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1 Kings 7: Building Palaces

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Herod’s Palace

What do my faerie castles look like?  How thick are the walls of the fortresses I build to keep the world out?  How many rooms do my palaces have?  What are the furnishings?  Whom do I bring home to my safe havens?  How do I spend the precious gifts of time and space that God has given to me?  Where, and when, and how and why do I construct my palaces?

Are these spaces and times meant to keep the world out or to invite the world in?  Have they become oases on the road of life or have they devolved into chaotic and jarring experiences?  Are they God-absent or God-centered?  Am I relying on myself, my skills as an architect and designer . . . or am I trusting God completely?

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious about clothes?  Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.  They do not work or spin.  But I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  (Matthew 6:26-30).

Why do we worry?  Why do we spend so much time building barriers when we ought to be disentangling ourselves from enabling relationships?  Ought not we spend more time bringing The Word to one another and building bridges?  Imagine a world in which we are free from anxiety and fear, a world in which we trust God completely with our needs. Does he not know them better than anyone else?  Ought we not to go to him for our shelter and our shade?  Why do we build so many palaces when God has a dwelling place already fashioned for us?

From last evening’s and this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

God is our promised shelter and our shade.  To him we pray: Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of life’s tribulations, strengthen our hope in your promised kingdom.  Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of physical ailments, grant us trust in your healing power.  Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of worry and distress, send us peace of heart.  Protect us from all harm.

With trust in the love our heavenly Father has for us, we pray: You are our life, O Lord!

You care for the works of your hands: teach us to help and not to hinder your loving providence.  You are our life, O Lord!

 You feed and clothe all of your children: forgive us the greediness that seeks to deprive others for your own benefit.  You are our life, O Lord!

You provide for all the earth: grant us the wisdom to see and to serve your purposes.  You are our life, O Lord!

What need of we of palaces . . . when our God provides us all?


Written on August 26, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.  To learn more about ancient Jerusalem and Herod’s Palace, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblestudyspace.com/page/herod-s-palace

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Nehemiah 1: A Vocation for Building

Friday, September 13, 2019

Jerusalem: Stones at the Temple South Wall

We have visited with this book several times during our Noontime reflections and we know that it, along with the book of Ezra, describes the restoration time of the Jewish nation.  We know that Nehemiah was the administrator who is credited with the rebuilding of the temple and walls while his friend Ezra, the priest, rebuilt the religious traditions of the Jewish people.  Together these men led their community to recovery through work, prayer and a close connection with their God.  

The survivors of the captivity there in the province are in great distress and under reproach.

We constantly bump into people who are in great distress and under reproach.  There are times when we ourselves are the victim of abuse of one kind or another, times when we too, suffer greatly in that we are separated from some one, some thing or some tradition which used to comfort us and bring us peace.  When we find ourselves in exile . . . and we yearn for reconciliation . . . the best remedy for this affliction is to do as Nehemiah did: I prayed: O Lord, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you who preserve your covenant of mercy towards those who love you and keep your commandments, may your ear be attentive, may your eyes be open, to heed the prayer which I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins which we of Israel have committed against you, I and my father’s house included.

This was Nehemiah’s vocation, that he call together a buffeted and distracted people to bring them home to Yahweh where they might be healed and restored.  It is our vocation as well, for as Christians we too are called to help in the gathering, fishing and harvesting work of God’s kingdom.  To this we are called.  For this we are made.  Let us pray with Nehemiah . . .

O Lord, may your ear be attentive to my prayer and that of your willing servants who revere your name.  Grant success to your servant this day . . . and all days.

Our vocation is to build and rebuild, to restore, to bring unity out of chaos, to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope to the desperate.  And we are never alone in this work.  We are constantly accompanied by the one who is the light, the hope, the joy of the world.  We ask this in Jesus’, name.  Amen.


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

For more on Nehemiah and Ezra and the re-building of Jerusalem, go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/nehemiah%E2%80%93the-man-behind-the-wall/

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Jeremiah 7: Remaining


Jeremiah 7: Remaining

Monday, September 9, 2019

Adrienne von Speyr

Perhaps the reason that we humans cannot maintain fidelity is as Adrienne von Speyr writes: With us, the call is always in danger of being relegated to the past.  We rest in it instead of growing in it . . . we should attach much more importance to the call and its duration.

This is what the prophet Jeremiah sees in Israel.  It is what we humans too often find in one another.  We try to rest in a relationship without growing in it.  We find someone we think will allow us to be comfortable, who will in fact work at keeping everything at the status quo of first flush, who will not ask the question we do not want to answer, who will turn aside as we continue to worship our idol gods.  We work hard at not suffering, not going to the limit, not growing.  We work hard at keeping things static.

Von Speyr continues: In instructing his disciples, the Lord said many things to them that have much relevance for us and can become rules of conduct for us.  He does not spare them; on each occasion he gives them the whole burden with which they must come to terms.  “This is a hard saying”.  “Let him understand it who can”.  We see from this that the Lord accommodates his teaching as little as possible to mankind, so that those who follow him will not have the impression that they are equal to it.

No Christian – certainly no apostle – can ever be equal to the Lord’s teaching.  All they could do was leave everything to him and follow him as well they were able, accepting the whole burden of his words in the certainty that even what was difficult, incomprehensible, or alienating in them was rightfully there, since it came from the Lord.

This is what Yahweh expected from Israel.  It is what Jesus expected from his apostles.  It is what the Lord expects from us: our fidelity to the call, our remaining with our call, our growing with that call . . . not our resting in it.  No wonder so many relationships are broken rather than enduring.  No wonder there is so much unhappiness rather than serenity.  No wonder there is no peace, for we can only find true peace by answering . . . remaining . . . following . . . and growing.  There is no other Way.

Speyr family photograph: Adrienne standing behind her parents

Today’s evening intercessions in MAGNIFICAT reflect the ideas reflected in today’s MEDITATION.  Let us pray to the Lord Jesus Christ who is our peace: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

To the angry and to the envious: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

To the bitter and the persecuted: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

To the kind who find no kindness in others: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

To the compassionate who meet no compassion in others: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

To the forgiven who are not forgiven by others: Grant us patience, Lord, grant us peace.

May we remain with God as God remains with us.  And may we grow in this remaining.


Written on August 5, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day,” and “Evening Prayer”.  MAGNIFICAT. 5 August 2008. Print.

For more on Adrienne von Speyr click on the images above or go to : http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/authors/adrienne_von_speyr.asp

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1 Thessalonians 4 and 5: Our Conduct

Sunday, September 8, 2019

We have looked at Chapter 5 of this letter before and when we did we reflected on God’s time as being different from our own, and how in this immense time of God’s there is always the opportunity to begin again, to offer friendship to those who have harmed us . . . and to have the impossible become possible through God.  Today when we reflect on chapter 4 along with chapter 5 we have the benefit of reading how Paul begins a list of general exhortations for our Christian conduct.  He gives a list of “to dos”: Be holy and honorable in your intimate relationships, aspire to a tranquil life while minding your own affairs, pray for those who have died before us, be prepared for the coming of Jesus, magnify Christ’s light in the darkness of the world.

These guidelines seem simple enough as we read them; yet oh how difficult they become in practice.  How many of us use and are used in our closest connections?  How many of us are drawn in by the private affairs of others?  How many of us remember with hope those who have died?  How many of us are prepared for the Parousia?  How many of us stand in the light . . . and call others to that light?

Honor, Holiness, Charity, Hope and Vigilance.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians and he reminds us that our conduct is an outward sign of our interior relationship with God.

What do our actions have to tell us about our most intimate relationship of all?

What do our gestures and demeanor tell our God about how we see him?

What do we want to change?

First written on August 4, 2008, re-written and posted today as a  Favorite.


For additional thoughts on What is Holiness, click on the image above or go to: http://thecostaricanews.com/what-is-holiness/9997 

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Matthew 15:1-20: The Tradition of the Elders

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Written on April 24, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

I wish I had more time to sit with this today.  Since I do not, I promise myself that this evening, when dinner is done and the papers graded, I will turn back to this before falling asleep.  I love when Jesus has to explain things to his disciples.  It makes me feel less silly!  When the people who lived, and walked, and worked and played with Jesus get things wrong, I do not feel so bad when I do as well.

Footnotes from the NAB tell us this dispute about the washing of hands before eating was more than a struggle about the rules.  Jesus points out the hypocrisy of these elders who pledge to take care of their own parents but who do not.  They accuse others of being slackers when they themselves truly are. Jesus escalates things a bit as he poses new thinking about the Mosaic Law concerning clean and unclean things.  He, as the New Law, embodies God’s Word to us, incarnates the Law of Love for us.

At this time of year we are always reading from Acts of the Apostles – and I love this – because we see the young church struggling to form itself as the bride struggles to ready herself for union with the groom.  And today’s reading is chapter 15 verses 7 to 21.  It dovetails nicely with the challenge we reflect on in Matthew 15.  When newness happens, it will be accompanied by conflict.  This is not a bad thing.

I am looking at the morning intercessions in MAGNIFICAT.

To you we turn!  Hear us!

You are our stronghold in time of trouble: grant us the wisdom and the courage to place out trust in you.  To you we turn!  Hear us!

You are our defender against all evil: teach us always to call upon you in prayer.  To you we turn!  Hear us!

You have delivered your people from death by the power of the cross: strengthen us to bear one another’s burdens in love.  To you we turn!  Hear us!

Amen.


Image from: http://heartofflesh.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/mans-religion/

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.24 (2008). Print.  

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Revelation 4: Heavenly Worship

Monday, September 2, 2019

Written on August 2, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Footnotes tell us that much of this imagery can also be found in Ezekiel, where God is seen as surrounded by worshiping figures.  All of these creatures and people are symbolic; and good footnotes or a good commentary are helpful when sorting and understanding all of these ideas.  What makes so much sense to me is the idea that it is right and good to live a life in constant praise of God.  I like this thought.  It brings me comfort to know that the angels, saints and all creatures celebrate God in heaven just as we do here on earth.  I think that being in God’s presence necessitates a willingness to worship, to praise, to thank and to petition.  What will we do in heaven if we have not practiced coming together to be near to God?  How can we expect to understand any heavenly rite if we do not accustom ourselves to ritual here on earth?  Why would we think that we might get along with lambs who frolic among lions . . . if we cannot live in harmony here on earth?

We have many earthly opportunities to demonstrate our willingness to be humble, to build bridges between ourselves and our enemies, to be peacemakers.  Where do expect to stand when we arrive at the heavenly throne room?  How do we expect to know how to behave?  Why do we expect that in another place we will suddenly be able to love . . . when we have not learned to do so here?

We have this idea so often that God is in his heaven while we are in the world.  We have forgotten the lesson of this story . . . that the kingdom is now, the kingdom is here.  We are every waking and sleeping moment in God’s presence . . . and how do we behave?

Today we might begin anew with our lessons for Heavenly Worship.  We might begin anew in our lessons of Love and Unity.


Image from: http://epitemnein-epitomic.blogspot.com/2012/06/gods-institutes-of-praise-prayer-and.html

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Sirach 25: Worthy and Wicked

Monday, August 26, 2019

The book of Sirach is full of sound advice accompanied by a great sense of humor.  Harmony, friendship, mutual love.  Pride, dissembling, lechery.  These are qualities that Jesus ben Sirach juxtaposes as he delineates the difference between those who are worthy of praise and those who are wicked.

Some of these verses make us laugh aloud and some of them inspire.  This chapter is followed by the famous dissertation of the ideal wife, which is often read out at Mass, and all of this is good advice when we move it to a 21st Century context.  What does this say to us today?  What do we do about the worthy and the wicked?  What do we do about the conflict between worth and wickedness?

Today we are presented with the contrast between those who are worthy because they live life honestly and well . . . and those who wound the heart and poison relationships.  We know how we are to live, what we are to say, what we are to do, what we are to believe.  But do we do what we know to be correct?  Do we inform our conscience so that we can make good and proper decisions?  How do we educate ourselves about what we are to do and what we are to say? How do we make of ourselves servants who are worthy and not wicked?

Today is the feast of St. Mark, the author of the earliest and briefest of the Gospels.  He was a cousin of Barnabas – the man who accompanied Paul on some of his missions and who even helped to ease Paul’s introduction to the apostles.  Tradition holds that Mark founded the church in Alexandria, and we can see how and why.  His Gospel is simple and direct, burning with his love and his desire to educate us about the Word and to send the Word into the world.  Today’s Gospel reading is from chapter 16, verses 16-20 and it tells us about the result of conflict between worth and wickedness.  It tells us about the struggle that disciples endure.  Reflect on Sirach and Mark and ponder the mystery of this conflict between worth and wickedness . . . and the mystery becomes less clouded.

From the MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions and prayer:

Reward your servants, Lord!

For all who have devoted themselves to the work of translating the word of God into the languages of the world: Reward your servants, Lord!

For all those who labor to produce Bibles for the peoples of all nations: Reward your servants, Lord!

For all who carry your word to places far away and difficult to reach: Reward your servants, Lord!

God, the Father of lights, you flood the world with your word as with a river of light.  Catch up in the waters of life all those who hunger and thirst for knowledge of the truth and the right, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Image from: http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com/tag/quips-and-quotes/

Written on April 25, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.25 (2008). Print.  

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Judges 16: Samson and Delilah

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Matthais Stom: Samson and Delilah

This is a familiar story to us – and when we open scripture to a comfortable place, we look more closely, more intensely, to see if we have perhaps missing something because of the familiarity.

Samson was one of the series of Judges who protected and guided the Hebrew people before they asked for a king.  In this book we see the people of God continually repeat a cycle of dissent into separation from God . . . which causes loneliness and anguish followed by sorrow and repentance.  Yahweh always responds by forgiving and tending to his lost sheep.  There are periods of complacency and quiet when the people forget that God is central to their lives which separate the judges.  Samson is one of the most famous.  But look at the following verses: 2 – And all the night they waited saying, “Tomorrow we plan to kill him”, verse 19 – Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him, verse 28 – Samson cried out to the Lord and said,  “O Lord God, remember me!  Strengthen me, O God, this last time . . . let me die with the Philistines!”

Samson succumbs to Delilah and to the plot surrounding him.  He is human.  He fails.  He suffers.  He has hope.  He repents.  He makes reparation for his former action.  He is honored.  He brings the light of truth into the darkness of greed and corruption.  We do not understand the mystery of what happened more, but what we do understand is that nothing ultimately wins over destruction and death.

From MAGNIFICAT today: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1:5)  God is mystery.  The maker of the universe dwells in light inaccessible, so bright that it blinds the probing eye, the questioning mind.

For those who are powerless, that they may experience your power employed on their behalf. 

For those who have abandoned hope, that they may know your mercy.

For those who fail to see you in mystery, that they may come to feel your gentle love.

Amen.


Written on April 9, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.friendsofart.net/en/art/matthias-stom/samson-and-delilah

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.9 (2008). Print.  

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Sirach 18:14-29: Prudence and Self-Control

Friday, August 23, 2019

Luca Giordano: Allegory of Prudence

These are the tools we need to use rather than judgment and anger if we wish to enter into the presence of the Lord.  This is what he asks of us:  To act with compassion when we see injustice, when we experience cruelty, when we see the unity of the kingdom divided by jealousy, greed, division and the desire to control.  These verses hold many kernels of wisdom, as we always find when reading the words of Jesus ben Sirach.

The morning New Testament reading today is from Romans 2: By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the last judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

The MAGNIFICAT intercessions seem fitting:

God of peace, make peace among those at war.

God of justice, make right what we have made wrong.

God of goodness, make holy what we have turned to our own selfish ends.

Amen.


Written on April 22, 2008  and posted today as  a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/luca-giordano-allegory-of-prudence

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.22 (2008): 129-130. Print.  

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