Lighthouse September 12, 2023
Romans 13:8-30 Love is the fulfillment of the Law
'Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another. ; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “you shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.'
I don't know what scripture you heard this past Sunday but this is the one used throughout the Catholic world and many other denominations. It's so beautiful and yet, so uncomfortable. We all like to hear those words 'love, love, love'. And, we think of St. Augustine who said 'love, and do what you will'. Our earthly nature may immediately equate love with licentiousness, do what I feel like. But that would be a far cry from love. Love is, first of all, not a feeling. It does have objective norms for being evaluated. That is why no one has any problem with the second, third, and forth commandment Paul mentions. We all know, even in our constitution, that to take the life of another is never love. It is a great denial of what is most essential to the other. No one has a problem with seeing the evil in stealing. We have a right to private property. But, when someone mentions something against the sixth command, which by the way comes from the word 'sextus' dealing with sex then the whole world seems to scream for freedom to do as one wills. Why do you think Paul mentions it first? This is why Jesus himself references us back to what the author of life established as the natural law, one man, one woman, for life. It was by the creation of marriage that God said 'let us make man in our image', a community of persons. When someone asks what does one plus one equal we are prone to answer 'two'. But if you ask what one cloud merged with one cloud equals you still have one cloud. So it is with marriage 'the two shall become one.' It was only natural that Satan would seek to destroy this witness of God's unity. When Adam and Eve gave into temptation not only was their relationship with God damaged but in putting on clothes they showed their own inability to totally trust one another. This is what Jesus made possible to restore. A man and woman can totally give themselves to one another and become one. Any other use of the sexual power outside of that is to give into Satan's plan that people only use one another. I saw a book at our rummage the other day on what to do after a child is born in caring for it and oneself. It states 'when one is ready for recreational sex'. That statement just screamed at me, as if sex is more about seeking pleasure than the person. Even within marriage one can succumb to seeing the other as an object. If a couple totally gives themselves to one another they can have the greatest sexual joy God designed. Any other use of one's sexual power, including pornography, is to destroy God's original design and thus be adultery. That's where we get the word 'adulterate' from. It is to corrupt the original design of the author. Let us work to rebuild marriage, the pillar of society, the witness of real love; let us get rid of all of Satan's temptations that go against it in our own lives.
Lighthouse September 5, 2023
Labor Day; a day to labor or refrain?
My dad used to have an excuse for working on almost any occasion; and Labor Day didn't miss the point. Besides, it was usually cotton-picking season . What is our attitude towards work, labor? Some think of it in a very negative way because of such words as 'labor camps'. What does scripture have to say about it? When we read Genesis we hear the words 'garden'. Adam and Eve were in a garden and given dominion over all animals. That of itself indicates there must be some tilling of the garden. But it was a sharing in God's own very creative process. When they sinned it was only then that they were told it would exact some uncomfortableness to bring about the basics in food and housing that they would desire. Even then it was not bad as humans have always been able to take delight in something they have grown or designed. Then, when we look at the New Testament we hear St. Paul say 'let him who does not work, not eat” 2 Thes. 3:10. I like what Pope Francis said in a recent book. He said “Labor is not the exclusive privilege of the employed or the employers but a right and duty for all men and women.' He goes on to say that everyone needs to earn a dignified living through their labor, to support their families and develop themselves, but to also enrich their surroundings and communities. That everyone should see it as a way of taking part in society and contribute to the common good. He says that prioritizing access to work must become a core goal of national public policies. It is interesting that he talked about the very words we use: 'company' means sharing bread together; 'corporation' means integration into the body; common good comes from the Latin cum-munus is to serve together. We are not a communistic society expecting the government to take and disperse but rather a society based primarily on Judaeo-Christian values which esteems the free ability to give to others as we deem the need exists and our ability to give. As such we are called to recognize the inherent value of each person made in the image and likeness of God and to hear the words of Jesus telling us that what we do to the least we do to Him. With that in mind and with the belief that everyone really does want to work the pope encourages us to see the true value to the common good of having parents at home caring for their children or even the value of volunteers who seek to serve that common good in some way. As such, we do well to seek ways to make it beneficial to have stay at home care-givers. We do well then to make all labor of sufficient value to where the individual can have great self-esteem in providing their own food, housing and health care. Is not the way forward precisely in helping all to achieve that. It's not about 'look at what I'm doing for you' but rather 'look at all we can achieve as a caring family.'
Lighthouse August 29, 2023
Do not feed what is holy to the dogs
This past Sunday we had one of the most challenging readings, that is in understanding, as any we might
ever address. In Mt. 15:21 we hear Jesus encounter a Canaanite woman in the area of Tyre and Sidon.
She asks that he heal her daughter and Jesus responded 'It is not right to take the food of children and
throw it to the dogs.' To which she responds 'Even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table.' And
Jesus responds 'O woman, great is your faith!' Very confusing in many ways. The Canaanites were eternal
enemies of the Jews. This is the first time scripture records Jesus going outside of the Holy Land and here
he uses a derogatory term while in foreign territory. Remember, it was Jesus who told the story about the
rich man being condemned because he wouldn't even give the scraps given to the dogs to the poor man,
Lazarus. This scripture is a reminder of why it is very important to know who the scriptures are being
addressed to. Over and over Jesus is teaching the apostles, as well as the Scribes and Pharisees that they
must have faith in him. As such he will time and again indicate how the apostles themselves had little
faith; as he did to Peter when he rescued him from drowning and said 'O you of little faith.' Over and over
he begins indicating that he has come for all people 'and when I am lifted up I will draw all to myself.' To
do this he made examples of others who were not among the elite believers. He touched great sinners and
tax collectors. He healed the lepers. Then he even healed the centurion's servant and said about him in Mt.
8:10 “ When Jesus heard him he marveled, and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I say to you, not
even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.' Here he has expanded his outreach beyond the
Jews and now with the Phoenician woman he demonstrates that he, God, does indeed exist and operate
outside of the Holy Land. Remember, many cultures, including Jews limited their god to certain territory.
As he had said earlier to the woman at the well 'The days are coming when true worshipers will worship
God everywhere' and he would tell the apostles to go out into the whole world proclaiming the Gospel.
Few of us reading this Gospel are of Jewish origin and so we should take delight that we have been
included in the Father's rest. Jesus has made unequivocal the fact that the kingdom is open to all people,
everywhere. How well we would do to also live with that awareness when we look at others. We are all
called to belong at the same table.
Lighthouse August 2, 2023
Grandparents Day. Okay, I know it is not until the Sunday after Labor Day here in the US but for some of us it is celebrated internationally with the Feast of St. Joachim and Ann, the supposed grandparents of Jesus. It dawned on me that by the time the 10th of September comes we have already used up our summer; we've gotten back to a school schedule; we get in one last hurrah for summer with Labor Day and then we don't want to focus on anything else. I thought it might be good to focus on the time between these two grandparent days and see if we can't pay them a little more attention. First of all, who are Joachim and Ann? We really don't know Jesus' grandparents name on Mary's side, which is the only biological side Jesus has. Someone in the third century figured they ought to have a name because, after all, Jesus came in the flesh. He was born a human being with a real body like ours; he had real parents and grandparents and so on. So it only seemed right to honor them because, after all, grandparents are very important. You know in scripture 'honor your father and mother' is the only commandment which has a promise,'that you may live a long life in the land.' Of course I love Lev 19:32 'You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man.' Then again, in terms of thinking of grandparents Proverbs 17 says 'Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.' With that we see how reciprocal the relationship is. Unfortunately we live in a time where because of smaller families and the mobility of our society many grandparents do not have the joy of frequent contact with their grandchildren. It seems then that this time between the two grandparent days would be a great time for us to be intentional in making sure vacations don't consume all our free time and that we make way for the other generation. How can you include them in your summer plans yet? I know as I look back I realize how extremely fortunate I was. Not only did I get to know all 4 of my grandparents I got to see them on a regular basis. Each one of them was truly an inspiration in my life, not necessarily in what they had to say about God but in how they lived their lives in relationship with God. Hopefully you have had much that same kind of experience and realize how important it is to help make it happen for your own children. We live in a time when Satan is certainly attacking the family, and its values. As such we have to be more intentional in not only how we counteract that but in how we give greater witness to others who perhaps have not been so blessed.