REFLECTIONS. Extracts from February 2020 Daily Thoughts

Feb 11, 2020

February 12. Bruce, the Old Testament scholar briefly told the story.” King Solomon, David’s son, had asked God for wisdom in his early days.  In time he became one of the richest and most successful men.  He acquired many possessions, many wives and concubines, gold and jewels.  He thanked God for his prosperity and built a magnificent temple to honour God. The Queen of Sheba, also a very wealthy woman came to visit and test him.”  Bruce continued, “A confusing but common point of discussion in every age and every group is, “Should prosperity and success, beautiful houses and cars be seen as a sign of God’s favour?   Why is it only for some?  What expectations does God have from those who do have great wealth?”

When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. When the queen had seen and heard king Solomon’s wisdom she said, Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report which I heard.  Blessed be the Lord your God who has delighted in you.  From 1 Kings 10:1-10  Pope Francis: The rich and the poor have equal dignity, for the Lord is the maker of them all. He himself made both small and great and he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good. This has practical consequences.  If we make something our own it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others.   LS94-95

February 14.   As a fun activity to commemorate Valentine’s Day families were asked to play a game at home listing their 5 best “I love…..statements. George explained they had to be real loves, not just passing likes. How do you know?  One way to identify what one loves is by considering how much time, effort and care one spends on it and for how long.  As George said, “I have loved my wife for 52 years. It wasn’t always roses, sometimes thorns too.” Young people of course chose romantic love objects, some chose a hobby or chocolate, and some an important issue they were really passionate and really cared about, like health or animal welfare.  In the end did they discover what love really is or is love still always a mystery?

St Valentine’s Day possibly did originate in stories of Christian martyrs in the early church. One story is about a priest who married soldiers when they were banned while on active duty. Another story is of a healing, from blindness of his judge’s daughter and then signing a farewell letter “Your Valentine” before his execution.  The day is no longer a religious feast but is recognised as a very real cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love for all ages.

Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.  John 12:24-26.    Pope Francis:  I think of St Valentine’s Day: in some countries commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church!  AL208.

February 16.  Sunday 6A.   Having read the scripture passage of the day Jock felt called to share, ”Family conflict and feuds are not uncommon.  There may be issues between siblings, even adult siblings.  The strains and stresses of marriage and of their own busy lives can cause a rift between spouses.  When we do not feel loving, we may consider the marriage over. In such situations another man or woman may seem particularly attractive, and we may be open to looking for another partner or respond to or turn to another couple. This can be just a response to a need, an attraction, a temptation, adultery, or lead to a marriage breakdown.  I thank God that he saved me from the greater evil of adultery.  I admit I was tempted but just at the appropriate time my wife and I were invited to experience a programme for troubled marriages.  We genuinely rediscovered our love was not dead, and, at the same time, neither were my relationships with my brothers. “

You have heard it said,    “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go first to be reconciled to your brother. You have heard that it was said, “you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5: 17-37.  Pope Francis: Among the causes of broken marriage are unduly high expectations.  Once it becomes apparent that the reality is more limited and challenging than one imagined, the solution is not to think quickly and irresponsibly about separation but to come to the sober realization that married life is a process of growth in which each spouse is God’s means of help the other to mature.   AL221

February 18.  Jonathan raised a matter that also worried others. “Hey, doesn’t this passage in James letter, “He himself tempts no one” conflict with what we say in the Our Father, ”’Lead us not into temptation.’ I must say that has been bothering me.”  James replied,   “I know,  even Pope Francis found that confusing and said that in fact that sentence is a mistranslation.  It is reported that a debate exists about the wording.  The pope has said he thought the English translation of the OUR Father prayer was not correct. There has been debate in the different languages’ liturgical commissions and the Pope has approved a new Italian translation but there is no approval for an English language change.

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.     Let no one say when he is tempted, “I was tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one, but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.   James 1:12-18.    Pope Francis:  “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.  A father doesn’t do that; a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.” He would prefer instead of “Lead us not into temptation,” “Do not let us fall into temptation,” 

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