A Covenant of Love

Sunday, February 24, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our reading from 1 Samuel tells the intriguing tale of David’s magnanimity toward Saul. Saul is enraged and jealous of David whom Samuel has anointed as king to replace Saul. David is continually in Saul’s crosshairs.

But one night, David stealthily enters Saul’s camp. Even though he has a chance to kill Saul, David spares his life out of respect for his kingship.

While it’s not exactly “love for his enemies”, David does demonstrate a largeness of spirit that foretells today’s Gospel. This gracious spirit demonstrates that David is in right relationship (covenant) with God.

Our Gospel is part of Jesus’s Great Sermon in which he restates and renews the covenant of right relationship. If our spirits are true to God, we will love as God loves. We are to be merciful as God is merciful.

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This Law of Love is the essence of life in Christ. It is a profoundly challenging call.

How hard it must have been for David as he stood, spear in hand, over his sleeping enemy – over the one trying to kill him!

How hard it is for us not to be vengeful, retaliatory, and parsimonious when we feel threatened or exploited.

But we are called, in Christ, to the New Covenant of love. By that call, we are endowed with a right spirit.

Today, Jesus asks us to love, forgive, and judge all others as we ourselves would want to be treated. He asks us to live with a divinely magnanimous heart.

Let us pray for the strength to respond.

Music: O Mercy – Stu Garrard, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad

Radical Benediction

Monday, June 11, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we begin several weeks of readings from Matthew’s Gospel. In today’s passage, Jesus starts out by turning the world upside-down!

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In the earlier chapters of his Gospel, Matthew has set the tone for the announcement of Jesus’ message – a new reign of grace and glory. The crowds gather in great anticipation. Most are overwhelmed and beleaguered by life under Roman occupation. Many hope for a political Messiah who will deliver them from their current circumstances, returning to them the material control of their lives. 

Instead, Jesus announces that:

“The kingdom of God can only be received by empty hands. Jesus warns against
(a) worldly self-sufficiency: you trust yourself and your own resources and don’t need God
(b) religious self-sufficiency: you trust your religious attitude and moral life and don’t need Jesus.”
~ Michael H. Crosby, Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Vision for the Church in an Unjust World

We are so used to hearing the Beatitudes that they may have become tamed for us — lovely consolations to the downtrodden that things will eventually be OK. On the contrary, the Sermon on the Mount proclaims a shocking message to those gathered with Jesus — AND to us. The radical blessedness of life is to be found within our ordinary joys and sorrows, embraced humbly, faithfully and joyfully.  It is to be found in right-relationship with all Creation, not in any kind of dominance by one over another – political, economic, or personal.

The poor in spirit, the meek, the bereaved, the justice-seekers, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted: Jesus says these people are blessed – even FORTUNATE – because there are no barriers between them and the fullness of God. Power, prestige and possessions block us, perhaps even cripple us, from our shared immersion in God’s ever-present love and grace.

It is likely that many who gathered on that Galilean Hill didn’t want to hear Jesus’ astonishing message. Their myopic vision of prosperity was turned upside down. They were challenged to an unexpected, comfort-shattering, radical blessedness. Would they accept the challenge? Will we?

Music:  Blessings ~ Laura Story