When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.
For some of us, one of the most heartbreaking things we face in this time of great division is the feeling of having been betrayed by people we love.
Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!
It would bring me great joy to be blameless. I would be happy indeed, but I am a man who can find it hard to forgive people who have hurt me. I can be swift to anger and hard to appease.
Most merciful God, purge from my heart all hate and malice. Help me to let go of past anger. Help me to forgive easily and to seek forgiveness quickly when I have offended. Help me to let go of all pride and to embrace humility. Help me to love my neighbor.
I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the poor and render justice to the needy.
The Lord maintains the cause of the poor and gives justice to the needy through us. It is up to us to help those who are less fortunate when we are able, especially now, when programs for the poor and the needy are being defunded.
Rise up, O Lord; set me free, O my God; surely, you will strike all my enemies across the face, you will break the teeth of the wicked.
There is nothing wrong with being angered and enraged by bigotry and cruelty. Jesus and the prophets all spoke out strongly against injustice. We can exercise our right to demonstrate peacefully in protest when we are confronted by hate groups, but let’s leave striking our enemies and breaking the teeth of the wicked to God, and confront those who preach hate with as much patience and love as we can muster.
By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered you, O Zion.
As for our harps, we hung them up on the trees in the midst of that land.
For those who led us away captive asked us for a song, and our oppressors called for mirth: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
How shall we sing the Lord’s song upon an alien soil?
Lately I’ve been feeling as if I might just be on alien soil. So much hate has been revealed since November 9th and the months leading up to that date, that I feel as if I’m no longer at home in my own country. For many of us it’s been a painful period, and some of us have felt frightened of what is yet to come. The horror of Charlottesville brought home the fragility of our democracy and how many thousands of hate filled, torch bearing, slogan chanting, thugs there are just waiting for an opportunity to rise up and implement their own version of a final solution. My grandfather was a Jewish refugee who fled the pogroms of his native Romania. In 1938, armed only with their American passports, he and my grandmother, with my then twelve year old father in tow, bravely crossed Nazi Germany by train to return to Romania to try to save his remaining family from the Nazis. He was unable to convince them of the impending holocaust and most of them were murdered by their own neighbors at the behest of their Nazi allies. I used to be one of the naïve masses who believed that it couldn’t happen here. Now we’ve seen Nazis marching proudly in the streets chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” We have all seen the murderous rage that met the people who rallied against the forces of hate. We have seen the death of one young woman and the injury of many more in a brutal and cowardly act of terrorism. It’s tempting to hang our harps on the trees and silence our songs in our grief, but now more than ever, it’s of vital importance that we sing and that we shout and that we stand together in opposition to hatred and to violence and to the denigration of any group of people.
Note: A Kinnor is the type of ancient Hebrew harp played by King David.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing.
There are times when most of us could use a little help with guarding the door of our lips and steering our hearts away from an inclination to malice, if not evil. I need that help more often than I’d like to admit.
Lord, in your mercy help me not to react in anger when I ought to respond in love; purge my heart of malice and let your love always be my guide. Amen.
When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.
If we have reacted to having felt attacked by lashing out, we might ask ourselves how much of our reaction was defensive and based purely on ego, and also think about how opening ourselves to God’s love at that moment might have altered our response.