Lectionary Reflection—28 August 2016
Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, “I’ll never leave you nor abandon you.” This is why we can confidently say,
Yahweh’s my helper,
and I won’t be afraid.
What can people do to me?
Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!...So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through him, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God’s pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.
I’ve been to different churches over the years and, in most of them, I’ve felt like an outsider. Not from the people (usually), but from the service itself. A lot of churches won’t let others take Eucharist if they don’t fall into some arbitrary category—not a member of that particular parish or congregation, not a member of a certain denomination or tradition, haven’t gone through that particular church’s training or confirmation class, or whatever other reason that humans come up with. Deep down in my bones, I don’t think anyone should be kept from sitting at table with Jesus and the saints. We’re all part of the same family—God’s family—and human rules shouldn’t keep people away from the table of Christ.
Priscilla’s admonition here is to love each other like family. And that means to love others the way the forgiving father loved the wayward son (Luke 15.11-32). Jesus said, “Love each other just as I’ve loved you” (John 15.12; see John 13.34). Do we love this way? When we look into each human face, do we see our sisters and brothers? Do we love them like we love our own?
This type of love, we’re told, treats others with the same dignity that we’d want to be treated with if we were in their situations. Again, this is what Jesus said was expected of the people who follow him (Matthew 7.12).
Loving others in the Way of Jesus is to see them as equals, as members of our family. There’s no distinction between “them” and “us.” There’s only “us.” Christ removed the divisions between us and made us one people (Ephesians 2.14-16). If we’re followers of The Way of Jesus, this is our world-view. In fact, this was on the mind of Christ before his crucifixion. In his final moments with his followers, Jesus prayed:
I pray they’ll be one, Father, just as you’re in me and I’m in you. I pray that they’ll also be in us so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you’re in me so that they’ll be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you’ve loved them just as you loved me” (John 17.21-23; adapted).
May this be our prayer, too.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC