Almost everyone has heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step Plan. I thought about what is going on in our country now and how all of us could use the 12 Step Plan that Christ gave us to quell the hatred of others in our hearts. I can’t take credit for the name, a singer has an album out with that name and you can Youtube the title to find a few sites. In my Lectio Divina this morning at 2:30 a.m., I began by thinking about the love that Christ has for all humans. I then thought of what barriers to that love there might be. I didn’t have to look very far. In the morning, I looked at both the political conventions on the Internet and the anarchy played out in cities like Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin by those blindly hating anything that is not made in their image and likeness. St. Paul gives a lucid description of those who think they are doing good but are actually condemned to the slavery of their own passions. They don’t even know what they don’t know.
Read Galatians 5. “For you were called for freedom, brothers.j But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve* one another through love.14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”*15 But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.16l I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.*17 For the flesh has desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.m18But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.n19* Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,o20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,p21occasions of envy,* drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,q 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.r24 Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.s25If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.t26 Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.”
This morning, I looked at Internet news to see what evil has transpired over the night. I recommend you do the same but first, read Galatians 5 three times, each time more slowly. Let the wisdom of the Scriptures sink in. The tyranny of within is grounded in hatred. Granted, people are sincere. The big question is: “Is this the kind of behavior that comes from a heart that loves others as Christ loved us? Luke 7:20 “Ex fructibus cognoscetis,” Loosely interpreted by me as “You can tell what a person is inside by the way they treat others or respect property outside.”
I thought about twelve steps that have helped to keep me grounded in our Faith and centered on the only person that can bring lasting peace, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/
CHRIST’S TWELVE STEP PROGRAM TO MOVE FROM HATRED TO LOVE
STEP ONE: The Great Commandment. 4d Hear, O Israel!* The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! 5 Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.e6f Take to heart these words which I command you today.g” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/deuteronomy/6
STEP TWO: The Similes of Salt and Light.*13i “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.*14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.j15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.k16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.lhttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/5
STEP THREE: THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT 1* “When he saw the crowds,* he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,* for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.a 4* Blessed are they who mourn,b for they will be comforted. 5* Blessed are the meek,cfor they will inherit the land. 6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,* for they will be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.d 8* Blessed are the clean of heart,efor they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,* for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. f11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. g12* Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.h Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/5
STEP FOUR: LOVE ONE ANOTHER. The Vine and the Branches.1* “I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower.a2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.b4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.6*c Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.d8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.e9 As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.f10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.g11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i13* No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k16It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l17 This I command you: love one another.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/15
STEP FIVE: THE GENTLE MASTERY OF CHRIST “28* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.29*p Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11
STEP SIX: THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP. “23 Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily* and follow me.n24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.o25 What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.phttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/mark/8
STEP SEVEN: KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate* to be with you always, 17 the Spirit of truth,* which the world cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.l18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.*19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me because I live and you will live.m20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.n21Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/14
STEP EIGHT: SERVING GOD OR MONEY 24* “No one can serve two masters.m He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/6
STEP NINE: DEPENDENCE ON GOD *25n “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?o27Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?*28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.30* If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?31So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,* and all these things will be given you besides.34Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/6
STEP TEN: HAVE MUTUAL LOVE. 9 Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;f10 love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.g11 Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.h12 Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.i13 Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,j exercise hospitality.14* Bless those who persecute [you],k bless and do not curse them.l15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.m16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.n17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.o18If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.p19 beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”q20 Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”r21Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/romans/12
STEP ELEVEN: Plea for Unity and Humility.*“1 If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.a3 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,b4 each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.c5 Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*6 Who,* though he was in the form of God,d did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.*7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;* and found human in appearance,e8 he humbled himself,f becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*9 Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name* that is above every name,g10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,* of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,* to the glory of God the Father.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/philippians/2
RULE TWELVE: DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS 1″*a “Stop judging,* that you may not be judged.b2For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.c3 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?5You hypocrite,* remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
The Answer to Prayers.7e “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.f8For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.g9Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread,*10 or a snake when he asks for a fish?11 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.h
It is impossible to have these twelve steps in your heart, even if for a moment, and also have hatred existing alongside it. This applies to all humans since all humans were redeemed by the blood of Christ on the cross.
THE GASOLINE TO POUR ON LOVE TO MAKE IT INTO HATRED
Here are some thoughts about how you can lose Faith, Love, and Hope, if you are not careful.
See people as an It and not a Thou. Martin Buber, Jewish Philosopher has some ideas about how we look at the totality of all that is and how we can either relate to everything as a Thou or be stuck with treating things, humans, and their choices as an It. It makes a difference when thinking about love. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/i-and-thou-selected-passages/
God is relegated to the inside of a Church building. It is what I do on Sundays (or what I don’t do if I don’t care).
I am god. I am made in my own image and likeness. I am the center of my values.
Reflect on what you see on the Internet and how people are tearing each other apart. The wages of sin is death, even if you think you are right because you are sincere. Remember that all of the choices you make have consequences, maybe not right now, but after you die. You will know what is correct behavior by looking at these twelve steps of love and how people live out their promises against the hatred, calumny, detractions, false gods, that you see and read about in our everyday living. My choice is to choose life, but also to choose love, not the love that the world says is true, but the love that comes from God, in with and through Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ironically, there are so many steps from which we can choose in Scripture, that we must give glory and praise to the Father for our Faith, our Hope, and our Love as we seek God every day.
Praise and glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology