Saturday, January 21, 2017



I began this blog years ago with the purpose of offering spiritual reflections for “troubled times,” and I think that the situation in our world and in our country can still be called “troubled.”  I would like to offer some thoughts on the occasion of the inauguration of our new president, not on the level of national politics, but rather from the angle of the Kingdom of God.

We monks began morning prayer at 6:30 today with Psalm 24: “The Lord’s is the Earth and its fullness.” That’s an essential starting point for any religious reflection on a new presidency: God is still in charge of the United States, so even the most powerful political figure in the world is, in the end, playing a role in God’s plan for the world.

This belief is should be comforting for people who are uneasy about Mr. Trump in the White House, and sobering for people who see him as some sort of savior. (I remember those tee shirts of eight years ago that pictured the new President Obama as a Messiah in a white robe.)

Six clergymen read scripture passages at the Inauguration Ceremony. I thought the passages were well chosen -- prayers for wisdom for the leader, reminders of what is truly important in life, invoking God’s blessings, etc. As the television camera slowly panned the solemn faces on the dais during the readings, I hoped that some of the power mongers present were listening with their hearts to those lines.


After the ceremony was over, it occurred to me that, regardless of whether or not the political figures got the message of those beautiful biblical passages, the readings can still challenge me, and you, and all of us.

One of the selections, for example, was the Beatitudes from Matthew Chapter 5. I’d like to offer the passage here for our reflection, hoping that one or another verse will indeed pose a personal challenge to each of us during these difficult days of disunity and discord. These verses about the merciful, the meek and the peacemakers are an invitation to each of us to do our part in healing our nation instead of adding to the bitterness and intolerance, the fear and division.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."
(Mt 5:1-12)

May the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, bless our new president and all the peoples of the earth, and keep all of us in peace. Amen.

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