Psalm 4: Joyful Confidence in God

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This cannot be more simple, nor can it be more complicated.

As humans, there is only one thing required of us – that we trust God and allow God to move in our lives.

As humans, there is only one thing we wish to have for ourselves – control of all we and others say and do.

If only we might be as ardent in our following God as we are in our building up of our self defenses.

From the St. Joseph Psalter footnotes: Those who are well established in life delude themselves by seeking happiness in riches and worldly vanities.  The psalmist, rich in divine trust and joy, invites them to discover the price of God’s friendship: “the light of God’s face”.  This is an evening prayer (see verses 5 and 9), filled with desire for God; Christians move beyond its earthly perspectives.  Prayer brings openness of heart, assurance of God’s help, faith, divine approval, joy, and peace. 

The poor often have more confidence in God than the wealthy . . . because when there is no earthly place to fall back . . . we realize that there is only God.  The things of this world upon which we depend are only illusions.  We live in the dream that this world is real . . . even when we are told so often that this world is passing away.  Thinking in this way, we realize that our comfort may well get in the way of our spiritual development.

From the week-end intercessions in MAGNIFICAT.

When we waver, make us firm.

When we refuse to do your will, soften our hearts.

When we forget we are your children, bring us back to you.


For some links to music which celebrates our joyful confidence, click on the image above or go to: https://todaysworship.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/todays-worship-dailyseptember-10-2012/

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 30. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.25 (2008). Print.

First written on September 29, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Romans 4:18-21: Being Prepared

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Last week-end when I was returning home after several days packed with more activity than reflection, I turned on the radio and the words of a sermon saluted me in the dark.  The voice spoke through the car speakers saying: Life is not about knowing and understanding what we are doing next, it is about being prepared.  The homilist then developed his theme by reminding his radio flock of the number of times that God leads people into greatness . . . without their full comprehension of how or when this plan God speaks of will unfold.  The radio voice then told a series of stories and it pointed out that this string of figures from scripture hold something in common: the protagonists are all prepared to receive the word . . . and to follow it in faith . . . hoping against hope . . . obeying, trusting  and loving God.

As I made my way home through the warm, falling darkness, the headlamps of my car were only lighting the winding way a hundred yards or so before me.  The night was creeping up behind and snugging in beside me; the light before me was fading fast.  And even though I was traveling a well-memorized route, I really had no idea of what lay ahead of me in the darkness the headlights did not pierce.  But the voice on the radio and the night beyond the car’s head beams drew me on.  The homilist reminded listeners that when God invites us to move to a new place he does not divulge the entire plan – this plan is too complex in the first place and knowledge of its entirety is not necessary in the second.  It is enough that we follow and enact God’s will as best we can.  That is all that is required of us.  God knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He did, after all, create us.

This always happens to me when I tell God that I think he has chosen an improper servant to do his work after he has sent me into the fray of life and I feel that I have come up short of God’s and my own expectations.  Without fail when I am feeling this way, I receive a clear signal that God well knows what he is doing . . . and that I must doubt God and myself less . . . and trust in God and myself more.  He delivered the message again on that beautiful dark night last week-end, and here he delivers it again through St. Paul in this recounting of Abraham and Sarah’s leap of faith.

I must devote myself to being more prepared in this life.  I must remember that with God all things are possible . . . and I must be prepared to answer God’s call, being fully aware that whatever God has promised he is able to perform.

Image from: http://www.turnbacktogod.com/pray-for-gods-servants/

Written on September 27, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Revelation 3:14-22: Laodicea

Monday, October 14, 2019

Laodicea excavations near Caracalla-nymphaeum

In this unveiling of God’s perspective of the world in which we as Christians are given ample ground on which to stand as we become uncompromising witnesses to the Gospel story, we hear God speaking about the Church in Laodicea.  He reserves his harshest words for this group who are neither hot nor cold.  The town was a wealthy industrial and commercial center renowned for its medical school.  Merchants exported woolen garments and was further known for the eye salve with which many diseases of the eye were cured.  They are economically prosperous but spiritually bankrupt.  (c.f. NA CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE, p. 404)

For you say, “I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything”, and yet you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.  I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.

We easily see the irony that although these people were well-known for the fabric and medicines they produced, they failed to realize that they themselves must work at putting on the white wedding garment one needs to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.  They did not cure their own blindness.  The angel who delivers this message of warning also delivers words of hope.  If these people will allow themselves to be refined by the fires of life – as gold is refines by the goldsmith – and if they will renew their covenant promises with God to take up the white cloth they receive at baptism, and if they open their eyes to the suffering around them, they will be among those who are saved.

Further information from the notes tells us that this town was located across the river from the mouth of hot springs.  This, their drinking water was tepid and often brought on illness.  There was no fresh water in this town . . . just as there was no fervor to do the will of God.  What a coincidence that their physical location is linked so closely to their spiritual behavior.

These words to the people of the church of Laodicea are helpful for us who have very few needs and mostly wants.  Being lukewarm in our commitment to the Gospel story is not an option.  When we place a healing balm on our eyes we see what is truly before us: a world wishing to be free, yearning to be joyful, and aching to be loved.  As followers of Christ we are called to respond with vigor to the needs we see in our sisters and brothers . . . not to lapse into complacent silence or haughty judgment of others.  It is a difficult course.  There are many traffic snarls, many obstacles, many lures into soft living and easy gain.

Christ lived and worked and prayed with society’s outcast; and the price he paid for this was derision, persecution, and death on a cross.  Yet he did not slink away as he could have done.  He did not remain silent as he was advised.  He obeyed God’s will so that through his sacrifice many might be saved.

Can we walk away from such a love?  Can we – like the people of Laodicea – afford to linger in our comfort while others suffer?  The choice is ours to make.  But we must keep this in mind . . . being lukewarm in our relation to God and to others is not an option.  We must be as ardent in our intent to live the call of the Gospel story as we are in our intent to survive.  We must be willing to submit to the fire of the goldsmith’s crucible.  We must remake our wedding garment.  We must heal our eyes to gain a clearer view of the world.  And we must drink of the fresh waters of the Gospel.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.404. Print.   

A re-post from September 23, 2012.

For more information on the city of Laodicea, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/laodicea.htm

Written on September 28,2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Genesis 45:1-8: Making Ourselves Known

Sunday, October 13, 2019

James Tissot: Joseph and his Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh

Today we continue our reflection on the story of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery . . . on the story of Joseph who forgives and saves these brothers in return.

When we find ourselves in a place of power, do we react with anger or mercy?  Do we struggle to understand how to convert our dire circumstances into an opportunity to be close to God so that we might be able to see our grief as gift?  Do we look for ways to offer this gift back to the God to use as he sees best as he accompanies us in our travail ?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and to us in this story, and so may we reveal ourselves to others.  Rather than sink to the easy move of wielding the power we find in our hands, we are to seek God in our suffering and pain.  In so doing, we will discover that God has converted the harm to good, the evil to joy.  We will also discover new depths in ourselves; we will find our best selves – our deepest potential.  Can we imagine offering this re-made self back to one who rejected us earlier . . . particularly when we have the power to reject as we have been rejected?  What greater love can we demonstrate than to turn away from vengeance to turn toward peace?  What greater act might we perform than to follow Christ in an act of forgiveness of others . . . especially the others who have harmed us greatly?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers . . . and in so doing he bridges profound chasms of sorrow and loss . . . bringing joy and reunion.

God reveals himself to us and thus calls us to the possibilities dreamt for us at our inception.

When we reveal ourselves to others as Joseph did then we demonstrate that we understand the depth of our capacity to be God’s love in a world yearning for peace.

Reading this story we see that we have no choice . . . let us journey through loss to make ourselves known to the world.

First written on September 20, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/350858627214142649/

Genesis 45:1-8: Making Ourselves Known

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Konstantin Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

The story of Joseph and his many-colored coat, his journey into slavery, his rise to power and his rescue of the Jewish nation are all familiar to us.  One of the most poignant moments in this long saga is when he reveals himself to his brothers . . . the very brothers who plotted his death and then – after the intercession of Reuben – decided to sell the younger favored brother into slavery.

As I grew up the fourth of five children, it became clear to me that a position of favor usually brought more danger than safety.  Envy begins as a tiny seed when one of a group is seen as exceptional, beyond or above the rest.  In my quiet observation of older and younger siblings vying for attention in the family and in the world, it became clear to me that disfavor often follows hard on the heels of distinction – the presence of natural gifts and good works so often causes jealousy in others Tribal law too often wants to weed out dissimilarity, seeks to bring all denominators to a common lowness.

Joseph is sold out by his brothers and arrives in Egypt as a slave.  Once there, his good looks and honest behavior bring him to the notice of a woman in search of an illicit, sexual relationship – which he rejects.  She falsely accuses him and he is imprisoned.  We see the pattern in Joseph’s life that he arrives in dark places as a result of his grace and blessings, and perhaps that is a pattern we find in our own lives.  If so, we might easily identify with this kind of life.  Do we find ourselves in places we do not seek through no fault of our own, even as we follow the voice of God?

We might read with interest today’s citation and reflect on its meaning for us.  Joseph survives the treachery of his brothers, rises to a position of prestige and power, and when these brothers come to Egypt in search of food, Joseph does not react to their presence with anger or despair.  On the contrary, rather than mete out revenge on those who sent him into slavery, he recognizes that it was through this evil that he was sent ahead to prepare a place of refuge for his family and the entire Jewish nation.  A man coveting old wounds does not hear this wisdom, cannot see this good, does not meet evil with mercy.  Joseph, moving through and beyond his pain, welcomes his brothers to a new home.  This is the miracle of the story of Joseph: In the very moment when he has the power to retaliate with an eye for an eye, he chooses to respond with joy and compassion.

To read more about Joseph and his brothers, click on the image above or go to: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm

First written on September 20, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm

2 Chronicles 10: Ignoring Advice

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes the advice we receive from others is worthless; sometimes it is pure gold.  The difficulty in life is to discern when to heed which words.  This can be resolved when we decide to draw on God’s wisdom  as our primary source of advice, and then allow the words of our family and friends to fill in the gaps of what we believe to be God’s message.

We may have difficulty hearing the Word within; if so, we may want to practice the art of listening a bit more until we have formed well-trodden spiritual pathways to God and back.

We may have difficulty feeling the Word of God resonate within; if so, we may want to practice feeling empathy for those unlike us a bit more until we have taught our hearts more of God’s language.

We may have difficulty expressing  the Word of God to others; if so, we may want to find a trusted friend who will serve as a sounding board for our thoughts.

We may have difficulty witnessing to the Word of God in a public way; if so, we may want to spend time with Scripture to see how others have done so through the ages.

Communication in any form does not come easily.  It takes practice.  Finding trustworthy sources of wisdom of any kind is a challenge.  It takes persistence.  Acting in a manner that matches our beliefs for any reason is difficult at best.  It takes authenticity.  Speaking in a way that calls others to Christ in any way is complicated.  It takes fidelity.  Listening in a way that leads us to good, solid decision-making is taxing.  It takes endurance.

All of this patience and compassion is too much for us humans, we say, and yet . . . we know what happens when we take the advice that suits us at the moment but does not challenge us.  We know what happens when we ignore God’s call and go our own way.  We know what happens when we are silent or when we do not act when and as we ought.

The choice before these young men in today’s Noontime is clear.  We see their example.  Do we follow it?  Or do we follow Christ?

Written on September 15, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To find a Daily Bible Reading Plan, visit: https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Or create a plan of your own by beginning with Acts . . . but read each day . . . and listen . . .

Image from: http://niagaranissan.com/ 

Ezekiel 28: Graciousness . . . Always

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Rembrandt: Return of the Prodigal Son

Paraphrasing from LA BIBLIA DE AMÉRICA footnotes (899): The center of the accusation here against this king is that despite his wisdom and intelligence, he has forgotten that he is subordinate to supreme wisdom and the king of the universe.  For this – and for his insolent attitude – he will be punished severely.  This develops into a lament which describes the king, his splendor, his guilt, and his punishment.  The king who represents Tyre will end his days in the abyss.

Perhaps the most important message we can take away today is this:  No matter our apparent security, we must remain humble . . . and we must remain grateful.  The New Testament tells us something further: No matter how correct we are in the position we take, we must remain respectful . . . and we must remain open to the possibility of the enemy’s transformation.  Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son and each time we hear it we realize anew how gracious is the forgiving father.  How generous and how gracious is our God.   We have never sinned too greatly; we have never wandered too far for our grateful and generous father to run to greet us and welcome us home.  God is gracious . . . always; but it is only through our own humility that we will find the great joy that the father offers.

Today’s first Mass reading from Paul’s letter to Titus (3) reminds us of the proper place and the attitude we will want to maintain as we do God’s work.  He reminds us to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise.  [We] are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone.  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another.  But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit . . .

As we meet corruption and misuse of power, let us be grateful always, humble always, slandering no one.  Let us be considerate always . . . and let us exercise graciousness . . . always.

To reflect a bit more on the Gospel Parables and God’s Graciousnessclick on the image above or go to: http://www.goodnews.ie/graciousness.shtml

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 10, 2010, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on Tyre, see yesterday’s https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/9/18/

Ezekiel 27: Tyre

Ezekiel 27: Tyre

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hot Springs and Arena in Ancient Tyre

Tyre is a city off the southern coast of present day Lebanon and it is linked to the mainland by a causeway, or siege ramp, built by Alexander the Great at the end of the fourth BCE.  It consists of both a mainland city and an island, has two harbors and most likely because of its vantage point, it was the leading city of Phoenicia in the millennium before Christ.  One can read about the early kings of Tyre in the works of the Jewish historian Josephus but it becomes important for scripture readers when Hiram, the king of Tyre, provides pine and the renowned tall cedars to David and Solomon for use in the construction of the Jerusalem palace and temple.  Tyre is eventually invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians.

Tyre is also famous as the hometown of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, who convinced her husband to take over the vineyards of the peaceful man Naboth, who persecuted prophets, lured her husband into worshiping the gods of the Baals, and who came to an ugly death . . . just as had been predicted by prophets.  (1 Kings Chapters 16, 18, 19, 21 and 2 Kings 9)  Hers is a fascinating story of meteoric beauty, power and fame.  She was a princess of Tyre, rising and falling in a quick but dramatic arc across ancient history.

In today’s reading we read a lament for Tyre and a prediction of her downfall, with the wreck of the ship and all she carries as allegory.  The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY describes this oracle as beautifully crafted, and Ezekiel laments the anticipated destruction of Tyre at the hands of the Babylonians.   This perfect, proud and stately beauty is lost to the storm and settles forever at the bottom of the sea. Thou art brought to nothing, and thou shalt never be anymore.

So much pride lost, so much sorrow experienced, so much pain endured.  Yet in today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation we read: The heart of man, so deep for misery, is deeper far for happiness!  Misery comes to him from accident, happiness from his nature and his predestination.  Father Henri-Dominique Lacordaire

We are creatures meant for joy, not for sorrow.  We are children meant for resurrection, not for darkness.  We brothers and sisters of the same father meant for life, not for death.

Written on April 12, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite. 

To learn more about ancient Tyre click on the image above or go to: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/611914/Tyre

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1203. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.12 (2008): 129-130. Print.  

Ezekiel 26: Prophecy Part II

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

True prophets withstand the test of time because they are true communication channels between us and God; but we do not have the luxury of time to test their words, to see if they speak truth or lies.  The HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY tells us that prophets are considered to be moral and ethical innovators, bringing religion to a higher level of development.  Old Testament prophets are multifaceted and varied.  They are: keepers of tradition, isolated mystics, cultic officials, moral philosophers, raving ecstatics.  No one prophet acts or looks like another.  They are as diverse as humankind itself displaying a variety of traits yet their message is always the same: turn from self-interest to obey and worship the one true God.

Prophecy . . . a call to faith . . . a call to hope . . . a call to love.  This prediction never lies.  This story never divides.  Rather, it abides.  It remains open.  It reminds us that restoration will always follow a turning back to God.  It rebukes, it warns, it reminds, it stands firm.  And once the act of conversion begins, prophecy affirms and blesses, it takes in and includes, it blesses and accepts.

Prophecy . . . the word of God . . . from God . . . for God and for us.  What to believe?  How to act?  What to say?

I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: In all circumstances give thanks . . . even when we are troubled, do not put out the Spirit’s fire . . . even when we doubt do not treat prophecies with contempt . . . And when we do not know what to believe, Paul tells us to test everything, when we flounder, hold on to what is good.  When we are given a choice, avoid evil.  For the outcome will be that we are sanctified by, through and in God.  We must remember that the one who calls you is faithful . . . he will sanctify you. 

If only we might take heed of the prophecy . . .

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. Print. 

To spend more time reflecting on prophecy, go to The Old Testament – The Prophets page of this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/  Choose Ezekiel or one of the other voices of God . . . and read, reflect and listen.

To reflect on the prophecy of Ezekiel and how dry bones might come to life, click on the image above or go to: http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-these-dry-bones-live.html

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