------------------------

What am I to make of these juxtaposed passages?


I actually don't have that big a problem with that combination because of my own experiences. A lot of my time at the other forum is spent trying to bring some sense of peace in the "Traditional Catholicism" forum. To constantly remind both "sides" that we are fellow Catholics and that to be going after each other as if the other "side" was evil incarnate just totally fails to live up to who God would have us be. I take a lot of heat there, from those who should be "friends" and those who should be "enemies". I do however truly pray for guidance and wisdom in my words and for receptive hearts and a willingness to engage in truly seeking Truth.

But of course there comes a time, as Jesus did himself on occasion, when it is clear that there are not willing hearts or there is not a sincere desire to seek Truth, but only a desire to "win" and sometimes to pummel the "opposition" into the ground. At those times, rather than to further incite them or entrench them in their positons I will withdraw and shake the dust from my sandals. It is for me the greater attempt at peace that can occur under the circumstances and often involves having to leave some outrageous statement that has been made, or some personal insult, uncountered. It is not my job at that point to form judgments as it is always quite possible that if there was something of value that it will plant a seed to be germinated later. Either way, it is God's job to know and to deal with accordingly.

Remember, Lord, against Edom that day at Jerusalem. They said: "Level it, level it down to its foundations!"
Fair Babylon, you destroyer, happy those who pay you back the evil you have done us!
Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.

Psalm 137: 7-9

To think of monks chanting the words of verse 9, as part of the Divine Office,
is wholly beyond the pale of comprehension.


Yes, there are a few such passages that just make me cringe. There is another one that I can't recall at the moment that is part of one of the Sunday morning prayers in the Office. I cringe every time it comes up and usually offer my own prayer afterwards that I might never desire such revenge.

Truthfully though these are, if nothing else, very honest prayers to God by people in great pain. If we can't bring our honest emotions of the moment to God we are missing something. It doesn't allow me to speak the words as "prayer" though however much I might understand that pain.

John
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"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God."
This is the effect of true charity, to be on good terms with all men, to consider no one your enemy, and to live at peace with those who hate peace.--Robert Bellarmine
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