Amos

17 Sep

I am quite attracted to the character of Amos, in so far as we know it. Although I am not, and never was, a countryside citizen, yet like him I love how I imagine it was. I see the beautiful hills of Scotland from the front of my house (and have spent many holidays there) and I have a woods and a burn just out of my back garden gate. I am not a poet like he shows himself to be in the words recorded in chapter 8 of his book in the bible, but I do occasionally produce an amateurish short poem. Though I think my similarity and admiration of him, arises from my dislike (to put it mildly) of many business tycoons and entroponeurs who seem to aim to make money out of the needs of ordinary and often poor citizens – a dislike Amos also showed in his ‘prophesying.’

It is quite a revelation and inspiration to think that a person with Amos’ antagonism towards some others can be chosen by God to deliver a message of condemnation of the unsuitable practices of ‘the better-off.’   Although we learn from Jesus to love other people, God probably can turn some of our ‘unfortunate’ attitudes to work for the good of others – even if it means telling off people we don’t really approve of, as long as it contributes to their betterment. What do you think?

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Good News for us all

10 Sep

Hopefully everyone at some time or other has had something that could amount to being called good news – some joy, some uplift, some vision of a brighter future, some great opportunity, some benefit, some personal enrichment etc.

For Christians all good news is in some way related to and arising from the person and life of Jesus, and from the God He reveals. Good news is to do with love, ours for others, others for us. It is to do with life and its ‘enrichment,’ for us and for those we love. Good news is relief and hope for who we are and who we can become – it is life-changing.

When individuals experiences any of this, to some degree or other, they have to find words to express it. The message of Christianity, from the start and through to the present, when it is at its best, provides words and rituals to express this, and a language, and a community in which to celebrate and rejoice, and to encourage this experience of deep joy – the Good News!

Wisdom not rules!

3 Sep

Religious people, perhaps even more than others, seem to have rules about what you should and should not do. Some also have rituals and set prayers.   All these can help our frail humanity, can give us guidance. But they may ignore the mystery of living. For what it is to be fully human is not quite known to us; what we should do – how behave – is not fully known. Set practices and formulae at best can make us feel comfortable or proud. We need God in the form of Wisdom; and we have God but we must be attentive to what Wisdom wants of each of us; be attentive and do it!

I like this poetic rendering of the passage in the Book of Wisdom (9:13-18) – do you?

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You have come to God

27 Aug

Wherever you are in the world it can be scary. This might come from the horror of eventual climate change (or should it be deterioration?). You might worry about long-term human survival – the survival of our planet’s human and animal life. More immediate in a your awareness might be the issue of human migration (immigration from our point of view), or more particularly population expansion and aging. It can be a very bleak and disheartening prospect.

But for those who have a faith in a god who oversees the whole universe, it should be different. We should have a belief in the overall and eventual fulfilment of all for good. The reason we might not see it this way is because it is present just now only in process – in the end all will be well. Now the object and ideas of our faith are not a puzzle but a mystery, for they are God’s doing. A mystery is overwhelming and inexpressible, yet we are all creatures trying to express ourselves, especially with the wonders we encounter in life. It is hard to express fully in words the joy of a new birth in the family, the attractiveness of those we love, the beauty that we experience in nature etc.

The passage from the writer of Hebrews that is read on the 22nd Sunday in cycle C of the Catholic liturgy, uses the naming of the ideal city of God (Mount Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem) to name the mystery that he sees in the world with his faith, and he wants his readers to see this too despite the difficulties they have in life. With faith he says “you have come to God Himself.”

Other people can also see something of the mystery of the universe and express it differently, even if they profess no faith. Einstein wrote “The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious.” Read it for yourself her on the internet paragraph 14.

God loves everyone!

20 Aug

I think the matter of God’s love of all is important.  Afrer all we cannot suppose that God who creates and maintains every individual has done this so that some of them will be turned away by Him.

I think, the new way of being human, initiated by Jesus (by His incarnation), might be how I can understand Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female” (Gal 3:28). Although this could be taken as the Christian God being superior to all other divinities or objects of worship (in the case of humanists etc.) yet the Christian God should not be seen as that; He emptied himself to become human, he is not just our kind of love incarnate but, as his life shows, it is a selfless, divine love – love for all others people and things. Those who consciously embrace this idea (even accepting Christianity) should love all others and all that is not negative or evil. So a good Christian should love the humanist (who believes in the good of humanity), the Muslim (who worships and obeys what he sees as his God with His requirements), the Hindu (with his many rituals and expressions of God to help make for a good way of living) and so on. This is also the essence of what it is to be Christian, I think, and it is not essentially belonging to a particular ‘religion’ but it is living for the good of others, the love of all humans and of all creation – for what is right and true. After all Jesus wasn’t a Christian, but a Jew.

It doesn’t look good!

13 Aug

(Arising from the readings for the 20th Sunday Cycle C in the Catholic liturgy)

Jesus loved everyone and especially showed kindness to those who were ill or suffered from being different in any way. We must try to be like him – let’s call it universal love – treating every thing and every person in the universe with kindness and care, continually trying to overcome mistakes, mishaps and things that weren’t as they should they be.

I think the same human failing in this affected Jesus. Crowds followed him and were enthusiastic for his message that God loved them and for the healing powers he had. But they were excessively keen for him for the wrong reasons; they saw him as able to free them from the Roman rule they were under and make them a great nation as they imagined they had been. It was this excessive enthusiasm and false kind of love for him that lead to his arrest and eventual execution on the cross.

It seems there is a danger that people may misinterpret what God wants of them? The Jews at the time of Jeremiah thought that God had chosen them and that he meant to see them all right despite threats from neighbouring nations. They had not realised that he wanted them to live as good people respecting others. They hated Jeremiah the prophet who was telling them they would suffer disasters and many of them wanted to be rid of him. Jeremiah was thrown down a well to die.

Not long after the death of Jesus when the early Christians increased in numbers in the Roman Empire, they may well have scorned the pagans who worshipped many gods and held many festivals making various offerings to win their favour. As a consequence like the Jews had suffered from other nations, so the early Christians would be persecuted by the Romans. Luke, in writing his gospel at this time has this in mind when he writes of Jesus predicting the difficulties his followers will have and the troubled times that will come.

We must pause and ask ourselves, are we making mistakes and are those right who foretell the difficulties we are facing on our planet? What should we be doing about it? Love all people – whatever – and care for the environment, cooperating with what God is creating for us

Don’t be so sure

6 Aug

I think there is a trace in all three readings for 19th Sunday Cycle C, of the Jews and the Christians thinking of themselves as special, and I think many Christians still believe that they are favoured by God above others; above atheists and followers of other faiths and beliefs.  Some Christian denominations hold these views more strongly than others.

Many of the stories about Jesus show his regard for everyone as special – as a distinctive creation of God albeit in process – I say in process because God knows that we humans are in a state of becoming, rather than being, completed humans. Indeed the whole universe is in process which is why there are weaknesses in the system and structure of things.  Also there are aspects of every human individuals that are deficient, undeveloped or only in process, not to mention the deliberate ‘mistakes’ or sins that we commit. Christ, of course was aware of this, but also of the potential everyone has.

So I want to bring this undertanding of humanity, of each human being with their beliefs, to our awareness.  The Roman Catholic church with its dogmatic statements, rigid rules and authoritative structure, is in my experience, particularly susceptable to a mistaken view of things.  I want to be more acceptable of the the beliefs and practices of others from other faiths and none.  I wants to recognise the deficiencies or disaster in our world as indications of the ‘not yet finished’ nature of everything or of the dfficiencies arising from human’s free choice.  Surely we should so try.