Archive for the ‘Favorite’ Category

Ezekiel 13False Prophets

Wednesday, June 7, 2023wolf_in_sheeps_clothing

Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

Yesterday we reflected on evil leaders.  Today we spend time praying and thinking about false prophets.  Who are they in our lives?  How have we been false prophets ourselves?

Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

Yesterday we reflected on how evil leaders operate, how they appear to working for good and may even use the vocabulary we come to expect from those who walk in the light.  Today we meditate on how we might be lured into following the broad road rather than the narrow path.

Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

Yesterday we reflected on those who surround evil leaders to enable them in their dark work. Today we think and pray about those whose gestures and actions appear to have divine inspiration but do not.

Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

We notice that God does not remain silent when evil operates. We see that God speaks to darkness. We understand that even the dark ones are offered the opportunity to allow their pain to transform them.

Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

When we are doubtful about false and true leaders and prophets, we might remember that our courage, strength and perseverance lie in and with God. When we read scripture, when we join in liturgy, when we try to do as Jesus does, when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, this is how we will know what to think, what to say, and how to act. And so we pray.

When silence is more attractive than fidelity to the truth: Our God, remember us.

When approval is more desirable than perseverance in good: Our strength, abide with us.

When safety is more appealing than suffering for righteousness’ sake: Our Lord, transform and heal us. 

When we celebrate and commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit, we remember that it is impossible for us to discern false and true leaders and prophets on our own. We can only maneuver life’s treacherous waters when we rely on the Spirit who will tell us where to go and what to say. If we want to live with less fear, if we want to transform the lives of our enemies and even our own lives, we might remember: Say to those who prophesy their own thought: hear the word of the Lord . . . I am coming to you, says the Lord God. 

This is a promise worth remembering.

Image from: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/07/on-false-teachers-and-false-prophets.html

Adapted from a favorite written on May 31, 2009.

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2 Kings 21: Wicked Kings


Michelangelo: Manasseh (on the right – the figure on the left is likely Manasseh’s wife)

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

He did evil in the site of the Lord. 

It is easy to point to leadership and begin to make a litany of their defects. What is more difficult is to look inward to ourselves to examine the way we bring Christ into our interactions with others. It is helpful when we hear those around us criticize our political, social, family and workplace leaders to study carefully how these leaders call us into action. Do they appeal to our care and concern for all and one another; or do they activate our anxiety for a special group of clique? Do they look for ways to build bridges and overcome division; or do they relish splits and schisms? Do they delight in mercy and compassion for all; or do they gloat at the misfortune of those not included in their group?  By these signs and by the fruits of their labor, we will know who is doing evil and who is doing good and we will know whom to follow.

He did evil in the site of the Lord. 

In the Old Testament we see this sentence used frequently in the writer’s description of how leaders who have been given the gift of servant to a people misunderstand the trust placed in them.  Manasseh and Amon allow and even encourage the people to turn from God and to turn to the worship of whatever gives them pleasure: money, sex, politics, the newest fashion, and so on.

He did evil in the site of the Lord. 

I am reading a book I bought recently by Caroline Myss which I will keep by my side this summer as part of my reflective reading.  It is entitled ANATOMY OF A SPIRIT: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing, and the first page I opened carried the bold sub heading: Challenging Toxic Tribal Power.  Out of respect for the writer, I am the sort of reader who begins a book at its first page and reads through to the last; but this page was too much of a temptation for me.  I was drawn to skim this chapter which deals with Loyalty, Honor and Justice and how these concepts can be used to either counterbalance evil or to be “restrictive or narrow when interpreted narrowly”.  (Myss 113) Myss tells us that before we can allow healing to begin, we must examine our attachments to tribal prejudices. I suspect these pages will hold many thoughts for reflection this summer but I am struck by how the strategies and tactics of these ancient wicked kings still have power over us. When the leader of the pack tells us that a thing or a person or an event is good or bad, do we accept this statement blindly as truth? Or do we challenge toxic behavior with compassion, openness and a heart of mercy?

He did evil in the site of the Lord. 

We can never allow toxic behavior to hold us captive. We must, speak, act and rebuke with compassion. And we must always leave ourselves open to the outrageous hope that those who do evil may find transformation. Indeed, it is this very transformation that we as the victims of abuse must petition before God, because with God all things are possible, even the redemption of wicked kings.

He did evil in the site of the Lord. 

Let us, today, petition God to soften the hearts and open the souls of the those who do evil that they, with us, may come to know the richness and depth of God’s love.

Image from: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Manasseh_of_Judah

A Favorite from May 30, 2009.

Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of a Spirit:The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. Harmony Books, New York. 1997.  

For a YouTube introduction to ANATOMY OF A SPIRIT, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sADOmxzbil4 

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Romans 5The Difficulty of Love

Monday, June 5, 2023Authentic-love-graphic

A Favorite from August 10, 2010.

It is in this chapter of Romans that we receive our greatest challenge of all challenges: Only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps even for a good person one might even find the courage to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 

We read today one of the great paradoxes of Christian living – that we receive the gifts of faith, hope, love, grace, peace and life eternal when we are willing to die to self with Christ, so that we might rise again in new life.  We are reminded that none of our transgressions can turn God away.  Our creator is always waiting to comfort us, save us and free us from all that makes us unhappy.  It is we who forget this as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians 4:6-7: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

romans-5-8Commentary tells us that here we see the law and sin in proper relationship to one another – only through the sacrifice of Jesus. We may well wonder how we view our own transgressions against God, self and neighbor in light of this good news. Do we shrink from examining our conscience, afraid of what we might find to confess? Do we eagerly give ourselves over to recollection and self-questioning in order that we more fully understand our proper relationship with God through his Spirit? If the former, we take consolation from today’s Noontime that reassures us that no human can surprise God with sin. If the latter, we do not hesitate to quiet ourselves within so that we might fully understand and believe that God wants nothing more than to love us and be loved in return.

The difficulty with genuine and authentic love is this, that it imitates Christ. It is willing to die to self even for enemies, because genuine and authentic love knows that through Christ there is always the opportunity to transform. Through Christ we are each called to rise and live again. In this way through Christ, our hearts and minds are guarded in Christ Jesus. We can find no better champion than Christ. We can find no better protector than Christ. We can find no better lover than Christ. For it is Christ who makes all difficult things possible, through his abundant and difficult love.

Image from: https://www.gracecommunity.org/sermons/series/authentic-love

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Joel 3:17-21: Salvation for God’s Elect

Trinity Sunday, June 4, 2023Wonder-and-Amazement

The expression “God’s Elect” seems contrary to the message of Jesus about universal access to God and salvation. We are all given the option to listen, seek, obey and serve. So the expression we see here today may put us out of our comfort zone. We need to think about this.

From the NAB: “This prophecy is rich in imagery and strongly eschatological in tone. . . Its prevailing theme is the day of the Lord.”

From today’s MAGNIFCAT: “Jesus said: ‘I am the gate. Whoever enters me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture’.” John 10:9 The gate to the Lord’s sheepfold is narrow and cut in the shape of a cross. Yet Christ leads the flock safely through to the place of pasture he has prepared for us. . . Two distinct groups follow Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem. Those who walked with him who ‘were amazed’ are the ones who live the prayer, ‘Look upon us, show us the light of your mercies. Give new signs and work new wonders.’ However, those who walked behind him ‘were afraid.’ Joining with Jesus who gives his life as a ransom for many changes our fear into amazement.”

With God and prayer, fear turns to amazement. We must remember this.

When we turn to God through our suffering, our wonder and awe are increased many-fold. When we see how God provides for us, our faith is increased many-fold. When we dream of prayers God might answer for us, our petitions are answered many-fold. When we love as God loves us, our love is increased many-fold. And so we pray.

Good and gracious God, grant us the patience, the wisdom, and the perseverance to seek the narrow gate and to enter it. May our fear turn to awe, and may we be continually amazed by your goodness. Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from May 30, 2007.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.5 (2007). Print. 

Image from: http://quotesgram.com/amazement-quotes/

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Baruch 3 and 4: A Prayer for Mercy

Friday, June 2, 2023012015wisdom_tim

An Exhortation on the Law of Wisdom

Baruch, born into a noble family, served the prophet Jeremiah as disciple and secretary. Along with Lamentations, and Jeremiah’s prophecy which Baruch penned, we have a unique treasure. These three Books taken together remind us of our special nature as loved creations of God, they give us a foundation of wisdom that we might use to navigate our own sacred story, and they propel us into a future of hope and mercy. Links to notes below* fill in any gaps we may have with this long yet interesting tale, and today we look at it to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves, our traditions, and our shared sacred history.

Why do we lapse into behavior we have sworn to eliminate from our lives? Jeremiah, through Baruch, suggests that we lack wisdom. But where do we find it?

For Baruch and Jeremiah wisdom lies in the Mosaic Law. For us as people of the New Testament the old law has been superseded and fulfilled by the new law, Jesus. And the new law of the Gospels is about love in the form of service to God in advocacy for those on the margin.

In chapter 4 Baruch writes that the Jewish people have been sold to the Gentiles for their lapse, for turning away from Yahweh to the pagan gods. He continues in this chapter with a classic description of Wisdom: Patience and Hope for Deliverance. We gain wisdom, Baruch tells us, by patiently yet actively hoping, expecting the Holy One to appear. And the Living God does appear before us every day.

Today we pray. Merciful God, you give us so many opportunities to soften our hard hearts and turn them toward you. You constantly open little gates for us to enter your Way. You visit your wisdom and patience and peace and love and mercy upon us. Grant that we may see you, grant that we may hear you, grant that we may feel you in our lives. Bring us the healing which we so desire in order that we may truly serve you and find union with you. We ask this through Christ your son, in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If there is no time to spend with these two chapters today, focus on 4:22-23: I have put my hope for your deliverance in the Eternal One, and joy has come to me from the Holy One because of the mercy that will swiftly reach you from your eternal Savior. With mourning and lament I sent you away, but God will give you back to me with gladness and joy forever.

*For notes on BARUCH, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/baruch/0

*For notes on LAMENTATIONS: http://www.usccb.org/bible/lamentations/0

*For JEREMIAH: http://www.usccb.org/bible/jeremiah/0

Adapted from a favorite written on May 25, 2007.

Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/open-book-metal-vintage-key-open-book-metal-vintage-key-wooden-background-image112145728

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John 9Against the Light

Friday, May 26, 2023

Siloam Pool

Siloam Pool

In the opening verses of this Chapter, Jesus begins to explain that misfortune or disability is not a sign of our sin; it is only misfortune or disability. Jesus cures a man of blindness as if to make a point. A miracle occurs yet in verses 8 through 12 we see how the people doubt that the cure has taken place: No, he just looks like him. In verse 13 the Pharisees become involved. The healing happened on a Sabbath; work has occurred. This is a transgression for which the temple leaders must have an accounting. This man is not from God. The healed man is called a second time and asked what has happened, to which he replies  in verse 24. I told you already and you did not listen.  Why do you want to hear it again?  The Pharisees continue to question and he replies: This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes . . . If this man were not from God he would not be able to do anything. This is a challenge to them. They cannot comprehend – or accept – the miracle before them and so . . . Then they threw him out.

In the final verses of this chapter Jesus speaks to the healed man to assure him that they have not broken God’s true law – the Law of Love. Explaining that he is the light that has come into this world of darkness, Jesus gives his listeners something to think about: I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind. This tweaks the Pharisees – who have refused to see and accept this cure as coming from God. Jesus says to them: If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, “We see”, so your sin remains. Jesus points out to these men that they have seen the truth and reject it, so that they might believe themselves to be in control. They irony is this: They were never in control as they have imagined themselves to be.

Christ Healing the Blind Man at Bethsaida: Gioacchino Assereto

Christ Healing the Blind Man at Bethsaida: Gioacchino Assereto

In this story we are again in the world of inversion where up is down and down is up, poor is good, disability is a plus. Jesus is the light and the Pharisees set themselves against this healing force. We have the opportunity to examine our reaction to miracles. Do we accept the gift of life which each of us is offered? Or do we put aside our petty haranguing with one another in order to unite in Christ? Are we stubborn Pharisees or are we blind people cured?

Do we flail against the light and insist that what we see is not really happening? Can we accept in confidence the gift of healing and give back to God our total trust?

If this man were not from God he would not be able to do anything . . . so when the light enters our lives as it so often does let us not thrash against the goodness and the warmth. 

Images from: http://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam/ and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WLA_cma_Christ_Healing_the_Blind_Man_c_1640.jpg

Adapted from a May 14, 2010 favorite. 

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1 Kings 8Dedication

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Jerusalem: Olivier Pichat

Jerusalem: Olivier Pichat

In this chapter of 1 Kings we see the beautiful temple built by Solomon dedicated to God.  We read Solomon’s prayer, said in the presence of the whole community of Israel. And we see a king and a people commit themselves to living a life as their God would have them live it: in accordance with the terms of the covenant first struck with Abraham. We might want to reflect today on how we dedicate ourselves to God, and to the terms of the covenant into which we ourselves have entered.

As he begins his prayer, Solomon intones, Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of kindness with your servants who are faithful to you with your whole heart. Later he prays, May your eyes watch day and night over this temple, the place where you have decreed you shall be honored; may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place. Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer in this place.  Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon.

The beautiful part of this story arrives with the New Testament when God’s people become the temple through Christ, the priest and intercessor, and when we fully realize the magnitude and depth of God’s compassion and mercy, his willingness – even eagerness – to forgive our waywardness.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.   If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2) And from the mini-reflection: In the house of Jesus’ Father, the temple, there were many courts and rooms provided for the use of different groups of people in their desire to enter God’s presence and worship him in the place where he dwelt.  According to John’s Gospel, which we read during Easter, Jesus is the new and eternal Temple where God dwells among us.  In his heart, opened to all peoples on the cross, there is a place for everyone who seeks God.

Have we fully dedicated our lives to the service of God? Have we established the rituals and the offerings? Do we intone our own prayer morning, noon and night? If we say we are dedicated and committed, to what, to whom, why, how, when and where? If we cannot answer these questions quickly and with certainty, we may want to look again at the care with which Solomon and his people build and dedicate a place to a God who is goodness itself, a God who loves and saves. If we answer these questions quickly and surely, let us take this moment in this present Easter season to re-dedicate ourselves to this gracious and marvelous God.

From the Magnificat Morning Intercessions:

You are in our midst; your name we bear: make us a fit dwelling place for your love.

You have made us temples of your Spirit: cleanse our hearts and make of them a house of prayer.

You have chosen us as your resting place for ever: grant us peace in your presence.


A favorite from April 30, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.4 (2010). Print.  

Images from:

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Luke 14:25-33: Discipleship

Tuesday, May 23, 2023Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship

If we ever forget what it means to be a disciple, here is a quick summary; and some of these sayings are difficult to take.

Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

We can see that following the Master means that God must be before all else, even our most intimate and longest relationships. I do not believe that Jesus is telling us that family is not important. I do not believe that we are to reject family and friends in order to be a good disciple. I do believe that if we must choose to pretend that all is well in an intimate relationship when it is not, then we must do what we know to be correct. We must exit this relationship but (and this is the hard part) we must continue to leave ourselves open to the possibility that the abusive people in our lives will transform.

Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

We must pray that the impossible people and situations in our lives become temples for the Indwelling of the Spirit. We must pray that those who have abused us will find a softening in their hearts and an unbending in their necks. We may not walk away completely and cleanly, because Jesus does not walk away completely.

Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. 

What we reflect on here is this: in the calculus for building a good and holy temple we must not only plan for the solid foundation and protective walls, but the windows and doors which let in the light, the voice of God as it travels on the wind, and the people who come and go in our lives. We must allow for both solitude and community, justice and compassion. This is the Way of Discipleship.

Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

DiscipleshipWe do not travel this way alone. As we peel away those people and influences which lead us astray rather than toward God, we look for fellow travelers of The Way. Yet even these friendships cannot come between ourselves and the one who created us. And even though we will always need one another’s help in remaining open to the resolution of the impossible people and situations, it is God who acts and moves in these fellow pilgrims to bring us pockets of consolation and refuge. As long as we place God before us each day, we will have a true path. As long as we abide by the Law of Love, we will know which way is the true way. This we need not doubt.

Each day, in each prayer we ask that God make us good and loyal servants. Each day, in each prayer we ask that God continue to show us the Way of discipleship.

This is the cost of discipleship. We do this in Jesus’ name. This is the cost of kingdom-building. We do this with and in the Creator. This is the cost of living in love. We do this through the transformative healing of the Holy Spirit. We will want to figure the cost of this way of life. Let us consider it well.  Amen.

Image from: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2014/06/23/4-marks-of-biblical-discipleship/ and http://www.safercommunitiesministry.org/programs/discipleship/

Adapted from a favorite from May 12, 2008.

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Nehemiah 12 and 13: Strength

Tuesday, May 23, 2023struggle-strength-picture-quote1

This might well be the cry of any of the faithful who seek to do God’s will in the midst of a crazy and alluring world.  When we read the closing chapters of Nehemiah, the reformer, rebuilder and administrator, we hear the plea which might come from any of us who struggle to right a foundering ship.

Nehemiah remembers that the Empire fell when Solomon began to marry with foreign queens who were worshippers of Baal rather than followers of the Jewish faith.  He worries that after all the sorrow, pain, sweat and tears of the post-exile return and rebuilding . . . these people may be wandering back into the very life styles which brought about the downfall of the kingdom and sent them into exile in the first place.  We hear Nehemiah’s plea that the Lord remember his efforts in chapter 13 verses 14 and 31.  “Remember this to my credit!”

This plea to do God’s will in the face of easy temptations to slip into life patterns which do not witness to God’s presence among us is heard in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Intercessions:

When silence is more attractive than fidelity to the truth: My strength, make haste to help me!

When approval is more desirable than perseverance in good: My strength, make haste to help me!

When safety is more appealing than suffering for righteous’ sake: My strength, make haste to help me!

Nehemiah-inside-event-620x250When we feel ourselves or others slipping into old, comfortable but dangerous patterns, we might want to quickly utter this petition of . . . My strength, make haste to help me! And we may want to echo Nehemiah as he says: Remember this in my favor, O my God!

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.5 (2008). Print.  

A Favorite from May 10, 2008.

Images from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/121034308709119656/ and http://www.theacojinc.org/Operation-Restoration

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