Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


Friday, January 24, 2020

2 Kings 4: Blindness

Leighton: Elisha Raises the Shunamite

Frederic Leighton: Elisha Raises the Shunamite

“How can I help?”  These words of the prophet Elisha are echoed by Jesus when he asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”  (Matthew 20:30-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)   We might take some time today to think about what it is we want.  If Elisha visited us today, if we bumped into Jesus on our way home from work and were asked this question, what would we reply?  For what blindness of our own do we seek healing?  And once healed . . . do we wish to continue seeing Christ as the one who has done this healing?

We have many wishes hidden in our subconscious; or perhaps our secret desires are not hidden but rather have taken possession of our lives so that we think of nothing else.  In either case, if we are asked to synthesize all that we desire into one great wish . . . what will it be?  For whom will it be?

In today’s Noontime we read several stories: a widow with nothing whose children will be taken into slavery, a woman of influence whose child is brought back to life, a poisoned stew that becomes a healing meal, loaves of bread that multiply to feed many.  These stories have something in common: The saving power of a loving God wrought by a faithful servant who is not blind to the possibilities before him.

The prophet Elisha is faithful to Yahweh in every way.  He relies entirely on God’s providence for all that is necessary in living a mortal life: food, clothing, shelter.   He also relies on God for his vision of possibilities.  Most of us, when confronted by the widow, the wealthy woman, the poisoned stew and the too few barley loaves, want to turn to someone else to ask, “What am I supposed to do with this now in this moment?”  Elisha moves toward God as he allows God’s miraculous work to take place.  Elisha is not blind to the possibilities.

Jesus tells us about our own spiritual blindness (John 9:35-41) saying: If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim that you can see your guilt remains. 

What do we claim that we can see?  Is it the exasperation and desolation of life . . . or the goodness and gift of our existence?

What do we claim that we want?  Do we seek comfort and ease for ourselves . . . or the beauty of understanding how we fit into God’s plan?

Are we blind . . . or do we truly see?  When Jesus hears that the man he has cured of blindness has been thrown out of the temple precincts, he seeks the man out and asks: Do you believe in the Son of Man?  When this man asks who this Son of Man is that he may see him, Jesus replies: You have seen him and the one speaking to you is he . . . I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind. 

Jesus presents this man – and us – with an important question: Once we have seen the miracle before us, do we believe it, or do we choose to categorize it in a way that it can be explained away?   Jesus also asks us to think about this question: What is our own spiritual blindness?  What are the miracles lying just before us that we pass by because we cannot fathom their possibility?  And so we consider . . . if Elisha visited us today, if we bumped into Jesus on our way home from work, what would we reply?  For what blindness of our own do we seek healing?  And once healed . . . do we take these gifts for granted . . . do we explain them away . . . or do we give God the honor due . . . and do we see Christ as the one who has done this healing?


First written on January 21, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

To read commentary on 2 Kings 4, click on the image above or go to: http://deaconsmemorial.blogspot.com/2011/04/optional-mass-of-fifth-week-of-lent.html

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Deuteronomy 3: Teaching the Children

parent-child[1]Whether we ourselves have children or not, it is beneficial to universal society for those of us who have survived cataclysm to teach those who follow us how to endure well rather than to endure at all costs.  If we hope to improve both collectively and individually we must be willing to take an honest look at how we operate, what we value, and how we enact our values.  This is what Moses calls us to today.  We are not asked to pass along stories of how others have carried on through crisis; we are asked to be earnestly on our guard not to forget the things which our own eyes have seen, not let them slip from our memory as long as we live, but teach them to our children and to our children’s children.  This is a noble vocation: to pass along a manual for how to persist through pain, fear and antagonism.

Keeping in mind that each time we read or hear the phrase “fear” in reference to the Lord in the New Testament that we might replace it with the word “love,” we can see how the arrival of Jesus is the completion of all God’s promises to the people.  God, with his expression of concern and empathy embodied in Jesus, tells us how much he loves us and wants to be with us.  God warns us often about the dangers of idolatry and encourages us to consider the advantages of fidelity.  God’s own fidelity with us is guaranteed.  God’s love proved repeatedly through the stories we can tell about his power to save and restore.   God’s hope for us and in us is spelled out clearly as he establishes – here through Moses – cities of refuge in which his people might find a second opportunity for recovery.  God never gives up on us.

Deuteronomy, perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, asks its readers to remember and to pass along our own story of how the goodness of the Lord has changed us forever.  It asks that we consider God’s goodness, and that we pass along the story of how we came through a wilderness with no road map other than our fidelity to a God who loves us so much he cannot bear to be apart from us for even the smallest of moments.  We are loved by a God who does not ever want to be without us.

And so we pray . . .

Father Creator, Jesus Saver, Holy Spirit Abider and Comforter, we see by your actions that you will never forsake the work of your own hands.  We realize that the only firm ground on which we stand is the rock of your own steadfastness in your commitment to us.  We know that you are incapable of deception, trickery or betrayal.  Give us the fortitude and courage to follow you, even when we are fearful, even when we are in pain.  We rely on your patience and mercy as always.  And we await our own restoration and peace that comes with the joy of knowing and serving you.  We thank you for your bountiful love, and we hope to return that love to you always . . . even when we are fearful or in pain.

Help us to pass along to the children and to the children of those children not only the story of your love . . . but the essence of your love as well.  Guide us in loving our enemies, in praying for the impossible, and in remaining always with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Image from: http://veronicaplace.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/our-children-are-on-loan-to-us/

Written on August 11, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Read Full Post »


Monday, January 13, 2013

Deuteronomy 9: Unmerited Success

God's_Grace_2[1]In today’s Noontime we examine when and where we see God.  We take time to reflect on how and why we praise God.  We consider our perception of who and what God is.  We have the opportunity to thank God for our unmerited success.

If we take these verses in a literal, one-dimensional way God comes off as a sometimes petulant, occasionally petty and sulking God.  If we put them in the context of the New Testament – and if we can refrain from the temptation to moralize – we allow ourselves to accept God’s gifts of faith, hope, and unconditional love.  We will find ourselves rooted and flourishing in God’s grace.

An excerpt from Richard Rohr’s Saturday meditation gives us a compass to use on our pilgrimage.  He writes:

God always entices us through love.

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself. This is the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves you when you change (moralism). It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being “saved.” Moralism leads you back to “navel-gazing,” and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a total gift.

Adapted from Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate
. . . Seeing God in All Things
(CD, DVD, MP3)

If we read the Noontime selection today and complement ourselves for having behaved well, for having turned our eyes away from the golden calf, if we love the chant three times over, It is because of my merits that the Lord has brought me to possess the land, then we have lost our way.   If we delight in believing that these verses show us a strict set of rules to follow so that we will never suffer, we have misunderstood all of scripture.  If we believe that God loves only those who obey his rules and join his club, we do not know God at all.

Picture1God abides with us when we follow and when we stray.  It is when we lose our way that God comes after us persistently to bring us back to the fold.

God protects us when we take risks in Kingdom-building.  It is when we teeter on the edge of safety that God patiently strengthens the bonds we have forged in relationship with God.

God guides us as we wade into the world to engage fully in discipleship.  It is when we are most lured and confused by the material world that God speaks steadily to us.

And so we pray:

Generous and loving God, Remind us that you are so immense that your love encompasses all, even those of us who stray.

Giving and powerful God, Tell us again that you will never abandon us, never reject us, always love us.   Tell us that we have nothing to fear as we follow you.

Great and gentle God, Clarify for us each day your message of inclusion, universality, and transformation.  Remind us that we must not exclude anyone from your message.

Gracious and singular God, Continue to send us your amazing, incalculable, and precious gift of unmerited success.  And help us to remember to thank you.  Amen.


This week . . . more on Deuteronomy

Image from: http://prayitoff.blogspot.com/2011/03/pray-it-off-31711-actual-grace-just-ask.html

For more information on this fourth book of the Torah, see the Deuteronomy – Laws page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/deuteronomy-laws/

Read Full Post »


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Jeremiah 20: A Prayer for Those Willing to be Duped

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

light-vs-dark[1]Dearest Creator God,

We know that you love us;  we know that you are waiting for us in the deep recesses of our being. 

We know that you created us and this means that you know our shadowy corners; but we are frightened that when we turn on the light we will see what we do not want to see. 

We are afraid that we will be overtaken by the thing that will leap from the dark corners in our lives.  

We know that you are constant and abiding; but sometimes the challenge is too frightening. 

Hold us closely as we wend our way through the briars and brambles of life. 

SunRise[1]Whisper to us steadily; defend us always from the terrors. 

Remind us that what we avoid is precisely what we need to see. 

Help us to be our best selves. 

Help us to fulfill the hope you have placed in us. 

Amen.


First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Images from: http://chakrabodyyoga.blogspot.com/2012/06/from-blah-to-brilliant-3-great-reasons.html and http://danmayberry.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/light-vs-dark/

Read Full Post »


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Wisdom 9: Solomon’s Prayer

SolomonsPrayer[1]Solomon is a well-known figure in scripture.  At a fairly young age he is given a unified kingdom by his father, David.  When asked what he wishes to have in this world he asks for Wisdom.  We are told that he receives this and more . . . all the wealth, power and status he had not asked for.  He seems destined for greatness and so he is.

Rulers from all parts journey to visit him, to see the beautiful palace and temple he builds, and to experience at close range how this singular king loves and is loved by his singular God.  Even the remarkable Queen of Sheba requests and is granted a special visit.  Later in his story, we are told that he loved many foreign women and married several.  It is likely that in this way he meant to secure alliances with potential enemies; yet these enemies defeat him in a quiet and insidious way.  The writer of 1 Kings tells us: When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been. (1 Kings 11:4) After this, the kingdom comes tumbling down.

Today we spend time with Solomon’s Prayer which can also read in 1 Kings 8 and we speculate what it was that drew him away from God into the world.  We picture what lured him to foreign gods and extravagant women.  We can imagine what and who convinced him that authority and influence were more important than fidelity to Yahweh.  When we reflect on Solomon’s Prayer, we might want to make it our own and pray it often . . . resisting the lure of self-deceit and warding off the siren song of the material world.  And so we pray to the God of Solomon, the Living God.

Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne . . . For alone I cannot manage my days and nights sensibly.

Reject me not from among your children . . . I will make mistakes and I know that you will pardon me.

You have bid me build a temple on your holy mountain, an altar in the city that is your dwelling place, a copy of the holy tabernacle you had established of old . . .  I will do my best to act as you ask, to answer as you call, to praise as you create.

Send forth Wisdom from your holy heavens that she may be with me and work with me . . .  I really cannot do this without your voice in my ear.

For who knows God’s counsel, who can conceive what the Lord intends?  I cannot conceive of that you see, all that you know, all that you do. I only understand that your are goodness and therefore do only good.

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross - The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross – The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and we learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom.  So abide with me that you might bring goodness out of any action I take may harm another.  Remain with me that I might remain in you.  Love me always that I might always love others.

Amen.


A re-post from January 9, 2013.

Read more about Solomon in 1 Kings and in 1 Chronicles. www.Biblegateway.com

To read more about Solomon’s Prayer, click on the image above or go to: http://www.hedua.com/blog/solomons-prayer/

Read Full Post »

Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell.

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

We linger over the story of Peter’s deliverance from the prison cell where he awaited Herod’s will.  We imagine a winged warrior who goes into combat with such peaceful ease.  We wonder if we are dreaming or if God is somehow delivering us from certain condemnation and death.

Get up quickly.

We do as the apparition commands.  Half-asleep we struggle to find our balance; we tax our senses, asking for instant and accurate input.  Is this a dream?

Put on your belt and your sandals.

The voice is real yet all is strange.  There is an urgency and yet somehow we are not frightened.   We grapple for the things of the world that we know well.  They bring us comfort although we know they do not protect us in any way.

Put on your cloak and follow me.

Moving forward we convince ourselves that in a fleeting moment we will fully awaken to find ourselves in the well-known prison of our fear.  We touch familiar objects as if to reassure ourselves . . . knowing that they hold no help for us, understanding that full and lasting assurance lies only in this lovely and dreamy apparition that leads us forward.

They passed the first guard and then the second.

The light breeze ruffles against our sleep-wrinkled cheeks.  All seems real enough yet how is it that we slip so easily past the chains that fettered us so well and for so long?

They emerged and made their way down an alley.

It is true.  Freedom has been gained.  And with such slight effort!  Who would have thought the battle might be so easily won?

Suddenly the angel left him. 

And just as quickly as this powerful apparition appears it now evaporates; yet this new harmony lingers; fear does not pierce our newly-found armor.  This winged hand of God has brought us to a peaceful place with ease and grace.

Then he recovered his senses.

Fully awake, we realize that disaster has been averted.  Prayers have been answered.  The miracle has taken place.  We allow ourselves to dwell for a brief time in this new feeling of gift.  A wave of gratitude surges up from our feet and wings through our body.  Suddenly we want to fly to those we love to deliver the Lord’s message of freedom.

He went to the house and knocked on the gateway door.  A maid answered and was overjoyed.  She ran to tell the others of his deliverance.  They told her, “You are out of your mind”.

A detail from Murillo's Liberation of St. Peter

Detail: Murillo’s “Liberation of St. Peter”

Our news falls on disbelieving ears and yet we persist.

He continued to knock and when they opened the door they saw him and were astounded.

We fall into waiting arms as we announce the Good News for suddenly we fully know that what we have been told is true.

He is risen.  He saves.  He conquers all. He has returned for us. 

We are loved.  Amen.


Image from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/bartolome-esteban-murillo/liberation-of-st-peter-1667

To read more about Peter’s Deliverance, visit the Expect Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/expect-miracles/

Read Full Post »


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Philippians 4:10-14: Strength for Everything

Timothy and Epaphroditus

Timothy and Epaphroditus

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE footnotes: “Paul . . . here thanks the Philippians for their gift of money sent through Epaphroditus. Paul’s own policy was to be self-sufficient as a missionary, supporting himself by his own labor.  In spite of this reliance on self and on God to provide, Paul accepted gifts from the Philippians . . . as he does here now, in prison”.  (cf. Senior 317)

Paul sets out in his missionary zeal to earn his own wages as he travels through the Roman Empire telling the Good News to all. He suffers great deprivation and knows great bounty.  Where he had once thought only to support himself, he now – in his prison cell – fully realizes the secret to a life lived well: Not only do we depend on God the Creator, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient and All Knowing but we also depend on God present to us in and through others.  God of little surprises and sudden kindnesses.  God ever-present in the faithful who remain as remnant.  God providing power in our distress.  This is where we find strength for everything.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me.  Help us, Oh God of surprises, to be faithful to those with whom you have linked us.

You were, of course, concerned for me but lacked an opportunity.  Guide us, Oh God of small wonders and powerful miracles, to be watchful for any opportunity to do your work.

I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient.  Remind us, Oh God who comes to us in the small Bethlehem Babe, that you came to humanity as a vulnerable child.

I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live in abundance.  Show us, Oh God who was born in a stable, that the material goods we seek are dust in our hands.

In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  Call us, Oh God who dwells in each of us, to fully know and express the great secret you teach us through tribulation and joy.

I have strength for everything through him who empowers me.  Tell us once again, Oh God who never falters, that our limitations become power when we live in you.

It was kind of you to share in my distress.  Confirm for us, Oh God who never abandons the sheep of his kingdom, that you bring us liberation even in our deepest suffering.

And so we pray . . . Oh God of our dreaming and our waking, help us to balance the good and the bad, the sorrow and the joy, the pain and the elation.  Abide in us all days and all nights, through our comings and goings, during our encampments and our wanderings, as we experience need and revel in plenty.  Show us how to traverse the hills and valleys, how to endure the deserts and the wastelands, how to undergo deprivation and how to delight in bounty.  Remind us to rejoice greatly in you always for you are never far, you are forever constant, and you are eternally present to us . . . even though we see you but darkly.  We rely on you to bring us strength for everything both in our distress and in our gladness.  We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


A re-post from December 30, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.317. Print.

To reflect a bit more on Chapter 4 of Philippians, enter the words Cause for Joy into the blog search bar and explore.

To hear a sermon on Model Servants, go to http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/50-26/Model-Spiritual-Servants-Part-3-Epaphroditus

To spend time reflecting on how Timothy and Epaphroditus are Models of Faith, click on the image above or go to: http://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/week-29-timothy-and-epaphroditus/

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

Read Full Post »


Psalm 28: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.htmlThe Rock

Monday, December 30, 2019

In today’s Gospel John the Baptist tells us that he went out to the desert and there he encountered God; we are reminded that we must go apart, from time to time, as Jesus did to recoup, to re-focus, to re-listen.  Even the one who heals all wounds and mends all brokenness goes off to pray for a little while.

Today’s Noontime focuses us on the origin of our strength.

To you, My Lord, I call; my Rock, do not be deaf to me.  It is in the heat of desert days that we find an unyielding foundation on which to put our feet.  Our foundation is the Rock, the Lord.

The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trusted and found help.  It is in the chill of the desert nights that we discover we need constant protection from the buffets of the world. We find this protection in the Rock, the Lord.

If you fail to answer me, I will join those who go down to the pit.  It is in the desert extremes that we realize we are nothing, our puny resources are for naught without the Rock, the Lord.

So my heart rejoices; with my song I praise my God.  It is in the harsh, desert reality, with all resources stripped away, that we come to understand the value of our relationship with the Rock, the Lord.

Lord, you are the strength of your people, the saving refuge of your anointed king.  It is in the beauty of the desert simplicity that we come to believe that the Rock, our Lord, loves us more than we have imagined.

Rather than fear loss we must be open to its message, for although God is our constant companion we do not feel God’s true presence because we have filled our days with our own activity.

Rather than lament a world that is woefully off course, we might instead turn to the Rock, the Lord, for sustenance and hope.

Rather than funnel our energy into petty arguments and the useless struggle over power we do not even possess, we might rely instead on the Rock, the Lord, for clarity of vision and purity of intent.

Rather than hide our envy and resentment over the good fortune of others, we might look to the Rock, the Lord, for a steadfast spirit and a constant heart.

Picture1Prepare the way of the Lord, The Baptist calls out the words of the prophet Isaiah.  Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill made low.  When we journey into the desert to better hear the Lord, our way will be smoothed out for us by the Lord.  No more will we skitter down steep slopes as we travel. No more will we exhaust ourselves as we climb over the huge problems that appear before us.  The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.  No more will we worry which way to turn and which way to go.  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  The Lord, our Rock, assures us of our rescue.

As we reflect and pray in this Christmastide, let us return with The Baptist to the desert, let us listen again to the familiar words of Isaiah, and let us build our permanent home on the only Rock that both rescues and sustains.  Let us wait on the Lord.

 


Adapted from a reflection first posted on December 9, 2012.

Image from: http://www.ehow.com/info_8087024_deserts-drive-through.html

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: