This week seems like an unlikely place to enter into a discussion on dialog, love and the Christian Way. Our democracy is being tested in a crucible of dividedness while a pandemic ravages the nation. It is like we are at war with all but the declaration, filling many with a combination of sadness, anger and confusion. If the financial and health impacts of the worldwide pandemic weren’t enough, this past week we had to deal with a physical attack on the equivalent of the Holy Grail of democracy for the world. The United States Capital.
I am going to go no further in what this may mean for us, partially because I don’t know exactly what it does mean for us at this time. It’s hard to write history as its happening. And also, because I think at times like this we are being called to the core of our spirituality and Christian Faith. It is these topics I want to examine today in a meaningful and prayerful way. You, along with the Holy Spirit can determine where this is taking you, and perhaps us all in this future.
I am doing to try and examine one subject in this precious time we have together today. And the subject is Love. Our nation has a wonderful tradition of freedom. There are few examples of countries who have offered themselves up to maintain the freedom of others. Perhaps the most essential expression of the greatest love. To lay down your life for another. Many thousands of American citizens have died for the love of their fellow man. May God Bless them all.
Blessed John Duns Scotus, the thirteenth-century Franciscan theologian, expresses God’s greatest gift to us is our freedom and our free will. This is the way we can show our alignment with God in all our actions or words. Or not as the case may be. We have the option to use our free will in whatever form we want. Only to be moderated by the law.
Scotus continues to illustrate with this with blinding simplicity, if our choices are based in love, then they are from God. So, patterns of love are exercised if we align ourselves with God, and therefore do His will with this in our heart. All other actions are not of God.
This simple message is best communicated in Jesus’s words on the Sermon on the Mount, in the beatitudes. Here, and thoroughly, the Way of God is illustrated in all parts of our lives.
The word beatitude means “supreme blessedness.” How beautiful is that? Today, I need this blessedness to guide me during my days and weeks. And I will use them on Monday as I make decisions to determine who I feel is most aligned with those instructions from the Sermon on the Mount.
I also pray the divisiveness which permeates the country, communities and even families will be dissipated soon, washed away in the Blood of Christ and the community we celebrate together today.
Here is a reflection I have used to deal with my own feelings when challenged. Appropriately called oversensitive. May God Bless us all, and God Bless America.
When the pain comes in from those who dislike you,
Or what you have done,
Or seems you had done;
The fork in the road rushes up.
To vilify and engage in debate,
Shredding their argument,
And then their clothes;
Until they are left naked, and your work is done.
Or listen and pray,
Perhaps then, we might hear what is behind the words,
The critiques, the noise,
And learn what is in their heart.
Which may tell us what is in ours.