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Sirach 27:30-28:7: Limitless 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jan Van Hemessen: The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Once we begin to enact our own shepherd parable, we will want to keep in constant touch with the healer, guide and protector who calls us. We will need to put aside our negative thoughts and emotions. And we will need to be open to the positive flow of goodness the Shepherd bestows on us.

From last Sunday’s readings (24th Sunday in Ordinary time) we find words of wisdom. Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The sins we commit are our many or few big and little separations from God more than a list of specific immoralities. Could anyone refuse mercy to another and expect healing from the LORD? Fortunately for us, the Shepherd forgives endlessly and so we too must practice giving the gift of forgiveness to those who harm us. Sirach describes how we must step away from our dual, black-and-white perspective to open ourselves to the broad, generous arms and heart of the Shepherd.

Claude Vignon: Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells his disciples – and he tells us today – that we must forgive endlessly, just as we are forgiven. “I say to you, not seven times seven but seventy-seven times”. Scholars tell us the number 7 is special in scriptural context. It’s special meaning implies a sense of completion or even perfection. Knowing this, we might ask, how much is seventy-seven times, and who among us counts each word of forgiveness as we dole it out to others? Far better, Jesus tells us, when we listen to the lesson of the unforgiving servant, that we forgive others endlessly from our hearts.

Today we reflect on these verses and gather strength to live out our shepherding parable with forgiveness that is more than seven times seven. With forgiveness that is an infinite seventy-seven times.

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John 8:1-11: Contemplating God’s Mercy

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“God is a riverbed of mercy that underlies all the flotsam and jetsam that flows over it and soon passes away. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives and also releases all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgement), and awareness is not the same as ‘thinking’. It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs-of-war that form most of human life. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation”. (Rohr 187)

Richard Rohr, OFM, tells us that if there is one characteristic to assign to God, it is mercy. This life-giving quality of forgiveness, fidelity, and love is God’s signature characteristic. Rohr quotes St. Teresa of Ávila from her book THE INTERIOR CASTLE. “The soul is spacious, plentiful, and its amplitude is impossible to exaggerate . . . the sun her radiates to every part . . . and nothing can diminish its beauty”. Rohr continues, “This is your soul. It is God-in-you. This is your True Self”. (Rohr 187)

Pope Francis tells us that THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY in his signature work published in 2016.  He, like Rohr and St. Teresa, reminds us that in order to understand and experience mercy, we must first acknowledge that we are in need of mercy ourselves. Just as Jesus forgives the condemned woman in John 8, God wants to forgive each of us. Just as Jesus does not reproach the woman in John 8, God refuses to reproach each of us. Just as Jesus contemplates the possibility that God’s kingdom is now, God gives us the gift of mercy and insists that the kingdom is here.

“We live in a society that encourages us to discard the habit of recognizing and assuming our responsibilities: It is always others who make mistakes. It is always others who are immoral. It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own”. (Pope Francis, 2)

We live in a place and time when blame and fault are assigned, credit is taken, and deep divisions grow. We live in a place and time when mercy and love are needed, stories are believed, and bridges are built over deep chasms. St. Teresa, Rohr and Pope Francis tell us that God is a riverbed of mercy. They remind us that God’s generosity and love have no bounds. Once we begin to contemplate God as seen through the actions of Jesus, we know all of this to be true. Once we allow God’s Spirit to enter our lives, we allow ourselves to slide into the mighty flow of mercy that washes away all that separates us.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Pope Francis, THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli

 

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Connecting at Noon


Romans 8:38-39

August 2017ClockClipArtNoon

For the next several days there will be no Noontimes posts but I will continue to pray with you each day at noon and record thoughts in an old-fashioned paper journal to share later.  In place of receiving a daily post, you may want to explore ideas on the Connecting at Noontime page offered in the hope that you find a suggestion to feed the soul and strengthen your bond with and in Christ.

Our spiritual life is always about Call and Response God creates and calls us.  We listen, and then return God’s word.  This blog is one small way for us to listen, to seek, to discern, to come together, to puzzle through and to respond in full voice to God’s mysterious and beautiful invitation to life in the Spirit.  It is our daily visit with God that nourishes and sustains us.  It is our persistent connecting with the one who created us that reminds us of who and why we are.  It is our constant hope and our fervent prayer that buoy us up when the road is difficult.  And it is Christ’s love for each of us that keeps us on The Narrow Way.  Thank you for taking part in our Noontimes journey.  We are creatures meant to travel together and, like Paul writing to the Romans, 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 creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus the Lord. 

sundial-3New posts will return later this month.  In the meantime, may you each know and experience Christ’s peace.  May you seek and discover God’s Wisdom.  And may you be fortified in the Love and Counsel of the Spirit.  I hold each of you in prayer as always.  S

 

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Proverbs 4: Admonition

Sunday, July 23, 2017

We can never be too cautious or prudent. Learn the ways of wisdom by heart.

We can never be too vulnerable and open to God. Keep vigilance over our hearts.

We can never forget the practical advice of Lady Wisdom.

Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Wisdom admonishes us to take care, but she also reminds us that small, practical guidelines bring us serenity and joy.

Comparing various translations of these verses, we realize again the importance of small practices.

 

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Sirach 1:1-10: Length of DaysBritain Bible

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Law, the Prophets, and the later writers have left us a wealth of valuable teachings, and we should praise Israel for the instruction and wisdom they provide. (GNT)

When we look for advice during times or worry, there is always a place to turn.

Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. (NRSV)

When we search for a firm foundation on which to stand, there is always wisdom at our fingertips.

You are invited, therefore, to read with goodwill and attention and to be forgiving in cases where we seem less than perfect in translating some expressions, despite working hard on the translation. (CEB)

When we find that our burden is too heavy to carry, the Creator calls us in the enormity and passion of creation.

All wisdom is from the Lord
    and remains with him forever.

The sands of the sea, the drops of rain,
    the days of eternity—who can count them? (NABRE)

When we want to rejoice in the presence of the Lord, the universe shows us God’s power.

Heaven’s height, earth’s extent,
    the abyss and wisdom—who can explore them?

Before all other things wisdom was created;
    and prudent understanding, from eternity. (NABRE)

When we are ready to celebrate the endless compassion of God’s patience and wisdom, we assure ourselves of infinite happiness, delight and length of our days.

Love of the Lord warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.

When we compare different translations of these verses and reflect on wisdom we find, we open our hearts to happiness, peace and length of days.

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John 12:44-50: Re-Creation – Christ

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ZaGHaMi: The Good Shepherd

Second Sunday of Easter, April 23, 2017

When we see the Bible as an entire story of God’s people, we know that Jesus is not God’s Plan B. Jesus is Plan A. God does not see that humanity has gone awry and then decide to send in the saving force of Jesus. God’s direct interaction with creation has no beginning or end. It is eternal, just as God is eternal.

Jesus says: Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.

God always has faith that God will find every lost sheep.

If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world.

God has outrageous hope that every lost sheep will return to the fold.

But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own.

God’s love knows no bounds. God has always loved us. God will always love us. God continues to love us each day.

The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.

As Richard Rohr, OFM, has said with a chuckle, “God is victorious. God doesn’t lose. That’s what it means to be God”.

Today as we settle into this second Sunday of Eastertide, let us hold these truths closely. Let us open our ears and open our eyes. And let us determine to be re-created in Christ so that we might live as Jesus lives . . . so that all may be one in this universal message of universal love.

Listen to a four-and-a-half minute chat with Fr. Richard Rohr on this topic at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZRS5WVJuM

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The photograph above was taken “along the dusty roads of rural Punjab, Pakistan”. The icon is a traditional early image of Jesus.

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part VI

Friday, April 7, 2017

Remains of the original road to Emmaus

From Richard Rohr’s reflections, A Spring Within Us: Much of religion has bought right into the honor/shame system. All we did was change the cultural rules to religious rules. Now there was yet another way superior – by being pious, publicly religious, and “moral” about one or two things (which are usually not central issues). Yet Jesus’ teachings against status-seeking and building up religious reputation tell us again and again, “Don’t go there!” (Examine Matthew 6:1-21 and Luke 18:9-14.) (Rohr 105-106)

The two disciples who leave Jerusalem after Jesus’s crucifixion have no idea that the risen Christ joins them in their journey to Emmaus. Perhaps Christ chooses anonymity because he wants the disciples to behave genuinely. He wants no barriers or false faces. No preening, no adulation, no preening or posing. And this is how Christ wants each of us to behave in our interactions with him. After all, God knows every detail of our lives. The Spirit knows every dark corner of our hearts.

Eugene Delacroix: The Disciples at Emmaus

Today we examine our own behavior to look for signs of status-seeking, of building up of our own ideas of religious purity or superiority. Today we have the opportunity to come to Christ in innocent openness. We have the chance to put away our cultural and religious systems of shame and honor. We have the invitation to think about original grace rather than original sin, to both ask for and offer forgiveness, to walk with Christ on our journey to Emmaus, in expectation of Easter hope and joy.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

For more on the original road to Emmaus, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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Matthew 5:13-16: Salt and Light – A Reprise

pope-francis

Pope Francis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus tells us that we must be salt for the earth, adding flavor, bringing joy; and we are to share this salt of our faith with others.

Jesus tells us that we must be light for the world, slicing through the darkness, bringing hope; and we are to shine this light on the margins and into the corners.

To hear Pope Francis’ words on how we might be both salt and light, visit Vatican Radio at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/06/07/pope_on_how_to_be_salt_of_the_earth_and_light_of_the_world/1235417

 

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