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Archive for February, 2021


Second Sunday in Lent, February 28, 2021

Psalm 94psalm-94-18-19[1]

Our Interior Law – Part IV

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We ask for wisdom so that we might discern your law that lives within each of us.

Blessed the one whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach, giving them rest from evil days. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for peace in our turbulent days so that we must rest with you as we move through our days.

For the Lord will not cast off God’s people, nor abandon God’s inheritance; but judgment will be with justice, and all the upright of heart will follow it. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for integrity and uprightness so that we might live out the Gospel as Jesus teaches us.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your mercy, O Lord, sustains me; when cares abound within me, your comfort gladdens my soul. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for compassion and forgiveness so that we might live the love the Spirit inspires in each of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We tap into our interior law, knowing that it always leads us in the best direction, understanding that it flourishes at the best of God’s time, and believing that it nourishes and sustains each of us and all of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

Jesus says, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”  They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”  (Mark 8:17-21)

God’s love is far greater than we can imagine and far more durable than we can believe.  And this is God’s law of love.  There is always love in abundance . . . forever. Blessed are those who see and hear. Blessed are those who allow God to soften hearts. Blessed are those who believe that God’s law lives within.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.


Image from: http://shareaverse.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/comfort-3/psalm-94-18-19/ 

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

circumcision-of-the-heart[1]Romans 2:25-29

Our Interior Law

Part III

True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.

In the early church argument erupted over whether or not the first non-Jewish Christians must first be circumcised in order to join the movement. Luke records much of this turmoil in Acts and we see a success convening of the first Church Council to sort out the problem the fledgling group faced. Peter puts an end to the petty bickering when he says: Who was I to be able to hinder God? God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too. (Acts 11:17-18)

Some of Jesus’ early followers wrap themselves in the safety of rules and regulations that are created to keep themselves and others in line. How do we turn away those who long to hear the Good News that kingdom-builders are meant to deliver?

Some of Jesus’ first adherents see the Mystical Body as a club or community organization to be tightly controlled. How do we allow the Spirit to move in and through us so that we might bring the freedom and joy of the kingdom to others?

Some of Jesus’ initial disciples worried over the details of God’s plan, believing themselves responsible for correcting all they believe is wrong with the world. How do we stifle the Spirit, misrepresent Jesus, and ignore God as we seek to be builders with Christ?

Who am I to be able to hinder God? 

As we reflect on our interior and outer laws, how and why we follow them, and how or if they match the Law of Love established by God through Jesus . . . let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit as we honestly answer the question Peter poses . . . Who are we to be able to hinder God?


For a deeper understanding of Circumcision of the Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v01-n06/circumcision

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Friday, February 26, 2021

judging-otherss[1]Romans 2:17-24

Our Interior Law – Part II

A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish. A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

Paul asks these and other questions of the Romans and he also asks us today. Paul can speak from the heart about authenticity because he once persecuted the followers of Jesus and came to understand – through his relationship with the risen Christ – the hypocrisy he was living. Paul can call us today to our own assessment of self in our exterior adherence to a complicated written law. Paul asks us today to measure our inner self against our outer self rather than compare ourselves to others.

My Dad was fond of reminding us that our actions speak louder than words. He would frequently remind us that “God will judge the other guy so you don’t need to”.  And he always urged that we measure ourselves against ourselves. “When you compare yourself with others,” he often said when we complained of injustices real or perceived, “you will likely come up short. So don’t bother. Instead of looking at the other guy, ask yourself: did I improve today or did I fall back? If you moved forward, great. If not, God will let you know how to improve”.

judging-others-blue_design[1]A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish.  A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do we measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

How and who and why and what and when do we measure? And with what?


Mother Teresa quote from:http://helpfortheheart.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/judging-others-blue_design.png?w=645

For some practical strategies to heal a judging heart, click on the images in this post or go to: Help for the Heart at WordPress at: http://helpfortheheart.wordpress.com/

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

imagesCAVPF65IRomans 2:12-16

Our Interior Law – Part I

Knowing the Law and living the Law are not equal. Can a man or a woman be a preacher of the Good News and still sin greatly? Yes.  Can one who does not even know about the Law live a life according to that Law? Yes. The privilege of having been schooled in the Law does not bring with it an automatic membership into an exclusive club. One must demonstrate by outward actions that this knowledge has transformed one’s life; and this knowledge is available to all of us, even if we have not received it as a birthright.

Possessing the Law. Acting the Law. Being justified in and by the Law. Paul writes of justification often and when does he means to remind us that is our measure of holiness.  We become justified – or redeemed and transformed – when we act in and through and for God.

Paul is writing about integrity here. He asks us to take a look to ourselves to see if what we say matches what we do Beyond this simple statement is the further thinking that it is not enough to carry out in our action what we say we believe, we must also be sincere in these outward signs of our inward selves; because it is the interior that has worth as opposed to the exterior. It is the interior as portrayed by the exterior that speaks to the world who we are and who we believe God to be. Body and soul ought not operate in two different worlds; for when they do our transformation and justification are impossible.

Paul calls out his fellow Jews for their hypocrisy in not recognizing the Word in the person of the Risen Christ; but he also calls out all people of all times and places to engage with the Risen Christ ourselves rather than rely on the words of an exterior, written Law that keep us safe but that do not redeem or transform us. Paul encourages each of us to see the separation between saying and doing as our measure of self that matters most for it mirrors our separation from Christ who is our vital guide and support. And it is this separation from Christ that makes our own transformation and redemption so difficult to realize.

So how do we avoid this splitting of self and this separation from Christ? We examine both our words and actions to see that they align and that they are sincere; and we assure that the interior law we carry in our hearts . . . can be plainly seen by ourselves and others in all that we think . . . in all that we say . . . and in all that we do.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 26, 2009.

Image from: http://ipowerproject.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2057690%3ABlogPost%3A1054496&commentId=2057690%3AComment%3A1076358&xg_source=activity 

To learn more about what The Law means in a scriptural context, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/l/law.htm

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

cloud over the desertEzekiel 37

A Prayer from the Valley of Dry Bones

We remember that Yahweh led the Hebrews out of the desert, guiding them through the presence of a cloud, feeding them on manna, bringing them to a land and a legacy promised long ago.

Whether in an ocean, lake, river, stream or cloud, every drop of moisture is a treasure and just so are we, God’s children. It is in the desert that we understand this most clearly and directly. It is on the plain of dry bones that we learn this lesson most fully and well.

The hand of the Lord came upon me . . .

Although we may not feel it, the Lord is with us always.

And led me out in the spirit of the Lord . . .

Although we may not see it, God is always guiding us.

And set me in the center of the plain . . .

Although we may not sense it, the Spirit is always consoling us.

Which was now filled with bones . . .

Although we may not trust it, the desert is where we find solace.

These flowers are called Scorpion Weed and bloom only once in several years . . . to bring new life to the desert.

These flowers are called Scorpion Weed and bloom only once in several years . . . to bring new life to the desert.

How dry they were!

Although we may not accept it, there is life where we see only death.

The Lord asks: “Can these bones come to life?

Although we may not believe it, serenity comes through suffering.

I answer: “You alone know that”.

Although we may not be certain of it, God brings good out of harm.

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.

Although we may not want to admit it . . . we must not run away from the desert . . . for it is the desert that we understand the miracle of dry bones rising to new life. It is in the desert that we are surprised with new gifts. It is in the desert that we experience the awesome power and love of God.

Come, let us go out to the desert so that we might meet the Lord. Amen.


Reflect on your own Dry Bones experiences and the surprise God always has in store.  Think about how we might live in union with God’s creation and God’s plan while browsing more of the Most Amazing Photographs of 2011 at: http://tammymarierose.hubpages.com/hub/The-Most-Amazing-Photographs-of-the-World-Around-us-in-2011

Images from: http://diamondsintheskywithlucy.blogspot.com/2010/09/standing-on-holy-ground.html

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God. And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us? Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us. All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted. It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services:“The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer.” Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

ww_pada01[1]

Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned. When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

Along the old Silk Road
The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part II

Lifeless bones clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought. When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question. What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in a rebirth that occurs quite dramatically. What was thought as lost is found and restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

What might we do to rise when we believe there is no hope? We call on God who makes all things possible. What might we do when we have stumbled into an oasis we thought was merely a mirage? We continue to follow Christ who carries our burden. How might we validate our new life in the Spirit? We give thanks to God for affirming and claiming our potential.

Ezekiel has much to teach us about the bone-strewn valleys where we see only mirages on the horizon. When we place all hope in God we are not disappointed. When we lean on faith in Christ we are always redeemed. And when we are willing to move forward in the love of the Spirit, we are renewed, restored and rewarded. Let us not shrink from dry bones or the desert wastes in our lives . . . for we may be missing a deep and eternal experience that only the desert oasis can provide.

Tomorrow, the Oracle of Two Sticks.  


Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

To visit other desert oases, click on the image above or go to: http://cristinabarkerjones.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/9-most-beautiful-oases-in-the-world/

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First Sunday in Lent, February 21, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Liwa Desert

The Liwa Desert

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part I

Today’s verses for reflection describe the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, a metaphor for the reunion of our own body and soul at our resurrection. Ezekiel brings us a panoply of images that help us to understand that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible. Ezekiel tells us that restoration after great downfall can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

A falaj in Qasr al Sarab, Liwa Oasis

In the desert there is a quiet but sudden blooming that takes place after a rain. Tiny, delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up over night after a scattering of dew but they disappear with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure reflects our own comings and goings with God. We receive the morning dew and rise hopeful. The heat of the day beats us down and we retreat in disappointment. Yet, through God’s loving care we return to bloom again with the next morning’s new scattering of condensation.  The cold night has brought sustenance that we did not expect.

And so it is with us.  Each day we are offered the gift of God’s loving, patient care. Each day, despite the dryness of our bones, we rise to respond. Each day we sink in weariness and yet . . . even in the most vast of deserts God provides oases to sustain us.

Tomorrow, we consider our own dry bones . . . and our own restoration.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396739048398927764/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liwa_Oasis

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Daniel 9:13-19

Prayer of Penitence – In the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

In today’s Noontime we ponder Daniels’s famous penitential prayer on behalf of the community. On the Eve of the first Sunday in Lent, we might reflect on three passages that complement today’s from Daniel. Ezra 9:6-15 and Nehemiah 1:5-11 and 9:6-37.  In this story, both priest and administrator rebuild the Jerusalem temple after Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return from exile. They have been told that their exile will last not 70 weeks or 70 years as was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah. No, they receive word that their captivity will end in seven times seventy or in 490 years. This is gloomy news until we begin to understand that this is precisely the amount of time until the arrival of Jesus.

The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY tells us that this prayer we read today is not seen so much as a petition from the people which God obeys but rather as an appropriate act of piety from a people who have erred and disobeyed. It is for this reason that it is best to find others who will pray this together with us as an admission of our collective willfulness, waywardness and disobedience. (Mays 631)

And let us pray Daniel’s prayer much as the Jewish community prayed with Ezra and Nehemiah when they returned to their ruined city.

woman-kneeling[1]God of Heaven, God of Earth, Spirit Dwelling Among Us,

Guide us . . . and grant us the faith to follow,

Be glad in us . . . and grant us the hope to rejoice in you,

Love us . . . and grant us the grace to grow in you.

We wish to turn . . . we wish to return to you.

For you are the beginning, the end, the all.

We are your servants.

May we serve you well.

Amen. 


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 631. Print.

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tent-in-the-desert-the-prayer-detail-eugene-alexis-girardet.html and http://annebender.blogspot.com/2013/07/three-things-i-love-about-catholicism.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

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