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Archive for October, 2020


Saturday, October 31, 2020

daniel-3-furnace[1]Daniel 1-3

Reality

This one prophecy teaches us much: it tells us how to recognize God in the midst of horror, it reminds us that only God saves in an infinite way, and it exhorts us to witness without actually fighting . . . for the fighting must be left to God. If you can make time today . . . spend awhile with Daniel.

In the first two chapters we read of two important lessons: that all divine dominion comes from the God of Israel, and that false, pagan gods offer nothing. In Daniel 3 we watch as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are tossed into the fiery furnace. Not only do they survive, but a fourth figure appears to accompany them in song: an angel of this marvelous God. This is how much God loves each of us. God is so mindful of us that when we are in distress, God sends word to us and God even protects us from the fire of destruction.

There are many instances in our lives in which our perception is that God has let us down or has turned a deaf ear to our petitions. This thinking comes from our ego rather than from our Spirit. All that we see, touch, taste, smell, and hear is a chimera. All that we perceive, sense, know, intuit, and feel in God . . . this is reality. This is truth.

In a world where so many pagan voices call us to fame, fortune, outward perfection, celebrity, science, power, comfort and self-absorption, we find it difficult to hear the one voice of truth which speaks softly of union, dynamism, mystery, discomfort, humility, change, transformation and inner peace. What Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know and witness to is the lesson which this prophecy drives home so well when we are able sit to read the entire story . . . the faithful do not need to fight . . . they only must refuse to do anything which separates them from God . . . they must not fear . . . they only need to rest in God . . . and they need not worry about God’s plan . . . they need only to find their place in it.

What we know is this . . . that when we begin with simple tasks such as the food test we read about in Daniel 1, we are being eased into following God in many small ways because these little ways will train our neural connections to focus on God rather than the other world that lures us by calling itself real.

What we also know is this . . . that once we set our feet upon the path of God in all of these little ways our union with God will be stronger than any fiery furnace we must endure. And this is a reality that lasts forever.

This prophecy puts into words the mystery of our faith. This prophecy assures us that the more we let go to fall into God’s trust, the less we will fear. This prophecy reminds us that the more we lose self to let the Spirit enter our souls, the less we struggle. This prophecy promises us that the more we follow Christ rather than our own little plans, the less we stumble. This prophecy is a reality we will want to trust.


Adapted from a reflection written on April 1, 2009.

Image from: http://aeroventure.com/Prophesy-101/Prophets/Daniel-3-furnace_BODY.htm

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Friday, October 30, 2020

091212-impossible[1]Daniel 11

God as the Ultimate Power

The king shall do as he pleases, exalting himself and making himself greater than any god; he shall utter dreadful blasphemies against the God of gods. He shall prosper only till divine wrath is ready, for what is determined must take place. He shall have no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one in whom women delight; for no god shall he have regard, because he shall make himself greater than all.  (Verses 36 and 37)

This portion of Daniel’s prophecy is difficult to follow, even with a commentary, as there are varying opinions about the identity of the three kings of Persia, there are several rulers with the name of Antiochus, and kingdoms in the region are morphing and changing while dynasties rise and fall. It is sufficient to note, however, that the writer here conveys the sense of confusion that the Hellenistic Wars bring about. Syria and Egypt battle over who controls the Jewish kingdom and the little people wonder where and how all the conflict will end. The foreign ruler, King Antiochus, venerated Apollo and Zeus and he even saw himself as the king of Mount Olympus, Zeus/Jupiter. He did as he liked, including the placement of a gargantuan of a pagan god in the Jerusalem Temple. All that once was thought immutable is now changing and here the angel of the Lord tells us, through Daniel, that the Lord God will not be manipulated, controlled or mocked; the Lord is ultimately in control of all and everyone. Those who do not understand this will eventually come to see “this simple portrait of a tyrant, possibly even a mad one, willing and able to work his designs without being challenged even by the gods (v. 37) and yet unaware that his ultimate doom has been sealed in secret by the God who is the master of all of history and whose word is the last as well as the first”. The closing verses of this chapter predict the future and in the following chapter we find “the most important innovation contained in the book of Daniel, the notion of resurrection in 12:1-3”.  (Mays 633)

It strikes us as odd that one who professes to lead as a servant might have so little regard for the small works of beauty and goodness that are significant to the community. These leaders appear to place little value on benchmarks or markers or significant events that a people hold in common. They believe themselves more important than a god like Adonis, the one who sways so many women (Jones 1447).

When we find ourselves in the hands of those who are able to work their designs without being challenged by any entity on earth, we will want to remember that God is the ultimate source of infinite power, and that this power brings with it the gift of new, eternal life. This power generates from profound goodness and self-sacrificing love rather that brute muscle and dispassionate control. This power determines the nature of life and even death itself. And this power brings the gift of resurrection to those who follow faithfully.


Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2010.

Image from: http://www.quiettime.org/6243/power/

Jones, Alexander, ed.  THE JERUSALEM BIBLE. New York, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. 1447. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 633. Print.

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

lord_is_my_strength_psalm_73_26_poster-p228906538671377196tdcp_400[1]Daniel 10:20

Gift

When God spoke to me I grew strong and said, “Speak, my Lord, for you have strengthened me”.

We look for strength through artificial means: drugs, food, exercise, power. And all the while we hold in our hands enough strength to live eternally, enough strength to forgive ceaselessly, enough strength to love everlastingly.

God says:  You may find this difficult to believe but I truly live in you.  You may wonder how or why but you need not spend much time worrying over those details.  Many of you worry that you do not deserve my time and devotion; but you do. You must remember to value yourself as much as I value you. Many of you assume that you deserve my favor and love and you see yourself as fully content; you have forgotten how to listen to me and to others. You must remember to measure yourself a bit so that you listen more than you speak. I have given you great spiritual strength. Believe in this as you believe in me. And consider each day . . . how you spend this precious gift.

Jesus said to them: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you”.  (Matthew 17:20)


Enter the word strength in the blog search bar and explore God’s gift of your strength to you.

To find a reflection and prayer for strength, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jcsnotebook.org/pray-for-strength/

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In a time of pandemic, we look for assurance. In a time of unrest, we look for security. In a time of confusion, we look for safety. At all times, we drop our fear and remember that God is with us always. 

ngods[1]Daniel 10:19

Safety

Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.

The words fear not appear frequently in scripture; God is constantly comforting us even when we are too distraught to listen for the calm, quiet voice.

The expression do not be afraid peppers our sacred writings; God is forever calming us even when we are too anxious to know God’s presence.

The phrase I am always with you is one we see and hear frequently in our sacred texts; God is always reassuring us even when we are too frightened to believe that we are held safely in God’s hands.

God says: You worry about situations and people over which you have little influence and no control. I only ask that you adjust your own vision. I will worry about all that you see is unjust in the world. I even take care of people and circumstances you know nothing about. I understand that there are days and nights when it seems that I have stepped away from my creation and that I have ceased tending to your world; but this is an illusion that comes from blinkered vision. When you rest in me you rest in safety. When you work with me you have courage. When you believe in me and all that I do you gather strength. Fear not. You are safe. Take courage. Be strong. You are loved. You are mine. I treasure you in every moment of your existence.

Enter the word safe or fear or courage into the blog search bar and reflect on your own perception of God’s presence in your life.


Image from: http://www.jeremiah-2911.com/2011/11/gods-hands.html

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer[1]Daniel 10:12

Visions

Fear not.  From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. 

The prophecy of Daniel is full of metaphor, symbolism and mystery and yet it is in this prophecy that we see the coming of the Son of Man predicted. (Daniel 7:13 and 8:17) Today we reprise the mysterious vision that presages so much fear and so much hope.

God says: I see that you are determined to follow me and this brings me joy.  I also see the pitfalls and obstacles in your way and this brings me sorrow.  I abide with you as always.  I accompany you through fire, pain and death.  I raise you up when you are fallen.  I restore you when are spent.  I rescue you when fire consumes you.  Did I not save my servant Daniel?  Are you not as important as he?  Read this story of Daniel and humble yourself as Daniel does.  Trust in me as this young man does.  Acquire knowledge of me as this young prophet does for you are destined to be as significant as any prophet of mine in the days of old.  Each of you is precious in my eyes.  Each of you has the potential to prophesy for me.  Each of you is welcome to take refuge in the limitless safety of my most sacred heart.  When you shelter with me your smallness expands to the boundless horizons of my mind.  When you remain in me your fears and anxieties become the sinews of my protective arms.  When you act in me your tears and sorrows dissolve into mists that nourish the dry nights of the soul.  Read about Daniel’s visions today, bring me requests, and give yourself hope for many tomorrows.  Know that I hear every prayer you utter in the turmoil of the day, in the shadows of night, in the company for friends or in the solitary stillness of your heart. 

To further explore the visions of Daniel, enter his name in the blog search bar and choose another reflection.


Image from: http://impactwithprayer.blogspot.com/2011/04/god-hears-our-prayers.html

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As we continue to struggle with a world-wide pandemic, we consider what hatred and fear, union and love can do.

Monday, October 26, 2020

o-PEOPLE-YELLING-facebook[1]John 15:18

The World’s Hatred

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

Jesus warns his disciples that hatred might be worn as a badge of honor in the divine world of inversion. The prophet Samuel heard the same words from Yahweh when the people clamored for a worldly king: Grant the people’s every request.  It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.  (1 Samuel 8:7)

God says: Sometimes you behave like small, spoiled children, asking for everything you see, wishing to control all situations so that you might feel powerful. When you behave in this way you are missing sight of the beautiful gift I give you: the freedom to do as you like, the freedom to be and do good. You sometimes ask for too much, for more than you really need, and so I do not like to grant those wishes. Sometimes you ask for something you think will be a boon to you when I see that it will actually be harmful, and so I do not like to send you those people or possessions. Sometimes you do not ask at all and this saddens me for I have much to share. My servant Samuel and my son Jesus point out to you a perspective you may have trouble seeing. When you bear my light into a darkened world there will be those who are jealous. Let me deal with their envy. When you speak my truth to a world in crisis there will be those who will shout you down. Let me whisper into your ear what it is you are to do and say. When you act in my name and perform miracles for my scattered and frightened sheep you will be abused and perhaps brought to your knees. Remain in me for I am with you most especially at these times. Allow me to turn the tide and calm the storm. The loathing and anger that strikes you when you act in my name is really aimed at me. Duck your head just a little, bow down just a bit . . . so that I might shelter you . . . and bear the full force of the world’s hatred.

Enter the word witness in the blog search bar and reflect on the many ways we witness for God in a turbulent and chaotic world.


For an interesting perspective by Roger Covin, Ph.D., about how we cannot be liked by everyone, click on the image above or go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/roger-covin/scared-of-being-rejected_b_2753558.html

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored. All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion. In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties. Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion. When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance. When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them. When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world. When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world. When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you. Fulfill the hope planted in you. Come to me with your questions and concerns. Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth. This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)


For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

Image of Solomon’s Temple from: https://www.crystalinks.com/solomonstemple.html

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

king solomon[1]

King Solomon

Last Instructions

This scene may be familiar to us since it is replicated on Palm Sunday when Jesus rides into Jerusalem as king and paschal sacrifice.  Jesus’ crowning by the marginalized people whom he cured and healed fulfills the hope which Solomon brings to the throne of Israel. David’s last instructions serve his son and his people. Solomon’s crowning bring his people hope for security and peace.  Jesus’ last instructions bring rescue and redemption that last an eternity.

1 Kings 2 begins with David’s death discourse and we find that it has a familiar ring. David hands on his kingdom to Solomon in 970 B.C.E. and several hundred years later, Jesus comes to fulfill David’s and Solomon’s hope.

What does Solomon’s crowning mean for us today? We see the foreshadowing of Jesus, the true king who “keep[s] the mandate of the Lord . . . following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn.”

We so easily forget this when life offers us an easy road and we feel confident. Our small egos take over and tell us that we do not need God. Then trouble strikes and we turn back to God whom we have forgotten and we find that God is there waiting to accompany us through any tragedy or pain. David’s last instructions, a call to live in the Law of Moses, presage the Law of Love which Jesus brings.

Vicente Juan Macip: The Last Supper

Vicente Juan Macip: The Last Supper

The apostle John tells us of Jesus’ last words to his followers.  They are so simple and also so beautiful.  Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . I will not leave you orphans . . . I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  Remain in me as I remain in you . . . It was not you who chose me but I who chose you . . . I have more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. These familiar words lay out the simple tenets of Jesus Law of Love which comes down to one lasting commandment: Love God, love one another.

This is such a simple instruction and yet so easily forgotten.

As David lies dying he gathers his last resources to leave final instructions to those he loves so well. Solomon is crowned and David’s words are passed on for generations.

As Jesus enters Jerusalem he gathers his strength for the harrowing road that lies ahead. He calls his apostles together, breaks bread and shares wine, and he leaves last instructions for those he loves so dearly. Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . Jesus’ words are passed down through an eternity.

As we confront any obstacle that falls to us in our journey, we might find wisdom and consolation in these last words which we so easily forget.  And so we ask God’s help and we pray . . .

Faithful and forgiving God, abide with us as we journey through life forgetting, or perhaps not believing, that you are with us.

Constant and faithful God, sustain us with the hope so often predicted and so lovingly brought to us by your son.

Healing and loving God, fill us with the consolation and peace of your Holy Spirit, remembering that we are your own dear creations who long to be with you.

For this we pray. Amen.


For Jesus’ Last Supper Discourses and Prayer, see John Chapters 14 through 17.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 6, 2007.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

cc_jer29_11plant[1]Jeremiah 18:13-17

An Unnatural Apostasy

Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Ask among the nations – who has heard the like?”

God speaks to us of a behavior that has gone far away from the norm.

Truly horrible things has virgin Israel done!

We know this story – Israel has rejected her close relationship with God and has chosen to align herself with pagan gods.

Does the snow of Lebanon desert the rocky heights? Do the gushing waters dry up that flow fresh down the mountains? 

Israel’s actions are as unnatural as snow melting in freezing weather or rivers ceasing their journey through mountain valleys.

Yet my people have forgotten me: they burn incense to a thing that does not exist.

Israel abandons the covenant that has brought her out of Egypt and established her in fertile lands.

They stumble out of their ways, the paths of old, to travel on bypaths, not the beaten track. 

Israel goes against all advice and convention to insist on her own journey that is full of danger.

Their land shall be turned into a desert, an object of lasting ridicule: all passers-by will be amazed, will shake their heads. 

Those who do not remain faithful will find their lives arid; they will be embarrassed by their own actions once they have the opportunity to look back on what they have done.

Like the east wind, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back, not my face, in their day of disaster.

Old Testament thinking sees God as an angry, vengeful creator. New Testament experiences God through a messianic lens that perceives God as merciful and forgiving, beckoning and tending, guarding and guiding. New Testament thinking teaches us that we can trust the creator to care for us when we look for wisdom and peace. Messianic thinking places hope in the presence of the creator among us in human form. Messianic hope teaches us that no one is too lost, nothing is too disastrous and no obstacle is too impossible for our God who loves us dearly and well.

Jeremiah also brings us these words: For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we reflect on Israel’s unnatural turning away from so great a love, let us also consider our own relationship with God. Do we scatter before the east wind . . . or do we cleave to the source of all good and all hope? Do we bow to an unnatural apostasy . . . or do we remain as steady as the snows upon the high mountain tops . . . and rush down mountainsides with joy as we fall into God’s own hands?


Image from: http://www.crosscards.com/cards/scripture-cards/jeremiah-29-11-5.html

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