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Romans 8:38-39: Something Eternal

Friday, May 4, 2018

You are going to die AND life never ends. (Rohr 135)

Science and faith participate in a constant dance of doubt and belief, reality and fantasy, humanity and divinity. Quantum physics tells us that we can apply mathematics as we attempt to understand energy and matter on the smallest of scales. Discussions – and arguments – between those who want an absolute adherence to evolution OR creation theories miss the beauty of creation itself. The reality that this science is perfectly compatible with teachings we find in the Bible may be difficult to believe; yet Richard Rohr, OFM reminds us that . . .

“It seems that we are born with a longing, desire, and deep hope that this thing called life could somehow last forever. It is a premonition from Something Eternal that is already within us. Some would call it the soul. Believers would call it the indwelling presence of God. It is God in us that makes us desire God. It is an eternal life already within us that makes us imagine eternal life. It is the Spirit of God that allows us to seriously hope for what we first only intuit . . . When we love consciously within this love, we will not be afraid to die, because love is eternal, and that core self is indestructible. ‘Love never ends’ (See 1 Corinthians 13:8). The entire evolutionary thrust of time and history is making this very clear. Now we know that nothing really dies anyway”. (Rohr 135-136)

As Rohr describes, we too often search for the gift we already possess, the gift of eternity. We too often doubt that God’s love creates and sustains us. We are too ready to discount the idea that God creates us in and for love.

Quantum physics often deals in probability and is frequently counter-intuitive; and so we may pose the same questions as those in a Discover Magazine article: “Do any physical theories allow room for God to influence human actions and events? And, more controversially, is there any concrete evidence of God’s hand at work in the physical world?” Rohr invites us to open ourselves to the possibility of God’s paradox of love.

Click on this image to take Britannica’s quantum mechanics quiz.

The more we explore the contrast between science and theology, the more we question.  In his article published in the Huffington Post on July 13, 2011, Peter Baksa writes that “ our thoughts are the language of the universe” as he describes the relationship between energy and matter. Might this be the something eternal we possess and still seek? Might our thoughts be actual energy that connects with the energy that is God’s love? Might this be the message that all of creation and all of scripture shouts at us? And might we want to join in this great shout?

Today as we explore both science and scripture, we practice the art of taking in opposites as we allow God to reveal the something eternal within, the Common Wonderful nature of the universe, the splendor of God’s unending love.


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

When we compare different translations of these verses, we find tools to help us understand the common wonderful paradox of our universe, and our place in it. 

Chad Orzel gives us a simple list to describe Quantum Physics at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chadorzel/2015/07/08/six-things-everyone-should-know-about-quantum-physics/#7d9994187d46

For a quick video lesson on quantum mechanics, and the double-slit experiment, click on the image above or visit: https://www.hidabroot.com/article/194842/Can-Quantum-Physics-Prove-G-d 

Or take the quantum mechanics quiz at:https://www.britannica.com/quiz/quantum-mechanics 

Other resources: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-baksa/who-is-god-can-he-be-expl_b_894003.html and http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/galleries/how-quantum-physics-proves-gods-existence.aspx and http://discovermagazine.com/2011/mar/14-priest-physicist-would-marry-science-religion and https://www.gotquestions.org/God-and-quantum-physics.html

Enter the words God spots into the blog search bar and reflect on The Common Wonderful gift of the Spirit.

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Isaiah 43Promises of Redemption and Restoration

Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Favorite from February 21, 2008. 

We sing this hymn so often that these words of Isaiah are familiar to us . . . and they are so beautiful.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

Dear God in Heaven, we so many times feel so alone or abandoned.  We think we have done what you have asked, but somehow things just are not working out.  We feel as though we are sinking to the bottom of the sea.

When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.

Dear God on Earth, we so many times know that we are called and, wanting to be good servants, we want to obey but we are frightened or anxious.  We feel as though we are burning alive.

When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.

Dear God who dwells within, we so many times feel so apart from you as we do the work you have asked of us.  We feel isolated and misunderstood.  We want to come home to you.

I give . . . your ransom because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you.

Dear God who made us, we wander here on earth and long for the serenity and beauty of your Holy City on a Hill.  We want to hear you clearly, we want to see you distinctly.  We long to be with you.

I will say to the north; Give them up! and to the south: Hold not back!  Bring back my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth: Everyone who is named as mine, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.  Lead out the people who are blind though they have eyes, who are deaf though they have ears.

Dear God who is tender, kind and loving, we are many times afraid to stand when you say stand, to sit when you say sit, to be still when you say be still, to speak when you say speak.  We want to trust.  We want to be authentic.  We want to embody integrity.

Let them produce witnesses to prove themselves right, that one may hear and say, “It is true!”  You are my witnesses, says the Lord, my servants whom I have chosen to know and believe in me and understand that it is I. 

Dear God who is glorious, awesome, and all-knowing, we do not know how to begin, we do not know where to go.

Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!  Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland rivers.  Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people who I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.

Dear God who walks among us, you have shown us The Way, the Truth and the Light.  We will follow you.  We will enter the desert to meet you . . . for we know that is where you are.  We will sojourn among the jackals and the ostriches . . . for we know that is where you are.  We will walk beside the humble . . . for we know that is where you are.

Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.

Amen.

Find the hymn “Be Not Afraid” by John Michael Talbot, with video clips from the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI49peWG2d0 

David Haas’ hymn “You Are Mine” is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgm9lkTNQmc 

Image from: https://rickandlindareed.com/2014/12/12/do-not-be-afraid/ 

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2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part V

Click on this image for a video commentary.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Today’s Favorite returns once more to 2 Maccabees, the first Book cited in the first Noontime Scripture reflection. The message is as simple, constant, and powerful today as it was more than a decade ago. Be steadfast. Trust in God. Remain faithful to God. Life is a struggle, but God is with us. We need not be afraid. 

Today’s citation reminds us of a strong underpinning of those themes: there is life after our apparent death, and we must pray not only for ourselves but for those who have strayed from the covenant as well.  1 Maccabees 5:6 gives a different reason for the fall of the Israelite troops – the priests had wanted to distinguish themselves in battle – but the message is the same: if we succeed in remaining faithful to our covenant with God, we must pray for those who fallen.

We will not want to miss the true life that follows this one, and we will want to share this full and generous life with our families and friends.  And lest we fear that our loved ones will not accompany us, we remember that it is possible to bring straying sheep into the fold through petition to the Creator. We remember that with God all things are possible.

Christ is the one who offers himself in expiation for the downfall of the world and thus becomes the Redeemer of all.  We participate in this redemption by offering our own sufferings in expiation for others.  The dead will live again, and this we can believe.

Over time, we have spent several Noontimes reflecting on the lessons brought to us by the Maccabeus family.  Their stamina, their perseverance, their refusal to be extinguished, and their refusal to allow God’s law of forgiveness, mercy and justice to be extinguished is seen again in all of Christ’s followers.  Jesus’ disciples are constant searchers of God’s essence and truth.  They will always hunger and thirst for an essence they feel but cannot see, a Spirit they know but cannot always touch. The Maccabeus family tells us this story. Jesus the Redeemer invites all of us to be these followers.

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

Tomorrow, a prayer for trials and obstacles.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

To learn why the Books of the Maccabees are not included in the Jewish Bible, visit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/ 

Watch a video commentary at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdHjJFQAoZk 

Images from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-mind-3-steadfastness-barry-walsh/ and https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/

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Esther 5: Building the Gallows

Queen Esther

Thursday, February 15, 2018

We must take care to observe what schemes we enter, knowingly or unknowingly. In today’s reflection, a parade of characters brings us an invitation to explore our own motivations and actions.

Queen Esther waits beyond the throne room, knowing that entrance without permission results in death. Does she know that she will need more courage than she believes she possesses?

King Xerxes offers half his kingdom in a magnanimous gesture. Does he know what price he will actually pay for this promise?

Haman wells over with envy and anger. Does he understand what happens to plotters and schemers?

Haman’s wife Zeresh urges her husband to build an execution scaffold. Does she understand who will eventually stand on its trapdoor?

Mordecai insists on worshipping no other god before Yahweh. Does he know that the LORD will protect him?

Haman, Zeresh, and Friends

These characters invite us to explore what gallows we build for ourselves and others. They call us to examine our goals and incentives. They ask us to open ourselves to the possibility of conversion and mercy.

We use the scripture link and the drop down menus to compare varying translations of these verses. We explore more about the lives of the characters in this story today.

For a film representation of Esther’s story, click on her image, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYOaP2rf–Q 

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Hosea 2: Expectation

Charlie Mackesy: The Prodigal Daughter

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What does God expect of me?

Where is God?

How can God expect so much from me?

Why does God allow me to feel so alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

If we hear ourselves asking these questions frequently, we may need to think of them as inversions.

What do I expect of God?

Where have I put God in my life?

Why do I ask so little of God?

Why do I forget God or turn away from God’s love when I am alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

Today we re-read the prophecy of Hosea, the man who married an adulterous wife and we focus on Chapter 2 to find a description of Gomer, the unfaithful wife.  Metaphorically, Gomer is each of us when we reject the conditions in which we find ourselves.  As difficult as our problems may be, they are our stepping stones to self-discovery . . . and to serenity.  Once we learn to turn everything over to God, the sorrow and anger slip away.  And we are at peace with the circumstances surrounding us.

Today’s Gospel is John’s story of the feeding of thousands (6:1-15) and we might look at how Jesus asks the disciples how they want to feed so many – John writes: He said this to test them.  This does not mean that Jesus wants to throw his friends into turmoil; rather, he wants to see how they hope to solve the problem before them.  Do they resort to their own resources, or do they rely on God in any way?

We must remember to ask for miracles, because God wants to grant them.

We must remember to take our woes to God, because God welcomes them and erases them.

We must remember to leave our sadness in God’s hands, because God heals all mourning with deep and abiding love.

Hosea laments his unfaithful wife.  God misses us when we stray.  Why do we try to solve everything on our own?  And why do we expect so little from a generous, loving God?

A Favorite from May 6, 2011.

For a video lesson on Hosea and Gomer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerNMZNmKF0 

 

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Pushkin Museum – Moscow, Russia: The Synaxis of the Holy and the Most Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles

Apostleship: Following the Call

The Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 4, 2018

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gives to me eleven pipers piping.

These eleven lords represent the eleven apostles who doubted, yet remained faithful to Christ.

When crisis comes into our lives, we often retreat into hiding, taking our fear and exhaustion with us. We revert to what we know and do well; just as Peter and the other fishermen-followers did when they returned to their boats after the horrible events of Holy Week in Jerusalem. Like the story in John 21, we flounder in our boats while Jesus stands “on the shore” of our lives. Like the apostles in this story, we too often do not recognize the faithful Jesus. After fishing all night in the dark, we – like the apostles – remain frightened. Jesus calls to us, saying, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” We answer, as the apostle did, “No?” And Jesus says, “Cast the net over the right side”. We roll our eyes as we might guess the apostles did. But when we do as Jesus asks, we haul up the net that is “not torn . . . even though it was full of so many” fish. Then we, like Peter, must take the leap over the side of the boat and flail to shore . . . because there Christ is waiting with the brazier of live coals to cook us a meal, to bring us comfort, to open The Word to us, to free us from oppression, to raise us from the dead. And when Christ asks, “Do you love me?” we, like Peter who days earlier had denied that he knew Christ, must respond, “You know that I love you”. It is then that we will be told what and how to do: Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep, follow me.

Nicolas Poussin: Ordination of the Apostles (detail)

And we must follow. We must take the leap when Christ calls us from the shoreline. We must have faith and we must choose to enact our faith as the faithful followers did. We must cast our nets even though we have been at the task all day and all night without finding success. When we hear the call, we must step out into the water and fly to the shore, because there is truly nothing else more important. This is where the salvation of humankind lies.

Adapted from a reflection on apostleship written on April 22, 2007.

According to tradition, the remaining eleven continued to follow Christ in this world as they continued to build the Kingdom. Tradition also tells us that the faithful eleven continued to preach The Word all the days of their lives. Some died violently, others did not. For more details, and for short video clips about the facts we know, use the links below, or visit: http://www.catholic.org/saints/

  1. Simon, called Peter (rock) was crucified on Vatican Hill in Rome.
  2. Andrew, Peter’s brother was executed in the city of Patras, Greece.
  3. James, son of Zebedee, brother of John was decapitated in Jerusalem.
  4. John, son of Zebedee, brother of James died in Ephesus in about the year 98 C.E.
  5. Philip was crucified in Hierapolis, Greece.
  6. Bartholomew, called Nathaniel was flayed and beheaded in Abanopolis.
  7. Thomas (referred to as the doubter) preached in India and was killed in a hunting accident
  8. Matthew, the tax collector, called Levi, Matthew, the Evangelist preached in Persia and Africa, and we have no information about his death.
  9. James, the son of Alphaeus, also named The Less or The Just was executed in Jerusalem.
  10. Thaddeus, the son of James, called Judas/Jude (not the betrayer), brother of James the Less visited Beirut and Edessa, and was likely martyred with Simon.
  11. Simon, the Zealot was likely executed in Jerusalem.
  12. In Matthew 27:5 we learn that Judas hanged himself; but in Acts 1:18, his death is described as resulting from a fall. As always, those who explore Scripture are invited to read, reflect, and meditate on The Word that Christ brings to us as his followers. 

For fascinating articles on where the remains of these followers lie today, click the images above, or visit: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tcraughwell/where-are-the-12-apostles-now or https://aleteia.org/2017/07/21/whatever-happened-to-the-twelve-apostles/ 

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Proverbs 8: Armloads of Life

Friday, July 28, 2017

Wisdom and Creation, A Reprise

Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
    Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
    at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
    where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
    everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
    You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
    I’m telling you how to live at your best.

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before, and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . the gift of creation in each of us, and in the micro and macro-universe we inhabit. Today we reprise our reflection on the wisdom of God’s creation (https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/07/wisdom-and-creation/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

 I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.

These words are an invitation we will want to accept.

My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

The verses cited in this post are from the MESSAGE translation of Proverbs. To compare other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus.

To watch life on a reef off the Maldives, click on the sealife image or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oGyZL0qjM

For an interesting take on the multiverse, click on the image of planets above, or visit: http://www.chattanoogapulse.com/columns/just-a-theory/living-your-life-in-a-multiverse/ 

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Luke 20: Cornerstone – Part V

First Sunday of Lent, March 5, 2017

James Tissot: Woe Unto You, Scibes and Pharisees

James Tissot: Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees

As we close our reflections on Jesus’ teaching with the Parable of the Tenants, we look at Luke 20, a chapter that describes for us how the people who followed Jesus loved him, and how the leaders of his day despised him.

Luke places this parable in a context that calls us to action. When we spend time with Luke 20 today, we have the opportunity to reflect on this progression of stories: Jesus’ Authority Questioned, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, The Question About Paying Taxes, The Question About Resurrection, the Question About David’s Son, Jesus Denounces the Scribes. We have the opportunity to explore the meaning of The Rejected Cornerstone. And we have the invitation to take part in the conversion of the world.

We read Luke’s verses and know that it is for us to discover why the Pharisees and Herodians despised Jesus, and it is for us to determine how we will act to change a world that calls for newness. If we take a moment to watch the brief “The Pope Video” on YouTube or at www.thepopevideo.org, we will hear the same challenge the people in Jesus’ time heard. And we will have the same opportunity to decide what we will do.

For more about Pope Francis’ Worldwide Network of Prayer, click on the image below.

popevideo

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Mark 3:22-30: Sawing Off Branches

Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy and private collections

Jesus is very clear: A constantly squabbling family disintegrates.

We might use these words in our individual and collective lives.

Jesus tells us: Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. 

We might take this warning to heart.

Jesus reminds us: There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.”

God says: I love you so intensely that I will do all that I must in order to have you near me; but if you persist in turning away my Spirit, you are creating a separation that you will not be able to bridge. I am always waiting for you, guiding you, protecting and advising you. Remain in me so that I might remain in you. Allow my Spirit to rest in you and to create a home in your heart. In this way, we will never be so far apart that you lose sight of me. Listen to my son, remain in my Spirit, and have hope always in me.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we open our understanding of God’s generosity, persistence and love.

For more on the Maestà of Duccio, click on the image above for two Khan Academy video lessons.

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