Archive for July, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Anna and Jesus

Anna and Jesus

Luke 2:36-38

Never Forsaken

There was also a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until the age of eighty-four.  She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Simeon is not the only holy voice who recognizes the Messiah in the infant Jesus.  Simeon and Anna are “Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new”.  (Mays 932)  Yet despite the celebration of the moment there is a recognition of the suffering that will also take place.

God says: I do not want to dampen your joy or bring you sorrow.  I send Anna because I know that in your journey pain will always accompany rejoicing; and I want Anna to remind you that even when you believe I have duped you . . . you will have consolation.  I will never abandon you even though the harsh times may cause you to think that I will not return.  I will never leave you even though you may believe I have.  I want you  to know that I need not return to you . . . for I  have never left.  I am with you always. 

Anna’s appearance after the words of Simeon remind us that “Jerusalem will reject [Jesus] and will instead follow a way that will lead to disaster (19:41-44).  They will seem forsaken by God, but Anna is a reminder that the disaster is not God’s last word: Jesus remains for Jerusalem a sign of hope”. (Barton 930)

Enter the word hope into the blog search bar and explore other reflections that remind us of God’s constant presence in his precious gift of Jesus to the world.

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 930. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Aert de Gelder: Simeon's Song of Praise

Aert de Gelder: Simeon’s Song of Praise

Luke 2:29-32


My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations.

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Canticle of Simeon is sung as part of Compline or Night Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.  For the story of Simeon, read Luke 2:22-35.

God says: Simeon is a faithful servant who waited patiently for the fulfillment of my promise that he would see the messiah before death came to him.  Just as Mary and Joseph were presenting the child, Jesus, in the Temple, this loyal servant saw in this family what I see, a trinity of hope, love and faith, promise, mercy and constancy.  Simeon also saw that the lives of these three people would be full of deep sorrow and great joy.  Simeon spoke words that I hear in waves from the faithful as they prepare to retire for the night.  Join yourself with them as you prepare for bed.  It is such a short prayer that it will not tax you.  Turn away from the cares of the world for a brief time and pray these verses.  You sleep ever so much better for having joined Simeon to visit with me.

Another faithful servant waited patiently for the appearance of God Among Us.  Tomorrow, the story of Anna . . .

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Mary's greatness quoteLuke 1:46-55


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. 

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Magnificat is sung as part of Vespers, or Evening Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.

God says: Imagine what I hear when so many voices are raised to me each evening with these words of Mary.  It is most pleasing to hear the babel of your many languages and even more pleasing to hear the petitions you lift up to me as you pray.  Do not worry if you find that the details of your life call you away at the appointed Evensong.  As best you can, pause for a moment to remember me and our Mother Mary who bravely stepped forward so that I might come to live among you.  Just say the word “Magnificat” with deep intention before you move into your evening.  I will unite your word with the other prayers that fly to me. Remember always how much Mary loves you as the sisters and brothers of Jesus.  And remember always that I also love you.

These words of Mary express the hope of all.  Let us spend a few moments of our precious time to unite ourselves with her and those millions of others who lift these verses to God each day as the evening closes in.

To read more about Mary’s own Prayer by Fr. John A. Harden, S.J., go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7340

To visit with a homily about this prayer by Msgr. Charles Pope and to reflect on an image of Elizabeth greeting Mary, go to: http://blog.adw.org/2010/12/the-magnificat-is-a-bold-prayer/

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Luke 1:67-79


In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours this Canticle of Zechariah is sung as part of Lauds, or Morning Prayer or Prime, and although the verses are intoned by Zechariah on the birth of his son John the Baptist, they prophesy the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Light of the World. Commentary tells us that their origin may have been an early Jewish Christian hymn that Luke adapted for his story. (Senior cf. 100) Today we examine these verses to see how we might bring full voice to our thanksgiving that God is not a remote and distant deity who merely observes the events that surround our lives, but a merciful and loving parent who chooses to live and move among us.

Zechariah begins by praising God for releasing us from all that binds and for delivering us from our enemies the prophets have promised.  He reminds us of the covenant we have with God and all that it promises, and then he urges his child, John, to fulfill his role as herald of the Word.  Describing the coming Messiah as the dawn from on high, Zechariah recalls for us the purpose of this light for the world: to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

In our world of immediate satisfaction and quick fulfillment, it is difficult to find our place in God’s plan that unfolds through the millennia to unite billions of souls, and it is both fitting and helpful that we rise each morning to intone these words of Zechariah as part of our morning prayer.  When we pray the Benedictus we unite ourselves with all the faithful who greet each day with these same words of thanksgiving, remembrance and promise.  So let us give thanks.  Let us remember God’s promises.  And let us walk with our God in the way of peace.

When we look at the entire first Chapter of Luke we discover how God prepares the faithful for the coming of Emmanuel, the incarnation of God’s Word Among Us, Jesus the Christ.  We also understand more fully how carefully God’s heart and hand entwine with each precious life.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.100. Print.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

mary-and-elizabeth[1]Luke 1

The Encounter

In the first chapter of Luke we witness a series of encounters: the immaculate as she encounters the one who is in the presence of God, two cousins carrying new life, two cousins as yet unborn, and the quiet drama of God’s word coming to live among God’s people.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

We plan to meet friends for lunch.  We arrange our lives to gather for an important occasion.  We enter dates on calendars and electronic schedulers.  We commit to union with others.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We are surprised when we meet a friend from days lived long past.  We chance upon a relative we have not seen since a funeral years ago.  We find ourselves waiting in queue with a former colleague we have not thought of in the years since we shared a workplace.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We bump into strangers in our daily interactions.  We exchange currency and salutations with people we barely perceive.  We pump gas and load purchases next to people we may never see again.  We rent vacation apartments and share cups and plates with hundreds whom we will never meet. We travel in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis and brush against thousands or even millions.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We might imagine a life in which we anticipate joy as we meet new people and encounter new ways of thinking.  We might picture a life in which conflicts are expressed openly with respect rather than obliquely with silent aggression.  We might read Luke 1 and see a girl who steps into danger, fully knowing and fully accepting the challenge that lies before her . . . saying with full and open heart, My soul magnifies the Lord.

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

Prophet and Redeemer meet before the world is aware of their existence.

Two women clasp one another as they kiss cheeks.

A harbinger arrives, announcing good news that we often choose to disbelieve.

God comes to earth to walk among his people.

Trust in God.  Hope with God.  Love for God.

Believing that the impossible might be made possible.

All of these encounters are revealed to us today.

All of these options stand before the people we read about today.

All of these possibilities lie beneath the encounters presented to us today.

Let us imagine a life in which each time we look up, we greet the other with warm trust, exuberant hope, and authentic love.  Let us picture a world in which we greet and listen to one another with genuine respect.  Let us see ourselves stepping forward honestly with hand extended in faithful friendship.  Let us imagine the possibilities that lie beneath our encounters, and let us pray . . .

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might believe them so.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 22, 2009.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

Psalm 105:18-19

A Prayer for Those Sent Ahead

They shackled his feet with chains; collared his neck in iron, until his prediction came to pass, and the word of God proved him true.

There are times when we foresee events and predict outcomes well beyond the horizon of our friends and colleagues.  At those times we are tagged with various labels: over-reacting, anxious, conspiratorial, hysterical, and fantastical.  When we find this branding difficult to manage we might turn to the story of Joseph and consider that we also have been sent ahead, and that we too must wait endlessly and patiently . . . until you prove us true.

God says: You have special eyes that see me in the marginalized and down-trodden.  You have a heart that finds me in all creatures and in all parts of my creation.  You have a mind that understands cause and effect, action – or lack of action – and consequence.  Be patient with those who fail to see you as one of my prophets.  Show mercy to those whose fear overcomes their sense of my presence within.  Come to me with your worries and remember that I see and know all.  And pray with me as you travel beyond the narrow minds of those who do not see as well as you do.

There is nothing more difficult than being maligned unjustly and wrongly yet this is often the work of those who are sent ahead.  It is essential for us to remain in constant contact with God.  And it is essential that we pray . . .

Dear God, I see the work before me and still I falter.  I see the slender path that leads me safely to you and still I feel blind.  I see the light of your truth and still I doubt.  Support me when I am weak.  Call me when I lose my way.  Keep me always in your loving heart as I struggle with being sent ahead for you.  Amen.

For a reflection about Joseph and his willingness to serve God, see the Noontimes posting for February 14, 2012 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/02/14/willingness/

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Joseph's Dream

Joseph’s Dream

Genesis 45:5

Sent Ahead

Do not be distressed and so not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.

Amazingly, Joseph is able to forgive his brothers who years before had sold him – the favored son – into slavery.  His fidelity to God brings him solace and rescue.  His hope in God brings him salvation and healing.  His love of God brings him humility and transformation.

God says: We can see how difficult life was for my servant Joseph yet Joseph continued to trust me even as his blessed and happy life became one of hardship and confusion.  Joseph had always been marked as special and his brothers plotted first to kill him out of their envy.  Later they sold him to a passing caravan and lied to their father Jacob about what had taken place.  For years their sorrow festered.  Not so with Joseph.  Despite the turmoil Joseph kept his eye on me.  Despite the frustration Joseph spoke with me.  Despite the fear Joseph trusted in me.  It was for these reasons that Joseph was able to fulfill the dream I placed in him: he was willing to go ahead of the Hebrew nation so that many might be saved.

God brings good out of all harm.  We need not waste ourselves with worry and anxiety.  Each of us has a place in God’s plan of salvation.  We only need be open to the outrageous possibility of God’s dream for us.

To better understand Joseph’s fidelity in the face of crisis and how each of us may be sent ahead, read the story of Joseph and His Brothers in Genesis Chapters 37 to 50.

For a modern-day lesson in handling our resentment and envy, click on the image above or go to: http://ubdavid.org/advanced/practical/practical-christian_17.html

For a reflection and a prayer on this story of Truth Revealed, and to understand what we might learn about discipleship, see the May 5 and 6, 2013 postings on this blog.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The-least-of-things-with-a-meaning-is-worth-more-in-life-than-the-greatest-of-things-without-it.[1]Job 8:21

At First Glance

Once more God will fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with rejoicing.

In a world that yearns for the best, the most, the highest, the tallest, the greatest in all things, we lose sight of the tiny and what appears to be unimportant.  God’s plan always works through inversion; God transforms our suffering and brings forth joy; God calls the smallest of us for the greatest of tasks.  We have the choice to choose the false life of bigness or the eternal life of the seemingly insignificant.

God says: Do you not see the many little miracles in which you take part with me each day?  I know. The same blindness overcame the first apostles until I sent them out in twos to heal and cure.  They, like you, are still surprised when I invite them to join me in my Way of Love.  But you see that I must send you into the world so that you will fully experience my presence in the healing you do each day.  My loyal servant Job was seen as a sinner by his friends . . . and they erred in their thinking.  Job’s loyalty and unwavering fidelity kept him bound to me.  His family, friends and foes saw only pain where Job saw possibility.  Job remained in the world and allowed me to bring him to his fullness.  My goodness calls forth laughter from your tears.  Your constancy calls forth rejoicing from your sorrow.  You must go out as I have asked . . . and you must trust me.

This is a difficult lesson to learn and it requires much trust.  When we have the time to read Job’s entire story we see that God does indeed abide with the little and the small.  We will see that God cares for the marginalized and the dispossessed.  God brings laughter and rejoicing to those who experience anxiety and pain.  What appears at first glance to be insignificant is – in the scope of eternity – the greatest of all.

For more reflections, enter the word inversion in the blog search bar and explore.

For more Carl Jung quotes, click on the image above or go to: http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Carl_Jung or http://www.lushquotes.com/quote/carl-jung_MTI1OTYy.html

information on the life and work of the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung, go to: http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/jung.htm

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