What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”
What do you think? There are many baptized, Christians who proclaim their faith loudly, yet act out of piety and not out of love. They support the election of an abuser of girls to the the senate and they seek legal permission to discriminate against those of whom they disapprove. They want to pass tax cuts for the wealthy while increasing taxes on the poor, and they long to take health insurance away from those who cannot afford to pay for it. There are others who do not profess any faith, but they love their neighbor and care for the widow and orphan and they seek justice for the poor and the marginalized. Which of these groups do you think is doing the will of Jesus?
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
Hope is a precious gift which we must protect. We can nurture hope, even in an uncertain and confusing time, by sharing our hope with others and by worshipping in community. It’s difficult to maintain hope in isolation; we are strengthened when we join hands and minds and hearts to resist anything which might cause us to despair.
Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.
I have become defiled. Like so many others, I am bitter and angry that there is a corrupt, and possibly fascist, liar in the Whitehouse, who surrounds himself with other bigots and other liars. I have given power to the very people to whom I object so fervently. I have allowed that root of bitterness, of which Paul warns, to spring up in my own heart. I’m glad that this particular reading came up today because I needed to be reminded of whom it is that I want to be. I want to be a loving and caring man. I want to love my neighbor as myself. I want love to be what governs my life. It’s not wrong to be angered or upset by injustice, but if I let my anger define me, then I have lost my humanity and my identity. I resolve right now to repent for my stubborn refusal to love those people whom I find it difficult to love.
When I started writing daily meditations I decided to blog them, in part to share them, but also to give myself a tangible goal which I had to meet. I thought that I’d do this for a year and then decide whether to continue going, or to stop. I’ve come to realize that it takes a lot of time for me to write and make a piece of art to go with each meditation. It’s been a wonderful discipline for me, but it’s also been a huge surprise that people actually read them, and for that I’m truly grateful. When I began I thought of the blog as sort of sending radio communications out into space, not knowing if anyone would pick up the signal. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback and some incredible messages of support which have really helped me to continue at those times when I’ve felt too tired or uninspired to write. I’ve learned that when I read scripture there are times when I’m not sure on what I’m meant to focus. Those are the times that I’ve read and reread the day’s passages countless times until finally I give up and I just ask God to help me figure it out. I know that there are days that my writing is better than others and I apologize for any sub par meditations that I’ve put out there or will put out in the future. I reached my three-hundred-sixty-fifth meditation yesterday, and so I’m going to make a change. I am going to switch from a daily meditation to a weekly meditation, which I’m hoping will give me more time to work on my other artistic pursuits, which have suffered over the past year due to my spending so much time on the blog. When I began the blog I was feeling uninspired and blocked artistically, which is another part of the reason I started blogging. Today I’m feeling renewed and disciplined enough to get myself back to my painting and iconography. I’ve fallen in love with paper cutouts as an art form and I’ll continue to make them to illustrate my future meditations.
The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.
Following the law of the Lord should bring us joy. If living a life of faith is drudgery and constant struggle, then maybe we’re overthinking it, or missing the point altogether. God’s law is love above all else. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with and all your soul, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) It isn’t always easy to follow a law based on love, but if it doesn’t come from love, it doesn’t come from God.
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Sometimes it feels as if we have hit the limit. We’re tapped out, there’s just no strength left in us to face a challenge that appears overwhelming, but we reach deep inside of ourselves and we find a well of strength that we didn’t know we had. That’s the strength that God gives us when we need it most.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered, so that I forget to eat my bread.
What can one do but feel anger, frustration and sadness in the face of an avoidable tragedy? Our lawmakers have the will to protect the right to bear semi automatic weapons, but they don’t have the will to ensure access to healthcare if we are shot. It appears that their belief in the right to life extends only to fetuses, once we are born we’re on our own.
Look upon my enemies, for they are many, and they bear a violent hatred against me.
For LGBTQI people the world over, the sad reality is that we do have enemies that bear a violent hatred against us. In The US we are luckier than in many places, but there has been a significant increase in attacks against LGBTQI people over the past year. In Chechnya gay men have been rounded up, beaten, tortured and killed. In some other Islamic countries consensual, same sex relations are a capital offense and people thought to be gay are executed regularly. Isis proudly and routinely kills gay men, often by throwing them off of the roofs of buildings and then stoning their bodies. This week the United States voted against a resolution condemning the use of capital punishment for homosexuality at the UN. The State Department stands by the vote, claiming that it was too broad a resolution to endorse, because the US uses the death penalty at both federal and state levels.
How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph?
After the horrific act of violence that has taken place in Las Vegas, all I can do is ask, “How long shall the wicked triumph O Lord?” When will we as a nation finally choose our lives and the lives of those we love over the over the NRA and it’s evil agenda of arming our civilian population with weapons of mass slaughter?