Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


Matthew 18:21-35The Unforgiving Servant

Thursay, January 17, 2019

Rembrandt: The Unforgiving Servant

It is so very difficult to forgive those who have wronged us grievously; and it is also difficult to curb the pressing urge to seek revenge against our enemies.  Jesus tells us today that we must endlessly forgive those who harm us . . . otherwise we are like the unforgiving servant in today’s parable.  And the frightening outcome of his life is not one we want for ourselves or our loved ones.

Seventy-seven times, we are told by scholars and experts, represents a number of completion.  By forgiving endlessly we near the perfection or completion we yearn for.  The irony here is that when we become the unforgiving servant we distance ourselves from the very fullness we seek.  We label ourselves as partial and lacking.  Jesus warns us of this today.

Luke also records that Jesus tells his followers they must forgive endlessly (17:4).  This is something they and we struggle to understand.  Our instincts tell us to attack, defend, justify and explain.  We want to come out of any dispute or confrontation as the clear and evident winner.  We want to survive.  For most of us it is difficult to walk away from an argument or to allow another to have the last word; yet Jesus tells us that our first step toward wholeness is to forgive.  Reconciliation will follow if we remain open.  Isolation, anger and fear become more distant and even impossible when we turn our backs on revenge and seek union instead.  Jesus calls us to this today.

St. Paul reminds the Ephesians (4:32) to be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  Which one of us, he implies, is so perfect that we cannot forgive?  And how do we hold a grudge when Jesus – God among us – does not?  St. Paul points this out to us today.

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Following the horrific genocide in Rwanda, the warring Hutus and the Tutsis were brought together in a journey from fighting to forgiveness.  We follow events as they unfold; we want this reconciliation to work because this coming together of bitter enemies tells us that we are worth redeeming.  It shows us what God sees in us.  It reminds us of God’s covenant promise to us.  Powerful testimonials to our capacity to forgive can be found in both print and video media and here are only a few examples.  http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/8564297/ns/today/t/fighting-forgiveness-rwanda/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0W4jx2OZY  and http://articles.cnn.com/2008-05-15/world/amanpour.rwanda_1_hutu-gitarama-tutsis?_s=PM:WORLDWhen we read, hear or view these stories, we take heart.  We once again bolster ourselves for the difficult yet redeeming task of forgiving others.  We once more feel the stirrings of hope in our tired hearts.  We again pull ourselves away from our fear to love our enemies into goodness.

Kill them with kindness, my mother always advised, taking her example from Jesus.  Let God worry about the other guy, Dad always told us, knowing that evil is too enormous and too dangerous for us to conquer on our own.  In her book entitled Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide, Immaculée Ilibagiza tells her story that echoes those of so many other holocaust survivors that God resides even in the center of hell itself if that is where he has to be in order to save us.  This is how much God loves us.  This is how much we can love one another.

When we feel ourselves drawn into this story as the master or the servants, we know that it holds something for us.  When we find ourselves giving over to the anger within us and fear that it will control our thoughts, words and actions, we will want to turn to this story.  When someone who has wronged us approaches us in humble fear of our retaliation, let us reach out a warm and welcoming hand and remember the words that Jesus taught us to pray . . .  Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And let us remember the story of the unforgiving servant.


A re-post from January 17, 2012.

Images from: http://australiaincognita.blogspot.com/2008_10_01_archive.html and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/thumblg_immaculee1.jpg

To read more about Immaculée Ilibagiza, see: http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Most-Inspiring-Person-Of-The-Year/2006/Immacule-Ilibagiza.aspx

For more on Rwando, go to: http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide_in_rwanda.htm

Read Full Post »


Obadiah 1:10-14Gentleness

Friday, January 11, 2019

Written on January 10, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Growing up in a family of five with parents who came from families of more than 10 children each, and having lived and learned with siblings who tumbled over one another as puppies in a litter, I have always been fascinated by the stories in scripture of rivalry in families.  Indeed, just last evening I had dinner with a friend and we spent lots of time sharing and laughing about the “one-upping” that goes on in all families.  We so often forget that God is in charge.

Today’s reading is from Obadiah, a prophet who wrote about five centuries before Christ at a time when the Edomites were forced west out of their own territory near the gulf of Aqaba, and moved into Judah to take up Jewish land.  The Edomites and Israelites had been separated as a result of the division which occurred between brothers at the time of Jacob and Esau.  We can read about the beginning of this division in Genesis, but today we are looking at and reflecting on the long-standing feud which existed between these tribes.  Obadiah warns that we are to be gentle to our enemies, especially when they suffer.  This is an idea which fully blooms when Jesus arrives: intercession for those who do us harm is the first work of the disciple.  And it is difficult work.  Demanding, soul-searching, transforming and glorious work.  There is no other way to love.

Today’s first reading at Mass is 1 John 4:19-5:4.  It is well worth reading in light of Obadiah.  I am particularly struck by these verses:  Whoever does not love a brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he has not seen . . . His commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

When we are up against someone or some group doing us damage, we are to “kill them with kindness” as my mother always instructed us.  We are to “let God worry about the other guy” as my Dad always told us.  When we release the anguish and anxiety about how to handle someone difficult, when we give the task over to God who converts harm to good, the pain eases, goes away, and even begins to convert to something glorious and joyful.  We begin to transform.  We may be called to rebuke our neighbor, but when we are . . . we must be gentle.  We may be called to reprove . . . and when we are we must be gentle.  We ourselves may be rebuked by a friend or an enemy . . . and when we are . . . we must listen.  For in these words may be the voice of God.  This is what Obadiah and John are both telling us.  Joy awaits those who seek healing for their brothers and sisters . . . all brothers and sisters . . . those we love . . . and those we find difficult to love.  In this way we heal not only others but ourselves.  This is the work of a disciple.

From Leviticus and Romans as cited in MAGNIFICAT in the Morning Prayer: You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.  Though you may have to reprove your fellow-man, do not incur sin because of him.  Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the Lord.  (Leviticus 19:17-18)  Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.  (Romans 13:10)

And so we pray . . .

Awesome yet Gentle God,

Teach us your Ways.

Teach us your Precepts.

Teach us your Mercy.

Teach us your Law.

Teach us your Gentleness.

Teach us your Justice.

Teach us your Love.

Amen.


A re-post from January 11, 2012.

Image from: http://developingyourspirit.blogspot.com/2010/05/gentleness.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.1 (2008). Print.  

Read Full Post »


2 Chronicles 26Pride and Fall

Tuesday, Christmas Day, December 25, 2018

On the day we celebrate the humble entry of the Christ in a world yearning for healing, we remember the re-post from November 22, 2011. We remember the lesson of  pride that Uzziah teaches us.

Rembrandt: King Uzziah

My mother warned us often: Pride goeth before a fall; she was likely referring to Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.   Today we are presented with a detailed story of how Uzziah takes so much that God has given to him – wealth, power and fame – and quickly loses it: But after he had become strong, he became proud of his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.  Was it the flocks and vineyards he owned, the soldiers he commanded or the city fortifications he built that fogged his vision?  We will never know what urged him to take over the office of the temple priest, but we do know his fate: leprosy broke out on his forehead . . . [and the priests] expelled him from the temple.  He fled unwillingly, for the Lord had afflicted him. King Uzziah remained a leper until the day of his death. He lived in exile, in a segregated house, excluded from the Lord.  We can imagine how difficult it must have been for Uzziah to process what had happened to him; and we can appreciate how difficult it must have been for him to deal with his heavy loss: a man who has all suddenly is separated from all that makes him powerful, rich and famous.

David: The Coronation of Napoleon

I remember an historical novel my Mother gave me to read; it was by Annemarie Selinko and was later made into the film Désirée.  It is the intriguing and convoluted story of Napoleon Bonaparte told from the point of view of a young woman he met, wooed and left behind.  It was valuable to me as a young girl and it is valuable to me today as I recall its latent message of pride going before a fall, and I also recall a conversation I had with Mother about humility and gratitude being the antidotes that will inoculate us against the insidious, deadly workings of pride.

Pride can make us ugly.  It can warp and distort our vision and hearing.  It makes us the people we have pledged to never be.  Gratitude puts us in proper relationship with self, God and others.  It reminds us gently that we are not the alpha and omega.  It whispers to us quietly that we have much to learn and that we cannot foresee or control the future.  Humility reminds us to take the last seat at the table rather than the first.  It gives us time to think, restrains us from making fools of ourselves and saves us from impulsivity.  Together, gratitude and humility can steer us away from the fall of pride but ultimately we must be the ones who save ourselves from the hubris that stalks any successful man or woman.

Napoleon crowns himself king, I learned in high school, and when I saw the painting by David in our textbook I remembered the story of the young girl who found out that the disaster of her inconstant suitor was salvation in disguise.  Uzziah is king and enters the temple to act as a priest and make an offering on the altar.  These are stories worth remembering.  They are lessons worth learning.  As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us call upon the twin angels of gratitude and humility . . . and keep them close at hand.


More details about Uzziah can be found at the following sites: http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/John_L_Kachelman_Jr/kings-ot/uzziah.html and http://bibleencyclopedia.com/uzziah.htm

Images from: http://badgercatholic.blogspot.com/2011/05/mary-help-of-christians-ora-pro-nobis.html and http://biblicalgenealogy.kavonrueter.com/Pictures-Ozias.htm

Read Full Post »


Matthew 17:24-27The Temple Tax

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2018

Today we celebrate the coming of the One who teaches us how to pay the Temple tax, how to live in this world while not being part of it. 

L.L.Effler: Paying the Temple Tax

When we throw ourselves into understanding and living the Gospel we run the risk of becoming fanatic about its meaning and implications.  Ultimately, God speaks to each of us in our hearts to answer questions and to clear up ambiguities.  In due course, God makes the meaning of his Word known . . . and it is for each of us to learn how to best live out this Word.

The story of Jesus paying the temple tax with a coin found in a fish is one that appears simple but is, in fact, complex.  It calls us to examine our relationship with the society’s civil and religious structures.  It asks us to evaluate our own concept of personal freedom.

 “The point [here] is not that Jesus rejects the temple cult.  He rather rejects the idea that theocratic taxation is the appropriate means of maintaining that cult.  But with the miracle – not actually narrated – of the coin in the fish (which sounds like a piece of folklore), Jesus makes arrangements for payment.  He thereby avoids offending the devout people who, in collecting the money, think themselves to be serving God.  Personal freedom must be delimited because it must be frequently exercised, which means it must take into account the effect upon others (cf. 1 Cor. 8:13).  At the same time, by not giving his own money but by giving a lost coin, Jesus does not acknowledge the legitimacy of a mandatory tax”.  (Barton and Muddiman 866)

As a youngster I was fascinated by the idea that my personal liberty ends where others’ liberty begins.  I remember the animated discussions my middle school teachers sparked with their blanket statements; these generalities were blatant syllogisms of reason used poorly and we young people responded enthusiastically.  We honed our systems of well-ordered logic and practiced the art of zeroing in a specious argument with respect and courtesy.

As a young woman the realities of life asked me to draw lines and determine boundaries; and I began to learn how to effectively and politely use the phrase that is not my problem while still taking responsibility for my actions.  It was a time of separation from the old with an exciting entrance into to new.  I tried to fully comprehend my Dad’s warning that it’s not so bad to be ignorant of the facts but it is unforgivable to be stupid!  Dad encouraged us to learn as much as possible in order to keep our risk of being ignorant low; and he was clear that there was no excuse for a lack of common sense.  Stupidity, in his view, was a willful neglecting of the facts that blocked our own liberty or the liberty of others.  Dad worked hard at being open and he encouraged that openness in us.

In today’s Noontime Jesus teaches by his example.  As happens so many times in the Gospel accounts Jesus lays open reality for us to examine.  He gives us an opportunity to educate ourselves.  He encourages us to hone our sense of fair play.  He asks us to think about others while at the same time we refine our sense of fair play and propriety.  Jesus asks us to think for ourselves, to use divine logic and in brief . . . Jesus asks us to grow up.

It is clear from his actions and words that Jesus places prime importance on taking care of others even to the point of sacrifice.  But it is also clear that we are responsible for observing spiritual and actual parameters.  We are not encouraged to enable or pretend but rather, we are asked to serve others before self, act in kindness, hold true to the commandment of love we have been given, and to exercise our own freedom while not trampling of the right of others to likewise be free.

Many of us have difficulty with this lesson and yet once learned it is not forgotten because the sweet joy of personal liberty has a value beyond price.  The boundary between self and others is clearly delineated by courtesy and kindness.  The rule of generosity and compassion pertains to each and to all of us.  The temple tax is to be paid out of respect for others . . . but the legitimacy of our own relationship with God is never to be forfeited.


A re-post from November 21, 2011.

Image from: http://www.revelationart.org/Gallery1.html

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001.866. Print.

Read Full Post »


Matthew 2:13-15Flight

Monday, November 26, 2018

Each year my students and I study the topic of immigration and one of the questions I ask – in Spanish, of course, since theirs is a Spanish class – is what year their families immigrated to the U.S.  Each time I ask there is a student or two whose family has an ancestor from a North American indigenous tribe.  Each year there are first generation Americans, and sometimes there are even students whose families have recently arrived in the U.S.  We discuss who and what it means to be “American” and we open our horizon to understand that anyone born in the Americas is actually AmericanThis is always something the girls have to chew on for a bit.  We remind ourselves that in Spanish there is an adjective that describes someone from the U.S.  . . . estadounidenseThis causes some frowns along with knowing nods.

As we wrap up this annual discussion, I ask the girls to return the next day with the name of a famous refugee or immigrant without whom the course of human history would be less light and more dark.  They like this task.  When they return to class we hear the typical names and some students even go back to ancient narratives to name the Hebrews and their struggles in foreign lands; but they rarely name the Holy Family.  When I refer to the “angel’s warning to Joseph” that we read in today’s Noontime, students think I refer to the dream in which Gabriel appears to encourage Joseph to take Mary as a wife even though she is with child.  I always think it sad that we somehow stop the Christmas story before we arrive at a most important point . . . Jesus and his family flee persecution and move to another land where they speak another language, learn about new customs, and earn and spend different currency.  This is such a good lesson for a language classroom, particularly in today’s climate.

This discussion often engenders a good conversation about borders, frontiers, empire, colonization, passports and identity documents.  We talk about how St. Paul made his famous evangelization journeys without having to apply for visas or travel papers or check in at border crossings.  We also discuss the influence of families in the colony of Costa Rica and speculate about how the presence – or absence – of women and children in the formative stages of nation building shapes and forms a national psyche.   We discuss human conduct, human tribalism and the treatment of those within and outside of our own tribe.  These discussions are always rewarding for the students and for me.  I never fail to learn something new.

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night . . .

I am reminded of my own family history of Europeans who rose to depart from familiar places to arrive at foreign shores in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  My mother was a first-generation American while my dad’s family was here to fight in the Revolutionary War.  My mother’s family taught their offspring the value of personal freedom, they all registered and voted, and they remembered their roots in a South Philadelphia polyglot neighborhood where English was spoken with many heavy, foreign accents.  My father’s family was a mixture of old world lineage with newcomer spunk.  Both families raised feisty, independent, community building youngsters who cared about family, church and home.  They knew the heartache of uprooting and leavings.  They all left loved ones behind knowing that they would never embrace or kiss again.  They understood the importance of the cover of darkness and the promise of daylight at the end of an arduous journey.

Rise, take the child and his mother, flee . . .

We live in a world of 7 billion people who are on the move yet long for stability.  Many of us encounter hostility and violence even as we look for security and dependability.  We are all God’s people yet some of us want clear boundaries that close us into protective enclaves while others of us look to open up locked doors to let in fresh air.  But the commonality we hold – whether we want to admit this or not – is this . . . in God’s kingdom we are all refugees arriving at God’s open gate in various states of disarray and need.  In God’s kingdom we have all taken flight to jostle into a newness that we hope for yet dread.  In God’s kingdom we are sisters and brothers trailing along dragging the suitcases we will not be needing.  In God’s kingdom . . . we have all taken flight together . . . to arrive at the newness of God’s sure promise.


A re-post from October 24, 2011.

Image from: http://www.joyfulheart.com/christmas/christmas_artwork.htm

Read Full Post »


Matthew 22:1-14The Wedding Garment

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Written on June 1 and posted today as FavoriteSunday’s Gospel reading was the story of the wedding guest who appeared without a wedding garment . . .

The Parable of the Wedding Garment

This story frightened me as a child.  So much violence, so much anger.  Weddings were enormous family celebrations for us; just inviting aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents was automatically a guest list of at least two hundred.  My parents were from large families, and these families valued and celebrated life, and they accepted all – even the various black sheep.  On the Sunday this parable was read we five had lots of questions for Mother and Dad: Why did this guy invite people who did not want to come?  Who would miss a wedding and a chance to gather the clan in the first place?  Why did this guy kill people who made him mad?  Why did he invite people and not tell them there was a dress code?  When we were young Mother and Dad would patiently explain that those who were invited should have gone, that the images here are dire because Jesus is making a point, that in those days everyone had “a wedding garment” that was worn when one was invited to a wedding.  When we were older it was explained that this story was more about the presence of the kingdom here and now, and about the “wedding garment” being our own conversion of heart.  Our “wedding garment,” they explained, cannot be bought or borrowed from another.  It cannot be feigned or imagined.  God has a specific measure and infinite mercy.  He calls each of us.  He has a plan in mind which Jesus shows us and the Spirit nurtures in us.  Our proper response to this invitation is to follow Jesus’ model, and to allow the Spirit to live within in order that we discover true repentance, so that we cultivate an honest softening of the heart and a willing obedience to do as God asks.  When we receive the invitation to the feast, which happens frequently – in case we hadn’t noticed – we are to go . . . and we will need to be prepared.  We understood this since the traditions of scouting and the military life were woven through everything we did as a family: One needs to always be prepared for any eventuality, we learned.  This was only prudent.  This was wise.  This was wearing how one wore the “wedding garment”.

I am amazed at the haphazard way in which so many people live, bouncing from one problem to another like a pin ball – or from one thrill to another, from one addiction to another – without much investment in discovering how to stop any insanity in their lives.  I understand when I read this story today that the ejected guest is the colleague I work with who complains but does not want to solve the problem, or the family member who persists in unhealthy behavior and refuses to move down a path that brings clarity and resolution to a worrying problem.  Mother and Dad were right.  This story is not about the nit-picking God who invites all to come to the banquet of life . . . it is really about the stubborn creatures who have heard a message and refuse to believe it.  Once seen in this light, the parable makes sense . . . and it is something to be taken seriously.

For today we might pause to reflect and ask ourselves . . . Do we have a wedding garment prepared to wear when we receive invitations to wedding feasts – are we ready to do God’s work when called in the Spirit and as Jesus does?  Do we know where our garment is, does it need mending, does it need cleaning up – when was the last time we examined it carefully?  Do we know what this wedding garment signifies – are we ready to say to the God who created us . . . “We have worked hard on ourselves to soften our hearts and bend our stiff necks.  We have discarded our wide phylacteries and long tassels to put on the simple garment of Christ.  We have come to labor in the vineyard to do the work you need rather than the work we want”.

In the Christian Baptismal Rite, a white garment is often bestowed on the baptized child.  Many infants wear a special white baptismal dress.  We later see white fabrics used in First Communion dresses and suits, in confirmation and graduation robes and dresses, and even in wedding gowns.  With all of this imagery to remind us, let us dig out our own wedding garment from the closet or chest where we have stored it for a special day.  Let us clean it, repair it, refurbish it . . . for every day is Banquet Day in the Kingdom and we have need of it often . . . Do we act as if this is this something we know?


A re-post from October 12, 2011.

Image from: http://edharewood.fatcow.com/Life_of_Jesus_Christ/parable-of-the-wedding-garment/

Read Full Post »

2 Samuel 23: Last Words


2 Samuel 23Last Words

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A favorite written on June 18 and posted today . . .

We have no way of knowing the impact of our words on others.  We might guess.  We may even have the good fortune of receiving thanks from someone for words we may have offered during a crisis.  Or we may have the misfortune of discovering that our words were unkind or even damaging.  In all of these circumstances, we do well to remember that words may hurt or heal.  Words represent ideas and actions.  Words are sometimes our only vehicle for communication.  What then might we want to offer as last words to those with whom we struggle?  What do we offer to those we love?

I remember the last conversations I had with each of my parents.  They were completely typical.  Words of love and comfort going back and forth over the phone wires between Mother and me.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  Words of encouragement and life philosophy with Dad, even though he floated in and out of consciousness.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  There was no need to iron out wrinkles or un-ruffle feathers.  My parents and I were always open with one another.  Hidden agendas and anxieties were not allowed to fog our relationship.  The gift of honesty and truth is a settled heart.

I also remember my last conversation with my oldest brother and sister, both now deceased.  My brother knew his end was near as he died a protracted and painful death from cancer.  He and I joked and laughed as much as his condition would allow.  We both knew that each exchange held the potential for being the last yet we did not let this clutter our thinking.  We both acted on the belief that death is a mere transition and not an end.  The twelve-year difference in our ages was bridged by our love of family and commonly held values.

My sister died a sudden death and so our last words were ordinary.  We spoke about when we would see one another again and what we would be doing; yet there was a distance in her eyes.  Perhaps she already knew that her exodus was near.  Perhaps she held something too close to yet share.  I do not know but I also do not worry.  All will be revealed in God’s time.  I followed her across the lawn in the gathering dark as we walked to her car.  “Don’t walk all this way with me,” she smiled, “Go back to the campfire.  We all had a great time tonight.  Thanks for having the party.  See you soon”.  They were pleasant last words, normal and content, holding nothing deceitful, nothing dishonest.  We had celebrated the birthdays of her two oldest children.  She was satisfied.

We were all taught to live by a double axiom.  It was a happy combination of Dad’s “Hold nothing back” philosophy tempered by Mother’s “It will keep” viewpoint that unprepared thoughts were best held until processed and delivered at a better time.  It seemed like walking a tightrope to us five extroverted children as we grew.  Now I know that it reflected the working relationship my parents had forged through sixty years of living together.  Hide nothing – but say what you have to say with kindness.  We never know what words may be our last.

Being king and a man raised up, David knows that his last words will be recorded.   We do not have that luxury or – as some will think – that burden.  But when we think on this we realize that we utter last words constantly.  Friendships fade while others blossom.  Colleagues retire or go to other work with honest promises made and meant to be kept; new workmates join us.  Circumstances constantly change.  Someone is always moving on.  Yet our words remain forever, reverberating in the minds of others.   They capture memories accurately or wrongly.  They convey meaning poorly or well.  They accompany our actions and as such they are our legacy.

As we move through the last days of spring and step into summer, let us take a moment in time to pause and consider the weight of our words and what they might say to us and others about what we hold dear . . . and what message we want to leave behind for an eternity.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 30, 2011.

Image from: http://www.thecancerhelpblog.com/tag/poems/ 

Read Full Post »


Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 

Read Full Post »


Matthew 7:7-11The Answer to Prayers

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This month marks my parents’ 75th wedding anniversary; they celebrated 60 years together before Mother died in 1997.  It seems a long time ago – yet a brief time ago.  I think of them as I spend time with my grandson on visitor’s day in the middle of his two-week Boy Scout camp.  Both Mother and Dad were heavy contributors to the Boy and Girl Scouts as adult volunteers.  My siblings and my oldest son were all scouts.  I found the Brownies a bit boring (I was not into making “sit upons” or selling cookies – although I love to eat them) but as an adult I participated in Scouting as a Den Leader, a Den Leader Coach and as an Assistant Commissioner.   Scouting, it seems, is one of my family themes . . . and scouting was one of the places that we all learned that collaboration and congeniality are as important as prayer and elbow grease when moving a group toward a goal.  It is one of the places where we learned – and it was re-enforced – that a huge task becomes a small one when broken into parts for willing hands.  It is one of the places we learned that preparedness, forward-thinking, and attention to detail and to one another ease the formation of community.  These lessons came from Mother and Dad yes, but as worried parents they used any vehicle handy to bring those lessons home.  And the scouting movement was one of many tools for them.  This afternoon, watching my grandson scamper along forest paths laid down by scouts who now return as adult volunteers, I felt my parents’ wisdom.  And as a parent and now grandparent, I understand how many prayers my parents offered up to God in our behalf . . .and I understood with a surety I cannot prove that they pray for us still.

In today’s Noontime we see the simple statement that God is a loving parent who wants to grant our wishes.  God wants to give us bread and not stones, fish and not snakes.  God is standing just on the other side of the door we have closely firmly against him like a two-year old in tantrum or a teenager in angst; he waits patiently for us to see what is before us . . . that we are loved, and that we can do nothing to earn this love.  It is a gift freely given.   We may believe this is fact or we may think it fiction.  In either case, God waits patiently, Jesus tells us.  He wants to pardon, to save and to redeem.  All we need do is ask.  God is the eager parent who uses any tool to hand to bring his children together and to build community.  Although we may not see or feel this, God works constantly on our behalf, God moves to answer all of our prayers.  Like a patient parent, God wants to give us all those good things for which we ask.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 26, 2011.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: