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Posts Tagged ‘anger’


2 Corinthians 9: God’s Indescribable GiftGenerosity_Header

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

These are St. Paul’s words in today’s reading and we come upon them as we continue to reflect on the mysteries of our relationship with God, and the paradoxical nature of sowing and reaping. Paul writes about service to the holy ones in reference to the collection he has taken up in his far-flung churches, a gathering of funds that will go to the church in Jerusalem to sustain its work and ministers. Today Paul calls us to consider the joy we reap when we serve others, reminding us that the reward is great when our generosity is great.

You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.

A number of years ago I shared a portion of a poem by Philip Appleman with the Noontime Circle entitled Birthday Card for my Mother. It had been sent to me as part of a birthday greeting from my own daughter at a time my resources were low. Appleman’s words amplify Paul’s when we realize that it is in the very act of giving that we ward off bitterness and anger. It is through the act of giving that we find sustenance, new energy and grace.

You have survived it all,

come through wreckage and triumph hard

at the center but spreading

gentleness around you – nowhere

by your bright hearth has the dust

of bitterness lain unswept;

today, thinking back, thinking ahead

to other birthdays, I lean upon your courage

and sign this card as always,

with love . . .

As we give to others we find that it is we ourselves who are immensely enriched, and that we can in turn pass this blessing on to others. As we give to others we find that bitterness and anger melt away, and that joy and peace arrive in their stead. Let us consider this gift of harvesting as we say with Paul: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Consider surprising a friend or family member who needs encouragement and send Appleman’s on to them. We need not wait for a birthday to celebrate God’s indescribable gift of generosity.


Adapted from a reflection written on December 9, 2007.

philpapplemanFind a Philip Appleman bio at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/philip-appleman

For a full version of the poem click on the image to the left.

Philip Appleman, NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (1956-1996), University of Arkansas Press, 1996. 107-108. Print.

Generosity image from: https://weaver1888.com/2020/10/06/generosity-is-a-virtue/ 

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Psalm 21: Assertiontell the storm

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Life’s problems are too complicated for us to unravel, our enemies are too numerous to number and as an answer to our frequent question asking God what are to do, we might read, reflect on and pray Psalm 21. This song teaches us how we might assert ourselves in the following loving ways – – – we petition God with our woes and worries, we give thanks where we are able, we do what we can, we watch and wait on the Lord . . . and we sing words of praise to our God . . . Arise, Lord in your power! We will sing and chant the praise of your might. 

In praying this psalm, we express our assurance that God will deliver us, and we remind ourselves that we are not in control of outcomes, nor do we know how any particular outcome will domino through our individual and communal lives.  What we do know when we pray this psalm is this: God will not abandon the faithful, and eventually – and under God’s direction – our enemies will come to understand how their actions have harmed others. Fr. Paul Coutinho writes of this when he describes how anger can take hold of us in his book, HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?

Anger is a ridiculous emotion. Think about it. The people I am angriest with are usually having a good time. They seem to be blessed more and more by life. I believe that God will punish them eventually, but their lives only get better. I try to convince myself that that God is taking them high up in life only so that they may have a great fall. And yet nothing like this ever happens. The only one who suffers from my anger is me. Additionally, I become more ridiculous in my anger. I think about this person I am angry at when I wake up, and I feel his or her presence at the breakfast table. I leave my breakfast unfinished and rush off to my workplace, and this person’s presence, my angry idea of him or her, follows me there. I may inflict this angry feeling onto my co-workers or even my friends or clients. If I decide to go to the movies that evening, I find that person I am angry with sitting right next to me, and half the movie is over and I have not been able to follow the story. And then, of course, I bring this person to bed with me, and I toss and turn the whole night, feeling his or her presence in my own bed. See how ridiculous anger is?  And maybe, just maybe, the thing I am most upset about in another is something I have not reconciled within myself.  (Coutinho 136-137)

Fr. Coutinho suggests that there is an alternative to anger. We might pause, reflect and respond. And our response can be one of love for the other. Coutinho recommends that we love a person to goodness, or – as my mother always said – we kill them with kindness. This kind of assertive behavior leaves the doors of communication open, offers an alternative to anger, and might also help preserve friendships or even develop new ones.  (Coutinho 138) This thinking reminds me of the advice my father always gave us – we do what we are supposed to do, and then we step back and let God worry about the other guy. 

coutinho Big is GodIn today’s Noontime, the psalmist puts human anger into God’s hands and decides to watch the outcome, imagining God exacting a just punishment. Today we decide to go beyond this thinking to pray this psalm with a new assertion. An assertion that directs us to place the intricacies of our problems where they rightly belong . . . in God’s able hands.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 15, 2010.

As a Lenten activity, watch Paul Coutinho, S.J. for a positive, humorous, uplifting view about God and anger at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozevDJf9q9U

Fr. Paul Coutinho, HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? Loyola Press, 2010.

Image from: http://indulgy.com/post/pkrr70ZTH1/dont-tell-god-how-big-your-storm-is-tell-th

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Habakkuk 2:3-4: The Delayimpatienceordivineanticipationb1

First Sunday in Lent, March 6, 2022

In this Lenten season, we witness to the presence of Christ in our daily routine. In this time of introspection, we welcome the Spirit into the temple of our hearts. In this time of healing and re-making, we thank God for the gifts of grace and mercy and patience. In this time of transformation, we come to understand the essence of our Lenten delay.

If it delays, wait for it . . .

Like small children, we want all our woes and anxieties resolved within seconds of their borning; like small children we must learn that waiting in joyful anticipation brings the gift of wisdom.

It will surely come . . .

Like energetic teenagers, we easily slip into the thinking that the multiverse holds us at its center; like energetic teenagers we reluctantly admit that our way is not always God’s way.

It will not be late . . .

Like impatient adults, we ask the world to move at our singular command; like impatient adults we come to see that the common good is more valuable in God’s eyes than our individual desire.

The rash one has no integrity . . .

In our Lenten journey we come to understand – if we are open – that God is present in misery just as in joy.

But the just one, because of faith, will live . . .

In our Lenten passage we come to know – if we are open – that God’s delay is part of God’s plan.

As we move through this second full week of Lent, let us take all of our impatience and anxiety, all of our anger and frustration to the one who mends and heals all wounds. And let us – like Jesus – make a willing sacrifice of our waiting as we anticipate in joyful hope God’s fulfillment of our great delay.


Image from: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/6328/impatience-or-divine-anticipation/

Enter the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar to explore other reflections on the wisdom brought to us through the words of this prophet.

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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je suis charlieSaturday, January 15, 2022

Joy and Habakkuk

Questions

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Habakkuk reminds us that too often our ways are not God’s ways.

“For what may be the first time in Israelite literature, a man questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls him to account for his government of the world”. God replies that he will send “a chastising rod, Babylon”. And God also replies with divine assurance the faithful will not perish. (Senior 1150)

God says: I know that my plan seems slow to you and I understand your impatience for my ways are not always your ways. My prophets deliver your anger, exasperation, and sorrow to me; and I hear your plaint. My prophets also deliver My Word to you. I walk among you as the man Jesus and although you may not see him he is with you all the same. The anger of Habakkuk has not dissolved . . . and nor has my love. Each time you throw your anger at me I return it to you transformed in and by and through love. I return it to you as the gift of love. Read the words of Habakkuk . . . and bring me your fears and desperation. Bring me your sorrow, your worries and your questions. In return, you have my answer . . . the gifts of my presence, mercy, rescue and love.

In this prophecy, it is difficult to find the joy we hope to experience.  How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not intervene. (1:2)

In this prophecy, we hear the words that speak to human fear, suffering and frustration with the divine plan. I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint”. (2:1)

In this prophecy, we hear the Lord’s reply that we will want to hold close when pain and anxiety set in, when we wonder about the promise of God’s rescue and redemption. The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (2:3-4)

In this prophecy, we pray with Habakkuk: God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights. (3:19)

In this prophecy . . . we have the eternal answers to our unrelenting questions.

Several years ago, after the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, the nation of France prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to celebrate with joy in the face of enormous anger and grief. To learn more, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

Or you want to visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Charlie-Hebdo-shooting

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1150. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

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joy-quote-nouwenThursday, January 6, 2022

Joy and Ezekiel

Contempt

We have traveled through the Old and New Testaments discovering the many ways that joy visits not only on the days of celebration when we expect her arrival but also on days without light and nights without end. We have journeyed from the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation to find that no matter the circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  For the next several days we re-visit the prophets for a final experience of joy in darkness. And we remind ourselves that we have the power to bring God’s infinite, sustaining, persistent joy to others.

It is difficult to find any reference to joy in Ezekiel’s prophecy that does not refer to a contempt-filled celebration, a rejoicing at the destruction or fall of God’s faithful. We might consider what we celebrate to our own delight but to the grief and sadness of others. We might reflect on our own sense of satisfaction at the expense of others. And we might take heed of this prophet’s warming that what appears to be joy may instead be our own malicious, contempt and derision.

Ezekiel 25:6: This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: You clapped your hands and jumped for joy. You despised the land of Israel.

Ezekiel describes for us a New Jerusalem with a new Temple that heals, sustains and brings joy to the faithful. And he warns us against supposing that we have the power to determine the parameters of this New Covenant. “The new heart and the new spirit which must exist under the new covenant cannot be the work of man; they too, must be the work of God. By such teachings, [Ezekiel] helped prepare for the New Testament doctrine of salvation through grace”. (Senior 1034)

Ezekiel 36:5: Therefore thus says the Lord God: Surely in the fire of my hot jealousy have I spoken against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who have given to themselves my land with wholehearted joy and with uttermost contempt, that they might empty it out and possess it for a prey and a spoil.

valley-of-dry-bonesEzekiel foreshadows Christ’s coming when a new order fulfills the old promise; dry bones rise from the valley floor (Ezekiel 34:1-14) to take on tendons and flesh and skin. Hopeless, dry bones that are cut off from life are promised new breath, new vitality, and a new ruler. In this new kingdom intercession for enemies replaces desire for revenge, and the Messiah’s inclusive love supplants anger, and jealousy. (Ezekiel 34:15-28) Let us keep these images in mind as we enter 2015 with its fresh opportunities for newness, let us remember Ezekiel’s warning about replacing joy with derision. Let us recall his promise that dry bones come together again with the breath of new life. And let us resolve to move away from the darkness of contempt toward the salvation of Christ’s joy.

Today, January 6, is the liturgical celebration of the visit of the three Magi to the stable in Bethlehem. When you can gather the time, watch THE NATIVITY STORY film produced in 2006. You will find the depiction of the three wise ones delightful, and the portrayal of Mary and Joseph grounded and uplifting. Before filming, the cast learned how to milk goats, make cheese, and to use simple tools used two millennia ago. (Source IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0762121/) These magi understood how dry bones might come to new life. We might avow our own beliefs today. 


For another reflection on Ezekiel’s prophecy, click on the Valley of Dry Bones image above , or visit: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/ 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1034. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the Old or New Testaments, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Citation image from: http://www.bestsayingsquotes.com/category/joy-image-quotes-and-sayings-1.html

Dry bones image from: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/

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lamp in darkTuesday, December 7, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Evil

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today joy surprises us in the midst of evil.

In this second week in Advent we continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts even in the most surprising of circumstances.

Verse 13:9: The light of the just gives joy, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

Verse 21:15: When justice is done it is a joy for the just, downfall for evildoers.

Verse 29:6: The sin of the wicked is a trap, but the just run along joyfully.

joyGod says: When you experience every kind of evil – greed, anger, pride, lust, envy, gluttony or sloth – you need not devise a plan to combat these forces of darkness. You need only rest in me. Christ shows you which way to walk. The Spirit gives you the words you are to use. And I, the Creator, give you strength and stamina beyond your imaginings. Only rest in me. In this way you find joy in the darkest of days and my joy in you is a lamp that pierces all darkness.

Tomorrow, God’s joy will surprise us even in bitterness.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://www.boazbaptist.com/alampinthedarkvideo.htm

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Monday, November 9, 2020

2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part II

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

The story is a famous one: David succumbs to human lust and he takes something which belongs to another. When Bathsheba conceives, he tries to trick her husband Uriah into a scenario in which the king’s child can be passed off as Uriah’s. When Uriah’s purity and faithfulness to Yahweh get in the way, David arranges the murder of this good and loyal man. A terrible tale. Nathan brings David the parable of a man who steals a beloved object from another. David at first is angry, then admits his guilt and expresses regret and grief for the damage he has done.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Lust, Adultery, Murder. These are all acts of selfishness, of obliqueness, of anger. There is nothing direct here, nothing open or honest. These acts take place in shadow and in deep places. There is no light. There is no truth.

Let us consider the sins we have committed either actively or by leaving undone an action we have been called to complete. Let us consider how these commissions and omissions separate us from all that we are meant to be and do.  And let us consider what these sins have  to say about who we are.

Let us consider how many parables Jesus teaches us with his words. Let us consider how many parables Jesus teaches us with his actions. And let us consider how many parables our own lives teach.

Visit one of the Gospels and choose a parable that Jesus teaches us. Spend time with it today reflecting on how we might teach others through our actions rather than our words.

Tomorrow we consider the sacrifice God asks of us.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

Image from: https://www.theleidencollection.com/artwork/david-and-uriah/

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As we continue to struggle with a world-wide pandemic, we consider what hatred and fear, union and love can do.

Monday, October 26, 2020

o-PEOPLE-YELLING-facebook[1]John 15:18

The World’s Hatred

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

Jesus warns his disciples that hatred might be worn as a badge of honor in the divine world of inversion. The prophet Samuel heard the same words from Yahweh when the people clamored for a worldly king: Grant the people’s every request.  It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.  (1 Samuel 8:7)

God says: Sometimes you behave like small, spoiled children, asking for everything you see, wishing to control all situations so that you might feel powerful. When you behave in this way you are missing sight of the beautiful gift I give you: the freedom to do as you like, the freedom to be and do good. You sometimes ask for too much, for more than you really need, and so I do not like to grant those wishes. Sometimes you ask for something you think will be a boon to you when I see that it will actually be harmful, and so I do not like to send you those people or possessions. Sometimes you do not ask at all and this saddens me for I have much to share. My servant Samuel and my son Jesus point out to you a perspective you may have trouble seeing. When you bear my light into a darkened world there will be those who are jealous. Let me deal with their envy. When you speak my truth to a world in crisis there will be those who will shout you down. Let me whisper into your ear what it is you are to do and say. When you act in my name and perform miracles for my scattered and frightened sheep you will be abused and perhaps brought to your knees. Remain in me for I am with you most especially at these times. Allow me to turn the tide and calm the storm. The loathing and anger that strikes you when you act in my name is really aimed at me. Duck your head just a little, bow down just a bit . . . so that I might shelter you . . . and bear the full force of the world’s hatred.

Enter the word witness in the blog search bar and reflect on the many ways we witness for God in a turbulent and chaotic world.


For an interesting perspective by Roger Covin, Ph.D., about how we cannot be liked by everyone, click on the image above or go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/roger-covin/scared-of-being-rejected_b_2753558.html

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