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Friday, March 25, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 2:12–16
All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all. (NRSV)
By many accounts there are 613 laws in the Old Testament that cover just about every aspect of daily life, such as what to eat and wear, how to clean and worship—and on they go page after page in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Every Jewish person was expected to follow each of these laws, so Jesus was asked which commandment in the law is the greatest. Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Jesus made it all just that simple and just that hard.
The war in Ukraine has been such an appalling tragedy, but what has been so reassuring have been the stories about strangers helping strangers, neighbors loving neighbors as themselves. Stories such as the people in Poland opening their homes to refugees they don't know, hotels in Warsaw providing rooms for free. The sight at train stations of Polish mothers leaving baby strollers for Ukrainians arriving with nothing but a baby in their arms. Or 100 Ukrainian Orthodox priests marching through bombed-out city streets, risking their lives to bring humanitarian aid to those in need. All these people are loving their neighbor as themselves and following the law of God whether they know it or not.
We too are called to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves with each passing day. Think of all the good that could be unleashed when each of us can follow the greatest commandment of all. Just ask yourself “Even today what can I do to love God just a bit more?” Maybe take a moment to talk with God about something or attend a worship service. Then consider “What will ease the burden of someone else?” Maybe it begins with a kind word or a gift of some kind. As the song goes, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” May it be so.
“Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your Spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only you.” Amen. (Prayer attributed to Cardinal John Henry Newman and Mother Teresa.)
Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music
Reflection © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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