How Provoked?

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good.”

Hebrews 10:24

Today is the feast of Dame Julian of Norwich, and the quote above comes from the Hebrew’s reading, which is part of the lections assigned for her feast day.  This idea of being provoked to, “love and do good,” got me to thinking how and where have I felt provoked to do those things?  More broadly, where have I heard anyone really provoke anyone to do something other than make more hostility or aggression?

Then it hit me:  I was provoked–along with about 20,000 other people–just last weekend.   I attended my step-son Simon’s graduation from The University of Michigan.  Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, a duo of businessmen who started a much-beloved sandwich shop in Ann Arbor that has grown into a whole community of businesses–addressed the graduates with a litany of their beliefs.  They each explained how they had come to hold those particular beliefs as sacred to them, and how in many ways their lists provoked them to be the people they are and to run their businesses with those same provocations as the foundation for their operation.

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Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses Co-Owners and Founding Partners.  Photo and video link below from The University of Michigan.


Here is a sample of the list that Ari and Paul provoked the freshly minted graduates, their families and friends with:


1.  Give half of what you have to those who need it.

2.  Make those around you successful.

3.  Find joy.

4. Be generous, always.

5. Live a powerfully positive life.

6.  Own your own choices.


I commend you to click here and forward to 1:01:47 for the start of their commencement address.  Honestly, it was one of the better addresses I’ve heard, and may just be the best 15 minutes of your day.


The challenge I offer you today, in the spirit of Ari, Paul, Julian and the reading from Hebrews is to provoke someone–ANYONE–by your act of love or by doing good.  Imagine what the world could be if everyone did that, or even half of the list that Ari and Paul give above.


So what is your list of provocation?  What is your list of beliefs that drive your life or guide you on your spiritual journey, or that bring you closer to God?


In Christ,






About matthewhanisian

Associate Rector at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.
This entry was posted in The Rev. Matthew R. Hanisian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Provoked?

  1. It is necessary to give to the poor as the Lord commanded; but I believe you must base your giving on a sure foundation of God. Giving is not really the item in question, but the truehearted love. This goes beyond the material things to a friendship and then community of giving and receiving of purity, grace and love, the sign of which may be a soup, but it may also be a single beautiful and tender and perfect word that turns someone from despair to hope. The one who does this is life eternal.

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