Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Web site included’ Category


paths 15Easter Friday, April 9, 2021

Matthew 13:17-23

So Many Paths – Part IV

Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

The Parable of the Sower is a familiar one and yet . . . we resist changing so that our journey might be a little lighter. We refuse adjustment from our present position even though modification in our living might offer and opportunity for conversion. When we find ourselves traveling a road that seems immutable and absolute we need not fear, for we are graced with the Word that combats all Woe. How do we tune our ears so that we might honestly listen to God’s word? How do we un-muddy our eyes so that might rightly see God’s presence in our lives?

Life gives us surprising obstacles and we lose heart. We lament and complain. We recoil and mourn. Life treats us well and we take credit for all that we have and are. We act with hubris. We become pompous and self-righteous. Once we have set out on a path, do we have any recourse to change? Once we are well on our way, are we doomed to a single outcome?

paths 16The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

When we hear the Torah, the Prophets and the Gospel we are as free to heed God’s Word as we are to ignore it.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.

When we hear Jesus’ parables we are as free to search for meaning as we are to treat these stories as children’s tales that hold no meaning for adult lives.

The seed sown among thorns in the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.

paths 18When we witness injustice we also witness the presence of the Spirit in a hostile and frightening world. We are as free to respond to that Spirit to unit ourselves in God’s grace with Christ’s mystical body as we are to squelch it.

But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

When we find ourselves on a difficult path fraught with danger and friction . . . we are as free to ask for, to receive and to respond to God’s grace as we are to remain implacably set in our own rigid way. As we near the end of the Lenten season and prepare to open ourselves to Christ’s Easter joy, let us determine to receive Christ with gratitude, to celebrate God’s presence with delight, and to rest in the serenity of the Spirit.

Tomorrow, a prayer for the journey.


Images from: https://www.joe-ks.com/2012/amazing-paths

Read Full Post »


Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021

MADAME~1

Christopher Turner: On the Couch

 Amos 6

The Cost of Prosperity

Before we leave Amos we reflect once more on his theme of the wealthy and comfortable taking advantage of the poor and voiceless. Like his contemporaries Hosea and Joel, Amos spoke out against those who lay upon couches plotting to keep what they had gathered rather than share their prosperity. He brought to light the corruption too often found in those who hoard possessions and power rather than tend to those on the margins who have few or no resources.

Amos spoke so well and so boldly that he was finally expelled by Amaziah, the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary. His delineation of “hollow prosperity” was too much for the power structure and rather than spend time with the prophet’s words, leadership chose to shut down this man who gave their work a “sweeping indictment” of the injustice and idolatry Amos saw everywhere. The prophet is known for his fiery words but also his offering of a messianic perspective of hope. He knows that “divine punishment is never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men. The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God”. (Senior 1126)

As we read these verses today, we might think of a time when either we too lay upon couches at the expense of others or we were those laboring within a corrupt system. In the modern world, some of us have a the freedom to express our views in the public arena. Sometimes this voice is small, sometimes it carries weight; but no matter the strength of our words we know that when we stand in God’s plan all will be well. All will right itself.

Today’s reading is full of Old Testament ire; yet we can bring our New Testament eyes and ears to this story to put it into context. When we find ourselves in our own Samaria or northern Kingdom, when we see corruption in our holy Bethel city, when our prophets preach caution to a power structure carried away with its own authority, we might pause to remember what Amos tells us: Woe to the complacent, leaders of a favored nation, lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches . . . they devise their own accompaniment.

On this day when we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper, we examine ourselves, our motives, our hopes and desires. We evaluate where and how and why we stand; and we look at those with whom we choose to spend time on idle couches.

When we find ourselves unsatisfied with all we see around us, or when we are content with only our own accompaniment, perhaps it is a warning that we need to look to ourselves and to our companions. Perhaps, on this holy day of celebrated sacrifice, it is time for us to consider the cost of our prosperity.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 7, 2009.

Tomorrow, Unlimited Mercy.

Read Full Post »


Yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the death of Bishop Oscar Romero who was murdered as he celebrated Mass. View this powerful music video produced by The Martyrs Project at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be

Or return to the Amos and Amaziah by entering the words in the blog search bar

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Prophet Amos

The Prophet Amos

Amos 9:1-8

Vision of the Altar

“Amos’ final vision (9:1-4) does not begin with the same formula [as the other visions] and, this time, does not involve objects or animals. Instead, he sees God, who stands beside an altar. The mention of capitals and thresholds suggests a real temple . . . God begins by acting in the temple; both the people and structure itself will fall, and although readers have been made aware that no one will escape, God’s determination to root out every last person is highlighted here”. (Mays 652)

Climbing to the heavens, hiding in the bottom of the sea, ascending to the summit of Carmel, living in captivity. It does not matter where the Ethiopians, Philistines, Arameans, Israelites or any of us hides, all the peoples of the world are known to God. Why does Amos tell us this? What does he expect from us? How might we use his words, how might we interpret these woes, what are we to make of his visions?

Rather than seeing this imagery as a dualistic, black-or-white, either-or world of good people and bad in which some suffer and others are saved, let us consider that each of us is both foolish and faithful. Let us put away our pride and greed and instead focus on living our lives as positive manifestations of God’s hope for us. Let us decide what or how we will amend our habits and customs as we bring the gift of ourselves to the altar. And as our Lenten act of fidelity, let us determine to show our gratitude for the depth and breadth and height of God’s enormous love.

Tomorrow, Messianic Perspective.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 652. Print.

For more on the significance of Mount Carmel, visit: http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm 

For more information on the peoples named by Amos, see the following site and visit these links.

Arameans: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-arameans

Philistines: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Philistines.html

Ethiopians: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ejhist.html

 Image from: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2020/06/15/101724-prophet-amos

Read Full Post »


Monday, March 22, 2021

Balthasar Van der Ast: Still LIfe with Basket of Fruit

Amos 8:1-3

Vision of the Fruit Basket

The time is ripe to have done with my people . . .

Locusts and fire are turned away when the prophet pleads the case against destruction.  The plumb line measures behavior and this time Amos is silent except to record what he sees. Amos dares to engage with the corrupt priest, Amaziah.  And now he brings us a vision of the fruit basket, the symbol of a life lived justly, honestly and lovingly, without corruption or deceit.

God says: My prophet Amos served the people well. Many did not heed his words. They relied instead on their influence and wealth, not understanding that all of this passes away under my hand. Do they care for the poor, the orphan and the widow? They do not. They tend to their comfort and power base. Do they believe that the devastation Amos predicts will fall upon them? They do not. They are immune to his words, they believe that the world’s woes are not theirs; and they believe Amos’ visions to be false. Do they heed my words as brought to them by my faithful prophet? Again the answer is no. 

Rather than mercy from those whom God has blessed with power, we see exploitation and cunning.

Rather than love from those whom God has blessed with intelligence, we see narrow-mindedness.

Rather than compassion from those whom God has blessed with fruitful lives, we see greed.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider what visions we have been sent . . .  and how we respond to them.

Tomorrow, Against Greed.

 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Still_Life_with_Basket_of_Fruit_-_Balthasar_van_der_Ast_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

Read Full Post »


Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 21, 2021

Amos 7:10-17

Amos and Amaziah

In a wonderfully written essay posted on July 5, 2010, Dan Clendenin weaves the stories of Amos of Tekoa with Oscar Romero, the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop.  Clendenin points out that the story of the meeting between these two men, prophet and priest, would light up the blogosphere if it took place today.

Even when we are warned of impending doom, we manage to convince ourselves that all is well.

Even when we see violence happening to our relatives and neighbors, we convince ourselves that we are not part of the ugliness.

Even when the evidence is incontrovertible, we continue to believe the illusion that we ourselves have created.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might be the Amaziahs in our lives. Who is it we believe without questioning? Who keeps us comfortable and creates a place for us in which we cease to question or even think? Who convinces us of the lies we plan together?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might the Amoses in our lives. Who brings us truth that makes us uncomfortable? Who challenges the easy stories that rise out of falsehood? Who calls us to our better and brighter selves?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pledge to spend daily quality time with Christ who is our best and constant teacher. Let us promise to listen for the words of true prophets who bring us a reality we may not see. Let us promise to see the woes of the world as they really are and not as we wish them to be. And let us promise to keep always before us clear visions of the kingdom of God that Amos calls us to see.


To view a powerful music video about Bishop Oscar Romero, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be  and to learn more about The Martyr’s Project, go to: http://www.themartyrsproject.com/index2.html

To read Clendenin’s post, visit the Journey with Jesus blog at: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20100705JJ.shtml

To learn more about Oscar Romero and more about the International Day of Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victimsvisit: https://www.un.org/en/events/righttotruthday/romero.shtml 

Read Full Post »


Monday, March 15, 2021

Amos 3-6

Words and Woes

Amos conveys the words of God in his prophecy. Put away black-and-white thinking. Step away from corruption and nepotism. Be open to transformation and redemption. Jesus arrives as the teacher who leads us away from dualism. He points out exploitation and favoritism.  He rescues and changes.

Amos shares the woes he sees. The ease with which violence creeps into our lives. The mourning that threatens to drag us into darkness. The worship of little gods and the turning away from the Living God. The Spirit comes to abide with us, easing the pain of loss, comforting those who are crushed, gathering the remnant into the Body of Christ.

Amos tells us that there is much more to life than ease and comfort, power and fame. Amos reminds us that our real life lies in how we treat one another and not in the accumulation of wealth or titles. Amos asks us to move out of the darkness and into the light.

Christ comes to teach us how to live The Way. Christ steps out to lead us, taking on corrupt structures and power bases. Christ lives in each of us, renewing, recalling, and patiently ministering to our fears, wants and anxieties.

These are the Words of God conveyed by Amos. Jesus lives as the Word of God, walking and healing as he moves among us.

These are the Woes of the world as seen by Amos. Jesus comes to live among us and to remind us that trust in God alone prevails over the deepest and worst violence.

As we continue to move through Lent, let us pause to consider if or how we trust the healing hands of Christ.

Tomorrow, a Lenten prayer for understanding.


For a fresh view of Amos’ prophecy visit: http://jasonsoroski.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/unqualifed-the-story-of-amos/

Image from: http://www.artnet.com/artists/james-smetham/the-call-of-the-prophet-amos-o79LEkNxDOXiMmVWrrBNCQ2 

Read Full Post »


Asherah is seen as Isis in ancient Egypt

Asherah is seen as Isis in ancient Egypt

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 14, 2021

Amos 6

Third Woe

Amos tries to reach us for a third time with his vivid images that paint a scene we cannot ignore, with wonderfully descriptive words that create sights we see even with eyes closed.

The complacent . . . The overconfident . . .

Calneh was a winter residence of the Parthian kings. Nothing now remains but the ruins of a palace and mounds of rubbish.

Hastening the reign of violence . . .

Hamath the Great was a fortress capital of one of the kingdoms of Upper Syria.  Its greatness has now faded.

Lying upon beds of ivory. Stretching comfortably on couches.

Gath one of the five royal cities of the Philistines and the native place of the giant Goliath. Its original site has long been lost.

Eating the lambs and calves. Improvising music. Devising their own accompaniment.

Lodebar a place on the east side of the Jordan River whose exact location is not known today.

Drinking wine from bowls. Anointing themselves with the best oils. Not made ill by the collapse Joseph. These shall go first into exile.

Karnaim, originally the city of Og, king of Bashan, appears in Books of Genesis, Joshua, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.  The name denotes a place associated with the worship of the goddess Asherah. These ancient names of peoples and places no longer influence our world.

Only a few shall be left. The remnant will remain to bury the dead and to stare out over the rubble.

From Labo of Hamath to the Wadi of Arabah . . . from one end of our kingdom to the other . . . all that is known to us . . . our entire world . . . all this shall be gone.

Can horses run across a cliff? Can one plow the sea with oxen?

What do we do with these woes of Amos? As we continue our Lenten journey, we may want to sit with these images awhile and determine what it is we worship today, what places and people do we think will never fade, what acts do believe God does not see, and how do we ready ourselves to be remnant?


For more on Asherah and her various manifestations in ancient and modern cultures, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ascensionministries.net/theJezebelSpirit/theSpiritOfJezebel.php

Read Full Post »


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Amos 5:18-27

mourning_into_dancing_wide_t[1]Second Woe

Sakkuth and Kaiwan are ancient names for the planet Saturn and scholars believe that this pagan worship was a custom taken from the Assyrians. Israel turns away from the God who created her and turns toward little gods who have no power to save. Israel enters into cultic practices and leaves God’s love behind. Israel forfeits all that makes her special and chooses immediate and fleeting gratification.

God says: Even when you forget me for long years I will never forget who or where you are. Even when you put obstacles in my way I still accompany you. I continue to call you, I persist in waiting for you. You speak of disappointment and woe but I will turn these into dancing. You believe that you are alone and abandoned but I will never leave you. Despite of, or even because of, all that plagues and gnaws at you, turn and return to me.

The prophet Amos warns us today of the subtle ways in which we begin our journey away from all that converts our sorrow into joy.

O LORD, you brought me up from the grave you spared me from going down into the pit . . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Psalm 30)

Tomorrow, the third woe of Amos.


For more on Sakkuth and Kaiwan, go to: http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/?p=15 or https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/sakkuth-and-kaiwan

See TURN MY MOURNING INTO DANCING by Henri Nouwen as an excellent resource. Published in Nashville, TN by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2001.

Read Full Post »


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Amos 5:1-9

Third Word

As Amos delivers his third and final word, he gives his listeners specific examples of the behavior and attitudes he warns against. Bethel, an important city in the days of Judges, became a chief sanctuary under Jeroboam I when he set up a golden calf. We know from excavations that the city was later destroyed by the AssyriansGilgal, was first visited by Joshua and the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan River. It was visited by the prophet Samuel and became a rallying point for Saul’s troops in their battles against the Philistines. It was in Gilgal that Saul was affirmed king, and it was from here that the kingship was taken away. This city of Elijah and Elisha becomes the site of a corrupt, sacrificial cult. The Beer-sheba plain was a place of ample winter pasturage and was suited for a semi-nomadic life and so it served as the principal homestead of Israel’s patriarchs. The city of Beer-sheba likely served as an administrative center during David’s monarchy; but the Negev was lost to the Edomites. Modern excavators have found evidence of cultic worship altars that were likely profaned during the reign of King Josiah who centralized worship in Jerusalem. (Achtemeier 111, 115-116, 379)

God says: The images of corruption need not frighten you; Amos only brings them into view because they are stark symbols of how far apart we might grow. And they are also reminders of how much I love my children. No chasm is too wide for me to cross in order that I might rescue you. No valley is too deep for me to plumb that I might redeem you. Bring your worries and fears to me – both big and little. And I will give you rest. This is the third word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

Amos presents these images as a window to a possibility the inhabitants of Bethel, Gilgal and Beer-sheba did not anticipate. Our loving God presents them as an opening to transformation.


Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 111, 115-116, 379. Print.

For more on Gilgal Refaim, click the image or go to: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread609169/pg1

For more on Amos 5, visit: http://biblehub.com/amos/5-5.htm

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: