Thursday, February 26, 2009

God Challenging Social Norms

From "The Mirror of Perfection", a biography about Francis of Assisi

Likewise the Lord revealed to him the salutation which the friars should use, as he caused to be written in his testament, saying, “The Lord revealed to me that I should say for a greeting, ‘The Lord give you peace.’” Now, in the first days of the Order, when he would go with a certain friar who was one of the first twelve, he saluted the men and women on the road and those who were in the fields, saying, “The Lord give you peace.” And for that men had not heard up to then such a salutation from any religious they wondered greatly. In fact, some used to say to them with great indignation, “What does this salutation of yours mean?”

So that brother began to be ashamed of it, so he said to Francis, “Let me use another greeting.” The father said to him, “Let them talk, since they do not perceive the things of God. But do not be ashamed, because from now on the nobles and princes of this world shall show reverence to you and other friars for this salutation. For it is no great thing if the Lord should wish to have a new and little flock, singular and unlike all those who have come before them in life and work, a folk which should be content to have him alone and most sweet.”
-Section II, Chapter 23

This is a summary of the Priestly blessing in Numbers: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” I summarize this blessing to my children and my congregation to: “May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace.” To have peace, in Scripture, is to have wholeness in one’s life. It is not the blessing of wealth or health necessarily, but the gift of well-being, having nothing in our lives that tests us beyond what we can bear. Peace is not the lack of conflict, but the grace to deal with conflict as it comes.
At times people look at the new thing and find it disturbing, even if it comes from God. Well, perhaps, ESPECIALLY if it comes from God. We want our God to be traditional, to fit into modes that we already understand. But God is looking for the well-being of his people, for their righteousness and devotion to Him, and He will guide his people to that place, even if it means that we must toss aside tradition and seek out the new.

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