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Posts Tagged ‘authenticity’


Matthew 5:17-37: Putting it All Together

Friday, February 24, 2017puzzle-pieces

If we find ourselves confused when we look to God’s Law for direction, we must consider Jesus as the Living Law of God.

I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama.

If we find ourselves confused when we search to God’s Law for answers, we must consider Jesus as the exemplar of all creation.

God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

If we find ourselves in pain when we look to God’s Law for solace, we must consider Jesus as God’s answer to the corruption the world gives us.

Take God’s law seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

If we find ourselves anxious about God’s Law and its consequences, we must consider the integrity and authenticity of Jesus.

You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say “yes” and “no”. When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

If we find ourselves at peace in giving ourselves over completely to God’s Law, we realize that we have put it all together.

When we compare differing translations of these verses, we begin to synthesize Jesus’ message to bring it into our hearts . . . we begin to put God’s message together. 

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James 2:12-13: Law of Freedom

Saturday, February 18, 201750623-freedom

Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment. (GNT)

Today’s Noontime reflection asks us to explore our own actions to determine how – or if – our words and actions nurture freedom or project fear.

Keep speaking and acting like people who will be judged by a Torah which gives freedom. For judgment will be without mercy toward one who doesn’t show mercy; but mercy wins out over judgment. (CJB)

How well – or how poorly – do we share power with others?

How easily – or how nervously – do we welcome collegiality?

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (NRSV)

How happily – or how begrudgingly – do we open ourselves to new ideas or new relationships?

How trustingly – or how obsessively – do we construct bridges with our enemies?

For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. (MSG)

What does freedom look like in our daily interactions?

How authentically – or how deceptively – do we nurture freedom in others and in ourselves?

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Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part I

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Jesus tells his own generation – and he tells us – that an accounting will be taken.

You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. (THE MESSAGE)

Jesus reminds his neighbors – and he reminds us – that our deeds must match our words.

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

Jesus calls the leaders of his day – and he calls ours – to rise to a level that befits their office.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. (NRSV)

Jesus asks the people of his day – and he asks us – to live as he lives, hope as he hopes, and love as he loves.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. (KJV)

Jesus says to those who will listen – and he says to us – that we must put aside false pretense, we must filter out the noise, and we must cling to all that is good, and whole and holy. Jesus speaks to his generation and he speaks to us. We know what happens to his contemporaries. Do we know what will happen to us?

Tomorrow, the audience.

Using the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we might compare various translations of these verses to better hear The Word.

In the image above, we see the young Jesus taking his place among Temple scholars. Veronese depicts these early leaders as Renaissance Italian courtiers. How would we describe this scene in our own day? 

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2 Timothy 4: Sound Doctrine

Monday, April 18, 2016Carroll-PopeFrancisandHisImplicitRevolution-690

Recently Pope Francis shared thoughts on the family and the Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia); his thoughts drew both praise and scorn as we might imagine. Today as I read commentary, I am drawn back to a favorite reading from 2 Timothy. Thinking about sound doctrine, I found this reflection and post it today as a Favorite.

This reading has special meaning for me as it was the first reading at my Dad’s funeral, and my son Thomas was the lector. These verses embody, for me, the lessons I was taught by my parents – and it is my hope that my own children believe that I too, teach sound doctrine. I know that many times we have “itching ears,” that often we “heap up teachers according to our lusts,” and that we “turn away [our] hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables.” These are the struggles we have with the little messages that constantly bombard us in this world. But I hope and pray to “be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the gospel, fulfill [my] ministry.” Every day as my students pass before me, I try to keep these things in mind while I attempt to “fight the good fight.” In the end, the children are watching us as we watched our elders. I did not miss much as a child or as a student, neither do my children or the young scholars who come into my classroom each day. These children constantly call me to my vocation of listening, learning, teaching, watching, hoping, waiting, believing, seeking and loving.

Pope Francis calls us to sound doctrine not only in his letters but in his every action. I pray that my own life might be an example of such fidelity, authenticity, joy and love.

An interesting commentary on the Pope’s recent encyclical by James Carroll can be found at the NEW YORKER site at: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/new-morality-of-pope-francis-joy-of-love

To read the encyclical, go to: https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf

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Matthew 23:1-12: Preaching and Practicing

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Accustomed to Confusion, Jesus Teaching

Accustomed to Confusion
Jesus Teaching

Jesus’ words are clear and simple as he tells us how to discern false teaching.

False leaders talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

Jesus’ words carry great weight.

Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals.

Jesus’ words bring us an eternal vision.

They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. 

Jesus’ words lay out clear guideposts.

Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 

Jesus’ words describe our lives keenly.

They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

Jesus’ words show us how we might change.

Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let God tell you what to do.

Jesus’ words sustain and nurture.

There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

Jesus’ words clarify and heal, explain and comfort, teach and bring peace.

jesusDo you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Let us pray Jesus’ words together today.

As we think about what we preach and what we practice, we remember to share Jesus’ words with others as we reflect on our Lenten practice for the week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the chalice.

 

 

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Matthew 21:23-27Authority Questioned

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tissot: Authority of Jesus Questioned

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.

authority-link-buuildingAnd 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. 

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Matthew 23Denunciation

Friday, November 20, 2015 tassels

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.

 A favorite from January 28, 2008.

 

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James: Appropriate Action

Thursday, November 12, 2015james-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.   

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

May 4, 2015

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, visit the November 19, 2011 post, Pearls of Great Price at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/11/19/pearls-of-great-price/

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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