Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’


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

 

 

Read Full Post »


trustMonday, June 7, 2021

1 John 5:6-12

Making Liars of Ourselves

As we near the end of John’s first letter we might be shocked to hear what the apostle has to say to us. Let us encourage one another to hear God’s word and send it on.

Whoever does not believe God has made himself a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.

As we consider the testimony John gives to us we might be amazed to hear that God loves each of us. Let us encourage one another to enact God’s word and send it on.

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in the Son.

As we begin to understand the breadth and depth and height of God’s love we might be humbled to realize that God comes among us as the human Christ to suffer as we suffer, to rejoice as we rejoice. Let us encourage one another to love God’s word and send it on.

Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever dos not possess the Son of God does not have life.

As we begin to fully take in all that John has related to us we might be amazed to understand that God loves us always, even when our actions do not reflect our words. Let us encourage one another to speak truth by living authentically rather than making liars of ourselves with all the great and little actions in our lives.

authenticityEnter the word authenticity in to the blog search bar and consider how easy it is to cease making liars of ourselves.


Image from: http://www.pammarketingnut.com/2011/05/are-authentic-social-relationships-over-rated/

Read Full Post »


Friday, February 26, 2021

judging-otherss[1]Romans 2:17-24

Our Interior Law – Part II

A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish. A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

Paul asks these and other questions of the Romans and he also asks us today. Paul can speak from the heart about authenticity because he once persecuted the followers of Jesus and came to understand – through his relationship with the risen Christ – the hypocrisy he was living. Paul can call us today to our own assessment of self in our exterior adherence to a complicated written law. Paul asks us today to measure our inner self against our outer self rather than compare ourselves to others.

My Dad was fond of reminding us that our actions speak louder than words. He would frequently remind us that “God will judge the other guy so you don’t need to”.  And he always urged that we measure ourselves against ourselves. “When you compare yourself with others,” he often said when we complained of injustices real or perceived, “you will likely come up short. So don’t bother. Instead of looking at the other guy, ask yourself: did I improve today or did I fall back? If you moved forward, great. If not, God will let you know how to improve”.

judging-others-blue_design[1]A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish.  A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do we measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

How and who and why and what and when do we measure? And with what?


Mother Teresa quote from:http://helpfortheheart.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/judging-others-blue_design.png?w=645

For some practical strategies to heal a judging heart, click on the images in this post or go to: Help for the Heart at WordPress at: http://helpfortheheart.wordpress.com/

Read Full Post »


Friday, February 5, 2021

the-letter-sadhe[1]Psalm 119:137-144

Sadhe

I am consumed by rage, because my foes forget your words . . . Your decrees are forever just; give me discernment that I may live.

We become indignant when we believe that others do not understand the message of the Gospel; others become indignant with us when we behave in a narrow way.

God says: I really do understand how anger and frustration might consume you; but I ask that you take this negative energy and hand it to me. Together we will transform the ugliness and pettiness and cruelty you see in the world . . . to beautiful truth, inspiring authenticity and salvific love. Together we will bring goodness out of harm. Together we will build a kingdom so that all might live eternally.

Once we allow ourselves to pardon enemies we experience love as God does. We find a new tranquility and balance. And we discover that the evil around us melts into nothingness. This new serenity begins when we can bring ourselves to love our enemies as Jesus does.

Jesus says: 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, that you may be children of your heavenly father . . . For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? (Matthew 5:43-47)

In this newest lesson presented to us in Psalm 119 we find the greatest – and perhaps the most difficult and certainly the most important – lesson of all. We find our divinity by fully and completely turning our most basic human instincts over to God. We find the kingdom that lies before us by interceding for all of. We find discernment by turning all of our rage into love. And all of this brings us serenity.


For more on how Sadhe speaks to us of faith that is found in the righteous, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tzadik.htm

For a quick view of the Hebrew letters, click on the image above and then click through the alphabet to the left, or go to: http://www.heb4you.com/hebrew-alephbet/18th-letter-of-the-hebrew-alphabet.html

Read Full Post »


Friday, August 7, 2020

Proverbs 5:4

Wormwood Growing in the Wild

Wormwood growing in the wild

Bitterness

In the end [the adulteress] is as bitter as wormwood, as sharp as a two-edged sword. 

Although we humans tend to focus on the physical violation of the commitment we avow to a life partner, there are many ways to commit adultery.  Straying from solid principles that support the authentic life, allowing ourselves to be lured into a way of life we know is false, and turning our backs on all that we know to be just and merciful.  These are all pathways that lead to the destruction of ourselves and possibly others.

God says: I am aware of the many sirens that call you away from me; I understand the strength of the pull the world has on your heart and mind.  It is for this reason that I am so joyful when even just one of you remains with me.  I am pleased when you put aside all that would make you bitter as you recover from stress and trauma.  I understand how difficult it is to forgive, how hard it is to pray from those who do you harm; yet this is what I ask of you.  This what I hope for you.  For this I have created you: to celebrate with me despite the sorrow and the grief.  All that I ask is that you give me your burden so that I might heal the injuries brought on by life and make you whole.  The double-edged sword has the power to wound just as it has the authority to save.  I dwell in you so that your double edge might lead to me and not to the darkness.  I dwell in you so that you with mercy and justice so that you might witness to my goodness.  I dwell in you so that you might rejoice in peace rather than sink in bitterness.  Come to me always . . . no matter your injuries.

Adultery is more than the physical breaking of the union of two who are committed to one another.  Adultery damages ourselves and many others.  Adultery is the first step  on the trail that leads to annihilation.  Adultery has the power to pull us into the darkness but it also has the power to transform us . . . when we bring our broken-ness to God.

Enter the name Gomer into the blog search bar to further explore the concept of adultery and God’s saving hand.


For more information on the wormwood plant and its properties, click on the image above or go to: http://www.absinthebuyersguide.com/wormwood.html or http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2011/06/wormwood-herb-health-benefits-and-uses.html

Read Full Post »


Saturday, May 2, 2020

honest11[1]Psalm 139: Honesty

Lord, you have probed me, you know me.  Why do we believe that we can hide from God?

You know when I sit and when I stand.  Why do we think that the acts we commit in secret, dark places are also hidden from God?

You understand my thoughts from afar.  You mingle with our thoughts even as we form them.

My travels and my work you mark.  You know where we are and where we go.

With all my ways you are familiarYou know our motives and our fears.

Even before a word is on my tongue you know it.  You know every word we are about to say even as we form our reasoning.

Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.  You are with us always.

Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.  Your wisdom encompasses more than we will ever understand.

Where can I hide from your spirit?  From your presence where can I flee?  There is no point in our thinking that we can hide from you.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  You created every molecule of our being; you wove together our bodies and souls.

I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!  We must remember to thank you each hour of each day.

How precious to me are your designs, O God.  We must remember that you are responsible for all of our successes.

Probe me, O God, know my heart.  So we place ourselves before you, Lord, and ask that you test our integrity.

Try me, know my concerns.  We place ourselves before you, O Christ, and ask that you test our honesty.

See if my way is crocked, then lead me in ancient paths.  We place ourselves before you, Blessed Spirit, and ask that you test our authenticity.

Lord, you have probed me, you know me. As we continue to move through this Eastertide, we place ourselves before you, Lord, and ask that you test our honesty. As we remember the sacrifice you made for us on Resurrection Sunday, we continue in our discipleship to you. As we remain in your Spirit through our trials and joys, we move through our struggles as we witness for you.

Amen.  

Tomorrow, finding self . . .


Image from: http://www.bagchurch.org/honesty-is-a-very-expensive-gift/ 

A re-post from May 2, 2013.

Read Full Post »


2 Chronicles 10: Ignoring Advice

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes the advice we receive from others is worthless; sometimes it is pure gold.  The difficulty in life is to discern when to heed which words.  This can be resolved when we decide to draw on God’s wisdom  as our primary source of advice, and then allow the words of our family and friends to fill in the gaps of what we believe to be God’s message.

We may have difficulty hearing the Word within; if so, we may want to practice the art of listening a bit more until we have formed well-trodden spiritual pathways to God and back.

We may have difficulty feeling the Word of God resonate within; if so, we may want to practice feeling empathy for those unlike us a bit more until we have taught our hearts more of God’s language.

We may have difficulty expressing  the Word of God to others; if so, we may want to find a trusted friend who will serve as a sounding board for our thoughts.

We may have difficulty witnessing to the Word of God in a public way; if so, we may want to spend time with Scripture to see how others have done so through the ages.

Communication in any form does not come easily.  It takes practice.  Finding trustworthy sources of wisdom of any kind is a challenge.  It takes persistence.  Acting in a manner that matches our beliefs for any reason is difficult at best.  It takes authenticity.  Speaking in a way that calls others to Christ in any way is complicated.  It takes fidelity.  Listening in a way that leads us to good, solid decision-making is taxing.  It takes endurance.

All of this patience and compassion is too much for us humans, we say, and yet . . . we know what happens when we take the advice that suits us at the moment but does not challenge us.  We know what happens when we ignore God’s call and go our own way.  We know what happens when we are silent or when we do not act when and as we ought.

The choice before these young men in today’s Noontime is clear.  We see their example.  Do we follow it?  Or do we follow Christ?


Written on September 15, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To find a Daily Bible Reading Plan, visit: https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Or create a plan of your own by beginning with Acts . . . but read each day . . . and listen . . .

Image from: http://niagaranissan.com/ 

Read Full Post »


Sirach 25-27: The Ideal Wife

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

While we are looking to the “passions” for fulfillment, our desire for the infinite is doomed to be frustrated.  Once we realize this, we discover that God alone can satisfy the need which is basic to our nature.  (Olivier Clément, author and professor of Eastern Christian Spirituality in Paris, MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day, for yesterday.)

Today’s Noontime tells us all we need to know about integrity when in relationship with one another and with God.  The Description of an Ideal Wife (26:1-18) falls just in the middle of this selection and we find it bracketed by descriptions of Wicked Versus Virtuous Women, and Dangers to Integrity and Friendship.  Jesus Ben Sirach cannot be more specific in his description of what an ideal wife does in her household and in her relationships.  Since we are each called to be the bride of the groom, Jesus, we might consider what this ode has to say to us.  Our marital state, sexual orientation and gender do not matter.  What does matter here is this: that we examine what it is that moves us, what calls us to passion of any kind – physical, mental, spiritual – and that we respond with integrity in every single relationship and every single place just as described in the image of the ideal wife in today’s reading.

All of this reminds me of yesterday’s meditation in MAGNIFICAT.  Clément continues by citing Origen (an early Egyptian Christian theologian who lived in Alexandria from 185 to 254 C.E).  Origen has described a striking vision of the soul plumbing the depths of evil by experiencing the horror of excess; after actually dying, having journeyed through the infernal regions, it eventually realizes that evil has its limitation, that one can be surfeited with it to the point of utter boredom.  Then God is revealed as alone inexhaustible, to whom everyone, even Satan, will turn in the end.

We hope so.  Perhaps in this way there is a purpose to pain and suffering – no matter how stark and how deep.  Clément writes that when we enter into suffering with Christ, we discover something we never dared hope for, that our hellish autonomy has been breached by sin, death and despair, that these have opened us to the mercy of the living God. 

In our twenty-first century relativistic world in which we value autonomy above all else – even if it is hellish – we might read today’s lesson and smirk, thinking that the images of the ideal wife are quaint and outdated.  But they are not.  They are as valid and as prescient and as imperative today as on the day they were written.

We fool ourselves when we think we can out-run, out-smart or out-maneuver evil.  No matter how comfortable, how connected and how clever we are, we find – in the end – that we have only out-maneuvered ourselves.  We have gotten no further.  We have not held onto the fleeting sensations of pleasure.

Seeking pleasure is not seeking God, it is seeking after satisfaction.  Pleasure is good in that it gives us an immediate sense of happiness and the impetus to search for true joy; but the happiness brought by pleasure does not last.

Searching for meaning in life will not give us that which our souls seek . . . a true and intense relationship with something that will never go away, never fade.  Only God has the capacity to love this well and this constantly.

Looking for ourselves in excesses, abstentions, infatuations or addictions does not bring us true serenity and joy; it does not bring us to a true understanding of who we are and what we mean.  Only in God do we find ourselves.  And only in giving ourselves over to God as the ideal wife gives herself over to her vocation, do we enter into his bliss.


A re-post from March 27, 2012.

Image from: http://samanthamccowan.theworldrace.org/?filename=biblical-love

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 12 March 2009. Print.

Read Full Post »


Genesis 18:1-15: Dissembling

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh”.  But he said, “Yes you did”. It seems that when we are afraid, or even uncomfortable, we hide.  Perhaps we want to protect ourselves from unwanted criticism at a time when we feel vulnerable.  Society would benefit from our willingness to put aside fear in order to practice honesty.  Our families would flourish if we might find a way to establish trust in order that we become less defensive.  Our work and play communities would prosper if we were free of ridicule.  Putting aside fear so that we might live a life of authenticity is what God asks us to do.  We all fail at this constantly . . . and this is something that God knows well.

Fear has been with us since our genesis as humans; it is not an aberration that arises after eons of human evolution.  Nor is it a modern phenomenon brought on by rapid change or sudden advances in technology.  Fear must have been with the first humans who hunted and gathered food and sought shelter.  Dissembling was likely a defense against isolation or separation from the tribe, a strategy for survival.  Is it a tool we want to use today?  Do we need to shave edges from truth?  Do we need to shape the opinion of those around us?  Are we willing to go to God and ask that we begin again . . . in total honesty . . . without dissembling?

It is good to remind ourselves that God is quick to pardon when we ask forgiveness, and that God has infinite mercy for us.  We know that all God asks is our gratitude and our willingness to do as he asks.  God constantly assures us that we are loved . . . and God asks for our love in return.  We need not fear.  We need not dissemble.  And we need not nurture this dissembling in ourselves or others.  When we are fearful . . . we know what we must do.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 129-130)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Isaiah 43:12: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. 

And so we pray . . .

When we feel fear begin to consume us, rather than dissemble and begin to weave a complicated web, we must call on God to bolster us in the truth.

When we are tempted to mislead others, rather than add to the illusion, we must ask God to help us to be honest and authentic.

When we come upon a rat’s nest of lies and deceit, rather than turn away with blank face and trembling heart, we must rely on God to help us witness to what we know to be truth.

Good and honest God, you have allowed us to choose if and how we are to follow you.  Guide us to see through the clever tricks of the expert weavers of lies and lead us to be merciful with those who dissemble out of fear.  Protect us as we mark a straight path to you with the signs of our little and big sufferings.  Lead us out of the maze of confusing dissembled responses others give to us.  Give us the courage to speak candidly, to act compassionately, and to love into goodness those who would harm us with their dissembling words.  We ask this of you who has created us, you who has shown us the way of authenticity, and you who abides within us always.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.6 (2011): 129-130. Print.   

Image from: http://listverse.com/2007/08/20/top-10-bizarre-phobias/

A re-post from August 10, 2011.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: