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Matthew 9:1-8: Taking Up Our Bedtake up your bed

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 22, 2021

They brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed . . .

Jesus says: Take courage . . . Get up . . . pick up your bed and go home . . .

God says: Each little incident that paralyzes you with fear is not from me. I only bring you love. Each enormous obstacle that looms before you is not from me. I only bring you hope. When you are paralyzed with fear, reach for me. When you are knocked off your feet, take up the bed of sorrow onto which you have fallen, and come home.

When we give ourselves over to fear we let go of God’s hand. When we languish in our sorrow and remain on our paralytic bed we reject the offer of newness God brings. If depression or anxiety overwhelm us we must seek professional guidance and help. God wants to convert the paralysis in our lives to loving acts of kindness, mercy and justice.

 


Image from: https://www.wordonfire.org/articles/fellows/pick-up-your-mat/

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Matthew 6:25-34: Dependence on Godmy child I have this

Friday, May 6, 2022

This is the most basic lesson we have to learn as followers of Christ; and it is the lesson with which we struggle most frequently: Do not worry about your life . . . Are you not more important than [the birds in the sky]?  Yet we allow our fears about our survival to color what we do rather than allowing God to be the ultimate guide of our actions.

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span? We are powerless when it comes to time and space and yet we allow magical thinking to convince us that we can control the clock, that we can control our physical space.

If God so clothes the grass of the fields . . . will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? Yet we store up and hoard our resources without sharing, thinking that this will keep us safe from disaster.

All of these things [worry about food and clothes] the pagans seek . . . But seek first the kingdom [of God] . . . and all of these things will be given you besides. We delude ourselves when we give credit to ourselves for the home in which we live, the clothes we wear and the vehicle we drive.  We forget that if we did not have the brain power and sense of aesthetics given us by God, our redemption given us by Christ and the good counsel given us by the Spirit . . . our circumstances would certainly be different.  Too much stress keeps us from seeing that we are already given more than what we seek.

living in god's care - handsDo not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. We lend ourselves to prideful thinking when we take credit for all we have and do.  We must allow God to be our sole guide in all matters of the heart, mind and soul.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil. Allowing anxiety to take us over is a sign that we do not believe that God will care for us . . . and this self-sufficiency can separate us from God.

Just yesterday evening at a gathering of friends, as an acquaintance was voicing her fears for the present and future, another member of the group said: Well, now you have the opportunity to learn the most important lesson of all . . . trusting God. The first woman replied:  I thought I had already learned that one.  Several of us – those who have been guided by the suffering we have experienced – smiled and nodded.

matthew_6_25_34_by_hopedreamer17-d2yj65tAnd so we reflect . . . We want to avoid suffering at all cost – not realizing that it is the suffering that brings us best to God. 

And so we pray . . . These are hard sayings . . . these are the lessons of Christ’s disciples . . . these are the gifts of a life lived hard and well . . . a life lived in Christ.  Amen. 


Images from: https://melissafrancois.wordpress.com/tag/gospel-of-matthew/ and http://pixgood.com/matthew-6-25-34.html and http://hopedreamer17.deviantart.com/art/Matthew-6-25-34-178933745

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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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Wednesday, February 2, 2022how_long

Malachi 1:2

A Reprise: How Long?

I have loved you, says the Lord.  But you say, “How long have you loved us?”

We are always wanting more God.  What we have is never enough.  We long for something and as soon as it arrives, we move on to the next desire.  How easily we succumb to our anxieties . . . and how patient God is with us!

In Luke’s Gospel 10:38-42 we find the story of Mary at Jesus’ feet while Martha prepares dinner.  When Martha complains about her needing help from her sister, Jesus reminds her that while we must eat, wear clothes and secure shelter, none of this has value if we do not know who we are and why we are.  It is the story we might go to when we feel anxious about incomplete work, an empty pantry or overdrawn bank account.  Perhaps we like the story because Jesus reminds us – as he reminds Martha – that none of our work is worth anything if it is not God’s work.

From the mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT this morning: The presence of Christ changes the way we face reality.  And without the presence of Christ, we are left prey to our anxiety, our inadequacy, our inability.  But Christ comes to us, especially in our exasperation, and extends to us “the better part”.  The Father is pleased “to reveal his Son to us” . . . pleased to have us receive him.

When we are told that God loves us, we often take this in and then immediately want more, and then we allow our fretfulness to take over.  When we allow disquiet to settle into our bones there is no room for us to see that Jesus is also present to us – ready to take away our worries, ready to calm our fears.  When we bustle through our list of chores, thinking our work more important than our resting in and with Christ, we are Martha rather than Mary.

God has not only revealed his son to us, he has adopted us as his children.  God has taken us as his own.   How long has God loved us?  God has loved us since our first inception, God loves us still, and God will love us always.

Jesus says to Martha, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

Jesus says to us today.  You are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Come, choose the better part and do not let it be taken from you.  I love you now.  I have always loved you. 

We reply with a list of our fears and ask, How long will you love me and wait on me?

When we listen we hear Jesus say . . . I tell you: I will love you forever . . . and I will wait on you for an eternity.  Come!  Choose the better part, and do not let it be taken from you.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.10 (2010). Print.  

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 5, 2010.  

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi in the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: http://www.radicalfamilysabbatical.com/how-long-should-your-sabbatical-be/

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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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bitternessWednesday

December 8, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Bitterness

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 we find joy despite our bitterness.

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 14:10: The heart knows its own bitterness, and its joy no stranger shares.

Verse 17:22A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.

joyGod says: I fully understand that depression and anxiety afflict a great number of you and that many of you suffer from overwhelming fear. I do not expect you to heal yourselves of these maladies, nor do I expect you to wish them away. I send healers among you who explore the mysteries of science and medicine to reveal new pathways to wholeness for each of you. I am in your microscopes and your laboratories. I am in the hands and minds that minister to you when you suffer. I am in the ears and hearts that call you out of any bitterness that has settled upon you. Come to me when I call you to joy.

Tomorrow, God calls us away from our worries.


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

Image from: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/28664496

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Moses TentMonday, September 20 , 2021

Psalm 15

Refusing Panic

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

Jeremiah has spoken to God’s people just as God has asked, and for his fidelity and suffering, he is abused and mocked.  The remnant remain and believe. The faithful know that sooner or later, Jeremiah will be silenced, but God’s word, spoken honestly and carefully, will never die. God’s truth lives forever and cannot be extinguished.

Jesus comes to live among us to heal and redeem, and for his compassion and mercy he is rejected and crucified. The remnant remain watchful and hopeful. The faithful know that here and now Christ continues to walk and live among us. God may be placed out of mind but God is present and cannot be denied. The Spirit is indwelling and cannot be extinguished.

A number of months ago we visited with Psalm 15 and we return today as we prepare for Jeremiah’s journey to Egypt – a place where the Hebrew people once sought refuge and became chained by slavery. A place from which the Twelve Tribes made their exodus with Moses to be delivered in their promised land. A place that served as refuge for the Christ family following Herod’s plot to murder the infant Jesus. Today we reflect on Psalm 15 and remind ourselves that when we stand steadfast in Christ, we must be prepared to reject anxiety. We must be ready to shun our fear. We must be willing to refuse any sense of panic.

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

God says: I am well aware of the sacrifices you make for me. I see that you put your desires and sometimes your needs to the side as you take up my cause and deliver my words. Like my prophet Jeremiah you even place yourself at risk when you speak and act as I have asked. Know that I see all of your big and small losses. Understand that I see how you suffer. Believe that I place my hope in you and that you may place all your hope in me. I am goodness and goodness never fails. I am compassion and compassion always heals. I am love and love never abandons. Love always accompanies, always saves, always redeems, always transforms, always brings home. If you must be carried off to Egypt, know that I go with you. And know that I will also bring you home.

Today, spend time with this short psalm, and consider not if we may dwell in the Lord’s tent or on God’s holy mountain, consider how we can dwell anywhere else.

Walk without blame, do what is right, speak truth from the heart, do not slander, defame, or harm your neighbor, disdain the wicked, honor those who love God, keep your promises at all cost, accept no bribe . . . for whoever acts like this shall never be shaken. 


For another reflection on Fearlessness, enter the word in tot he blog search bar and reflect on the importance of trusting God, of rejecting panic, and of remaining as remnant that is never shaken.

Image from: http://thepraiseandworshipconnection.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

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Friday, September 3, 2021

jeremiah 33Jeremiah 33

From the Prison

From his prison Jeremiah continues to cry out the word of God.

Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you things great beyond reach of your knowledge.

From our own prisons of unhappiness, illness, anxiety or fear, we might also listen for the word of God.

Through his prophecy, Jeremiah continues to console the lost.

Behold, I will heal them, and reveal to them an abundance of lasting peace.

From our own sadness or sorrow, we might also offer a word or gesture of solidarity.

Through the promise of redemption, Jeremiah continues to call us to God.

I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. I will raise up a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land.

From our yearning for seeking, we might also bring God to all that we say and all that we do.

Spend time today with Jeremiah 33. Study other Bible versions of these verses by clicking on the scripture verse here or above. Compare translations and listen. Like Jeremiah, we will hear God’s word. And also like Jeremiah, from our prison, we will send it on.


Image from: http://godinterest.com/post/1714360/jeremiah-33-3-call-to-me-and-i-will-answer-dr-js-apothecary-shop

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Free picture (Greed) from https://torange.biz/greed-16736

Amos 8:4-14

Against Greed

We find that it does not matter how much we humans advance in our understanding of our past, the science and nature that surround us, or the human condition in which we find ourselves . . . greed is our constant companion. We need only take a moment to look at ourselves, our families and friends to witness how greed works in a local way. And we have only to look at the international stage to see how greed functions in a global way.

God says: You need not shove against one another to scoop up or hoard food, materials for shelter or even love.  These life essentials are yours in abundance. When you begin to share you always find this is so. You need not cheat one another in the market place. I see who swindles and who is fair. You fool no one in the end for the truth always reveals herself. You need not struggle to make yourself look better than others or to criticize others to make yourself look better. I know each of intimately and so well that you can hide nothing from me. So put aside your fear. Put away your anxiety. Come to me openly and honestly. In the end, I am all there is. You need nothing more.

We ask ourselves these Lenten questions. In what way do I trample the needy and destroy the land of the poor? Do I use more than my share of natural resources? Do I waste the food or shelter or love that God bestows on me? Am I fair and honest in my interchanges with others? Do I correct mistakes made when I under-pay or over-charge? Do I try to hide part of myself from God? Am I open and honest about who I am? Do I acknowledge my fears and disquiet? Am I willing to believe that God is all I need?

Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach. Psalm 139:1-4

Let us spend some time today with the rest of Psalm 139 to determine how and where we might stand Against Greed. 


For an interesting read on the concept of greed, click on the image above or visit: https://fhctoday.com/27470/uncategorized/greed-being-a-disease/ 

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