Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Matthew 21:1-11: Shaking the World

Monday, July 16, 2018

Footnotes and commentary will explain much to us in today’s Noontime. The poetic parallelism we find with the words ass and colt in the citation from Zechariah 9:9 may justify the thinking that Matthew was a Gentile; a man practicing the Jewish faith would be accustomed to hearing these double allusions from their rabbi and not confuse the prophecy with reality. We might also learn more about the custom of strewing palm branches during the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39-40 and 2 Maccabees 10:5-8) when rededicating a Temple. And finally, scholars will be able to tell us that Matthew uses the participle shaken in verse 11 that was commonly used in the apocalyptic literature of Jesus’ time. In Matthew 8:24 the storm is described with this same verb and the noun in that verse literally means earthquake. Matthew wants to tell us that Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem literally and figuratively shakes the world out of its complacency. (Senior 20, 44-45) This prophet from Nazareth in Galilee who heals the sick, feeds the multitudes, and forgives sins has come to set the world afire . . . and the world is clearly shaken by this message: The Temple is about to fall.

I have friends and family who insist that Jesus came to live with us only so that we might learn how to “get along” with everyone. This thinking conveniently reinforces the idea that living in a loving community means that we turn blind eyes to dishonesty and greed. This view will also have us thinking that in Luke 12:49 and Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus cannot possibly mean that even family members will be pitted against one another when they understand the true meaning of Jesus’ message. For some it is difficult to believe that Jesus is telling his followers – and us – that the habits of a lifetime will have to change: complacency about corruption must end, we cannot condone the oppression of the marginalized, or affirm lies and gossip. We must cease living in excess and we must become humble, patient, and persevering in order to enter the kingdom. We can see why Jesus’ message shook the world in his own time . . . and why his message continues to shake the world today.

When we read these verses and we feel compelled to place the palm branches of our lives on the roadway to welcome this amazing healer who will always put himself last, we must also be willing to follow him into the Temple when he cleanses it.  When we raise our voices in thanksgiving to say Hosanna in the highest, we must also be willing to weep with the women and John the Beloved Apostle to mourn the emptiness of the world without Jesus.  When we shout out to the doubters: This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee; we must ready ourselves for the cataclysmic shaking that will turn us in a new and life-giving direction we had not thought possible for ourselves or others.  We must ready ourselves for the shaking of the world and the rebuilding of the Temple.  And so we pray . . .

When the earth yawns open to swallow us whole, let us stand firm on the lessons Jesus has taught us. 

When the coming storm gathers dust into lethal clouds, let us hunker down to shelter in the arms of our loving God.

When Jesus shakes the world into God’s new reality, let us not cry out against it. 

Let us welcome this shuddering new birth . . . knowing that with the passing of the storm the Spirit who has abided with us . . . will nourish us anew. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.20, 44-45. Print. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.simonedwards.me/?p=76 

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Judges 7: Following God’s Lead

Thursday, July 12, 2018

There is a value in reading scripture slowly while allowing time for reflection and meditation for in this way small themes are given time to blossom into guidelines for living.  Today we find a significant idea hidden in the story of the defeat of Midian and it is this.  God knows us so well that God forestalls human pride by asking us to rely on only God.  In today’s story God asks Gideon to whittle his troops from thirty-two thousand to three hundred.  And Gideon does this without questioning; he knows how reliable his God is.

The culling process here is an unusual method for an army.  On God’s instruction, Gideon first reminds his troops of the dangers of battle; later he watches how they drink water from the river.  He does not appear to question God’s wisdom and he shows no anxiety; he knows how reliable his God is.

Once the three hundred come together, Gideon gives them no more instruction than this: Watch me and follow my lead.  After the winnowing process, these loyal soldiers follow Gideon just as he follows the Lord; they know how reliable their God is.

Lying in wait outside the camp, Gideon and the third of the men who are with him overhear the telling of a dream by one of the Midian soldiers.  The ominous conclusion is that although the Midianites, Amalekites and Kedemites are numerous as locusts, and although their camels number more than the grains of sand in the desert, the Israelites will be victorious.  The Israelites show no angst about having reduced their number to three hundred; they know how reliable their God is . . . and the enemy flees.

The Lord pronounces to Gideon: You have too many with you for me to pronounce you successful lest you vaunt yourself against me and believe that your own power brought you victory.  This is the theme we see repeated often in Judges.  The people cry out for help, Yahweh hears their cry and rescues them, once the people feel comfortable in their own skill and power they turn back to the pagan Baals . . . and the cycle repeats again.  In Gideon’s story, we see the faith-filled soldiers put their trust in this God who has saved them countless times because . . . they know how reliable their God is.

So often I have sat in meetings and watched someone defend their right to make unilateral decisions, forgetting that all comes from God, even the gift of leadership.  I have watched these leaders struggle to bring others together behind their decisions not understanding that people follow best when decisions come from God rather than from human ego.  They have forgotten – or perhaps have never known – how reliable their God is.

We can rebel against these leaders or we can witness our own confidence in God to them.  The choice is always ours.  Rather than react in fear, we can act in reliance – just as Gideon does in today’s story, and just as his soldiers do – we can demonstrate to others through our lack of arrogance just how reliable is our God.

And so we pray . . . Powerful and loving God, you know us so well that you understand our tendency to take credit for your gifts.  You know that we are inclined to strut with pride when we are successful and complain in fear when we fail.  You know that we often believe in ourselves more than we believe in you.  Strip us of all hubris and arrogance; bring us humility and modesty.  Wipe away our anxiety and fill us with your love.  Remind us to follow your lead just as Gideon and his soldiers do.  Remind us that when we rely on ourselves alone . . . we forsake the gift of your wisdom and authority that you so freely give to those who follow you.  Tell us again what you have already shown us but that we have so quickly forgotten . . . that we need not fear anyone or anything . . . for we know how reliable our God is.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 21, 2011.

Image from: https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/1818-psalm-3/ 

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Numbers 4Definition

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We all know people who want to follow blindly; they do not want the responsibility of defining their work or of finding creative solutions to complex problems.  Their world is a construct of simple yes/no options with all questions answered by thumbing through regulations until the proper – and appropriate – solution is found.  Roles are defined by strict standards; rules are enforced without deference to circumstance.

We also know people who do not want to follow; they ignore or even shun any structure which holds them accountable.  Their world is built of elegant faerie castles with convoluted passageways and hidden places where the secrets that govern decisions are stored but rarely used.  The definition of role is determined each day by personal whim, and rules are changed according to some mysterious set of guidelines.

In today’s Noontime we find a set of duties laid out for the Levite priests that were meant to keep the covenant promise with God intact . . . and were also intended to prepare the people for the desert trek toward the Promised Land.  Regimentation and obedience are needed when the pressures of life become overwhelming.  In dire circumstances the standard rules may not apply and normal roles may change.  Flexibility will have to be matched by fidelity.  Creativity must be balanced by sensibility.  In order to survive the desert winds as we journey from oasis to oasis, we will have to balance carefully on the tightrope between passion and prudence.  This will only happen well when we understand our role as Children of God.  It can only happen with serenity when we understand our responsibility as Children of the Kingdom.  It can only happen in joy when we understand our definition as Children of Love.

It is not enough to follow blindly in the kingdom; we are called to develop an informed conscience so that our decisions flow from the Gospel Tenets.  Nor is it sufficient to hide passively or to strike out entirely on our own; we are called to act in accord with the Gospel Teachings that require us to love God and others before self.

When we act in accord with who God calls us to be then we have no need to hide; nor do we have a need to control.  When we act in accord with who we are – God’s children created in love to love others and to be loved – then the thin tightrope of the desert journey becomes a simple path.

And so we pray . . . Good and gracious God, you established the Levite priests to help your faithful make the arid journey safely to their promise.  You guide and protect us today just as you lead and guarded the Hebrew people through the Sinai.  Help us to better recognize what you require of us.  Help us to better appreciate who we are.  Help us to better value one another as we journey always to you.  And help us to better understand that we define ourselves best when we begin that definition with you.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 20, 2011.

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

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Acts 5:1-11The End of the Wicked

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Goya: Witch’s Sabbath

“The sin of Ananais and Sapphira did not consist in the withholding of part of the money but in their deception of the community.  Their deaths are ascribed to a lie to the Holy Spirit (3.9), i.e., they accepted an honor accorded them by the community for their generosity, but in reality they were not deserving of it”.  (Senior 191)  Thinking through this story gives us the opportunity to reflect on the concept of honor: what it is, how it is rightly and wrongly earned, why we bestow it on others, and what we do with an award accorded to us.

We might immediately think of warriors who risk life itself as they defend people, property or concepts.  Medals are given – sometimes posthumously – to those who give of themselves at great personal cost.  Some of these heroes deny that they have done anything above or beyond what another would have done.  We spectators know differently and so we honor those who think of themselves last at such great physical, psychological, and personal expense.

As in today’s example, we might honor philanthropists, those among us who are gifted with an abundance of talent or goods either directly earned or inherited.  Many humanitarians give anonymously in order to better share what they have.  Some have strict guidelines a petitioner must follow in order to win an award.  Still others give loudly and with fanfare.  In any or all of these cases, we give accolades and recognition to those who share their wealth.

There are also those among us who give at great personal and spiritual price.  These holy warriors have no money and little talent for physical defense; yet they are as important as any other kind of hero and they too must be honored.  We all know holy people who either boldly or quietly prayed themselves and many others into God’s hands.  Their value is greater than rubies or pearls for the battle they wage is with the greatest and darkest of powers.  Saints whose names form the litanies we pray are obvious spiritual heroes; but there are many of these holy ones among us . . . and we rely on them more than we know.  We must recognize them as easily as we do the heroes of war and wealth.

In today’s story we find lots to think about: How Ananais and Sapphira think they can deceive God himself, how the community first admires this couple and then is stunned at the immediate consequences of their deceitful actions.  Perhaps God is setting an early example of what it means to live in Christ-like community: honesty, integrity, trust and fidelity are hallmarks of a truly unified yet diverse group.  Lies only fool those who create them for the truth is always revealed . . . sometimes immediately . . . always with certainty.

We all know people who accept credit where it is not due.  We may have seen these people of the lie come unraveled . . . or we may believe that these people live long, blameless lives without just compensation for the pain they cause.  We need not worry about these deceivers as today’s story tells us.  We need only fix ourselves on maintaining our own purity of purpose as we move through each day.   We will take solace from the often-sung Psalm 73 as we pray . . . Truly God is good to those who are pure of heart.  But as for me, my feet had nearly slipped; I had almost tripped and fallen; because I envied the proud and saw the prosperity of the wicked: for they suffer no pain, and their bodies are sleek and sound; in the misfortunes of others they have to share; they are not afflicted as other are; therefore they wear pride like a necklace and wrap their violence about them like a cloak . . . When I tried to understand these things, it was too hard for me; until I entered the sanctuary of God and discerned the end of the wicked . . . Oh how suddenly them come to destruction . . . Like a dream when one awakes; O Lord, when you arise you make their image vanish.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.191. Print. 

Image from: https://onartandaesthetics.com/2015/11/07/goyas-pinturas-negras/ 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 8, 2011.

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Ecclesiastes 6Chasing after the Wind

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Rembrandt: The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Who is there to tell a man what will come after him under the sun?  

Commentary will tell us that here Qohelet, the author, is reflecting on humanity’s relationship with the divine and the dilemma of being human.  We control nothing – although we try to convince ourselves that we do.  We gather goods and store them up – yet there is no guarantee that we will benefit from or enjoy these goods.  We work all day and sometimes all night to survive – but we are fools if we think this gives us control of our destiny.  In our culture we have been trained and we inculcate our children in the thinking that work is the answer to all of our problems and discomfort.  We believe we can catch the wind.

The marvelous gift of being a follower of Christ is that he comes to share both his humanity and divinity with us.  As his sisters and brothers, we claim the same Father, we share the same Spirit, we even share his Body and Blood when we partake of the Eucharist.   And we do not have to ask for this gift . . . it is given freely.  What Christ followers know is that through Christ our humanity is raised up to its divine potential.  Paul gives the Romans – and us – this message: What will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?  No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8: 35, 37-39)  The Psalmist describes the power of God: You are robed in power, you set up the mountains by your might.  You still the roaring of the seas; the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.  (Psalm 65:7-8 What Gospel readers will recall is that Jesus even commands the elements.  Jesus shows us that he – like God – controls even the wind when the frightened disciples awaken him and he calms the storm at sea.  He chides them saying: You of little faith, why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:24-26 Luke (8:24) describes the scene in this way: He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm . . .

We have constant questions about our fate.  We want to feel secure, safe and loved.  We want to know if our future will be easy or difficult, and we want details.  We want to control our destiny and our world, and yet . . . we have no need to wrestle with any of this if we open ourselves to a full and honest relationship with Christ.  By becoming one with him and acknowledging him as our brother, we are granted all that we desire and more . . . we suddenly have no fear of the storms life brings us because now we act in Christ.

Who is there to tell us what will come after us under the sunOur brother, the Christ.

Who is there to calm our fear and to dampen our fretfulness when we are anxious?  Our brother, the Christ.

Who is there to greet us and to speak with us when we are alone or abandoned?  Our brother, the Christ.

Who is there to celebrate with us when we are joyful?  Our brother, the Christ.

Who is there to still the winds and leash the roiling waves when we suddenly find ourselves in the tempest?  Our brother, the Christ.

Qohelet cautions us that we chase after the wind when we create a world around us that tells us we are God.  What Jesus comes to tell us is that we have already been given the gift of divinity . . . and it comes to us through him.  He tells us that we need not fear the wind . . . for he will do the chasing.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 4, 2011.

Image from: http://locicero.net/teachrembrandt/lesson_plans_htm/storm_on_sea_of_galilee.html 

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John 11Thoughts on the Raising of Lazarus

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

When we come across the story of the raising of Lazarus we may be tempted to skim through it or even skip over it altogether; we are thinking that we have heard this one before and yes, we have.  But if we set aside a quiet time and a quiet place to read this account of an event that took place two millennia ago . . . and when we pause to mediate on the meaning of the words beyond the story . . . we feel Christ’s presence through the questions that spring up from the pages.  And we are given new gifts of wisdom.  Here is one such gift I received this afternoon . . . you may want to offer up your own.

Verse 16: So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “let us also go to die with him”.  Thomas knows that if Jesus and his followers return to Judea – they have heard the news of Lazarus’ death – they may very likely be stoned, we understand, because earlier the disciples caution Jesus saying: Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”  Thomas is usually remembered in John 20 as the doubter, the one who refuses to believe that Jesus has returned from the dead until he has seen the crucifixion nail marks and has put his own hand in the wound in Jesus’ side.   Perhaps John uses Thomas in this way to give us the opportunity to examine our own belief in the risen Christ.  Do we demand signs or do we willingly follow . . . even when danger is imminent?  Jesus has told us about the many ways in which he appears to us.  Do we willingly follow with enthusiasm as Thomas hopes to do?  Maybe we willingly respond as Thomas does when we realize that we have doubted Christ himself . . . My Lord and my God!   Today we have the opportunity to think about our readiness to respond as Thomas does when we encounter Christ in any form.  We are perhaps uncomfortable approaching the poor, the stranger, the needy and the imprisoned yet Jesus lives in them as he lives in us.  He is not only present in those who look like us and behave as we do . . . but in diverse others as well.  This gives us something to think about today . . . and it is an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus.

There are other small places that call us to examine our way of perceiving Christ in others.  We may want to explore the verses that describe Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary.  Why does Martha tell Mary secretly that Jesus has arrived?  Why does the writer describe Jesus as perturbedWhat causes Jesus to cry?  And what do we discover about ourselves when we read verse 48?  When we arrive at the close of Chapter 11 we are told how dangerous it was to even know Jesus’ location; and we understand that members of the Sanhedrin clearly prefer land and nation over following and coming to know one who might be the Messiah.  How do we react to these chilling words?

And so we read, we pause, we reflect . . . and then we pray:  Good and faithful brother, we read this account of how you comforted your friends and called Lazarus back to this life.  We also have read about your sadness and unease.  We have understood the danger you were in . . . and that you know we are often in danger when we follow you.  Yet we know that your words and your actions bring about the peace that all of us yearn to hold.  We know that you are our wise teacher and loving shepherd. 

We know that where you go there will be questions, yet we follow because we want answers.

We know that that where you go the old order will be questioned, yet we follow because with you we are unafraid. 

We know that where you go there will be peace . . . and so we follow for this is also how we wish to live. 

Guide us always, protect us always, be with us always . . . for we are trying to follow . . . you.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 3, 2011.

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2 Kings 14The Blustering Thistle  

Saturday, June 30, 2018

In this portion of Israel’s history we will need commentary to sort out who is the cause of what; and what today’s brief fable signifies.  The vulnerable thistle approaches the tall, strong cedar with a useless proposition.  This likely illustrates the foolhardy policies and actions of the leader Amaziah who threatens the powerful Jehoash.  Because Amaziah experienced victory over the Edomites and he now believes he can do anything.  He makes a common mistake – he believes in himself and follows his own ego rather than taking counsel from God.  The result of this bluster and imprudence is turbulence and it spells the end for Amaziah.  Yet in the end . . . and here is where we see God’s goodness . . . God saves the faithful people despite their foolhardy leaders.

It is likely that each of us can point to a time when we have been the thorny thistle threatening the mighty cedar; and if we are honest, we will also remember the turbulence that followed.  In our ego-driven culture we are inculcated in the thinking that we can do anything we put our minds to.  We can make more money, be more beautiful or handsome, buy a larger home or car, have the most current technology . . . and all of this will make us more popular and happy.  This, of course, is the thinking of the threatening thistle . . . and it is false.  How much more prudent it is to turn to God rather than bluster our way through life.

We see a clear choice before us today.  We can act as the foolish leaders do or we can turn to the God who created us in love . . . to be loved.  We can threaten others as the thistle does, or we can act in mercy, compassion and fidelity as God does.  And so we pray . . .

Our loving God is waiting to rescue us from the threats of the world.  Open our ears that we may hear God’s word.

Our tender God is waiting to heal us in love.  Open our eyes that we may see God in others.

Our compassionate God is waiting to transform us in joy.  Open our hearts that we may act in and through God.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 30, 2011.

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Jeremiah 9Joy Out of Corruption

Friday, June 29, 2018

Jeremiah’s concern in this chapter of his prophecy is the corruption of the people; he describes it with vivid images.  They ready their tongues like a drawn bow; with lying, and not with truth, they hold forth in the land.  They go from evil to evil, but me they know not, says the Lord.  Rather than speak of trust and compassion, the following verses warn all to be on guard.  Even Jacob – whose name indicates that “he supplants” – is remembered as the brother who cheated his twin Esau out of his inheritance rather than the man who fathered the twelve tribes of Israel.  Here we read about perverse friends who are guilty of slander, and commit violence upon violence, deceit upon deceit.  We have all likely been touched by this kind of duplicity in which associates speak cordially while in their hearts they lay ambushes.  We may have participated in these ambushes knowingly or unknowingly.  Verses 1 through 8 give us a sad picture of a people who have turned away from God.

The verses that follow describe what has happened to the land once her people forget God.  Birds of the air, beasts of the land have all fled; the cities are a wasteland.  God evokes a funeral dirge from his people; the wicked have polluted everything they touch.  The intensity of the sadness increases, yet . . . as always with God there is a flicker of hope. As always with God good comes out of evil.  As always with God no harm goes unanswered with compassion.  And this is the reaction we are called to give as we read these dark passages; rather than sink into the pit of darkness as the wicked would wish, we are to rise in resurrection hope with the faithful who refuse to give in to iniquity.  As believers in a God who forgives, redeems and transforms, we are to do as St. Paul reminds Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2): Proclaim the word: be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.  Imagine the world of Jeremiah if enough people had united in a voice that called for goodness over corruption.  Imagine our world today if enough of us are able to animate one another to do good rather than succumb to evil.

At the close of this Chapter Jeremiah warns his contemporaries – and he warns us – that we ought not be smug, nor ought we believe that our own talents or powers have kept us from failure since our wisdom, strength and glory all come from God.   Even circumcision as a sign of faith becomes a hollow, worthless act if we refuse to turn in hope to God.  Returning to Paul’s letters we find in Romans 4 and 5 a similar statement concerning those who appear to live in the Spirit but who in fact do not – while there are many uncircumcised who act in the Spirit and are therefore justified through their faith.  Paul recommends that we not turn away from any suffering we experience because of our work in the Spirit because this kind of pain produces a perseverance, character and hope that also carry a peace that comfort bought with collusion and corruption can never give us.   If we are looking for any kind of guarantee of joy . . . we find it in the true Spirit of the Living God . . . and never in the dishonesty and complicity Jeremiah tells us about today.

And so we pray with Jeremiah and Paul: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man glory in his strength, nor the rich man glory in his riches; but rather, let him who glories, glory in this, that in his prudence he knows God, knows that the Lord brings about kindness, justice and uprightness on the earth.  And so rather than sink into despair at the corruption around us, we ask God to bring goodness out of this harm.  And we give thanks for the struggles that produce perseverance, character, and hope . . . a hope that does not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.  Amen. 

Image from: https://www.pexels.com/search/joy/

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 29, 2011.

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Leviticus 24:1-9The Sanctuary Light and the Showbread

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jesus as the Light of the World is a familiar theme to Christians which is celebrated during the Advent season.   In the Jerusalem Temple the sanctuary light served as a symbol of the presence of Yahweh and so it was important that the oil be clear – this purity ensured the burning of the lamp.  The Showbread was prepared with a particular recipe and laid out in a special fashion with frankincense; it was eaten only by the Temple priests.  Both the bread and the light served to remind the Israelites of their perpetual covenant with Yahweh.

In his homily this morning Bishop Newman referred to the habit we humans have of taking and saving photographs as we try to capture particular moments in our lives.  The custom of making scrapbooks or yearbooks to commemorate events is something we do as we conserve for later recall the goodness of certain moments or periods in our lives.  The Bishop suggested that we would do well to make spiritual scrapbooks of our lives that would serve to remind us of the goodness of God; and he asked that we reflect on today’s Psalm (103) in an intentional way: The Lord is kind and merciful . . . O, my soul, forget not all his benefits . . . he heals all ills . . . he redeems life from destruction . . . he is slow to anger and abounding in kindness . . . he does not always chide . . . he does not keep wrath forever . . . he does not requite us with our crimes . . . he crowns us with kindness and compassion.  Reading this litany of God’s goodness reminds us of Paul’s anthem to love in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind . . .

Light and Eucharist – both serve as Jesus’ constant presence to us.  When we enter the church today, we find the sanctuary light burning faithfully to represent the presence of the Eucharistic bread of Christ himself.  Many religious rites call for the use of incense.  Our Judeo-Christian culture brings us these signs of God’s presence and of the presence of his eternal covenant promise to us.  We need to keep these multi-sensory symbols in mind as pages of our spiritual scrapbook.  In this way, we may find it easier to be and do good as God is and does good.  We may be able to curb our anger and be more comfortable with treating others kindly and compassionately.  We may be better able to cease judging and chiding others for their faults and crimes.

By remembering in this special way that God is Light and Sustenance, we crown others with kindness and compassion even as our loving and eternal God crowns us.  And so we pray: Good and kind God, As the Sanctuary Light and the Showbread reminded the Israelites of your fidelity and promise, let today’s sanctuary light and the Eucharistic bread remind us that . . . as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is your kindness toward those who love you.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 27, 2011.

Image from: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/edfu/photos

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