Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March

     It was a busy news day in ancient Rome on this day in the year 44.  Julius Caesar was assassinated by a number of his colleagues and friends that day.  Ever since then, or at least ever since William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, the phrase "Beware the Ides of March" has taken on new meaning for any absolute ruler.  Caesar thought that he could do anything that he wanted, that his power was absolute, that he was the law.  In an extremely sad way he found that this was not the reality.  Even his best friend, Brutus, had a hand in the killing.


     There was a phrase in the Prayer Over the People from the Third Sunday of Lent that keeps popping into my thoughts ever since I read it.  It conveys a truth that is not new or surprising, but which suddenly became clearer and took on new meaning.  The prayer goes like this:

Direct the hearts of your faithful,
and in your kindness grant them grace,
abiding in the love of you and their neighbor,
they may fulfill the whole of your commands.

     It is easy to see that our motivation for doing good, from following him, flows from his tremendous love for us.  Abiding in that love makes all the difference.  But what struck me was the inclusion of not only God's love, but the abiding also in the love of our neighbor.  Somehow, that never seemed of utmost importance to fulfilling the commands of God ... nice and appreciated, but not vital to reaching the goal.  This prayer helped me see that I need to abide in both the divine and the human love offered to me, and that I am the source of that human love when it comes to others.  Remember the command:  Love God totally and completely ... and love your neighbor as yourself - the two great commandments.  Thank God for those brief moments of clarity.

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