Mercy At the Crossroads

Mercy in the Crosshairs

Matthew 5:17-19

Matthew 5:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

“15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

My favorite television shows are the Law and Order Franchise. I can sit and watch reruns for hours. I always make sure I am home to watch the newest Special Victims episode. Law and order can be black and white, and we all want order, but we all want mercy as well.

    When Jesus said that he came to uphold and fulfill the law, we should be shaken to the core. Not with fear, but with hope. Jesus fulfilling the law offers us a vision of life changed in ways that transcend our imagination but that are not beyond the power of Jesus. The law is love, and it is in that love that law and order are found in Christ.

    My friend the Reverend Ken Howard gives us an example of that law at this time of anxiety:

“The COVID19 pandemic is not the first time Christianity has been faced with the moral question of how to respond in the face of pandemic. In fact, the question is nearly as old as the Church itself. One of the first times was during the third century Roman plague. Something likely akin to Ebola, the so-called Cyprian plague (after Bishop Cyprian of Carthage) which ravaged the Empire from 250-270 CE.

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Just as they had in the Antonin plague of the second century, the powerful and well-to-do of the Empire fled the cities for the relative safety of their countryside villas, leaving the rest of the populace to fend for themselves. As attested to by both Christian and secular writers of the time, just as they did in the previous plague, the Galileans (as they were called) did the opposite, staying behind and even coming in from the countryside to feed the poor, care for the afflicted, comfort the dying, bury the dead, and to attend to public hygiene, doing this not just for the faithful but for their entire communities, Christian and non-Christian alike. It was, as Bishop Cyprian put it, their burden of care. Two remarkable things happened: they helped curb the contagiousness of the plague (the death rate was as much as 50% lower in cities with Christian communities) and the plague (or rather their response to it) helped make Christianity extremely contagious, so that it spread rapidly throughout the Empire.

Today we are faced with a modern plague but the question is the same: how are we called to live in the face of it. And our answers may ultimately lead to our congregations and the communities they serve surviving and thriving together.  Reverend Ken Howard, FaithX”.

       Ken raises the question, how are we going to respond at this time.  For me personally I will continue to reach out to the youth I hang with on the street and off the street, and my friends who are housed, older,  and at home,  giving them the words of Paul:

“Keep alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. Whatever you do , do it in love.” I Corinthians 16:13.

    I will continue in every post, in every person I speak to remind them that there are people on the street, who will not go into shelter, and we need to continue to provide for them.

        On a day to day  level my response is going to be to buy what I need at the store. To remember that there are others who are in need of supplies. To give respect to people in traffic, and in walking, not shout at them, push them aside, to treat them with love.

And reminding myself moment by moment of the words of Franklin

Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Love always casts out fear, so love your friends, your neighbors, and those who have nothing with all your heart, for in the words of Jeremy Taylor, “Love is friendship set on fire.”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P. O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

   

 

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