With Honor, Prevent One Another

Tuesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

November 5, 2019

Readings: Click here for today’s readings

Today, in Mercy, Paul gives us one of his most heartfelt and beautiful passages, and Jesus offers us a puzzling parable about the kingdom.

Rms12_10 honor

Paul’s exhortation to sincere holiness is a passage that warrants frequent reading. At any given point in our lives, one or another of its encouragements will seem to ring profoundly true with our circumstances.

One of the lines that I particularly cherish goes like this in the old Douay-Rheims version, which is where I first encountered it as a young girl:

Love one another with fraternal charity:
with honor preventing one another.

The bolded phrase fascinated me. I didn’t understand what it meant. From what were we to prevent one another?

It was not until I came to the convent that I begin to discern the power of this verse. At the time (during the Dark Ages, of course), the Sisters lived under the 1952 Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy, an adaptation of the ancient Rule of St. Augustine. As postulants, we each received a 4×6, 128 page copy of the Rule. In direct and intentional language, it set the frame for our whole lives.

I nearly memorized it, especially Chapter 14 on Union and Charity. Right in the middle of the Chapter, I found this precious line:

They (the Sisters) shall sincerely respect one another. The young shall reverence the old and all shall unceasingly try in true humility to promote constant mutual cordiality and deference, “with honor preventing one another”.

Sister Inez, our dear early instructor, explained that this meant to anticipate the needs of our beloved sisters, especially the elderly; to do for them what might be difficult for them before they had to ask. In other words, to prevent their need. She said that this anticipatory charity should mark our service toward everyone, especially the poor, sick and ignorant whom we would vow to serve.

The more all of us can live together with this mutual love and respect, the closer we come to the kingdom of God, to the banquet table described in today’s Gospel. Jesus came to gather us all around this table. Pity on those who resist his invitation because their lives are entangled in self-interested endeavors. Their places are taken by “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” and all those on the margins of society.

As we join our sisters and brothers at the banquet of life, may we love and serve one another sincerely, always with honor preventing one another.

Music: a little motion mantra this morning. Maybe you might want to get up outta’ that chair and join in🤗

Honor Those Who Bore You Life

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our Exodus reading coincides perfectly with today’s Memorial Feast for Anne and Joachim, grandparents of Jesus.

Exodus20_5

In the passage, we have one of many Old Testament formulations of the Ten Commandments. We learned these codes as children, and perhaps have always interpreted them as laws which, when broken, marked us as sinners.

While this is one approach, a more mature and life-giving one is offered by the Biblical scholar Terence E. Fretheim:

The focus (of these directives) is on
protecting the health of the community,

to which end the individual plays such an important role.
Exodus: Interpretation: A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching

The command to honor one’s father and mother clearly demonstrates this approach. It is a command not only for children to be docile and obedient. Rather it denotes a life-long responsibility to care for parents and other  nurturers of our lives. The command also suggests the responsibility of these nurturers to live honorably so that their children may respond to their example with equal honor.

Today is a day to pray for our own families and for all families, for the young and the elderly, and for those walking the tenuous bridge in between.  It is a day to assess how well we carry our responsibilities to honor, obey, bless and foster life for one another.

It is a day to be deeply grateful for the love of family which we are blessed to experience; a day to pray for healing for those not equally blessed. Let us pray for families distressed by the necessity to migrate, and further burdened by nations’ failures to keep the commandment of neighborly love.

Like Mary, may we embrace the elders in our lives who love and need us, be these parents, mentors, community members, or neighbors. Scripture promises us that, in doing so, we shall have “mercy bestowed on us down to the thousandth generation.”

Music: Love Remains – Hillary Scott