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Archive for the ‘Comparing Scripture’ Category


Sirach 15:14-17: The Mystery of Free WillFree-Will-10

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

God in the beginning created human beings and made them subject to their own free choice. If you choose, you can keep the commandments; loyalty is doing the will of God. Set before you are fire and water; to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand. Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.

The concept of free well is one with which we struggle and frequently we hear ourselves asking God the familiar question. Dear God – if all things are possible for you, why don’t you fix all that is wrong with the world?

God says: I love you so much that I do not want to force you to love me in return. I have infinite patience and limitless persistence so I am willing to give you free rein as you decide how you want to live. Our goal is not to have you do precisely as I say; rather, our goal is to come into union in celebration of our mutual understanding and love. Our goal is not to have a perfect world; rather, our goal is to come together in the kingdom I have described for you in which we are motivated by love rather than anger, envy or self-interest. I want to love you into loving me. I want you to love me as much as I love you. I created you in the hope that you and I will have an eternal relationship. And this is entirely possible for us because yes, for me . . . all things are possible.

The mystery of free will is one we might easily misunderstand. When we spend time today with this wisdom from Sirach, we begin to trust in the potential God has planted in each of us.

Use the scripture link to compare these words from Jesus Ben Sirach and consider how we might show God that we understand this gift of free will.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/paths-intersecting.html

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Mark 4:26-34: The Mystery of Kingdom – Part I

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

Tuesday June 21, 2022

Jesus says: This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.

With our high-tech science in which we manipulate the very substance of plant and human DNA; and we establish pros and cons explaining how we are helping or harming the planet. These are discussions that did not occur with Jesus’ contemporaries yet Jesus is with us still today, guiding us. If only we might make ourselves full citizens of the kingdom. If only we might awaken to the word of God and the movement of the Spirit. If only we might follow Christ.

Jesus says: Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come”.

Jesus uses this and other parables to bring home his thoughts to his audience. Two thousand years ago Jesus used the mystery of the grain in the harvest to call workers to the kingdom. Today, what parable does he use? Perhaps it is the story of genetically modified crops. We may not be aware that Jesus is present as we make decisions that affect the world for generations; yet Jesus’ word is as important to us today as it was to ancient peoples.

Harvest Reapers

Harvest Reapers

Jesus says: To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, is springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth branches, so that the birds of the ski can dwell in its blades.

Jesus uses parables with us today, but do we apply the lessons he is teaching? Do we explain away the kingdom with our scientific prowess which, when we pause to think of it, is a gift from God in itself? Are we open to the mystery of the kingdom and our world? Do we call others to partake of this mystery? And do we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ presence in every moment and every space of our lives?

The disciple Mark says: With many such parables he spoke to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Women_reaping

Women Reaping

As followers of Christ and readers of God’s word we have become his disciples. Jesus speaks to us in our hearts, explaining the mysteries that puzzle us and healing the wounds that cripple us. When we spend time with scripture we spend time with Christ. Read varying versions of today’s citation . . . and listen for the word of God. For Jesus speaks to each of us so that we might better understand the mysteries of our world, so that we might better comprehend the miracle and gift of this elusive gift of kingdom that we seek . . . but that we already possess and enjoy.

We have looked at the mystery of God, Jesus, he Spirit, power, rendering, resurrection and incarnation. This week we pause to spend time with scripture, looking for the kingdom that is already ours as explained by Jesus to his followers, and as found in the words of the Old and New Testaments. Today we begin our journey as we use the scripture link of this citation from Mark to compare texts . . . and to listen for the Word of God.


To learn more about agriculture and other topics in biblical times, visit: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/agriculture.htm 

Images from: http://womeninthebible.net/bible-archaeology/farming-agriculture/ and http://lambservant.hubpages.com/hub/Bible-Trivia-Quiz-Kings-of-the-Old-Testament and http://www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Parable-of-the-Sower-Posters_i3489188_.htm

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John 12:24: The Mystery of Resurrectionempty tomb

Monday, June 20, 2022

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

This is perhaps the most difficult of mysteries to comprehend. Richard Rohr, OFM posts this meditation on June 7, 2015. When we reflect upon it today, we begin to discover what it is we already have forever. We begin to understand this mystery that is reckless, real and eternal.

“Jesus himself exemplified and also taught us the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which only tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that.

Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what is trapping us and keeping us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is supposed to be better. True liberation is letting go of our false self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right–which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.” (Rohr)

When we allow the seed of our old selves to pass away and die we find that we are reborn into a newness of peace that blossoms amidst turmoil and anxiety. When we allow ourselves to let go to fall down the well of our former self, we discover that the dreadful bottom we fear hitting is the very narrow gate of life that we so earnestly seek. This is a mystery that we will want to explore. In and with Christ, it is a mystery that we experience daily.


Compare different versions of these verses and listen for the promise of this mystery of resurrection. 

For more from Richard Rohr, visit his site at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True), CD. This simple tri-part distinction has been affirmed by many psychologists in many different ways, and is also used by Fr. Thomas Keating in his understanding of the entrapment of the human person.

Richard Rohr, OFM, posted on June 7, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Image from: https://www.theursulines.org/2017/04/16/the-empty-tomb-2/

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Ephesians 1:11-14: A Trinity of Love

Trinity Church in Manhattan

Trinity Church in Manhattan, NY

Trinity Sunday, June 12, 2022

The gift of life so lovingly given by God the creator cannot be earned. The gift of resurrection so bravely won by Christ is already ours. The gifts of the Spirit’s comfort and solace live within without our asking.

The miracle of creation cannot be understood except through God’s burning wish to have our companionship. The miracle of rescue cannot be believed except through Jesus’ passionate sacrificial love. The miracle of love’s abiding presence cannot be experienced fully except through the consuming yet life-giving fire of the Spirit’s gifts.

On this Trinity Sunday let us remember that as Jesus’ sisters and brothers in the Spirit we are already one in, through and with God.

In Christ we were also chosen . . . and so live with one another in Christ.

You are destined in accord with the purpose of God who accomplishes all things according to God’s will . . . and so live in accordance with this plan of love.

In Christ you also have heard the word of truth and the gospel of your salvation . . . and so believe in Christ’s desire to save all.

In the promise of the holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, you were sealed to the praise of God’s glory . . . and so act in the life of this miraculous Trinity of God’s love.

4173-trinity_edited.630w.tnWe can spend much of our lives struggling to understand the essence and meaning of the Trinity and still not possess the peace we so earnestly seek. Or we can, today, step into this experience of soothing, restorative life that these mystical three invite us to join. When we step into their life of love, we also step into a new yet everlasting peace, a complete yet always growing serenity, an immense yet intimate joy. The miraculous three offer this invitation today to all of God’s creation.


Use the scripture link to read other versions of Paul’s words and determine to live in and with and through this miracle of Trinity love.

Click on the image of Trinity Church in Manhattan above to learn how this place of sanctuary brought comfort, healing and peace in a time of deep suffering and intense pain. 

While spending time with this mystical concept, reflect on the image below. Find the three persons of the Trinity. Carry the story of Trinity Church and your thoughts about Paul’s words with you as you move through the coming days. 

the-holy-trinity

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Sirach 17:20-24: The Penitent

Monday, June 6, 2022

To the penitent God provides a way back . . .

This is good news for us indeed. When we want to confront our enemies with outrage and violence, we will want to look at how God always provides a way back to unity and wholeness.

God encourages those who are losing hope . . .

This is certainly good news for us since we so easily and so frequently lose confidence. God always has hope in abundance for us and sends us a multitude of small and enormous signs. We must be open to the little miracles God sends us each day.

God chooses for them the lot of truth . . .

This is absolutely good news for us. Like a loving parent whose child has chosen dessert rather than a substantial meal, God is always steering us in the direction of nurturing relationships, nourishing habits and loving communities. Sometimes we are disappointed when we discover that the people, places and customs in our lives shows signs of weakness or even corruption. This is when we must remember that God’s love can achieve all impossibilities.

Jesus says: For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God. (Mark 10:27)

Further on in this reading, Ben Sirach describes God as hating and loathing the unjust and ungodly. Use the scripture link to read other versions of these verses and contemplate the idea that what Ben Sirach describes as “hatred” is an intense and impassioned perseverance in calling one who has left the sheepfold. Let us contemplate the idea that God’s “loathing” is an intense and relentless persistence to love our enemies into goodness. When we view God’s word in this way, we discover that the yawning gaps and deep sorrows in our lives suddenly have new life in kingdom justice.

And so we pray to the loving Trinity that we will celebrate this coming Sunday . . .

God provides a way back . . . and so must we provide a bridge to those who have wounded us. Loving God, help us to allow you to convert all harm to good. 

God encourages the hopeless with outrageous hope . . . and so must we bring confidence to those in despair. Hopeful God, fill us with your Spirit of peace and serenity. 

God chooses for us the path of truth when we have strayed . . . and so must we bring Christ’s light to a world hungering for justice and compassion. Saving God, bring us Jesus’ understanding, courage and wisdom. 

We know that for us much of this impossible . . . but for you all things are possible. Shelter us in your truth, nourish us in your hope, and transform us in your loving care.

Amen.


Image from: https://www.passionforpaintings.com/gb/painters/matthias-stom/the-penitent-saint-peter 

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Acts 2:1-11: Pentecostpentecost

June 5, 2022

All through Eastertide we have reflected on the gifts and treasures God so generously bestows on us. We have considered our role in God’s great plan. And we have remembered Jesus’ actions and words as he worked to build God’s kingdom on earth among God’s children. Today spend time with these verses and look for their impact in your own life.

When the time was fulfilled . . . frequently we hear these words in scripture. When we take these words in we understand that God’s work comes about in God’s time and space, and not ours.

They were all in one place . . . a number of times we hear God’s call to unity in the Spirit. When we come together in Jesus’ name our prayers are answered even though we might not believe this truth to be so.

The Spirit enabled them to proclaim . . . through both Old and New Testaments we are often told that the Spirit will tell us which way to walk, that a voice will speak to us to give us the words we will need to speak in God’s time and in God’s plan. When we relax into this knowledge we find new peace, a new skin, a new heart.

They were confused . . . so often in the Bible stories we read we understand that even those who are intimately involved with God are confused by the plan that lies before them. When we rest in the knowledge that God has nothing but our joy in mind, we can trust the Spirit to show us which path to take in labyrinth of life.

They were astounded and in amazement . . . repeatedly we hear this news in both Old and New Testaments that we humans are astonished at the depth and breadth and height of God’s goodness and love. When we allow ourselves to believe this good news, we find new peace, new life and new serenity.

We hear them speaking . . . we are constantly barraged by so many words and so many images. Today we open our hearts to the Spirit and focus on one or two of these phrases or words. Today we allow God to speak through us. Today we celebrate the enormous gift and presence of the Spirit in our lives. Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.


mainslide-pentecostUse the scripture link and the drop-down menus to spend time with these Pentecost verses today . . . imagine the world we might create . . . let go of all small and petty plans . . . prepare to be amazed by God’s goodness . . . to be wrapped in Christ’s love . . . to be healed by the Spirit’s power to restore. Let us go out to all the nations in Christ so that all will hear us as if we were speaking in their own tongues . . . for it is in this way that we encounter the gentle compassion and eternal strength of Christ.

Images from: https://stephenlbaxter.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/celebrating-hope-at-pentecost/ and http://www.westburyumc.org/pentecost-sunday-2013

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Deuteronomy 4:32-40: Anything So Great

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Saturday, June 4, 2022

This week we have reflected on our relationship with the Spirit, the lessons Jesus teaches us, and our response to God’s call; tomorrow we look forward to the celebration of this trinity of love. We remember some of Moses’ words as he calls his people to new life.

Ask now of the days of old, before our time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever  happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god ever venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?  

We ask ourselves these same questions. Have we ever encountered anything so great as this promise fulfilled of rebirth and transformation? Have our little gods of comfort and pleasure brought us the measure of joy as the healing of the Spirit?

We might see the world as a place of evil and corruption, or we might see it as a place of possibility and hope. As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Pentecost and anticipate the gift of Trinity, let us count the blessings God has generously given, let us determine to live as Christ has asked us, and let us remember the saving power of the Spirit. For there has never been, and never will be, anything as great as these three in one.


Use the scripture link above to compare versions of these verses, and consider if we have ever experienced anything so great as this promise, this miracle, this trinity of love.

Click on the image to learn more about the feast of the Trinity or visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Sunday

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Zechariah 8:15-17: LessonsIf-You-Tell-The-Truth

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Scripture gives us clear instruction on how we are to act and what we are to say. Our free will allows us to choose this disciple path or reject it for the road of comfort that is wide but that has many pitfalls. The narrow path appears more dangerous and has fewer travelers; but it leads to the narrow gate that opens for us eternal life.

The prophet Zechariah reminds of God’s word: Do not fear! These then are the things you should do: Speak the truth to one another; let there be honesty and peace in the judgments at your gates, and let none of you plot evil against another in his heart, nor love a false oath. For all these things I hate.

God says: When my prophet tells you that I hate lies, insincerity and evil, he speaks to you in his dual way. I want you to understand that I call all liars to honesty. This is difficult for those who believe the stories they weave for they find it nearly impossible to live without the illusions they have conjured. I want you to understand that authenticity is essential in my kingdom. Integrity sets a standard that some of my children despise for it cannot be manipulated. I want you to love goodness. Genuine mercy can only come from a heart that loves and so if you find that it is challenging for you to love your enemy, ask me to help you with this problem. My compassion is infinite. My patience never-ending. My hope is outrageous. My fidelity is unmatchable. My love is wider, broader and deeper than you can understand . . . and it is within you now, looking for your willingness to be transformed. This is my instruction for you today. Allow these words to enter your bones. Allow me to heal your broken heart.


Use the scripture link to compare versions of these verses and listen for God’s instruction.

Enter the word Instruction in the blog search bar and explore other posts about God’s lesson plans for us.

Image from: http://love.catchsmile.com/if-you-tell-the-truth/

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The Spirit


Acts 19:1-8: The SpiritGUWG-Heart-Bible-Pic

Monday, May 30, 2022

In the New American Bible Paul said to the Ephesians: Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?

They answered him: We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.

Today we take time to consider our own concept of the Spirit and our willingness to allow the Spirit’s impact on our lives. To do this we might use the scripture link above to explore other versions of these verses. We may or may not be baptized or confirmed in a Christian way of life. If we have, we might consider how vulnerable we have allowed ourselves to become. If we have not, we now have the opportunity to consider entering into this special relationship.

In the Message, Paul asks: Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?

And the people answer: We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?

How much does the Spirit influence our lives? Are we aware that God lives within? Do we welcome the Spirit? Do we share our Spirit experiences with others? Do we thank God for this faithful, hope-filled, healing presence?

what-is-the-holy-spirit2-740x405If Paul were to walk among us today and ask us his question, what do we answer? Have we heard of the Spirit? Do we recognize or understand this powerful force in our lives? Do we hold this message within or do we spread the good news?

Here is how Paul reacts to the questions that pepper him: He entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

What is our response to those who question the presence and power of the Spirit? How do we enact the Spirit in our relationships with others? And what do we do with the good news we have received?

Enter the word Spirit into the blog search bar, explore, reflect, rejoice and share.


Images from: http://getupwithgod.com/bible/the-bible-in-5-words/

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