Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Without Cost You Are To Give

By Beth DeCristofaro

“I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.  But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.  Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words— go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. (Matthew 10:8-14)

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. …  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. …  At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.  So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13)

It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.  God works in mysterious ways.  This is such a time of opportunity for prayerful self-reflection, witness and discourse.  An internet video making the rounds shows young Catholics who do not want to voice opposition to the gay marriage decision because they fear judgement from others.  At the same time, those who agree with the justice of the decision fear condemnation from their church.  Mass murders lead to heated discussions over legacy and symbols rather than deeply rooted racism and solutions. Arguments ensue over the economics of Affordable Care Act without considering the Christian mandate to heed the cry of the poor.  We build greater and more restrictive defenses against terrorists who we call “them” rather than recognize they are us.  Arguments for and against immigration are shouted back and forth with vitriol.  Where is God in this time of division, discord, hate, violence?  Where do we manifest God’s love?

Jesus sent his disciples, sends us, out to the world as His Word bearers in bold peacefulness.  He warned his followers that they will be persecuted but instructed them to merely shake the dust off and proceed, receiving and taking without cost.  Joseph used his power to save and enrich his family rather than punishing.  Even the grim story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac turns on God giving Abraham his son back, accepting Abraham’s total acquiescence to God rather than demanding death.  Jesus, God and Son of God, gave himself to us in a world that was at the time and still remains often brutal, and self-serving.  God wants forgiving mercy for all and those who love and revere him can bring that mercy in His name.

How can we channel the potent energy of anger, frustration, pain, fear and confusion that many are feeling today?  Place these emotions in prayer and ask God for clarity and direction to best use this energy witnessing to the Word.  Listen as well as speak.  Love first, love last.  The Spirit of God is flowing today just as it did in Moriah when Abraham picked up the knife, in Egypt when Joseph faced his murderous brothers, in Galilee when Jesus sent his disciples like lambs among the wolves.  We can be a lover not a clashing cymbal.  We can give rather than count the cost.

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