It’s hard to wiggle out of this clear-cut directive of Jesus. “Do good to those who hate you.” And it’s hard to live up to it. The question is, “Where am I going to dwell, in the land of death, or in the land of life?”
The Inner Word
Blessedness is not conditional. It’s always available. Blessedness comes not through success in the eyes of the world but from being connected to the true God—“Like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream.”
In the readings this Sunday, the spiritual dynamic seems to be threefold: God draws near; sensing our own unworthiness, we protest; grace overcomes our weaknesses, failings, and fear, resulting in abundance far beyond our imagining.
"Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” the amazed throng asks about Jesus. They want to put him in his place, a familiar place, a nonthreatening place. Do I try to put limits on God? On other people?
Today’s readings have a special message for preachers because they show the positive effects of deeply hearing the word of God. Nehemiah proclaims and interprets the law with such power that the people respond with tears.
"For the Lord delights in you.” Oddly, these can be difficult words to hear. We know how unworthy we feel before God. Yet, God, who knows all things and sees all things, still delights in us.
Many people claim that they never hear about a loving, caring God in church. Paul’s letter to Titus reveals God’s motive for initiating our salvation—kindness and generous love.
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany with examples of various ways God’s presence is revealed.
Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” During the Octave of Christmas, the church has been contemplating the newborn Jesus, God’s gift of self to us and all of creation.
One’s own experience of family is extremely important in one’s faith development. God calls us to a larger understanding of family than just our family of origin. Both these statements are true.