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Isaiah 11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XII

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gregory Perillo: Peaceable Kingdom - Nations at Rest

Gregory Perillo: Peaceable Kingdom – Nations at Rest

Can we possibly imagine . . . ?

Wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, calves and lions . . . and a child shall lead them.

Cattle and bears, lions and oxen, the infant plays at the lair of the asp . . . and a child shall lay his hand on the adder.  

Pain and destruction shall fall away. The earth is full of knowledge. The faithful remnant recovers.

The outcasts are gathered. The dispersed come from the four corners of the earth.  

Jealousy departs, hostility is cut off. God’s Word has come to inhabit the world.

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Do we expect an apocalyptic judging of those who are not “us” and “we”? Or do we await the gentle yet firm turning of all to the kingdom that Isaiah foretells and Jesus embodies? Our behavior each day is an indication to ourselves and to the world of our relationship with God, of our faith in the past, our hope for the future, and our love for the conversion of the present. Moving forward in reconciliation, we recognize Christ in the “other” who walks with us. And we invite the Spirit to remain with us always as we all come together in God’s peaceable kingdom of inversion.

Compare varying versions of these verses by using the scripture link for a view of God’s Kingdom.

For a reprise of The Noontimes reflection on Isaiah 11, visit the On that day . . . post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/12/10/isaiah-11-on-that-day/ 

Click on the Hicks image or visit http://poulwebb.blogspot.com/2013/08/edward-hicks-part-2.html for an interesting comparison of Hicks’ images of the kingdom. 


Luke 1:46-55: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XI

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Today, when thousands of women converge on the U.S. capital, we explore Mary’s Prayer. A link for more information on the gathering follows this post. 

In days of political and civil turmoil, Mary the Mother of God reminds us how to pray

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

In times of family strife and confusion, Mary the Mother of God gives us words we might repeat.

For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

In the hour when friends become enemies and colleagues become strangers, Mary the Mother of God shows us the mind of God.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is more loving than we can imagine, more patient and compassionate than all of humanity gathered together.

The LORD has mercy on those who love God in every generation.

magnificatMary the Mother of God tells us that we have nothing to fear.

The LORD has shown the strength of God’s arm.

Mary the Mother of God asks us to put aside our pride to take up love.

God has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Mary the Mother of God shows us that power and might are as nothing.

The LORD has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

Mary the Mother of God tells us that God alone sustains for an eternity.

The LORD has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich God has sent away empty.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is persistent, God is faithful, and God is hope.

The LORD has come to the rescue of God’s servant, for God has remembered the promise of mercy, the promise made to Abraham and his children forever.

madona-morenaMary the Mother of God reminds us how to enter into and act in the world. Mary calls us to goodness, endurance, and love. In times, days, and hours when the world fails us, we might return to Mary’s MAGNIFICAT to amplify our love of God as we pray with her these words.

When we explore varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the healing power of Mary’s joy and thanksgiving.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church’s great communal prayer, the MAGNIFICAT is part of Vespers, or Evensong. For more information on this prayer and how it parallel’s the prayer of Hannah, visit: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditation-on-the-magnificat

For more on the Liturgy of the Hours and how each of us might join our voices with millions of others by pausing briefly a few times a day, visit The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

For more on Raphael’s image of the Madonna and Child, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/raphaels_madonna_della_sedia_1513-14 

Women gather in Washington, D.C. in solidarity for the protection of their rights, safety, health, and families, they recognize that vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of their country. https://www.womensmarch.com/ and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/womens-march.html?_r=0


Lamentations 1:14-22: The Inverted Kingdom – Part X

Friday, January 20, 2017

Amy Bradley: Out of Darkness Came Light

Amy Bradley: Out of Darkness Came Light

Give Heed

This Favorite was written during Eastertide on May 3, 2011. We post it today as a reflection on Christ’s inverted transformation of the world, as an offering of peace in a time of trouble. 

These are such sad verses; the images of the inconsolable one suffering intensely are so very difficult to sit with.  We want to rush past them as we sometimes rush past those who are in pain or those who bear the visible scars of their suffering.  Yet this is where Christ dwells, with the dispossessed, the broken, and those in the captivity of their addictions.  We want our world to be a beautiful and ordered place.  We want happy endings and bright, new beginnings.  We want perfection and comfort. The odd thing is . . . this is what we have and we look quickly away from it because it comes to us through the cross of pain and suffering.  We do not want to be the least discomfited.  We want all things in neat rows and nice packages.  Life is not as tidy as we wish.   And yet it is . . .

When we allow the pain to convert us, as it will, when we allow God’s hands to heal us, as they will, we see that life is about reversal, inversion, irony and paradox.  What appears to be lost is actually found; what we think has gone yet resides within.

Give heed to my groaning . . . 

Matthew 19:30: Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

There is no one to console me . . .

Psalm 126:5: Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. 

All my enemies rejoice at my misfortune . . .

Psalm 126:6: Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundles of sheaves. 

My groans are many, I am sick at heart . . .

We are called today to give heed to the message of lamentations, to our own cries and to the cries of the bereft.  We are called to take courage in the face of opposition, to the obstacles we put in front of ourselves and to those placed there by others.  We are called to give heed to the sadness we experience ourselves and to the sadness we see in others . . . for all lamentation will be transformed into happiness.  Of this we can be certain, for this is the Easter message delivered by Christ.

Psalm 30:11-12: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

These are such beautiful verses; the images of a God so loving that all is forgiven, all are blessed. They are so wonderful to sit with.  We want to rush toward them as we rush toward the Living God.


Psalm 17: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IX

Thursday, January 19, 2017seeking_refuge_pic

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 29, 2009.

Refuge in the Temple

If we go to an Internet search engine and type in the key words “seek refuge in a church,” we may be amazed to see how many articles pop up instantly from places around the globe.  Today is the feast day of Thomas Becket, an early British Archbishop murdered in the cathedral of Canterbury.  Through ages, humans seek physical, emotional and spiritual shelter in a structure built by human hands.  Today’s psalm, commentary informs us, is the lament of an individual unjustly attacked who has taken refuge in a temple.  “Confident of being found innocent, the psalmist cries out for God’s just judgment (1-5) and requests divine help against enemies (6-9a).  Those ravenous lions (9b-12) should be punished (13-14).  The psalm ends with a serene statement of praise (15)”.  (Senior 657)

I call upon you; answer me, O God.  Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer.

B. Child: Thomas becket

B. Child: Thomas Becket

We might seek refuge from our own terrors by looking inward to that place in which Christ dwells in each of us, by searching for and finding that quiet temple within, by being still so that we might hear the words of comfort that will settle our fears.

Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer. 

jean-vanier

Jean Vanier

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day by Jean Vanier who sees Christ identify with the poor when he is born into the world to Mary and Joseph: How can God who is all powerful, all beautiful, and all glorious become so powerless, so little so weak?  The logic of love is different from the logic of reason and power.  When you love someone, you use her language to be close to her.  When you love a child, you speak and play with him as a child.  That is how God relates to us.  God becomes little so that we will not be frightened of him, so that we can enter into a heart-to-heart relationship of love and communion. 

The logic of the world tells us to fight, to beat others out, to be the first, the best, or the brightest.  Our culture rarely tells us to take a deep breath and think before we buy, speak, or accuse.

My ravenous enemies press upon me; they close their hearts, fill their mouths with proud roaring. 

The logic of love tells us to act for others who are marginalized, to witness, and to take refuge in the temple when we are persecuted.  Then we will be filled with God’s presence so that we might better face the challenges before us.

When I awake, let me be filled with your presence. 

When we are troubled, when we are accused, when we are anxious in any way, we might turn to the temple for refuge.  There we will find a child who embodies the inversion of all that assails us.  It will be this child who will show us the way to serenity amid turmoil.  It will be this one who will bind up our wounds.  It will be this one who fills us with a presence that is more powerful . . . and more loving . . . than any other we can ever know.

So let us begin the new year by packing up our woes, and taking refuge in the temple of God’s vulnerable love.

For more on Thomas Becket, visit the BBC link at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/becket_thomas.shtml

For more on Jean Vanier, visit: http://www.jean-vanier.org/en/home or listen to the interview with Krista Tippet of On Being at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.12 (2009). Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 657. Print.   


Matthew 5:38-48: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VIII

Wednesday, January 18, 2017rest-in-christ-150x150

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 4, 2009.

The Presence

Today’s reading gives us the core of Jesus’ message: Resist evil and take no revenge; love our enemies . . . intercede for those who do us harm.  This is a difficult teaching, a complex lesson that unfolds to us as we live each day.  When we unwrap the bundle of fear and anxiety we feel, we begin to understand pain and suffering and because we might be consumed by it, we want to step away . . . but we cannot. We must open ourselves to transformation by our willingness to be vulnerable just as Jesus does.

It struck me this morning as Mass began that of course God comes to us an infant needing our care and attention.  He submits himself to our ministrations – no matter how adequate or inadequate – and by this example he shows us how we too, are to live.  And if we allow him to subsume our entire being, we will realize that this presence of Christ in us is The Presence we continually seek.

From this morning’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT:  The lowly will find joy and the pure rejoice.  Why?  Because of a Presence that even a blind man can sense . . . because it is the Presence we have been waiting for all our life.

Because Christ brings us a message of inversion, he comes to us as an extraordinarily powerful sovereign and creator in the form of a human infant.  This is a revolutionary idea.  It is an existence that challenges all that has gone before.  It is in this humble form that Jesus first draws us in . . . to later invite us to intimacy with him.

It is this intimacy, this presence, that we know we are missing – and that we try to fill with immediate pleasure and satisfaction.

It is this communion, this presence, that we constantly seek in all of the places that we will not find in the emptiness of success, money and power.

It is this love, this presence, that manifests itself – and that asks us to manifest our own selves – by praying and by acting on behalf of our enemies.

I have read the prophet Isaiah many times and yet this morning as I read out the first reading at Mass, I was struck by this verse (29:24):  And those who err in spirit will acquire understanding, and those who find fault will receive instruction.  Learning about Christ and learning how to live in Christ is a continual process into which we are always welcome to enter . . . at any time . . . in any circumstance.  Even those of us who come late to the lesson, or those of us who come with unwilling heart will eventually arrive at accepting the message we do not want to hear . . . which is: We save ourselves by loosing ourselves to Christ; we fill ourselves by emptying ourselves of all that is worldly; and we find The Presence we have always been seeking when we rest and act in the love that is Christ.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 4 December 2009. Print.


1 Samuel 25: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VII

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Yesterday we spent time with David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail. Today we examine the life of Jesus and how or if it influences our own inverted lives.

Jesus comes to tell us that when we lose, we win, and when we win, we lose.  St. Paul reminds us that when we are weak, we are strong and when we are strong, we are weak.  Intellectually we might come to understand that when we die we live and we live we die, but it takes spiritual fortitude to live a life of inversion.  If we can stand back, let God operate, listen for God’s voice, we are able to cooperate with God.  As we pray, wait and communicate with God . . . we achieve God’s purpose in us.

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

We can take a lesson from Nabal, Abigail, David and Saul.  We see different courses of action open to us in the lives of these four people.  And if we are honest, we can see that we have the same options. We can choose to reject God for the sake of self, or to abandon self in order to do God’s will.  As we see today, each of us is free to opt in or out of God’s plan.

So this is all that God asks of us: to act only in God’s interest rather than our own, to do only God’s justice rather than take revenge or hold grudges, to bring hope to the hopeless rather than succumb to despair, and to love as God loves . . . with compassion in place of leniency, with mercy and understanding instead of possessive control and manipulation.

So what does God’s inverted kingdom offer and how do these stories show us God’s hope in us? God wants only our best, our purest, our humblest selves. God wants only to share hope with us. And God wants us to be completely free to choose this marvelous plan of inversion and love.

 


1 Samuel 25: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VI

Monday, January 16, 2017

Ernst Josephson: David and Saul

Ernst Josephson: David and Saul

Today and tomorrow we remember this Favorite from October of 2007 as we explore how the story of David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail presage the coming of Christ’s inverted kingdom.

Reading closely, we see that Saul fears David because he sees how closely David follows God. This obedience threatens King Saul and even stirs envy. He knows that despite the favor God has shown him, he struggles to obey.

For his part, David refuses to kill Saul, even when he has been presented with opportunities to do so. David understands that God has anointed both men as present and future king. He also understands that God’s plan is the ultimate plan and, unlike Saul, David does not succumb to the sin of “pride of self”. David understands that his authority comes from God, not from his own cleverness, good works or talent.

This interplay infuriates Saul who attacks David and then ostracizes him.  In the ensuing battles, David repeatedly spares Saul’s life – which angers Saul even further.  We might see these same dynamics playing out in our own lives. If so, let us see where we stand and who we are. The loyal and vulnerable David or the troubled, envious Saul?

Joseph Schonmann: David and Abigail

Joseph Schonmann: David and Abigail

In today’s story, we read about Abigail, an intelligent, reverent, patient woman, married to an alcoholic. She does not succumb to the twisted world of co-dependence and she understands that she is powerless in the face of certain “givens” of ancient times. She has little influence in the affairs of her husband; yet she lives her invisible life in a visible way. She must take sustenance from her confidence in God, act in a way that does not enrage an already angry master, and she must address injustice as best she can. Throughout this ordeal, we see that she continues to rely on God.

We also see the loyalty of Abigail’s servants.  Knowing of the struggle between Saul and David, they realize that their entire household is naked against the band of David’s rebels. They are also keenly aware that their master is wealthy but a drunkard; and that his churlishness has placed them in a dangerous situation.  They go to Abigail who takes action in a calm, quiet and respectful manner.  She wins their safety, and then waits until the morning when her husband is sober to let him know what she has done . . . that she has saved them.  The hand of God acts to seal their safety as we see the results of Nabal’s courage.

As we reflect on these ancient tales and see the lessons of inversion – where the strong are weak and the weak are strong – and we anticipate their unfolding in the New Testament story of Jesus of Nazareth.

Tomorrow, the inversion that Jesus teaches.


Philippians 2:5-8: The Inverted Kingdom – Part V

Sunday, January 15, 2017inverted-kingdom

Jesus proposes that we set aside the accolades of life as we know it on earth; and this will be difficult to do because our desire for honor and fame, pleasure, power and wealth too often outweighs our willingness to surrender to God’s plan, to forego the hunger for control and celebrity. Today we remember a message from Paul that we have contemplated a number of times during our Noontime journey. We might wonder how we are to invert our lives. We might question how we are to give up all the world offers to take on the qualities of steadfastness, fidelity, meekness, willingness to mourn and to undergo hardship while we follow Christ Jesus on his Way.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. (NSRV)

This picture of the world is the inversion of the one we usually hold dear.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity. (MSG)

This view of the world is one we will want to explore.

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. He was equal with God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be held on to. He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God. He obeyed even when that caused his death—death on a cross. (ICB)

This view of the world shows us a leader who serves with humility and care.

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. (GNT)

This picture of the world invites us to newness through service and love.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand the call to live an inverted life.


Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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