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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Sword of Hatred

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

A Reflection on Romans 15:4-9, N.A.B.

By: Larry T

The second reading for this Sunday is from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans. Since Paul wrote this letter to a Christian community that he neither founded nor as yet had visited, it is unique among his writings. Even so, Paul’s Letter to the Romans is widely acknowledged as the single most influential document in Christian history because of its profound theology.

4 For whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus,
6 that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
8 For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,
9 but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.”
- Romans 15:4-9 N.A.B.

The substance of all Holy Scripture might well be summed up in verses 5 and 6:

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus,
6 that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When a scribe asked Jesus “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 N.A.B.). Does being in keeping with Christ Jesus include loving our neighbor as ourselves?

Has there ever been a time when we have been in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus so that with one voice we could glorify God the Father and the Lord Jesus? Biblical scholars and Church historians will answer: probably not even from the beginning. Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and 1 John both express utter dismay at the disharmony that arose in the early Church.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, in the Seven Storey Mountain writes:

“It was St. Augustine’s argument, that envy and hatred try to pierce our neighbor with a sword, when the blade cannot reach him unless it first passes through our own body.”

Merton went on to write:

“In so far as men are prepared to prefer their own will to God’s will, they can be said to hate God: for of course they cannot hate Him in Himself. But they hate Him in the Commandments which they violate. But God is our life: God’s will is our food, our meat, our life’s bread.”

One of the elements of wisdom is recognizing that which is unchangeable in the face of a culture which insists that it is changeable. This will never change: true followers of Jesus cannot be hate driven; it is God’s will that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. This, too, will never change: the sword of hatred aimed at our neighbor will damage our personal relationship with our God. Saint Paul’s prayer/plea (v. 7) is that we welcome one another as Christ welcomed us, for the glory of God.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists, however imperfect in their faith or belief, who follow the Second Greatest Commandment can accomplish what no president, congress, army, or police force can: they can heal the rifts which are tearing our nation and world apart. 

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