WEEKLY REFLECTION | Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 8, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Recently, one of my clergy colleagues and I were in conversation about a trend we have been noticing. We’ve been seeing it in families, in small groups, in online groups, in our parishes.  People’s tempers are shorter than they used to be, there are many more misunderstandings, and feelings are hurt more easily. There has been a lot of attention given to “COVID fatigue”—that experience of stress, anxiety, grief, and of just wanting it all to go away and get things back to normal already! Our emotional cups are overflowing and it’s harder to take one more thing.  And we’re seeing it among good people, many of whom are faithful Christians. 

I’m sure that COVID is a big part of it. But I wonder just a bit, if the ever so sly and manipulative powers of evil might also be involved? We all know evil exists—just look around you every day! And evil’s purpose is to thwart the good in any way it can. When our defenses are weaker and we are tired mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it’s ever so much easier for evil to encourage troublesome thoughts: “Oh, that person is selfish. They are so insulting. Why should I bother to talk with someone who doesn’t listen? I just can’t stand so and so!” or any number of other things whose design is to separate us from one another, to fracture relationships and to interfere with our ability to do good and be good.

Take a look at this Sunday’s reading from Ephesians. WOW! The Spirit really has a lot to say about these concerns!! What amazingly good timing! 

“Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors…. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. …… Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear…. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

Brilliant and profoundly spiritual advice!

Ephesians is addressed to us as Christians. It makes no distinction between psychological challenges or ones prompted by the underhanded tactics of evil. It focuses on how we think and act. Instead of worrying about whys, Ephesians focuses on the hows: how we should behave because Christ loves us and put us before himself; how we should act toward those around us by being tenderhearted; how we should communicate—without anger and argument, but with truth and kindness. Sounds like heaven to me!  And it is not impossible. We have Jesus as a model, with the guarantee of forgiveness when we stumble. Can’t imagine a better way to thwart evil.

A kind day to you all!

Mo. Laura+

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