Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt Rijn: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgment. However, in so doing he will face opposition and death. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity. She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient. Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets, all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear. As we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time when we near the announcement of joy to the world because the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people. And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.


For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Luke 2:22-24

Two Turtledoves

Delilah Smith: Two Turtledoves

Rituals

Many see Jesus as an outsider or an iconoclast who wanted to break rules and molds; yet when we look closely, we see that Luke presents us with a picture that is quite different.

“Luke offers readers several major themes important to his theology. First, Jesus is reared according to the laws of Judaism. Neither his parents nor Jesus rebelled against or rejected the law of Moses. The best of Jewish piety and obedience to Moses were observed. Five times in this section Luke speaks of actions according to the Law of Moses. As for Mary’s purification and the child’s presentation to God, Luke interweaves the two rituals in a confusing way. According to Lev. 12:2-8, forty days after the birth  of a male child the mother went through a ritual purification, offering a lamb as a sacrifice in the Temple or, if poor, a pair of pigeons or turtledoves.  According to Exod. 13:2, 12-13, the firstborn male child belongs to God and could be redeemed (taken home) by means of an offering by the father”.  (Mays 932)

We know from Matthew, Mark and John that Jesus overturned the tables of the corrupt Temple money changers and we see in all four Gospels that he was not shy in declaiming the hypocrisy of the Temple leadership; yet here we see Jesus and his family following the Mosaic Law. We watch as they adhere to these simple rituals in order to identify their fidelity to God and their hope in the future. The rebellion that Jesus later leads is far more encompassing than a mere political statement. Jesus comes to each of us to rescue us not only from social, religious and civic oppression . . . but from the darkness of the mind, heart and soul. Jesus comes to guarantee our life eternal. Jesus comes to rescue our overwhelmed spirit. Jesus comes to guarantee peace and serenity in the Spirit.

In this Jesus, then, we see not the overturning of the harsh, old way and outdated rituals, but a loving fulfillment of the promise of God’s original covenant with the faithful.

Tomorrow . . . another theme from Luke.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

To see more of Delilah Smith’s paintings, click on the image above or go to: http://www.dailypainters.com/paintings/53376/Two-Turtle-Doves-12-days-of-Christmas/

Read Full Post »


Friday, November 20, 2020

images[7]Matthew 7:24-25

Two Foundations

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 

And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people go up with flutes to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.  (Isaiah 30:29)

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.

And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood.  (Genesis 7:7)

But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. 

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  (Psalm 18:2)

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.

At the king’s command they removed from the quarry large blocks of quality stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. (1 Kings 5:17)

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise one who built a house on rock . . . and weathered the storm.

Two foundations.  Rock or sand.  Let us spend some time today with these verses.


Image from: http://jtbarts.com/2011/08/the-house-built-on-the-rock/

Read Full Post »


Sunday, November 15, 2020

scales-of-justice-istock_000005017451medium[1]Matthew 7:1

Stop Judging

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have explored the story of David, Bathsheba and Nathan (2 Samuel 11 and 12) to find that Nathan uses a simple story of a poor man and his ewe lamb to bring King David to the reality of his actions.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have examined the story to find that little is said of Bathsheba and Uriah; the focus of this tale is on David and Nathan.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

judging-others-blue_design[1]We have reflected on how Nathan calls forth David’s secret with a parable rather than an accusation.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have watched how God works quietly in the lives of these two men who live so closely in a common goal.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also examine our own lives to see what dark secrets we harbor at great cost.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also reflect on the words and stories brought to us by trusted friends and colleagues.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also watch to see how God works wonderfully in our own lives.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer

We might speak with friends and colleagues in parables that call forth truth.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might listen to friends and colleagues who speak in love with the words God gives to them, rather than judging.

“We often judge our insides which we know intimately, by other people’s outsides, because that is all we can see”.  Excerpt from The Mindful Way Through Anxiety by Susan M. Orsillo, Phd  and Lizabeth Roemer, PhD.  Click on the Wayne Dyer quote to read more, or . . .

Enter the word relationships into the blog search bar and reflect on the parables you might give and receive.


Image from: http://www.greeleylawyers.com/recovery/

Read Full Post »


Friday, November 13, 2020

holding-lamb[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable

Conclusion

We humans often reject the opportunities life presents to us through which we might reflect on how sin affects us, for sin affects us all. We are a bit more quick to take a second look at other people’s sin than we are our own. This may be because we do not have a balanced perspective. It may be that we are too easily overcome by guilt. Or we may believe that redemption only comes to those who live a life without fault. For all of these reasons we benefit from taking an honest, open look at ourselves.

When do we elbow past crowds or shove past social and moral parameters to gain someone or some thing we want? When do we kill the spirit or soul, the body or mind of another without even caring?

We humans are so much better at learning from the stories we hear about others; we do not seem capable of looking at ourselves squarely, openly, willingly or honestly. It is for this reason that Nathan wisely tells his king a story about a shepherd who nourishes a ewe lamb and holds her to his heart. We may be too afraid to look at our own lives. We may be too comfortable in our easy ways. Or we may believe that we have all the answers to all the world’s problems. For all of these reasons we benefit from reading the parables we see in the faces of others who interact with us each day.

When do we turn away from the truth we see in the face of another when we want someone or some thing more than we are willing to admit? When do we open our eyes and ears, our minds and ourselves to our actions and the hurting or healing they commit?

This sin of wanting what is not ours is all too common. We know and respect David too well to ignore him. The surging after a desired object is too present in our lives to say we do not recognize it. There are too many ewe lambs of others that we hold close to our own hearts.

The parable of Nathan is a story that each of us can see in our own lives. We know and believe that we too, have erred. Let us take the time today to reflect on Psalm 51 to re-experience what we have learned. Let us store in our memories today the emotions we feel when we read 2 Samuel 11 and 12. Let us reflect carefully on David’s sin and allow Nathan’s words to pierce the false armor with which we have protected ourselves.

And when the day is done, let us consider the sins we commit, the parables our lives tell, and the courage we will need to allow our wanderings to become lessons of reflection for ourselves and others.


Image from: http://multiplythemessage.com/the-lord-is-my-shepherd/

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

High_Priest_Offering_Incense_on_the_Altar[1]Psalm 69:32

Our Song

My song will please the Lord more than oxen, more than bullocks with horns and hooves; see, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek the Lord, take heart!

More than any sacrifice, God awaits an open heart. More than any burnt offering, God awaits a heart eager and ready to receive the marvelous gift of God’s love.

Hebrews 10:5-6: Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased”.

“For sacrifice to become a value, you must discover something for which life is worth living . . . Sacrifice is born of the heart-thawing yearning of the love of Christ . . . The truest sacrifice is to recognize a presence. What does it mean to recognize a presence? The I, instead of affirming itself, affirms you. This is the greatest devotion: ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’; it is the same as giving one’s life . . . To affirm the other implies the forgetting of ourselves, which is the opposite of being attached to ourselves; we sacrifice to the other . . . The truest sacrifice is to recognize a presence, which means the truest sacrifice is to love”. (Cameron: L. Giussani)

Our song is one of thanksgiving to God who created us.

Our song in one of gratitude for a God who saves us.

Our song is one of joy for a God who transforms us.

Our song in one of serenity for a God who forgives, and guides, protects and abides with us.

Our song is one of a life offered in sacrifice to a God who is limitless and profound, to a God who loves us without end.


Cameron, Peter John. Fr. Julián Carrón. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.11(2013): 399-400. Print.   

Luigi Giovanni Giussani (October 15, 1922 – February 22, 2005) was an Italian Catholic priest, educator, public intellectual and founder of the international Comunione e Liberazione (Catholic movement Communion and Liberation).  (Wikipedia)

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki_Tissa

Read Full Post »


Friday, October 23, 2020

cc_jer29_11plant[1]Jeremiah 18:13-17

An Unnatural Apostasy

Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Ask among the nations – who has heard the like?”

God speaks to us of a behavior that has gone far away from the norm.

Truly horrible things has virgin Israel done!

We know this story – Israel has rejected her close relationship with God and has chosen to align herself with pagan gods.

Does the snow of Lebanon desert the rocky heights? Do the gushing waters dry up that flow fresh down the mountains? 

Israel’s actions are as unnatural as snow melting in freezing weather or rivers ceasing their journey through mountain valleys.

Yet my people have forgotten me: they burn incense to a thing that does not exist.

Israel abandons the covenant that has brought her out of Egypt and established her in fertile lands.

They stumble out of their ways, the paths of old, to travel on bypaths, not the beaten track. 

Israel goes against all advice and convention to insist on her own journey that is full of danger.

Their land shall be turned into a desert, an object of lasting ridicule: all passers-by will be amazed, will shake their heads. 

Those who do not remain faithful will find their lives arid; they will be embarrassed by their own actions once they have the opportunity to look back on what they have done.

Like the east wind, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back, not my face, in their day of disaster.

Old Testament thinking sees God as an angry, vengeful creator. New Testament experiences God through a messianic lens that perceives God as merciful and forgiving, beckoning and tending, guarding and guiding. New Testament thinking teaches us that we can trust the creator to care for us when we look for wisdom and peace. Messianic thinking places hope in the presence of the creator among us in human form. Messianic hope teaches us that no one is too lost, nothing is too disastrous and no obstacle is too impossible for our God who loves us dearly and well.

Jeremiah also brings us these words: For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we reflect on Israel’s unnatural turning away from so great a love, let us also consider our own relationship with God. Do we scatter before the east wind . . . or do we cleave to the source of all good and all hope? Do we bow to an unnatural apostasy . . . or do we remain as steady as the snows upon the high mountain tops . . . and rush down mountainsides with joy as we fall into God’s own hands?


Image from: http://www.crosscards.com/cards/scripture-cards/jeremiah-29-11-5.html

Read Full Post »


Sunday, October 18, 2020

120578004.0sKwzibJ[1]Psalm 32:6-7

Songs of Deliverance

Each of your servants prays to you in time of trouble; even if floods come rushing down, they will never reach him. You are a hiding place for me, you guard me when in trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance.

The dry wadis flood when sudden rains come upon the unsuspecting traveler.  The psalmist uses an apt metaphor for the troubles that spring on us when we are living ordinary lives in ordinary ways. During these times God becomes a hiding place, a sanctuary, a refuge from sudden, overwhelming storms. God guards and protects, encourages and saves. God calls to us out of the storm, intoning the words of hymns of liberation. What are these words that are meant to calm crushed spirits, to sooth distraught minds and bring weary bones to new life?

God says: I hear you when you pray to me out of the maelstrom that strikes you – as the storms of life always do – and I long to save you from all that threatens you. Call out to me as the flood waters rise.  Sing out my name when you feel that you are lost. Ask me for help and I will make a way for you. When I rebuke the rushing waters that threaten to pull you down into darkness, they will settle at once into a refreshing oasis where you can rest and renew yourself. Do not fear the swirling waters of life, for I am with you always.  When you call, I will answer.

Jewish_National_Fund_trees_in_The_Negev[1]From Matthew 8:23-27: When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to him and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, oh you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When we are surprised by the sudden changes that spring on us, let us call on one whom even the winds and sea obey. And let us listen for the songs of deliverance that overcome the storm.

Enter the word maelstrom or storm into the blog search bar and reflect on how God saves and liberates us when we ask for help.


For more images of the Hatta Wadi Floods, click on the image above, or go to: http://www.pbase.com/bigrig/image/120578004

Oasis image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oasis

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

GIMP_Arrogance_Grunge_II_by_Project_GimpBC[1]2 Peter 2:10-13

Bold and Arrogant

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings, whereas angels, despite their superior strength and power, do not bring a reviling judgment against them from the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals . . . revile things they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrong as payment for wrongdoing.

As we hear so often in the Peter’s words: We reap what we sow. False teachers are always among us but Jesus is clear in his many parables that wheat is separated from chaff and sheep from goats. The marvelous quality about God’s love is that God is always willing to forgive us. The story of the Prodigal Son might also be named the story of the Forgiving Father and we are grateful for this parable of abundantly generous love.

Today, let us spend some time reflecting on who we follow and why. Let us decipher the words we take as true and why. What campaigns do we believe? What newscasts or papers do we follow? Which of our family, neighbors or friends do we believe over others and why? Do we pursue comfort or growth? Do we look for unity or create division? Do we question to learn or question to make a point? Are we bold and arrogant and irrational? Or are we humble and modest and rational? And why?


Image from: http://project-gimpbc.deviantart.com/art/GIMP-Arrogance-Grunge-II-63786001

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: