John 6:16-21: Walking on Water

Monday, November 30, 2015

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water

I am thinking of a painting by Henry Tanner in which the waters are calm, one of the apostles stands toward the front of the boat, and Jesus approaches from the left.

The image is ethereal, with wisping stokes that evoke the spiritual experience these men are having.  They have witnessed the miraculous multiplication of bread yet do not see.  They will hear the explication of this miracle but will not fully understand.  They are fishing alone when the storm rises and they fear for their lives. Then they see Jesus walking toward them.

It is I.  Do not be afraid.

Life has a way of pulling us into a vortex of activity without suggesting to us that we ought to reflect on our actions.  Storms rise suddenly, our little fishing boats are swamped, and a figure fluoresces just outside the periphery of our vision.  We turn to focus on it but we cannot see anything which we can readily identify so we go back to bailing.  I am wondering what might happen if we calm our fears and linger a bit with that fluorescence.  Would it come into a crisp image that might register on the retina long enough for us to believe?

It is I.  Do not be afraid.

Life has a way of making us feel as though everything is urgent, must be done by Friday, Monday, Tuesday.  Deadlines loom, our agenda overflows yet something beckons just off behind our shoulder.  We pause to listen to the faint humming, to wonder what it might be. We hear nothing that the ear recognizes, and so we go back to phone calls, emails and other messages that pile up on the desk.

It is I.  Do not be afraid.

We are afraid that the work will not be done, that the children will not be fed, that the gift will not be bought, the grass not mown, the laundry not washed.  We have an idea that time is linear, finite and within our control.

It is I.  Do not be afraid.

Jesus knows no time.  Jesus is.  Jesus was.  Jesus will be.  In the midst of our bailing, our counting, our working we must pause to look and listen.  We want to have ears that truly hear, eyes that truly see because . . .

It is I.  Do not be afraid.

For more of Tanner’s work, visit: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/tanner/tanner_main.html

Adapted from a reflection written on May 23, 2008.


Galatians: Watchful Fidelity

First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2015galatians-mclellan

A Favorite from November 30, 2008.

This epistle, along with Romans and 2 Corinthians, was written to re-state the Gospel story which had been perverted by Pharisaic emissaries to their communities.  The Galatians were most likely descendents of Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor in the third century B.C.E. near modern Ankara, Turkey today.  (Senior 293)

After reading these verses, we understand the importance of fidelity . . . for it is faithfulness that gives birth to true Christian charity . . . love that is so enduring it is extended to our enemies.  It is this love that brings us true spiritual liberation . . . a freedom that makes it possible for us to be truly and totally open to Christ.  This is the invitation we all receive at our baptism, and it is this invitation that continues to be open to us.

Paul is exasperated with his friends.  Oh stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly crucified?  I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you have heard?  Are you so stupid?  (3:1-2)   He may well be exasperated with us today.

steadfastness-vs-instability-5-728Paul asks these converts to remain steadfast in their belief and to turn aside from those ideas which subvert the truth.  Realize then that it is those who have faith who are the children of Abraham.  (3:7) Paul knows how easy it is for us to be turned by old customs and long-held beliefs.  He asks that we take these beliefs and magnify them in the way we have been taught by Christ.

You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth? (5:7) We might ask ourselves this question when family, friends or associates try to convince us with logic and “group think” of something we know to be counter to Christ.  We might also ask ourselves this question when formal structures refuse to listen to an idea which blooms from the heart.  We will want to read this letter when our faith in the risen Christ is challenged.  This is when we will need to hear again . . .

Fruits of the SpiritThe fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit let us allow the Spirit.  Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

Spiritual freedom comes when we are faithful and watchful.  As we begin the Advent season today, let us resolve to put aside behaviors that inhibit a free and open union with Christ.  Let us decide to watch for his coming.  And let us allow ourselves to be transformed by the living Christ.  The reward for all of this patience and endurance is beyond imagining.  For when we empty self to allow Christ in, when we give up all to obey . . . we do not lose ourselves, we gain something far greater.  True Life.  Eternal Life.  Life with and in Christ.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293. Print. http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Galatians&ch=

For another post on the Book of Galatians, visit: http://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/galatians-magnanimity/


Wisdom 11:2-5: Special Providence in Exodus Continue Reading »

Isaiah 54: Vindication

Isaiah 54: Vindication

Friday, November 27, 2015The-Tent

Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

With this beautiful image of a heart that is willing to expand as it meets its creator, Isaiah asks us to contemplate the enormity, eternity, and healing power of God’s love for us.

From Princeton WordNet at wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn the definition of vindication: 1) the act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure etc.; “friends provided a vindication of his position”, 2) defense: the justification for some act or belief; “he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”.  We read these words and realize that we may not have allowed ourselves to be defended by God when we see those who work against us fail at their unhealthy schemes.  In our effort to wipe any thought of revenge from our minds, we have missed out on the gift of God’s affirming action.  This is something to think about.

We are always hearing words of comfort from our God.  Fear not, you shall not be put to shame.  (Verse 4) In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.  (Verse 14) No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you.  This is the lot of the servant of the Lord.  (Verse 17) 

We pause over verses 7 & 8:  For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back.  In a burst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.  We reflect on how Yahweh is so often described as a jealous God, wanting our full and total dedication to his truth.  We also recall the prophecy of Hosea when he cries in anguish over his wife’s infidelity and lack of respect for herself and others.  We understand the burst of wrath, the hidden face . . . and also the tenderness of true love which endures all things without accepting abuse.

isaiah 54We spend time meditating on verse 10:  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.

God is good. God keeps promises . . . even when we do not.  When we have stood to affirm God’s goodness with full-throated song . . . we must allow ourselves to be vindicated.  For this indication is a hymn of praise to God and his wondrous, awesome power.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 27, 2008.

Job 19Suffering and Rejoicing Well

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Thursday, November 26, 2015: Thanksgivng Day in the USA

As we consider terrorist events that flood before us, and as we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving in the USA, let us re-visit this Favorite post and consider how we might suffer and rejoice well.

The Book of Job is the first in the wisdom portion of scripture and it may be one of our favorites for its honesty and persistence with which this innocent man speaks.  Job has been wronged by Satan, yet retains faith and hope in God.  He asks the questions we all ask; he makes the observations we all make: why do the wicked seem to skate through life without suffering, and why do the innocent suffer?  Each of us has endured hardship as Job does at one time or another; and for this reason his words are so valuable.  Job sinks into the lowest of depths with his despair . . . yet he soars with great hope and divine love.  This is the gift of his story . . . that he both suffers and rejoices well.

How long will you vex my soul?  At times the suffering is too great, too heavy.

I cry for help; there is no redress.  In our own lives, and in the lives of others, there are moments that ask too much of human strength and endurance.

My brethren have withdrawn from me, and my friends are wholly estranged.  At times we are utterly alone, with no sheltering place, no healing balm.

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I love have turned against me!  In the human experience, there is no greater punishment than isolation.

Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey on me?  At times we are so low that we descend into pits we did not know existed . . . and this is when we know that something new is arriving.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold him.  Job understands that it is impossible for us to comprehend the depth, the width, the height or the timelessness of God.  Job – although not content with the mystery of his innocent suffering – accepts that from where he stands he cannot see or know the limitlessness of God or the complexity of his plan.  Job reminds us that each of us suffers.  Each of us stands accused at times when we are innocent.  Since this is so . . . the rest of his story is also true . . . we will be vindicated.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation about the Blessed Mother and her willingness to suffer as an innocent for the good of God’s economy: She neither regretted the past nor wished for the future – she accepted wholeheartedly the magnificent present.  She had found one beautiful pearl, and all she had she gave in order to buy it.  (Mother Marie des Douleurs)

So let us follow the example of Job and the example of Mary.  They understood that they, by entering into the mystery of suffering, were sharing in a sacred gift offered by the God who loves us so much . . . that he offers us his own divinity.

Let us enter into today without looking back in anger or looking forward in despair.

Let us gather all that we have and all that we are to make this one purchase . . . the gift of transformative union where . . . through suffering, we enter into the world of God’s joy.

A favorite from March 25, 2009. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

Baruch 2: The Road to Destruction or Redemption – Part II

Wednesday, November 25, 2015IMG_4553_20081019_fm3005_destruction

In Isaiah 24 we read about the devastation of all but the faithful remnant.  In Nehemiah 2 we see a heart wrenching return to the destroyed Jerusalem.  In Revelation 18 we witness the fall of Babylon at her own hands and the destruction of those who followed the unholy trinity of beast, harlot and false prophet and their attendant demon spirits.  With the forces of darkness there is always a final end.  With the forces of light there is always ultimate and infinite jubilation.

Baruch reminds us that there are many ways to visit Babylon and drink of her waters poisoned with the blood of the innocent.  Baruch also reminds us that the door to the New Jerusalem is standing open to us.  There will be a new heaven and a new earth as a counterpoint to the closed, dark, silent void.

God knows that he has created a stiff-necked people; but he has also invited us to convert this stubbornness to an intentional devotion to Christ.  In so doing we decide to walk from darkness to light where we will recall the words of the Lord to us: I will bring them back to the land which with my oath I promised to their fathers . . . and they shall rule it.  I will make them increase; they shall not diminish.  And I will establish for them an eternal covenant, that I will be their God and they shall be my people; and I will not again remove my people Israel from the land I give them.

Minolta DSC

Jesus came into the world to release us from darkness and destruction . . . permanently . . . eternally.  Do we choose to reject this covenant offer of love?  Or do we, the chosen bride, decide to follow the groom where he leads us?  As we rise each day, the decision lies before us.  Perdition or redemption, destruction or salvation. The clear choice lies before us and it is time for us to act. So let us invite others to join us in combating dense and heavy darkness with the light and truth of Christ.

Adapted from a favorite from November 8, 2008.



Baruch 2: The Road to Destruction or Redemption – Part I

Tuesday, November 24, 2015road to destruction

The apocryphal book of Baruch tells us how to live in exile; and in particular Chapter 2 gives us an important, two-fold message.  It reminds us that God always fulfills promises, and it also gives us an outline of how we might make our way back to the covenant we have chosen to abandon.

In Chapters 16 to 18 of Revelation we come upon something that reminds us of the infinite forgiveness and mercy of God.  We see once again that in God all things are possible.  We have understood the importance of being faithful in small ways to God.  We have understood that closed, exclusive groups which stultify possibility and potential, darkness which hides and subsumes potential, and silence which conceals and enables deceit . . . will never conquer openness which spawns universal communion, light which calls forth authentic life lead in integrity, and praise of God which magnifies truth and joy.

Light_at_the_End_of_the_RoadIn the end, God’s will of universal openness and light leads to jubilation.  The dark world which opposes this truth germinates in envy and ends in destruction.  And those who work so hard at building up a closed empire of self rather than an open kingdom of all, bring about their own  destruction at their own hands.  We see this countless times.  What is the allure of the darkness and deceit that is so tempting?  It is the same siren call of Satan to Adam and Eve in Eden, You will be like gods . . .

There is something about the road to perdition that answers our human need to control.  There is something about this broad highway leading to the wide gate that brings comfort to those who travel it in their closed special groups.  The aching longing to be the bride who is rescued and loved by the steadfast, powerful groom is universal.  Yet we insist on filling this yearning with superficial, finite relationships which ironically do not satisfy . . . and which ultimately destroy.  We must respond to the summons of the road and choose redemption rather than perdition.

Tomorrow, Part II.

Adapted from a favorite from November 8, 2008.

Psalm 67: Harvest Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2015harvest-thanks-giving_260429

This prayer is an appropriate psalm for this time of year . . . but we might sing it often for all the good God has brought to us . . . for the good God has wrought from harm.

We are givers and receivers of hurt.  Initially, apologies and reparations are difficult to make and they are sometimes difficult to receive.  Yet give and receive them we must for we all err, we may all seek forgiveness, and we are all forgiven.  We may or may not be forgiven by those we injure, even when the injury is unintentional.

From this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

Forgive us our pride.

Forgive us our stubbornness of heart.

Forgive us our anger against one another.

Forgive us our greed in all forms.

Forgive us our mercilessness.

Forgive us the harm we have done.

God always waits patiently for our return and while he waits he continues to sustain us, to offer us his garden where we might bring in his harvest.

At this time of harvest, we might gather ourselves as well to offer our acts and our words back to our creator.  We might join in this psalm of thanksgiving and remember that . . .

God is gracious always.

God blesses us constantly.

God saves us faithfully.

And God’s face shines upon us all days.

In the darkest of nights and the brightest of days, let us remember this . . . and be thankful.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.10 (2008). Print.  

A favorite from October 3, 2008.



Wisdom 13:1-9: The Wisdom of God’s Creation

Sunday, November 22, 2015Gods-creation

Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish.

When we look at the beauty of the planet, we see God’s goodness.

Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God.

When we share earth’s resources, we experience God’s generosity.

They have studied the things God made, but they have not recognized the one who made them.

When we bring together science, reason and spirituality, we experience God’s wisdom.

Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies.

When we see the elements as God’s gifts to us, we see God’s trust in us.

tree in handsPeople were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that the master is much greater than all of them, for God is the creator of beauty, and God created them.

When we pause to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, we see God’s hope for us.

Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful.

When we witness to the resiliency in God’s creation, we begin to understand God’s strength.

When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

creationWhen we witness to the complexity of God’s creation, we begin to understand God.

If the foolish had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

Today we have the opportunity to discover if we are wise or foolish about God’s creation. We can read about the 2015 World Climate Summit at: http://www.wclimate.com/world-climate-summit-2015/




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 328 other followers

%d bloggers like this: