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Proverbs 23:26-35: Private and Public Transgression

Friday, June 14, 2019

Infidelity, prostitution and alcoholism.  It is easy to brush these three nouns aside to say that they have nothing to do with us; but we might want to ask ourselves:  Do we remain constant to principles that flow from the Gospel, are we willing to sell ourselves for something we know has little value, do we numb our senses in an attempt to live a life of denial rather than reality.

These words represent not only private or individual separations from God; they are transgressions against the whole, the entire Mystical Body.  We have reflected on this concept before during our Noontimes that we fool ourselves if we believe the often repeated sentence: I’m not hurting anybody but myself – so leave me alone and stop judging.

It is true that we ought not judge one another, for judging is left to God alone.  But it is also true that as members of Christ’s Body we are called to speak and to listen to one another.  We are called to rebuke.  We are called to show mercy.  We are called to forgive and to be forgiven.  We are called to unite in the hope that all will be whole, that all will be one.

Where do we find pleasure?  Where do we find joy?  In a conversation with a friend over the week end, this topic held us for fifteen minutes or so.  Pleasure is temporary, sense-numbing thrill-seeking.  Joy is eternal, magnifying, uniting with goodness.  St. Paul reminds us in Romans 14:17-19 from the morning prayer in  MAGNIFICAT: The kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others.  Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.

In today’s Gospel from John 17 we hear Jesus say in prayer to the Father: Father, the hour has come . . . I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything they gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.  I pray for them.

Paul speaks to us, and the Corinthians, and then he poses a question (1 Corinthians 6:12-20): The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body . . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price.  Therefore glorify God in your body.

We are not our own . . . when we hurt one, even ourselves, we hurt all.  We have been purchased at great sacrifice.  We are greatly loved.  When we hide in the shadows and seek temporal pleasure . . . we throw away a gift of great value . . . the gift of eternal life.  So let us call ourselves and let us call one another to joyful union that satisfies for an eternity.  Let us forgo pleasure and seek joy.  Let us give up that which satisfies today for that which will fill us for eternity.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.26 (2009). Print.

Written on May 26, 2009 and re-posted today.

Images fro: http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/2011/02/tv-police-fox-handcuffed-in-daytona.html and http://coachdawnwrites.com/2011/11/j-is-for-joy-6-things-i-love-about-coaching/joy-jump/

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Exodus 21:1-11: Freedom

Easter Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A re-post from Easter Monday, April 9, 2012.

When we read portions of scripture like this one today we can see why it is fool’s work to believe in sacred texts in a black-and-white, off-on way.  As we read these Laws Regarding Slaves we see that they made sense in the context of their time.  It is my hope that we can also see that they are out of step with 21st Century living.  Anyone reading these statutes as absolutes will have difficulty explaining them away.  How, for example, do we make sense of these phrases? When you purchase a Hebrew slave . . . if his master gives him a wife . . . the woman and her children remain his property . . . when a man sells his daughter . . . if her master dislikes her . . . Any of us who knows true freedom will cherish and defend it for others.  Any of us who enjoy controlling others will find these rules to be liberal and kind.  Any of us who understands that Christ has come to liberate us from all kinds of slavery will see these decrees for what they are: laws that kept social order thousands of years ago, not laws that we will want to enforce today.  Why is it, I wonder, as we struggle with one another do we treat one another as slaves who must comply with our whims?  And why is it that we often live our lives in full denial of the fact that when we live as we like without considering the far-reaching effects of our whims we enslave others?  We want cheaper electronics made in factories where workers toil in a poisonous environment.  We want clothes that cost less because they are put together in sweat shops where children work long hours under horrible conditions; we do not mind that the diamonds we wear so easily are brought to light by child slaves.  Has Jesus taught us anything?

If we learn anything from the Easter story it is that we are free.  In today’s Gospel Matthew tells us that the structure which tried to extinguish Jesus bribed guards and implicated Jesus’ disciples.  The chief priests and elders took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, “His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep”.  And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble”.  The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.  We can only presume that the plot was unsuccessful.  I often wonder how the elders, priests, and soldiers quieted the small voice of truth that must have niggled at their consciousness.  Perhaps they had hardened their hearts.  We will never know.

On this first day after the resurrection of Jesus we might want to spend some time examining our lives to see where we pay small and big bribes to silence truth.  We may want to think about how and where we turn blind eyes and deaf ears to realities that insist on nagging at us when our guard is down.  How much easier it is to admit these certainties and conform ourselves to the greatest law there is, the law that supersedes all laws: The Law of Love.

Jesus died, Jesus was buried.  And behold, there was an earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it . . . The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  These guards later accepted a sum of money to forego the truth.  Jesus comes to rescue them, the elders and priests, just as he also rescues his friends.  We may try to enslave one another with our whims and our fears.  We may allow ourselves to be enslaved for a time or forever to a person, an idea, or an addiction.  In the end, Jesus stands ready to rescue each of us.  When he calls outside the door of our enslavement which we have shut tightly against the darkness of our fears, will we be willing to open it to the truth and the light and the freedom beyond?


Image from: http://www.designzzz.com/freedom-concept-photography/

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Proverbs 7: Lady Wisdom

Titian: Wisdom

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Infidelity, A Reprise

Who or what is Lady Wisdom? When have we seen her? Where does she reside? Might she visit our hearts and homes for even the briefest of moments? Is she willing to take up residence with us?

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . who are the seducers and co-dependents in our lives; what are our addictions? What is it we cannot resist? And why do the writers of these ancient, sacred texts take us back to examine our own infidelities and loyalties? Is it possible that we deceive ourselves too easily? Might we prefer the forgetfulness of denial and reject the discomfort of recognition? As always with God, the ogre we fear is nothing more than a tiny image of our worst anxiety blown out of proportion. So today we reprise our reflection on infidelity (https://thenoontimes.com/2012/10/16/infidelity/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

Not that God created us in God’s image.  Not that God loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away, God remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing, always calling to life.  Always calling to true and lasting joy.

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Ephesians 4:17-24: The Empty-headed, Mindless Crowd

Tuesday, April 19, 2016zombieLove2

These are interesting words from Paul to the people of Ephesus; and they serve us today as we move through another political season. Use the scripture link to compare THE MESSAGE version cited here with another translation to see if perhaps different words speak to you.

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

Paul warns the Ephesians and he warns us that the life we fashion for ourselves is much less interesting, much less challenging, and much less loving than the life God has in mind for us.

That’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

What does it mean to take a new way of living? How might we better enact Jesus’ Law of Love as we move through our days? How do we deal with the challenges that greet us when we cast off unhealthy living? Why do we cling to the empty-headed, mindless crowd?

Tomorrow, making a clean break.

 

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tough-love1-300x256Ezekiel 33

Fidelity of the Sentinel

In ancient societies the role of the watchman was seminal; city-states and even towns relied on watch towers and wakeful sentinels to warn their community of impending danger. Today we have replaced this watchfulness with electronic stealth weapons that often divide us about their necessity or efficacy. With today’s Noontime, we might learn something about our human need to be alert so as to survive. We might also learn something about our own fidelity to God.

Although Israel has already been sent into exile, Ezekiel warns his people of continuing disaster and, as we have seen with Jeremiah, the community’s response to his warning is lukewarm. This was a people skilled in the art of denial and enabling. It seems that God’s prophets, or sentinels, nearly always receive a tepid response; but this does not deter them from speaking. Today our modern prophets, like those of old, continue to call out to us about the importance of hearing the warning from the sentinels we ourselves have posted. They also call on us to be faithful to God in our response to the warning call.

My parents often reminded us that what hurts the individual also hurts the group. They also admitted that sometimes as parents it is difficult to discern when love is nurturing and when it is enabling. Tough love is a term that was coined in the late 1960s by Bill Milliken to describe how families and institutions must intervene in addicted behaviors and cycles. Too often we are swayed by our fear of rejection by an individual or group to gently yet firmly interact with others in loving sternness.  And this is what God is saying to Ezekiel and Jeremiah. I have appointed you watchman of the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

When we hear the sentinel warning, we know that it is the hour to pause and reflect as individuals and as communities about the message of that call. We are obliged to listen to other voices, to pray with other hearts, and to share with other minds the meaning of the warning. And we must remain faithful to God’s call as do the prophets. Although the tide of many be against us, we must persist in developing our willingness to step out of all that is comfortable to remain faithful in our relationship with the creator God.  For after all, the end of this story is good news. The end of this story is restoration and resurrection. The end of this story is about our preparedness to receive the blessing that is already ours.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 27, 2006.

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