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Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’


Matthew 21:23-27Authority Questioned

Monday, December 12, 2022

Tissot: Authority of Jesus Questioned

James Tissot: Authority of Jesus Questioned

I suppose it is natural that after we reflect on God as the lover and the most excellent promise he offers, it is appropriate to pause . . . that we might consider what authority supports these concepts.  Several times Paul advises that we test the spirit (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 8:8, 13:5, Galatians 6:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:21) to see that we are acting in accord with God’s will as opposed to having gone off on a private agenda of our own.  We are not testing God in these cases; rather, we examine our own understanding of what we believe to be God’s word to us.

John recommends that we test ourselves: Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone into the world.  (1 4:1)

But what we see in today’s reading is not an attempt on the part of the Pharisees and scribes to discover Jesus’ authenticity as the word of God. What we see is their desire to gain any information that might silence him, any words with which to catch him, to trip him up.

I love the way that Jesus’ replies to their cagey questions with questions of his own that go to the heart of their envy, greed and deception. He knows that they fear losing temple tax, power and recognition. Jesus does not answer their questions nor do they persist; because Jesus has made their dark motives evident through his own patient persevering dialog.

We ourselves are sometimes questioned by people who have ulterior motives and so we might think of these interrogations of Christ as his own demonstration of how to handle one’s self when under fire. This questioning or testing need not be a bad experience, if we remember to speak from the truth we have funded in ourselves through our endless search for God. For when we are questioned, we find; when we are interrogated, we have the opportunity to encounter God.

And so we pray: Heavenly Father, bring us the patience, the wisdom and the serenity to answer the questions put to us from those who test the authority on which we stand.  Help us to test ourselves to see if the spirit we follow is yours. Help us to seek Christ through scripture and through our daily conversations with you so that we will not be lacking when we are put to the test. We know that when we empty ourselves of our daily worries, we leave room for you to enter and act. 

When we are anxious, send us your peace.

When we are threatened, send us your peace.

When we are fearful, send us your peace.

When we stand alone, send us your peace.

When we are sorrowful, send us your peace.

When we are abandoned, send us your peace.

When we are questioned, send us your peace.

When we have found you, send us your peace that we might recognize you and sink into the serenity you have promised.

Amen. 


Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authority_of_Jesus_questioned and https://worthy-woman.com/2019/04/02/by-what-authority-do-we-act/

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Matthew 23Denunciation

Saturday, November 19, 2022tassels

How many of us like to widen our phylacteries and lengthen our tassels? The footnotes for this chapter are extensive in the NAB and they are worth reading. This is the list of Christ’s woes as recorded by Matthew and these words have the feel of prophecy. Hypocrisy, lack of integrity when our words and actions do not match. This is what Jesus warns us about.

What do we do when the ugly green monster rears its head? When jealousy strikes, as it always does, what is our reflex? Do we allow ourselves to succumb to the temptation of taking credit even when it is due? Do we put the emotion which overtakes us in its proper place and convert it to humility?

Verses 37 to 39 are Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, the city which ought to serve as a beacon to all, now drags her skirts in the mire as the prophets foretold. Jesus himself cannot sway these leaders. God’s own word cannot get their attention. The final woe defines Jesus’ audience as murderers of prophets, of the holy ones. This is scary stuff.  Chapter 24 follows with the foretelling of the destruction of the temple which actually occurred in 70 C.E. This event was on the horizon and yet they did not listen. Do we? How far do we have to go until God finally gets our attention? Are we this dense? We pray not.

And so we go to Jesus, hoping to learn how to avoid our own denunciation.

phylacteriesGenerous and faithful Jesus, may we narrow our phylacteries and shorten the tassels on our shawls. May we learn humility from your stories, and mercy from your actions. We ask this in your name. Amen.


To learn more about tassels and phylacteries, click on the lower image.

A favorite from January 28, 2008.

Images from: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tzitzit/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh6hLqP-QPY

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James: Appropriate Action

Friday, November 11, 2022james-700x300

“James advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior. Like other moralists of his age, he is impatient with fine words that have no action . . . Faith without appropriate practice in love is a charade”. (Senior RG 548)

God says: My servant James has expressed my vision quite well in his letter to you, and my hope is that you spend time with his words and with me today. Choose a small portion of his verses and examine them well. He has an important message about how and why to endure trials. He gives you good advice about words and thoughts, deeds and gestures. James can teach you how to be authentic; he structures lessons on honesty and wisdom. He reminds you of my immense generosity and love for you. And he describes how you might be in the world and not become part of it. Listen to James and learn to live by my measure rather than your own for when you do . . . you will find that you are living a life of appropriate action.

Enter the words wisdom or generosity in the blog search bar and reflect on how our actions. live out God’s love in creation. Are they in and for God? Can we say that they are appropriate?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 548. Print.   

Image from: https://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/category/james/

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Matthew 7:6: Casting Pearlsoyster-pearl-100903-02

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

This verse may be deeply meaningful for us when we consider just how precious and rare a genuine pearl is. Produced by layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl, around a grain of sand, pearls begin as a nuisance and result as an object to be prized. Mollusks lay down deposits once they sense an intrusion in their otherwise placid lives. They transform an obstacle into an object to be admired. If we are pearls of great price, we began as these small irritants . . . and we too, are transformed into beautiful objects to be treasured.

We are holy people. We are temples in which the Holy Spirit abides. We are children of God. We are body, soul, mind and heart. And all of this is a gift from God to be treasured and never taken lightly.

In Song of Songs 3:4 we remember our relationship with God who loves us abundantly.  If we continue to 3:5 we also remember that our lives move best when they move in God’s plan rather than our own. All things, even love, arrive in God’s time, not ours.

Let us recall how loved we are, and determine to return that love to God.

Let us remember how beautiful we are, and decide to live up to that beauty.

Let us recall how priceless we are, and choose to act as though we believe our own good fortune.


For another Noontime reflection on this verse, enter the words Pearls of Great Price in the blog search bar and explore.

To learn more about how pearls form, click on the image above or visit: http://www.livescience.com/32289-how-do-oysters-make-pearls.html 

 

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Luke 6:24-26: Trouble Aheadrough-road-ahead

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 3, 2022

From Luke’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain . . .

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (New American Standard Bible)

Jesus is quite clear. The content and happy must tend to the poor and broken-hearted. Those who rejoice must shepherd those who mourn. Humility is far more valuable than pride.

But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger. Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets. (Douay Rheims 1899 American)

Jesus makes no mistake. The full and sated must share food and drink. Those who rejoice must accompany those who mourn. Self-knowledge is far more important than denial.

Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets. But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get. And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it. There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. (The Message)

jesus-on-the-crossJesus calls to each of us, warning of trouble ahead. Trouble that lies not in deprivation and disaster . . . but in our hubris, our narcissism and our corruption. When we spend time reading and comparing various versions of these verses, we receive the gifts of clarity, truth and grace. Reflect on these words, or use the scripture link to choose other versions. On this day when all seems bleak and dark, and the cross dominates our thinking, let us remember that after the cross, resurrection is not far behind. There may be trouble ahead, but we need not fear. Christ is among us . . . now. Christ is in us now . . . and forever.


 Images from: https://nzesylva.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/may-your-road-be-rough-2/, and https://byhisgrace211.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/the-importance-of-jesuss-death-on-the-cross/

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Who Can Endure?


Friday, February 4, 2022malachi

Malachi 3:2

Who Can Endure?

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?

We humans have a knack for postponing the difficult work needed to more fully integrate ourselves. We see the cautionary road signs, yet continue on our narrow journey without expanding horizons. We ask how long we must wait for rescue. We ask how long we must endure. And God might ask us . . . how long we will delay in rising to the potential God has placed in us.

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?

The day of reckoning is not some distant past in which we conquer all our anxieties, fears and disasters. The day of reckoning is here in our midst and our God dwells within us to bring joy from our mourning.

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?

The day of reckoning is not some distant future in which the sheep and goats will divide to the right and the left. The day of reckoning is already upon us and we are asked to put aside animosity and open our hearts to our enemies.

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?

How do we stand firm when we are overcome with life? We rely on the firmness and healing power of God’s love.

How do we keep our feet on the foundation of God’s fidelity and our dreams in God’s hope? We rely on the authenticity and eternity of God’s love.

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?

day of reckoningWe need not fear a judgment that condemns and destroys. We need only look for God’s presence within . . . and take that presence into the world. This is the life the prophet Malachi calls us to experience.

But who can endure the day of the coming? Who can stand firm when he appears?


Images from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cloud_in_the_sunlight.jpg and http://imgkid.com/malachi-bible.shtml

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joySunday, November 7, 2021

Judith 9-10

Joy and Peril

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, 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. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in great peril.

The opening chapters of Judith’s story set a scene of violence, intrigue and power. War begins. An ultimate is delivered. An enemy is defeated and a council takes place to assess plans and possibilities. Nineveh and Ecbatana are now at the center of this drama, but Nebuchadnezzar rages against more than Persia. He lays out a secret plan to take revenge on the entire world, and once these plans are complete he sends for his general Holofernes. These events bring forth images from our daily newscasts that we might recognize in our modern world. Who would suspect that the town of Bethulia and the little-known widow, Judith, would turn the Assyrian power structure on its head? How might each of us, in our own infinitesimal way, have an effect upon the wider world? How might each of us find joy amid the peril that surrounds us?

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Verse 10:3: She took off the sackcloth and her widow’s clothes . . . Judith turns away from her inner grief and turns outward to the world. So might we.

She took a bath, and put on rich perfumes . . . Judith enters into an intentional plan brought forward through prayer. So might we.

She brushed her hair, tied a ribbon around it . . . Judith prepares herself as herself and not as another entity with grandiose ideas. So might we.

She dressed herself in the fine clothes she used to wear on joyful occasions when her husband Manasseh was still alive . .  . Judith moves forward in the only way she knows how. In fidelity. In trust. In faith. In hope. So might we.

In Chapter 9 we find The Prayer of Judith, beautiful, honest verses of petition from one who is so small against gargantuan obstacles. If we spend some time with these words today, we might better understand how Judith calls forth the joy she had once known to find joy in great peril.

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Judith into the blog search bar and explore.


For information about the woman who painted this rendition of Judith and her servant, click on the image above or visit: http://zadokromanus.blogspot.com/2005/06/artemisia-gentileschi.html 

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

 

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Friday, August 12, 2021

Martin-Luther-King-Pic-21Jeremiah 22

Do What Is Right

Listen to the word of the Lord . . .

Do what is right and just . . .

Rescue the victim from the hand of his oppressor . . .

Do not wrong or oppress the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow . . .

Do not shed innocent blood . . .

With hindsight we can see where the chosen people miss-stepped. We can easily judge and say that we would have listened to God’s voice to avoid falling into the subtle trap of following little gods rather than the one Living God.

With understanding we can see how the chosen people miscalculated. We can quickly recognize the corruption that pervaded their religious and civic institutions.

With honesty we can see our own slide into first accepting and later following the way that is wide and dishonest rather than the narrow way that is difficult and authentic.

do-what-you-feel-is-rightMany people will pass by this city and ask one another: “Why has the Lord done this to so great a city?”

And the answer will be: “Because they have deserted their covenant with the Lord, their God, by worshiping and serving strange gods”.

What strange little gods do we allow to filter into our decisions? What small little gods rule our days and nights? What insignificant little gods threaten our peaceful relationship with God?

How do we do what is good and right and just?

We take time today to pause and reflect.


For more information on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt, go to: http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086#synopsis and http://www.biography.com/people/eleanor-roosevelt-9463366 

Images from: http://www.stylegerms.com/martin-luther-king-jr-quotes/ and http://www.digitalmomblog.com/pinterest-daily-repin-do-what-feels-right/

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friendsWednesday, June 23, 2021

1 Chronicles 19

Friendship

The story we read today is typical of human behavior. In my family, as in many, we referred to fair weather friends as those who enter into a relationship and then step away when problems arise. Some refer to this sort of false friends as coat-holders. There were times when my mother would say to us: “Watch out for so-and-so, she only wants to hold your coat”. Mother had amazing insight and she was always right about this kind of temporary friend who was in a relationship for a variety of reasons – none of which affirmed a genuine friendship. Beware of companions who bask in the attention merited by someone else, who seek intimacy not from authentic love but from a desire to know details that can be bartered for other delicious gossip, who fear life so much they become leeches to any source of power, who refuse to put God first before all.

Today we watch David as he makes a genuine offer of sympathy and friendship. It is true that this story follows a series of conquests made by the Israelites under David’s leadership and that this fact alone is enough to stir the embers of latent fear that David’s envoy comes to spy rather than to share grief. It is also true that the Ammonites disgrace the envoy (in the older Douay version it says that their clothes were cut so as to show their buttocks), and that in this ancient culture one returns insult for insult. But it is ultimately true that a gesture of openness and kindness displays an understanding that trust accompanied by prudence must be honored. Today’s coat-holders do not have either the capacity or the will to believe in a sincere gesture. We will never know which.

This story speaks to authenticity in relationships. It is a reminder that when we open ourselves to God’s daily surprises, we must treat God’s messengers for what they are: an opportunity to show ourselves, our God, and the others with whom we share life to see our version of God. For how we treat others is the way we treat God. It is also the way we expect God to treat us. That is the meaning behind The Golden Rule of treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated.

What does Christ tell his apostles to do when they go into a house and extend Christ’s peace? If it is rejected, this peace will return to us and we are to move on. We are even to shake the dust of such a place from our feet. If Christ’s peace is returned to us in fullness, we are to celebrate this union and praise God for the gift of companionship.

The Book of Sirach holds many wise poems that tell us how to know a friend when one approaches. True Friendship is described in 5:5-17. Choice of Friends is summed up in 9:10-16. Care in Choosing Friends is outlined in 11:29 to 12:18. Chapter 13 gives us Caution Regarding Associates. The Preservation of Friendship is found in 22:19-27 with a wonderful concluding prayer. Those who are Worthy of Praise, Wicked and Virtuous Women, and Dangers to Integrity and Friendship are delineated in Chapters 25, 26 and 27. Choice of Associates is re-visited in 36:18-27.

Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction . . . With these words, Jesus ben Sirach begins the closing canticle of his book of wisdom. He reminds us: work at your tasks in due season, and in his own time God will give you your reward.

The Ammonites, the Arameans and the Israelites put false pride and self-pity before sincerity and understanding of God. We know this because we see them act in fear rather than generosity at the approach of a possible friend. We see them allow their apprehension to escalate into full-blown anxiety. And we see them act in cruelty and derision. These are not acts of sympathy or empathy. They are not acts of God. For God acts in mercy and in openness to all. God acts in friendship.


Image from: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/keep-smiling/images/9170913/title/great-true-friendship-screencap

Adapted from a reflection written on January 28, 2009.

For more information about the Ammonites, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite or https://biblehub.com/dictionary/a/ammonites.htm

For more information about the ancient Arameans, visit: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Arameans.html

For more on the Israelites, visit: https://biblehub.com/dictionary/i/israelites.htm

 

 

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