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Tuesday of Holy Week – A Reflection

April 4, 2023
A red-bellied woodpecker in one of the palm trees outside of our townhouse in Orange Beach, Alabama

On Palm Sunday, my message/sermon focused on the new revolution that Jesus initiated when he rode into Jerusalem on a very humble donkey. Anyone who expected a warrior king like David to enter on a warhorse would have been disappointed. Yet as the crowds shouted out “Hosanna” (which in the Greek literally means “save us”), the message Jesus brought into Jerusalem was the same message he had been teaching for three years. He taught a message of love: Love God with all of your being and love your neighbor as yourself… and yes, that includes your enemies! As this Holy Week continues, I have been reflecting on the words from Thomas Merton in his book, Seasons of Celebration. The scripture reading that accompanies today’s reflection is 1 John 3:11-18. This particular verse spoke to me: For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

Perhaps we need to put on new interior “garments.” Instead of judgment, try on forgiveness… instead of hate, try on love… instead of retribution, try on grace… instead of war, try on peace… instead of following the crowd, why don’t we follow Jesus. Today’s world is so polarized and broken and it breaks my heart. The older I have gotten, the more I have come to realize what is important in life. What is important in life is how you live… to live with an attitude of love… to follow the words of the prophet Micah: do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God… and, of course to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength while also loving our neighbor (all of them, even those who are difficult to love) as ourself.

We are an interconnected creation. What one person does effects another person… what one community does effects the greater community… what we do as caretakers (stewards) of God’s creation affects the entire world. I believe that we can change the world, one relationship at a time. After all, if we don’t begin process change won’t happen. The words below from Merton speak to this interconnected way of living and being.

No man lives for himself alone. To live for oneself alone is to die. We grow and flourish in our own lives insofar as we live for others and through others. What we ourselves lack, God has given them. They must complete us where we are deficient. Hence we must always remain open to one another so that we can always share with each other. –Thomas Merton: Lent and Easter Wisdom From Thomas Merton (p. 74)

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