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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Biliverti: The Archangel Raphael Refusing Tobias' Gift

Giovanni Biliverti: The Archangel Raphael Refusing Tobias’ Gift

Tobit 12

Raphael Makes Himself Known

This beautiful story comes to us today to remind us that we need to make known the many small miracles we receive from God.  Each time God inverts a plot, we must share the story.  Each time God saves us from our own fears we must tell the good news.  Each time God heals a wounded heart we must make God’s goodness known.

We have read this story before but today we find something new.

Verse 6: Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: “Thank God! Give him the praise and glory.  Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song.  Honor and praise God’s deeds and do not be slack in praising him”.

The healing hand of God manifests itself frequently in our lives through strangers.  When Tobit and Tobias wish to give a monetary reward to Tobias’ traveling companion for all the healing he has done in their lives, the Archangel Raphael reveals himself . . . and rather than take payment, asks them to praise God who has answered their cry for help and has rescued them.

Verse 10: But those habitually guilty of sin are their own worst enemies.

We are reminded that when we sin, we are separating ourselves from God and hurting ourselves.  The first step toward healing is recognizing that we are human and imperfect . . . and acknowledging that God is all and that God alone is enough.

Verse 14: . . . and now the Lord has sent me to heal you.

We can heal one another and in so doing also heal ourselves . . . and act as co-redeemers of the human race with Christ.  For we are adopted daughters and sons of God.

Verses 17 and 18: And Raphael said to them: “No need to fear.  You are safe.  Thank God now and forever.  As for me, when I came to you it was not out of any favor on my part, but because it was God’s will.  So continue to thank him every day; praise him with song”. 

Fear not . . . these are the same healing words which Jesus speaks.

Verse 22: They kept thanking God and singing his praises; and they continued to acknowledge these marvelous deeds which he had done when the angel of God appeared to them.

Let us proclaim all God’s wonderful works for God has sent angels to minister to us even though we might not see them.  Let us tell everyone we know the stories of our own healing for these are miracles performed for us by a loving God.  And let us remember to thank God for all that God does to heal us of all that limits us.


For more about Raphael, Tobit or Tobias, enter their names in the blog search bar and reflect on the gift of this story.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2008.

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

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

John 20:11-13

Mary Magdalene cave[1]At the empty tomb: Where the body had been . . .

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.

When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus?  What strategies do we employ; what philosophy do we invoke?

When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover?  How do we regain our sense of well-being or at least regain our footing?

When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward?  To whom or to what do we turn?

It is likely that Mary Magdalene has been anxious for weeks as she followed Jesus in his preamble to death.  She has served him, listened to him, talking with him and sat with him.  She must have sensed that their lives would change inexplicably and forever.  As events have unfolded she has winced with every insult, died a small death with every curse, and somehow handled the gnawing dread that all was going horribly wrong . . . yet the Teacher had remained so calm, so focused, so compassionate . . . and so determined.

What were the conversations among the women that took place on that Sabbath that bridged Good Friday and Easter Sunday?  What had they discussed?  Did they unravel the horror they had witnessed?  It is likely they had tried to prepare themselves, but this . . . this disappearance . . . this mysterious end was more than she could take in.  Had someone taken the body away?  How deep was the hatred against the Teacher?  How narrow were the minds of Jesus’ single-minded persecutors?  And now . . . was she really seeing two angels seated calmly in the tomb?

One at the foot.  One at the head.  Exactly where the body had been.  She knows she will remember this detail forever. She knows she is not mistaken.  This is the tomb.  That is where the body lay.  What does this mean?  Who are these creatures and what have they come to tell her?  Suddenly a new fear explodes within. Will she be able to bear any more bad news?  Will they know where Jesus’ body has been taken?  What have these creatures come to tell her and why do they sit so tranquilly?

Gian Girolamo Savoldo: Mary Magdalene Approaching the Tomb

Gian Girolamo Savoldo: Mary Magdalene Approaching the Tomb

Suddenly one of them speaks – asks a question, actually – and she realizes that the voice is consoling and almost sweet; yet strong and steady.  Why are you weeping?” 

No, this unearthly creature does not understand.  Another hope dies as she attempts to explain: “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him”.

It is too much to bear and so she turns away, crying openly now that she has been forced to put into words her greatest fear: She had reconciled herself to having lost Jesus in life, and now she must deal with losing him in death.  She will not even have a grave she can visit and remember . . .

Mary gathers herself as she has done so often in her life.  She turns . . .

Tomorrow, the continuing reflection at the empty tomb . . .


Images from: http://metanoia-mrc.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html and https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/giovanni-girolamo-savoldo-mary-magdalene

A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

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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.

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Psalm 34:7: Archangel

Monday, July 29, 2019

Psalm 34:7The Angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, and he will deliver them. 

Michael

The angels are God’s messengers and envoys.  The Archangels are Michael the Defender, Gabriel the Announcer, Raphael the Healer, and Lucifer the Beautiful One.  Even among these special creatures we see both a willingness and an aversion to obedience.

God says: As special and as beautiful as the angels are, they do not compare to the radiance of the human race.  I do not make them in my image.  Only you, my beloved ones, have such privilege.  My angels are constantly with you, guiding, protecting, communicating.  Each of you has a special guardian of your own.  There are also fleets of swift-winged creatures who come and go constantly with messages for you. 

Gabriel

I do not want you to be fearful.  I do not want you to feel alone and so I send them among you . . . even as I am among you.  Do not be afraid.  I am with you.  My angels are with you.  You are already delivered from the dark ones who would pull you into their world.  Sleep well.  Rise well.  Go into the day tomorrow with a smile.

Raphael

Wishing you peaceful days and happy nights.  May Michael defend you, Gabriel announce God’s word to you, Raphael heal you . . . and Lucifer stay far away from you.  All this God does that you might be well.

For more on the Archangels click on the images, or go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2011-09-29


A re-post from July 8, 2012.

Images from: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2011-09-29 and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/9_29_michael21.jpg 

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Tobit 11Homeward Journey

Friday, November 16, 2018

I love this story and I can never read it enough for it is the tale of healing, fidelity, and joy.  It is a story with an ending we all wish for ourselves and our loved ones.  It is even a story we might wish for our enemies.

Commentary tells us that this story harbingers the miracles of the New Testament and even prepares us for miracles in our own lives.  In this homeward journey, everyone is happy with their new in-laws, cataracts are removed, a family rejoices.  The reader senses that all the characters will live happily ever after, and so pushes on toward the end of the tale in delicious anticipation of the revelation of the angel Raphael’s identity.  This is the ideal ending to a perfect bed-time story.  The loyal but harried young couple meets, overcomes odds, weds and returns home.  Goodness comes out of evil and illness – even in exile.  Our journey home has its reward.

Today’s first reading at Mass is from Hebrews 13:1-8 and it reminds us that we never know when the stranger beside us may be an angel: Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you are also in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled . . . Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake or abandon you’.  Thus we may say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?’  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When we feel as though the journey behind us has been too arduous, or the journey before us will be too difficult . . . let us remember how Tobias and Sarah overcame fear to journey home.

When it seems that the present leg of our journey offers no hope and little comfort . . . let us remember that healing angels accompany us in the guise of fellow travelers.

When we find ourselves distracted in our journey by the many tempting way stations . . . let us remember that Holy Spirit accompanies us, the Father calls us, and Jesus Christ heals us.

Let us remember . . . and let us rejoice as we join one another in the journey homeward.


A re-post from October 14, 2011.

Image from: http://namakparay.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

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Tobit 5Rafael 

Jacopo Vignali: Tobias and the Arcangel Raphael

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Favorite from May 12, 2010.

I have always loved this story of synchronicity, healing and steadfastness and each time I read it I reflect upon – and marvel at – the number of times that the angel Rafael has been present in my life.  Sometimes I know he is present in the healing hands of physicians, ministers and friends.  Other times it is only until well after an event that I realize I have been visited by an angel.  God constantly sends us his guides; we may or may not be aware of their presence.

We are created to experience joy rather than sorrow, reunion rather than separation, salvation rather than abandonment.  We are meant to be free from bondage, free to enter into relationship with the force that created us, free to enter fully into our divinity.  In yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Maurice Zundel we read:  We are called into a heart-to-heart relationship with the Lord in which our whole being must enter . . . The only way to enter into the mystery of the universe is through the divine presence.  When we are hidden in the presence of God . . . we are at the heart of the true universe.

Fr. Maurice Zundel

Humans have a yearning to belong, an ache to be part of something significant, and I believe that this is what makes human love so alluring to us.  We want to be the center, the axis point, the object of someone’s love . . . and yet we already are.  Rafael walks with us and guides us more times than we even know; and he arrives as the healing messenger of God.  Let us give thanks and be glad.  Let us rejoice and praise God.  Let us keep a sharp look out for the Rafaels in our lives . . . and let us repeat our stories of God’s power to save, of God’s infinite and compassionate love, for we are creatures of joy and not woe.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

To learn more about Fr. Maurice Zundel, a Swiss theologian, visit: https://amishcatholic.com/2018/02/28/maurice-zundel-on-prayer/ 

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Matthew 2:13-15: A Time to Flee

Monday, January 8, 2018

When is it appropriate to flee rather than witness?  When do we step away from injustice rather than challenge it?

After [the Magi] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” (GNT)

Commentary tells us that, “Egypt was a place of refuge for those fleeing from danger in Palestine (see 1 Kgs 11, 40, Jer 26, 21), but the main reason the child is to be taken to Egypt is that he may relive the Exodus experience of Israel”. (Senior 9)

The Holy Family become refugees in a world of turmoil. A world that persists in tumult today. Seeking shelter, much like their Hebrew ancestors, Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus understand that it is time to seek sanctuary.

Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (GNT)

Leaving during the night . . .

The act of slipping away in the darkness tells us that Joseph and Mary understood the gravity of the threat. They know that although they have shepherded light into a shadowy world, and despite their belief that God’s light pierces those shadows, they must also act in prudence. They must listen to the voice of God that comes to them through the angel.

“I called my Son out of Egypt . . .”

Jesus re-experiences the exodus journey of his people, showing us that if his family trusts God enough to step away from evil, then so must we.

Stay there until I tell you to leave . . .”

Today we reflect on the flight of The Holy Family to hear what it has to say to us

After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” (MSG)

Are we open to the angels who bring us God’s word?

Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.” (MSG)

Do we obey the call of God’s voice?

He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness . . .

Are we willing to take flight from injustice?

Stay until further notice . . .

And are we prepared to return when God calls us?

When we use the scripture links to read varying translations of these verses, we open our hearts to the messages of angels.

Gentile da Fabriano: Flight Into Eygpt

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.9. Print.

For a chronology of Jesus’ life, click on the map above, or visit: http://www.bible-history.com/Chart_Jesus_Chronology/

For a reflection connecting this reading with the plight of refugees, visit the Flight Noontime at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/24/flight/

 

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Acts 12:1-19: No Small Commotion

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Mattia Preti: Saint Peter Freed

Spending time with Peter’s sermons, we find that, filled with the Spirit, he raises his voice. We find that step-by-step, and trusting God’s voice, he delivers the message of Good News. And as if to prove that God loves us with great power and fidelity, God releases the faithful servant from prison. We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often doubt that God can do great things for us?

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. 

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often doubt that God releases us from the chains that bind our lives?

The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often fear following the angels God sends to us?

Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often ascribe God’s intercession to coincidental circumstances?

After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him.

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often balk at moving through the doors and gates God opens for us?

When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often deny the commotion that takes place in our lives when God intercedes for us?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to consider the small and great commotions God makes in our lives. And we determine to share the Good News of our redemption with the world.

For another reflection on Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison, visit the Suddenly post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/01/07/suddenly/

 

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John 20:11-18: Turning Again

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

James Tissot: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day three, Easter Tuesday, we heard John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we chose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.

When harsh realities challenge our beliefs and foundation, we mourn our loss, question all that we thought certain, and doubt the facts before us. Do we also look for the angels who move with us through our days? Do we offer our suffering as a sign of our trust in God? Do we fall back on the familiar or move forward in hope?

[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Anger and fear, confidence and mercy. In times of deep stress, the primal parts of our brain take over and we instinctively collapse into familiar patterns of flight and denial, aggression and accusation. Might we practice the art of relying on the positive influences in our lives? When we feel panic and worry taking over, might we remind ourselves to look for Jesus who stands before us . . . even when we do not recognize him?

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

James Tissot: The Women at Jesus’ Tomb

Our pastor last week, in his morning homily, asked a question we may have been asking ourselves when we look at the detail John provides us. If Mary has already turned away from the empty tomb to look at the man she thinks is the gardener, why does she turn again? And how? When we reflect on these verses, we begin to understand that the second turning is toward a newness in perspective. Mary allows herself to see that the gardener is, in fact, Jesus. Might we follow her example to open our eyes and ears in a new way? Might we have full confidence in the promise of the Christ?

Today we spend time with John’s story of the conversion of Mary at the tomb, and all that followed in the baffling commotion of distrust touched with intense conviction and enduring love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our anxieties for the world, with the joyful turning of Mary Magdalene.

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