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Archive for the ‘Prophecy’ Category


Saturday, October 31, 2020

daniel-3-furnace[1]Daniel 1-3

Reality

This one prophecy teaches us much: it tells us how to recognize God in the midst of horror, it reminds us that only God saves in an infinite way, and it exhorts us to witness without actually fighting . . . for the fighting must be left to God. If you can make time today . . . spend awhile with Daniel.

In the first two chapters we read of two important lessons: that all divine dominion comes from the God of Israel, and that false, pagan gods offer nothing. In Daniel 3 we watch as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are tossed into the fiery furnace. Not only do they survive, but a fourth figure appears to accompany them in song: an angel of this marvelous God. This is how much God loves each of us. God is so mindful of us that when we are in distress, God sends word to us and God even protects us from the fire of destruction.

There are many instances in our lives in which our perception is that God has let us down or has turned a deaf ear to our petitions. This thinking comes from our ego rather than from our Spirit. All that we see, touch, taste, smell, and hear is a chimera. All that we perceive, sense, know, intuit, and feel in God . . . this is reality. This is truth.

In a world where so many pagan voices call us to fame, fortune, outward perfection, celebrity, science, power, comfort and self-absorption, we find it difficult to hear the one voice of truth which speaks softly of union, dynamism, mystery, discomfort, humility, change, transformation and inner peace. What Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego know and witness to is the lesson which this prophecy drives home so well when we are able sit to read the entire story . . . the faithful do not need to fight . . . they only must refuse to do anything which separates them from God . . . they must not fear . . . they only need to rest in God . . . and they need not worry about God’s plan . . . they need only to find their place in it.

What we know is this . . . that when we begin with simple tasks such as the food test we read about in Daniel 1, we are being eased into following God in many small ways because these little ways will train our neural connections to focus on God rather than the other world that lures us by calling itself real.

What we also know is this . . . that once we set our feet upon the path of God in all of these little ways our union with God will be stronger than any fiery furnace we must endure. And this is a reality that lasts forever.

This prophecy puts into words the mystery of our faith. This prophecy assures us that the more we let go to fall into God’s trust, the less we will fear. This prophecy reminds us that the more we lose self to let the Spirit enter our souls, the less we struggle. This prophecy promises us that the more we follow Christ rather than our own little plans, the less we stumble. This prophecy is a reality we will want to trust.


Adapted from a reflection written on April 1, 2009.

Image from: http://aeroventure.com/Prophesy-101/Prophets/Daniel-3-furnace_BODY.htm

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Friday, October 30, 2020

091212-impossible[1]Daniel 11

God as the Ultimate Power

The king shall do as he pleases, exalting himself and making himself greater than any god; he shall utter dreadful blasphemies against the God of gods. He shall prosper only till divine wrath is ready, for what is determined must take place. He shall have no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one in whom women delight; for no god shall he have regard, because he shall make himself greater than all.  (Verses 36 and 37)

This portion of Daniel’s prophecy is difficult to follow, even with a commentary, as there are varying opinions about the identity of the three kings of Persia, there are several rulers with the name of Antiochus, and kingdoms in the region are morphing and changing while dynasties rise and fall. It is sufficient to note, however, that the writer here conveys the sense of confusion that the Hellenistic Wars bring about. Syria and Egypt battle over who controls the Jewish kingdom and the little people wonder where and how all the conflict will end. The foreign ruler, King Antiochus, venerated Apollo and Zeus and he even saw himself as the king of Mount Olympus, Zeus/Jupiter. He did as he liked, including the placement of a gargantuan of a pagan god in the Jerusalem Temple. All that once was thought immutable is now changing and here the angel of the Lord tells us, through Daniel, that the Lord God will not be manipulated, controlled or mocked; the Lord is ultimately in control of all and everyone. Those who do not understand this will eventually come to see “this simple portrait of a tyrant, possibly even a mad one, willing and able to work his designs without being challenged even by the gods (v. 37) and yet unaware that his ultimate doom has been sealed in secret by the God who is the master of all of history and whose word is the last as well as the first”. The closing verses of this chapter predict the future and in the following chapter we find “the most important innovation contained in the book of Daniel, the notion of resurrection in 12:1-3”.  (Mays 633)

It strikes us as odd that one who professes to lead as a servant might have so little regard for the small works of beauty and goodness that are significant to the community. These leaders appear to place little value on benchmarks or markers or significant events that a people hold in common. They believe themselves more important than a god like Adonis, the one who sways so many women (Jones 1447).

When we find ourselves in the hands of those who are able to work their designs without being challenged by any entity on earth, we will want to remember that God is the ultimate source of infinite power, and that this power brings with it the gift of new, eternal life. This power generates from profound goodness and self-sacrificing love rather that brute muscle and dispassionate control. This power determines the nature of life and even death itself. And this power brings the gift of resurrection to those who follow faithfully.


Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2010.

Image from: http://www.quiettime.org/6243/power/

Jones, Alexander, ed.  THE JERUSALEM BIBLE. New York, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. 1447. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 633. Print.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer[1]Daniel 10:12

Visions

Fear not.  From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. 

The prophecy of Daniel is full of metaphor, symbolism and mystery and yet it is in this prophecy that we see the coming of the Son of Man predicted. (Daniel 7:13 and 8:17) Today we reprise the mysterious vision that presages so much fear and so much hope.

God says: I see that you are determined to follow me and this brings me joy.  I also see the pitfalls and obstacles in your way and this brings me sorrow.  I abide with you as always.  I accompany you through fire, pain and death.  I raise you up when you are fallen.  I restore you when are spent.  I rescue you when fire consumes you.  Did I not save my servant Daniel?  Are you not as important as he?  Read this story of Daniel and humble yourself as Daniel does.  Trust in me as this young man does.  Acquire knowledge of me as this young prophet does for you are destined to be as significant as any prophet of mine in the days of old.  Each of you is precious in my eyes.  Each of you has the potential to prophesy for me.  Each of you is welcome to take refuge in the limitless safety of my most sacred heart.  When you shelter with me your smallness expands to the boundless horizons of my mind.  When you remain in me your fears and anxieties become the sinews of my protective arms.  When you act in me your tears and sorrows dissolve into mists that nourish the dry nights of the soul.  Read about Daniel’s visions today, bring me requests, and give yourself hope for many tomorrows.  Know that I hear every prayer you utter in the turmoil of the day, in the shadows of night, in the company for friends or in the solitary stillness of your heart. 

To further explore the visions of Daniel, enter his name in the blog search bar and choose another reflection.


Image from: http://impactwithprayer.blogspot.com/2011/04/god-hears-our-prayers.html

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Friday, September 25, 2020

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Gottlieb Schumacher’s expedition of Megiddo, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected. His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God. Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them. Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them. They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God. The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power. Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be. Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting. Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully. “His style is blunt and even offensive”. (Senior RG 362) He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot. “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”. He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard. Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion. No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus. Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed. We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.


For information about Gottlieb Schumacher’s Expedition and Report of Tell el-Mutesellim (Megiddo), visit: https://megiddoexpedition.wordpress.com/schumachers-expedition/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

head_29[1]Amos 9:14-15

Raising Up

I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits. I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord, your God.

Evidence and judgment, words and woes, threats and promises, visions of locusts, fire, the plummet, and the fruit basket, condemnation of priests and leaders, prophecy against greed and corruption, the final vision before the altar and then the winnowing sieve. This prophecy is too much to bear yet just as we are about to put aside forever its dark images and frightening premonition of doom . . . Amos leads us to the place he was always leading us. Amos brings us to the Christ, the Messiah.

God says: You most often find me in the dark valleys of your life for it is the failures, the betrayals, and corruption that bring you swiftly to my side.  Just so does my prophet Amos warn you that my little ones must be shepherded.  My lambs must be tended, my sheep must be led.  Through the suffering, pain and sorrow I am with you.  I have created you and you are mine.  I have loved you and I will never leave you.  I have already rescued you and placed you within the protective walls of my vineyard. You have been planted upon your own ground and you will never again be plucked from the place I have given you. Yours is the place of honor in my own sacred heart.  This I have promised.  This is the raising up you have been seeking.  This is your raising up that is my gift to you this day.

How does the prophet Amos speak to us today? What foreshadowing does he share? What hope does he bring? What is his promise of raising up for you? When we consider our world today, many will say that we need the words of Amos more than ever. When we contemplate our surroundings, many will say that it is time to heed the prophecy that  reminds us God is always raising us up.

Amos sheep


Use your own commentary or one of the links below to learn a bit more about his prophecy.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112277/jewish/The-Prophet-Amos.htm

http://thisischurch.com/christian_teaching/sermon/amos.pdf


Images from: http://www.faithvillage.com/article/0531061aff6d4f0c81db56f7d5fc3f35/the_boldness_of_amos and http://www.liquidthinking.org/archive/2005_09_01_archive.htm

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Monday, September 21, 2013

panier-fruits[1]Amos 8:1-2

Ripe Fruit

This is what the Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. I answered, “A basket of ripe fruit”. Then the Lord said to me: The time is ripe to have done with my people Israel; I will forgive them no longer”.

Still the dreadful visions assault us – presenting a God who exacts punishment for acts of commission against the weak and vulnerable, for acts of omission for the times we have not answered God’s call. These images conjure up our worst fears. We do not like the ugliness of these scenes. We shrink from the exacting accountability that challenges us. We reject this God of terror and fear.

God says:  My servant Amos was not an eager prophet – he preferred to tend his flocks of sheep and prune his orchards of sycamore trees – yet he answered my call. These visions are not meant to frighten you but they are a reality we must confront with honesty.  My heart yearns to soften those hearts of stone that subjugate the vulnerable, those stiff necks that turn away from my lambs who suffer.  My arms take up all those who run or fly to me.  I mean to inspire love, awe and joy.  These cruel visions are not my hope for you; rather, they are a genuine reflection of the viciousness that is always an option before you.  They are the cruelness each of you may choose if you choose the evil road. Look into your own hearts.  Turn away from this violence and come to me. 

What is the ripe fruit we offer to God?  How do we answer God’s call?


What do we do about famine in our world?  To read about Hunger in the world today, go to: http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/impact/nutrition?gclid=CJuMoqL70LkCFYWd4AodbgwAYQ

What do we know about Refugees in our world? Examine facts about refugees today at: http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

For a reflection on Amos 8, click on the image above or go to: http://cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-lectionary-passages-for-sunday-july_17.html

Image from: http://cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-lectionary-passages-for-sunday-july_17.html

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

saint-peter-1634[1]

Guido Reni: Saint Peter

1 Peter 2:21-24

How to Suffer

“Peter is the saint in the Gospels who is most like us, the closest to our humanity, and yet also very close to Christ.  We can always follow Peter.  He always leads us to Jesus, he unites us to Jesus, because he never permitted his own frailty to separate his heart from Christ, even when he denied him”.

Dom Mauro Giuseppe Lepori, O. Cist. (Cameron)

We have been exploring the prophecy of Amos, a difficult and sometimes abrasive lesson to hear; and an even more difficult message to enact. Yet this is precisely the example that Peter provides for us today. A man who leaves all to follow the one who is all.  A man who at first disbelieves the words he hears who eventually becomes so close to that Word that he gives even his life to live in eternal union with Christ. In this canticle from Peter’s first letter we find convincing evidence that we need to take the words of Amos to heart.  We find the consummate example of how to live authentically, how to witness and how to find the narrow yet sure path that leads to God.

Let us spend some time today with Peter’s words in the first of his letters. Let us consider how these words call us to dissect the prophecy of Amos. And let us turn all of our suffering over to Christ who best knows how and when and why we suffer.

Enter the word Peter into the blog search bar to find more reflections on how this simple man calls each of us to a greatness that lasts forever.


Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/guido-reni/saint-peter-1634

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.9 (2013): 76-77. Print.  

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Mount Carmel Today

Mount Carmel Today

Amos 1:2

The Lion’s Roar

The Lord will roar from Zion, and from Jerusalem raise his voice: the pastures of the shepherds will languish, and the summit of the Carmel wither.

As the sacred high place of Carmel withers and the simple shepherds suffer, God roars out a warning through the prophet Amos.  What is it that we hear?

God says: You ask for my wisdom and I give it to you; yet you pause for my words do not always match your desire. You ask for my consolation and I bestow it on you; yet you mourn for what you do not have. You ask for redemption and I breathe new life into you; yet you hesitate . . . for you struggle to cast off your old complaints. They have become too familiar and too comfortable to you.

Amos challenges us today to listen for the roar of the lion, to tend to the altar on Carmel, to restore the shepherds to their flocks and fields. Where in our own lives do crops waste away and the sacred places fall silent?


If we have no commentary to explore the opening verses of Amos, we might use one the the following online.

http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2011/02/amos-the-lion-roars-by-ron-dart.html

http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/amos-lbw.htm

http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=amos&qs_version=NIV

To learn more about Mount Carmel and why it still considered a scared place, visit: http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm

Image from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Mount-Carmel-mountain-ridge-Israel

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

sycamore_ashkelon-66-t[1]

A Sycamore Tree Bearing Fruit

Investigating Amos

What do we know about the prophet Amos? When we seek we will find that . . .

  • He described himself as a shepherd and farmer who tended to sycamore trees;
  • His strong verbal skills imply that he was more than an ignorant peasant;
  • He did not consider himself to be a professional prophet; he did not make a living proclaiming oracles to a patron who paid to hear what he wanted to hear;
  • He lived in Tekoa, a town about 11 miles south of Jerusalem;
  • He centered his ministry around Bethel, a major city in the north of Israel where many of the upper classes of the northern kingdom worshiped;
  • He lived during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah, 760-750 B.C.E., an era of unusual prosperity;
  • He brought a message of warning to the wealthy and powerful that they must come to see that their wealth had lured them into spiritual complacency and ethical laxity;
  • He warned his audience that judgment would be exacted for the actions of the strong against the weak. (Zondervan 1444-1445)

There is heavy emphasis on social justice in this prophecy and those of us today who live in first-world cultures do well to spend time contemplating the words and thoughts of Amos. What do we who are comfortable do for those who are not? How do we have much enact God’s Word for those who have little? Who are the peasants among us who ask for our introspection, our witness, our voices, and our action? In the time of pandemic and social unrest, how do we reflect the God who created us?

If we spend time today with the words of Amos and a solid commentary or other resource, we will hear God speak to us in our innermost refuge where we go to forget the woes of the world. If we spend time with the poetry of Amos today, we will experience the message of healing and restoration this prophet still brings to the faithful who seek God’s wisdom, to the faithful who yearn to bear fruit.

Tomorrow, an exhortation to return to God.


Adapted from a post written on September 14, 2013. 

Image from: http://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/zaccheus-climbed-up-into-a-sycamore-tree/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1444-1445. Print.

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