Reflection for Thursday, May 27, 2004: 7th week in Easter.

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Crawford, Sue
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"I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me..." Psalm 16: 5 ||Taken together, the readings for today show the contrast between God's counsel and worldly counsel. The dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees erupts into harsh conflict. This conflict distracts these religious leaders from their shared interest in the business at hand (what to do about Paul) and threatens to tear Paul to pieces! How easily we fall into two camps and then spend all of our energies fighting each other. We see this kind of polarization and conflict in politics, in our religious communities, in local communities, in workplaces, and in families. Numerous social science studies confirm the pervasiveness of this human tendency. Experimental research demonstrates that people will polarize even over seemingly trivial questions such as how many dots are on a card. We are so easily distracted from working together on problems at hand and instead spend our energies on dividing into camps. We elaborate at length on the "weaknesses" of those in the "other camp" and even engage in outright conflict or violence against them. Yes, God does speak through prophets to challenge injustices, and God's wisdom in the epistles confirms our responsibility to confront those who demonstrate in self-destructive or community-destructive behavior. However, the counsel in scriptures almost always emphasizes that the most important task at hand is reconciliation and that the correction must be done in love.|The prayer of Jesus in the gospel of John for today emphasizes Jesus's counsel of unity and love for His followers. He models for us the need to pray for unity and pray that we will be able to love one another. As He predicts, the prayer is as necessary today as it was then. In other discourses Jesus even tells us to pray for our enemies. This counsel clearly differs from that modeled in today's reading from Acts and the stories in our newspapers today. Jesus knows that unity does not come easily for us. It is not a trite thing to really love one another. |Each of the readings for today offers wonderful glimpses of God's gracious wisdom.|We can meditate upon these so as to better recognize God's counsel and to "be transformed by the renewal of our mind" to more closely adhere to it instead of worldly polarization. In Acts, we see that "The Lord stood by him and said, 'Take courage.'" The Psalmist reminds us that God's wisdom will show us the path to life, fullness of joys and delights at God's right hand forever. Finally, the gospel account gives us a wonderful truth to consider during this Easter season _ "I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one." May we continue to pray with Jesus that we abide in His love, continue to encourage one another to take courage, and continue to seek the path of life with fullness of joys so that we may be brought into perfection as one.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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