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Archive for April, 2018


Matthew 11:30: Giving Away the Burden

Monday, April 30, 2018

Life is hard AND my yoke is easy. (Rohr 132-133)

As Richard Rohr points out, once we are able to hand our catastrophes to God, we enter into co-redemption with Christ. When we participate in the transformation of the world – even in the smallest of ways – we become an authentic part of the divine plan. We may not be able to clean plastic waste out of an entire river, but we can carry a cloth shopping bag for purchases that would otherwise come to us in plastic. We cannot end all violence, but we can ask questions of those who advocate for war and listen carefully to their voices. In a million small ways, we can lighten the darkness of the world. In a kaleidoscope of actions, we can bring comfort to the weary, healing to the sick, and justice to those on the margins.

“Hard and soft, difficult and easy, painful and ecstatic do not eliminate one another, but actually allow each other. They bow back and forth like dancers, although it is harder to bow to pain and to failure. You can bear the hardness of life and see through failure if your soul is resting in a wonderful and continuing sweetness and softness”. (Rohr 132-133)

When we practice taking the suffering with the joy in order to allow the joy to overcome, we unite in Christ. When we rehearse how we might reconcile more than we plot how we might avenge, we enter into the kingdom that God has in mind. When we exercise forgiveness more than we demand apologies, we begin to experience God’s Common Wonderful.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Today we practice giving away our burdens to Christ so that we might not only enter in the common wonderful, but also share this precious gift of God’s grace with others.


When we compare varying translations of this verse, we find that crises large and small become worries. When we practice the Common Wonderful, we find that our worries and anxieties melt away.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Images from: https://tjmcclelland.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/thousand-pound-boulder/ 

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1 John 1: The Duality of Joy

Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2018

Once we are able to experience the duality of God’s ways, God’s justice, mercy, and love, we will want to share the joy that overtakes us.

Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Our capacity to live in both this world and the next determines our capacity for joy in God’s duality. Richard Rohr, OFM, writes: Only the non-dual, contemplative mind can hold everything in its wholeness, including both death and resurrection. Rohr further explains that once we can step away from the them-us, black-white, either-or stance, we can better see that God and all of  God’s creation has a yes-and rather than a yes-but essence. In his excellent collection of meditations entitled, Rohr points out to us in daily reflections that: Life is hard AND “my yoke is easy,” you are not that important AND “your name is written in heaven,” your life is not about you AND you are about life, you can let go of control AND you can let God’s life flow in you, and you are going to die AND life never ends. Rohr gathers this wonderful collection of introspective considerations under the title of The Common Wonderful. To spend time with these reflections is to invite each of us into God’s wonderful duality in which “death and life are in an eternal embrace”. (Rohr 131-137)

National Catholic Reporter: Vigil after the Las Vegas, USA shooting – The Dos and Don’ts of Handling Compassion Fatigue

Our modern world brings us far too much information to process. We suffer from crisis fatigue and we struggle to sort our emotions as we interact with family, friends, colleagues and strangers. Our world seems smaller and the climate more erratic. Unless we grapple with God’s duality and come to terms with the demands our citizenship in God’s kingdom make on us, we will never fully accept the many gifts of joy God gives us.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

Today we reflect on the duality of God’s joy, we take in the wonder and mystery of this message, and we turn to one another as we witness to this most wonderful of God’s gifts.

When we compare other translations with The Message version of these verses, we begin to experience the overwhelming joy of God’s duality, and we will want to share this Easter joy with others.


Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Click on the image of the child to learn about finding paths to happiness, or visit: https://innerself.com/content/personal/happiness-and-self-help/self-help/9471-the-paths-to-joy-experiencing-more-joy-in-your-life.html 

Visit the Center for Contemplation and Action bookstore for more information about Rohr’s work. A SPRING WITH US and YES, AND are excellent resources. http://store.cac.org/ Also see, EVERYTHING BELONGS. 

See this article in THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER on the dos and don’ts as we struggle with compassion fatigue: https://www.ncronline.org/news/environment/feeling-crisis-fatigue-here-are-3-dos-and-3-donts

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1 Timothy 1: The Duality of Love

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Over the last week or so we have explored the dualities we find in creation and in God’s person of creator, redeemer and spirit. Today we explore our openness to infinite duality with this favorite from September 17, 2008.

Fidelity to the Message

Restrain false and useless teaching.  This is the message of the first chapter of 1 Timothy.  Do not nurture the thinking that does not contribute to love within the community.  By maintaining faith, we open the conduit through which God’s plan comes to us – we receive revelation through fidelity to God.

Among the list of false teachings we see the lifestyle of homosexuals criticized.  This thinking ought to sadden modern Christians who have the benefit of science to know that our sexual identity and our sexual behaviors are formed before birth.  In other words, we have before us the scientifically proven facts that we cannot change our sexual orientation any more than we can our eye color.  Of course, in this ancient culture of Timothy, which prized reproduction as an assurance of the survival of the human race, homosexual behavior would be looked upon as a waste of creation, an aberrant perspective, a troubling and even insidious lifestyle.  Today we know better.

Despite what seems to be a difference in opinion, the key to understanding God’s plan lies in this opening chapter of 1 Timothy: we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully his message Anything that gets in the way of a full and open understanding must be jettisoned, i.e.; the belief that our sexual determination is an emotion or a choice.  Life is a process, and we occupy a tiny speck on this spectrum of coming to the fullness of God’s message.  The evolution of our species is a scientific tenet, proven and documented.  We know with certainty that twenty first century humankind has changed in form and chemistry from our earliest ancestors.  When we think of God’s plan, we understand that we are finite in our present form; we do not have the capacity to know all that has gone before and all that will follow.  When we pause to reflect, we might begin to understand our capacity, or incapacity, to enter into the intricacies of the infinite.  The more we open our minds to Christ, the more we will understand the complexity of God’s message, or in other words, we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message

The key to growth in the Spirit is this, as we have been told in this chapter: fidelity brings about understanding.  The more we cleave to the Law of Love, the more we will understand that our comprehension of that law must grow and develop.  We return to the original thought: we must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message.  Does the message change?  No, but our human capacity to understand the divine morphs and grows as we ourselves grow, both as individuals and as a community.

The letters to Timothy and Titus present a manual on the formation and maintenance of a Christian community; but we must place these teachings within the body of science we have available to us today.  And we must move forward and away from the false teachings to which we may want to cling for comfort.  We must remain faithful to God in order to understand fully God’s message. . . and we must remain in God so that God’s message comes to us through, and of and in God. 


Image from: http://regeneratemagazine.com/2016/12/rekindled-love/

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Matthew 25:1-13: The Duality of Mercy

Friday, April 27, 2018

Phoebe Traquair: The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Some time ago, I heard a lecture concerning the difference between mercy and leniency that piqued my interest since the point of the lecture was that God uses tough love. God is always ready to forgive; God is always abiding. But we benefit most from this gift of loving kindness when we move toward redemption. We blossom with newness when we make reparations. We acknowledge God’s overarching authority when we agree to suffer well in God’s duality of mercy.

God is all merciful and compassionate, and God wants us to recognize and then work on our flaws. If we continually run away from our mistakes rather than fixing them, we reject the reason for our existence. When we refuse to repair the damage we have done, we avoid blooming into the potential God engendered in us at our inception. When we blame family, friends, colleagues and systems for our own unrepaired flaws, we miss the opportunity God wants for us to learn about the duality of mercy, mercy laced with a justice that saves even the most lost of souls.

As a child, I puzzled over the parable of The Ten Virgins, asking my mother why the five wise girls did not share lamp oil with others as we were taught to do in our large family. With wisdom-tinged sadness, Mother told me we usually learn life’s hardest lessons with the biggest bumps, and that, ultimately, it was God who understood our suffering best. Being locked out of the feast seemed an injustice to me, and yet as I grew I better understood the intelligence of Mother’s words. We learn most when we suffer. We learn deepest when we apologize. I began to picture God the party-giver flinging open the door to the feast to right a wrong, to invite the five foolish girls to enter after all. And perhaps this is what God does. But first, I now imagine as an adult, God insists that the five who scoffed at the prudent wisdom of those who prepared well must admit to their own selfishness in going to the feast unprepared. First, I now see as an adult, God moves us to look inward to see what needs repairing rather than outward to see whom we might blame. First, God says to them gently yet firmly, you must learn to trim the wick of your lamp. You must learn to conserve the resources I lend to you. First, you must open your heart to the duality of mercy.

Our roots go deeper and our branches reach higher when we examine ourselves with God’s merciful justice. Our lives have more meaning and our sharing is more authentic when we learn the lessons taught by God’s unprejudiced compassion. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way, I still hear Mother saying. Yet the closed door at the feast feels so final and absolute, and so I continue to imagine another ending in which the door opens, the five apologize and amend their egocentric and imprudent ways, and the master invites everyone in to join in the feast.

Like the five foolish virgins, we must look to ourselves and make changes. Like the five wise virgins, we must continue in our prudence and wisdom despite the pressures of life. Like the many faithful seated at the Kingdom’s table, we must learn the language of God’s merciful justice in order to fully take part in the feast.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Ten_Virgins

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Isaiah 26:8-12: The Duality of Justice

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Like the Old Testament psalmists, we ask God to avenge the wrongs done to us. Like the New Testament followers of Christ, we ask God to forgive our enemies who know not what they do. This dichotomy of justice reflects God’s merciful nature. It is, at the same time, a challenge we hope to meet.

On the cross that serves as the mechanism of his human death, Jesus requests that God the Creator forgive those who kill him, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)

In his ghastly death by stoning, Stephen uses a last breath to intercede for his attackers saying, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. (Acts 7:60)

These are challenging actions to imitate; this state of mind asks of us an incredibly high level of persistence, patience and fidelity to God’s ways. We doubt that we can rise to this demanding witness to God’s great love, and so we ask . . . How do we bridge the gap between God’s way and our own?

Carlo Crivelli: Saint Stephen

When doubt rises within, we rely on the gift of faith planted in us at our inception. When we relax into God’s plan, this gift flourishes in such a way that we receive much more than we give.

When desperation erodes the sense of peace and good will we have nurtured, we trust the gift of hope in God’s promises to us. When we rest in the memories of God’s power to move in our lives, anxiety crumbles, worry dissolves.

When our circumstances point to all that is wrong with the world, we act in the gift of God’s love as demonstrated in the many small miracles that shower our lives like the gentle rain after a dry season. When we put aside our desire for revenge, our anger subsides. When we determine to address our enemies with mercy, our hope for destruction of those who oppose us ebbs away. When we make the decision to meet our enemies with prudent love and faith-filled awe of the Lord, we find that we are suddenly open to the possibility that the duality we see in God’s justice will bring about the transformation of the world.


To learn more about Saint Stephen, click on the image above or visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen and https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-stephen/

Images from: http://ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/mercy-without-justice-mother-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-cruelty and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen

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Isaiah 55:8-9: A Duality of Ways

Parallel paths create a generous, merciful way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As God’s creation, we reflect God’s image in a kaleidoscope of diversity. In an enormous mosaic, we compose a wonderfully diverse creator.

“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
    and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. (GNT)

As sisters and brothers of Christ, the Spirit calls us to unity in our wonderful variety. Despite the difficulty of the task, we must find a way to reconcile, to pardon, to accept forgiveness, and to remain open to transformation.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NRSV)

God says: Just as it is difficult for you to understand my deep generosity with all of creation, it is difficult for you to comprehend my plan and my way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (CJB)

God says: Just as it is wonderful for you to revel in my presence, it is wonderful to live in your way even as you live in mine.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think. (MSG)

God says: Rather than suffer as you work to follow in my way, allow the rain in your life to water the place where you are planted. Let my sustain presence work at growing the blossoms that wait within you. Ask the good seed I have planted in you to be harvest for the poor, the broken-hearted, and the hungry.  

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Verses 10-11 MSG)

God says: Yes, my ways are not your ways but my essence is also yours. My feet, my hands, my lips and my ears are yours as well. My mind is yours. My heart is yours. My very being resides in you, waning in times of drought, flourishing in times of bounty. There is nothing you can do to fully deny me. There is nowhere you can go to hide from me. Each day when you rise, ask me to join me in the harvest of the day. I am already there. Each noontime when you pause in your busy day, invite me to sit with you. I am already there. Each evening when you retire, rest in me as I rest in you. Yes, I am already there. Although there is a duality in our ways, we walk together always. You are not empty-handed, for I am in your hands. Remember this always.

Tomorrow, the duality of justice.


When we compare varying versions of these verses, we open ourselves to the duality of our ways and God’s.

Image from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/parallel-paths.jpg

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Wisdom 3: Duality in Fire

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As we continue to spend time reflecting on our duality, we revisit the theme of trial and endurance; we ask and we pray . . . from whence comes the strength, courage, and clarity we need to discern Jesus’ Way through the fires of life?

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 29, 2010.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality we may undervalue in our culture that relies heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self-esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism; and self-flagellation is not a healthy tool for us to use when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience resulting from contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show, or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered to us today so that we might examine our motivations. In this way we discern the origin of our actions to discover if they are worthy of God’s love for us. Do we sacrifice for self? Or do we sacrifice for God?

Remembering that God does not expect perfection in all we do, we lift up our lives as sparks that fly in the dark night. Remembering that God asks us to be perfect in our perseverance through trials in love, we raise up our hearts like sparks that fly through the stubble of the winnowed field. Remembering that God asks us to remain constant in our search for truth, we rise with the flame of God’s love in us.

In the duality of fire that destroys when it goes beyond reasonable limits yet sustains when it brings light and nourishment to cold darkness, we rest in the wisdom of God.


To reflect more on the duality of fire, enter the word Sparks in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.nhfaithfusion.com/2014/12/cultivating-warm-heart-creates-meaningful-life/ 

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John 14:27: The Gift of Duality

Monday, April 23, 2018

Jesus fully understands the difficulty we face as we struggle to live in two opposing worlds. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that great love can rise out of great hatred.

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. (GNT)

Jesus fully understands the pain we experience as we strive to live up to the example he sets. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that perfection can rise out of imperfection.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (NRSV)

Jesus fully understands the fog of our confusion as we work to make sense of the dichotomy of our existence. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that divinity can rise out of humanity.

What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives. Don’t let yourselves be upset or frightened. (CJB)

Jesus wants to heal our suffering, to bring us consolation, to animate hope and engender fidelity. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that our unity with Christ comes through our willingness to accept the paradox of God’s enormous love for each of us. 

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (MSG)

Jesus wants to give us the gift of  his peace, the gift that is everlasting, the gift that holds us together both personally and communally, the gift that rises from knowing and accepting our duality. Let us open our hearts and minds to this greatest of gifts.

Tomorrow, duality in fire.


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we discover the gift of exploring our duality. 

Images are from: https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/peace-i-leave-with-you/ and http://fscaston.org/events/sit-in-the-heart-of-god-and-listen/heart-of-god-2-2/

For another reflection on this citation, visit the He Is In You post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/08/22/he-is-in-you/

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Matthew 7:13-28: A Prayer in Duality

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: Jesus Walks on Water

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2018

Given that Jesus asks us to be in the world with him, acting as his witnesses and ministers, but not of this world, we reflect on the evidence of duality that surrounds us. In the last two days, we examined elements of duality we find in the Hispanic culture, and we have opened ourselves to an invitation to share our own examples of duality. As we consider that apparent contradictions that color and shape our lives, we meditate on the words of Jesus, Paul and John.

We see that great love can rise out of great hatred.

I have given [those you gave me] your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world — just as I myself do not belong to the world. I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. (John 17:14-15)

We see that perfection can rise out of imperfection.

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. (Romans 12:2)

We see that divinity can rise out of humanity.

Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

And so we pray.

James Tissot: Christ Walks on the Sea of Galilee

Divine yet human Jesus, you guide us like an older brother, asking us to be like little children in the hands of the Creator.

Powerful yet gentle God, you protect us like a devoted, merciful father, guarding your little ones against the cataclysms that haunt a beautiful world.

Challenging yet heartening Spirit, you remain with your little ones like a loving mother, healing our wounds, nurturing and sustaining our hope.

Good and gracious God, lead us, protect us, and transform us as we navigate the turbulent waters of a world that presents us with so much destruction together with so much promise.

Just and merciful God, reconcile us, open us, and teach us how to straddle two worlds, how to be divine and human, just and merciful, honest and loving.

Giving and receiving God, embolden us, test us, and become one with us as we live in duality, as we remain in your world to build your kingdom with you.

Amen.

Fear and trust, doubt and faith, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine. We reflect on the duality of our existence as we listen to the song OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJJJkiRukY&list=RDFBJJJkiRukY&t=207 

Tomorrow, the gift of duality.


What does it mean to be in the world but not of it? Visit this site: https://412teens.org/qna/what-does-in-the-world-not-of-the-world-mean.php

Images from: http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2014/08/walking-on-water.html and https://www.pinterest.com/pin/67342956905003354/

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