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Friday, July 30, 2021

Jeremiah 11

Jeremiah-29-11Of No Avail – A Reprise

We began our study of Jeremiah looking at Chapter 11 of this prophecy and today we return again to examine if we have gained insight from the prophet’s words. Have our efforts to understand sacrifice and suffering, gift and giving been of no avail?

Jeremiah tells his community – and us – that persecution comes to all, even to the innocent. He examines false and true shepherds, insincere and sincere relationships, and how we might maintain a solid connection with our creator despite the corrupting influences of the world. In these opening chapters, Jeremiah’s basic attitude centers on “the tender love of God as manifested in the covenant in the days of Moses”. Sin brings consequence; yet punishment can be purifying and transformative, even for the innocent who suffer at the hands of corrupt leaders. Jeremiah counters a sense of hopelessness with words of encouragement. (Senior RG 311)

Then the Lord alerts the faithful servant . . . A conspiracy has been found, the Lord said to me, among the men of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. They have returned to the crimes of their forefathers who refused to obey my words. They have also followed and served strange new gods . . .

Jeremiah speaks aloud – and he suffers for this candor – words from the Creator: the leaders and the core of the Judaic society have turned away from the Living God who shepherded the Hebrew nation out of slavery and through the desert. It is no wonder that the prophet laments and yearns to remove himself from society to find refuge in a quiet desert lodge. And it is no wonder that the temple leadership begins to plot against this prophet.

What do we do when we find ourselves in a similar situation? We have seen corruption and named it. We have prayed and made sacrifice. We have remained part of the faithful remnant; and yet rather than experience reform instituted by leaders, we find ourselves struggling to survive ever-worsening circumstances. If we find ourselves besieged in this way, we do well to turn to this prophet.

We have begun our Jeremiah journey with reflections on how the innocent find strength, wisdom and patience to accompany the Living God whom their leaders have abandoned. In the coming weeks we continue our passage from transformative suffering to redemptive understanding. We accompany Jeremiah through his travail that culminates with the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. We wend our way through difficult circumstances, anticipating the gift of hope in God’s plan for us, and looking to our Jeremiah Journey to bring us home.


Return to the Of No Avail or The Desert Lodge posts by entering the words into the bog search bar.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 311. Print.

Image from: http://judeochristianchurch.com/jeremiah-2911/


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Jeremiah 10

shepherd-in-wilderness1Christ the King

The pagan gods and cult idols must be carried about, for they cannot walk . . . but Jesus walks among us.

Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, they cannot speak . . . but our God speaks to us constantly.

Fear them not, they can do no harm, neither is it in their power to do good . . . the Holy Spirit comforts and abides with us always. 

No one is like you, O Lord, great are you, great and mighty is your name.  Who would not love you . . . for it is your due!

Today we hear a message from Jeremiah affirming all that we know to be true. False shepherds will fall away; the One True Shepherd will gather the lost to bring them home. This King of all carries us on his shoulders – rather than asking us to carry him about. This King of all accompanies us everywhere – even when we feel alone or betrayed, not only when we are happy or joy-filled. This King protects, guides, guards, and loves us – even though we stray, complain and stumble.

This King will never falter, never err, never abandon even one of the flock. This King directs our every step if we only allow it. In his Old Testament frame of mind, Jeremiah asks Yahweh to punish Israel’s enemies. In our New Testament perspective, we pray for those who harm us, we intercede and ask forgiveness. Just as Jesus does. It is when we feel the most alone that we might also most feel God’s presence. If we wish to feel in control of our lives, we must abandon ourselves to Christ. If we wish to feel inspired and passionate about all we do, we must first welcome the Spirit into our hearts to accompany our prayer. If we wish to be treasured, we must first care for those whom no one loves. If we wish to be one with our brother, Christ the King, we must first be sister and brother to our enemies. And we must ask that God show them – and us – mercy.

You know, O Lord, that man is not master of his way; man’s course is not within his choice, nor is it for him to direct his step.

Love us, O Lord, and call those who have wandered far from you.  Pour out your grace upon us, so that we might hear you and respond to your call.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Christ and King, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection written on November 21, 2010, the Feast of Christ the King.

Image from: http://agapegeek.com/2011/06/26/understanding-how-to-be-led-by-the-spirit-of-god-your-introduction-to-the-good-shepherd-part-1/ 


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Jeremiah 9

Main_Lodge_fsThe Desert Lodge

Would that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodge! That I might leave my people and depart from them.

Jeremiah sees the corruption into which his world has fallen. He gives warning but no one takes note, and so he wishes for a secluded place to which he might remove himself, hoping to avoid the coming maelstrom. And so we consider: Do we also yearn for a hermitage when the world threatens? If so, where might we go? If not, how might we help those who are overwhelmed?

The Desert Lodge

Corruption whispers into our busy living, giving no warning, sending no harbinger.

Ready tongues like drawn bows pass along the latest wisp of gossip.

“Be on your guard!” we are warned. But how? From whom?

And so we look for our desert lodge where no caravan passes, where we might step back from the winds of deceit and the torment of war.

Yet still we hear the Teacher’s voice lifted on the steady breeze.

We recall that the world’s wisdom cannot unravel the puzzle of human deceit, nor can the world’s strength bring peace.

We remember that the Lord abides with the remnant, the faithful who rise each morning to intone first light’s prayer.

We remind one another that the Lord listens to noonday petitions lifted on tired arms that seek another day’s grace.

We know the Lord takes in our evening plaint as we put drowsy heads on tired pillows.

“Be on your guard!”

We ask for benediction. We ask for peace. We ask for the end to corruption. We ask for the coming of joy.

And with fresh surety we remember . . .

The Lord turns all harm to goodness. The Lord answers all prayers of the broken. The Lord brings all joy out of corruption.

And with this knowing, a quiet peace settles upon us.

In this knowing . . . is our impregnable desert lodge.


For more on Joy Out of Corruption, enter these words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/kulala-desert-lodge


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Unidentified Flemish painter: Rich and Poor, or War and Peace

Unidentified Flemish painter: Rich and Poor, or War and Peace

Jeremiah 8

Incomprehensible Conduct

When someone falls, does he not rise again? If he goes astray, does he not turn back? Why do these people rebel with obstinate persistence?

Jeremiah sees the coming calamity: the stubborn Israelites refuse to cease worshiping idols. The prophet knows that these are a stubborn, persistent people . . . and the prophet sees their conduct as incomprehensible.

We frequently hear and use the word persistence to indicate our perseverance in following Christ. Here the prophet Jeremiah reminds the people of Judah – and us today – that God grieves for us when we are persistent in our lack of repentance and our shameless conduct. Yet we know it is equally true that God’s loving Spirit will heal and cure us when we decide to turn away from our idols. We understand that the persistent love Christ lives out for us will redeem our unbelievable behavior. We live in the hope that God’s compassion for us will abide . . . even when our conduct is beyond comprehension.

In his letter to the Romans (12:14-21), Paul reminds the faithful of the depth, the breadth and the intensity of God’s love for us – and the persistence of this love in the face of our inexplicable reluctance to return God’s love. Bless your persecutors; never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with others when they rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Give the same consideration to all others alike. Pay no regard to social standing, but meet humble people on their own terms. Do not congratulate yourself on your own wisdom. Never try to get revenge: leave that, my dear friends, to the Retribution. As scripture says: “Vengeance is mine – I will pay them back”, the Lord promises. And more: If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat, if thirsty, something to drink. By this you will be heaping red-hot coals on his head”. Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

When human conduct is incomprehensible in its darkness and evil, rather than attempting to convert these souls on our own, we must turn to God, the source of healing and redemption. We must intercede for these lost ones and ask that God call them into the light from their shadowy places. And we must ask that the Light of the world, the Christ, enter into them to cure and redeem them. In this way their conduct may become comprehensible. In this way we demonstrate our eagerness to seek the perfection of Christ in all we say and think and do.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 26, 2010.

For a reflection on Jeremiah 8, click on the image above or go to: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1771


Monday, July 26, 2021

Jeremiah 7

Abide 2Prayer for Remaining

Reform your ways and your deeds that I might remain with you in this place . . .

Put not your trust in deceitful words . . .

If each of you deals justly with your neighbor . . .

If you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow . . .

If you no longer shed innocent blood, or follow false gods to your own harm . . .

These are words we hear from God through the prophet Jeremiah sent to us over the millennia. What might we reform? How might we speak less deceitful words? When have we oppressed those living in life’s margins? Who are our false gods? Let us take notice of ourselves, our actions and our surroundings as we pray.

Gentle and Gracious God, you visit us in this place today. We thank you for your presence.

Faithful and Loyal God, you abide with us in this time today. We thank you for your mercy.

Just and Powerful God, you strengthen us when we falter. We thank you for your fidelity.

Compassionate and Generous God, you forgive us when we stray. We thank you for your understanding.

Healing and Loving God, you restore us when we fail. We thank you for your stillness.

Constant and All-knowing God, you bind up what we tear down. We thank you for your wisdom.

We praise you for abiding. We thank you for enduring. We thank you for remaining. Amen.


For more on Jeremiah 7 and words from the mystic Adrienne von Speyr on fidelity, enter the word Remaining into the post search bar and explore.

Learn more about Von Speyr at: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/authors/adrienne_von_speyr.asp

Image from: http://unafamiliaalaskena.blogspot.com/2011_12_01_archive.html


creedSunday, July 25, 2021

Jeremiah 6

The Tester

The prophet Jeremiah warns his own people and he warns us that a time of examination will come upon us.  This is a certainty.  The uncertainty is this: Will we endure?  We may question, we may wonder and we may seek and we will be tested.  The many trials we undergo comprise our suffering and for this we must not be angry.  Nor ought we to test the Lord ourselves, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:9: We should not test the Lord.

Jeremiah 6:27 – A tester among my people I have appointed you, to search and test their way.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve of what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

1 Corinthians 3:13 – The fire [of the Day of Christ’s coming] will test the quality of each man’s work. 

2 Corinthians 13:5-6 – Examine yourselves to see whether you are in faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust you will discover that we have not failed the test.

Galatians 6:4 – Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 – Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.

James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 

1 John 4:1 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 

Revelation 3:10 – Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on earth. 

The Tester is coming so we will want to test ourselves and we will want to determine our personal creed so that we know it by heart. We will want to adhere to what is good and to avoid evil. We will beware of false teachers. We will examine the quality of our own work to see where it is wanting and we will refrain from judging the work of others. We will be persistent and patient as we endeavor to be perfect in our persistence to model Jesus. We will pray for ourselves and others, especially our enemies. We will love what is good. We will spend time with the prophets and the word to see what we might learn for in this is wisdom. In this is our own salvation and the salvation of many.


A Favorite from June 6, 2010.

Image from: http://www.powerpointapologist.org/series_creed.html and http://gloria-deo.blogspot.com/2013/05/need-creed.html


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Jeremiah 5

belief_quotes_6Universal Corruption

We are all human. None of us is immune from our tendency to stray from truth. Each of us is from time to time fascinated by the darkness that ebbs beyond the circle of light in which we stand. Physically, we press the limits of the body to find our weak spots and our strengths. Psychologically, we tinker with the places in life which lure us into wrong-doing – all the better to know what we might become if we allow ourselves to grow. Spiritually, we wander into the places where doubt blossoms – for as much as we doubt, so also do we believe.

Miguel de Unamuno, a 20th Century Spanish existentialist, wrote a sonnet entitled Prayer of an Atheist in which he explores the pendulum swing of faith and doubt, hope and despair. He also wrote a beautiful poem, In the Hand of God, in which he juxtaposes images to create the gentle rocking back and forth we feel of our movement between God’s two hands, our movement to and from God’s breast. We are well-loved. We are constantly tended. We consistently stray. We are always offered the opportunity for reconciliation and restoration by a loving and giving God. We may always open our hearts to those who wound us.

In his book The Sacred Heart of the World: Restoring Mystical Devotion to Our Spiritual Life, David Richo describes a four-fold devotion to the Sacred Heart with which we may join others in healing the world. Today we pause to think about the impossibility that God may make possible . . . if we but ask.

  • First, we extend our prayer life to include others in anything we ask for ourselves, and thus we seek the Christ in each human being.
  • Second, we pray for those who persecute us, and thus we convert insult to prayer.
  • Third, we commit to ceasing engagement in retaliation, and thus we return blessing for hurt. This does not mean that we ask to be humiliated; rather, we protect ourselves and our personal boundaries while in the meantime we . . .
  • Fourth, pray for the universe, for we are all corrupt in one way or another.

Richo includes prayers of mystics which we might use, and here is one from Saint Teresa of Ávila: I shape my heart like that of others that I meet and theirs like mine.

Imagine what goodness we might bring about if we might only pray earnestly in this way.

An interesting read is The Isaiah Effect: Decoding the Lost Science of Prayer and Prophecy by Gregg Braden. In this book, Braden encourages us to examine what happens when we come together in petition, what takes place when we agree to gather through prayer to ask God’s healing for the world.

Imagine what beauty we might bring about if only we might see our universal corruption . . . if only we might pray earnestly in unison . . . if only we might join in bringing about the kingdom . . . if only we might believe that the impossible is possible . . . if only we might act in our hope for the world.


For a 30 day online retreat with references to Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, and practicing the art of spiritual imagination, visit Richo’s site at :http://davericho.com/sacred-heart-retreat-html/

For more quotes about belief, click on the image above or visit: https://quotesgram.com/quotes-about-belief-systems/

Adapted from a reflection written on June 9, 2008.

Image from: https://quotesgram.com/quotes-about-belief-systems/ 


Friday, July 23, 2021

Jeremiah 4

ReconciledbannerSincere Repentance – A Reprise

Just when we believe that hope is lost, a door opens. Just when we think that we will not be forgiven, word arrives. Just when we feel the end is near, life begins again. Psalm 133 celebrates the goodness to be found when adversaries determine to reconcile differences.

Assurance

How very good and pleasant it is when we see God in one another despite narrow hearts and tightened minds.

These quick moments delight as surely as a loved one’s gaze renews  . . . as ever a child’s breath blesses her mother’s cheek.

The Lord’s happily granted gift of forgiveness heals all . . . despite our reluctance to respond to God’s love.

The Lord’s freely given gift of life affirms divinity in each . . . despite our reluctance to believe in God’s promise.


Visit the Spiritual Courage post on this blog by entering the words into the blog search bar, and consider the consequence of a severe repentance. What consequences await us when we gather courage to do what we know must be done?

Image from: http://www.everydaychurch.com/cpt_news/reconciled-amaris/


sincerityThursday, July 22, 2021

Jeremiah 3

Sincere and Insincere Conversion

In chapters 3 and 4 of Jeremiah we see how the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah turned from the Lord their God to a life of idol worship and harlotry. Let us consider some thoughts from The Dilemma of Narcissus by Louis Lavelle (W.T Gairdner, Tr. Larson Publications, Burdett, N.Y. 1993), a portion of which was published in the May 2007 issue of MAGNIFICAT. His words ask us to think of sincerity as a continual growth process rather than a character trait or a commodity to be gained.

To be sincere is to show oneself, but at the same time . . . one is making oneself.

Sincerity must reach out, beyond all speech, to an invisible inner life.

Sincerity appears only when the inner life begins to be incarnated in acts which determine both our true being and our destiny.

True sincerity is an accomplishment. And it is quite conceivable that one should miss it, whether through laziness or through fear, or because one finds it easier, or more expedient to yield to public opinion and to renounce oneself, letting oneself be dragged unremittingly down the slope of social conformity.

In sincerity, the act by which we find ourselves and the act by which we make ourselves are one and the same. Sincerity is at once the attention which arouses our potentialities, and the courage which gives them form, without which they would be nothing.

Sincerity challenges all the voices which call to me from without, and commands me to descend into my heart’s heart. It is always a return to the source. It makes me a being perpetually being born.

Sincerity liberates us from every preoccupation with public opinion or with the effect we are producing. It brings us back to our own origin, showing us to ourselves as we were when we left the Creator’s hands, when life first flashed forth, and before outer appearances had begun to seduce us, or we had learned the art of pretending.

It is rectitude of a will which admits no duplicity, no evasion, and no dissembling, between man and other men.

Sincerity is spiritual nobility. For the sincere man seeks to live under the open sky; he alone has enough self-respect to hide nothing from himself, and to expect nothing except from the truth; he alone is not content merely to appear, but establishes himself so firmly in being that for him being is indistinguishable from appearance.

Sincerity is the act by which I put myself under the eye of God; there is no other sincerity.

In today’s reading, Jeremiah calls the wayward Israel and Judah to sincerity. He warns Judah that her sin is more grave than that of Israel who first strayed. Why? Because the traitor sister did not return to me wholeheartedly, but insincerely.

We often lament the lack of sincerity in others, but this week we might take time to examine our inner self for the presence or lack of sincerity, and to return to the paths we know are just and merciful. We might spend a few minutes reflecting on our own spiritual nobility. How do we reflect God to others? What social slopes are we willing to slide down? To what social conformities do we bow? Do we have the courage to rise to our potentialities? What inner life do we incarnate with our speech and actions? With what duplicities are we content? Do we challenge the voices without and descend to our heart’s heart?

In God’s Eyes

God in Heaven, God on Earth, call to us . . . we want to return to your hands.

God Incarnate, God Abiding, remain in us . . . we want to follow your feet.

God Consoling, God of Wisdom, bring us strength . . . we know what we must do.

God of Freedom, God of Truth, we feel your presence . . . we come back to your heart.

God of All, God of Each, our hearts sing praise . . . we seek to live sincerely . . . in your eyes.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 2, 2008. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.5 (2007): 298-300. Print.

Image from: http://www.tiptopsigns.com/Chinese-Symbol-Decals-p-1-c-96.html 

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