Daily Riches: The Far Too Simple Command to Love (Jonathan Martin and Thomas Merton)

“God loves you…without disclaimers. God loves you…without conjunctions. God loves you…without an addendum.” Jonathan Martin

“We have to resolutely put away our attachment to natural appearance and our habit of judging according to the outward face of things. I must learn that my fellow man, just as he is, whether he is my friend or my enemy, my brother or a stranger from the other side of the world, whether he be wise of foolish, no matter what my be his limitations, ‘is Christ.‘  …Any prisoner, any starving man, any sick or dying man, any sinner, any man whatever, is to be regarded as Christ–this is the formal command of the Savior Himself. This doctrine is far too simple to satisfy many modern Christians, and undoubtedly many will remain very uneasy with it, tormented by the difficulty that perhaps after all, this particular neighbor is a bad man, and therefore cannot be Christ. The solution of this difficulty is to unity oneself with the Spirit of Christ, to start thinking and loving as a Christian, and to stop being a hairsplitting pharisee. Our faith is not supposed …to assess the state of our neighbor’s conscience. It is the needle by which we draw the thread of charity through our neighbor’s soul and our own soul and sew ourselves together in one Christ. Our faith is given us not to see whether or not our neighbor is Christ, but to recognize Christ in him and to help our love make both him and ourselves more fully Christ.  …corrupt forms of love wait for the neighbor to ‘become a worthy object of love’ before actually loving him. This is not the way of Christ. Since Christ Himself loved us when we were by no means worthy of love and still loves us with all our unworthiness, our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. …What we are asked to do is to love; and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbor worthy if anything can. Indeed, that is one of the most significant things about the power of love. There is no way under the sun to make a man worthy of love except by loving him. As soon as he realizes himself loved–if he is not so weak that he can no longer bear to be loved–he will feel himself instantly becoming worthy of love. He will respond by drawing a mysterious spiritual value out of his own depths, a new identity called into being by the love that is addressed to him.” Thomas Merton

From Head to Heart

  • Why do we find so many reasons not to love?

Abba, teach me to love.

For More: Disputed Questions by Thomas Merton

Daily Riches: Divine Forgiveness After a Shooting Rampage (Kari Huus, John Rudolf and Steve Munson)

“In 2001, incited by the 9-11 attacks, a Texas man went on a shooting rampage and killed two people, severely wounding another. The wounded man, who lost an eye when the assailant sprayed him with shotgun pellets, survived because he shrewdly played dead. Ten years later, the State of Texas was set to execute the shooter, when the survivor unexpectedly stepped forward to plead for him. ‘If I can forgive my offender who tried to take my life,’ he told BBC News, ‘we can all work together to forgive each other and move forward and take a new narrative on the tenth anniversary of 11 September.’ In short, he was asking the State of Texas to turn the other cheek, as he had done, the very cheek that was still full of pellets. Texas, long known for the conservative evangelicalism of its governors, refused, and the shooter, Mark Stroman, a white supremacist, was executed. His victim, Rais Bhuiyan, is a Muslim immigrant born in Bangladesh. As Rais explained, it was while on pilgrimage in Mecca after the attack that he received a ‘ray of light’ regarding forgiveness and compassion. Drawing on his own faith, he decided not only to forgive Stroman but also to take the further step to try to save him from execution. ‘The Qur’an teaches that those who forsake retribution and forgive those who have wronged them become closer to God,’ he said. ‘My faith teaches me that saving a life is like saving the entire human race.’ In this quest Rais was joined by the widows and family members of the two other victims killed during Stroman’s anti-Muslim rampage, a Pakistani and a Hindu from India. ‘We decided to forgive him and want to give him a chance to be a better person,’ said the brother-in-law of one of the slain. Bhuiyan also received a great deal of encouragement from all over the world, even from fellow Muslims back in Pakistan.” Steve Munson

“But I say, love your enemies!”
Jesus in Matthew 5:44
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Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does this story sound to you like a parable Jesus might tell? And if so, what would be the parable’s point?
  • “The Qur’an teaches that those who forsake retribution and forgive those who have wronged them become closer to God.” Doesn’t the Bible teach this too?
  • A Muslim, a Pakistani and a Hindu walk into a courtroom …. It a tragic story, not the beginning of a joke. Why kind of emotions arise when you contemplate this story.

Jesus, may I follow you in forgiveness and love.

For More: Muslims, Christians and Jews by Carl Medearis

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! – Bill