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Exodus 3:14: Re-Creation – The Multiverse

Easter Saturday, April 22, 2017

In the Torah, we find an early description of God, by God.

God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.’” (GNT)

In the Torah, we find an early depiction of God as multiverse.

God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’” (MSG)

In John’s Gospel of Christ’s story, we find Jesus’ own words tell us who he is. “I am the bread of life, the light of the world, the door through which all who yearn to be saved will enter. I am the good shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life. I am the vine, you are the branches”. (John 6:35, 8:12, 10:9, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:5)

God says: The world around you tells you that you are small and that you have much to fear; but this is not so. Although the universe seems like a macrocosm to you, believe me when I say that is it in fact a microcosm in which you are central and essential. My life without you is a great void. My life with you is joy, and light and peace. I know that my essence to you is mystery and that is as it must be. I ask that you bring all that you are to me. Bring your sorrows along with your joys. Bring your anxiety along with your celebrations. Bring every molecule so that I might bring it into union with me and my multiverse. There is life eternal in me. Believe all that you have heard from my servant John. Believe all that your​ faith suggests, all that your hope proposes and all that your love intends. Bring all to me so you might live eternally with the beautiful mystery of my multiverse.

Paul and John have written letters to us so that we might believe. On this Easter Saturday, let us spend time with these verses so that we might truly believe.

To understand the concept of multiverse, we might visit: http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/adults/hayden-planetarium-programs/hayden-special-event-from-the-big-bang-to-the-multiverse-and-beyond/ or  http://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html

Watch the National Geographic documentary describing the existence of the multiverse at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK-DC6eTlrk 

For a contrary view that we are still looking for evidence of the multiverse theory, read this article at FORBES: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/04/15/ask-ethan-what-was-the-entropy-of-the-universe-at-the-big-bang/#2efd1f797280

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Isaiah 41:18: Re-Creation-Rivers and Valleys

The headwaters of the Yangtse River – a river that flows into the East China Sea

Easter Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The earth is immense. Seven continents, five oceans, 165 major rivers, countless valleys.

I will make rivers flow among barren hills
    and springs of water run in the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water
    and the dry land into flowing springs. (GNT)

Millennia ago early peoples knew the importance of rivers with their life-giving cycles of flood and recession.

I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water. (NRSV)

Modern humans have tried to harness the power of water in their search for sources of energy.

I will open up rivers on the barren hills
and wells down in the broad valleys.
I will turn the desert into a lake
and dry ground into springs. (CJB)

Ancient humans understood the potential for life found in life-giving rivers and the valleys through which they flowed.

Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii, USA

I’ll open up rivers for them on the barren hills,
    spout fountains in the valleys.
I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond,
    the waterless waste into splashing creeks. (MSG)

Today we reflect on the status of the world’s rivers and the valleys they nourish, and we pray for the courage to protect and defend this system of life-giving arteries that sustains God’s creation.

For a list of the oldest rivers on the planet, click on the image of the Yangtse headwaters. 

For images of the some of the world’s beautiful valleys, click on the image of the Waipi’o Valley.

For more on the rivers of the world, visit these sites.

The Yumana and Ganges Rivers now have human status: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/22/asia/india-river-human/

World Wildlife Fund: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/  

For new on the world’s rivers: https://www.internationalrivers.org/press-center

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1 Kings 1: Power Changes Hands

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As Easter approaches, and as we witness the swirling tides of power grow and collapse around us, we remember this reflection from March 14, 2008; and we remember that we are children of God, living with God’s loving promise.

This is a story or power ebbing and rising.  It is also a story of corruption, convolution and byzantine conniving.  And it is also the story of God’s providence, God’s openness to the impossible being possible, and God’s awesome ability to turn all harm to good.  Just reading the first chapter of this book gives us a sliver of our history as Yahweh’s people.  It can even give us a context for the corruption in our church structure today.  We know who we are as God’s children: we are created, we are loved, we are longed for, we are anointed, we are blessed, we are saved, we dance an intimate dance with our God.  The greater question for us may be: Who am I in God’s creation? 

Sometimes these answers are more difficult to live with. If we believe, for example, in the sanctity of life, we must also believe that torture is an unjust way of interrogating people. If we believe that the Christ is present in the world today through us, we are still all God’s children, even if we cannot all agree about all of the details of an issue.

When we read about the people in these historical books, we come away with the assurance that no matter the era or epoch, we are all God’s people under the same skin.  We all err.  We all have the opportunity for redemption.  We may all make reparation.  We may all forgive and be forgiven.  We are all God’s children.

When we read ACTS OF THE APOSTLES to remind myself of the many struggles which the early Church had during its formation, we can see clearly the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s nurturing, abiding presence hovering constantly around these early apostles.  We see power transferring from the Pharisees and their separatist thinking to the apostles and their universal salvation thinking.  And even among the early Christians there was dissent: the necessity of circumcision, the need for baptism by the spirit, and so on.  The Holy Spirit shepherded these people . . . and shepherds us today.

In both the Old and New Testaments we read of the human qualities of contrivance, deceit and falsehood . . . and we also read of honesty and redemption.  Nathan, Bathsheba, Adonijah, Solomon, Zadok are all characters in this tale from long ago . . . and they are the people we see before us on the television screen each evening when we tune in to hear the day’s news.  When we watch these people of then . . . or of today . . . how do we see ourselves responding?  How do we witness to The Word?  How do we react as children of God?

We might ponder these things tonight in our evening prayer.

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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 12:1-13: Cornerstone – Part IV

Saturday, March 4, 2017

James Tissot: The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus

James Tissot: The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus

 

Again we hear the Parable of the Tenants in Mark’s Gospel but today we focus on the aftermath of Jesus’ teaching.

And have you not read this scripture, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is made the head of the corner: By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes. And they sought to lay hands on him, but they feared the people. For they knew that he spoke this parable to them. And leaving him, they went their way. And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and of the Herodians; that they should catch him in his words. (DRA)

We know that Jesus came to bring us the Good News, and we also know that his stories were not always welcomed. Those in control of the power structure did not want their carefully constructed world to crumble. They had forgotten – or perhaps had never learned – the lesson that Jesus comes to set us free from our old hatreds and fears. They rejected – or perhaps feared – the promise that we are all equal in the eyes of the one who created us. They dissembled – or perhaps lied – to achieve their ends. For this reason, it is important for us to take this parable in once again; it is vital that we watch the aftermath that follows. We must look for signs of rejection and deceit for when we see them, we will know that those who look out for themselves are building walls of hate and fear between us. They are plotting to catch us out with our words. But it is our very words that – when spoken with and in Christ – will set us and the world truly free.

When we spend time with the aftermath of this Parable of the Tenants that we begin to know and have confidence in the reality the rejection of the cornerstone is an act that sets us free. If this Douay-Rheims translation does not suit us, we can use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other versions. 

For more on the Pharisees, religious leaders, and the Herodians, political leaderrs visit biblehub.comhttp://biblehub.com/topical/p/pharisees.htm  and http://biblehub.com/topical/h/herodians.htm

The Herodians family tree can be found at: http://www.bible-history.com/herod_the_great/HERODThe_Herodians.htm

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Colossians 3:15-17: Be Thankful

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Colossae Ruins

Colossae Ruins

Today we take a portion of Paul’s letter to the people of Colossae and we apply it to our own lives as we once again learn to . . .

Be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and . . . be thankful.

Teach and admonish one another in wisdom and . . . be thankful.

Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and . . . be thankful.

Live with gratitude in your hearts and . . . be thankful.

In word and deed and in everything you do . . . be thankful.

In the name of the Lord, Christ Jesus . . . be thankful.

Amen.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we discover that a new sense of gratitude settles into our bones and sinews . . . so that we might live out God’s call to thanksgiving each day.

For more posts on gratitude, enter the word into the blog search bar.

Click on the post photograph to see more images and to learn more about Colossae

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2 Samuel 11 and 12: Conversion – Part I

Thursday, February 2, 2017jesus-and-paul

We visit this story about once a year as we journey together at Noontime, and here it is again.  We have reflected on the narrative and how Psalm 51 – the beautiful song of contrition and yearning – rises from this account of lust, adultery and murder.  We have also spent time thinking about how David succumbs to very human emotions only to later rise to his divine best self by finally facing the truth about his own actions.  We have spent a bit of time with Bathsheba, wondering what more we might learn from her if only we had more details of her life.  Today we meditate a bit on the role that Nathan plays in this drama: the truth-revealer who is wise with words and strong with God, the prophet who becomes the instrument of David’s conversion.

This is a fitting path to continue as today we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul, the devout Pharisee who was known for his persecution of the followers of The Way . . . who becomes one of the most fearless defenders of the Christ story.  A wonderful book to read about Paul’s conversion, particularly as it parallels the life of Christ, is Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner.  The writer delineates for us the thesis that both Paul and Christ experience not one but two major conversions: a conversion of heart and a conversion of vocation.  Using scripture and other ancient texts, Murphy-O’Conner supports this idea to lead us through his thinking that understanding our conversion is one thing . . . acting on it is another.

For a reflection on Paul’s conversion with an audio link, visit: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/conversion-of-saint-paul/ 

Tomorrow, from Saul to Paul.

Adapted from a January 25, 2009 Favorite.

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Deuteronomy 15:12-18: Slavery

Wednesday, February 1, 2017qumran

A Favorite from January 23, 2009.

We experience all sorts of slavery in our lives: slavery to work, slavery to ideas, and slavery to people.  Paul characterizes himself many times as a slave of Christ, obeying to the utmost, owning nothing, being strength itself in his earthly weakness and poverty.

Gossip repeated commits us to a kind of slavery.  The speaker can never move out of an entrenched opinion; the victim remains stuck in an unpleasant characterization.  The irony of slavery is that it reduces the owner more than the slave; and perhaps that is why we see the recommendation in today’s reflection that the slave be set free . . . For remember, you were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God ransomed you.

At the time the book of Deuteronomy was written, and also in Jesus’ day, slavery was an accepted fact of life.  Only the Essenes of Qumran rejected it in principle (Achetemeier 1031) as we can read in the works of Josephus, a Jewish historian.  The famous stoic philosopher Epictetus was a slave, as was the family of St Paul.  Slaves in Old Testament days were mainly for domestic service, and they “played a minor economic role in the ancient Near East” (Achetemeier 1029).  Crown and temple slaves were usually captured during war; private slaves were defaulting debtors and their families, or indigents who resorted to self-sale.  In New Testaments days under Roman rule, slaves comprised as much as thirty five percent of the population.  Poor masters were to be punished; slaves were to participate in the Sabbath rest.  Many of the rules regarding slaves were established in an effort to maintain the dignity and humanity of these human beings; but no matter its form or purpose, slavery is something to be abolished.  It meant “social death” in ancient times (Achetemeier 1030) and remains so today – cutting the slave off from family, friends, homeland and resources.

To what are we slaves today?  Who do we enslave by our words and actions?  How might we free ourselves and others from chains real or unreal?

The only freedom that is eternal and redeeming is that which comes when we give ourselves over to God’s love.  Placing ourselves in the compassionate hands of Christ is the single most effective method of ensuring that we are slaves to no one and to nothing; for when we place God before all else in our lives . . . we put ourselves in a place which no shackle can chain.

God always rescues; he always keeps his promises.  As the prophet Zechariah tells us (8:7-8): Thus says the Lord of hosts; Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun.  I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.  They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.

No matter where we are or what our condition, we are well-loved by our creator.  When we turn to him and agree to serve him only, we live in a state of freedom which can never be enslaved.  Would it not be wonderful if we might set ourselves and others free from the chains in which we have entrapped them?

From this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

For those who feel hopelessly trapped by the habits of sin: grant them forgiveness and peace.

For those who fear your anger: show them also your love.

For those who delay examining their decisions and habits: let them see how quickly life passes.

God in heaven, deliver us, rescue us, set us free from all that keeps us from you.  Amen.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1031. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 1.23 (2009). Print.  

For more on the Essenes of Qumran, click on the image above or visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html

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Matthew 4:12-23: Going to Galilee

Sunday, January 29, 2017

www.bible-history.comMap of Ancient Israel

http://www.bible-history.com: Map of Ancient Israel

I am still reflecting on last Sunday’s Gospel to consider how it speaks to me today.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

We look at a map of the Palestine in ancient days to study how Jesus’ actions suggest a plan for our own lives.

We investigate the spiritual, civil and social characteristics of Galilee in Jesus’ time to understand the environment in which he worked, and prayed, and played and we find our question on a PBS Frontline  episode. “What kind of place was Galilee at the time of Jesus? Was it a quiet, rustic, peaceful little tranquil place? It looks that way, sure. But the region was known for being a hotbed of political activity and some of it violent . . . But in [an] historical context that region was always a contested region”.  We can read more if we want to go further but I realize, as I spend time all week uncovering my own emotions over the past few days, and I wonder . . . what might we do with this story?

www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

http://www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

When we look for information about Capernaum, we remember that the people of the town rejected Jesus and his miracles, so we go back to today’s Noontime verses.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

When we find ourselves in a hotbed of political activity, we do not run away. We hold firm quietly to meet threats with grace and love.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

When our friends and colleagues suffer persecution, and we know the hatchet is coming our way, we rely on the authority Jesus gives us. We remember that Jesus calls us to outrageous hope.

Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

www.pbs.org: A portrait of Jesus' World

http://www.pbs.org: Galilee, A portrait of Jesus’ World

When we realize that we are in the middle of contested regions where lies replace certainties, we hold tightly to the truth, we listen to our persecutors and pray for them, and we ask that Jesus turn all hearts of stone to hearts of mercy and compassion.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

If we want to follow the Christ, we too must journey to Galilee and Capernaum and although we may flinch, we fire up our souls with the love of Christ . . . and we go.

To explore Galilee and Capernaum, click on the links and images for more information.

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