Sunday, June 07, 2015

The God of All Encouragement

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”  Matthew 5:3-6

The tenth degree of humility is that he be not ready and quick to laugh, for it is written, "The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).  Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 7

No matter the affliction or suffering, our God is the God of encouragement.  Chin up.  Smile on your face.  Back straight.  No matter what your opponents dish out, just “as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us,
so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.”

When we who are poor in spirit call out, the LORD hears, and despite his distress on the Cross, he saves us – TOO!  His cup is not filled with encouragement…it is overflowing.  In this week that began with the celebration of the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi), we taste and see goodness in all that is around us…even in suffering.  The Beatitudes flow and overflow from this encouragement.  Poor in spirit?  Brush it off.  Mourning?  Look up!  Meek?  Get over it.  Hungry for righteousness? Fugedabodit!

Paul’s Letter to the people in Corinth “overflows” from the spirit of the Be-Attitudes delivered in the teachings presented on the side of that mountain.

It is easy to get caught up in our own problems – illness, bill collectors, bosses (or unemployment), family problems and addictions.  You name it.  We have an affliction for it.  Afflictions beyond afflictions.  Jesus, though, is not Lord of our afflictions.  He is the Lord of Our Encouragement.  He took our afflictions on his back when He was nailed to the cross.  Freed from those burdens, we can focus on repairing and advancing His body, His blood, His church.

Our choice is to either take refuge in our afflictions or in the encouragement provide by Jesus.  It’s up to you.  Which path do you choose?  The bitterness of self-pity or the sweetness of mercy, kindness and encouragement?  If the tenth degree of humility is not to be too frivolous and quick to laugh, maybe the corollary is to be not too melancholy and quick to wallow.

Flee from afflictions and run to mercy. Just as the readings last week focused on Tobit’s zest for righteousness, we are now encouraged to be custodians of justice and kindness and mercy today. In the spirit of Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” 

“[M]y cup overflows. Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days.” (Psalm 23:5C-6)

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