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Judges 16: Samson and Delilah

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Matthais Stom: Samson and Delilah

This is a familiar story to us – and when we open scripture to a comfortable place, we look more closely, more intensely, to see if we have perhaps missing something because of the familiarity.

Samson was one of the series of Judges who protected and guided the Hebrew people before they asked for a king.  In this book we see the people of God continually repeat a cycle of dissent into separation from God . . . which causes loneliness and anguish followed by sorrow and repentance.  Yahweh always responds by forgiving and tending to his lost sheep.  There are periods of complacency and quiet when the people forget that God is central to their lives which separate the judges.  Samson is one of the most famous.  But look at the following verses: 2 – And all the night they waited saying, “Tomorrow we plan to kill him”, verse 19 – Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him, verse 28 – Samson cried out to the Lord and said,  “O Lord God, remember me!  Strengthen me, O God, this last time . . . let me die with the Philistines!”

Samson succumbs to Delilah and to the plot surrounding him.  He is human.  He fails.  He suffers.  He has hope.  He repents.  He makes reparation for his former action.  He is honored.  He brings the light of truth into the darkness of greed and corruption.  We do not understand the mystery of what happened more, but what we do understand is that nothing ultimately wins over destruction and death.

From MAGNIFICAT today: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1:5)  God is mystery.  The maker of the universe dwells in light inaccessible, so bright that it blinds the probing eye, the questioning mind.

For those who are powerless, that they may experience your power employed on their behalf. 

For those who have abandoned hope, that they may know your mercy.

For those who fail to see you in mystery, that they may come to feel your gentle love.

Amen.


Written on April 9, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.friendsofart.net/en/art/matthias-stom/samson-and-delilah

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.9 (2008). Print.  


John 1:12-13: Children of God

Saturday, August 24, 2019

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 

For a long time I have reflected on the idea of how it is determined who is given the gift of faith and who is not.  I have had conversations with God in which I ask why it is that some of us are so stiff-necked and others of us have the gift of patience.  I trust God’s plan, I believe that we are created to be God’s children, and here in the Gospel of John, in one simple sentence, we are enlightened.  I will have to refer to this citation when the questions rise from some place of wonder to pull me from my core of belief.

Believing in Jesus as the Word, as Resurrected, as brother – this is what makes us children of God.  Through him, with him, in him, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is pre-existence.  Jesus is the Incarnation – the word and thought and touch of God amidst us.  Jesus is an offering, a gift freely given by a loving and passionate God . . . a God who loves us so deeply and so endlessly . . . that he brings himself to us without our even asking.

What a wondrous God is this.


Adapted from a Noontime written on April 23, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.elizabethhillgrove.com/2012/05/monday-after-mass-vol-1.html


Sirach 18:14-29: Prudence and Self-Control

Friday, August 23, 2019

Luca Giordano: Allegory of Prudence

These are the tools we need to use rather than judgment and anger if we wish to enter into the presence of the Lord.  This is what he asks of us:  To act with compassion when we see injustice, when we experience cruelty, when we see the unity of the kingdom divided by jealousy, greed, division and the desire to control.  These verses hold many kernels of wisdom, as we always find when reading the words of Jesus ben Sirach.

The morning New Testament reading today is from Romans 2: By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the last judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

The MAGNIFICAT intercessions seem fitting:

God of peace, make peace among those at war.

God of justice, make right what we have made wrong.

God of goodness, make holy what we have turned to our own selfish ends.

Amen.


Written on April 22, 2008  and posted today as  a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/luca-giordano-allegory-of-prudence

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.22 (2008): 129-130. Print.  


Ezekiel 8:3-6: Abominations in the Temple

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes

Footnotes tell us that there truly was an abomination set in the temple by King Manasseh (see 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33) and later removed by King Josiah (2 Kings 23).  It was a statue of Asherah, a Syrian goddess.  (If you want to read about her, you can go to www.jewishencyclopedia.com.)  Footnotes also tell us that although the statue had been removed, it was likely re-established with the re-paganization of Jerusalem when Josiah died.  In any event, the point is that something sacred, the dwelling place of Yahweh, is profaned by the very people who should be protecting and honoring it.  Do we do this from time to time in our own lives?  Do we allow sacred places and sacred people to be invaded or desecrated?  Do we worship symbols that make us feel good rather than God who brings us joy?  Are we paralyzed in our old and comfortable habits rather than learning to live in the newness of Christ?  Are we blind to the needs of others?  Do we have deafness of heart?  Or do we hear the cry of poor and the broken-hearted?

From the morning and evening MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

Free those who are paralyzed by sinful ways, and teach them to run with joy in the way of your commandments.

Give sight to those who are blinded by self-centeredness, and teach them to see the beauty of those around them.

Grant hearing to those who are deaf of heart, and teach them to rejoice in your word.

You build us into a dwelling place in the Spirit: fill us with the glory of your presence.

We are human.  We find comfort in things which bring us immediate satisfaction.  But this comfort is not lasting.

We are divine.  We find serenity in things that spring from God.  And this serenity is everlasting.


Written on April 21, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.biblesearchers.com/yahshua/passovertrial/cosmicdrama.shtml

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning” and “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.11 (2008). Print.  


Isaiah 55:10-11: Achieving God’s End

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Isaiah 55:10-11: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. 

God gives us great gifts . . . and asks that we use them well.

Jesus tells us parables of unfaithful and faithful stewards who abuse or use well the office with which the master entrusts them . . . and we see ourselves somewhere in these stories.

The Spirit moves us to act on the word we hear . . . and we are free to deny or respond to God’s call.

God creates us in his image . . . and asks that we go forth to represent him in the world.

Jesus models God among us . . . and calls us to follow him.

The Spirit lives within each of us . . . and manifests God’s word to the world.

We receive great gifts . . . and are asked to do much with them.

We are great gifts . . . and we are asked to share.

What nourishment do we bring to others?  What sustenance do we provide to others?  What action do we take as we achieve the end for which we are sent?


A re-post from July 31, 2012.

Image from: http://www.spiritofthehills.org/members/susanstatham.html


John 17: The Prayer of Jesus

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Even if we have spent time with this prayer before it is well worth our while to spend time with this chapter; it reveals a Christ who is eager to pray for each of us . . . directly . . .

I pray not only for them [my apostles gathered around me], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you , Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

And we do believe that God sent Jesus . . . The Word . . . God’s Expression of Self to Us.

We do believe that God is in Jesus . . . that God is in us . . . and that we are in Jesus and God.

We do believe that we are given glory.

We do believe that we are to be brought to perfection as one.

We do believe that we are a gift to Jesus and to God.

We do believe that Jesus’ love is in us and that we are in him . . . as love . . . a love which knows no bounds . . . no impossibilities . . . no constraints . . . no conditions . . . no barriers . . . no darkness . . . no death.

We do believe!


Written on April 17, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

For another reflection on Jesus’ Prayer For Us click on the image above or go to: http://sheddinglightonthepath.blogspot.com/2012/05/jesus-prayer-for-you-and-me.html


Zechariah 13: The End of Falsehood

Monday, August 19, 2019

This is welcome news: There will be an end to lies!  There will come a time when false prophets, manipulation, back-stabbing, advantage-taking, favoritism, cronyism, self-preservation at the expense of others . . . all the trappings of a society which does not understand Jesus and his story . . . all of this will be swept away.  Thanks be to God.

The NAB translation of verse 6 (What are these wounds on your chest?) is a change from the Douay (What are these wounds in the midst of thy hands?) is accompanied by an explanatory footnote.  “The false prophets, like the prophet of Baal (1 Kings 13, 28), apparently inflicted wounds on themselves; to defend himself against the accusation of being a false prophet, a man will deny having inflicted wounds on himself and say instead that he received them at home, ‘in the house of my dear ones.’  In the liturgy this text is applied to Christ in an accommodated sense”.

The deepest wounds are those we receive from the ones we love best.  The deepest wounds are those we inflict on the ones we love best.  Jesus was betrayed by one of his twelve; and betrayal stings most when suffered at the hands of one we love.

Christ’s wounds of hands, feet, side, head and heart were suffered at the hands he loved most – humankind.  In this act he joins with all of us who likewise suffer . . . yet Zechariah tells us . . . there will be end to this suffering.  His prophecy was written to encourage the Jews who had returned from exile to rebuild the city and temple of Jerusalem.  We might take heart as we re-read his words.  From what exile do we return?  What false prophets must we remember as gone and put away?  What changes must we make in our decisions and our habits?  What city are we dreaming?  What temple are we preparing?  What life are we building as we walk away from falsehood?


Written on July 24, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on dealing with the betrayal of a friend, click on the image above or go to: http://www.thebettermom.com/2012/04/judas-jesus-betrayal-and-living-free/

Mark 15: Sacrifice


Mark 15: Sacrifice

Sunday, August 18, 2019

St. James

Crucifixion.  We return to Mark today to read and reflect on the crucifixion of our Lord, our God who came to live and walk among us.  Who came to be one of us . . . so that we might be one with him.

This past Wednesday we celebrated the feast of Saint James, the brother of John the Beloved Apostle.  James was executed by beheading as ordered by Herod sometime around the year 42; today he is the patron saint of Spain.  James answered the call he heard.  James took of the cup offered by Christ and became one of the early martyrs who chose to die in this life in order that he follow Christ both in this world and the next.

Today’s Gospel repeats the story we know so well of the mother of James and John asking Jesus to place her sons – the sons of Zebedee whom Jesus nicknamed Boanerges (The Sons of Thunder) – at his right and left once the kingdom about which he spoke had arrived.  Her sons were present with Peter at the raising of Jarius’ daughter, at the transfiguration and in Gethsemane.  They followed Jesus during his ministry and they certainly deserved special recognition in their mother’s eyes.  I like Jesus’ reply: that these are the decisions best made by the Father.

This message from the Gospel is what reminds me that when things are not going as I see best for most . . . I must remember that just as the Son of God defers to the Creator on matters such as these . . . so ought I.

Jesus suffered torture and crucifixion as an act of redemptive, salvific love.  If we wish to take up this same cup, we must be willing to enter into the sacrifice.  We do this best when we trust God, trust Jesus, trust the Holy Spirit.  Our strength and our true power as co-redeemers with Christ lie in our trust . . . trust that our own suffering has value . . . trust that our own worth is seen by God and will be seen by all . . . trust that we are delivered through and with and in Christ.

From MAGNIFICAT earlier this week: Let us pray in the name of all who are suffering in our day the pain of the cross: Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the Justice of God, but you were condemned as a criminal: strengthen in forgiveness those who are unjustly condemned.  Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the truth of God: deliver from harm all those who are threatened by lies. Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the love of God made visible: save all those who are menaced by hatred, cruelty, and abuse. Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

James, John, Mary Magdalene and the other apostles followed Jesus . . . trusting all that he had revealed to them.  Christ is physically present to us in the people he sends to us and in The Word we read each day.  Let us prepare to take up the Cup of Sacrifice with courage and joy in our hearts.


Written on July 25, 2008 on posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thetentofthiskingdom.blogspot.com/2007/07/june-25-st-james-apostle.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. July (2008): 129-130. Print.  

Jeremiah 31:16: Reward


Jeremiah 31:16: Reward

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Jeremiah 31:16: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward. 

These are words we welcome heartily.  They are words we are anxious to hear.  They tell us that transformation can and does take place.  This is good news indeed.

God says: There is no valley so deep that I cannot and will not plumb its depth in my search for you.  There is no mountain so high that I cannot and will not climb its height in my quest for you.  There is no world too wide, no dream too dense, no nightmare too horrific that will keep me from you.  And my love for you is so intense that when I touch you those tears of sorrow become tears of joy.  So cease your crying . . . and bring your sorrow to me. 

The faithful need not fight, we are told.  The faithful only need turn to God for all for God turns all harm to good.  God transforms all.  God is all we will ever need.  God is our reward.


A re-post from July 27, 2012.

For more on Jeremiah’s prophecy, visit the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog at https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/jeremiah-person-and-message/

For more reflections on Expecting the Exceptional, click on the image above or go to: http://www.tonyjalicea.com/page/23/

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