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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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Ezekiel 8:3-6: Abominations in the Temple

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes

Footnotes tell us that there truly was an abomination set in the temple by King Manasseh (see 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33) and later removed by King Josiah (2 Kings 23).  It was a statue of Asherah, a Syrian goddess.  (If you want to read about her, you can go to www.jewishencyclopedia.com.)  Footnotes also tell us that although the statue had been removed, it was likely re-established with the re-paganization of Jerusalem when Josiah died.  In any event, the point is that something sacred, the dwelling place of Yahweh, is profaned by the very people who should be protecting and honoring it.  Do we do this from time to time in our own lives?  Do we allow sacred places and sacred people to be invaded or desecrated?  Do we worship symbols that make us feel good rather than God who brings us joy?  Are we paralyzed in our old and comfortable habits rather than learning to live in the newness of Christ?  Are we blind to the needs of others?  Do we have deafness of heart?  Or do we hear the cry of poor and the broken-hearted?

From the morning and evening MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

Free those who are paralyzed by sinful ways, and teach them to run with joy in the way of your commandments.

Give sight to those who are blinded by self-centeredness, and teach them to see the beauty of those around them.

Grant hearing to those who are deaf of heart, and teach them to rejoice in your word.

You build us into a dwelling place in the Spirit: fill us with the glory of your presence.

We are human.  We find comfort in things which bring us immediate satisfaction.  But this comfort is not lasting.

We are divine.  We find serenity in things that spring from God.  And this serenity is everlasting.


Written on April 21, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.biblesearchers.com/yahshua/passovertrial/cosmicdrama.shtml

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning” and “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.11 (2008). Print.  

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John 17: The Prayer of Jesus

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Even if we have spent time with this prayer before it is well worth our while to spend time with this chapter; it reveals a Christ who is eager to pray for each of us . . . directly . . .

I pray not only for them [my apostles gathered around me], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you , Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

And we do believe that God sent Jesus . . . The Word . . . God’s Expression of Self to Us.

We do believe that God is in Jesus . . . that God is in us . . . and that we are in Jesus and God.

We do believe that we are given glory.

We do believe that we are to be brought to perfection as one.

We do believe that we are a gift to Jesus and to God.

We do believe that Jesus’ love is in us and that we are in him . . . as love . . . a love which knows no bounds . . . no impossibilities . . . no constraints . . . no conditions . . . no barriers . . . no darkness . . . no death.

We do believe!


Written on April 17, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

For another reflection on Jesus’ Prayer For Us click on the image above or go to: http://sheddinglightonthepath.blogspot.com/2012/05/jesus-prayer-for-you-and-me.html

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Zechariah 13: The End of Falsehood

Monday, August 19, 2019

This is welcome news: There will be an end to lies!  There will come a time when false prophets, manipulation, back-stabbing, advantage-taking, favoritism, cronyism, self-preservation at the expense of others . . . all the trappings of a society which does not understand Jesus and his story . . . all of this will be swept away.  Thanks be to God.

The NAB translation of verse 6 (What are these wounds on your chest?) is a change from the Douay (What are these wounds in the midst of thy hands?) is accompanied by an explanatory footnote.  “The false prophets, like the prophet of Baal (1 Kings 13, 28), apparently inflicted wounds on themselves; to defend himself against the accusation of being a false prophet, a man will deny having inflicted wounds on himself and say instead that he received them at home, ‘in the house of my dear ones.’  In the liturgy this text is applied to Christ in an accommodated sense”.

The deepest wounds are those we receive from the ones we love best.  The deepest wounds are those we inflict on the ones we love best.  Jesus was betrayed by one of his twelve; and betrayal stings most when suffered at the hands of one we love.

Christ’s wounds of hands, feet, side, head and heart were suffered at the hands he loved most – humankind.  In this act he joins with all of us who likewise suffer . . . yet Zechariah tells us . . . there will be end to this suffering.  His prophecy was written to encourage the Jews who had returned from exile to rebuild the city and temple of Jerusalem.  We might take heart as we re-read his words.  From what exile do we return?  What false prophets must we remember as gone and put away?  What changes must we make in our decisions and our habits?  What city are we dreaming?  What temple are we preparing?  What life are we building as we walk away from falsehood?


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

For more on dealing with the betrayal of a friend, click on the image above or go to: http://www.thebettermom.com/2012/04/judas-jesus-betrayal-and-living-free/

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Mark 15: Sacrifice

Sunday, August 18, 2019

St. James

Crucifixion.  We return to Mark today to read and reflect on the crucifixion of our Lord, our God who came to live and walk among us.  Who came to be one of us . . . so that we might be one with him.

This past Wednesday we celebrated the feast of Saint James, the brother of John the Beloved Apostle.  James was executed by beheading as ordered by Herod sometime around the year 42; today he is the patron saint of Spain.  James answered the call he heard.  James took of the cup offered by Christ and became one of the early martyrs who chose to die in this life in order that he follow Christ both in this world and the next.

Today’s Gospel repeats the story we know so well of the mother of James and John asking Jesus to place her sons – the sons of Zebedee whom Jesus nicknamed Boanerges (The Sons of Thunder) – at his right and left once the kingdom about which he spoke had arrived.  Her sons were present with Peter at the raising of Jarius’ daughter, at the transfiguration and in Gethsemane.  They followed Jesus during his ministry and they certainly deserved special recognition in their mother’s eyes.  I like Jesus’ reply: that these are the decisions best made by the Father.

This message from the Gospel is what reminds me that when things are not going as I see best for most . . . I must remember that just as the Son of God defers to the Creator on matters such as these . . . so ought I.

Jesus suffered torture and crucifixion as an act of redemptive, salvific love.  If we wish to take up this same cup, we must be willing to enter into the sacrifice.  We do this best when we trust God, trust Jesus, trust the Holy Spirit.  Our strength and our true power as co-redeemers with Christ lie in our trust . . . trust that our own suffering has value . . . trust that our own worth is seen by God and will be seen by all . . . trust that we are delivered through and with and in Christ.

From MAGNIFICAT earlier this week: Let us pray in the name of all who are suffering in our day the pain of the cross: Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the Justice of God, but you were condemned as a criminal: strengthen in forgiveness those who are unjustly condemned.  Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the truth of God: deliver from harm all those who are threatened by lies. Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

Lord, you are the love of God made visible: save all those who are menaced by hatred, cruelty, and abuse. Turn your ear to us; hear our words!

James, John, Mary Magdalene and the other apostles followed Jesus . . . trusting all that he had revealed to them.  Christ is physically present to us in the people he sends to us and in The Word we read each day.  Let us prepare to take up the Cup of Sacrifice with courage and joy in our hearts.


Written on July 25, 2008 on posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thetentofthiskingdom.blogspot.com/2007/07/june-25-st-james-apostle.html

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

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Mark 16: The Magdalene

Monday, August 12, 2019

Van der Weyden: Mary Magdalene

A Favorite from July 22, 2008.

The Evangelists tell us that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  July 22 is her feast day. When we pause to reflect on this singular woman, we wonder . . . What must she have been truly like?  What was she thinking as she stooped to look into the tomb as John tells us in his Gospel?  What is her real story?

St. Gregory the Great tells us something of her character.  From MAGNIFICAT: It is true that she had already seen that the sepulcher was empty, and had already reported that the Lord had been taken away.  Why did she stoop down again, why did she long again to see?  It is not enough for a lover to have looked once, because the force of love intensifies the effort of the search.  She sought a first time and found nothing; she persevered in seeking, and so it happened that she found him.  It came about that her unfulfilled desires increased, and as they increased they took possession of what they found.

From the Mass readings:  The Bride says: on my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves – I sought him but I did not find him.  I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek him whom my heart loves.  I sought him but I did not find him.  The watchmen came upon me, as they made their rounds of the city: Have you seen him whom my heart loves?  I had hardly left them when I found him whom my heart loves.  (Song of Songs 3:1-4b)

O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.  ( Psalm 63)

What is the Magdalene’s story?  Why does she come with the other women, worrying about who will move away the stone, carrying the spices for embalming?  Why does she return, bending to look another time when she knows the tomb to be empty?

Henryk Siemiradzki: The First Meeting of Christ and Mary Magdalene

The Magdalene believes.  She trusts.  She hopes.  She endures.  She perseveres.  She will not be turned away.  She loves.

Any one of us who has truly loved understands this force of love about which St. Gregory writes.

Any one of us who has sought that which has been lost has felt this sorrow.

Any one of us who has persisted in our search has found this joy.

And so we wonder . . . what is the Magdalene’s real story?


Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/henryk_siemiradzki-_christ_and_sinner-_the_first_meeting_of_christ_and_mary_magdalene-_18731.jpg and http://www.bible-topten.com/MaryMagdalene.htm

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.23 (2008). Print.  

For more on some of the many portraits and statues of Mary Magdalene, click on the images above or go to: http://www.bible-topten.com/MaryMagdalene.htm

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1 Kings 5: Preparations

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Building the Jerusalem Temple

From time to time as we reflect at noontime, we have read about the Jerusalem temple, the holy of holies, the wisdom and power of Solomon, and relations between peoples of the Middle Eastern region.  Today, as we read this chapter, we might think ahead to what we know happens to this temple, this man, and these peoples.  Our thinking will bring to us many questions.

How is that measurements are scrutinized, forests are felled and then bound into rafts and ferried to the construction site, masons, carpenters, goldsmiths and sculptors are employed, splendor rises from the earth . . . yet we manage to forget the covenant which gives birth to the plan in the first place?

How is it that we take so much care with our time and resources to plan, prepare and produce something so worthy of so much praise from so many . . . yet we fail to tend to the principles that make this construction or this plan worthy to begin with?

How is it that we enter into so many relationships, make so many plans, see them through . . . and then walk away from, or worse – we defile, the beauty and serenity that has coalesced around these relationships?  What is it about human beings that can ignore the taste of the manna, the smell of the cedar, the sight of the gold, the touch of the friezes, the sound of so many kneeling in prayer?

The stones for this temple were formed at the quarry before taken to the construction site so that the sound of hammer on chisel would not disturb the peace of the house of God.  Yet we know that years later the people, their priests and political leaders would bow to the corruption of ungodly customs.  How did sacrificing babies become a fit practice for the people of God?  What was left out of these careful preparations that this kind of malpractice could not be foreseen and forestalled?

One of today’s Morning Intercessions in MAGNIFICAT catches my eye: For those who delay examining their decisions and habits: let them see how quickly life passes.  O Lord, listen to our prayer.

Perhaps it was not that the plans we read about today left something out.  Perhaps it was that the people and their priests and their political leaders did not continue to examine their collective conscience.  Perhaps the prophets’ words fell on the ears of those who were delaying the examination of their decisions and habits.  Perhaps the people, their priests and their political leaders  did not see how quickly life was passing them by.

This afternoon and this evening as we enter into prayer, we may want to support one another as we examine our decisions . . .  our habits . . . and our preparations.

Do our actions rise from the Gospel story? 

Do our decisions and habits respect human life and nature? 

Do we give light to all? 

Are our decisions and habits worthy of being written about or recorded? 

Do our preparations magnify the Lord?


For more information on Biblical Judaism, click on the image above or go to: http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/J_Transp/J01_JudaismIntro.html 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.18 (2008). Print.

Written on July 18, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-first-temple-solomon-s-temple

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Esther 7 & 8: Deceit and Retribution

Monday, August 5, 2019

Millais: Esther

We have no way of knowing what plans are schemed against us.  We have no method of seeing into the private places where the covetous lie on couches to weave their plots that entangle others.  We can be certain, however, that when the faithful find themselves the victims of these plots – as the Jews do in the story of Esther – that God will redeem his people, will release them from oppression, and will decide how the connivers are to be judged.

In the story of Mordecai and Esther, Haman becomes jealous because Mordecai does not play the game of courtier as Haman would wish, yet has influence and prestige – which Haman covets.  Rather than find union with Mordecai, Haman builds a gibbet on which to hang his perceived enemies . . . only to see his family executed . . . and himself led to the scaffold on which he had meant to exterminate the Jew he so hated.

For several weeks we have been reflecting on honesty versus deceit . . . and today we find another clear lesson of what is expected by God of his faithful.  Earlier in Chapter 4 when Esther tells her uncle that she is afraid to go to the king to tell him of Haman’s plot, Mordecai reminds her that the faithful must do as God bids . . . for if they do not, God will find another willing to do the work.  Then Mordecai reminds his niece of the fate she will suffer if she goes against God’s will (4:14).

So when we read these later chapters . . . and when we spend time praying, meditating and reflecting on God’s word to us . . . we know that we, too, hear the words of Mordecai, we also feel the tremors which Esther felt when she saw a task looming before her that was too great to bear.  It will serve us well to read this story from beginning to end, including the later insertions, and to ponder God’s plan for us as we move through our days.

We need not worry about plots schemed against us; nor do we need to create a plan of reprisal.  We only need to be constant to God each day, to maintain our covenant, to lay all problems at God’s feet for resolution.  For this is the only way we will find peace amid the noise of the world.  This is the only path to a serenity that lasts and sustains.  This is the only true Way in which to live the gift of Life.


Written on June 15, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thingselemental.com/2012/03/cultivating-beauty/

For another reflection on this story, go to the Esther – From Calamity to Rejoicing page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

For more information on Queen Esther and her story, go to: http://thingselemental.com/2012/03/cultivating-beauty/

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