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2 Samuel 18: Recklessness

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

kingdavidpalace02_m_0722

King David in Grief

When we examine the story of David and his son Absalom, and see that sometimes we cling to outmoded ideas or dangerous people.  We humans seem to prefer the devil we know to the one we do not.  We make a way to survive with the horror we experience rather than set boundaries against the craziness of the world.  This is the fine line we walk between forgiving transgression and accepting abuse.  This is the difference between pardon and leniency.  It is the distinction we draw between recklessness and prudence.

Absalom is the favored child who does as he likes; he is coddled and feels entitled.  We see many examples of this in our current world – men and women who take what they like from whomever they like, pitted against the innocent who are open and trusting.  It is an uneven match and we wonder why God does not protect the naïve and unknowing more.

In today’s reading we see the dreadful end of Absalom, the favored child who abused his father who had given him so much.  We also watch the mourning of the father who believes he has recently lost a child without understanding that he had lost him years before.

As Jesus reminds us, we cannot put new wine into old skins.  (Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:21-22 and Luke 5:33-39) We cannot sew new patches on old sleeves.  We are called by our maker to transform ourselves, to move beyond our old form and style, to become new in Christ.  For just as the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New, as the old Covenant is re-written on the new heart, so are we called to make a place for a clean spirit, so are we called to sit at the city gate to indicate that we have returned – but in a new form.

In this Easter season, let us be determined that when we are fuddled by the line between compassion and acceptance of violence against one’s self, we will examine our lives in light of the Gospel to see if our suffering bears fruit or draws us down.  In recent days at Mass we have been reminded that we are the fruit bearing branches of the vine that is Christ.  We are nothing and do nothing except through the Creator.  There is no secret thought; we keep no actions from the Spirit.  We belong to God and our lives are transformed when we understand this.

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT we read in reference to Acts 16:1-10: “Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number”.  This was due in large part to Paul and Timothy’s attentive docility and obedience to the Holy Spirit.  They had been chosen “out of the world” by Jesus.  When we act out of belonging, conscious that we do not “belong to the world”, we change the world”.

And this is how we address the recklessness and violence we see around us.  We take on Christ, we go to the Creator, and we allow our transformation in the Spirit.  In this way, we pray that we do not come to harm when the violence of the world threatens us.  And we pray that when the violence of the world does invade our lives – as it surely will – we will have the courage, strength and clarity to witness with attentive docility and obedience to the Holy Spirit.  We pray that we remind ourselves of our true belonging.  And we pray for the lost souls of those who have been sucked into the cycle of danger and fear.   In this way we change the world.  Amen.

A Favorite from May 8, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 8 May 2010. Print.

 


Acts 13:44-52: Wild with Jealousy

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Johann Heisse: Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

We have visited this reading before and we do well to visit it again. The themes are vitally important to us.

Some of the Jews, seeing the crowds, went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene.

Whether we are the Jews, the Christians or the Gentiles . . . we must guard against jealousy and the ugly scenes this negative emotion brings.

But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they spoke.

Like Paul and Barnabas . . . we must remain in Christ, trust God, and live in the Spirit so that we might share the healing message of the Good News.

All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. 

Like those who heard the good news of salvation . . . we must open our hearts and minds to God’s movement in our lives.

Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave.

Like the most respected women and leading men in our town . . . we must remain in Christ and the surety of Christ’s promise.

Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.

Like Paul and Barnabas . . . we must shrug our shoulders, move on to the next town, allowing the joy of the Spirit to overflow our hearts.

For other reflections on Paul and Barnabas, enter the apostles’ names in the blog search bar and explore.

For more on Iconium, visit: http://bibleatlas.org/iconium.htm


2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Call to Holiness

Monday, May 22, 2017

Yesterday we reflected on Christ’s call to us as Living Stones in the New Temple we find in the unity of Christ’s corporate body. Today we remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians – and to us – about the importance of our answering that call. Today’s Noontime is a Favorite from April 18, 2008 in which we considered how we might replace the old Temple of stone in Jerusalem, with the New Temple of Christ’s heart that we see and we become . . . when we come together in Christ with all of creation.

Paul wrote this message to the people in Corinth where this fledgling church was dealing with a series of crises.  This letter is a call to reflect on how we interact in community.  At first glance, today’s selection may appear to call us to a life of separation and apartness; but when we look further, we see that Paul was calling the readers of this letter away from paganism, idol worship, and self-serving behaviors that lead to temporary satisfaction and eventual destruction.  Footnotes point out that Paul speaks to the fact that God alone can lay claim to us.  We are created by God, we live in God through Christ, we come together in peace – even with our enemies – in the Spirit. And in so living, we return to God to find union with all of God’s creation. These verses assure us that God will always be among us, and that together we maintain a covenant with God as God’s faithful.

As we have reflected often in our Noontimes, Jesus wades among the unwashed, those afflicted with leprosy, the outcast and the marginalized.  As Christ’s apostles, we are called to continue this mission; we are called to become one in Christ so that we might follow Christ as we take this New Temple of our collective selves into the world.  We are called to bring Christ’s Hope to the World.  We are called to bring the Spirit’s Love to the World.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions.

God dwells among us in the Church.  Let us turn to him and pray: Remember your people, Lord.

You are in our midst; your name we bear: make us a fit dwelling-place for your love.  Remember your people, Lord.

You have made us temples of your Spirit: cleanse our hearts and make of them a house of prayer. Remember your people, Lord.

You have chosen us as your resting-place forever: grant us peace in your presence.  Remember your people, Lord.

God of Glory, you dwell in our midst through Jesus Christ, the new and eternal temple of your Presence.  Turn our hearts to worship you in the midst of our daily lives, that we may come one day to dwell with you in light, through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.5(2008). Print.  

 


1 Peter 2:4-9: A Living Stone

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2017

Today Peter says to us,

Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable.

We reflect on the times we have rejected the Word that has come to us through the voices and actions of others; and we remember the times we are rejected when we struggle to bring light to darkness.

God says,

I chose a valuable stone,
    which I am placing as the cornerstone in Zion;
    and whoever believes in him will never be disappointed.

We examine the strength of our faith in Christ as the Living Stone, the foundation of the new temple in which each of us is invited to join Christ as living stones raising thanks to God.

Isaiah foretells and Peter repeats,

This is the stone that will make people stumble,
    the rock that will make them fall.

We explore the depth of our hope, the strength of our love, the authenticity of our trust and the clarity of our minds as we give our hearts over as Living Stones for Christ.

Peter reminds us,

They stumbled because they did not believe in the word; such was God’s will for them.

As we reflect, we open ourselves to the reality that our stumblings are tumbles into Christ’s arms. Our shortcomings are windows into the New Temple of Living Stones. And our failings are invitations to join Christ as the cornerstone in our new lives of peace.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore thee verses, we recognize the Word and we become more willing to tumble into Christ’s ample, healing and loving heart.

For  better understanding of the city of Zion and what it might represent, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zion.htm 


Isaiah 41:13: Your Right Hand

God’s left hand waits for our right hand . . .

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I am the Lord, your God, who gasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you”.

How often do we take our hands for granted? How much of our life do we hold in our hands?

I am the Lord your God;
I strengthen you and tell you,
“Do not be afraid; I will help you.” (GNT)

Do we believe that God’s hands manage the details of our lives? Do we see God’s hands at work in the broad horizon of our days and nights?

For I, Adonai, your God,
say to you, as I hold your right hand,
‘Have no fear; I will help you. (CJB)

Dylan Pierce: Child and Man

Can we say with hope that God brings all harm to good? Can we relinquish our fear and pride long enough to place ourselves in God’s hands?

I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, “Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.” (MSG)

Can we remain faithful to God’s goodness and rely on God’s wisdom? Can we open ourselves to God’s grace and follow where God leads as God takes us by our right hand?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open our hands to God, and give ourselves over to God’s goodness.

 


Deuteronomy 23: Fruit that will Remain

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Favorite from May 29, 2011 reminds us that just as Peter decides to remain faithful to Christ the shepherd, so might we. Just as Peter works to plant himself in Christ so might we. And just as Peter becomes fruit that remains in Christ . . . so do we. 

When we read these many rules that try to cover all the permutations of a concept, we can understand how societies become top-heavy and stray too far from the hope that originally brought them together.  If we need legions of lawyers to tell us what we believe, we know that tyranny has taken hold and that power has become more important than people.  When control is the driving force in our lives rather than understanding or discernment, someone or something has gone too far; and this is why the simple elegance of The Word that Jesus brings to us – Love one another as I have loved youcannot be outdone.  There is no greater Law, no greater authority on earth or in heaven.  Love is all there is.  Love is everything that is.

I am always startled to hear people describe the connection they have with God as if it were some sort of membership in some kind of club.  Jesus is not looking to have the greatest number of fans or friends.  He is not trying to beat Satan by some specific amount in the tally of souls won or lost.  He is not trying to best his last year’s soul-count by a certain margin.  Jesus looks to redeem all those whom the Father has sent to him.  Jesus asks us to bear fruit just as he bears fruit.  Jesus is not issuing passports or validating passes.  Jesus calls; we are to respond.  And when we do, we must know that this is difficult work.

From Friday’s Gospel (John 15:12-17): I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

From yesterday’s Gospel (John 15:18-21): Jesus said to his disciples: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world that hates you.

And today’s Gospel (John 14:15-21) begins with this same message in the event we did not hear it the first time: If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . . you know him because he remains with you, and will be in you.

We who believe in Jesus do not belong to an elite organization.  There are no dues to pay, no membership to renew.  All that is asked of us is that we be open to the Spirit and that we allow that Spirit to find a dwelling place in us.  And we do this so that we might bear much fruit . . . fruit that will remain.


Isaiah 33: A Prophecy of Deliverance

Thursday, May 18, 2017

There is good news to celebrate . . . we are delivered from bondage.  We live in the Messianic age; the promised deliverer has arrived to live among us.   We are no longer chained.  We are not abandoned. We are not alone.

Yesterday’s Mass readings called us to reflect on the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep well . . . and whose sheep know him.  I know mine and mine know me.  Today we continue that theme.  The readings from Acts (Chapters 2 and 11) tell us the story of Peter who witnesses to the presence of the Resurrected Christ.  Psalms 23, 42 and 43 describe how God takes care of us and how we thirst after this Living God.  We learn how to shepherd well.   A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  We hear about false shepherds.  A hired man runs away and leaves his sheep because they are not his own . . . the sheep scatter and run . . . the wolf catches them. 

In today’s Noontime reading, Isaiah describes for us what happens when the true shepherd arrives to call his sheep back to the fold.  Those who attacked and scattered the innocent sheep are now themselves assaulted.  The spoils of the conflict disappear in the jaws of the locusts; they are gathered up like the crops taken up by caterpillars.  Just when the land is deserted and hushed, just when treaties are broken and fire devours the land . . . this is when deliverance happens.  The counters of treasures, the insolent, the corrupt, all of these will be gone while those faithful who have been scattered will now live on the heights.  Their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks; their food will be supplied, their water assured.  And Christ’s Rock, Peter, witnesses today, telling those gathered to listen to his story of how a vision came to him with an assignment as God’s Shepherd.  I was at prayer when in a trance I had a vision . . . The Spirit told me to accompany three men without discriminating against them.  Peter goes on to explain how God has called him to Shepherd the gentiles along with the Jewish people who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

And so today we pray.

Good and faithful God,

You have promised that you will not abandon us . . . teach us how to not abandon others.

You have brought us the gift of hope and renewal . . . teach us to be open to the restoration you have in mind for us.

You have promised us peace and prosperity . . . teach us how to live in peace despite the turmoil we cause.

You have been the Good Shepherd . . . never abandoning us . . . never betraying us . . . teach us to live in fidelity to you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

A Favorite from May 16, 2011.


Psalm 13:3: Singing to God

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When we know that we are safe in the refuge of God’s power, do we praise God enough?

I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
    and find myself safe and saved. (GNT)

When we know that we have a healing shelter in God’s hope, do we acclaim God enough?

Adonai is my Rock, my fortress and deliverer,
my God, my Rock, in whom I find shelter,
my shield, the power that saves me,
my stronghold. (CJB)

When we know that God pardons our errors, do we celebrate God enough?

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    so I shall be saved from my enemies. (NRSV)

When we know that God looks for the abandoned and lost, do we tell the world of God’s goodness enough?

I call to the Lord,
    and he saves me from my enemies.
Praise the Lord! (GNT)

When we know that God loves us beyond all imaginings, do we rejoice God’s presence enough?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we have the opportunity to sing joyfully in God’s presence, power and love.


Sirach 34:16: Our Rock of Safety

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We have spent time with Peter to explore the concept of salvific suffering. We have thought again about the good shepherds who lead us and who serve as our places of refuge, our rocks of safety. In the wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach, we know that the world will send us in search of shelters so that we might rest, sanctuaries so that we might heal and recover from the anguish of the world.

The Lord watches over those who love him; he is their strong protection and firm support. He shelters them from the heat, shades them from the noonday sun, and keeps them from stumbling and falling. (GNT)

Standing in awe of the Lord’s goodness and mercy, we find lodging under of the shadow of the rock.

Whoever fear the Lord are afraid of nothing
    and are never discouraged, for he is their hope. (NABRE)

Planting ourselves in the foundation of God’s wisdom and grace, we seek security in the hope of God’s patience.

Those who fear the Lord will not be timid,
    or play the coward, for he is their hope. (NRSV)

Growing in the goodness of God’s love, we remain always in the power of God’s fidelity.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him,
    a mighty protection and strong support,
a shelter from the hot wind and a shade from noonday sun,
    a guard against stumbling and a defense against falling. (RSVCE)

A defense against the elements, a harbor in the storms of life, an open heart for the downcast, respite for the discouraged. God fulfills our needs as we move through life. God brings blossoms to the deserts as we pause to re-nourish and restore. God saves. God heals. God transforms. There is no greater rock than this rock of God’s safety.

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we discover the depth and breadth, the height and width of God’s infinite love and compassion.

We find images of some of the world’s most beautiful mountains when we click on the image above.

To further explore God’s profound love for us, enter the word rock into the blog search bar and explore. 

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