Archive for the ‘Mini-Noontime’ Category

John 10:31-42: Slipping Through Their Fingers

Jordan River

The Jordan River

Friday, March 17, 2023

Jesus saysI have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?

Family and friends help us or hinder us in our journey to our Easter home. Strangers and outsiders come and go, sometimes catching our attention, other times going unnoticed. Enemies litter our pathway with boulders of fear and hate. Worry and peace, anxiety and rejoicing accompany us as we move ever forward in our passage from Easter passion to joy. Today we examine how we act in the world and reflect on whether we hold Jesus in faithful hope or let him slip through our fingers. Do we follow him across the Jordan and believe?

They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and stayed there. A lot of people followed him over. They were saying, “John did no miracles, but everything he said about this man has come true.” Many believed in him then and there.

God says: The world may seem like a strange place yet I have created it just as I have created you. The noise of the world makes it difficult for you to hear my voice; yet you are never alone. The message of the world fights to drown out my words; yet I am with you always. When those you trust betray you, remember Jesus and Judas. When those close to you no longer believe in you, remember Jesus and Peter. When you are tossed by the world, remember Jesus and Mary. There is always a roadmap for you to follow . . . although you feel that you are falling over a sharp and dangerous edge. I am always with you to protect you . . . although it seems that I am slipping through your fingers. Trust in me. Rely on me. There is no firmer ground or safer refuge. Cross the Jordan with me and believe.

Before we allow Jesus to slip through our fingers, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, belief and unbelief. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_River

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John 8:31-42: Truth and Freedom

Wednesday, March 15, 2023truth set free

Jesus says: The truth will set you free.

Many of us believe that truth must be told at all times and at all cost. Others hold that the truth can be painful and so make allowances for small inventions that ease or ruin feelings and relationships. Little white lies, we are told, soften the rough edges of life and moderate rough patches we experience. Today we are invited to examine The Truth that Jesus opens to us. The Truth that transforms and even releases. The Truth that liberates and exhorts. What can this truth and this freedom possibly look like?

God says: I have called you away from the dead end of self-involvement with the hope that you will see the beauty of my kingdom. The hope I place in you is that you welcome the balm of my love and take it in fully. I have faith that you will allow my love to travel through you to release you from your small worries and enormous burdens. My son teaches you how to give in to this love. He shows you a life that acts in full freedom through me. I have created you for fullness in me rather than the world. I have formed you for high purpose and noble deeds. I have shaped you for deep love and infinite commitment. This is the truth I offer you. This is the truth that will fully free you.

IMG_0095The freedom from illness and violence. The truth that is bold yet gentle. A parent who protects and guides. A brother who shepherds and heals. A lover who gives in to no turmoil or pain. This is the truth and freedom we seek. It is the truth and freedom we already possess. It is the truth and freedom that we find in God’s kingdom of love.

Moving away from the path that ends in nothing to the path that brings us life, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, over the edge.

Images from: https://philosophynews.com/what-is-truth/ and http://lookingintothelawofliberty.com/2014/10/08/what-does-jesus-mean-by-the-truth-will-set-you-free-and-what-does-that-freedom-look-like/

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John 8:21-30: Dead End

Tuesday, March 14, 2023dead end

Then [Jesus] went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”

We are accustomed to hearing Jesus invite us to follow The Way with him and so today’s words might be disappointing. Yet when we look closely, we appreciate anew Jesus’ genuine candor, his gentle honesty.

God says: I know that the idea that Jesus leaves you and the Spirit comes to dwell in you might be difficult to grasp. I understand that the cosmos is as much a mystery to you as are the details of the human body and brain. I see that you have many questions: How can God be with us and everywhere at the same time? Why and how is God able to manipulate time and space? How do distant stars and tiny flowers all sprout from the same dust? Read my son’s words to you today and decide to let them sit with you. Re-visit them before you retire this evening. Allow the balm of my love to heal you, transform you, and bring you onto the path that has no dead end.

We wonder how we can avoid the dead end Jesus predicts for us.

Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

The last verse in today’s reading might help us to better understand how the dead end we see before us becomes a beautiful openness to the possible: When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.

We determine to move from the dead end of our narrowness to the open way of Jesus as we remember this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, the truth.

Image from: https://www.stockfreeimages.com/26516926/Dead-end-sign.html

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John 4:43-54: Coming to Believe


James Tissot: The Healing of the Officer’s Son

Monday, March 6, 2023

John tells us unequivocally . . . they welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to. Today we pause to consider if this thinking mirrors our own. Do we follow Jesus blindly because of what he can do for us? Or do we follow him because of who he is, what he embodies, and who we hope to become?

God says: The miracles I shower on the world are not meant to lure you into loving me. They come from my genuine desire to be one with you. The signs I leave along your pilgrim way are not meant to convince you of my presence. They are the physical reality of my faith in you. My actions in your life are not meant to dazzle you. They are the hands of hope that I offer you. You are free to come with me and follow My Way. You are free to follow the way you see that another lays out for you or the way you prepare for yourself; but unless you follow me you will not revel in the goodness, the comfort and joy that I have in mind for you. I have promised this to you from your inception and I will continue to offer it until you expire. I am always and everywhere. I am. And I offer this wholeness to you. It is my hope for you that you come to believe in my deep and abiding love for you.  

The impact of the healing of the official’s son is so enormous that it brings the entire family to conversion. Do we need such enormous signs? Do we need such convincing? Or do we need God . . . and nothing more?

When we believe that we do not see God’s presence often in our lives, let us ask God for the gifts of strength and persistence as we, like the centurion and his family, come to believe. Today we remember this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

Tomorrow, healing the poor.

Image from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/13404

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Matthew 5:17-19: Teaching on the Law, A Reprise

Wednesday, March 1, 2023Kingdom-of-God-570x379

Do we fully understand the depth of Jesus’ words? Do we fully open ourselves to Jesus’ transformation?

Jesus says: Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

Do we fully understand that when we mock creation we mock ourselves? Do we fully open ourselves to the wonders of God’s universe?

Jesus says: Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

God says: You work inordinate hours. You fret over the past and worry about the future. You wriggle through plans that you lay for yourselves. You create rules and parameters that you hope will keep you safe. The Law I speak about is simple indeed – it is the only law the actually keeps you safe. It is the Law of Love. The Law of forgiveness. The Law of generosity and kindness. The Law of healing and comfort. The Law of mercy. Rest in me. Bring your worries to me. Allow my Law of Love to reconcile, restore and rebuild. Allow yourself to step into my kingdom of love.

We continue our Lenten practice as we consider how we might bring others to God’s kingdom of love. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, Beelzebub.

For another post on these verses, enter the words A Teaching on the Law into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://redeeminggod.com/kingdom-of-god-vs-kingdom-of-god/

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Luke 5:27-32: The Great Banquet

Saturday, February 11, 2023luke 5

Jesus tells us many times that his kingdom is like a boundless wedding feast where all come together at the abundant table of God’s love. How can we see ourselves in this gathering where all will be equal, where the little divisions we set up no longer exist, when only unity and charity abide? Jesus calls the tax collector Levi to follow him and then he attends a party in Levi’s home.

Luke sets the stage: Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 

The scholars ask: What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and sinners?

Jesus says: Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.

God says: When you come to my feast you need only focus on your own transformation. If you want to join this banquet of love you must learn to speak its language and to live and act in its culture. Remember your Lenten practice and when you feel that you are asked to do the impossible, remember that with me all things are possible. Put out into deeper waters and shed your fear. No matter the elements or obstacles, my love is great than all of these.

We may be Levi, called to follow and called to celebrate. We may be the Pharisees, sticking to The Law and abiding with the details. No matter our identity, we must allow Jesus to enter into our hearts, and we must allow ourselves to serve as welcome and inviting guests at the wedding feast that is the kingdom of God.

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, temptation.

Image and video link at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kqpyyUzmf0

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Matthew 9:14-15: Friendly Bonfires

Friday, February 10, 2023atlantic micro

In the U.S. we experience tumultuous political seasons with calls for and against political correctness. Today we continue the conversation about microaggression with an article from Atlantic Monthly. How do the ideas about microaggression, marginalization and victimhood relate to the Gospel? Are there friendly or un-friendly bonfires we may want to douse or fuel? Only our intimate conversations with God and others will reveal God’s truth to us.

Jesus: When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. 

God says: Do you know how often I have heard the familiar phrase that society is worse – or better – than ever? Your ideas are not new ones and when you study the histories of the peoples of the world you begin to understand this. I am always with you and yet you behave as if I have abandoned you. You need not be afraid. Believe me when I ask you to put out into deeper waters. Believe me when I tell you that fasting from food sharpens the senses. Fasting from the world for a little while sharpens the mind. But I am with you, rather than dampen the fires of love, let us call them into mighty conflagrations. 

We explore these and like ideas as we remember our Lenten practice so that we might find wisdom and peace in God’s loving heart.

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, the great banquet.

For an Atlantic Monthly article on microaggression, marginalization and victimhood, click on the image above or visit: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/readers-defend-the-rise-of-the-microaggressions-framework/405772/

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Luke 2:36-38: God’s Yardstick – Anna The Prophetess

Never Forsaken

Anna Meets Christ Face to Face

Anna Meets Christ Face to Face

Friday, January 13, 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.

There was also a prophetess Anna, the daughter of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Simeon is not the only holy voice who recognizes the Messiah in the infant Jesus.  Simeon and Anna are “Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new”.  (Mays 932) Yet despite the celebration of the moment there is a recognition of the suffering that will also take place.

God says: I do not want to dampen your joy or bring you sorrow. I send Anna because I know that in your journey pain will always accompany rejoicing; and I want Anna to remind you that even when you believe I have duped you . . . you will have consolation. I will never abandon you even though the harsh times may cause you to think that I will not return. I will never leave you even though you may believe I have. I want you to know that I need not return to you . . . for I have never left. I am with you always. 

Anna’s appearance after the words of Simeon remind us that “Jerusalem will reject [Jesus] and will instead follow a way that will lead to disaster (19:41-44).  They will seem forsaken by God, but Anna is a reminder that the disaster is not God’s last word: Jesus remains for Jerusalem a sign of hope”. (Barton 930)

Enter the word hope into the blog search bar and explore other reflections that remind us of God’s constant presence in his precious gift of Jesus to the world.

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 930. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

This reflection was originally posted on 21 January 2013 and is re-posted today as a the last in a series of women who serve us as God’s yardstick. 

For another reflection on Anna, click on the image above or visit: https://pastorpilgrim.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/pilgrimage-to-bethlehem-anna/



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James 4:11-5:6: Arrogance

Sunday, November 13, 2022

arrogance“James now turns to three forms of arrogance which exemplify life according to the measure of the world. The first is the practice of slander against a neighbor . . . A second form of arrogance is demonstrated by those who make great business plans without considering the fragile nature of their own existence . . . Finally, with a prophetic rage like that of Amos, James attacks the insolence of the rich who withhold wages from their laborers. The security gained by such fraud is illusory; the rich fatten themselves for the day of judgment”. (RG 552)

God says: Gossip and slander are forms of violence just as deadly as bullets. They murder not only the other’s reputation but your own. With your words you pigeon-hole others and rob them of the hope of change. The creation of business without me is another form of violence. When you create wealth without including me you weave fairy castles of illusion. You pretend that you are responsible for all you have stored up and for all that makes you comfortable. When you rob others of their just wages you do more than demoralize them, you presume to set yourself up as supreme judge and arbiter. All of these – gossip, slander, living without me, taking from others what is rightfully theirs – are acts of violence against your fellows and against me. When you turn away from these subtle separations from The Way, you turn toward me. And I welcome you each day with wide and embracing arms.

Study the words of the prophet Amos. Enter his name into the blog search bar and reflect on how our modern lives might fall into the three kinds of arrogance that James describes for us.

Tomorrow, a prayer for arrogance . . . 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 552. Print.   

Image from: https://yazrooney.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/the-concept-of-forgiveness-human-arrogance-at-its-best/ 



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