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Friday, December 25, 2020

James 5:7-10

Behold!

Behold, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Modern humankind has established an outpost in space, giving us a perspective of our world that the ancients could only imagine. Perhaps in our century we have strayed too far from the simple tasks of reaping God’s gift of bounty. Perhaps we have taken too much for granted the miracle that is our world. Perhaps we have learned to ignore the miracle of the Nativity.

God says: In your rush to understand me you may lose me.A bide with me for you are Christmas people who bring the Good News to the world. In your eagerness to explore my universe you may forget me. Remember me for you are Christmas people who bring authenticity and honesty to the world.  In your haste to acquire and store up you may overlook me. See me in those who have little for you are Christmas people who bring Christ himself to the world. Behold and celebrate the importance of the Nativity. Behold and share my generosity with others who have nearly nothing to sustain them. Behold and love those who suffer.  Behold . . . and be Christ in the world.

When we remember the miracle of Christ’s Nativity we also remember the patience of the prophets who foretold this arrival. We retell the stories of apostles and disciples who endured through hardship and we also tell our own stories of endurance and fortitude. When we behold the precious fruit of this Messiah who is delivered of a woman in a lowly place in a small town we also behold our own smallness and celebrate God’s gift of Christmas, for we are Christmas people.

During Christmas week . . . what did the prophets foretell?


What does it mean to be Christmas people?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KsGtMZ9HI Click on this link to listen to I Will be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman, reread this post and consider . . .

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

12_30_presentation[1]Luke 2:29-35

Nunc Dimittis

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen tour salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Nunc Dimittis, also called the Song of Simeon, in the New Testament, a brief hymn of praise sung by the aged Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Simeon was at the Temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph came to present the infant Jesus for the rite of purification according to Jewish law and custom. Simeon recognized the baby as the promised Saviour, took him in his arms, and raised his hymn of praise. Found in Luke 2:29–32, it is called the Nunc Dimittis for its first words in the Latin of the Vulgate Bible: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum, in pace, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised.” Because of its implications of fulfillment, peace, and rest, the early church viewed it as appropriate for the ending of the day. Since the 4th century it has been used in such evening worship services as Compline, Vespers, and Evensong”.  (“Nunc Dimittis”)

“A third Lucan theme is offered by old Simeon in his inspired benediction, the Nunc Dimittis . . . Simeon, a pious man longing for “the consolation of Israel” (the messianic age), is assured by the Holy Spirit that he will live to see it.  The Holy Spirit leads him to the Temple at the time of Jesus’ presentation and inspires him to know the child is God’s Messiah.  In his inspired song, he declares Jesus to be the means of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile.  On that conviction rests Jesus’ ministry and the mission of the church”.  (Mays 932)

How blessed are we that we need not await God’s coming to live among us, for Christ lives in us today.  How sanctified are we to be children of God, for we are sisters and brothers of Christ. How holy are we to have God the creator to guide us, Jesus the Redeemer to lead us, and the Spirit Consoler to abide with us, for we are called to live the new Law of Love.

The child for whom Simeon waited for a lifetime is among us this day.  Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace.  Now, Master . . .


To hear this canticle set to music and sung by the Ely Cathedral Choir, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGotSUuwjaY 

For more information and the Latin version of this canticle, click on the image above or go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=982

For more reflections on this evening canticle and Simeon, enter the word Simeon in the blog search bar.

“Nunc Dimittis.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2013. .

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

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Job 3: Job’s Plaint

Saturday, October 26, 2019

If you have time over the week-end, spend some of it with this most important book of wisdom and a commentary.  These are words we may all write from time to time in our pilgrim journey home.

Job, innocent of wrong-doing, has all taken from him – family – friends – wealth – health.  There is nothing left and he is in turmoil because his friends advise him that all he need do to regain his former security and status is to repent of his wrong-doing.  They chide him, assuring him that once he confesses his suffering will cease.  In the OT, suffering is often sent as a form of punishment for straying from God, so even though Job might look for sins to confess in order to gain peace, he is helpless in his situation because . . .  Job has done nothing wrong.  He suffers because Satan plays a game with God.  There is no reparation he can make.  There is no problem to solve.  No forgiveness to ask or receive.  However, there is one thing which Job has – and perhaps his wife and friends do not – he has an enduring and persevering faith in his Maker.  And so this is where he turns.  And as he turns to this wondrous, awesome God, Job speaks from a broken heart.

Once when I was working through something deeply personal, I was lovingly haunted by a song by a Christian artist named Steven Curtis Chapman.  The words are below, as is a link for the music.  May they bring you peace when you find yourself writing your own plaint to God.  And may you rest in the certain knowledge that we are never alone, we are never abandoned.  We are constantly held, constantly loved.

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God

Be Still; Be speechless

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our Father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still . . .

You may also want to read Psalms 37 and 46 and . . . Be still . . .

Hoping you enjoy a long and peaceful week-end.


For the music that accompanies these words, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI&noredirect=1

First written on October 10, 2008. Edited and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on Being Still, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://angelaambroise.blogspot.com/2011/05/stillness-brings-forth-births.html

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Psalm 4: Joyful Confidence in God

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This cannot be more simple, nor can it be more complicated.

As humans, there is only one thing required of us – that we trust God and allow God to move in our lives.

As humans, there is only one thing we wish to have for ourselves – control of all we and others say and do.

If only we might be as ardent in our following God as we are in our building up of our self defenses.

From the St. Joseph Psalter footnotes: Those who are well established in life delude themselves by seeking happiness in riches and worldly vanities.  The psalmist, rich in divine trust and joy, invites them to discover the price of God’s friendship: “the light of God’s face”.  This is an evening prayer (see verses 5 and 9), filled with desire for God; Christians move beyond its earthly perspectives.  Prayer brings openness of heart, assurance of God’s help, faith, divine approval, joy, and peace. 

The poor often have more confidence in God than the wealthy . . . because when there is no earthly place to fall back . . . we realize that there is only God.  The things of this world upon which we depend are only illusions.  We live in the dream that this world is real . . . even when we are told so often that this world is passing away.  Thinking in this way, we realize that our comfort may well get in the way of our spiritual development.

From the week-end intercessions in MAGNIFICAT.

When we waver, make us firm.

When we refuse to do your will, soften our hearts.

When we forget we are your children, bring us back to you.

Amen.


For some links to music which celebrates our joyful confidence, click on the image above or go to: https://todaysworship.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/todays-worship-dailyseptember-10-2012/

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 30. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.25 (2008). Print.

First written on September 29, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 46:11: Be still . . . 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Psalm 46:11Be still, then, and know that I am God.

God is everything.  God is all.  God is one.  God is whole.

God says: In the clamor of your days it is difficult for you to hear my voice; yet still I speak.  In the blur of daily activity it is difficult for you to feel my presence, yet still I am.  In the haze of uncertain relationships and unsteady events it is difficult for you to know my love, yet still I wait for you. I will never leave you.  I will never betray you.  I will never change.  If you seek something immovable, constant and true, seek me.  I wait for you still.

Wishing you a peaceful evening on this day which may have been filled with much activity.


Image from: http://itisbygrace.blogspot.com/2011/01/you-need-only-be-still.html

A re-post from July 4, 2012. 

To listen to the Steven Curtis Chapman song Be Still and Know click on the verse cited above or go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI

For more on this verse go to: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1245-be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god

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Isaiah 55: An Invitation to Grace

Saturday, June 8, 2019

All you who are thirsty, come to the waters . . .

We are told in the story of the Revelation (7:16) that those who thirst will find true water which quenches forever.

I will renew you with the everlasting covenant . . .

We are told by the prophets Jeremiah (23:4) and Ezekiel (34:16) that the true Shepherd has promised to bring all of his sheep home from all the places to which the false shepherds have scattered them so that none of them shall be missing.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near . . .

We are told in the Gospels to knock, ask, and seek (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9) while the bridegroom lives among us (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34, John 3:29).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord . . .

We are told in the first letter to the Corinthians (13:1) that our childish ways are not the childlike ways in which God asks us to walk; and in Ephesians (2:2) that the ways of the world are not God’s ways.

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

We are told in Ezekiel (37:27) that God will dwell among his people; and we are told by Jesus in the Gospel of John (10:34-38) that he was sent among us to call his faithful home, and that these faithful live in him just as he lives in the father.

Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back . . .

We are told in Jeremiah (29:11) and throughout the Psalms, but especially in 126, that God has plans in mind for us which are plans for joy rather than sorrow.

This shall be the Lord’s renown, an everlasting imperishable sign . . .

We are told in the Gospel of John (4:10) that God offers us the gift of everlasting life, of true water which quenches forever.

All of scripture is Christ, is God’s word to us, God’s expression of love to us.  And all of this scripture cries out to us that we are invited to the feast of the bridegroom as the beloved bride.  In the album Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman there is a song entitled The Invitation which tells us all we need to hear about the love the father holds for us. It reminds us that we are bride to a constant, faithful, ardent lover, the true prince of peace who leaves nothing lacking, who will not rest until he holds us closely.  This is our invitation to blessing.  This is our invitation to beatitude.  This is our invitation to grace.  This is our invitation to love.


A re-post from May 25, 2012.

Images from: http://www.parisianevents.com/parisianparty/what-to-wear-to-a-wedding-in-france/ and http://matttullos.com/grace-is-on-a-family-tree/

To listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing “The Invitation” click here.   

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John 17:11-12: Unfolding Our Story

Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019

When Jesus prays for his disciples, he speaks to a loving parent as if reporting in on a project.

I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.

Jesus speaks not only to this loving parent but to us today as he says,

They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.

Jesus continues to speak to his loving parent,

I’m not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I’m no longer going to be visible in the world;
They’ll continue in the world
While I return to you.

Jesus prepares for his exodus to the resurrected life and as he does, he prepares us for our own exodus.

Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

On this Ash Wednesday, when we consider that we are beautiful dust from a great star collision millennia ago, we remember that Jesus takes us with him on his great exodus to new life.

On this day when we remember that God is an ever-patient, always giving parent, we remember that the Spirit abides with us every step of our journey.

On this day when we remember that we are dust, we also remember that this glorious ash unfolds our hearts to pull us together in one great union with Christ.

On this day, we remember, and we celebrate this great blossoming gift of eternal love.


Listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s Glorious Unfolding at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKMjEvF2Fkw

Images from: https://www.stpaulsf.org/96 and http://stevencurtischapman.com/

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Mark 3: Unhardened Hearts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Chapter 3 of Mark’s Gospel opens with Jesus healing a man with a withered hand and he is immediately criticized for working on the sabbath.  The Pharisees have, in fact, been watching Jesus; they are waiting for him to slip up, to break one of the many rules the old law has laid upon the people.  They watched him closely to see if he would cure [the man] on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.  Jesus not only heals the man, he delivers a quick homily with both his actions and words: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save the life rather than to destroy it?”  But they remained silent.  Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”.  Jesus does not allow his fear or anger to overtake him.  He chooses instead to speak and act with compassion.  He does what is good despite the evil that would prevent him.

When we read this story carefully we understand why Jesus then withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.  We live in a world of easily hardened hearts and for that reason we understand why a large number of people [followed Jesus] from Galilee and from Judea.  We also understand why Jesus warns those he has healed not to make him known.  He knows that he has come to soften hardened hearts.  He understands the Father’s plan and bows to it.  He heals, he counsels, he goes about his work knowing that he embodies a loving God . . . and knowing that his presence stirs up envy and hate.  He knows that his actions ripple into the darkness and disturb those whose hearts are stony.

Jesus appoints the Twelve and charges them with delivering the story of good news and in so doing he sends a wave of his own love into the world to soften the hardness he sees.  He appoints each of us as well.  He returns home where the streets are so crowded that his relatives are so fearful of the hardened Pharisees and scribes that they proclaim: He is out of his mind.   But Jesus moves forward and calls out those who accuse him of drawing his power from the devil himself.  He presents a simple yet effective response and then he warns all that they are in danger of committing a most egregious offense against the Spirit.  His accusers blunder on, hardening their hearts still more; Jesus moves forward as well, calling them to redemption.

When we place ourselves in the thick of these intense stories from Mark’s Gospel, we see that our own lives echo the events on the written page.  We too have been accused unjustly.  We too have been the unjust accusers.   We have both hardened our own hearts and watched with sadness as others harden themselves against us.

In our search for comfort and joy we fall prey to darkness from time to time on our journey.  We succumb to anxiety, impatience, anger, fear and sorrow.  We may let these experiences harden our hearts . . . or we may expect God’s ransom and healing.  We may look for desolation . . . or we may anticipate God’s love.  Psalm 95 is the perfect prayer for us when we feel a certain coldness begin to settle into our hearts.  And for that reason we pray . . .

Just and gentle God, send us the patience we need to hear your word and act in it.  Fortify us in your love.

Good and gracious God, guide us with the wisdom we seek and hope for in you.  Counsel us in your fidelity.

Compassionate and wonderful God, forgive us our endless errors and wanderings.  Call us back to you.


A re-post from February 18, 2012.

For a beautiful music video of Psalm 95 click here, or go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7IryEV4F2c&feature=related

Images of hearts in nature are from: http://www.funzug.com/index.php/nature/awesome-hearts-by-the-nature.html

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Matthew 7:13-28: A Prayer in Duality

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: Jesus Walks on Water

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2018

Given that Jesus asks us to be in the world with him, acting as his witnesses and ministers, but not of this world, we reflect on the evidence of duality that surrounds us. In the last two days, we examined elements of duality we find in the Hispanic culture, and we have opened ourselves to an invitation to share our own examples of duality. As we consider that apparent contradictions that color and shape our lives, we meditate on the words of Jesus, Paul and John.

We see that great love can rise out of great hatred.

I have given [those you gave me] your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world — just as I myself do not belong to the world. I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. (John 17:14-15)

We see that perfection can rise out of imperfection.

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect. (Romans 12:2)

We see that divinity can rise out of humanity.

Do not love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you do not love the Father. Everything that belongs to the world—what the sinful self desires, what people see and want, and everything in this world that people are so proud of—none of this comes from the Father; it all comes from the world. The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away; but those who do the will of God live forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

And so we pray.

James Tissot: Christ Walks on the Sea of Galilee

Divine yet human Jesus, you guide us like an older brother, asking us to be like little children in the hands of the Creator.

Powerful yet gentle God, you protect us like a devoted, merciful father, guarding your little ones against the cataclysms that haunt a beautiful world.

Challenging yet heartening Spirit, you remain with your little ones like a loving mother, healing our wounds, nurturing and sustaining our hope.

Good and gracious God, lead us, protect us, and transform us as we navigate the turbulent waters of a world that presents us with so much destruction together with so much promise.

Just and merciful God, reconcile us, open us, and teach us how to straddle two worlds, how to be divine and human, just and merciful, honest and loving.

Giving and receiving God, embolden us, test us, and become one with us as we live in duality, as we remain in your world to build your kingdom with you.

Amen.

Fear and trust, doubt and faith, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace, for I am Yours and You are mine. We reflect on the duality of our existence as we listen to the song OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJJJkiRukY&list=RDFBJJJkiRukY&t=207 

Tomorrow, the gift of duality.


What does it mean to be in the world but not of it? Visit this site: https://412teens.org/qna/what-does-in-the-world-not-of-the-world-mean.php

Images from: http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2014/08/walking-on-water.html and https://www.pinterest.com/pin/67342956905003354/

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