Category Archives: Bible

Sunday Devotional: Who are our ‘neighbors’ and our ‘enemies’? How are we to ‘love’ them?

In Matthew 22:36-39, a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Jesus said to him, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself.

More than 14 years ago, after a journey that took some 10 years, I returned to Him. Since my coming home, I can honestly say I have loved the Lord, my God, with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.

But, knowing all the foibles of fallen humanity — foibles of which I amply partake — and the darkness of the human heart, I have not been able to “love my neighbor as myself.” Knowing my own wretchedness, I don’t even love myself with my whole heart, my whole mind, and my whole soul!

To love my neighbor as myself is difficult enough. But in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus tells us we must do even more:

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The above passages from Matthew 22 and Matthew 5 leave us with these questions:

  • Who are my “neighbors”?
  • What does “loving” my neighbors mean?
  • Who are my “enemies”?
  • What does “loving” my enemies mean?

Alas, most priests, if not all of the priests whom I’ve heard, don’t define or explain those terms — which is puzzling because the answers are given, of course, by Christ Himself.

In Luke 10:29-37, in response to the question “And who is my neighbor”, our Lord replied with the parable of the good Samaritan:

“A man fell victim to robbers as he went down to Jerusalem from Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Note that the man whom the good Samaritan helps, is someone who “fell victim to robbers,” that is the man himself had done no wrong.

In Leviticus 19:17-18, it is said:

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And so, Luke 10 and Leviticus 19 give us the definitions we need:

  1. From Luke 10’s parable of the good Samaritan, we learn that our “neighbor” is anyone we encounter in our lives, even strangers, who find themselves in foul circumstances through no fault of their own.
  2. From the parable of the good Samaritan, we learn that to “love our neighbor” means to treat those who are in need “with mercy,” that is, with kindness and compassion, and to provide assistance.
  3. But the “neighbor” in the parable of the good Samaritan was a man who fell victim to robbers through no fault of his own. What about people who find themselves in foul circumstances through their own fault? This is where “love your enemies” comes in.
  4. Our “enemies,” therefore, differ from our “neighbors” in that “enemies” are those who knowingly do wrong.
  5. That, in turn, implies that, unlike our neighbors, we are not to treat our enemies — those who knowingly do wrong — with mercy, kindness, compassion, and assistance.
  6. But we must still “love our enemies”. So how are we to love our enemies? As Leviticus 19:17-18 instructs, to love our enemies means that:
    1. We “rebuke” them: Rebuke is defined as “to criticize sharply“.
    2. We bear no hatred for them in our hearts.
    3. We do not seek revenge: Revenge is not the same as to mete out justice — revenge is defined as retaliation in kind or degree; to mete out justice is defined as “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments”. (Just is defined as “morally upright or good”.) Unlike the impartial meting out of justice, “revenge” has an emotional component, which is where “hatred” comes in.
    4. We do not bear a grudge: Once justice is rendered, we let it go.
    5. We pray for them — that they repent and return to God.

Recognizing the above definitions, to “love” our “neighbors” and our “enemies” is a task that is neither simple nor easy. When we falter, just remember this:

Jesus loves us this much

Offered in humility and love,

~Eowyn

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day and the meaning of true love

Today is Valentine’s Day — the day when TV commercials nag men to buy roses, candy, and jewelry for their wives or girl friends.

But did you know that the day is named after a real person, St. Valentine?

At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of February 14th. But the man for whom Valentine’s Day is named most likely was a priest at Rome who, in the second half of the 3rd century, was arrested and killed by the Emperor Claudius for secretly marrying Christian couples during a time of persecution in the Church. Legend has it that while he was imprisoned and waiting for his martyrdom, he sent letters to his fellow Christians signing them, “From Your Valentine.” (See joandarc’s post, “St. Valentine“)

The popular customs associated with Valentine’s Day probably came from a conventional belief in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. [Source: Catholic Encyclopedia]

So what is love?

I can find no better definition and description of true love than the words of St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it 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.

And here’s the true meaning of Valentine’s Day:

God's Valentine to us John 3-16

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul, and with all your strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today!

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: The terrifying gift of free will

Sirach 15:14, 16-20

God in the beginning created human beings
and made them subject to their own free choice.
Set before you are fire and water;
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Michelangelo's Temptation and Fall

The Latin root of the word “terrify” is terrificare. To “terrify” is to cause to feel extreme fear.

And terrifying precisely is God’s gift of free will, for when it is exercised to evil, the consequences are disastrous.

Thomas Aquinas conceived an act of free will to be any thought, word, deed, desire, or omission that comes from a person acting with full knowledge of what s/he is doing, “who is free to act or to refrain from action, and who gives the full assent of his will to the act.”¹ The essence of free will, therefore, is choice—the favoring of one thing and the eschewal of another—informed by reason.

Terrifying though it is, free will is given to humans (and angels) because only by freely electing to believe in, obey, honor, and love God do the preceding acts have authenticity and meaning. For what good is a love that is coerced? As St. Thomas put it, “Man has free will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in vain.”² But it is also free will that made possible the original sin of Adam and Eve, as well as all subsequent sins.

Sirach 15:15, 11-13

If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
loyalty is doing the will of God.
Do not say: “It was God’s doing that I fell away,”
for what he hates he does not do.
Do not say: “He himself has led me astray,”
for he has no need of the wicked.
Abominable wickedness the LORD hates
and he does not let it happen to those who fear him.

“If you choose, you can keep the commandments” — and the first of God’s commandments is:

I am the LORD your God,
You shall not have other gods beside me.

Our first parents were told they were free to eat from any of the trees save one, the tree of knowledge of good and bad. God counseled them in no uncertain terms that if they were to disobey his command, they “shalt surely die.” But the Devil appeared in the form of a serpent and said to Eve, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” Acceding to the temptation, Eve ate the fruit, gave some to Adam who, in turn, also partook of it. (Genesis 2:8, 16-17; 3:1-6)

Philosopher Francis Bacon explained that what precipitated our first parents’ fall was their supposition that “God’s commandments or prohibitions were not the originals of good and evil but that they had other beginnings which man aspired to know, to the end to make a total defection from God, and to depend wholly upon himself.”³

Put another way, the Fall of Adam and Eve is their gall to determine for themselves what is good and what is evil, although they already knew right from wrong for, as the Book of Jeremiah 31:33 says, God has placed his law within each of us, written in our very hearts. In other words, our first parents wanted to be their own gods with their own conception of right and wrong, which is nothing other than a contravention of the First Commandment.

Another way to say “wanting to be their own gods” is “Do as thou wilt” — the motto of satanist Aleister Crowley and the church of Satan, and the zeitgeist of our time.

Psalm 119:1-5, 10

Blessed those whose way is blameless,
who walk by the law of the LORD.
Blessed those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with all their heart.
They do no wrong;
they walk in his ways.
You have given them the command
to observe your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm
in the observance of your statutes!
With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.


¹Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa (Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1978), p. 99.
²Summa Theologia of St. Thomas Aquinas, Volume One (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947), p. 418.
³Francis Bacon, Selected Philosophical Works, edited by Rose-Mary Sargent (Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1999), p. 31.

See also “Conservatives vs. Liberals: Conservatives believe in free will and have stronger will power“.

May the peace and love and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: A psalm of thanksgiving

John 8:12

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord, with gladness;
come before Him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord, is God,
He made us, we belong to Him,
we are His people, the flock He shepherds.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name;
good indeed is the Lord,
His mercy endures forever,
His faithfulness lasts through every generation.

On this Sunday morning, please join me in thanking God for everything He’s given us, individually and as a nation.

I thank God for intervening and helping us in the 2016 election because, simply and bluntly put, a Hillary presidency would continue the 8 years of Obama’s destruction and so put America on the road of no return.

What about you? Please share with us just one thing for which you are thankful to God.

And may the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: God chose the lowly and despised to humble the arrogant

1 Corinthians 1:26-28

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something . . . .

Another expression for “the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing” could be “a basket of deplorables”.

That was what a “powerful” presidential candidate in the 2016 election — a corrupt, venal liar who advocates the killing of unborn human beings even in the 9th month, whom the “powerful” mainstream media all adjudged to be “strong” and invincible — disdainfully called the people who disagreed with and opposed her, over whom she meant to rule.

To the surprise of all, especially the candidate and the corrupt media, the powerful and seemingly strong candidate was “shamed” and “reduced to nothing” by “the weak . . . the lowly and despised” whom she had called deplorables.

Here’s the rest of the story . . . .

The miracle happened not because the deplorables are better, but because God blesses “they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6) and because God chose the deplorables to humble the arrogant (“boastful”) powerful and strong.

1 Corinthian 1:28-31

God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
“Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

In the meantime, we are told the path before us will continue to be difficult and will demand much from us:

“You will be hated by everyone because of me” (Matthew 10:22), “persecuted for the sake of righteousness,” insulted and have “every kind of evil” uttered “against you falsely because of me” (Matthew 5:10, 11).

And so the battle continues.

But we go forth with courage and with the conviction that “we can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13) and with faith in His promise that “the clean of heart . . . will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Armor of God I can do all things through Christ

Love Him with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength, and may the courage and peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Giving thanks for the election

Isaiah 8:6-7, 10, 23; 9:1-3

Because this people has rejected
the waters of Shiloah that flow gently…
Therefore the Lord is bringing up against them
the waters of the River, great and mighty….
Form a plan, it shall be thwarted;
make a resolve, it shall not be carried out,
for “With us is God!”….

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed….

When the tides turned in the evening and early morning hours of last November 8-9, it became clear that Donald John Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton, despite the many polls predicting she would win. Everyone was surprised — not just her supporters, but also the millions who had voted for Trump. Several TV talking heads who are not Trump supporters used the word “miracle”.

St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians 6:12:

“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood
but with the principalities, with the powers,
with the world rulers of this present darkness,
with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

The 2016 presidential election was not just a political contest “with flesh and blood”. It was and remains a struggle “with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.”

If you doubt that, just look at these pics of the protesters in Washington, D.C., on the day of Trump’s presidential inauguration (source PJ Media):

demonic-inaugural-protesters2demonic-inaugural-protesters3demonic-inaugural-protesters

See also “Evidence that Hillary Clinton and her associates are satanists” and “Satanists endorse Bernie Sanders for President”.

Did you know that Trump’s inauguration set the record for most prayers at inaugural ceremonies?

Trump started the day at St. John’s Church for a service at 8:30 a.m. The inauguration ceremony had six religious prayers, three invocations and three benedictions.

Trump was sworn in using both his own Bible, gifted to him by his mother, and the Bible used to swear in President Abraham Lincoln. (McClatchy DC)

Inauguration Of Donald Trump As 45th President Of The United States

Trump began the day after his inauguration also with prayers, by attending an interfaith National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral. Prayers asking for divine help for Trump were offered by Christian (Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal), Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Navajo clergy.  (Daily Mail)

It is reported that today, the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Trump will ban U.S. taxpayers’ funding of overseas pro-abortion groups by re-instituting the pro-life “Mexico City Policy”. (LifeSiteNews)

Thank you, God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for sending your mighty angels, led by the Archangel Michael, to help us.

And may the peace and joy and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

President Trump’s Inaugural Speech: ‘I will never let you down’

At a little past 12 noon today, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.

Inauguration Of Donald Trump As 45th President Of The United States

As headlines on Drudge Report correctly observe:

  • Trump eviscerates Obama’s Washington
  • Trump’s speech focuses on “we” and leaves himself out almost entirely — unlike Obama’s “I, me, my” speeches.

Here is the text of President Trump’s inaugural speech (CNBC), followed by the video:

“Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans and people of the world, thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.

And we are grateful to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition.

They have been magnificent.

Thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has a very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C., and giving it back to you, the people.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have bore the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now, because this moment is your moment.

It belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America.

This is your day.

This is your celebration.

And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.

January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now. You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.

These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists.

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.

An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.

And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation, and their pain is our pain.

Their dreams are our dreams, and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own. And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world. But that is the past, and now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs.

We will bring back our borders.

We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.

We will shine for everyone to follow.

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable. There should be no fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving. We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone to tell you that it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.

We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator.

So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean, hear these words: You will never be ignored again. Your voice, your hopes and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America proud again, we will make America safe again.

And, yes, together we will make America great again.

Thank you.

God bless you.

And God bless America.”

May God bless Donald Trump, and may America be worthy of this second chance God mercifully gave us.

~Eowyn