Non Possessive Love

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 — Week of Last Epiphany (Year One)

Ash Wednesday

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 950)

Psalms 95* & 32, 143 (morning) // 102, 130 (evening)

*for the invitatory

Jonah 3:1- 4:11

Hebrews 12:1-14

Luke 18:9-14

How different God’s love is from ours. The book of Jonah makes that point with an entertaining skit. Jonah is so typical of all of us, full of pride and prejudice. Reluctantly he goes to Nineveh, the place he despises. He tells those awful people how awful they are. He can’t wait for them to get what they deserve.

But God does not give them what they deserve. The people of Nineveh see the reality of their weakness, and God acts like God. Jonah complains, “I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.” Jonah is furious.

Thomas Merton writes:

He Who is infinitely great has given to His children a share in His own innocence. He alone is the gentlest of loves: whose pure flame respects all things. God, Who owns all things, leaves them all to themselves. He never takes them for His own, the way we take them for our own and destroy them. He leaves them to themselves. He keeps giving to them, giving them all that they are, asking no thanks of them save that they should receive from him and be loved and nurtured by him, and that they should increase and multiply, and so praise him. He saw that all things were good, and He did not enjoy them. He saw that all things were beautiful, and he did not want them. His love is not like ours. His love is non possessive. His love is pure because it needs nothing.

So on this Ash Wednesday we approach God with the confident humility of the tax collector who bows his eyes and knows justification when he speaks to this unpossessive God “be merciful to me, a sinner!” We will rise from our knees reminded of our death and fed with eternal life.

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13

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