Archive for the ‘Enemies’ Tag

Proper 9, Year C   14 comments

Above:  House of Naaman, Damascus, 1900-1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

Humility, Judgment, Mercy, and Enemies

The Sunday Closest to July 6

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 3, 2022


The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 and Psalm 30


Isaiah 66:10-14 and Psalm 66:1-8


Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:

A Prayer for Our Enemies:

Prayers for Forgiveness, Mercy, and Trust:

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

A Prayer for Humility:

2 Kings 5:

Isaiah 66:

Galatians 6:

Luke 10:


I propose, O reader, a thought experiment:

Name two countries, A and B, with a recent history of warfare against each other and a current climate of mutual hostility.  Then imagine a general from B in search of a cure visiting a prominent religious figure from A.

The politics of the situation would be sensitive, would they not?    That is a partial summary of the Naaman and Elijah story.

The main intertwining threads I choose to follow today are:

  • humility (in 2 Kings 5, Galatians 6, and Luke 10),
  • judgment and mercy (in all four readings), and
  • enemies (in 2 Kings 5, Isaiah 66, and Luke 10).

Humility is having a realistic estimate of oneself; it recognizes both strengths and weaknesses.  This theme fits the Naaman story well, for he had to overcome his notions of self-importance and national pride, the latter of which informed the former, before God healed him.  In humility and a Christ-based identity we Christians are supposed to carry each other’s burdens and help each other through temptation and error; that is what Galatians 6 says.  And humility is part of curriculum for the disciples in Luke 10.

Judgment is for God.  The theme of judgment overlaps with that of enemies.  And who is an enemy of God?  I suspect that many, if not most, enemies of God think of themselves as disciples and friends of God.  Militant Islamists in western Africa are destroying allegedly un-Islamic buildings–architectural treasures–in the name of Allah.  Neither pluralism nor religious toleration are among the values of these individuals.  These militants think of themselves as faithful to God and of people such as me as not faithful to God.  I think that I am correct, obviously.

(Aside:  I have taught practicing Muslims and found them to be delightful human beings.  None have been militants.  Anyone who thinks that I condemn all Muslims when I criticize militant Islamists fails to grasp my meaning.)

Although judgment resides with God, so does mercy.  So Naaman became a follower.  Divine mercy extended even to enemies of Elisha’s people.  That is easy to say about the politics of antiquity, but what about today?  So I propose another thought experiment:

Name a hostile foreign government.  Can you, O reader, warm up to the idea that God loves agents of that regime?  Would you, in Christ, accept such agents as brothers and sisters in faith?

Mercy can prove difficult.  Often we prefer judgment for others–our enemies–and mercy for ourselves because this arrangement reinforces our egos.  Yet humility before God requires us, among other things, to move past those categories and our concepts of where we stand in relation to God.  That person whom we think of as an enemy might be a friend of God.  And we might not be as right with God as we imagine.







Week of Proper 6: Tuesday, Year 2   6 comments

Above:  King Ahab

Actions Have Consequences

JUNE 14, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


1 Kings 21:17-29 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The the word of the LORD came to Eljah the Tishbite:

Go down and confront King Ahab of Israel who [resides] in Samaria.  He is now in Naboth’s vineyard; he has gone down there to take possession of it.  Say to him, “Thus said the LORD:  Would you murder and take possession?  Thus said the LORD:  In the very place where the dogs lapped up Naboth’s blood, the dogs will lap up your blood too.”

Ahab said to Elijah,

So you have found me, my enemy?

He replied,

Yes, I have found you.  Because you have committed yourself to doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD, I will bring disaster upon you.  I will make a clean sweep of you, I will cut off from Israel every male belonging to Ahab, bond and free.  I will make your house like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because of the provocation you have caused by leading Israel to sin.  And the LORD has spoken concerning Jezebel:  “The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the field of Jezreel.  All of Ahab’s line who die in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and all who die in the town shall be devoured by dogs, and all who die in the open country shall be devoured by the birds of the sky.”

(Indeed, there never was anyone like Ahab, who committed himself to doing what was displeasing to the LORD, at the instigation of his wife Jezebel.  He acted most abominably, straying after the fetishes just like the Amorites, whom the LORD had dispossessed before the Israelites.)

When Ahab heard these words, he rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his body.  He fasted and lay in sackcloth and walked about subdued.  Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:

Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?  Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the disaster in his lifetime; I will bring the disaster upon his house in his son’s time.

Psalm 51:1-11 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving-kindness;

in your great compassion blot out my offenses.

2 Wash me through and through from my wickedness

and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you only have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight.

5 And so you are justified when you speak

and upright in your judgment.

Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,

a sinner from my mother’s womb.

7 For behold, you look for truth deep within me,

and will make me understand wisdom secretly.

Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure;

wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.

Make me hear of joy and gladness,

that the body you have broken may rejoice.

10 Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquities.

11 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Matthew 5:43-48 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

You have heard that they were told, “You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, true sons of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on bad and good alike, and makes the rain fall on the upright and the wrongdoers.  For if you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect?  Do not the very tax-collectors do that?  And if you are polite to your brothers and no one else, what is there remarkable in that?  Do not the very heathen do that?  So you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is.


The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 6:  Tuesday, Year 1:

Matthew 5:


Actions have consequences.

Two important features of the Law of Moses were (A) a certain amount of reciprocity, as in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and (B) the lack of class distinctions in determining sentences.  Jezebel had arranged for perjury and so manipulated the court system so that Naboth, an innocent man, would die and Ahab would acquire the desired vineyard.  God, through Elijah, pronounced that the Queen would die.  She could shield herself from the courts, but not God.

Elijah, in this account, does his job; he relay’s God’s words.  Jezebel had tried to have the prophet killed, so she was an enemy.  And Ahab had not stopped any of her murderous plans, so he was also a foe.  Yet there is no hint in the text that Elijah took delight in the divine judgments.

There is a great and valuable lesson in this.  The powerful evil people, even the banal ones, must face the consequences of their actions.  Perhaps these cannot come soon enough for our satisfaction sometimes, but they will arrive.  But we need not rejoice when the wrath of God befalls them, for such an attitude does not reflect love.  We ought to resist evil, not become it.  We need to hold forth against our enemies, not become like them.