First, thanks to the people who wrote in about yesterday’s Lenten Message for Day 2, 2023. All the comments were very favorable, thankfully. At the end of today’s message, I will provide a few of the emails, verbatim.
Today, the message will be about Acceptance. It is often so difficult to see another’s perspective, especially when another’s opinions and values run contrary to one’s own. A reference from the King James Bible Book of Matthew offers insight:
Matthew 22:36-40 King James Version
Master, which is the Great Commandment in the Law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, and with all thy Soul, and with all thy Mind. 38 This is the First and Great Commandment. 39 And the Second is Like unto it, Thou Shalt Love thy Neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
This is truly about Acceptance. Learning to love God, love yourself, and love one another. It doesn’t matter which religion one follows, be it Judaism, Presbyterian, Catholicism or any other.
From the Book of Matthew, we gather that a sense of community is bred from accepting our differences.
The story of Saint Martha of Bethany is one we often repeat, because it is so easy to understand yet also very broad and all encompassing. Since we seem to write about Saint Martha often, I’ll repeat some of the message we offered about her in 2022:
Martha and her sister, Mary, and brother, Lazarus, lived in Bethany. Lazarus was friends with Jesus so he would often invite Jesus over for a bite to eat. This was wonderful for Jesus because Martha was a great cook, and always actively coming up with the new recipes and ideas for “breaking bread” at the table.
Yet Mary was not very interested in cooking at all, and she did not have that active spirit like her sister, Martha. Mary was a contemplative type of person. Mary was prayerful and this naturally led her to be drawn to her brother Lazarus’ friend, Jesus.
One day Martha was planning some glorious meal and it was taking a lot of effort on her part. She saw that Mary was with Jesus in some happy, joyful, zone in the living room. Suddenly, Martha became annoyed that she was doing all the heavy lifting while Mary enjoyed spending time with Jesus.
Finally, Martha lost her cool and sparks went flying. Martha was not too pleased with Mary, and she let her know. Except Jesus was there and he witnessed the outburst. Finally, he stepped in and decided Martha needed to learn a lesson or two.
Jesus sat Martha down and presented the simple facts that Martha was an active go-getter. Mary was just the opposite. Spending time in contemplative prayer was Mary’s favorite thing to do and Jesus pointed out to Martha that the different characteristics of people should be celebrated, not judged. There was nothing wrong with Martha being active and having her sense of participatory style. Conversely, Mary’s persona as a thoughtful contemplative woman was equally as admirable.
The message offered here is to celebrate, not denigrate, each other’s differences. No one is wrong for being the way they are. We’re all here and we all have value. Once Martha accepted this reality, she was able to reap benefits from her sister Mary. Both sisters could teach the other a thing or two. And with the acceptance of the differences, their bond became stronger and brought deeper love, care, and compassion into their hearts. Martha was proud of Mary and Mary was proud of Martha. Their relationship kept growing and became more meaningful day after day. And as their acceptance of one another grew, so did their understanding of others.
Jesus reminded us that we are all here together, regardless of whether our principles, values, and beliefs are the same or not the same. Staying true to the 2nd Commandment of Loving Thy Neighbor can lead us all together as one community.
The three notes we received yesterday:
My Quick Reply:
"As we accept our differences, we embolden our community! Thank you."