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Acts 2: Dialog with GodChild-Praying-300x246

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 26, 2015

In the turmoil of the world, it may be difficult to feel God’s presence; yet surely God is near.

To my words give ear, O Lord, give heed to my groaning, attend to the sound of my cries. (Psalm 5)

In the cacophony of the world, it may be difficult to hear God’s voice; yet surely God speaks.

A voice I did not know said to me: “I freed your shoulder from the burden; your hands are freed from the load. You call in distress and I saved you. (Psalm 81)

In the strife of the world, it may be difficult to believe in God’s peace; yet surely God offers us this gift.

I will hear what the Lord God had to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to them in their hearts. (Psalm 85)

In this time and place of the Easter miracle, it may be difficult to witness to our defender God, our redeemer Christ and our healer Spirit, and yet we must. On this fourth Sunday of Easter, let us spend time with God’s word and listen for the word of God that calls us to witness to the enormity of the Easter gift of beatitude.

Spend time today with these verses, use the scripture links to reflect with varying versions, and enter into dialog with God.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching on prayer.


Acts 4:32-37: One Heart and Mindheart

April 25, 2015

In Easter gratitude we remember that Jesus has a vision and message for each of us. In Easter beatitude we offer back to the risen Christ our witness, our actions, our hearts and our minds.

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

This is the community that lives the vision Jesus brings to us when he appears to the Apostles after his resurrection: He opened their minds to understand Scriptures. (Luke 24:45) Jesus calls us today to bring this kingdom into fullness through him.

With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.

This is the living message Jesus brings to us that Peter brings to the people who long for healing and peace. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14-15) Jesus asks us today to pass on the good news that the Spirit lives in us eternally.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

This is the community Jesus describes and asks us to build, one in which we find a way to be of one heart and one mind in Christ. My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin . . . Those who say, “I know him”. But do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. (1 John 2:1-5) Jesus speaks to us today, calling us to testify to his presence in all space and all time. Let us witness to the Easter miracle by imitating the Apostles as best we can. Let us look for the paths that bring us together in one heart and one mind in Christ.

Click on the image above for another reflection on acting of one heart and mind.

Tomorrow, listening for the voice that calls . . . 

 


Matthew 6:1-4: Teaching on Almsgivinggivinghands

April 24, 2015

From the June 20, 2007 MAGNIFICAT reflection, an excerpt from the writings on Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian: “God is no trainer of souls bent on attaining extravagant record performances. He is a Lover who wants nothing but great love and who accepts with a smile everything such love invents to offer him. But he declines everything man uses – no matter how subtly – to put on airs before him.”

God says: The world draws you to extol yourself, to outdo your neighbors, to store up goods for yourself, to regard yourself as the creator of your world. I ask you to aside all prizes and titles except for those I give to you each day. I give you my love unconditionally. I give you myself ceaselessly. I give you life eternally. I call you my children. I call you sisters and brother of Jesus. I call you salt and light for the world. Does not this outweigh all that the world has to offer? All that I offer must – surely – be enough. When you give alms you demonstrate that you understand this relationship with me and my kingdom. When you practice humility you prepare yourself to receive me in my Way. You prepare yourself to travel with me in this eternal path.

Read more about Hans Urs von Balthasar and consider what lessons his life has to offer us as we struggle with our own search for genuine humility. Visit: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/authors/vonbalthasar.asp

Tomorrow, bringing hearts and minds together in Beatitude. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.6.12 (2007). Print.  

 


Matthew 5:43-48: Teaching on Love of Enemiesloveyourenemies1

April 23, 2015

You have heard it said: You shall love your friend and hate your enemy . . .

This is the law that pulls the weed away from the wheat. This is the law that sees no potential but sees only hopelessness. This is the law that refuses to believe in hope.

But I say to you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you . . .

This is the Law of Love that allows the darnel to grow among the wheat and that allows God to make the harvest. This is the Law Jesus enacts for us. This is the Law the Spirit plants in our hearts. This is the Law we celebrate as we remember God’s gift of the Easter miracle.

God says: I fully understand how difficult this Law of Love is for you and it is for this reason that I come to walk among you each day and night. It is for this reason that I have explained to you how I fulfill the words of my prophets. It is for this reason that my Spirit speaks with and for you when you find yourselves among your enemies. It is for this reason that I protect and guide you as you work to build my kingdom. It is for this reason that I sacrifice all for you . . . so that you might rest in my love forever. When you are anxious, worried, frightened or even terrified, call on me, and remember this teaching. It will not come upon you suddenly . . . you must begin to practice it each day in small ways. Begin with a small gesture, a small prayer, and small petition in favor of your enemy. And rely on me. I will never fail . . . and therefore neither will you.

Enter the words darnel or enemies in to the blog search bar and explore. Reflect on how God harvests when reading the Gathering In Noontime written on July 25, 2014 at: http://thenoontimes.com/2014/07/25/the-gleaning/

Click on the image above for a sermon about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jesus’s words as recorded in Matthew.

Let us determine to include our enemies in our daily petitions. Let us continue to ask God to speak for and with us when we are in the presence of evil. And let us consider how and why we harvest as we continue our Eastertide abiding in the Easter miracle.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching on almsgiving.


Matthew 5:38-42: Teaching about Retaliationlove heart afire

April 22, 2015

We humans often reject Jesus’ teaching about revenge. Whether we practice this teaching or struggle to understand it, this Eastertide is the season to open ourselves to God’s word anew.

To better understand the Law of Love as Jesus describes it, read different versions of these verses using the scripture link above, spend time with the Vengeance Noontime posted on June 20, 2013 at: http://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/20/vengeance/ Enter the word Revenge into the blog search bar and explore. Read the opening to Paul’s second letter to Timothy and consider how we might be bold with God’s gifts.

retaliationAnd consider how we might bring the Law of Love to our daily prayers, thoughts and actions.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ describes how we might love our enemies.

 


Matthew 5:33-37: Teaching about OathsTG_4x5_06.tif

April 21, 2015

In this Eastertide, we humbly consider Jesus’ words.

You have heard it said, “Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow”.

This might be easy or difficult for us. In either case, let us remain faithful to God all we say and do.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by heaven because it is God’s . . .”

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by heaven because it is God’s . . .”

How can we know the mind of God? Let us remain always in God’s hope.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by the earth because it is God’s footstool . . .”

How can we know the love of God? By allowing ourselves to love the broken and marginalized.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by Jerusalem because it is the city of a great king . . .”

How do we seek God’s sacred heart? By replacing our pride with humility, our fear with constancy, our strength with weakness and our bravura with vulnerability.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by your head because you cannot make a single hair white or black . . .”

Why do we think our agenda surpasses the plans of God? We will always come up against the wall of wilfulness if we do not put God first all that we say and do.

You have heard it said, “Let your ‘Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No.’ Anything more is from the evil one”.

Where do we find God’s wisdom? When we heal in the Spirit, remain in Christ and rest in God. Then – and only then – will be able to cease our cursing. Then – and only then – will we come to fully know our God. Then – and only then – will we finally stumble upon God’s serenity.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about retaliation.


Matthew 5:31-32: Teaching about Divorce

A widow contruibutes two small coins to the Temple treasury

A widow contruibutes two small coins to the Temple treasury

April 20, 2015

Scholars tell us that there are various opinions on the meaning behind these verses. Compare these verses using the scripture link, and listen for God’s Word.

God says: Just as adultery is difficult to understand, so too is the idea of divorce. It is true that there are some marriages that are abusive and dangerous; and these relationships must be dealt with prudently and prayerfully. Divorce in some cases is a protective link with another, particularly when children are included in these families. It is also true that many marriages might be saved if one or both partners put away pride and anger. In relationships that struggle it is always wise to seek expert advice and counseling. And of course, in all circumstances prayer and guidance are invaluable. Connection with me is always a source of strength and wisdom. Jesus spoke about the abuse of divorce when husbands put away, or even put to death, first wives in favor of those who are younger. In all of these cases, it is important to remember that no matter the event or context, divorce is a rupture to be avoided. It is a break in a union that is meant to be sacred. And it is equally important to remember that I will never ask you to maintain a status that endangers you. Keep me close at all times. Seek advice from those whose opinions and guidance merit your attention. And be prepared to examine yourself as closely as you examine the actions and words of others.

Martha complains to Jesus about her sister Mary

Martha complains to Jesus about her sister Mary

Choose an online or print commentary and reflect on the ideas you find. In this Eastertide, as we celebrate reconciliation and resurrection, use the chart at the link below to choose two or three women in the Gospels. Read their verses, consider the well-know stories, and reflect on Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 5:31-32.

http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Synoptics_Women.htm

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about oaths.


Matthew 5:27-30: Teaching about AdulteryDishonesty

Third Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2015

These words spoken by Jesus may be difficult to understand and so we may want to read various versions in order to allow God’s teaching to settle into our consciousness.

God says: Adultery has many ways of seeping into your being. You may be deeply sad and looking for happiness in places and ways you will never find it. Infidelity has many forms of appearing in your lives. You may have arrived at performing ritual rather than actively engaging with me and with others. Deceit has many slippery slopes on which you may take the first perilous step. You may be seeking to deny a truth that stands before you; reality may be too difficult to take in or comprehend. No matter what form this betrayal takes, and whether you are the betrayer or the betrayed, remain close to me at all times so that you might recognize dishonesty when you see it at its inception. Remain in me so that you might have awareness of its strength. Remain for me so that you might overcome it at all times in all places.

Faithlessness is more that the sin of lust. It is even more than stepping into an act that we know is dishonest or unfaithful. It is the smallest turning away from what we know to be true. Let us consider Jesus’ teaching today and determine how we might bring Easter salt and light into the smallest part of each day.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about divorce.


Matthew 5:21-26: Teaching about Anger

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Sermon on the Mount

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Sermon on the Mount

April 18, 2015

A Favorite from August 10, 2009. 

Anger is a universal, human emotion which each of us handles in our particular way.  In today’s citation we hear Jesus tell us how important it is that we learn to identify our anger, to name its origin and to manage its effects immediately and completely.  Verse 24 tells us that nothing engendering anger may be allowed to take root and live in us; nothing can be allowed to separate us from God.

From Julian of Norwich in ALL WILL BE WELL: “In his merciful way, our good Lord always leads us as long as we inhabit this impermanent life.  I saw no anger other than humanity’s, and God forgives us that, for anger is no more than perverse opposition to peace and love.  It arises from a lack of strength, or wisdom, or goodness.  And this failure lies in ourselves rather than in God.  Our sin and desperation generate in us a wrath and a continual opposition to peace and love”.

The best antidote to anger is mercy, Julian tells us, for “the ground of mercy is love, and the ministry of mercy is to preserve us in love.  For mercy works in love, with generosity, compassion, and sweetness.  And mercy labors within us, preserving us, and conveying everything to the good”.

In his sermon on the mount, Christ tells us: Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.  Jesus understands well how the entry of a third party into a conflict can either quell or stir the flames of anger.  A quiet mediator who empowers those in conflict to listen to one another is invaluable.  An person outside the conflict who delights in adding to that roiling emotions that often accompany a rift nearly always spell death for the relationship.  It is for this reason that Jesus urges us to seek settlement before appearing before a judge.  Not all third parties have the best interests of those in conflict in their hearts.

Julian concludes her comments with a thought about the effects of anger and a possible sure: “Our failure is frightful, our falling inglorious, our dying wretched.  Yet never does love’s compassionate eye turn from us, nor does the operation of mercy cease”.

Mercy and goodness when applied to anger bring about change that transforms.  When carrying our gift of self back to God, we must first put anger away.  We must first seek and give mercy.  We must remember that our travels here are temporary and that the next world, where there is no place for anger to fester and take over, is permanent and eternal.  This anger we experience here must be left behind.  We must convert it to compassion . . . for in so doing, we enter into Christ’s love and body.

Julian of Norwich. ALL WILL BE WELL. Ave Maria Press, 1995, 2008. Print.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about adultery.

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