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Archive for May, 2019


Daniel 5:1-4: Humility or Revenge
Friday, May 31, 2019

Pietro Dandini: The Banquet of Belshazzar

From the HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY, we find a comment that speaks to the horror any Jewish servant present in this scene must have felt when Belshazzar called for the gold and silver vessels taken from the Jerusalem temple to be used at his own banquet table.  The scene is set in vv. 1- 4, which introduce the bawdy Belshazzar, arrogant with his thousand lords, his wives, and his concubines.  To the horror of the readers, he orders his servants to bring out the sacred vessels stolen by Nebuchadnezzar, “his father”, from the Temple in Jerusalem; with him he and his lords toast the diverse idols of Babylon.  (Mays 628)

The feeling of revenge must have seized the Jews who had been carted off to serve in this pagan court.  The desire to strike back and to bring the enemy down must have been so strong as to be tangible.  Yet it is this prophecy, it is this vision of Daniel which predicts the coming of the Son of Man, the one who will turn things on their head and who will free forever, restore with justice, and heal with mercy and compassion.  Daniel foretells that the act of taking revenge will be replaced by the New Law of Love.  Love of friends . . . and of enemies.

How often does something happen to ourselves or to some one or some thing we love that we must struggle with these same feelings?  And what do we do when we wish to tear down what has raised up?  Do we confide in God and petition the destruction of those who do harm, or do we intercede on behalf of these perceived enemies?  Do we remember that we are all one?  Do we call to this renegade, maverick part of the whole to return to the sheepfold?  Do we ask God, the Blessed Mother and all the angels and saints to convert stony hearts, to bend stiff necks, to smooth rough tongues and calm shrill voices?  Do we ask for a conversion of those who would plot, steal, manipulate and destroy?  Do we humble ourselves and our own petty wishes and go in search of Christ’s lost sheep?


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 628. Print.

Adapted from a refelction written on May 17, 2012 .

Image from: http://www.kunst-fuer-alle.de/english/fine-art/artist/poster/pietro-dandini/17270/1/115631/the-banquet-of-belshazzar/index.htm

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John 17:20-21: Jesus Prays

Thursday, May 30, 2019

This feels so intimate when I read it that I feel as though I ought to tip toe quietly, backward out of the room, closing the door gently so that the snick of the bolt as it moves into the socket does not disturb Jesus as he prays to the father.  But I do not.  I remain and kneel, hoping that my tiny prayer might join with such a huge one.  And of course, it does.

God is wondrous.  God is good.  God is all there is.  There is nothing more.

We are in a world of mystery, with one bright light before us, sufficient for our proceeding forward through all difficulties.  Take away this light and we are utterly retched – we know not where we are, how we are sustained, what will become of us, and all that is dear to us, what we are to believe, and why we are in being.  But with we have all and abound. . . what is more elevating and transporting, than the generosity of heart which risks everything on God’s word, dares the powers of evil to their worst efforts, and repels the illusions of sense and the artifices of reason, by confidence in the truth of him who has ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . On Him we venture our all; we can bear thankfully to put ourselves into his hands, our interests present and eternal, and the interests of all we love.  John Henry Newman – MAGNIFICAT MEDITATION OF THE DAY

On him we can venture all.  Him we can trust.  Him we can fully thank with open and vulnerable heart, with open and willing hands.

God is wondrous.  God is good.  God is all there is.  There is nothing more.


A re-post from May 16, 2012.

Image from: http://beautifuldayrev.blogspot.com/2012/03/stay-awake-prayer-in-garden.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.1 (2008). Print.

Written on May 1, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Habakkuk 2:1-3: Waiting

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I will stand at the guard post and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what the Lord will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint. 

I love these verses. They speak to us of fidelity, constancy, and patience. They call us to commit ourselves for eternity.  They ask us to be reliable as God is reliable.  They are difficult words to follow but they are a life-giving and sustaining command.  They also give us permission to deliver our grievances to God, asking for intercession and deliverance.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

We live in an “instant” world.  I have just read that video gaming causes us to expect reward every 10 to 15 seconds and I find this to be sad.  Our insistence on immediate gratification cheats us of the exquisite anticipation of God’s intervention and reply. Our denial that God is responding in God’s time erases the opportunity to arrive at a deep knowing that God hears us and is considering the best reply.  Our impatience leads us to believe that God does not love us, that God is off tending to some other business far more important, or that we are too insignificant for God to even notice that we exist.  We are a people who do not wait well.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

By deciding that God is “late” when we do not receive instant messages to all of our requests we admit to the belief that God is a puppet to be manipulated . . . or they we are puppets who merely respond to God’s string pulling.  We refuse to see that we are in conversation with God and that the creator is giving us a bit of space to grow and learn.   These words speak to us of hope. They tell us how to suffer well.  They remind us that we survive best when we rely on God.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. 

The message of Habakkuk is one that any human being who has suffered can comprehend.  He wrote his prophecy in the face of intense corruption and desperate circumstances.  The notes in the NAB tell us that “there was political intrigue and idolatry widespread in the small kingdom”.

On a personal level, many of us are aware of intrigue and idolatry, either as an interior, personal flaw or as something we experience in a work or family group.  It seems that no matter where we go we will not escape plotting, conniving and deceit; but the one with integrity will wait on the Lord.  We often hear these verses read out to us when we touch on the theme of waiting.

How long, O Lord?  I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene.  Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?  Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.  Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.  For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

And this life that we will live is foreshadowed in the closing verses of the prophet Zephaniah, the book following Habakkuk.

At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.

This is surely something worth waiting for.  This is surely the life we have been promised.  It is the life we can expect . . . if only we might wait.


A re-post from May 15, 2012.

Images from: http://reachforencouragement.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html and http://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/acts-1-waiting-in-prayer/

For more on this prophecy see the page Habakkuk – Keeping Faith, Trusting in God on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/habakkuk-keeping-faith-trusting-in-god/

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Luke 20:20-26: Mercy

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gustave Dore: Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount

In today’s Noontime we listen to Jesus as he gives us a homily and we watch as Jesus puts himself at great risk by speaking to and about the power structure that governs his society.  Much like Moses, Jesus descends from the summit to gather his leadership; Jesus draws together his apostles and disciples.  Moses leads the former slaves to a promise; Jesus aligns himself with the disadvantaged, and speaks aloud the message of hope and rescue that he brings from God.  And it is this way that he forms his kingdom from the rejected and deprived.

The keystone of Jesus’ sermon is in the difficult teaching which many of his followers cannot accept: that he requires us to change our behavior.  Rather than launch weapons and force at our enemies, rather than gather up allies to join us in the shunning or destruction of one who crosses us in any way; we are called by Jesus to love our enemies into goodness.  In this sermon Jesus expands upon the Law as presented to and then by Moses.  Whereas the Old Law focuses on the rules of the Sinai covenant that unite the Hebrew people to hold them together, apart from the world, the New Law asks that we now focus on building our capacity to tolerate, accept and even advocate for the destitute . . . and those who harm us.  We are asked to see that these are the people who make up this new kingdom . . . these wounded and ousted people are our neighbors . . . these people are us.

God does not return like behavior, curse for curse, blow for blow.  He does not walk away when frustrated.  He does not turn away in disgust.  He does not curse us in anger.  He does not plot in hiding.  Rather, in spite of the fact that we reject him in that we refuse to love our enemies, he loves us all the same.  He waits infinitely and patiently for us to return to him.

Jesus knows how difficult all of this is for us; yet he lays down before us the thorniest challenge we will ever meet.  For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do the same.  If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners and get back the same amount.  But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

And so we that God show us mercy . . . and that God show us how to act in mercy ourselves.

Lord, grant us mercy.  Mercy in the face of ugliness.  Mercy against cruelty.  Mercy before deception.  Mercy rather than retribution.  Mercy after all.  Mercy before for all.  Mercy for all.  Mercy in all.  Mercy in Christ’s name.  Amen.


A re-post from May 13, 2012.

Image from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/manifesto/0_preface.htm

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Luke 20:20-26: Craftiness

Monday, May 27, 2019

James Tissot: The Meal in the House of the Pharisee

Recognizing their craftiness, he said to them, “Show me . . .” [Yet] they were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent.

Craftiness approaches us from many angles and wearing many different kinds of shoes.  In our work and in our family life, particularly when we trust others from a sense of habit rather than from a discernment of a truth we see in them, we may fall into a trap which Jesus cleverly avoids in today’s reading.

When we operate from a source of good, we may be easily fooled by others when we speak in and for ourselves.

When we operate from a source of good, we will amaze our enemies when we speak in and for Christ.

In another place in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you are to say.  (12:11 

In our sense of panic when we are attacked, we may automatically sink to the level of deception which has assailed us, thinking to outwit our opponents.  Or, we might put our fear on hold and call on God to give us the proper words that will amaze and silence our challengers.

The value of speaking with God morning, noon and night is this: When we are under siege – whether from a known enemy or a loved one – we will have a well-trained homing instinct, a ready portal, a clean and open conduit to God.  The answer we seek in desperation comes to us nearly unbidden so that we might amaze and silence those who seek our ruin or even our end.

As we travel through our days, moving from one activity to another with little time for introspection, we must take time to recognize and give thanks to the Spirit which keeps us free and holy.  It is this relationship which guides us in recognizing craftiness in others.  It is this relationship which guides us in recognizing what is Caesar’s and what is God’s.  And it this relationship which gives us the gift of sudden grace to recognize the difference between those who live in the world of deception, darkness and illusion and those who live in the wholeness and goodness of God.


A re-post from May 12, 2012.

Image from: http://cacina.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/carry-the-gospel-with-you-675/

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Matthew 22:15-45: Mediocrity

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 26, 2019

There is no question that Jesus threatens the status quo of those who govern by deceit and lies; what may be less evident is that he brings even more pressure on those who wish to live in the middle world of mediocrity.  Jesus threatens those who live in the shadow of power and who believe themselves safe from condemnation because they do not engage in the actual act of murder.  They are happy to hold the coat of those who commit the act which they have quietly encouraged.  These calm collaborators enable evil to masquerade as truth.  They are people of the worst kind because they speak of justice but practice oppression through their “behind the scenes” influence.

When we look at these phrases from Matthew 22, we see what he is saying to us about the choices we make every day.  Are our actions and beliefs hidden or open?  Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech . . . They sent their disciples to him . . . Knowing their malice, Jesus said . . . When they heard this, they were amazed, and leaving him they went away . . . On that day the Sadducees approached him . . . When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching . . . When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together and one of them . . . tested him . . . No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

While the great crowd watches, Jesus tells the story of Truth, and Life and Light.  He seals his fate by outing the mediocrity and collaboration of those who wish so desperately to lead that they sacrifice truth and salvation for the group in exchange for promotion of self, for comfort and earthly authority.  In his next chapter, Matthew will describe how the power structure denounces Jesus because he draws the people to himself not only with sensibility but with an authenticity in his words that heals as much as do his hands.

Where do we stand in this scene?  Where do we find ourselves when we hear something that means we must risk a bit, change our ways a bit, put ourselves in danger a bit?  In the final book of the Bible, Revelation, we see the fate of those who wish to take no side, to bring no notice to themselves, to live in quiet comfort while others suffer.  We do not wish to be like the people of Laodicea to whom the Lord says: I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 

Jesus calls hypocrites from their quiet, snug lair.  The people attest to true power in their movement away from insincerity toward the truth.  They take a stand.  They reject mediocrity.  In all that we do and all that we say . . . so too, must take a stand.  It is always risky and perhaps dangerous to align ourselves with Jesus; but in the end it is the only stand that matters.


A re-post from May 11, 2011.

Image from: http://froghime.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/spell-bound-masquerade/

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John 14: Being

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?

I am thinking that this is God’s reply to me when I show up every morning with my same list of thanksgivings and petitions.  Of course God knows that I am grateful for the miracles he has sent to me which keep my hope burning.  Of course God knows the desires of my heart for the people I love and know well, for the people I do not know so well but who come onto my horizon, and even for the people with whom I am in conflict.  Of course God knows all, and yet still I persist because this is my way of showing constancy.  It is my way of sustaining faith in the fact that we are already saved and have only to follow in order to enter into Christ.  It is my way of maintaining the hope that all sheep will enter into the sheepfold.  It is also my way of loving God in others – this perseverance in seeking intercession.

The Last Supper Discourses begin in this chapter of John and they are – for me – the most beautiful part of this story.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Any one of us who has worried, been anxious, angry or deeply sad will be able to turn to this verses and find consolation.  Any one of us who has mourned loss, who has celebrated joy, who has spent a lifetime searching for answers will find the portal to true understanding and experiencing God’s love.

I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I go you may also be.

Any one of us who has been abandoned, betrayed, cheated or cut off from something or someone we love will find peace in these words.  Any one of us who lied to another or who has intentionally deceived or hurt another, will also find forgiveness and assurance in these words.

Whoever has believed in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.

Any one of us who has drained themselves for the sake of others will find strength in these words.

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

Any one of us who has trouble just being on any given day, just surviving any given day will find life in these words.

If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 

We ought not shrink from giving thanks to or from petitioning the one who created us.  Let us go with open eyes, open minds and open hearts to the one who gives life in abundance that we may live in him.  This is what God expects.  It is what God asks . . . that we be in him . . . as he is in us.

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?


A re-post from May 10, 2012.

Images from: http://ipeace.us/profiles/blogs/about-gratitude and http://benison.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/the-creation-and-the-scripture-number-5/

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Job 23 and 24: Desire and Terror

Friday, May 24, 2019

Commentary from La Biblia de América: Job continues in his search for a personal encounter with God, both seeking and fearing him; but the judgment of his companions does not speak to his condition.  Job finds himself bereft not because he has broken God’s law in any way.  His sins do not bring him to this spot of desperation; he suffers innocently from circumstances beyond his control.  Yet amid all of this hurt, Job refuses to reject God; indeed, he seeks God all the more with each new wave of pain.  Job actually takes refuge in his suffering, frightened and even terrified, waiting for his end.  He describes an impotence which we ourselves may feel at a time when we are abandoned and have no recourse.  We suffer while the wicked experience success.  A victim of bad luck and injustice, Job experiences a reality too awful to be concealed.  Further footnotes tell us that verses 18 through 25 have appeared here rather than where they may rightly belong – in a previous chapter – perhaps the copyist could not bear the pain and so thought to bring consolation from another place.

This lament of Job guides any and each of us through a wave of pain so intense that it nearly takes one’s breath away.  This level of suffering can only be healed by God . . . and it is upon God that Job calls.

Today’s reading asks us to think about our desire to see and know God . . . face to face.  Job’s unquenched yearning is void of any wish to exact punishment or revenge on anyone or anything.  Job questions.  Job fears.  Yet Job does not leave God perhaps because he knows that God has not left him.

The imagery today describes a dichotomy of longing accompanied by fear.  Job needs to experience God’s presence in his life . . . and he fears that perhaps he will never escape this place of emptiness where the wicked have full sway.  He survives in a twilight world where day and night co-exist, and he fears that the darkness will win out.

As we have observed, perhaps it is for this reason that a later copyist has inserted the words which we know Job believes because they hold truth and because they describe what Job does . . . he refuses to give up, he holds on to hope and he waits.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   

When we find ourselves in the pit of misery described by Job, we must remember that the force of our yearning will be met, matched, and exceeded by God’s love . . . for he is life itself.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   


A re-post from May 9, 2012.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

For more reflections on the Book of Job click the image above or go to: http://agapegeek.com/category/bible-study/job/

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2 Chronicles 25: With A Whole Heart

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Commentary points out to us that king Amaziah is faithful to Yahweh and wins a campaign against Edom because of his fidelity; later he is the victim of assassination.  The Chronicler feels compelled to explain this good king’s reversal of fortune and explains it this way in verse two: He did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, though not wholeheartedly. 

We can never know the truth of the detail in the story of Amaziah; however, what we can do is to take to heart the warning of the writer that in all things we must be faithful . . . with a full and open heart.  Because God has created us and knows us so well, there is no point in trying to skirt issues or in attempting to hide parts of our history.  God knows all.

Psalm 139 is often cited as one in which the Psalmist expresses this idea of intimacy with God.

Lord, you have probed me, you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.

Nothing escapes God, not even our inmost thoughts.

My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.

Nothing escapes God, not even the experiences we try to keep secret.

Even when a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all.

Nothing escapes God, not even any hidden meaning behind our words.

If I ascend to the heavens you are there; if I lie down in Sheol you are there, too. 

Nothing escapes God, not even our dreams and fears.

If I fly with the wings of dawn and light beyond the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.

Nothing escapes God, not even our attempts to strike out on our own when we have planned our flight to the last detail.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.

Nothing escapes God, not the origin of our faults, not the origin of our gifts.

And perhaps this is why God loves us so.  God knows us as well as he  knows himself.  And we are created in God’s image to abide with him in eternity for eternity.   Is it possible to be so well loved?

A conspiracy forms against Amaziah; he flees but is pursued and hunted down.   How does his story speak to us today?   The Chronicler tells us that Amaziah’s heart is not true.  The Psalmist tells us that God reads our inmost being.  When we feel compelled to run, it is better to stay and remain in the Lord.  When we feel too ashamed to face a new day, we must rise and turn to the Lord.  When we feel too frightened to step into the world, we must take courage and trust the Lord.  When we feel too discouraged to open a new door, we must stay and hope in the Lord.  When we feel too angry to interact with those around us, we must stay and love the Lord . . . with a heart that is open, and honest, and full . . . and true.

Amen.


A re-post from May 8, 2012.

Images from: https://pastorcarolmora.wordpress.com/category/1/page/2/ and http://www.robstill.com/a-wholehearted-worshiping-community/

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