Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Wednesday, July 7, 2010 -- Week of Proper 9, Year Two

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 975)
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning)       12, 13, 14 (evening)
Deuteronomy 1:1-18
Romans 9:1-18
Matthew 23:27-39

How do we regard our enemies?  Especially people whom we may have been close to once, but now feel deeply alienated from?  Maybe they have betrayed us?  Maybe we disagree at fundamental levels?  What about those who oppose what we hold most dear and sacred?  How do we regard those who try to destroy what we most treasure?

We get to peek into Paul's heart over the next few chapters as he writes about his deepest anguish.  He is Jewish.  It is in his bones.  He was a zealous, practicing Jew from his youth.  But when he recognized Jesus as Messiah/Christ, many of his people labeled him as an enemy.  For years he has been in profound conflict -- to have been provoked to threaten him, imprison him, beat and physically assault him, and even to plot his assassination.  He has very real enemies.  It is personal -- they wish him harm and they work to accomplish harm to him.  It is corporate -- they seek to damage or destroy his work, the congregations he has founded.  Paul has real enemies. 

"I am speaking the truth in Christ -- I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit --" (strong words)  "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh." 

For the next few chapters Paul will write of that anguish.  He grieves the failure of his people to recognize and acknowledge Jesus as Messiah; he mourns the conflict and animosity that daily threatens to provoke violence and even the destruction of his work and his being; he decries the misinterpretations that blind his enemies to what Paul knows to be true and good.  Yet Paul will not let go of his trust in God and his conviction that God will be faithful, even through the unfaithfulness of Paul's enemies. 

Paul looks at the bright side.  Because of the Jewish rejection of the Messiah, God has sent the Good News to the Gentiles.  The walls are broken down and the outsiders are welcomed in.  Paul looks at the dark side.  The covenant people have rejected God's visitation and oppose the work of God.

Paul's trust and hope in God prevails.  Though his enemies have been unfaithful, God is faithful.  God will bring life and blessing, even to those who oppose him.  Paul wishes only life and blessing for those who are his enemies, for those who try to destroy him and his work.  Paul would even trade his own security in Christ for their sake.

How do we regard our enemies?



Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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