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mini-nativity-kate-cosgroveFriday, January 21, 2022

Joy and Resurrection

Luke

We are invited into a disciple’s intimacy with Christ. Jesus offers friendship that is personal, immediate and joyful. Today we consider how God’s amazing generosity continues to sustain us.

Luke’s Gospel has many calls to joy and the first arise from Jesus’ arrival among us.

The Christmas Invitation Luke 2:10: But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people”.

God’s messenger reminds us that we need not be afraid for we are always accompanied by joy . . . even when we might not perceive it.

Reward  Luke 6:22-23: Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.

joyIn his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we will find joy in the darkest of places . . . even when we do not welcome the darkness.

Repentance  Luke 15:3-7: So Jesus told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

In his Parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus reminds us that great joy can arrive after great error . . . even if we believe this is not so.

tomb-2Resurrection  Luke 24:41-42: While his disciples still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, Jesus said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of a broiled fish; and he took it and ate it before them.

When he returns after death, Jesus continues to feed his people . . . even when we do not recognize him.

Luke reminds us that Jesus comes not only to heal and sustain us in this world but forever. This is good news indeed, and today we consider how we might share and celebrate this news with great joy.


If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Images from: http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/nativity/all and http://kentwoodchristianchurch.com/easter-sermon-2011-the-tomb


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Ephesians 2:13

Quite Near

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

In yesterday’s Noontime we gathered our prayers and petitions to carry them to the one who holds all the answers. Today we gather ourselves to listen to the Word of God.

Ephesians 2:13: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near.

Paul answers our question of how long we must wait for God to appear when he reminds us that Christ answers our plea with unquestioning patience, indomitable mercy and limitless love. Jesus replies swiftly with his own presence, and with his invitation to join him in his union with the creator. Today we gather ourselves to hear the Word of God.

Luke 10:1-9: The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers few . . . Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way”.

God answers our petition for help by asking us to trust in the plan laid out for our rescue. Today we gather to accept God’s invitation to join in the vital work of the harvest.

Psalm 94:3: How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

We have asked how long our suffering will endure . . . and the response to this question is not a pat answer that tells us how many days or weeks or years or eons we must wait for God’s justice to prevail. A close reading of the Gospels tells us what we already know. In the person of Jesus we have all the answer we might need. In our finite world we look for finite solutions and well-defined answers that content us for today, but that have no place in God’s infinite world. In our apocalyptic view of the world we seek a justice that will measure out punishment and reward as if we were all small children, but God asks us to step into something much bigger than the little window we have on the God’s justice.

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

God does not hide from us. God is with us constantly and everywhere in the person of the rescuing Jesus. God does not forget us. God is within and around us in the person of the healing Spirit. God does not lose hope in us. God protects and guides, cajoles and upholds, saves and teaches, heals and loves us more than we can understand. Despite our faults and infidelities, God persists in waiting, calling, blessing, forgiving and loving.

Psalm 74:9: We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long.

There is no need to ask how long; there is no need to despair for we already have God’s response . . . the surety that God dwells within us, asking for our trust and fidelity, forgiving our missteps and misgivings, calling us to great love and great mercy. In our darkest moment and in our deepest grief . . . God has not been distant or hiding. God has been quite near.

Let us move into the world around us . . . and act in a way that confirms our trust in God.


Wealthy80_WEB190115In 2015, Oxfam produced a study indicating that next year one percent of the world’s population will hold more than half of the world’s wealth. The hungry, the impoverished, the homeless may well ask How Long of God as they manage their daily survival. Read the two views at the links below, and reflect on how each of us might be the presence of God to the marginalized.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland

For information about the 10 most wealthy families in 2021, visit: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/052416/top-10-wealthiest-families-world.asp

Or read more about the global wealth pyramid at: https://www.statista.com/chart/11857/the-global-pyramid-of-wealth/#:~:text=Global%20Wealth&text=According%20to%20a%20new%20Credit,seen%20on%20the%20following%20pyramid.

Seghers image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Seghers

There are voices that oppose the view expressed above. Read this about the thoughts of Sir Martin Sorrell in a 2015 article from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/23/davos-wpp-martin-sorrell-equality-prosperity


Gerard van Honthorst: The Nativity

Gerard van Honthorst: The Nativity

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Joy and Witness

Matthew

Yesterday we reflected on words from the Apostles whose relationship with Christ was personal, immediate and joyful. Today we consider how we might join these disciples to witness to God’s incomparable goodness.

Matthew tells us that Jesus is Emmanuel, God among us. He announces the coming of great joy.

The Christmas Miracle Matthew 2:10: When the magi saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Matthew records Jesus’ description of heaven as a hidden reassure. He announces the unfolding of deep joy.

joyHidden TreasureMatthew 13:44: The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew records Jesus’ parable of stewardship. He announces the unfolding of the kingdom’s joy.

The Parable of the Talents Matthew 25:19-21: Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, “Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents”. His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master”.

Matthew reminds us of the resurrection miracle. He announces the promise of our own profound joy.

emptytombgraveclothesAt the Tomb – Matthew 28:8: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to Jesus’ disciples.

We are called to witness to God’s promises, to Jesus’ intercession, and to the Spirit’s healing. What will we do today to pass along the Good News and joy in Matthew’s story?


If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg and http://quoteeveryday.com/easter-tomb-background/

Joy and Testimony


??????Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Joy and Testimony

From the first verses of Genesis to the last words of Revelation, we have explored the many ways our God delights in surprising us with joy; and we have seen that God is always with us healing, rescuing, restoring and transforming. Through narratives, chronicles, prophecies, poems, songs and psalms, God finds a way to bring joy into the darkest moments of our lives. We have visited a list of calamities, catastrophes, outrages and scourges to find that even in the face of so much evil there is the promise of joy in living in Christ. No matter the turmoil, deceit, conspiracy, suspicion, tears or desperation, the Spirit is present to sustain us. Through misery and intrigue, arrogance and folly we have found a reason to celebrate. Today, the apostles who know Jesus most intimately describe their incomparable joy in knowing the risen Christ and they share this joy with us. How might we share our own stories of God’s surprising joy with those who look for peace?

2 John 1:12: Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.

1 Peter 1:8: Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

Galatians 5:22: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

James 1:2: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.

Jude 1: 24-25: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://masspictures.net/joy-quotes/


ironworker4Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Joy and Malachi

Corruption

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds. Today Malachi uses the imagery of the smith who patiently and slowly smelts ore to let the dross run off. In this way we encounter joy even in the midst of deep and intense corruption.

“This work was composed by an anonymous writer shortly before Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem (455 B.C.). Because of the sharp reproaches he was leveling at the priests and rulers of the people, the author probably wished to conceal his identity . . . It is likely that the author’s trenchant criticism of abuses and religious indifference in the community prepared the way for those necessary reforms”. (Senior 1170)

Malachi 3:1: “Listen: I will send my messenger before me to prepare the way. And then the One you are looking for will come suddenly to his Temple—the Messenger of God’s promises, to bring you great joy. Yes, he is surely coming,” says the Lord Almighty.

We have just closed Christmastide when we have welcomed Emmanuel, The Lord among us. In the midst of poor leadership and corruption, and despite our own indifference, God still loves and rescues us.

Malachi 3:7: Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

We enter Ordinary Time and wait for the Easter promise to spring upon us once more. In the midst of reproaches and despite our vanity, God still heals and transforms us.

Malachi 4:1: For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them afire, leaving them neither root or branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who love my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

joyThe choice lies before us: To burn with fire in our passion for The Word . . . or to dissolve into ash in the fire of our own self-importance. God is the patient silversmith who devotedly sits at the furnace smelting the ore of our life’s offerings. God keeps a watchful eye on the fire of love that refines our work, assuring run off of dross and the pureness of the ore. And it is through this fire of God’s love that we are either consumed or brought to new life. It is from the pungent ash of our past corruption that God’s joy springs forth to surprise us again.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1170. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://honibun.blogspot.com/2012_03_01_archive.html


MinorProphets_HaggaiMonday, January 17, 2022

Joy and Haggai

Defeat

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Haggai urges us to remember that despite our weariness and our sense of loss we can be joyful . . . for God is always with us.

“The Jews who returned from the exile in Babylonia had encountered formidable obstacles in their efforts to re-establish Jewish life in Judah. The Samaritans had succeeded in blocking the rebuilding of the temple; but after Darius acceded to the throne (522), permission was given to resume the work. At this critical moment, when defeatism and certain lethargy had overtaken his repatriated countrymen, Haggai came forward with his exhortations to them to complete the great task”. (Senior 1157)

Who among us cannot see our world today reflected in Haggai’s first oracle: Now thus says he Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed ourselves, but have not been warm; and he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it. (1:5-7)

Who among us does not remember a time of former glory as described by the prophet Haggai: Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing to your eyes? (2:3)

Who among us does not know that God is with us always . . . and especially when we feel defeated: For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts. This is the pact that I made with you  . . . and my spirit continues in your midst; do not fear! (2:4-5)

And who among us cannot say that the faithful are the well-loved children of God . . . even when we are overcome with lethargy: I will set you as a signet ring, for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts. (2:23)

joyThe joy we find in the words of the prophet Haggai comes from the quiet knowing that God is with us, no matter our circumstances and no matter our merit. When we consider the return from exile of the remnant faithful we will understand that even in defeat, when we live in God we are in victory. This is, indeed, something we will want to celebrate.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1157. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/3112684/posts


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Joy and Zephaniah

Degradation

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Zephaniah describes how we might respond in joy even when we suffer the curse of degradation.

“The age of Zephaniah was a time of religious degradation, when the old idolatries reappeared and men worshiped sun, moon, and stars”. This prophet calls us to oppose the worship of false gods and the adulation of false priests and ministers. It is a message we cannot hear too often. (Senior 1153)

Fanaticism will always flourish whether it comes from the both ends of a political, civil, social or religious spectrum. Ancient and contemporary philosophers promote moderation and balance. Scholars assess the values presented by sophist, pluralistic and diverse viewpoints. Arguments divide families and workplaces. Corruption finds a home in an environment of fear and settle into our bones as a response to our anxieties. Extremism and division will always plague us. What then, is to be done?

Zephaniah 3:17-18: For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song. “I have gathered your wounded and taken away your reproach.

God says: So what is the great gladness that lives among you and does not accuse you? It is My Word. What is the joyous choir we hear? It is the billions of voices in my creation coming together: the songs of my trees and winds and seas, the voices of my birds, and reptiles and mammals, the songs of my faithful people. All of this beautiful, universal sound is in and with and through me. Come to me. Despite the degradation that threatens to pull you into darkness, listen for the songs of joy that the faithful are singing. And join your voice with theirs.

A week ago today more than three million people in the country of France came together to sing in the universal song of solidarity. Spend some time investigating the myriad issues that surfaced in Europe and around the world last week. Click on the image above and visit the UNESCO Free Press post. Reflect on the importance of open, free and authentic journalism, and decide how our many voices might come together in a song of joy to God.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1153. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

For more about world press freedom, click on the image or visit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/04/23/the-state-of-world-press-freedom-in-2019-infographic/?sh=1c6012aabbab


je suis charlieSaturday, January 15, 2022

Joy and Habakkuk

Questions

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Habakkuk reminds us that too often our ways are not God’s ways.

“For what may be the first time in Israelite literature, a man questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls him to account for his government of the world”. God replies that he will send “a chastising rod, Babylon”. And God also replies with divine assurance the faithful will not perish. (Senior 1150)

God says: I know that my plan seems slow to you and I understand your impatience for my ways are not always your ways. My prophets deliver your anger, exasperation, and sorrow to me; and I hear your plaint. My prophets also deliver My Word to you. I walk among you as the man Jesus and although you may not see him he is with you all the same. The anger of Habakkuk has not dissolved . . . and nor has my love. Each time you throw your anger at me I return it to you transformed in and by and through love. I return it to you as the gift of love. Read the words of Habakkuk . . . and bring me your fears and desperation. Bring me your sorrow, your worries and your questions. In return, you have my answer . . . the gifts of my presence, mercy, rescue and love.

In this prophecy, it is difficult to find the joy we hope to experience.  How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not intervene. (1:2)

In this prophecy, we hear the words that speak to human fear, suffering and frustration with the divine plan. I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint”. (2:1)

In this prophecy, we hear the Lord’s reply that we will want to hold close when pain and anxiety set in, when we wonder about the promise of God’s rescue and redemption. The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (2:3-4)

In this prophecy, we pray with Habakkuk: God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights. (3:19)

In this prophecy . . . we have the eternal answers to our unrelenting questions.

Several years ago, after the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, the nation of France prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to celebrate with joy in the face of enormous anger and grief. To learn more, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

Or you want to visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Charlie-Hebdo-shooting

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1150. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0


Christmas_BethlehemFriday, January 14, 2022

Joy and Micah

Outrage

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we feel the outrage of the prophet Micah who challenges the rich, witnesses to the corruption and immorality of religious leaders . . . and offers hope and promise to the exploited.  

The second chapter of Micah begins: Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it is all he has); you take it by fraud and threats and violence. (2:1-2)

We do not have to wonder about the identity of Micah’s audience. A contemporary of Isaiah, little is known about him except that, “With burning eloquence he attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. Scholars note that although Micah delivers “reproach and the threat of punishment, [he also offers] a note of hope and promise”. (Senior 1140)

According to Micah, the Lord promises to deliver evil for evil (2:3). The Lord’s threats are for our good, the prophet tells us, to get us on the right path. (2:7) Exasperated, Micah speaks frankly: You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, who walk in peace. You have driven out the widows from their homes and stripped their children of every God-given right. Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it with sin, and it will vomit you out. I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink”—that is the kind of drunken, lying prophet that you like! (2:9-11)

Micah confronts evil with its own image, pointing out to those who find comfort at the expense of truth and integrity that they deceive no one by pretending that the joy they find in temporal pleasure can in any way equal the joy God offers.

Restoration is assured, Micah tells anyone who will listen. Humans will no longer train for war; each one of us might sit serenely beneath our own fig trees without fear. And who will bring this renewal? O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past! (5:2)

As we reflect on this Christmastide we have so recently shared, let us consider the gift of self that God brings us. And let us remember that despite his outrage . . . Micah brings us the good news of redemption, hope and promise.


For a reflection on finding Christmas in the Old Testament, click on the Bethlehem image above, or visit: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/ 

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1140. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Image from: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/

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