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Archive for the ‘Prophecy’ Category


Ezekiel 26: Prophecy Part II

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

True prophets withstand the test of time because they are true communication channels between us and God; but we do not have the luxury of time to test their words, to see if they speak truth or lies.  The HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY tells us that prophets are considered to be moral and ethical innovators, bringing religion to a higher level of development.  Old Testament prophets are multifaceted and varied.  They are: keepers of tradition, isolated mystics, cultic officials, moral philosophers, raving ecstatics.  No one prophet acts or looks like another.  They are as diverse as humankind itself displaying a variety of traits yet their message is always the same: turn from self-interest to obey and worship the one true God.

Prophecy . . . a call to faith . . . a call to hope . . . a call to love.  This prediction never lies.  This story never divides.  Rather, it abides.  It remains open.  It reminds us that restoration will always follow a turning back to God.  It rebukes, it warns, it reminds, it stands firm.  And once the act of conversion begins, prophecy affirms and blesses, it takes in and includes, it blesses and accepts.

Prophecy . . . the word of God . . . from God . . . for God and for us.  What to believe?  How to act?  What to say?

I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5: In all circumstances give thanks . . . even when we are troubled, do not put out the Spirit’s fire . . . even when we doubt do not treat prophecies with contempt . . . And when we do not know what to believe, Paul tells us to test everything, when we flounder, hold on to what is good.  When we are given a choice, avoid evil.  For the outcome will be that we are sanctified by, through and in God.  We must remember that the one who calls you is faithful . . . he will sanctify you. 

If only we might take heed of the prophecy . . .


Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. Print. 

To spend more time reflecting on prophecy, go to The Old Testament – The Prophets page of this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/  Choose Ezekiel or one of the other voices of God . . . and read, reflect and listen.

To reflect on the prophecy of Ezekiel and how dry bones might come to life, click on the image above or go to: http://blueeyedennis-siempre.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-these-dry-bones-live.html

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Ezekiel 26: Prophecy Part I

Monday, October 7, 2019

Yesterday we took a look at Ezekiel 25; today and tomorrow we spend time with Chapter 26 as we examine our own views on prophecy . . .

James Tissot: The Prophet Ezekiel

Several hundred years before Alexander the Great destroyed the city of Tyre, Ezekiel writes a nearly perfect description of the siege.  And perhaps the princes of the coastlands trembled for a while at the wrath they witnessed . . . just as we do when we see a prophecy fulfilled.  But humans quickly forget the consequences of actions taken and promises kept in their own lives.  While it is not good to dwell upon failure and misery, neither is it good to repeat the mistakes in our own history; yet this is how we so often live: learning little while recycling our pain, scoffing at prophecies brought to us by our own holy ones.

I had a dream last night that was unusual in that first, I remembered it, and second, I was with people in my present life whom I mistrust deeply.  However, in this dream I was open and frank, honest and unafraid.  I awoke before I knew the outcome.  Had they changed?  Had I changed?  Was I correct in trusting them?  Was my trust in them repaid by more violence or by genuine friendship?  I spent a bit of time wondering if this dream might be a window into the future and, more importantly, I wondered if this were perhaps a portent of things to come, of bridges mended, friendships renewed and extended, trust restored.  Was this a prophecy?  What do I do if it is?

I sometimes wish I might be as innocent as people in ancient times who put so much faith in dreams and their portent.  I think that our scientific method and our modernism may have jaded us by requiring that we seek hard evidence for beliefs.  Faith, of course, springs from the heart rather than the microscope and yet . . .

I have read somewhere that Einstein grew in his belief in a higher power and in the presence of God in creation as his knowledge of math grew.  His famous E = mc2 brought him not only a belief that the power of tiny atoms might be unleashed . . . but that there was a purpose and a plan behind that power.

Prophecy . . . what to believe . . . what to discount . . . how to act . . . false and true prophets . . . magicians and tricks . . . deception . . . fidelity . . . interlopers . . . constant friends.  Concepts converge and unravel as we examine them closely.  Who do we believe . . . and how do we believe?


A re-post from September 16, 2012.

To see other Tissot images of prophets, click on the image r visit: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/223.html

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Obadiah 1:15-21: The Measure

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THINK team commemoration design

A favorite from September 11, 2012. Let us consider again the measure of our lives . . .

The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  John the Evangelist speaks of the measure of God’s joy which we will know when we follow Jesus.  All three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38) remind us that we are measured by our own actions; this is the same message we hear from the prophet Obadiah today; yet . . . Do we truly listen to these words? 

Countless times in the Old Testament we hear stories of how people are done in by the plans they designed for their perceived enemies.  The story of Esther is a wonderful example which I always recall because it illustrates this point in the person of Haman who is executed on the gallows he ordered constructed for Mordecai, the man he envied and wanted to eliminate.

Do we truly listen to these words?

Each time we find ourselves plotting to “teach someone a lesson”:  Do we truly listen to these words?

When we worry about the schemes of others more than we place our petitions for change in God’s hands: Do we truly listen to these words?

If we engage in gossip or enable disrespectful or abusive behavior without saying a word: Do we truly listen to these words?

If there are times that we refuse to witness as God asks: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we have given up hope and cease asking God to intercede for those who harm us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we allow our doubts and fears about God’s love for us and the goodness of his creation to overcome his love for us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we examine the measure with which we measure others . . . will we want to be valued by this standard?  Will we want to have others’ opinions rammed into our minds?  Will we want others to lapse into mediocrity for fear of failure?  Will we want others to give up entirely?  Will we want others to speak in compassionate truth?  Will we want to be measured with the norm we use when looking at others?

Do we truly listen to these words?

Notes from La Biblia de América: Can patience run dry?  Does the capacity to lend support have a limit?  Our Christian faith teaches us that the answer is, no.  It is necessary to forgive seven times seven times – or infinitely.  Love cannot have limits.  Is this the only message Obadiah wants to communicate . . . is he merely acting to break a cycle of violence in his own day, or does he speak to us as well?  This briefest of prophecies has as a target the Edomites, a people in constant conflict with those in Judah, the descendents of Jacob’s brother, Esau.  The abrasive conflict reaches a height when Edom backs the invading Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and carry the Jewish people off into exile.  Obadiah speaks to the remnant left behind after the Assyrian holocaust.  Obadiah speaks to us now.

Who are the Edomites in our own lives today?  We know the land of Edom well.  It is the place where our constant adversaries live.  It is the hard heart which envies who we are and what we have.  It is the stiff-necked place from where schemes and lies and plots all spring . . . and these are the places we are asked to measure with the same measure we wish ourselves to be measured.  We are asked to measure in faith, with hope . . . and through love.  Let us go to Edom with a full measure of love in our hearts.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Adapted from a post written on May 11, 2009.  

For more information on the THINK team design, click on the image above or go to:

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Obadiah: Hope and Remnant

Monday, September 30, 2019

We have been looking at this tiny prophecy which is packed with imagery and emotion.  Today we continue our deeper look.

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE Reading Guide page 368: The oracle is really a testimony to the indomitable hope of a people who had been reduced to poverty and insignificance, and were at the mercy of their neighbors. 

While most of us do not suffer from severe fiscal poverty, we certainly skate along the edges of financial crunches from time to time . . . but that is not what I think about when I think of poverty.  The metaphor which comes to me as I read these lines of the people pleading for vengeance is one of a poverty of spirit, a state of broken-heartedness, a state of grief over the great loss of something we held near to us.  All of us at some time have suffered at the hands of those who say they love us, and it is in this light that we can identify with the prophet Obadiah.

The territory of Edom (against whose people this oracle is written) was settled by the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob who allowed himself to be tricked into giving over his birthright to his brother with indifference.  At the time of the exile and captivity, the Edomites raided Judah and pillaged what the northern invaders had left behind.  This continued what had already been a bitter animosity between Jews and Edomites, their neighbors and near kinsmen, an animosity between peoples who ought to be linked closely in friendship and blood ties.  Deception by friends and family is felt more intensely than any other, I believe; and it cuts deeply, swiftly . . . and surely.  This kind of betrayal is the most difficult to overcome.  But overcome we must . . . for we are a Remnant People . . . with a destiny for conversion, for transformation, for kingdom.

From THE ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE article on Edom, page 1467 we find that Edom (located south of the Dead Sea and north of the Gulf of Aqaba) prospered from its control of north-south trade routes and its excavations of its copper and iron mines.  Moses was unable to negotiate a peace with these people and so the Hebrews were forced to go around them on their way home to the Promised Land.  David managed to control this tribe, many of whom lived in high caves cut out of the stony faces of the mountains, but other Jewish kings were not so fortunate.  These people (later known as Idumeans) finally succumbed to Roman rule after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and “disappeared from history”.

These are the neighbors who took advantage of Judah when she was suffering; yet we see that in the end . . . these people were the ones who disappeared . . . not the Jewish people . . . not The Remnant.

We can easily identify with the prophet and people who suffer at the hands of their neighbor.  We might as easily call for vengeance over the despicable acts of those who are near to us in body and in heart but if we are a Remnant People we must call for Hope.  We must call for the Messiah.

Let us put aside our very human desire for revenge, and let us petition our Creator God for the same peace and compassion which we have been given.  Let us ask intercession for those nearest to us who have hurt us.  And let us ask forgiveness of those nearest to us whom we may have injured.  Let us ask for restoration for all.


A re-post from September 10, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG368. Print.   

“Edom.” ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. Print.

Written on March 24, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

For more about the Edomites  (Idumeans) and their territory, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bible-history.com/maps/edomites.html or http://www.ordination.org/edomites.htm

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Obadiah: Revenge and Forgiveness

Sunday, September 29, 2019

French School, 17th Century: Salomé

More thoughts on Salomé who sought revenge . . . and who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

“We know nothing about Obadiah beyond his name, nor is the place of the book’s composition certain . . . Obadiah did not specify that his message came at the time of any specific king or event.  On the other hand Obadiah 11-14 indicates that a major calamity had struck Judah and that the Edomites had capitalized on Judah’s troubles to their own advantage . . . common sense and a broad consensus suggest that the calamity was in fact the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

“Obadiah was written to the people of Judah about the Edomites (descendents of Esau), condemning them for their treachery and violence toward the people of Judah, as well as for their arrogance and indifference toward God”.  (Zondervan 1464)

This is the kind of prophecy which makes us cringe as we understand that revenge is not something we want as part of our value complex.  Seeking vengeance is the kind of thinking my parents continually warned us against for it can never be good.  We were often reminded in our growing years that when we dig a grave for our enemy we ought to dig two: one for them and one for us.  “The truth will always come out in the end”, Dad would remind us. “Don’t worry about the other guy getting credit that is not due him, or the other guy getting away with things.  It’ll all come out in the end.  Just keep your eye on yourself and your God.  And let God handle the other guy”. Dad warned us that human depravity was too crooked and too frightening for us to correct; he knew from personal experience that only God can deal effectively with deep evil.  We humans – even when we are in the best of places and times – cannot conquer forces that have spent eons gathering strength in the dark.  It is far better, according to Dad, to go to the light and stay there.  “That way God can see you and pick you up on his way home”.

Mother always intoned her mantra of “Kill your enemies with kindness.  Pray for them and you will never be alone; because you can bet on it that when people are that naughty lots of people will be praying along with you.  Think of the message God will hear when all those voices join together”, she would remind us.   “Yes, I know you want to get back at them but just pray for them. They will need your prayers.  And besides, the results are better”. 

These simple lessons were either never delivered or they were lost on Salomé who asked for and received John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Yesterday we spent time reflecting on her portrait and we saw her sultry stare and sullen posture, arms draped around the killing knife and the platter that would deliver the head of her enemy.  Today we  see a similar likeness; she looks out at us in apparent satisfaction yet we know that revenge is not sweet.  It does not last and it does not satisfy.  It only brings about our own destruction and doom.  These are the truths spoken by Obadiah more than two millennia ago . . . and they are truths we can still use today.  We must wipe revenge from our hearts and replace it with forgiveness for the measure that we measure with is measured out to us.

And so we pray . . .

When we are most hurt by others, we must not strike back, we must forgive.

When we are most neglected by others, we must not plot their downfall, we must forgive.

When we are most abused by others, we must ask for their redemption and we must forgive.

When we are most abandoned by others, we must not treat them in like fashion, we must forgive.

When we are most damaged by others, we must not in turn inflict damage, we must forgive.

God forgives.  God restores.  God repairs.  God cures.  We are each called to do the same.  Amen.


A re-post from September 9, 2012.

Image from: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20016/lot/55/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1464. Print.

For more on the prophecy of Obadiah go to the Obadiah – Outrageous Hope page on this blog.

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Jeremiah 15: God’s Words

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Our lives seem full of words and in particular this recent election cycle seems to have the very air full of them. Words for, words against, words that describe, words that deceive, words that inflame, words that bring peace, empty words, words that fill . . . but so many words.  At this point in his prophecy Jeremiah has spouted many life-saving words and yet the prophet is being ignored. He will eventually disappear from the world stage but his words will remain . . . for they are God’s words. The words Jeremiah utters and writes down will prove him to be on target and in tune with God.  We might wish to be so in accord with our creator.  In the midst of so many words we stumble across this verse as we reflect on how we might make God’s words our very own.

Jeremiah 15:16: When your words came to me, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.

Jeremiah repeated the words the Lord gave him to say; we pray that we might be so ardent.

Jeremiah spoke faithfully in the name of God Almighty; we pray that we might be so persistent.

Jeremiah lived out the creator’s words; we pray that we might be so authentic.

Jeremiah sticks to the message the Lord gave him to deliver; he does not go off message nor does he incorporate his own agenda into the words he is given to speak.  Jeremiah complains to God that he is cursed by many; he says that he ought never to have been born.  He lives in pain as a consequence of his fidelity to God . . . yet Jeremiah does not give in.

Jeremiah delivers God’s words and in doing so he also delivers hope.  Jeremiah speaks difficult words and in doing so he makes them his heart’s delight.  Jeremiah makes God words his own . . . and in doing so he makes the invisible God visible.

Let us strive also to do so today.


A re-post from September 4, 2012.

Image from: http://benjaminunseth.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/martin-luther-gods-word/

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Haggai 1: Hurrying

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In this brief but important prophecy we hear a vital message; Haggai exhorts us to look to our behaviors to see what we value.  And the prophet asks us to re-build the fallen Jerusalem of our hearts.  From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE (1157): “At this critical moment, when defeatism and a certain lethargy had overtaken his repatriated countrymen, Haggai came forward with the exhortations to them to complete their great task . . . The call to rebuild the temple.  The economic distress so apparent in Judah is due to the Jews’ neglect of the Lord while they provide for their own needs”.

And we pause to reflect on this verse 1:9: You expected much, but it came to little; and what you brought home, I blew away.  For what cause? says the Lord of hosts.  Because my house lies in ruins, while each of you hurries to your own house.

This is not a petulant or childish God who sweeps away all that we have gathered around us in retaliation for some slight we may have delivered.  No. This is the call of a God who loves his creatures and who wishes them to rise to the potential gifted to them at their inception. This is not an angry and selfish God who destroys all that does not please him.  No. This is a God who knows that we have become enamored of that which drains us rather than saves us.  These are not the words of a fickle and deceitful lover. No. They are words that encourage, words that animate, words that ask us to focus on what is truly important.

Those who had been deported have returned home to ruins and they know they must come together to rebuild that which has been lost through their own folly.  God calls them to himself and asks them to evaluate what they hurry toward and what they hurry away from.

Do we bustle home each evening to get on with our own agenda without including God in our plans?

Do we scurry out each morning to complete our own list of chores without taking God along?

Do we work harder on our own dreams without considering the common good and the call from God?

We seem to always be in a hurry . . . toward what . . . away from whom . . . in answer to what call?


A re-post from September 5, 2012.

For more thoughts on the prophecy of Haggai visit the Haggai – The Great Task page of this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/haggai-the-great-task/

For more on setting priorities, prospering in tough economical times and taking the words of the prophet Haggai to heart, click on the image above or go to http://www.barryclingan.org/index.cfm/pageid/584

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1157. Print.   

 

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Zechariah 10: The New Order

Monday, June 24, 2019

When surprise springs upon us we stagger a bit in wonderment . . . and then we too often we move forward quickly, passing by the opportunity to reflect with God about how the surprise he has given us will continue to change our lives.  It is these changes and surprises that tell us we can trust God.  It is these changes and surprises that reveal God’s fidelity and care for us.  It is these changes and surprises that bring us evidence of God’s deep and abiding love.

Today we spend time thinking about the new orderZechariah predicts the newness that accompanies the Messiah.  The Pharisees do not want to hear this news.  From today’s Gospel reading from Luke: Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you”.  He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose’”.

God brings order out of the chaotic universe.  Jesus brings order out of the corrupt hierarchy when he tells us that we are priests in our own right, the adopted daughters and sons of the creator, no longer needing the intercession of priests in the temple.  We are our own temple, Christ having destroyed the old and having become the new.  We enter into that temple when we humble ourselves, take up our assignments, and follow.

To have a deep understand of the meaning in the Book of Zechariah it is best to read notes and commentary; but even at a quick glance we can feel the newness of these words.  The Word is rain in the spring season.  The Word brings about the falling away of deceitful dreams and empty comfort.  The Word gathers up the sheep who wander searching for meaning and feeling in their lives that lasts and does not flicker and vanish with the slightest whisper of struggle.  The Word strengthens us so that we might walk in his name.

Whoever strives to be made God’s dwelling place, should strive to make himself humble and peaceable, that he may be known to be God’s servant, not by his greed for talk and pliability of mien, but by the reality of his lowliness; for goodness of heart requires no false unction of talk.  (Saint Columban, d. 615- MAGNIFICAT, Oct 30, 2008)

When I suddenly find myself swimming upstream against tremendous odds, I know that it is time to halt, to humble myself, to take stock and to listen . . . so that I might hear The Word that never fails.  When I find that I do not comprehend what is before me, I know that I have entered into a new time – an exciting time – when I am accompanied closely by Christ.  Zechariah predicts his coming to the people, his coming to each of us.  In all of our struggle and anticipation . . . we might overlook the fact that he already walks among us.

The True Word is not false.  It does not flatter.  It dies not waver.  It does not manipulate.  It frees.  It speaks truth always.  It produces good fruit in due season.  The Word is the New Order.  We have heard this story many times.  Let us act as if we believe.

Let us not forget the surprising good news that the prophet Zechariah brings us.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30 October 200. Print.

Image from: http://softmoonlight.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/the-desert-flower/

Written on October 30, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on surprises in our lives, go to the Ruth – Surprise page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/ruth-surprise/

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Hosea 6: The Broken-Hearted

Thursday, June 6, 2019

We frequently look at this prophecy written by one betrayed in the most intimate of ways.  We will need this lesson because in our lives we will often find suffering at the hands of those we trust.  This prophet speaks to us from the depths of sorrow in authenticity about his own intense suffering as a result of the infidelity of his wife, the harlot Gomer.

Chapter 6 begins with a verse that stands out to us because it speaks to our broken-ness as people: broken covenants, broken vows, broken oaths, broken words, broken spirits, broken hearts.  But the beauty of this prophecy and of this first verse is this: for as much as we are broken, we might heal others . . . and in so carrying and living out Christ’s message, we might ourselves be healed.

In the morning reading in Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, we find an important reading: Mark 3:13-19.  Jesus has cured many people of their physical broken-ness and now the throngs are pressing in upon him in such a way that He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.  This is where we come into the story.  Jesus ascends a mountain – usually a sign of moving toward God in scripture – and then he calls forth those whom he wanted.  And these came to him.  He appoints them as apostles that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.  Among these twelve is the Iscariot . . . Judas.  Even God allows betrayers to enter his camp, knowing that they will break his heart.

What an amazing God is this who comes to live among us to suffer as we do; yet this is exactly the good news that we have yearned to hear.  How will our broken hearts be mended?  How will broken oaths be healed and broken friendships fixed?  We step forward, called out of the crowd as apostles, to be sent into the world with God’s authority to drive out demons and to heal.  And how do we obtain this authority?  By participating – with Christ – in his suffering and death upon the cross.  This is what Hosea comes to understand through his own agony as he watches his wife dangle herself before any man who will take her.  This is what we can understand as we suffer at the hands of those we thought we knew . . . those in whom we trusted . . . those with whom we shared our inmost thoughts, desires and fears.

When we look at some of the images in Hosea 6 we see the depth of betrayal.  Verse 4: Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away.  Verse 9: As brigands ambush a man, so do bands of priests slay on the way to Shechem, committing monstrous crimes. 

And so we pray that broken hearts be healed, that we become messengers of the good news that Christ has come to heal.  We ask for the gift of willingness to enter God’s vineyard, that we allow our suffering to be converted into the authority of an apostle . . . so that we might in turn drive out demons in Christ’s name.

Good and gracious God the Creator, God the Saver, God the Holy Spirit that lives within us:  Keep us close to you in all we suffer that we might be with you as your apostles.  Teach us your way of love that we might go forth as your apostles.  Continue to speak to us of your story that we might preach it as your apostles.  Grant us the patience to rest in your word that it might give us authority as your apostles.  Give us the power to drive out and away all the demons that settle into us without our knowing.  We ask this in Christ’s name.  Amen.


A re-post from May 23, 2012.

Image from: http://www.officialpsds.com/Glass-Shatered-From-A-Broken-Heart-PSD59964.html

Tickle, Phyllis.  THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SPRINGTIME. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.

Rewritten from May 3, 2009 Noontime Reflection. 

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