Archive for the ‘Comparing Scripture’ Category

Jeremiah 1:6-8: I will be with you . . .

Friday, March 16, 2018

Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law in Matthew 8:14–15, Mark 1:29–31, and Luke 4:38–41

Several years ago, we spent time with the prophet Jeremiah to study his life, his word, and his meaning for the faithful in the twenty-first Century. Today we focus on a few verses at the opening of his prophecy when he argues with God to say that he is an inadequate vessel for God’s word.

I answered, “Sovereign Lord, I don’t know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (GNT)

When we are weary or feel that are out of our depth, we remember God’s deep love and irrepressible willingness to support Jeremiah. And we know that God loves us as well as God loves this able servant.

The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (NRSV)

When we believe that we do not have the skill or tools to do the work of kingdom-building, we remember the profound constancy and resilient wisdom God shows Jeremiah. And we know that God guides and protects us as well.

“Don’t say, ‘I’m just a child.’ “For you will go to whomever I send you, and you will speak whatever I order you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you, says Adonai, to rescue you.” (CJB)

When we see our circumstances as dire and our environment unsustainable, we remember that Jeremiah also felt bereft and useless. And we know that God consoles and heals.

The Lord said to me, “Don’t say that you are only a boy. You will go wherever I send you. You will say whatever I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of people. I am with you, and I will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (GW)

When we see our plans destroyed and our lives upended, we remember that Jeremiah also felt abandoned and misunderstood. And we know that God will always accompany us in the difficult work that lies ahead of us. God will always free us from our fears.

The Lord said to me . . . The Lords says to each if us . . . I will rescue you . . . do not be afraid . . . I will protect you . . .  do not say, “I am only a child” . . . I will be with you always . . . 

When we use multiple translations to explore these verses, we understand more fully the depth, width, and breadth of God’s wisdom, care, and love.

Image from: http://bibleblender.com/2017/bible-stories/new-testament/matthew/old-testament-prophecy-jesus-heals-multitudes-matthew-8-14-8-17

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Psalm 43Peace of Heart

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In some versions of the Bible, we find this psalm as the final portion of psalm 42. It may begin in this manner: Grant me justice, O God; defend me from a faithless people . . . Or it may begin differently: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people . . .   

No matter the style, the psalmist here presents the universal plea humans have when they come to God: I see myself as wronged . . . and I want you to put things right. 

The Meditation in MAGNIFICAT today serves as a perfect solution for our very human desire to seek vindication; it speaks to our peace of heart.  This is an idea we investigated from time to time when we look at the troubles Job experienced.  Each of us lives a life of trial in one way or another and it is for those times that Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, writes: The easiest way to keep your peace of heart is to accept everything as coming from the hands of God who loves you.  If you do this, any pain or persecution, anything which is difficult to accept will be transformed into a source of joy, happiness, and peace . . . This does not mean to say that God sends disaster to trip us up.  Nor is this saying that God delights in punishing us.  The opposite is true.  God so loves us that when calamity occurs, God wishes most to transform all damage and harm into goodness and fruitfulness.  This is why it is imperative that we maintain constant, open contact with God . . . otherwise we will misinterpret all that happens to us and around us.

St. Paul continues: Silence and recollection are two very effective ways of bringing ourselves before the Lord and entering into the sanctuary of [God’s] love . . . When a person comes to terms with his feelings, when he lives in God and walks by the light of faith, he has attained that stillness of the night which God is waiting for.  It is then that the Word of God comes to birth in him in a way which is entirely of God.  Remain within your deepest self, in the interior kingdom of your spirit.  Remember that your soul is a temple of the living God.  “The kingdom of God is within you”. 

We may have difficulty in finding these quiet times to be still and so St. Paul continues with this counsel: Night and day let your aim be to remain in simplicity and gentleness, calmness and serenity, and in freedom from created things, so that you will find joy in the Lord Jesus.  Love silence and solitude, even when in the midst of a crowd or when caught up in your work. 

By living in the world but not of it, by keeping our line of communication with God open and clear at all times, we will understand better what we are to do when disaster strikes – as it always does.  We will be more prepared to see the goodness that can come from cataclysm – as it always can.  We will sink less into despair, we will rise more into joy.  We will find what St. Paul of the Cross calls a certain peace of heart.

When we suffer – as we do – when we are wronged – as we will be – when we wrong others – as we are bound to do . . . rather than seek vindication, let us seek peace of heart For when we maintain faith and seek joy, peace arrives . . . and all else will fall into its perfect place.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.10 (2009). Print.  

A Favorite from October 20, 2009.

For other translations of these verses, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus. 

For a reflection on this topic with verses from the wisdom Book of Job, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/23/peace-of-heart/ 

Image from: http://irjaberg.se/mediala%20tj%C3%A4nster/healing%20heart%20afton.html

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2 Peter 1:16-18: Made-Up Stories

Peter Paul Rubens: Transfiguration

Monday, March 5, 2018

We move toward the Easter promise, standing on the rejected cornerstone, stretching forward in hope. The story of Jesus’ transfiguration reminds us that the promise is real and tangible. Hope is justified.

We have not depended on made-up stories in making known to you the mighty coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our own eyes we saw his greatness. 

As he witnesses the transfiguration, Peter says to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Jesus asks his followers to hold their mountaintop experience in their hearts until he has risen from the dead. Mark records these words: [Peter] hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Although at first they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant, the disciples later recounted the encounter. Today we benefit from Peter’s witness.

We were there when he was given honor and glory by God the Father, when the voice came to him from the Supreme Glory, saying, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased!” 

Jesus climbs the mountain to examine his coming exodus. (Matthew 17:1-13Mark 9:2-10, Luke 9:28-36). We journey through Lent in expectation of our own encounter. Peter witnesses to the event of Jesus’ transformation. We witness our own makeover in the possibility that Easter opens for us so that we too may say . . .

We ourselves heard this voice coming from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.

Peter witnesses boldly for us. Are we willing to witness for others today?

These verses are the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION BIBLE. When we compare other versions of these words, we – like Peter – do not rely on made-up stories. And we discover ways to share our own story of faith and conversion with others.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Transfiguration-Rubens.JPG 

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Isaiah 28 and 29: The Fate of Samaria – Part IV

Third Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018

David Teniers the Younger after Francesco Bassano: The Good Samaritan

We might look to the fate of Samaria to see if we discover ourselves in the story. We might be a society that works at maintaining openness to God, or we might look for the quick ease and comfort of filter bubbles that repeat to us the words we want to hear. In this season of searching, we look for fidelity, and we refuse to panic.

Thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
    a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
    “One who trusts will not panic”. (NRSV)

In the story of the Good Samaritan with which Jesus teaches us, we might be the Levite on our way to the Temple, consumed with following the letter of the Law and closing ourselves to the Spirit. We might be the Samaritan moved with compassion to help a broken traveler. Or we might even be the traveler. In this season of hope, we rest in expectation of God’s goodness, and we trust in Christ.

“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
    a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
    a trusting life won’t topple”. (MSG)

In the story of Jesus, we encounter the rejected cornerstone that God promises through the prophet Isaiah. We see the redemption of Samaria that Isaiah foretells. We meet the firmest of foundations that saves us from toppling. In this season of repentance, we attempt to imitate God’s merciful love as we forgive those who harm us.

This, now, is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’” (GNT)

As we ponder the fate of Samaria, we discover ourselves in the story. We rise to step upon the shoulders of the promised, precious stone. We stand firmly on the granite underpinning of Christ’s promise, and we refuse to topple.

When we compare varying translations of Isaiah 28:16, we find fresh sustenance for the times we panic. For a modern story of The Good Samaritan, click on the image or visit: http://www.martyduren.com/2015/11/17/the-good-samaritan-a-retelling/ 

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Psalm 94: My Foot is Slipping

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My people, how can you be such stupid fools?
    When will you ever learn?
God made our ears—can’t he hear?
    He made our eyes—can’t he see? (GNT)

We continue our reflection on God’s ability and desire to remain in intimate relationship with us.

Blessed the one whom you guide, Lord,
    whom you teach by your instruction,
To give rest from evil days,
    while a pit is being dug for the wicked. (NABRE)

We continue to ponder our willingness – or unwillingness – to allow God’s protection and guidance to guide us.

If Adonai hadn’t helped me,
I would soon have dwelt in the land of silence.
When I said, “My foot is slipping!”
your grace, Adonai, supported me.
When my cares within me are many,
your comforts cheer me up. (CJB)

We continue to remember that God is the only secure place, the only sure refuge.

God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
    for their evil ways he wiped them out,
    our God cleaned them out for good. (MSG)

We continue to remind ourselves that God turns harm into goodness, and that God turns plots back upon plotters.

Today we spend time with Psalm 94 as we contemplate our reflection of God as a work of art, and why God’s loves us so dearly.

For a reflection on this psalm, click on the image from: https://stream.org/when-our-feet-start-to-slip-god-is-there-to-hold-us/ 

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Psalm 139: Wonderfully Made

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

This is such an intimate and beautiful song of praise. Why do we hide? Why do we think that God cannot see or hear us? Why do we fear? Why do we believe that God does not tend to us?

We are God’s amazing, wonderful, beautiful works of art. Let us together praise God for the willingness to enter into intimacy with us. We reflect on varying versions of Ephesians 2:10.

God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. (GNT)

We are made in God’s image, made in love, to respond in love to all that confronts us.

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (NRSV)

We are one in the Spirit with God’s fidelity sustaining us. We are one in God’s hope bolstering us. We are one in God’s love healing us.

For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do. (CJB)

We are God’s work of art. Coalescing in a reflection of God’s diversity. Ebbing and flowing in the Spirit that abides and transforms.

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (MSG)

This is such an intimate and beautiful song of praise. Why do we hide? Why do we think that God cannot see or hear?

We are wonderfully, amazingly and beautifully made in and by and through God. Let us do all that we can to come together in Christ.

To hear David Haas’ song “You Are God’s Work of Art”, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmMuze_AaC0

For another reflection on Psalm 139, visit the God’s Work of Art post on this blog at:  https://thenoontimes.com/2016/11/04/psalm-13914-15-gods-work-of-art/

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Psalm 139: God’s Thoughts

Monday, February 26, 2018

In this season of Lent, how willing are we to invite God into our most intimate thoughts? This beautiful song of invitation is a starting point when we struggle to open dialogs with the Lord.

God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

God is everywhere and in everything.

I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!

If I go underground, you’re there!

God is in every moment and in every time.

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you;

This lovely song of bidding is an authentic call to God when we search for words that express our meaning.

 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!

This divine hymn of opening is an honest cry to the Spirit when we hope to explore our relationship with the world.

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

When we fear that we do not measure up to the beauty and perfection of God, we might turn to this psalm to bridge any feeling of self-consciousness. When we offer our anxiety to the Lord, we begin to better understand God’s thoughts . . . despite their challenge, and despite our fears.

When we compare translations of this psalm, we find an opening to an honest dialog with the Almighty. Today’s verses are from THE MESSAGE.  

Images from http://www.wakingtoglory.com/the-most-important-point-of-the-mountaintop-experience/ and https://nourishthedream.com/2010/02/02/hidden-in-darkness/ 

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The Bristol Psalter: The Capture of David by the Philistines

Psalm 56: When I Fear

Second Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018

David wrote this psalm when the Philistines in Gath captured him. These verses, especially when we compare varying versions, have much to teach us about how to react to our fears. From THE MESSAGE version, verses 2 and 3.

Not a day goes by
    but somebody beats me up;
They make it their duty
    to beat me up.

When I get really afraid
    I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;
    fearless now, I trust in God. (MSG)

We may or may not live in circumstances that call for these words. If we do not, we count ourselves as blessed; but if fear does not govern our days and nights, we offer these words for those who gather in hiding places.

My enemies make trouble for me all day long;
    they are always thinking up some way to hurt me!
They gather in hiding places
    and watch everything I do,
    hoping to kill me. (GNT)

With New Testament thinking, we focus on the first line in this stanza as we pray for our enemies, knowing that their anger has locked them in a prison of hate.

Because of their crime, they cannot escape;
in anger, God, strike down the peoples.
You have kept count of my wanderings;
store my tears in your water-skin —
aren’t they already recorded in your book? (CJB)

Stepping into the protective presence of the Lord, we rejoice with verses 9 to 11, knowing that nothing of this world is lasting, and no one in this world can destroy the soul.

This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
    What can a mere mortal do to me? (NRSV)

Remembering God’s goodness, we sing verses 12 and 13. We recall our promises to God, and we consider what we might return to God as a sign that we are willing to give our fear over to the One who knows our world best.

O God, I will offer you what I have promised;
    I will give you my offering of thanksgiving,
because you have rescued me from death
    and kept me from defeat.
And so I walk in the presence of God,
    in the light that shines on the living. (GNT)

On this second Sunday of Lent, we remember that this psalm came to us out of David’s anguish in Gath. We remember that God abides with David through this and other catastrophes. And we consider how we might rejoice as we allow God to transform all our fear into delight.

For commentary on David in Gath, visit: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2005/20051212.htm 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/379780181051624727/ 

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2 Corinthians 4:17-5:3: Not Settling for Less

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Over the last month we have sung a hymn in time of national struggle, we have argued with the Almighty, gone beyond human limits, reflected on narcissism and considered what we might learn from the story of Esther. Today we settle into these verses from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without God’s unfolding grace.

In the midst of turmoil, there is the promise of renewal.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

Despite the pain that feels eternal, hope rises with the promise of restoration.

The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

Although our fears bring us insurmountable anxiety, we have the assurance of transformation.

God puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

In all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all joys, God’s grace remains. Once we recognize this, we never settle for less.

When we compare this translation of today’s reading with others, and when we weigh our troubles with the promise of the covenant, we know that each day God’s grace brings us more than meets the eye.

Image from: https://fastpraygive.org/a-renewal/ 

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