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Isaiah 65:16b-25: Renewal

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

For the hardships of the past shall be forgotten . . . none shall hurt or destroy . . .

We have been following a constant theme lately of rebirth, renovation, second chances and renewal.  Perhaps there are former enemies standing outside our hearts . . . waiting for the perfect moment to re-enter.

We never know how our words, gestures and actions will affect others or even ourselves.  It is always difficult to weigh out prudence, generosity, forgiveness, and compassion without moving into the unhealthy territories of inconsistency, leniency and abuse.  We want to build bridges to our former enemies, not give in to any damaging demands.  We want to empower our former foes and call them to conversion rather than enable them. In all of this we must remember, as we have so recently seen in the Noontimes, that God is in charge.  Our job is to make the petitions, to pray intercessory prayers, and to study The Word as we find him in scripture so that we will know what to say when former enemies come calling.

Sometimes we are the betrayer; sometimes we are the betrayed.  In both cases it is the Holy Spirit who brings us the gifts to discern Christ’s movement in our lives.  Working in and through our minds and bodies, Jesus tells us the words to say when we must go to someone we have wronged to make amends.  Jesus also tells us the words with which to reply when one who at one time betrayed us now sits at beside us asking for mercy.

Through daily prayer, scripture study, and active witnessing we receive in abundance the wisdom we will need when former enemies show up on our doorstep.  When we pray in Christ, meditate on The Word, and witness with Christ, we form solidarity with him and with the rest of the faithful members of his Mystical Body that is stronger than any deceit or evil.  These holy ones unite in legions to buoy one another up, to carry one another over, to bring one another through.

When it is time for the New Creation, we will need to know how to act and what to say to those with whom we find ourselves seated at Christ’s table.  Today is a good time to begin our rehearsal in healthy fence mending through, with and in Christ.


Written on November 10, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://www.rubiconbridge.co.uk/bitc.htm


Hans-suess: The Acension of Christ

Acts 1: In God’s Season

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

“It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. 

These are some of the words spoken by Jesus to the eleven he left behind.  The resurrected Christ returns, after having died, to gather his flock, to bless them, and to send them into the world.  They are to be his hands and feet, eyes and ears . . . they are to build the new kingdom in all places of the earth.

After Jesus ascends into heaven and out of sight, the eleven and their companions are asked by two men dressed in white garments who are standing beside them, “Why are you standing there looking at the sky?”

We too, are sent into the world as the hands and feet, eyes and ears of Jesus.  We also must wait for the events in our lives to unfold in God’s full season.  We will want to linger in the places where we have felt Jesus’ presence as he has walked with us; but we must move on, knowing that although he may not be physically present to us . . . Christ walks with us still.

The eleven and their companions formed a tiny community of one hundred and twenty (verse 15), the number needed to form a new worship group in the Jewish tradition.  They elect Matthias to replace Judas the Iscariot.  The Mother of Christ remains with them, as do the other women who walked with Jesus.  They come together to devote themselves in one accord to prayer.  They are the nucleus which the Holy Spirit nurtures into a world-wide church.

When I think of the many obstacles that stood in the way of this small beginning . . . I see as miracle the fact that the story of Christ survived . . . but then it is Christ’s story . . . it is the only story worth telling . . . and it remains with us still . . . in God’s full season.

We will want to repeat this story often . . . both to those we know as we do old family stories . . . and to those we meet . . . as a story of welcome . . . as a story of wonder . . . as a story of praise . . . as we move through God’s seasons . . . in God’s time.  We will want to stand staring at the sky . . . we will want to be certain that what we have witnessed is true . . . but we will not have time to linger . . . for we are called to God’s work . . . in God’s time . . .  in God’s season.


Written on November 2, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Hebrews 7: Melchizedek


Hebrews 7: Melchizedek

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reubens: The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek

The writer of this letter tells us today that with the arrival of one such as Jesus the old way of living in doubt and fear is ended.  From the resurrection forward we live by a new order, a new covenant, a new intercession.  Jesus has arrived to liberate all – no matter creed or race or origin.  Jesus supersedes all – no matter nationality or ethnicity or orientation.  Jesus fulfills all – no matter doubt or rejection or fear.  This is wonderful news for us for it means that all that is good that we might possibly hope for is now guaranteed to each of us – and this promise is foreshadowed in humanity’s earliest stories.

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE: “Why is so much attention paid to a figure who appears only twice in Scripture?  Because both appearances point toward Christ.  In Genesis 14,7-20, Melchizedek is named a priest of God [although he was a Gentile!], whom even Abraham acknowledged.  Logically, then, a priest descended from him would be superior to one descended from Abraham!  And Melchizedek’s second scriptural appearance is in verse 4 of that very Psalm 110 which Christians regarded as a literal prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection.  Melchizedek’s being ‘without beginning or end’ (because Scripture records neither his birth nor his death) is therefore an anticipation of the Son of God whose priesthood is eternally valid; conversely, Jesus is a priest ‘according to the order (rank) of Melchizedek’ (Ps 110,4).  In his resurrection, Jesus became priest “by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed” (7,16).  He ‘remains forever’ (7,24).  His sacrifice is ‘once for all’ (7,27). He ‘lives forever to make intercession’ (7,25).  The Jewish priesthood descended from Abraham cannot compete.  God’s revelation in Jesus does not merely continue the former story, it raises it to a new plane.  Jesus’ death and resurrection mark an absolute beginning”. (Senior RG 545)

Melchizedek comes to us as a unique figure; we know so little about him and yet he holds so much importance.  In a way, he mirrors many of us.  History will record little about us and yet we each make an important contribution to the collective human story.  Many will argue that we are far different from Melchizedek in that he was a priest and we are not.  Yet others will reply that each of us – as followers of Christ – has the potential to sanctify, to bless and anoint.

This reflection does not present a theological argument but rather it posits a thought for us to mull and turn over.  What do we know about Melchizedek?  What does his relationship with Abraham and Jesus have to say to us today?  How will our lives – and the lives of those we touch each day – improve as a result of our reflection on this mysterious man from the distant past?  What and whom do we sanctify with our belief in the Living God?  Why and when do we make our relationships holy – even with our enemies?  How and why do we bless and anoint others with our words and actions?

What does the man Melchizedek mean to us today?  And how do we show the world what we have learned from him?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 545. Print.   

A re-post from November 11, 2012.


Hebrews 1:5-14: They will perish but you will remain . . .

Sunday, December 1, 2019

These are welcome words; they bring us union when we feel disconnected from all that surrounds us.

This is a heartening verse; it tells of our salvation when we feel that all is lost or useless.

This is an important message; it assures us of our own divinity when the world tells us that we are mere humans.

The message of this letter is the Good News that we are free from the petty chains we believe bind us, and that we are divine.  When we read this letter we realize that we have much to be grateful for . . . if only we might open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

Rather than seeing Christ as a distant perfection we cannot attain, let us instead see ourselves as God does . . . as sisters and brothers of Christ, God’s adopted children.

Rather than bowing to slander, innuendo or social pressure, let us instead revere The Law of Love . . . as sisters and brothers of Christ, Jesus’ adopted siblings.

Rather than spend our energy wishing to be angels and gods, let us instead focus on refining our relationship with God . . .  as sisters and brothers of Jesus, one in the Spirit.

The opening portion of this letter holds reminders we read today but will want to hold forever . . .

To which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”?

The angels are made wind and ministers a fiery flame . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

God loves justice and scorns wickedness . . .

The wicked will perish, but you will remain . . .

God anoints Christ with the oil of gladness . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

The earth and the heavens are works of God’s hands . . .

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

To which of the angels has God said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”?

They will perish, but you will remain . . .

There are seasons in our lives when we doubt and stumble.  There are times when our grief overwhelms us and overshadows all happiness.  There are people and events that challenge us beyond our strength.  There are obstacle courses that call us to the last ounce of our stamina. Yet, the trials and sorrow will perish . . . and we will remain for we are Children of God. The roadblocks and turmoil will come to nothing . . . and we will remain for we are the Beloved of God.  The storms and turmoil of our days will evaporate . . . and we will remain . . . for we are called to inherit salvation.

We have much to be grateful for . . . if only we might open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.


A re-post from November 10, 2012.

For more about this letter, read the Hebrews – Motivation page on this blog.


Exodus 23:1-9: We are God’s Dwelling Place

Saturday, November 30, 2019

You shall not repeat a false report.

Do not join the wicked in putting your hand, as an unjust witness, to anyone.  Neither shall you allege the example of the many for an excuse for doing wrong.

Nor shall you  . . . side with the many in perverting justice.

When you come upon your enemy’s ox or ass going astray, see to it that it is returned to him.

When you notice the ass of one who hates you lying prostrate under its burden . . . help him to raise it.

You shall not deny one of your needy fellow-men his rights in a lawsuit.

You shall keep away from anything dishonest.

You shall not put the innocent or just to death . . . You shall not acquit a guilty man.

Never take a bribe.  Bribes blind even the most clear-sighted and twist the words even of the just.

You shall not oppress an alien . . . since you were once aliens yourselves.

If we might only heed these oh so old words . . . there would be oh so much less strife among us!

Paul reminds us that Christ fulfills this old Mosaic Law, telling us that he even comes to supersede it. He also reminds us that we are significant members of God’s family.

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the capstone.  Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

John of Patmos has a vision of the New Earth and the New Jerusalem in which he reports a loud voice from the throne saying: Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.  He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God].  (Revelation 21:3)

Jesus is not God’s Plan B.  He does not arrive to live among us as an afterthought or as a fixative for something that has gone wrong.  He has always been and will always be the thought and action of God among us . . . The Word.  It was always intended that we live peaceably side by side, helping one another with our troubles, lifting one another to new levels of spiritual maturity, coaxing, exhorting and encouraging one another over the hurdles we encounter in our journey.  Yet even as we are a collective, we also have the individual responsibility to see to our own growth, to gather around us friends who live by the Mosaic and Christian codes, to rebuke one another, to listen to one another, and to love one another.  We might look back from our twenty-first century vantage point to see the pieces fall into place.  We can see that from the earliest stages of our development as peoples, God was abiding with us.  We can also see that he abides with us still.  Let us praise God!  Let us sweep the floors clean . . . renew the old and new rules . . . and welcome him into the dwelling place of our hearts.


Written on November 9, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://wau.org/resources/article/re_gods_dwelling_place/ and http://life-in-a-jiffy.blogspot.com/2011/06/nature-hearts.html


Mark 4:26-29: God’s Harvest of Love

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Gospel of Mark is beautiful in its simplicity.  Because of its brevity, we may think of it as less weighty; yet here today we have an example of the depth of Mark.  His is the only Gospel which holds this simple parable.

In the Biblia de América, the footnotes tell us that the purpose of this allegory is to give emphasis to the important work of humanity, the grains of wheat.  The faithful are to proclaim the Word of God . . . while the success of this work depends solely on God.

This gives fresh importance to our mission.  We are seed.  We are planted.  To the best of our ability and as best we are able in our environment, we are to draw from our roots in order that we might send forth a blade . . . which in turn yields a grain.  In due season, this grain will ripen for the harvest.

This cannot be more simple.  It cannot be more clear.  It cannot be more important.

This mode of living – of becoming what we are meant to become while living closely with other blades that give forth grain in their own due season – requires obedience, perseverance and patience.  It also requires close communion with our creator, the master harvester.

We must exercise faith – in trusting that we will survive life among a variety of blades until the harvest time.

We must engender hope – in believing that we will produce grain in abundance.

We must enact love – in making room for all to reach the sun and to soak up whatever rain may fall.

Perhaps what makes this Gospel so intense is that it is likely the first written after the Resurrection, when the flame of the Pentecost and the inspiration of the Ascension were still fresh.  Perhaps its concise language and simplicity render its meaning unmistakable.  Mark delivers five parables in rapid succession in this chapter, and he succinctly describes the important work of the faithful sandwiched between other stories which are more familiar.  We might miss it unless we look for it; and yet here it is.  Millennia after they are written, these straightforward words have the power to fill us with wonder at how the direct message of love might change the human experience.  We are loved.  We are love.  All we need do is proclaim this story.

Harvesting in the Himalayas

In reading Mark, we are drawn into his passion.  It is the same passion with which we are created.  It is a simple, clear, uncomplicated story.  God yearns for companionship and he creates a race of people in his image.  These people are wooed, forgiven, blessed, sustained, forgiven again, and loved powerfully.  What are we asked to do in return?  To proclaim this love abroad, to transform the sunshine and the rain into a grain of wheat which the master will harvest, and to render to the creator his harvest of love.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 7, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Images from: http://www.frankossen.com/Barefoot%20amid%20the%20Himalayas.htm and http://jp.123rf.com/photo_14000685_wheat-blade-on-wooden-table.html and http://www.foodsubs.com/GrainWheat.html


Sirach 11:29-34: Guests and Strangers – Care in Choosing Friends

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Biblia de América which I have been using as a resource lately, names this citation differently from our NAB as we can see from the title above.  In addition, it has references to Proverbs 1:10-16, 5:10 and 6:1 for this citation which, if you have time to look at them, will add some depth to today’s reading.  The footnotes in this same Biblia remind us that sowers of discord are to be avoided at all cost, as their deceits create structures of illusion – they are the people of the darkness, people of deception and lies . . . with a spark he sets many coals afire.

I am thinking of a counterpoint to this image.  I am remembering the description of the souls of the just from this past Sunday’s first reading.  These souls are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace.  For if before men they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.  As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.  In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge the nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their king forever.  Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.  (Wisdom 3:1-9)  [My bold font.]

This is not a call to exclusivity; rather, it is a call to universality.  It is a universal invitation to openness, to mercy, to fidelity, to love.  We are each invited to lead lives worthy of the creator – honest and compassionate lives, faithful and constant lives, forgiving and loving lives.  Ardent lives which burn with the fire of Christ’s love.

It is also a call which carries with it a degree of heat – the fire of the gold smith’s forge – but we ought not fear this furnace.  It is the crucible of life with which God prunes and disciplines us . . . for when we are tried and tested, so then are we proved.  And when we are proved we are graced.  When we are graced we are holy.

There is a clear choice before us:  we may become like the sparks which set many tongues wagging and many hearts gossiping.  Or we may be the spark which sets souls ablaze with the fire and love of Christ.

We must take care in choosing our associates and friends for they are either strangers, sowers of discord who are to be avoided; or they are guests who are soul mates to be welcomed into our hearts.

St. Paul tells us (Romans 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:1, Galatians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 13:5) that we are to test the spirit for this is how we will find if travelers are either the tinder of deceit . . . or the kindling of the Pentecost.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 6, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.


Sirach 20: The Wise and Foolish

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Jan Adam Kruseman: The Wise and Foolish Virgins

This chapter of Sirach is too good to be missed.  Every verse is a nugget to be held and valued.  Jesus ben Sirach draws us away from stereotyping . . . toward universality. . . and the understanding that there is no one member of Christ’s mystical body who has a lock on the mystery of God . . . other than Jesus himself.

The Lamb is the one who opens the sealed scroll in Revelation.  The Lamb is the one who appears slain . . . but who saves . . . by the giving over of himself.  We who answer his call to form the mystical body do well to seek and study, to ask and search.  This is the only true path to life in Christ.  When we knock, he will answer.  When we search, he will find.

Admonitions, comparisons, similes, metaphors, ironies, paradoxes . . . words moving into concepts that guide our lives.

The proper time for speech and silence.

True and false wisdom.

Double entendres that hide and reveal.

Seeing stereotypes for what they are . . . a division of the whole . . . an anti-universe.

Wisdom seems to always be accompanied by foolishness and Matthew’s story of the Ten Virgins comes to mind.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or time.  There is hidden treasure in these refrains and sayings.

Proverbs that lend us so much wisdom . . . these are nuggets to be valued and taken to heart.  These are the wise sayings that lead to life in Christ.  These are the refrains our parents used and that we echo to our children and grandchildren.  Read these words . . . and pass them on . . . for this is the stuff that leads to salvation, to unity, to universality.  This is Christ.

Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure – of what use is either?  Better the man who hides his folly than the one who hides his wisdom.


Written on November 20, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

http://www.wijermars.com/Collection/Jan_Adam_Kruseman-De_Wijze_en_de_Dwaze_Maagden.html

Luke 14:34-35: Salt


Luke 14:34-35: Salt

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

El Greco: St. Martin and the Beggar

The simile of salt follows the sayings of Jesus that demanded of the disciple total dedication and detachment from family and possessions and illustrates the condition of one who does not display total commitment.  The half-hearted disciple is like salt that cannot serve its intended purpose.  (NAB footnote, page 1119)

This reminds us of the letter to the people of Laodicea; being a lukewarm disciple is not an option.  We may be tempted to allow others to witness, but we cannot give in to this temptation.  Nor can we feign passion or pretend interest.  Our response to God’s call – in order that it be a true and authentic response – must be genuine and ardent.  Our lives must demonstrate that we understand this call, that we willingly and eagerly respond, and that we behave with integrity as we live our response.  We are salt which magnifies goodness.  We are salt that does not lose itself when added to the banquet meal.

November 11 is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier born to non-Christian parents in 316.  He gave up his military life, converted to Christianity and became the ardent bishop of Tours.  He founded monasteries, educated clergy and preached to the poor.  He died in 397.  As we consider our own lives as salt that flavors and enhances a meal that will sustain us, we might pause to reflect on the life of one so eager to respond to an inner call.  Like salt, St. Martins’ example adds to life’s flavor . . . and calls forth the best in what life has to offer us.


First written on November 12, 2008. Re-written and posted today.

To better understand the mediocrity of Laodicea, enter either of these words into the blog search box and explore. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin_and_the_Beggar_(El_Greco)

To learn more about Martin of Tours and how his life was salt for humanity, go to: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09732b.htm

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