Sunday, June 26, 2011

Leviticus 26

Leviticus 26

This chapter starts out by the Lord telling Moses all of the rewards that he will give them if he is obedient to the laws that he gave them.  Then it goes on to list the punishment that they will receive if they do not follow these laws.  And the punishments go on… and on.  First some punishments are listed and then the Lord states that “If then you become defiant in you unwillingness to obey me, I will multiply my blows by another seven fold, as your sins deserve.” (Lev 26:21)  The punishments go on and on like this.  As I was reading this I began to think that this is cruel and unnecessary.  Why is the Lord not content will giving them one or two punishments?  If they don’t follow his laws why doesn’t he just give them a punishment and be done with them, just forget about them?

No, the Lord is not going to just give up on his people.  This is to important for him to just give up.  He tells Moses that the people will keep receiving punishments until they come back to him “humbled and they make amends for their guilt,” (Lev 26:41).  The punishment will not stop until the people come back to the Lord.  Only then can the Lord remember his covenant with his people.   

The punishments are not because God is cruel and wants to see his people suffer, they are because he loves his people are wants them to come back to him.  He love his people to much for him to just give up on them.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Psalm 19:10

Psalm 19:10
The statues of the Lord are true,
all of them just;

There are unjust laws.  Whichever form of government you have or whichever organization you are part of there will be laws or rules that you believe are not right, just or fair.  But this is not true when it comes to the Lord’s laws.  The Lord is perfect so his laws are perfect.  The Lord made us so his laws for us are true and just.  Even when we don’t completely agree with the laws of the Lord or when they may seem unjust or unfair I know that this is only because I don’t completely understand the meaning of the law not that the Laws are wrong.  If I had the complete understanding that the Lord has then I know that I would realize that his laws are just and true.  But I am not the Lord so I do not have a complete understanding but since I know that the Lord is perfect, I know that his laws are true and just.
This is not to say that individual churches, priests, bishops or even the Pope can not make rules that are unjust.  They are only human.  There are times that these laws are unjust.  But if the law is really a law from the Lord we can be assured that it is truly just.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Psalm 15:2

Psalm 15:2
Whoever walks without blame,
doing what is right,
speaking truth from the heart;

While I was reading the psalms today I found a line that relates right back to a Dorothy Day quote about a revolution of the heart.  Speaking the truth is good but what is even better and what we need are people who speak the truth from their hearts.  These people not only speak the truth but they know the truth in their hearts.  This knowledge of the truth comes into view in their actions.  They are doing what is right as the psalm states.  In order to really share and profess you Catholic faith you need to know your faith in your heart.  You don’t need to be able to recite bible verses, explain theological teachings, or be able to completely defend why the Church teaches certain things (although I would like to be able to do these things), but you need to have the truth and love of the Lord in your heart.  I feel that I person who teaches from their heart can teach a lot more about the faith then an encyclopedia of Church doctrine and teachings.

Dear Lord, help me to have your truth in my heart always.

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day, here is a person that we can learn a lot from.  I just finished reading a short passage about Dorothy Day in "Mirrors of God" by Joseph W. Goetz.  After reading this I wanted to learn more about Dorothy Day, her actions and what we can learn from them.  She is definitely a person to learn and read more about.  Here are three quotes from Dorothy Day that I feel make very strong points in her life and in mine.

I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.
-Dorothy Day

People say plenty of things much of which they don't believe or care very strongly about.  A person can say that they love Jesus and want to grow closer to him but often times their actions say the exact opposite.  It is easy to say things.  It is harder to actually do what you say.  

Dear Lord, Help me to match my actions to my words so I can work towards your good.

"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart."
- Dorothy Day

If a society is really going to change people's hearts need to change not the laws and policies.  If we are going to end abortion we don't need to make it illegal, we need to change people's hearts so they realize that abortion is wrong.  If we are going to assist the poor we don't simply need to create new policies and programs to provide services to the poor we need to change people's hearts so they can love the poor.  If we are going to protect the environment we don't need to create stricter EPA regulations, we need to change people's hearts so they can realize that we are all stewards of the Earth.  In order to truly create a better society and better people we need to change their hearts.  Their hearts need to be directed at you and then everything else will fall into place.

Dear Lord, Help me to change people's hearts so they can recognize your love.

"I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least."
- Dorothy Day

All human beings are made in the image and likeness of the Lord.  What then is it saying when you hate and fight with another person?  If we are going to truly love the Lord we need to start by truly loving his people.  We can't say that we love the Lord but go on to hate those around us for that is hateful to the Lord.  

Dear Lord, Help me to see your image in everyone that I come into contact with.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leviticus 11:44

Leviticus 11:44
For I, the Lord, an your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy.

The past few chapters seems like a list of rules and directions of how to do things according to God's instructions.  It almost seems like the rules are created to make the Israelites jump through hoops.  You start to wonder about the meaning of all these rules and regulations.  But here you see the meaning.  They are all because the Lord wants them to be holy as he is holy.  When it is stated this way, the rules are not created out of power but out of the Lord's love for his people.  They are meant for their good, so they can become more holy.
Just as the rules and regulations in the Old Testament are meant to make the Israelites more holy, what may seem like arbitrary rules and constricting teachings that the Church teaches today are not meant to hold us back or prevent us from doing something but are meant to help us grow closer the the Lord and to heaven.

Dear Lord, Help us to understand that your laws are made out of love for us.  Help us to follow them out of love for you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Psalm 14:6

Psalm 14:6
They would crush the hopes of the poor, but the poor have the Lord as their refuge.

Imagine this.  There is a person who is going through very difficult hardships.  Maybe their family is falling apart, maybe their job is becoming to much for them, maybe their home has been destroyed by a natural disaster or maybe they are being persecuted for something.  They have experienced so many set backs and struggles that the average person would have completely given up by now (or long before now).  But not this person.  They still have hope.  They are still working towards some greater good.  People look at them and wonder how they could possibly still have hope given the situation that they are in. 
How can they do this?  They can do this because they have the Lord as their refuge.  With the Lord as your refuge there isn't anything that you can't make it through.  Nothing can crush your hope if you find refuge with the Lord.  We can give witness to our faith and trust in the Lord by not giving up hope when the rest of the word expects you to.  You can not only remain hopeful because you have the protection of the Lord but you can also spread you hope to others who are in trouble and show your trust in the Lord to anyone who observes your unwavering hope.

Dear Lord, Help me to be a witness to you love and protection by remaining hopeful in difficult times.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Exodus 34: 21

Exodus 34:21
"For six days you may work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; on that day you must rest even during the seasons of plowing and harvesting."

Again with the sabbath.  The Lord tells his people that even in the times that there is a lot of work to be done they still must observe the sabbath.  I know that there are some types of work (like hospitals workers and police) that must happen on the sabbath.  As a society we do not value resting on Sundays or any days.  We have a mentality of competition and convenience and that means working and keeping businesses and stores open as much as possible.  I feel that this is something that we should try to avoid to make time for our friends, family and the Lord.
I feel that there is so much more to look into on this topic.  I will keep reading and keep my eyes open for more information.

Dear Lord, Help me to remember to keep Sunday holy even when I am busy.

Exodus 31: 13

Exodus 31: 13
"You must also tell the Israelites: Take care to keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the token between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the Lord, who make you holy."

Again the Lord is telling the Israelites to keep holy the sabbath.  He calls it a token that will be passed down through the generations to mark his people.  This reminds me of stories that I have been told of discrimination to Jews in the 1940's.  One story that I have been told was about job interviews.  They would be asked what holidays they wanted off and the interview would end when they replied that they wanted Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off.  I also remember hearing stories of how businesses would keep Jews from working there by requiring that they work on Saturdays.  This is an awful form of prejudice and discrimination but I find it interesting that keeping the sabbaths is still a sign of Jews.

Dear Lord, Help me to keep holy your day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Psalm 11:1-3

Psalm 11:1-3
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to me,
"Flee like a bird to the mountains!
See how the wicked string their bows,
fit their arrows to the string
to shoot from the shadows at the upright.
When foundations are being destroyed,
what can the upright do?"

Sometimes it feels like everything around us is falling apart or going in the wrong direction; the government, our schools, health care, the environment, families and the list could go on.  It seems like it would just be easier to run away and hide.  Sometimes it even seems like running to the mountains may be our only option.  But with the Lord as our refuge we never have to simply run away.  We have so much more.  When our foundations are falling apart we can stay and work towards goodness and truth, we don't have to be defeated and run and hide.
I know I need to remember this more in my daily life when I feel defeated and like there is no right answer (let alone one that could be agreed upon).  I need to remember that I can't just give up and watch but I need to actively take part in working towards an answer.  With the Lord as my refuge and support I don't have to fear defeat.

Dear Lord, Help me to not feel defeated but to look to you for hope and joy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Psalm 10:3

Psalm 10:3
The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the Lord.

It is one thing for people to sin and do wrong but it is a completely different thing for people to do wrong and then b proud of it.  When someone does evil I think that maybe they are trying to do good but was pressured or maybe they are ashamed of what they did and feel sorry for them but when someone does evil and then boasts about it I have a much harder time not casting judgement on them.  I feel that we have gotten to a much lower place when we do not try to hid and correct the things that we do wrong but when we see them as something commonplace, something that we should not be ashamed of or something that we should boast about.
Some evils in society have become so commonplace that we almost don't realize that they are wrong or that they are something that we should try to avoid.  We think of them as just an everyday part of life.  This can eventually lead to people not even realizing that they are sinning.  How could it be wrong if everyone does it?

Dear Lord, Help me to be able to differentiate between right and wrong and help me to set a good example for other people.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Exodus 23:2

Exodus 23:2
Neither shall you allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong, nor shall you, when testifying in a lawsuit, side with the many in perverting justice.

This is so easy to do.  Everybody is doing something so it must be right.  Maybe you are not sure what is the right thing to do so you just follow the majority and assume that it is right.  You figure something can't be that bad if everyone is doing it.  This doesn't always work especially with moral teachings.  It is easy to be influenced by the actions of those around us.  Our sinful actions are not any less sinful because other people are sinning as well.  When we surround ourselves with people who are doing wrong it is easy to become accustomed to it or to use that as an excuse for our own actions.  We need to be careful as to who we surround ourselves to and what we expose ourselves to so we do not become caught in this mindset.  We can not let the majority views of our society shape our beliefs and our actions. 

Dear Lord, Help us to be an example to others as to what is right and true.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Psalm 8:5-6

Psalm 8:5-6
What are humans that you are mindful of them,
mere mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them little less than a god,
crowned them with glory and honor.

When I think about or study astronomy and am amazed by the vastness of the universe.  When you look at the whole universe we are really nothing.  We are insignificant little specks.  But in reality we are so much more than that.  God cares for us and created us in his image and likeness.  To someone that does not know or believe this we are insignificant little specks but we know that we are so much more than that.  Without God we would be like nothing but with God we are so much more.