Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Web site included’ Category


Jeremiah 19: The Potter’s Flask

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Written on February 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

It will make their ears tingle when they hear about the bloodshed of the innocent!  The Valley of Ben-hinnom will become the Valley of Slaughter.  The city will be an object of amazement and derision.  Passers-by will catch their breath at the wounds they see.  And a flask will be shattered like the lives of these people.  There will be so much death that there will be no place for burial.  This because they have stiffened their necks and have not obeyed my words. 

Jeremiah has visited Topheth, a town whose name could be pronounced with the vowels of the Hebrew word for shame.  “This was due to the practice of there of sacrificing children as burnt offerings to Baal and Molech in the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 30:33;  Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6, 11-14; cf. 32:35).  Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah are reported to have offered their sons in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6).  King Josiah attempted to put a stop to the practice by defiling the altar of Topheth (2 Kings 23:10) but it was revived after his death”.  (Achetemier 1162)

When Jeremiah returns to Jerusalem and denounces not only this practice but the corruption in Jerusalem as well,  he is beaten and placed in stocks by orders of a temple priest and administrator, Pashhur.  “The prophet’s response was to rename the priest ‘Terror on every side’ (v. 3; cf. 6:25, where this phrase describes the people’s response to an invasion from the north, and 20:10, where is describes Jeremiah’s response to his enemies’ actions).  This name symbolizes the fact that Pashhur will be a ‘terror’ both to himself and to his friends: they and the whole land will suffer death, plundering and exile at the hands of the Babylonians (vv. 4-6).  The assertion that Pashhur has misled his friends (v. 6b) is the key to his condemnation.  His reaction to Jeremiah’s message was based on a partisan political position, supported, of course, by an appropriate religious ideology.  From his own standpoint Jeremiah was convinced that this position would lead to disaster”.  (HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, 561)

This is grime reading and yet it is the kind of persecution that takes place constantly in our world.  Sometimes is happens an ocean away . . . today I am thinking of the people of Egypt.  It also happens right under our noses . . . today I also think about someone dear to me who is persecuted for speaking up.  No matter when this kind of harassment takes place, the effect the bully wishes to create – silence – is void, and in time an opposite result occurs – the truth always comes out in the end. 

My parents continually reminded all five of us that this is one of the surest things we can count on and we read it here in Jeremiah.  This prophet was eventually taken away to Egypt by Jewish authorities who fled before the waves of invaders from the north.  His prophecy unfolds before their eyes, and still they revile him.  In the end, although there is no written evidence of this, Jeremiah is murdered in exile.

The sins in Topheth and the crimes of Pashhur continue today, but we must not allow this fact to sap us of our courage or energy.  We must remind ourselves and one another that the truth always comes out in the end.  So what are we called to do?  We must learn to faithfully witness to these crimes, to humbly pray for ourselves and our enemies, and to joyfully participate in the redemptive love that sets all injustice right in God’s time and in God’s way, lest we too be shattered like the potter’s flask . . .  beyond repair.


A re-post from September 15, 2011.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1162. Print. 

Image from: http://pottery.about.com/od/stepbystepprojects/ig/Mug-Project-Photo-Gallery/Pottery-Flask.htm

Read Full Post »


2 Samuel 10Open to Failure

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dorè: David Attacks the Ammonites

We might take a lesson from both David and the Ammonites today; and each of these lessons will save us suffering if we can be open to their message.  From the Ammonites who expect insult and war, we see that when we take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.  It seems we humans are often eager to fulfill our own dark hope.  Nestled against Israel’s eastern boundary, this tribe may have felt a kind of national inferiority.  Along with the Moabites, these descendents of Lot struggled to maintain peace within and along their borders.  Rightly or wrongly, the young king Hanun took an aggressive stance against David when he rejected David’s offer of amity and instead sought allegiance against Israel with the Arameans, another small kingdom to the north.  All hope for independence is dashed and in the end these Ammonites – whose rudeness stirs the Israelites to revenge – becomes subject to Israel, and the Arameans stand down from their aggressive posture.  We can never know if David somehow plotted in hopes that this scheme would bring him a vassal state; but we can easily see that the ultimate outcome for the Ammonites was the same – or perhaps even worse.  When we expect insult and take a bellicose stance, we guarantee our suffering.

Van Honthorst: King David Playing the Harp

The major player in this reading is, of course, David and from him today we might learn: We are most open to failure when we are at our most secure.  From the HarperCollins Bible Commentary, “If, on the one hand, we think of the Ammonite war as after the events of chap. 8, we are struck by the rapidity with which what appeared secure has again become a threat. If, on the other hand, we read the war account as a flashback, we may be struck by the irony of the context in which David’s adultery and murder have been set.  It is at the very peak of his power, when YHWY is giving him victory wherever he goes (8:14), that the king most conspicuously fails.  Security breeds insecurity; success incubates failure.  It is as the gift of the kingdom is being made complete that YHWY’s chosen one chooses to grasp most rapaciously what is not his to grasp.  In short, it is at his most secure that David turns out to be most open to failure”.  (Mays 269)

We know this statement to be true if we take an honest look at our own lives and at the lives of friends and enemies.  Cinema and literature reinforce the universal concept that we learn from our mistakes rather than our successes.  We also know that we are most conciliatory, most ready to listen, and most open to change when we are faced with multiple obstacles; and that we are most closed, most deaf to common sense, and most eager to control our environment and others when we are at the peak of accomplishment.  All of this is perhaps because we have forgotten some central truths: that God is the author of all good, that we can choose to enter into this goodness with God or we can choose reject God in the belief that we alone are responsible for all that has gone well in our lives.  In short, it is at our most secure that we turn out to be most open to failure.

In David’s actions and thinking, and in the actions and thinking of the Ammonites, we discover the hidden pitfalls of success and promises of disappointment.  We find an openness to failure that is certain to bring great pain and a guarantee of hardship and suffering.  None of this suggests that success is something to be avoided or that failure is the mark of holiness.  On the contrary, we experience happiness and joy despite our failures and along with our successes at precisely those times when we nurture an openness to God and forego our natural tendency to remain open to failure.


A re-post from September 12, 2011.

For more information about the Ammonites we might take a look at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01431b.htm and http://www.bible-history.com/geography/maps/map_of_ammonites_territory.html. OR https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 269. Print.

Images from: http://www.mundellchristianchurch.com/art/2Sam-12-David-Attacks-the-Ammonites.html

Read Full Post »


Luke 23:50-56Burial

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the two words Jesus says frequently to us: Follow me . . .

Today we take a look at what we are invited to do as a first step in the resurrection process.  We are invited to our own burial.

Van der Weyden: Descent from the Cross

Scripture – and in particular the New Testament story of Jesus – is full of inversion.  We see many paradoxes in Jesus’ words and actions: We must give up all we have in order to gain the world, those who are broken are strong, leaders are those who serve, we must be willing to die if we want to live.  What appears to be incongruous results in a reality we had not anticipated.

What looks like death is life itself.

I tell you the truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (12:24), unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

What looks like burial is life itself.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark (4:30-32)It is the smallest you plant in the ground; yet when planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches the birds of the air can perch in its shade. 

What looks like the end is really the beginning. 

The wallpaper image on my computer is the painting Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van der Weyden; I keep it there to remind me of Jesus’ words to us about life, death, and resurrection.  Each time I log on and see the image, I am reminded that we are always in the process of a necessary burial – the first step toward resurrection.  With that image in my mind, it is easier to remember that anything I do in the material world is a reflection of my belief in the spiritual world. As I travel about my digital universe, I carry with me the constant reminder that it is the spiritual world we seek rather than the material.

I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus says to Martha (John 11:25-27).  He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this? he asks.

Martha replies: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.

As we reflect on the verses in today’s Noontime and as we look at the expressions on the faces painted on the Van der Weyden canvas, let us take in what we have been told.  It is what those who loved Jesus well are about to fully understand as they lower his body from the cross.  It is the elemental truth that . . . Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

What looks like sorrow will soon be joy.  

The first step toward that joy is our eagerness to unfold the paradox Jesus has given us.  It is our willingness to submit to burial in the life of this world.  It is the full knowing that, like the kernel of wheat, we cannot live until we go into the soil . . . to burst forth again in the new life of Christ.


A re-post from September 1, 2011.

Image from: http://eastofthemoonwestofthesun.blogspot.com/2011/04/day-95-holy-saturday-preparation-for.html 

Further information about the Van der Weyden painting can be found at the following sites or sites of your choosing.  You may want to share some with us.  A good description of the symbolism represented in the characters we see. http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/197

A beautiful slide show through which the viewer can zoom in to see the detail in the cloth, even the tears glistening on cheeks.  http://www.slidingtime.be/ The show is a link from this blog.  http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2010/04/rogier-van-der-weydens-descent-from.html

This link gives us more insight into the painting.  http://blogs.artinfo.com/secrethistoryofart/2011/05/06/inside-the-masterpiece-van-der-weydens-descent-from-the-cross/

Read Full Post »


Judith 4Prayer, Penance, and Action

Carlo Francesco Nuvolone: Judith with the head of Holofernes

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The story of Judith is one of my favorites and it seems that we visit it about once a year.  Perhaps I like it so much because a woman takes matters into her own hands and is able to not only defeat a nation but to also bring Judah to atonement.  And she does this through prayer, penance, and action.  You may want to fast forward through these chapters to discover Holofernes’ fate at the hands this Jewish widow and her handmaiden; or you may want to rest in this part of the story before you move on.  In any case, the story is a wonderful one.

The ritual performed by the inhabitants of Jerusalem is a rite of entreaty.  The recommended precautions in the mountain passes were typical of a people making a defensive stance.  The generals and priests prepare for war; the woman prepares to listen to God’s instructions.

In my mother’s Douay version, the high priest reminds the people that it was through holy prayer that Moses overcame Amalek – a man who trusted in his own power and army, his shields, chariots, horsemen, and swords.  So that all of the people might hear, he intones: So shall all the enemies of Israel be, if you persevere in this work which you have begun. The people follow the priest’s advice.  And they all begged of God with all their heart, that he would visit his people Israel.

God visits us daily and constantly – whether we realize it or not.

God hears our cries of joy and distress – whether we feel it or not.

God answers prayers and brings miracles – whether we see it or not.

Let Judith be an example of faithful and faith-filled perseverance.

Let Judith remind us that prayer and penance will open clear communication with God so that our actions will be – like Judith’s – an answer to God’s call.


A Favorite from December 2, 2010.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Judith 

Read Full Post »


Ezekiel 10The Seed in the Darkness

Monday, September 24, 2018

Written on January 26 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We return to the Cherubim, those “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.  (Noontime, March 4, 2010 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm)

These special beings that guard the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies are described in 1 Kings, chapters 6 through 8.  It seems that once a year we visit with them and we might find them fascinating since they share a life of intimacy with God.  Today we see them reappear with the divine chariot.  “The coals may represent either the city’s destruction following the death of its inhabitants or the beginning of purification . . . The details of this second chariot vision [after the introduction in Ezekiel 1] are confusing, making it impossible to follow precisely where the glory is . . . The overall effect of the vision is clear: the glory leaves its great seat within the holy of holies and mounts the living chariot, departing in stages from the temple.  By the chapter’s end the glory of YHWH is mounted over the cherubim, stationed at the door of the temple’s east gate, and poised to depart”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 542)

Ezekiel’s imagery is sometimes difficult to decipher and often dark and scary; and so we turn to commentary and to our own inner place where God dwells to hear what wisdom comes from these verses today.  In this vision we see the cleansing and refining effect that God’s presence has on his creatures.  This distillation takes place as the soil is readied for the good seed to be planted and flourish.  We sometimes forget that seeds sprout and take root in the dark, and then they rise to the light.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day by Caryll Houselander, a British mystic, poet, and spiritual teacher:  Christ is that good seed with which our humanity is sown.  Just as he chose to be subject to his own law of nature in his own life on earth, he chooses to be subject to the same law in his life in our souls.  That is the condition of the growth of the Christ-life in us, from the seed to the flower, from the flower to the fruit: “Believe in me when I tell you this: a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die, or else it remains nothing more than a grain of wheat; but if it dies, then it yields rich fruit”.  The grain of wheat, which is our Christ-life, is subject to the same law.  It must be buried in the earth.  It must be in darkness.  Its growing must be in rest . . . We are the soil of the divine seed; there is no other.  The flowering of Christ in us does not depend upon pious exercises, on good works outside our daily life, on an amateur practice of religion in our leisure time.  It is in the marrow of our bones, in the experience of our daily life.  The seed is in darkness; the darkness of sorrow, the darkness of faith.

When we some across troublesome images like the ones today, or when we hear disturbing and unsettling news; rather than flee from the darkness, let us center ourselves and go within where God speaks patiently.  Let us remember that we are soil for Christ and that this special life is often born out of sadness and darkness.  It is born out of a deep and abiding faith that is witness to God’s glory.

In faith we trust in God, and we praise God.

In faith we await restoration through Christ, and we praise God.

In faith we place our hope in the Spirit, and we praise God.

In faith we seek God’s word, we listen for God’s voice, and we act in God’s ways . . . and we praise God. 

In faith we grow in wisdom and we ready the soil of our lives for the Christ-life to be planted there . . . so that we might know God in the marrow of our bones . . . and praise God. 


A re-post from August 13, 2011.

Images from: http://www.mishkanministries.org/ark_of_the_covenant.htm 

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 542. Print.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 26 January 2011: 361-362. Print.

Read Full Post »


Ezekiel 1Cherubim

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Written on March 4, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

More than a year ago we looked at the Cherubim in one of our Noontimes in connection with the opening nine chapters of the Book of Wisdom.

When I think of Wisdom I often think of the description we have read of the winged Cherubim that arch over the Ark in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6-8), that place in the deepest interior of the Jerusalem temple, that place reserved for men only, that place to which Wisdom drew her priests.  Scripture describes these creatures as guarding the eastern gate of Eden (Genesis 3:24).  The Hebrews fashion Cherubim that watch over the desert Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25, 26, 36, 37 and Numbers 7), and later in the New Testament the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (9) recalls this image to his audience.  The Cherubim remain with the Ark and with these desert people through David’s time (1 Samuel 4) until a permanent kingdom is established when we see them in Solomon’s temple as glorious guardians and companions of the place where God takes up residence.  In Psalms and prayers, the Lord is often seen as seated among or between Cherubim; and in these songs when we place ourselves “beneath the wing” or “in the shadow of the wing” of God, this is the place we find ourselves.  I like to think of these Cherubim as Wisdom, living close by God but calling to us to sit in praise of God . . . for this is where Wisdom finds her most comfortable nest. 

When we look at this opening chapter of Ezekiel, we see that God sits on a throne carried by winged Cherubim.  To read more about the mythological and physical origin of these creatures we can go to: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/cherubim.html  or to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm .

Creatures that live this close to God must be special indeed; yet these beings are no more important to God than each of us.  If we might think about being as close to God as the Cherubim, if we might create an image of the power needed to pull any chariot large enough to encompass our God, if we can imagine the magnitude of wisdom that these creatures symbolize . . . we are well on our way to comprehending the love that God has for us.

As the NEW ADVENT website points out, to Catholics these creatures are more than symbolic.  They are ministers who have an intimate and intense understanding of who God is and how he moves in our lives.  In the fullness of this knowledge they have become “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.

We see these creatures again in Revelation and still they have their fantastic and unique place in God’s kingdom, they are the wheels of God, the wisdom with which and through which God operates.  They are in constant praise of God, and they continually glory in his being and presence.

We might put ourselves in the place of these creatures for a few moments this afternoon and we might contemplate our own imagery of wisdom.  What is it exactly?  How does it operate?  Where does it take us?  To what does it call us?  Why do we seek it?

And then we might sit with these verses for awhile to meditate on them and on what drives our own lives: Wherever the spirit wished to go, there the wheels went . . . such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. 


A re-post from August 22, 2011.

Image from: http://www.bibleorigins.net/CherubimColossalinHolyofHolies.html

Read Full Post »


Joshua 24The Witness Stone

Friday, September 21, 2018

Today we read about a rite that takes place in Shechem under an oak in the sanctuary of the Lord.  Joshua sets up a standing stone as a witness to all that takes place that day.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I brought you out of a land in which you were asked to serve other gods.  And we reply: We remember well how we were taken in by the false promise of immediate satisfaction . . . and how the Lord saved us from an empty life.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I lead you out of the desert and saved you from those who would see an end of you.  And we reply: We remember well how we hungered for real sustenance and how we were frightened by those who wanted to put an end to us . . . and how the Lord redeemed us with his own life.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: I gave you land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.  And we reply: We remember well how you rescued us from privation and provided all for us . . . and how the Spirit continues to abide with us and comfort us.

Joshua reminds us that the Lord says: Love the Lord and serve him completely.  If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling.  As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  And we reply: We will renew this promise with you.

Joshua says to us as he said to his own people: You may not be able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God who will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  And we reply as the people replied: We will still serve the Lord.

Joshua says to us as he said to his own people: You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the Lord.  And we reply as the people replied: We are, indeed!

And Joshua says . . . This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the Lord spoke to us. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and faithful God, we were told that you would not forgive us our transgressions and yet you not only forgive them, you come to walk with us as one of us.  We hear that you are a jealous God and yet we see that your love is tender and nourishing.  We know that you are holy and yet your endless generosity in sharing your life with us amazing to us.  

Like Joshua’s people who affirm their covenant promise to you beneath the oak in the sanctuary at Shechem, we declare today that you are the one, the only, the Living God who loves us more dearly than we can imagine.  In our littleness we cling to you.  In our waywardness we look to you.  In our fear we hope in you. 

We ask that you call us back when we stray from you.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask that you bind us to you.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask that you never let us go.  Keep us always close to you so that we might serve you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


A re-post from August 21, 2011.

To learn more about the Amorites, visit: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1422-amorites

Visit https://www.bibleplaces.com/shechem/ to learn more about Schechem.

Images from: http://www.free-extras.com/images/oak_tree-11917.htm

Read Full Post »


Luke 18:1-8The Persistent Widow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This has for a long time been one of my favorite stories.  Perhaps this is because it has to do with the importance of stamina, something I look for daily.   It is so easy to give up.  And it is so important to continue.

Yesterday I spent pilgrim time with friends renewing the soul and remembering what is accurately the most significant work of each day . . . breathing, living, and remaining in God.  The world so quickly distracts us, and we so easily are drawn away from the only path that can lead us to the tranquility we seek.  In the end, there is only God.

The persistent widow and the unjust judge . . . it is likely that this story has universal appeal because the figures represent archetypal images we see and hear each day.  We relish this story because on any given day we are either the judge or the widow and so we know these roles well.  When we are overwhelmed, cranky, and feeling our “underdog” status we lash out at others, trying to snatch what we perceive to be rightfully ours.  We are the unjust judge.  When we are tired but hopeful and we allow God to smooth away fatigue, we come to understand that we must become the persistent widow.  When we are wounded but determined, we come to know for certain that in the end, there is only God.

Elizabeth Seton

Yesterday’s pilgrimage was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmittsburg, Maryland, a memorial to a woman with a remarkable story.  http://www.setonshrine.org/  Mother Seton was a familiar friend of both sorrow and joy and the details of her biography illustrate that she fully understood her role as a persistent widow.  Her life is a model for those who are determined to remain close to God knowing that although there will be sadness they will fail at nothing and they will never be alone.  Through the turmoil, strife, happiness, and joy of her journey, Elizabeth Seton recognized that in the end, there is only God.

My granddaughter likes a particular saying and recently I gave her a mug with its words printed in blues and purples: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.  This granddaughter is wise beyond her years for one so young; she already knows how to be the persistent widow.  She understands the importance of doggedness, the need for perseverance, the sensibleness of diligence.   She – and her mother – believe that in the end, there is only God.  They believe, and try to act in the belief that, restoration and resurrection are God’s healing gift.  I thought of them a great deal on our pilgrimage yesterday.

I am convinced that fatigue is the devil’s companion and that our little demon doubts and anxieties weigh us down to exhaust us.  A cloud of anxiety descends and suddenly we find ourselves believing that there is nothing for us but sadness.  Our eyes become clouded and we act as if we are doomed to a life of sorrow when in reality we are creatures of joy.  Spiritual weariness will tell us that we are worth little and that we are alone.  It will take its toll and lead to inertia . . . and so we must keep moving forward in the journey, always seeking God, always asking for healing and rebirth.   We must ask for manna and feed ourselves, always thanking God.  We must “go away for a little while” as Jesus did, and find pilgrim companions who thirst as we thirst and who understand the importance of nourishing one another, always loving God.

I believe that in today’s parable the unjust judge recognizes God in the widow . . . and so he finds in her favor, hoping that no one will notice or remember what she has said.  I also believe that the persistent widow has nourished herself and bolstered her soul for the journey.  She has slacked her thirst and hunger with the manna of God’s goodness, she has rested awhile in the company of those who know and understand her plight.  In this way she has come to fully understand and to act in the belief . . .  that there is nothing but God.  She fully strengthens herself to once more go up against the enormous obstacle that blocks her path, not worrying about what others think of her, only knowing that . . . in the end, there is only God.


A re-post from August 20, 2011.

Images from: http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105 and http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105

Other links of interest about Elizabeth Seton: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/seton.html

http://www.setonshrine.com/ 

 http://www.srcharitycinti.org/about/who_is_elizabeth.htm

Read Full Post »


Hosea 4Open to Newness

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A re-post from August 1, 2011.

We will need to look at notes in order to understand the references in today’s Noontime and the following information is from THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE.  Ephraim (note verse 17) was the tribal area that remained in the northern kingdom of Israel after the Assyrian invasion.  The wood and wand (note verse 12) refer to any carved idol or utensil used in the practice of divination.  Ritual prostitution practiced in Canaanite shrines was introduced into sanctuaries dedicated to Yahweh (note verse 14).  Gilgal here (note verse 15) is in reference to a sanctuary in the north in Bethel where there was an association of cult prophets (2 Kings 2 and 4:38); it is not a reference to Gilgal in the south where Joshua sets up memorial standing stones (Joshua 4).  Finally, the priests are in for heavy criticism because they are seen as the ones who lead the people away from God as they set up a schism between genuine and cult prophets.  All of this information helps to clarify the link between the prophet Hosea’s deep sorrow over his wife Gomer’s prostitution of herself and the descent of the nation of Israel into this same harlotry.  Hosea sees the individual and collective return to idolatry as a seal of the fate of the nation and its people.  They are all caught up in the coming whirlwind of disaster.  (Senior 1112-1113)

The psalmist reminds us that: The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands.  They have mouths but speak not; they have ears but see not; they have ears but hear not; no breath is in their mouths.  Those who make them will be like them, and so will all those who trust in them.  (Psalm 135:15-18)  If only we humans might remember that in the end . . . these little gods cannot forgive us, save us, redeem us or love us as God does.

We have reflected during our Noontimes that little gods creep into our lives without notice and it is in this way that we become unwitting collaborators in the creation of an illusion; today we look at how a nation of people who have been blessed by God turn away from God’s goodness.   The children’s story of The Emperor’s New Clothes http://deoxy.org/emperors.htm from the Hans Christian Anderson collection is an apt allegory not only for Hosea’s society but for our society today.  We have only to determine if we number among the adults who have ceased to think for themselves . . . or if we are the astonished child who announces: The emperor is naked!  Like the child, Hosea cries out to the people of Israel.  And like the child, our prophets of today cry out against the obtuse among us.

When we become frustrated with a herd mentality that drives idiotically toward the precipice or when we give up all hope that the small voice of truth might be heard above the clamor of a self-deceiving crowd, we must turn away from our little gods of anxiety and desperation and turn to God, for it is God who best understands what is to be disbelieved and dispossessed.  And it is God who knows well how to convert the darkness of despair into the beauty of joy, for it is in the darkness that God plants the seeds of new life.

And so we pray . . . Good and forgiving God, remind us that we have only to be open to a newness that you will bring out of the ignorance and despair we witness today.  Show us the newness born of the dark that is your compassionate healing and eternal transformation.  Amen.  


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1112-1113. Print.   

Images from: http://thefigureofspeechprod.info/coming-soon.html and http://blogs.attask.com/blog/strategic-project-management/the-emperors-new-clothes

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: