Pondering for Thursday, July 11, 2019

Daily Office Readings for Thursday Proper 9 of Year 1

AM Psalm 18:1-20; PM Psalm 18:21-50 1 Samuel 16:14-17:11; Acts 10:17-33; Luke 24:36-53

“And he said to them, ‘You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.” (Acts 10:28)

This passage follows up on yesterday’s message regarding no one is profane.  While the inclusiveness of food was used to illustrate this point, God’s message is clear.  All people are loved by God.  Peter recalls his message from God and how important all people are.

The important message here is to take the time to discern what God is saying about our human relationships.  We have plenty of human laws and customs and habits that attempt to control not only how we relate to others but also (and this is Peter’s situation) who we relate with.  We have laws and rules that monitor and limits who we can relate with.  God makes it clear that all people are the beloved of God and are not profane or even any less human than we are.  This is true no matter what language they speak, their nationality, their dress, their sexual orientation, or even what religion (or non religion) they profess or not.  We are not to judge, we are to love.  That’s all, just love others.  That is how we relate to others, all others.

Benedict of Nursia: July 11

Today we remember Benedict of Nursia.  He is considered the father of Western Monasticism.  I think what I like most about what he taught was the way he structured the day for his monks.  His example can be followed by us ordinary people as well. “Its average day provides for a little over four hours to be spent in liturgical prayer, a little over five hours in spiritual reading, about six hours of work, one hour for eating, and about eight hours of sleep. The entire Psalter is to be recited in the Divine Office once every week.  At profession, the new monk takes vows of “stability, amendment of life, and obedience.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for July 11)

More and more religious and non religious organizations are realizing the spiritual benefit of having a rule of life.  One could argue that the Ten Commandments are a rule of life. While some of the Ten Commandments are what to do, “Love God, Keep the Sabbath, Honor parents” etc.  Most of the Commandments are about what not to do, “Do not use the Lord’s Name in vain, do not steal, do not murder” etc.  Benedict’s Rule focused on the former, what one should do.  These rules, or vows as they were called, framed their words in such a way as to instruct the monk to remain within the community (Stability); to devote one’s self to prayer and study (Amendment of Life); and obeying the leadership (Obedience).  I think our own Baptismal Covenant provides a rule of life as it requires us to “respect the dignity of every human being.” (BCP 305) among other relational rules of life.  This is the same inclusiveness of God that Simon Peter learned and then proclaimed as he stood before Cornelius, someone his legal system had prevented him from having a relationship with. Relationship restrictions are not God’s Way.

Therefore, let us hear what the Spirit is saying through (and to) God’s people. John+

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