February 18, 2019

It is Better to Love, Than to Hate


Jesus often spoke about love. These two commandments are at the very core of his message. The first one encourages us to love God without reservation. It reveals a loving relationship between us and the Holy Spirit is both possible and desirable. If we ignore this commandment, we abandon our chance to enter God’s Kingdom (the Spiritual Universe).

The second commandment encourages us to love others with the same sensitivity and empathy we have for ourselves. It assumes we are able to take a thoughtful view of our interpersonal relationships. People with a healthy outlook on life will not choose to hurt themselves either physically or emotionally. We are expected to project this same caring attitude in our personal relations with others. It does not matter whether our contact is casual and brief (as with a stranger we meet on the street), or the result of a long term relationship (as in marriage), God wants us to love others as we would want others to love us. Our failure to obey this commandment is often the source of inexcusable sorrow, friction and hatred.

The more we try to follow these two commandments, the closer we come to creating God’s Kingdom on Earth, which is paradise. The further away we move from these two commandments, the greater the risk of creating a personal and social hell here on earth. From the New Testament:

The Pharisees gathered together to question Jesus. One of them, an expert in the Law of Moses, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus earnestly replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the words of the Prophets center on these two commandments."

Jesus suffered the pain of revulsion whenever he witnessed brutal confrontation. All too often, brief encounters of even inconsequential disagreement led to fights that resulted in injury or death. His counsel to “turn the other cheek” was a way to avoid the escalation of an incident into a bloody confrontation. He believed it is better to love, than to hate.

Should we follow his example?

Ron

30

February 17, 2019

God’s Affection


The expression of God’s affection for all mankind is an essential part of nature. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. Our relationship to God is like the loving relationship between a child and parent. Like a loving parent, God knows and cares deeply for each of us. And like children, some of us return God's love, and some do not. Nevertheless, God continues to love all of us.

God's love and salvation are freely offered to all, even to those who choose the path of wickedness. Indeed, the sun rises on both the good and the evil, and the rain nourishes both the righteous and the immoral.


The words of our Lord are very clear: “When I talk to you about love, I am speaking of affection, benevolence, good-will, high esteem and concern for the welfare of the one you love. It is thoughtful, deliberate love rather than emotional or impulsive love. It is the love I have for you. It is the love you have for your family.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself. This includes all of the peoples of the world for as I love them, so shall you. If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Draw close with your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you! Extend your love to them. In all your relations with my children, you will live more fully if you remember to do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

“Do not fear; you are of more value than any of the other things I have created. Even among all the creatures of the earth, all the living things that grow on the land and under the sea, and all the thousands of things of the universe, I shall not forget you.”


30

February 16, 2019

The Commandment to Love


Those who hate, accept a desolate death.
Depression follows them everywhere.
The ravages of distrust drain their senses.
They condemn themselves to mortal despair.

Happiness eludes the cynic.
Love avoids the arrogant.
Anger creates hostility.
Indifference invites isolation.

Murderers are condemned to Oblivion.
Torture is the handmaiden of death.
Suicide desecrates the energy of Life.
Abortion violates natural law.

Where is happiness?
How do we decide who we are?
What do we want from others?
What do they want from us?

Put acts of hatred behind you.
Find peace with acts of love.
Practice harmony with the living.
Show others the compassion within you.

Love those who are your enemy.
Welcome the stranger.
Assist the injured.
Comfort those in need.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.
Embrace what is positive and constructive.
Experience the wonders of the Physical.
Sense the loving energy of the Spiritual.

Acts of love connect us the spiritual.
Acts of compassion project God’s love.
The joy of giving nourishes our soul.
We are in harmony with the universe.


Ron
x

February 14, 2019

Valentine’s Day - Thoughts on Friendship


Since we are rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day, let’s focus our attention on two appropriate subjects: friendship and love. According to Wikipedia, the font of on-line encyclopedic knowledge, Valentine’s Day is known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, a celebration observed on February 14 each year. Celebrated in many countries around the world, St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.

The day was first associated within Geoffrey Chaucer’s circle of friends as a romantic expression of love in the High Middle Ages (c. 1001–1300 A.D.).  The religious fervor of medieval culture melded nicely with ideas of courtly love. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid.

Here are thoughts (poems or psalms) from Summa 21.

Friendships

Friendships are an expression of Love.
“I love you" can be translated as:  "I have you as a friend."
.....................
If you want to have a friend, then be one.
Start by learning how to be a good friend to yourself.
As my father has said: If you do not like yourself;
Can you truly love someone else?
...................
A lasting friendship
Combines the security of mutual confidence
With respect for personal beliefs,
And the attributes that make us unique.
................
We are more likely to sustain a relationship with a friend who shares our values, and
Belief in a positive moral faith provides the strongest basis for shared values.
.......................
We often strive for things which cannot provide us with lasting happiness.
The objects of our desire are transient in time and space.
Beauty will fade, metal will tarnish, and wood will rot.
Wealth provides an empty vessel for the soul.
But lasting friendships are the joy of life.
To love, and be loved, is forever welcome.
................
Friendships are created from the essence of the Spiritual.
Lasting friendships are not confined by the limits of space and time.
As my father has said:
“I love those who love me”.
“If you seek to be my friend, you will find me.”
................

My Spouse
My spouse is my best friend.
Love has united two as one.
We comfort and encourage each other.
We share the joys and sorrows of life.

Two are better than one.
Together we are strong.
In moments of distress;
We share a loving hug.

I will be quick to show my love;
And be steadfast in my devotion.
For as we journey through life,
I will often need the love - of my best friend.

By loving others we express our respect for God’s commandments.

Ron

February 12, 2019

The Marriage of Sarah and Jesus

Tabitha regarded her daughter with affection. She and Jamel had raised their daughter to be an independent woman. She was educated, spoke three languages, and often helped her father with patients. Like any virtuous mother, Tabitha was concerned her daughter would choose the right man to be her husband. Tabitha spoke with caution.

“What do you know about this man? What do you know about his parents?”

Sarah had regained her composure. Still, the words seemed to tumble out her mouth.

“He seems to be very responsible, he knows the law really well, he can read, he can do math, he does good work, he treats me.... he treats me as though I am someone special.... And I met his father. You and dad would like him. He is gentle and speaks well.”

“Where does he live?”

“He is from Nazareth.”

Tabitha frowned. Jamel had a very low regard for the people of Nazareth. Very parochial and overly superstitious, they were always a problem to treat when they came to Sepphoris for medical care.

“Well, it will be up to your father,” Tabitha said firmly “he has always wanted to select your husband, and you know that is the custom of our people.”

Suddenly despondent, Sarah pleaded with her mother.

“I have to convince him that Jesus is perfect.”

Sarah tugged at her mother’s sleeve. “Please mom, please help me,” she said quietly.

.............

As it happened, neither Tabitha nor her daughter had anything to do with Jamel’s decision. That’s because the next day, on a sunny and cool morning, he came to see the progress on his new house. Jamel wandered around the rooms, enjoying the aromas of fresh plaster and wood, talked with Decus, admired his mosaic work, and was delighted with the skill of the carpenters. Then he literally bumped into Jesus who was carrying a wood fireplace mantle into the big room.

“Oh, I’m sorry to be in your way,” Jamel apologized.

Jesus put down the mantle, turned to look at Jamel, and smiled. His father had described the physician when they started to work on the house. Because Jamel was Sarah’s father, Jesus was anxious to meet him. He extended his hand for a handshake, but suddenly remembered it was covered with dust and shavings. He was unsure. What should he do? But Jamel didn’t care about the dust and shavings; he gladly grasped Jesus by the hand and shook it vigorously.

“You must be Jesus,” he said “I’ve talked with your father many times. But now I have the pleasure of meeting his son.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Jesus said politely “I am glad you are here.”
 
“And why is that?”

Jesus looked intently at Jamel and they connected.

“I have fallen in love with Sarah,” he said with quiet conviction.

Jamel was astonished by the charismatic emotional intensity of this young man. From somewhere in his consciousness a firm voice spoke out   This is the man.   Talk to him.

Jamel paused for a moment before speaking. “So you are the reason she has been so distracted these last three days...,” Jamel hesitated again, and then smiled warmly “we need to talk.”

Jamel started for the door to the courtyard and motioned for Jesus to follow him.

Both Decus and Joseph watched them go out into the courtyard with great interest.

“Well,” said Decus with a big grin “do you think he will pass the test?”

“I sure hope so,” replied Joseph with a knowing smile “this falling in love business has considerably slowed his production. I’d like to get it resolved.”

Decus chuckled. “He’s your son. He will do alright.”

***

Jesus and Jamel talked for almost an hour. When they returned Jamel looked up and called out to Decus who was placing ceramics on the villa’s ceiling.

“Should I let this young man have my daughter?”

Astonished by the question, Decus descended from the scaffolding. He thought for a moment and chuckled. Joseph was in the next room and Decus wanted to be sure Joseph would hear him.

“Of course!” he said in a deep loud voice “He has great promise!”

Jamel grinned. He was very pleased with Jesus. He could see they would have many long talks. Father to son-in-law. Jesus was not only intelligent, he was anxious to learn. 

Jamel left the room to find Joseph, who by now had given off a huge sigh of relief. It was settled. Mary would be very happy. And as for his son.... the happy look on his face said it all. He was totally elated.

***

Mary felt more confident after she met Sarah. Two weeks later, she walked with Joseph and Jesus to Sepphoris. There they met Jamel, Sarah’s father and Tabitha, Sarah’s mother. Sarah was very nice and easy to engage in pleasant conversation. Mary was also impressed with Sarah’s maturity and intelligence. Jamel and Tabitha were very pleasant, treated Mary and Joseph as good friends, and insisted they have lunch together. When Mary saw how happy her son was with his chosen bride, and her very obvious love for him, she felt a magnificent surge of her own private joy. This would work out. God would approve. 

The three women were soon engaged in an animated conversation about the wedding. Jamel and his wife did not think the customary betrothal period was necessary. Mary and Joseph agreed.

***

Jesus and Sarah were married in December, 12 AD. He was 16. Sarah was 17. The wedding was held at Jamel’s home in Sepphoris.
.................

Well.   Why not?

36

February 11, 2019

What Makes a Good Marriage Work?


Tabitha was helping her daughter bake the family’s daily bread. But Sarah appeared to be detached from the activity. She was going through the motions of mixing, kneading and baking but not really aware of what she was doing. Tabitha looked at her daughter and gently nudged the young woman’s arm.

“Where are you? Your mind has wandered elsewhere.”

Sarah absently poked at the coals in the oven, put down the poker down, and turned to her mother.
“You and Dad have a happy marriage,” Sarah said as she brushed a few bread crumbs from her dress, “are there any rules for a harmonious marriage?”

Tabitha smiled and sat down next to the oven. “I think you already know them. It’s not hard to understand what makes a good marriage work.”

Sarah shuffled a small loaf in the oven and found a place beside her mother.

“A good marriage is a partnership,” her mother continued. “You must honor your husband above yourself... and expect he will honor you in the same way. You will show your consideration for each other in word and deed.”

Tabitha took her daughter’s hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze. “You father and I have always tried to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in our commitment to each other.”

“But how do I know our marriage is a good marriage?” Sarah asked.

“You will know. You will know it is a good marriage because both of you are virtuous. He will show in word and deed that he values you as a wife, a woman, and as a person. In return you must always show him your respect by treating him as your husband, a man, and a person.”

Tabitha paused, looked directly into Sarah’s eyes, and spoke with reverence.

“You must always be your husband’s best friend, and most trusted companion. Even in times of stress.  Even if you have had an argument.,” Tabitha paused “And in a good marriage he will treat you the same way.”

Sarah felt a bit awkward, but she had to ask the question: “What about being intimate?

Tabitha smiled. She understood her daughter’s feelings.

“Lust will take care of itself. You are both healthy. I have no doubt you will have a happy relationship. Bring joy to him and he will respond.”

Tabitha frowned. “Just remember, no matter how good the sex is, it will never serve as the basis of a successful marriage. Lust is fleeting. Not every experience will be thrilling. Your love for each other must be anchored by spiritual values that will last for years. ”

Tabitha sat back in her chair. “You know Sarah... your love will be measured by your devotion to one another. In a good marriage two souls come together as one.... Make your union precious in the eyes of God.”


Ron