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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 2, 2023f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this time of political tension around the world, Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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Psalm 42: Longing for God’s Presence

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

As we have explored God’s yardstick in the measure of our lives, we have discovered that God’s love and mercy are infinite, healing and present to each of us. Today we respond to Christ’s loving call to join him in this Spirit of love. We ask to live in God’s presence.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Like the doe seeking water to sustain her young, we move through our days in search of God’s presence.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We are pilgrim people, wandering the deserts of our lives on our way to the land promised us by God.  We are a people in exile, waiting to return to the temple, living out our hope in Babylon.

Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide.

There is no other source of light or life worth pursuing.

And bring me to your holy mountain, the place of your dwelling.

There is no other place worth seeking except God’s holy presence.  As adopted sisters and brothers of Christ, we now hold that temple within our hearts and God has written the great promise of love on our hearts. Touched with the mark of Tau as God’s faithful, we are called back to God’s holy place.

Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

There is no other song worth singing except the song which praises God’s bounty to us.  There is no other grace so blessed.  No other gift worth receiving.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We wait, we watch, we witness.  We are a people of hope.  We are a people of justice.  We are a faithful and faith-filled people.  We are a people of love.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Amen.


psalms

The Revised Grail Psalter

Many of the Psalms were written during the forty years that Israel wandered in the desert.  Many more were written by David when he spent years evading King Saul when he sought David’s death.  Still other Psalms were written during the Babylonian captivity.  Today, the Hebrew Psalter (differing slightly in numbering from the Greek translation) contains 150 beautiful hymns of lament, praise, thanksgiving and petition.  These songs describe our own journey of life. Psalm 42 is the cry of one longing to be in God’s presence.

For more on the Grail Psalter, click on the image above or visit: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2008/12/the-revised-grail-psalter-conc/

For more information on Psalms, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/psalms.htm 

For more reflections on The Mark of Tau, use the blog search bar and explore. 

Image of the Bodleian Psalter from: https://www.eurojewishstudies.org/digital-forum-showcase-reports/footprints-in-frankfurt-tracing-the-circulation-of-early-hebrew-books/

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2007.

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Matthew 5: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part VI

Jesus The Word and LawJava Printing

Sunday, January 22, 2023

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the New Testament, rising from the covenant in the Old Testament.

Often when a group begins a gathering in prayer and reads Christ’s Beatitudes, the leader will trail off after the “blessed” verses, omitting the last words Jesus gives un on persecution. This may be in error. By forgetting the final verses, we think only about the irony of verses 3 through 9 and that irony seldom fulfills or satisfies. The true paradox of Christ can only be seen when we include the final two verses that speak about the paradox of joy being gained through suffering. To recite the first seven blessings without the last two is to tell the Gospel story ending at the crucifixion and omitting the Resurrection, the road to Emmaus, the meal shared with the apostles along the bank of the sea, the return of Christ to the Upper Room, the Ascension, and finally the descent and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing lasting if we neglect the last two verses. The prayer becomes hollow. And so we pray . . .

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Beatitude is blessing. Beatitude is happiness.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Beatitude is a gift freely given by God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you falsely on my account.

The desire for beatitude is written on each of our hearts by God.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

sermon_mount

Cosimo Roselli: Jesus Delivers the Eight Beatitudes

Beatitude is a promise that challenges us to make moral choices. It is a covenant that invites us to purify our hearts, to seek God, and to rest serenely in beatific joy with God . . . because God alone is enough.

Tomorrow, concluding our reflections on the Law of Love.


When we spend time with Matthew 5, we explore the idea that we are salt and light, and we give ourselves the opportunity to unfold Christ’s wondrous Law of Love. 

Images from: https://marlinharris.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/the-beatitudes-the-conclusion-part-1-of-2/ and http://www.patrickcomerford.com/2011/01/matthew-5-1-12-eight-beatitudes.html

Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007. 

 

 

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John 14:27: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part V

PeacemakersPermaculture & Peacemaking

Saturday, January 21, 2023

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

To understand how the Beatitudes form a ladder of love and gratitude that brings us purity of heart, we began at the first rungs: Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek. We moved to the next rungs: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and those who show mercy. From here we move into serenity.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” St. Paul tells us that we are God’s adopted sons and daughters. It is our brother, Jesus the Christ, who shows us this ladder of beatitudes so that we might attain our inheritance. We need only move to the uppermost rung where we see the inversion and paradox of living a Christian life.

planet and hands“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This may feel nonsensical. It may seem to be the opposite of what we seek and what we believe to be true. This new Law of Love may seem to be the opposite of the Old Testament Covenant where the good are rewarded and the bad reviled. But here Jesus pauses on his road to Jerusalem to preach this sermon to thousands as they recline on a hillside to tell them – and us today as we look for order and sanity – that there is a new order to things. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you falsely on my account.” With the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to spiritual maturity. He asks us to be faithful in a new way. Jesus asks us to step through the narrow gate with him, to tend to the marginalized, to stand and speak when he asks us to speak, to be silent when he asks for our silence, to preserve what is holy rather than to give it to dogs. And so he gives us these final words: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Tomorrow, blessing.


To learn about willful blindness and how one person’s determination to speak up can change the world, watch Margaret Heffernan’s Ted Talk at: https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_the_dangers_of_willful_blindness?language=en 

Images from: https://www.santacruzsentinel.com/?returnUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.santacruzsentinel.com%2F2015%2F03%2F26%2Fon-gardening-more-interesting-than-dirt%2F%3FclearUserState%3Dtrue and https://www.barandrestaurant.com/operations/education-opportunity-how-bar-world-can-join-fight-equality

Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

 

 

 

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Song of Solomon 3: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part IV

God’s Mercysongofsongs

Friday, January 20, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Once the soul has capitulated to God, emptied out the human to let in the divine, it thirsts for more of what it has begun to experience. And this soul will search without ceasing to experience God in deepest intimacy. It hears God’s call and must respond. This soul will wander through the night calling out for the beloved in the same way as the mourning lover in Chapter 3 of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon).

Restless in bed and sleepless through the night,
    I longed for my lover. (Songs 3:1)

The soul searches endlessly as the does the soul in St. John of the Cross’ beautiful poem “Dark Night of the Soul.”

Upon a darkened night
The flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest. (St. John of the Cross)

The soul that burns with desire for God will do all in order to be with God. And it will find healing serenity once it has found God because God alone is enough.

Those who are satisfied in this way cannot be manipulated by the world. They have no fear when they enter troubled waters because they have known the freedom of God’s embrace. And those who are satisfied in God alone respond with mercy – the fifth beatitude.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” And having walked through a gauntlet of people and events that taunt them to abandon God, having given and received mercy, having moved through fire to find peace . . . these souls will be purified.

Tomorrow, the pure of heart.


St. John of the Cross, “Dark Night of the Soul”, Arranged and adapted by Loreena McKennitt, 1993. http://www.frimmin.com/poetry/darknight.html

Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Image from: https://www.torahmusings.com/2019/05/marriage-the-ring/ 

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Psalms 30, 34 and 126: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part III

Beyond the Poverty of Spiritpoor in spirit

Thursday, January 19, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in New Scripture.

As we learn how to enter into God’s humility we also acquire self-knowledge, and it is this deeper understanding that leads us to the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This poverty of spirit shows us that sadness is not to be avoided for it is in the depths of grief that we encounter God most deeply. Through humility we arrive at understanding that our successes and failures come to us through no talent of our own . . . but through God’s deep, infinite and abiding goodness. When we refuse to understand this truth we find ourselves stalled on God’s ladder of beatitude. When we blame God for the disaster, sadness and darkness in the world, we demonstrate our own refusal to act with God to heal, bridge, console, and include. When we admit that we are not in charge, we are ready for the third rung on God’s Yardstick.

Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed
    will come back singing for joy,
    as they bring in the harvest. (Psalm 126:6)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” We often understand the quality of meekness as sweetness and affability rather than strength, but the meekness that Jesus displays is a willingness to be taught. Those who are meek as Jesus is meek have submitted their strength to God for God’s use. They have no arrogance and so they become instruments of God’s authority – both here on earth and later. So it is through our poverty of spirit and sadness that we arrive at possessing authority. It is through the power of Christ that the paradox unfolds . . . and we move to the fourth beatitude.

Tomorrow, God’s righteousness.


Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Image from:  http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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Luke 6: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part II

The Poor in SpiritHumility-2

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in New Scripture.

Jesus shows us in the New Testament how to achieve union with God. In his sermons on the Mount (Matthew 5) and the Plain (Luke 6), Jesus lays out quite clearly how we might join him in the true kingdom of eternal, beatific happiness. We will not find him taking the lead in our earthly political, social kingdoms or work kingdoms . . . although he is there nevertheless. To find Jesus, and happiness, we must look along the edges of society among the marginalized, mourning, and ailing. Jesus brings us a unique message of inversion through the paradox of the Beatitudes. Jesus leads us on an exodus from bondage to true freedom. Jesus leads us from dark to light, from sadness to joy, from death to life. The beatitudes do not, scholars point out, occur in a random order; rather, they form a carefully constructed ladder that leads to true blessedness and lasting happiness. They lead to the joy of the kingdom. Today we look at the first of these rungs in the ladder of God’s Yardstick.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus tells us. He speaks of people who are truly humble, who know themselves, and who see humility as the opposite of hubris or overpowering pride. With his own human life as a model, Jesus shows us that it is in our willingness to be poor in spirit for a time that we will experience the serenity of the kingdom. Paul understands this and in his letter to the Philippians, he describes the importance of humility as an essential attitude for entry into the kingdom (Philippians 2, 5-8). Today we use the scripture links to compare and study these verses, and to allow God’s humility to seep into our bones.

Tomorrow, the value of mourning.


Image from: http://tommyeldridge.com/god-opposes-proud/

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 5, 2007.

 

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Matthew 5: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part I

Happiness and the Beatitudeslaw-of-love

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

In these opening days of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. Over the next few days we explore how we find God’s yardstick in both Old and New Scripture.

As we move from the Old Testament to the New, God is moving us away from the external, vengeful, jealous, patriarchal God to a God of the internal. Through the prophet, God promises us a new covenant to replace the old. The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people”. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)

God who writes the covenant of love on our hearts, also comes among us a human. God who promises to redeem and save, also comes to dwell within as Spirit. In the Old Testament, God rewards good people and punishes the bad in order to gain their trust. In the New Testament, God calls us to spiritual maturity, God calls us to perfect union, to deep intimacy (Psalms 42 and 62). In the New Testament God asks that we accept the Creator, the giver . . . rather than the gifts.

love-one-anotherJeff Cavins, in his lecture on Matthew 5, outlines four levels of happiness: 1) instant gratification, 2) personal achievement, 3) philanthropy, and 4) union with God. The first two are about the self; the second two are about the other. Level one concerns the ego and what it can find, acquire or possess. Level two refers to awards we receive. Both of these levels give immediate satisfaction but are not lasting because, as scripture points out, we are created for more than this. In Level three we begin to move outside of ourselves to care about others, but this still is not lasting, not beatific. It is when we arrive at Level four that we find real happiness, real communion with our creator, intimate union with God. This is the union for which we are created. This is the Law of Love that supersedes the Mosaic Law of the Covenant. This is the measure with which God measures creation.

Tomorrow, The Sermons on the Mount and the Plain.


Adapted from a Favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Jeff Cavins visit: http://jeffcavins.com/

Images from: https://edifier1.wordpress.com/tag/the-law-of-love-lessons-from-the-pages-of-deuteronomy/ and https://www.huttobible.com/a-year-through-the-new-testament/post/2-john-1-a-simple-request:-love-one-another

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Luke 8:1-3: God’s Yardstick – The Women

Out of Their Meanswomen_of_the_bible__image_4_sjpg1102

Saturday, January 14, 2023

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Their names are scattered through old and new scriptures: Tamar, Lydia, Dinah, Eunice, Dorcas, Eve, Miriam, Joanna, Abigail, Martha, Anna, Leah, Bathsheba, Salome, and so many other women, most of them nameless, who bring life to history just as they bring life to the human race. Today we remember a favorite from 2010 in which we contemplate the women in Jesus’ life.

Recently a friend and I shared ideas about on 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 in which women are admonished to be quiet in church and to communicate ideas through their husbands only.  Their voice was not welcomed in the early church; they were to keep silent . . . and subordinate. And if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home.  For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church. 

In some cases, women have come a long way from this statement; in other cases, they have taken a step backward. In some cultures, women are murdered to eliminate them from the lives of the men who want to re-marry, or because men have taken them only for their dowry. The women of Corinth are not at all like the women in today’s reading who sustain the itinerate Jesus and his followers “out of their means”. The Galilean women who accompany Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem become witnesses to his death (23,49) and resurrection (24,9-11) . . . The association with the ministry of Jesus is most unusual in the light of the attitude of first-century Palestinian Judaism toward women.  (Senior 113)

Despite other views, Jesus calls women to step out of the shadows so that he might show the world how to treat them.  We are accustomed to hearing litanies of patriarchs, forgetting that it was women who brought each one into being, not remembering that it was women who nursed and nurtured the adult male heroes and judges as young boys.  In our 21st century Western world we must pause to reflect on women, their status, their intrinsic value, their overt worth, and their ultimate significance in the best story ever told, the story of our rescue, salvation and transformation.
logo1-women-in-the-bible-and-women-christian-saintsWe may want to scan fifty or so pages of scripture at a time to look for the names of women, to read the footnotes and commentary, and to smile as we reflect on how much Jesus loved the women in his life. Or we may look at John 20:11-13 and Matthew 9:18-26 to find God’s yardstick in the lives of the women who accompany Jesus.

Not all women are positive figures. Jezebel and Delilah are two who come to mind as having a negative effect on history. Go to the Women in the Bible site at http://www.womeninthebible.net/ and explore the life of just one woman. Consider how she shows us God’s yardstick. And consider how we today reflect this measure of God’s goodness in the world.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.113. Print.   

Images from: http://christianimagesource.com/women_of_the_bible_g200.html and https://fineartamerica.com/contests/women-in-the-bible-and-women-christian-saints.html

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