Friday, March 23, 2012 — Week of 4 Lent
Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop and Missionary of Armenia, c. 332
Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 955)
Psalms (morning) 95* & 102 // 107:1-32 (evening)
1 Corinthians 12:27 – 13:3
[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
To the Egyptians, Moses was just a murderer, or maybe even a terrorist. His killing of the Egyptian who was beating one of the Hebrew laborers had a political component to it. Moses fled for his life. The Midianites who took him in — did they give sanctuary to a justice warrior or did they harbor a terrorist?
In one sense, we can see Moses’ violent act as a response that is motivated by love. His love for his people provoked his anger into rage when he witnessed the injustice of their forced labor. That love was focused in the particular incident when he came across the Egyptian overlord beating the Hebrew. Moses’ act was premeditated. He looked around. No witnesses. He struck. He buried the body.
Anger is the appropriate emotional reaction whenever someone or something you love is threatened. Anger stimulates action — sometimes enraged action. But underneath the anger, there is love.
Gerald May writes:
“Searching beneath anxiety, one will find fear. And beneath fear hurt will be discovered. Beneath the hurt will be guilt. Beneath the guilt lie rage and hatred. But do not stop with this, for beneath the rage lies frustrated desire. Finally beneath and beyond desire, is love. In every feeling, look deeply. Explore without ceasing. At bottom, love is.” (Simply Sane, Crossroad, 1993, p. 87)
What do we do with all that love? If love is the energizing cauldron of emotion, how do we channel that energy into constructive rather than destructive actions?
Paul says today, “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Love may be the underlying motivation for one’s speech and powers and sacrifices, but if that love is exercised through rage and violence, it can become destructive nevertheless, as Moses learned.
The model for us is Jesus who transfigures human life and love. Today we see Jesus on a high mountain joined by Moses and by Elijah the prophet. Jesus is bathed in dazzling light. Jesus will take the energizing love of freedom (Moses) and justice (Elijah) and he will channel that energy in a pure and non-violent way. He will stand up to violence and injustice, exposing it and soaking-in its evil without giving it back in some violent counter-reaction. Instead, he will trust God’s deliverance, and unmask wrong, forgiving perpetrators and liberating victims alike.
Love expressed through love is the transfiguring way of the Light. All other expressions of love must beg God’s mercy.