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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Luke 2: Our Story – Part IIchild-is-born-738347

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Yesterday we reflected on the introduction of our story that announces to the world who we are in the manner in which we live out our response to God’s call. We may want to catalog the goodness we have offered as building blocks for the kingdom.  Perhaps we want to recount the stories of the obstacles we have overcome, the rejections we have endured, the apologies we have made and accepted.  We may even want to imagine what words will be said about us among those who remain when we depart this life. In some way and at some time, we have imagined how we are viewed by others.  We have dreamt our story.

As we read the opening words of the Christ’s story, we see his birth, the visits of shepherds and kings, the circumcision and presentation, the flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth, and the finding of the boy Jesus in the Jerusalem temple.  All of this brings us to the time of John the Baptist who announces the arrival of the Savior, and Luke tells this story well – with just enough detail so that we might imagine the joys, turmoil and uncertainty of our own early years for we are all human, and we are all adopted sisters and brothers of Christ.

As our friends and enemies turn the pages of our lives, let us envision the impediments we have overcome and the miracles we have allowed to grow in us.  And let us thank our creator, redeemer and comforter who sustain us, save us and speak to us as we envision the story of our lives.

Spending time with these verses today, we imagine the hopes and dreams our parents have for us. We imagine what potential for goodness in the world has been delivered through us. And we imagine what miracles God has worked in us, and will work in others through us. In thanksgiving, let us determine to surrender the impediments and complications of our lives to God, for it is through them, and with God’s help, that we live out the hope of our story. It is through them, and through God’s help, that return God’s goodness and hope to the world.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 21, 2010.

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Luke 2Our Story – Part Ishooting star

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our story is told through the whole of scripture as the story of Christ. Today we reflect on the traces of this story that we find in our own lives from the first words of Genesis . . . In the beginning . . . to the last words of Revelation . . . The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  What has been our beginning? What do our lives reveal?

From the Torah and narratives, through the books of wisdom and prophets, and finally with the gospels, letters and final oracles, we read the story of Jesus who is predicted and promised, and who comes to fulfill that covenant promise.  What is our prediction? What potential of hope has God placed within us? What is the promise our lives disclose?

The scripture stories fit together, notching closely as a mosaic to form the Mystical Body of Christ. What sort of image of God do we speak to the world with our lives? How do the stories we play out speak of our relationship with God?

Christ’s story can be our own not in that we live perfect lives as Jesus did, but in that we strive for this perfect love that Jesus teaches us daily.  Today, we look at the words that begin his story as a human . . . In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled . . . and we take the opportunity to consider once again how our own story might begin . . . In those days a war erupted between . . . In those days there was great political, economic and social unrest . . . In those days peace had come upon the land . . . In those days there was much to celebrate . . . We might enumerate our family lineage as Matthew does in his Gospel.  We might wade immediately into our story as Mark does; or we might allow poetry to take over as does John . . . In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   Our own New Testament might begin . . . In the beginning there was Fury . . . there was Peace . . . there was Confusion . . . there was Joy.

Today we spend time reflecting on the introduction of our story. The introduction of our hope. The introduction of the love we bring to the world as our response to God’s call.

Tomorrow, our stories of obstacles and rejections.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 21, 2010.

 

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st-mary-magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene

John 20:1-18: Glory XII – Healing

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Adapted from a reflection written on August 9, 2007 and posted today as a message about God’s glory, an experience offered to each of us.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

The love between Jesus and his disciples is palpable, and when Jesus speaks to the Magdalene in verse 20:16, it is clear that this man had a very human relationship with the friends who surround himself.  And it is this same relationship that is offered to us, a relationship of healing love, truth and light. This is why it is so important for us to surround ourselves who will nurture the growth of Jesus’ truth and light and life, people who speak with their ears and live with their hearts, people who touch one another in the manner that Christ touched his followers, people who heal.

We are all called to be healers to one another; and as adopted sisters and brothers of Christ we have the power to heal one another not only in a medical way but emotionally and spiritually as well.  When we listen for God’s Word to speak, when we exercise patience and persistence, when we live out our faith in God, our hope in Christ and our love in the Spirit, we meet Christ. We heal and we are healed.

And so we pray, as Mary Magdalene may have prayed . . .

Precious God, keep me mindful of this your promise, to set us prisoners free from all that binds us, to raise us to the great hope you have placed in us, to send your Spirit into our temples to abide with us forever.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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John 13:21-38: Glory, Part II – Disappointment

Monday, July 20, 2015

The chief priests paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to hand Jesus over (Matthew 26:14-16)

The chief priests paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to hand Jesus over (Matthew 26:14-16)

We continue to explore the mystery of Christ’s power found in humility, his love encountered in emptiness, and his leadership seen in his service. John, The Beloved Apostle, faithfully recorded Jesus’ last words and actions for his loyal and frightened followers. John leaves this recording for us that we might discover Christ’s presence among us today, Christ’s glory that lives with us still . . . even after two millennia.

Today’s lesson on Glory: We often find Jesus in the disappointments, in the betrayals, in the denials, and in the rejections we experience in life.

To each disappointment, Jesus says: Like you, I have been betrayed. My beloved apostle John records these words for you. Consider them today and decide to give me your pain and sorrow.

Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me . . . What you are going to do, do quickly”.

When Jesus is betrayed he decides to love his enemy into goodness. Judas’ betrayal ends in his suicide (Matthew 27:5). Today we consider the possibility of redemption God offers Judas.

To Peter’s denial of him, Jesus says: Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.

Gerrit Van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

Gerrit Van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

When Jesus is denied he replies with mercy and compassion. Peter’s denial is later followed by an opportunity for redemption (John 21). Today we consider the contrast between these two apostles, Judas and Peter, and look for our own behavior to their reactions of despair and hope. We look for our own experience of Jesus’ glorious forgiveness and healing.

In today’s Noontime we hear Jesus say to us, his disciples: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. These words are so true and they remind us that all disappointment can be healed by Christ.

When we find the place where Christ speaks and we consider if we respond to Christ with hope or despair, we can also pray,

Loving God, forgive us our denials and betrayals of your goodness. Hear our requests for healing transformation. Make your home in us. Bring us hope against despair. Hear our petitions and transform our neediness into generous love. You promised us your hope. Send it to us today and all days as we come to you with our brokenness, and as we ask for our conversion. We ask this in your name. Amen.  

Find time today to write out Jesus’ words on a slip of paper and use it as a bookmark that you will encounter often. Before bedtime today, give over an act of betrayal or denial to Christ and ask for transformation in God’s glory.

Tomorrow, discovering God’s glory in our fears. 

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Sirach 17:20-24: The Penitent

Matthias Stomer: The Penitent Saint Peter

Matthias Stomer: The Penitent Saint Peter

Monday, June 1, 2015

To the penitent God provides a way back . . .

This is good news for us indeed. And when we want to confront our enemies with outrage and violence, we will want to look at how God always provides a way back to unity and wholeness.

God encourages those who are losing hope . . .

This is also good news for us since we so easily and so frequently lose hope. God always has hope in abundance for us and sends us a multitude of small and enormous signs. We must be open to the little miracles God sends us each day.

God chooses for them the lot of truth . . .

This is absolutely good news for us. Like a loving parent whose child has chosen desert rather than a substantial meal, God is always steering us in the direction of nurturing relationships, nourishing habits and loving communities. Sometimes we are disappointed when we discover that the people, places and customs in our lives shows signs of weakness or even corruption. This is when we must remember that God’s love can achieve all impossibilities.

Jesus says: For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God. (Mark 10:27)

Further on in this reading, Ben Sirach describes God as hating and loathing the unjust and ungodly. Use the scripture link to read other versions of these verses and contemplate the idea that what Ben Sirach describes as “hatred” is an intense and impassioned perseverance in calling one who has left the sheepfold. Let us contemplate the idea that God’s “loathing” is an intense and relentless persistence to love our enemies into goodness. When we view God’s word in this way, we discover that the yawning gaps and deep sorrows in our lives suddenly have new life in kingdom justice.

And so we pray to the loving Trinity . . .

God provides a way back . . . and so must we provide a bridge to those who have wounded us. Loving God, help us to allow you to convert all harm to good. 

God encourages the hopeless with outrageous hope . . . and so must we bring confidence to those in despair. Hopeful God, fill us with your Spirit of peace and serenity. 

God chooses for us the path of truth when we have strayed . . . and so must we bring Christ’s light to a world hungering for justice and compassion. Saving God, bring us Jesus’ understanding, courage and wisdom. 

We know that for us much of this impossible . . . but for you all things are possible. Shelter us in your truth, nourish us in your hope, and transform us in your loving care.

Amen.

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Matthew 9:27-31: Healing Blindness80_jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind_1800x1200_72dpi_2

May 20, 2015

Do you believe that I can do this?

We ask for help but too often doubt the hand that God offers.

Jesus says: Let it be done for you according to your faith.

God says: When my son says these words he is not threatening or punishing you for your waywardness; rather, he is calling you to union with him and with me. He is calling you to be one with us in the Spirit. He is saying that your blindness can involve more than your physical sight. Sometimes you are emotionally blind. You refuse to feel what others feel because it pains you too much. Sometimes you are mentally blind. You reject options and ideas that others offer because you are determined that your plan is better than any other. Allow my Spirit to live in you and your blindness will be healed. When you feel the pain and sorrow of others, you will also feel my joy in you when you help the least among you. When you panic because you may not be able to follow the plan that you have laid out for yourself, you will also celebrate the enormity of my love that comes to you when you make a way for others to join in your plans rather than dictating to them. Trust in me as I trust in you. Have faith in me even as I place my faith in you. Hope in my promise for it is true. I believe and know that you want to be one with me. Believe and know that I am in you this day and all days . . . healing your blindness.

Enter the word blindness into the blog search bar and examine the ways of human blindness.

Click on the image above to see a video portrayal of John 9:1-41, Jesus heals a man born blind.

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Matthew 7:7-11: The Answerheart_bible_god_739386149

May 5, 2015

Ask and it will be given to you . . . can we say that we believe that God is this generous?

Seek and you will find . . . can we say that we believe that God is this kind?

Knock and the door will open . . . can we say that we believe that God is this good?

For everyone who asks, receives . . . can we say that we believe that God is this faithful?

Everyone who seeks, finds . . . can we say that we believe that God is this hopeful?

Everyone who knocks, finds the open door . . . can we say that we believe that God is this loving?

Can we say that we believe that God is present even in the midst of calamity? Can we say that we believe that God is determined to bring us into eternal union? Can we say that we believe that God has only our joy in mind?

If we cannot, let us consider the miracle of the Easter resurrection that is offered to each of us each day. If we can, then let us share this good news with a world waiting in sorrow.

Is the central question here God’s ability and readiness to answer our prayers . . . or is it our ability and readiness to accept God’s loving universal plan? The answer to this lies not in God but within our own hearts.

For another reflection on these verses, go to The Answer to Prayer Noontime posted on June 26, 2011 at: http://thenoontimes.com/2011/06/26/74/

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Deuteronomy 26: 16-19: The Covenantthe-new-covenant

May 2, 2015

Celebrating the Beatitudes, striving to fully take in Jesus’ teachings, we remind ourselves of our heritage and our commitment. Our relationship with God is one we entered into at our creation; and it is a connection and support that will hold us forever.

Today the Lord is making this agreement with you . . .

These are such simple and beautiful words coming from the book of Deuteronomy, or “second law”. Here we find a kind of re-hashing of the historical events which brought the Hebrews to the Moab desert where they waited for forty days before crossing the Jordan to enter their promised land.

You are a people peculiarly God’s own . . . as God promised you . . .

Jesus uses words from this book in his interchanges with Satan when he goes to the desert for forty days just before the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 4). Jesus again quotes Deuteronomy when he explains the first and greatest commandment of love to a young man (Matthew 22). Matthew, who was writing for a Jewish audience to help his reader understand the implications of these Deuteronomy citations by Jesus, stirred up the corrupt Jewish leadership who had tended to the letter of the law while neglecting its spirit.

God will raise you high in praise and renown and glory . . .

Just so might these words stir up contention today; yet just so will these words bring consolation to those who live a just and authentic life.

God will make you a people sacred to the Lord . . .

Jesus becomes the fulfillment of this Old Covenant because he is the New Covenant. As this new agreement and promise, he is also hope. In this season when we continue to celebrate the miracle of Easter, let us be careful to observe Jesus’ statute of loving one another – even our enemies – with our whole heart and our whole soul. Let us continue to walk in his ways, and hearken to his voice. And let us continue to be a people sacred to God . . . as he has promised.

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 28, 2007.

 

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Matthew 7:1-5: The Splinter and the Beam

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

May 1, 2015

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in scripture . . . and the most ignored.

What is it we must do to remove our blinders, to open our ears, to unclutter our hearts?

God says: I know that you cannot help but see the shortcomings of those around you. I also know that you have great difficulty observing your own need to change; but you need not worry. Rather than punish yourself, imagine that you are the very people you accuse. Rather than punish others, treat them with kindness and acceptance. When you have been wronged, protect yourself as best you can and then rely on me. Allow me to judge. Allow me to operate. Allow me to abide. The injustices of the world are well within my view . . . and well within my capacity to manage. When you believe that I have abandoned you, it is you have abandoned me. So when splinters and beams clutter your lives, manage what you can and rely on me. Abide in me as I abide in you. Live in kindness and mercy rather that anger and vengeance. Live in hope and fidelity rather than worry and anxiety. Live in me rather than in the woes of the world.

pointing-fingersEnter the word judging into the blog search bar and explore the possibilities of trust in God, forgiveness of our enemies, and mercy toward all. Click on the image of Matthew above to access a series of reflections on Matthew’s Gospel.

Spend time with the “Stop Judging” Noontime posted on November 18, 2013 at: http://thenoontimes.com/2013/11/18/stop-judging/ 

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