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Matthew 15:29-31: Healing

Monday, July 15, 2019

The people healed by Christ respond with worship, they recognize that God moves among them in the person of Jesus . . . and they give thanks.

I am wondering how many times I have been healed by the Christ who comes to me through friends, colleagues, students, family . . . or even strangers.  I am certain that it has been frequent.  When these miracles happen, do I pause long enough, ardently thanking the God who created me?  Do I ask for next miracle as soon as this one has passed?  Do I pause to allow the mystery of my encounter with God to sink into and through me?

Am I waiting actively, patiently, openly, honestly?

And for what am I waiting?  An end, a beginning, a renovation?

This I know, I know that love endures . . . and that patience brings wisdom . . . and that I need not know every turn of the road that lies ahead of me.  This I know, that I am well-loved, well watched over.  Every small problem is noted.  Each tiny sigh is heard.  All sorrows and tears are seen and tended to.

We need not worry about what is to come.  We only need worry about our reaction to the healing we receive each day n so many small ways.   It is always the small things that matter.

Today’s Gospel is from Mark (5:21-43) in which we hear again the stories of the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the  woman who suffered from endless hemorrhages.  They were healed quickly and fully by Christ’s hand and life’s inversion showed itself to them completely.  Christ walks among us today . . . beckoning, calling, touching and healing.  What is it we wait for?  What is it we look for?  What is it we long for?  Is it possible that in Christ’s inversion the miracle we seek has already touched us . . . and we have allowed this healing to pass by . . . or entirely un-noticed . . . or noticed and fully praised?


A re-post from July 2, 2012.

For more on the stories in today’s Gospel, see The Tassles on Our Cloaks post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/09/10/the-tassels-on-our-cloaks/

For more reflections on healing go to the Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/

Image from: http://psbible.blogspot.com/2011/06/healing-of-man-born-blind.html

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2 Samuel 13Seeking Intimacy

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Desire, love, lust.  Lashing back in hurt and surprise, angry retaliation, calculated revenge.  Family relations churn and twist as we read this story which is similar and yet different from the stories of Bathsheba and Dinah, as the HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY points out.  Family values and family sickness shatter human lives as these people roil in deceit and turmoil.  David, the father, king and leader, does nothing . . . can do nothing . . . but watch as his family self destructs – for he himself is culpable.  As the commentary states: David’s hands are tied because his sons are merely mimicking his own sick behavior.  These people seek intimacy with one another and with God . . . and do not find it . . . because they look in the wrong place.  True intimacy lies in the process, in the journey, in the progress of the soul.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT:

There are two messages today: first, we have to hold on to absolute responsibility for real order and commitment to the Lord God.  Second, the fundamental character of life is a true waiting, hard for Occidentals to comprehend, especially for modern people.  Life means waiting, not Faust-like grasping, but waiting and being ready.  We are waiting for the terror of the night, and waiting for the day when this terror will have passed.  “The people will languish from fearful expectation”.  Anyone who remains stuck, waiting in fearful expectation just to see whether or not he will survive, has not yet laid bare the innermost strata.  For the fearful expectation was sent to us in order to remove our false sense of security and behind it is this other metaphysical waiting that is part of existence.  Man is always in danger of rooting himself, of running aground.  Over and over again, life will shake anyone who waits in that way, in order to make him hurry out to meet what is coming.  Then what vitality he has been given will come to life.  Then he will feel that life goes above and beyond individual lives.  Only in this way will he be truly human, by living above and beyond himself, waiting for the final reality.  That is the reason for this striving and seeking further and knowing it will one day come: to wait until the lights flare up. 

We have more expectation than earth can grant, because what we encounter in only a piece of reality, a piece of creation.  We are waiting for the fulfillment of a promise: You will one day possess all this because God, as God, is himself reality, realness, and intimacy.

Father Alfred Delp, S.J.  – condemned to death in Germany in 1945

If we might only think about the dual choice that faces us daily – complaining or rejoicing.

If we might only seek what is best for us today – our singular selves or our unity with God.

If we might only become one with God today . . . and all days . . . how much better we might see God’s creation and our place in it.


For some beautiful images of God’s creation in the Canadian Rockies visit Patrick Latter’s Photography blog at: http://hikingphoto.com/ or click on the image above.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 1 July 2008. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 270-271. Print.

Image from: http://hikingphoto.com/

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Proverbs 22 to 24: Infinity is Us

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Escher: Approaches to Infinity

Once I begin to read these verses, I cannot stop.  They ring as true today as when they were written so long ago.  They are proof that human nature, like water, swirls to the lowest level if left unchecked; but if effort is spent, water can be managed into refreshing spray, into nurturing irrigation channels.  Water can both destroy and mend.  So too, can humans.

The shrewd man perceives evil and hides, while simpletons continue on and suffer the penalty . . . Be not friendly with a hot-headed man, nor the companion of a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways, and get yourself into a snare . . . Look not on the wine when it is read, when it sparkles in the glass.  It goes down smoothly, but in the end it bites like a serpent, or like a poisonous adder.  Your eyes behold strange sites, and your heart utters disordered thoughts . . .

Some things never change.

If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you . . . Lie not in wait  against the home of a just man, ravage not his dwelling place; for the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin . . . Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; for the evil man has no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out. 

Some people never change.

He who plots evil – men call him an intriguer.  Beyond intrigue and folly and sin, it is arrogance that men find abominable.

Proverbs are a fountain of strength because we can find sayings that suit all people and occasions.  As I read, the images of many people flood my mind.  Images of myself also come to me – both from good times and from bad.

These are universal sentiments for all people for all times.  On a hot summer evening we do well to pause . . . read . . . listen, watch and pray.


Written on June 12, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://f06.middlebury.edu/FYSE1176A/Escher.htm

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John 16: Persecution Predicted

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 

Joy on stone . . .

We have never been told that apostleship is easy.  It has never been said that discipleship is easily lived.  What we have been told, and what has been said is this: your mourning will turn into joy, your reward will be great.

In this chapter Jesus speaks frankly, honestly and openly with his friends.  He assures them that once he goes their life will become difficult.  He reminds them that this is God’s plan and that once he, Jesus, has made his Exodus, the Holy Spirit will come to live with them – to continue to guide, protect and encourage them.

The apostles – and we – stumble through his meaning.  What is this little while of which Jesus speaks?  Jesus tells them that they must begin to petition the Father in Jesus’ name.  And suddenly these followers of the Christ begin to focus on the coming event: The Resurrection which Jesus predicts.  Suddenly, because they are familiar with all of the predictions made in their Testament of Torah, Wisdom and Prophets, they begin to understand that persecution must follow because Jesus is God.

In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

If we are sailing easily through life’s storms, we must be ignoring some of our assignments.  If we are never challenged by the headlines, by our friends, by our dear ones, we must not be living in the now.  When we hear our thinking going toward “making nice”, “not wanting to upset anyone”, “ignoring something until it goes away or someone else takes care of it”, then we know that we are still stumbling through the meaning of the Christ’s words which he speaks to us today in Chapter 16 of John.

We must not be disheartened when we meet stiff necks, hard hearts, personal agendas.  We must call upon Christ to bring us hope, call upon the Holy Spirit to bring us comfort, call upon the Father to bolster our faith that all harm will be turned to good . . . and we must step fully into the arena of life.

And so we pray . . .

Jesus, God, Holy Comforter, we know that you will never lead us falsely, yet we fear the coming storm.  We doubt our own ability to follow you.  We know that you are always with us, yet your presence is sometimes difficult to feel.  We doubt our own steadfastness.  We know that your words are true, because you are Truth.  We know that your words are loving, because you are Love.  We know that the darkness is shattered by your presence, because you are Light.  Bolster us with confidence, send us courage, because we know of the persecution of this world . . . and we also know that you have already conquered this world.  We ought not to fear, but we are human.  Send us your strength.  Teach us how to find joy in the stony path of life. Remind us that joy will come of our mourning.  Amen. 


First written on June 11, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For a reflection on living in joy click on the image above or go to: http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/2012/05/30/living-in-joy/

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Zechariah 10: The New Order

Monday, June 24, 2019

When surprise springs upon us we stagger a bit in wonderment . . . and then we too often we move forward quickly, passing by the opportunity to reflect with God about how the surprise he has given us will continue to change our lives.  It is these changes and surprises that tell us we can trust God.  It is these changes and surprises that reveal God’s fidelity and care for us.  It is these changes and surprises that bring us evidence of God’s deep and abiding love.

Today we spend time thinking about the new orderZechariah predicts the newness that accompanies the Messiah.  The Pharisees do not want to hear this news.  From today’s Gospel reading from Luke: Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you”.  He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose’”.

God brings order out of the chaotic universe.  Jesus brings order out of the corrupt hierarchy when he tells us that we are priests in our own right, the adopted daughters and sons of the creator, no longer needing the intercession of priests in the temple.  We are our own temple, Christ having destroyed the old and having become the new.  We enter into that temple when we humble ourselves, take up our assignments, and follow.

To have a deep understand of the meaning in the Book of Zechariah it is best to read notes and commentary; but even at a quick glance we can feel the newness of these words.  The Word is rain in the spring season.  The Word brings about the falling away of deceitful dreams and empty comfort.  The Word gathers up the sheep who wander searching for meaning and feeling in their lives that lasts and does not flicker and vanish with the slightest whisper of struggle.  The Word strengthens us so that we might walk in his name.

Whoever strives to be made God’s dwelling place, should strive to make himself humble and peaceable, that he may be known to be God’s servant, not by his greed for talk and pliability of mien, but by the reality of his lowliness; for goodness of heart requires no false unction of talk.  (Saint Columban, d. 615- MAGNIFICAT, Oct 30, 2008)

When I suddenly find myself swimming upstream against tremendous odds, I know that it is time to halt, to humble myself, to take stock and to listen . . . so that I might hear The Word that never fails.  When I find that I do not comprehend what is before me, I know that I have entered into a new time – an exciting time – when I am accompanied closely by Christ.  Zechariah predicts his coming to the people, his coming to each of us.  In all of our struggle and anticipation . . . we might overlook the fact that he already walks among us.

The True Word is not false.  It does not flatter.  It dies not waver.  It does not manipulate.  It frees.  It speaks truth always.  It produces good fruit in due season.  The Word is the New Order.  We have heard this story many times.  Let us act as if we believe.

Let us not forget the surprising good news that the prophet Zechariah brings us.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30 October 200. Print.

Image from: http://softmoonlight.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/the-desert-flower/

Written on October 30, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on surprises in our lives, go to the Ruth – Surprise page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/ruth-surprise/

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Luke 10:38-42: Martha and Mary

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Vermeer: Martha and Mary

There is only need of one thing.

There is a time for action and a time for reflection.  This well-known story of Martha and Mary reminds us of the opening of Chapter 3 in Ecclesiastes: There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.  And frequently these times occur at once, leaving us a bit dizzy and exhausted.  We need not worry that we have missed an opportunity, for God always allows us another opportunity to amend.  What we must do is to allow ourselves enough action time balanced with quiet time . . . in order that we both witness and wait.

There is only need of one thing.

This story is followed by the time when Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray to the Father.  I always think it must have been startling for his followers to hear that he encouraged them to address the creator with the name of Abba . . . Father, a name of endearment and intimacy.  This relationship with God that Jesus urges is quite different from the one which Israel had experienced as chosen tribe.  This new relationship is one in which we are loved beyond measure, it is one in which we are urged to ask so that we might receive.  It is one in which we are encouraged to petition so that we might be answered.

There is only need of one thing.

In the midst of so many seasons, so many turnings, so many routes, so many options . . . There is only need of one thing . . . to listen to the voice of God, to witness and to wait, to petition and to ask . . . Abba, Father . . .

There is only need of one thing.


Image from: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.3.Martha_and_Mary.htm

For a wonderful site that tells us so much about Martha and Mary, click on the image above or go to: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.3.Martha_and_Mary.htm

Also you may like this reflection on The Greatest Vocation at: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2010/07/greatest-vocation.html

Written on June 9, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Judith 7: The Heart of the Just

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Titian: Judith and the Head of Holofernes

This is one of my favorite stories – perhaps because the protagonist is a woman.  A good commentary will let us know that there were Hebrew, Latin and Greek versions of this story and that while no one knows the actual events which this narrative describes, it is meant as a text that will bolster the peoples’ faith in the presence of God among them.  It is “a tract for difficult times; the reader, it is hoped, would take to heart the lesson that God was still the Master of history, who would save Israel from her enemies.  Note the parallel with the time of Exodus: as God had delivered his people by the hands of Moses, so he could deliver them by the hand of the pious widow Judith”.  (Senior 520)

Chapter 7 tells of the siege of the town Bethulia by the Assyrian troops of King Nebuchadnezzar under the military leadership of Holofernes together with local tribes; and it sets the story.  If you have time today or this evening, read the entire story.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

It is fascinating to read about these two groups of men who take into account both the small details and the broad strategies in order to lay out the best plans.  They reconnoiter approaches, locate water sources, assess troop strength, close off escape routes, and store up resources.  Meanwhile, the Israelites watch and pray.  Their leader tells them: Let us wait five days more for the Lord our God, to show his mercy toward us; he will not utterly forsake us.  Still, because the odds were so stacked against them, the Hebrew people of Bethulia mourned.  They saw no hope of deliverance and believed they would all be killed or enslaved.

They were in a desperate place with desperate circumstances, yet they hoped.  And a woman acts to save them.  As we have observed, it is a great story.

As we reflect on this story we arrive at this thought: If we always turned to God at the first moment an army amassed itself against us, and if we would be willing to trust an unlikely agent – such as the widow Judith – we might find ourselves less anxious and more joyful.

Today’s Psalm at Mass is 112 with the repeated antiphon: The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.  One of the stanzas reads: An evil report he shall not fear; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear till he looks down upon his foes.

If we might trust as Judith trusts, if we might steady our hearts to make them steadfast and focused on Christ – the rescuer who rescues all who turn to him – we might find more success and less war.  When we hear evil reports as we do each day when we tune into the news, we would tremble less.  When we hear rumors about family, friends and colleagues, we might wait five days or so and petition God for advice in the meantime.  When we fear that we have gone wrong and have lost our way, we might rely on God’s mercy, knowing that he will not forsake us.

If you have time today to spend with some ancient people who thought they faced extinction and yet were saved, you will be rewarded with a story about a pious widow who saves a town . . . and your heart may move closer to firmness, to justice, to trust in the Lord.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.520. Print.

Written on June 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/499.html

Visit A Historical Commentary on the Book of Judith at: http://kinghezekiahofjudah2.blogspot.com/2008/06/location-of-judiths-town-of-bethulia.html

For more about this amazing woman’s story, go to Judith – Sublime Faith, Heroic Love at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/judith-sublime-faith-heroic-love/ or use the search the name Judith on this blog. 

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Acts 1:1-3: The Promise

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Promise of Peace: Isaiah 40 – 48

It seems that a half-dozen times or so each year we look at the book of Acts to see how the formation of the church began in those very early days.  At first, the risen Jesus meets with his followers and holds them together with his physical presence.  After his ascension, Jesus holds his church together with the promise of the Father about which they had heard him speak in Luke 24:49, the gift of the Holy Spirit was to come to them on the Feast of the Pentecost.

In the Jewish tradition, Pentecost also called the Feast of Weeks and it is the second of three holy celebrations: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  Passover, of course, celebrates the Hebrew exodus from slavery to a promised land with Moses as their leader and Yahweh providing providential care.  Tabernacles – also called the Feast of Booths – is a joyful celebration in the fall of the year for the harvest gifts of the threshing floor and the wine press at the end of the season.  Celebrants are required to “dwell in booths,” or tents as a commemoration of their desert pilgrimage and God’s protection during their years of wandering.  (Achetemeier 1088)  Pentecost was a celebration of early or first fruits, the yield from the first harvest of the season.  It is fitting, when we think of this, that the Holy Spirit arrives as a first yielding of many gifts to be received by the followers of Christ.  It is fitting that we reflect on all of this today, the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, two men whose lives were poured out for the formation of Christ’s church.

Paul writes to a disciple, Timothy:  I . . . am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  (2 Timothy 4)  He writes to the Philippians:  Hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.  In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.  (Philippians 2)

When Jesus asks Peter: Who do you say that I am?  Peter replies: You are the Christ, the son of the living God.  (Matthew 16)  Peter writes: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2)

The early apostles were present for the first harvest of the church and the work of this reaping is not complete; we continue to labor in this same promise.  Any trials we endure today become tools of our own discipline when we turn our work over to God.  Evidence of fruits from our labor in this vineyard are little miracles that call us to keep faith, that urge us to become one of the living stones in the living temple of Christ.  When we feel ourselves poured out as libations on the altars of our lives, we also know that we are making our exodus to the Promised Land; we too, are precious and chosen children of God; we too, are held by the promise of the Father. 


Image from: http://kenmorealliance.com/617915.ihtml

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1088. Print.

Written on June 29, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on The Promise of Peace in Isaiah, click on the image above or go to: http://kenmorealliance.com/617915.ihtml

For more on the Feast of Booths go to: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14185-tabernacles-feast-ofor http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm

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Ezra 10:1-15: The People’s Response

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Jerusalem

Ezra and Nehemiah, priest and administrator, return from exile to rebuild Jerusalem after its fall and the nations’ exile.  In joy tinged with sadness they dig into the ruins of their past to re-discover their covenant with Yahweh and to and re-pledge their fidelity to him.  Yet in this bittersweet moment as they return from deportation, they continue to ignore God – even the leaders among them who are to serve as models.  We read the long list of their names further along in the chapter and we pause to reflect that we too, are among the guilty.

We remember that although the Old Testament response to their recognition of unfaithful ties with non-Jewish spouses and children was severance and abandonment, our New Testament response is one of openness and an invitation to reconciliation.  Today we might look at Ezra’s response to the original act of betrayal: for he was in mourning over the betrayal by the exiles.  A leader among them, Shecaniah, during his appeal to Ezra says: Yet even now there remains a hope for Israel . . . have courage and take action!  The action they take is to name the culpable . . . and to expel the innocent women and children from their presence.  This story has always troubled me, as does any total severance I encounter in my life.  There is something about it which does not match the Gospel story.

We know that there are times when even Jesus recommends that his missionaries shake dust from the feet to move out of hostile territory and on to new places.  We also know that only God can soften hearts, and can give the gifts of faith, hope and love of enemy.  Only God can unbend stiff necks and open closed eyes, ears and hearts.  Only God can send us the graced moments that make our relationships come alive for an eternity.  Yet, we also believe that we must always make ourselves available for the miracles God wishes to give us.  We must be open to the outrageous possibility that God can grant our hearts’ desires when we ask in Jesus’ name.  We must be willing to remain as constant as God has remained with us.  And we – the victims of abuse – must be willing to petition intercession and salvation for our abusers while maintaining a prudent, watchful and open stance with our enemies.  This must be our response . . . for it is the Christian response.

Many times in the Gospel we see Jesus defer to the Father and we hear the words and bind them to our minds and to our hearts: Do not be afraid.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Jesus’ response is to rely on the creator and it must be our response.  Just as Jesus trusts in God’s wisdom and plan, so must we.

It is easy to assign culpability to the blameless, faceless and nameless women and children in today’s reading who find themselves as destitute as these Jewish people themselves had several times been in their history – slaves in Egypt, exiles in Babylon.  Yet they show no compassion.  Christ has not yet walked among them to show them The Way.

I like to think that when confronted with difficult decisions like the ones we read about and think about today, that we will choose the Jesus Way, the Jesus Approach to the dilemma.  Our response, if we follow Jesus, must be as honest, prudent and open as his.  What is this response . . . ?  With prudence and with trust in God, let us welcome the guilty . . . for we are among them.  Let us forgive . . . for we are forgiven.  


A re-post from May 24, 2009.

Image from: http://blog.thefoundationstone.org/2009/12/23/fasting-as-a-prayer/

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