Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 9, 2017: Happy are those who fear the Lord.

February 9, 2017
Thursday, Week Five, Year I
Genesis 2:18-25; Psalm 128; Mark 7:24-30

Happy are those who fear the Lord.

The blessing Psalm 128 promises to a man who “fears” — that is, respects and obeys — the Lord is:

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your home; your children like olive plants around your table.

And in general, a happy, blessed, productive life. On this earth.

In Genesis 2:18-25 the Lord says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”
So first he created “various wild animals and birds” and presented them to the man. “ Whatever the man called each of them would be its name.” This meant the man had the authority to decide what each one would be used for. They were under his control. “But none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.”
Authority, having control over others, using them, no matter how benevolently or kindly, does not provide the kind of relationship with others that human beings need. Power is not partnership and can never substitute for it.

So God took one of the man’s ribs and formed it into a woman. This is not a biology lesson. To take it literally is to miss the “hidden meaning” of the myth, which the man expressed when he cried out, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” Adam recognized Eve as the “same stuff” that he was; in other words, his equal. Not a lower form of life. Not something to be used or controlled. A partner in union with whom to live a more human life.

Human beings are in the image and likeness of God, not only through endowment with memory, intellect and will, but because, like the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, their being is not complete without relationship. This is inscribed in the structure of male and female bodies, neither of which is intelligible except in relation to the other. And the Scripture is absolute: “It is not good for humans to be alone.”

We are not alone, however, as long as we are in relationship. A hermit monk explained that the difference between loneliness and solitude is relationship: no matter how physically alone we are, we are neither lonely nor truly alone as long as we are in deep, loving, recognized relationship with the human race — evcn if our closest neighbor is a hundred miles away. By contrast, those who relate only through power or control are fundamentally alone and lonely, even if they are rubbing shoulders with multitudes all day long.

Relationship comes through interaction. (Praying for others is interaction). But not all interactions create relationships that keep us from being alone. For this we must accept others as “partners,” equals with whom we share as equals. The “second greatest” Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” is a formula for personal survival. If we don’t love anyone as much as we love ourselves, we will soon find nothing in our own selves that we can love. So it is essential to look for the good in others, affirm it, celebrate it and rejoice in it.

Praise is a key to this. Whether we are speaking of relationship with God or with humans, the principle is, “What we do not praise we will not appreciate.” What we do not appreciate we cannot love. So love begins with taking an interest in others; what they know, how they think, the ideals, desires and choices that make them who they are, the feelings that make life easier for them or harder. And we do not really know others until we know their relationship (interaction) with God.

Meditation: What is good in the people I live with? Work with? Do I affirm it?

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