Where you came from? What you did? How you got here? Who your family is? When you were younger? What they think about your upbringing? What happened in the past? What people have said about you? …
We see that this happened to Jesus too and became a barrier to what can be, what could be, what should be, and what would be…
41The people started grumbling about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42So they said, “This man is Jesus son of Joseph, isn’t he? We know his father and mother. How, then, does he now say he came down from heaven?” 43Jesus answered, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. 44People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me; and I will raise them to life on the last day. 45The prophets wrote, ‘Everyone will be taught by God.’ Anyone who hears the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46This does not mean that anyone has seen the Father; he who is from God is the only one who has seen the Father. 47I am telling you the truth: he who believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. 50But the bread that comes down from heaven is of such a kind that whoever eats it will not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If you eat this bread, you will live forever. The bread that I will give you is my flesh, which I give so that the world may live.”
52This started an angry argument among them. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. 53Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in yourselves. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them to life on the last day. 55For my flesh is the real food; my blood is the real drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57The living Father sent me, and because of him I live also. In the same way whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This, then, is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the bread that your ancestors ate, but then later died. Those who eat this bread will live forever.” 59Jesus said this as he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum.
–from John 6
Don’t judge, for you will be judged by the same measure you use! Don’t limit yourself or others because of what took place or what you believe happened in the past. Rather, let’s love everyone! Let’s be kind and humble to one another! Let’s pay back evil with good! Let’s not speak evil and not tell lies! Let’s turn to God and away from evil by doing good and striving for peace! Let’s live lives doing what is right, even if we suffer in the moment for it, in the long run we will receive the rewards we are due. Let’s live bold and courageously! Fear Not, Just Believe! Let’s be ready to share the reason for the hope that is within us! Let’s show people respect! Let’s live with a clean conscience!
Suffering for Doing Right
8To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another, and be kind and humble with one another. 9Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you. 10As the scripture says, “If you want to enjoy life and wish to see good times, you must keep from speaking evil and stop telling lies. 11You must turn away from evil and do good; you must strive for peace with all your heart. 12For the Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their prayers; but he opposes those who do evil.” 13Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry. 15But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, 16but do it with gentleness and respect. Keep your conscience clear, so that when you are insulted, those who speak evil of your good conduct as followers of Christ will become ashamed of what they say. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if this should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 18For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually, 19and in his spiritual existence he went and preached to the imprisoned spirits. 20These were the spirits of those who had not obeyed God when he waited patiently during the days that Noah was building his boat. The few people in the boat—eight in all—were saved by the water, 21which was a symbol pointing to baptism, which now saves you. It is not the washing off of bodily dirt, but the promise made to God from a good conscience. It saves you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone to heaven and is at the right side of God, ruling over all angels and heavenly authorities and powers.
–from 1 Peter 3
Today’s reading continues to speak of how much love there is in the Song of Songs from Solomon…
1I have entered my garden, my sweetheart, my bride. I am gathering my spices and myrrh; I am eating my honey and honeycomb; I am drinking my wine and milk.
Eat, lovers, and drink until you are drunk with love!
The Fourth Song
2While I slept, my heart was awake. I dreamed my lover knocked at the door.
Let me come in, my darling, my sweetheart, my dove. My head is wet with dew, and my hair is damp from the mist.
3I have already undressed; why should I get dressed again? I have washed my feet; why should I get them dirty again? 4My lover put his hand to the door, and I was thrilled that he was near. 5I was ready to let him come in. My hands were covered with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, as I grasped the handle of the door. 6I opened the door for my lover, but he had already gone. How I wanted to hear his voice! I looked for him, but couldn’t find him; I called to him, but heard no answer. 7The sentries patrolling the city found me; they struck me and bruised me; the guards at the city wall tore off my cape. 8Promise me, women of Jerusalem, that if you find my lover, you will tell him I am weak from passion.
9Most beautiful of women, is your lover different from everyone else? What is there so wonderful about him that we should give you our promise?
10My lover is handsome and strong; he is one in ten thousand. 11His face is bronzed and smooth; his hair is wavy, black as a raven. 12His eyes are as beautiful as doves by a flowing brook, doves washed in milk and standing by the stream. 13His cheeks are as lovely as a garden that is full of herbs and spices. His lips are like lilies, wet with liquid myrrh. 14His hands are well-formed, and he wears rings set with gems. His body is like smooth ivory, with sapphires set in it. 15His thighs are columns of alabaster set in sockets of gold. He is majestic, like the Lebanon Mountains with their towering cedars. 16His mouth is sweet to kiss; everything about him enchants me. This is what my lover is like, women of Jerusalem.
–from Song of Songs 5