Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rejoice in Your Faith in God

By Beth DeCristofaro

…Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.” … (The jailer) brought them up into his house and provided a meal and with his household rejoiced at having come to faith in God.  (Acts 16:26, 34)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.  But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.  For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. (John 16: 5-7)

Yahweh, Elohim, al-Lah, God is the presence
in whom my being comes alive
the core and ground of my existence
the infinite and inexhaustible ground of all being
the source of life and goodness
the fountain of all holiness
the originator of unconditional love and
the initiator of the Big Bang.
This presence calls me to fullness of life
to praise and thanksgiving
to integrity and wholesomeness and
to courageous vulnerable love.
Rabbi Jesus the Messiah teaches me
to live fully
to act justly
to love tenderly
to walk humbly with my God and
where necessary to lose graciously.

Recently I watched a movie – a good one – during which someone tried to comfort a grieving person with the familiar “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”  We try so hard to put rationality into mystery, to have reason within realms of emotion and to envision divinity pulling strings so that tragedy might have purpose.

It seems to me that much of the Gospel, however, speaks of the Lord giving.  Love and the Spirit imbues sacredness to what we often feel is just ordinary.  Paul could have escaped, an angel opened the way for him, but he stayed to proclaim the Word and thus Life to his persecutor.  Jesus confirms his friends’ sorrow but tells them that their sorrow is mortal while the Spirit is eternal and will rest within them if they continue to believe. 

Differences abound and secular difficulties seem insurmountable in the Middle East.  Pope Francis, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud embraced at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during the Papal visit, certainly a rejoicing in God, a faith shared by each of them.  Pope Francis has also continued his message that economic injustice, cruelty to children in any form and persecution of persons based on religion are intolerable and not of God.

In what ways can we more fully rejoice in the gift of faith and the truth that God is present in our lives?  Are there times when we exclude?   Do we hold stereotypes around groups to be true without seeking the face of God in the other?  Pray and consider what you would do if you were given the choice to make that Paul made – stay in bondage in order to free someone.

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