By John Bonney of Springfield, OR, USA
Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you! —Psalm 82:3–4, 8 NRSV
I am deeply saddened when I hear of wars, violence, poverty, bigotries, and injustice. If my thoughts dwell in that land of darkness too long, I despair. I despair that human beings will ever emerge into a better way. Then I hear of, and sometimes view with my own eyes, acts of compassion—human to human, human to animal, human to the Earth—and I feel hope. I entertain a conviction that humans can move beyond their weaknesses toward a better world.
I believe Jesus was well aware of these two sides to each person. Using parables, he reached into the lives of the most unlikely individuals and drew from them their better selves. He pushed against the dehumanizing powers of his day. He challenged the politician, the mercenary, the privileged, the violent, and suggested a better way. He held up a social structure of peace, justice, and equity.
Of course he died for his efforts. But in his dying he also expressed a divine model of unconditional and sacrificial love. Even today we remember the Galilean peasant for his efforts as a model and icon for billions.
I believe that Jesus’ idea of unconditional love was the basis for everything. Love meant no barriers about whom we are to love. It was an understanding which he made visible in himself, and for which he died. All are loved. All are acceptable. All are part of creation. All are potentially the recipients of a sacrificial giving of the self by the loving.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, help us put our better sides forward. May we turn from fear and prejudice and take on Christ’s love for all people. May we take on the practice of peace for the world.
Spiritual Practice: Love
Reflect on the love of God. How is it that God sent Christ to be “all our loves exceeding”? How do you see God’s love revealed in Christ? How do you reveal God’s love in your life? Think of ways you can express that love as you prepare for the Son of God—Love’s Pure Light. Thank God for the supreme gift of love: Jesus Christ.
Today, God, I will search for signs of justice and peace to strengthen my heart for the mission.