Posts Tagged ‘being measured’

Esther 5:9-14: Retribution

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


I love this story for its crystalline message: The measure that we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38).  We need to hear this story today because lately we have been reflecting on convolutions and betrayals big and small, on expiatory sacrifices, on our complaints, on making a proper response to the call we hear from God, and on forming the alliances we will need to see us through our journey in this life.  All of these themes are present in the story of Esther . . . and they can weigh heavily on us in this season when we want to participate in Easter joy.

Often we are exhausted from the many lessons of discipleship which we must learn.  Often we grow weary of hearing the message that only God can pass judgment and exact retribution.  Often we spend ourselves down to the bottom of our resources keeping up with both listening for the call and by managing our human desire to ask for revenge.  Often our personal well runs dry after we drink from it more times than we replenish it.

Today offers us an opportunity to fill the well, to re-stock the granary, to rest a bit and to recoup.  There are many psalms and stories in scripture in which humans petition retribution and violent revenge on their enemies who appear to skate through life unscathed by the wreckage they leave in their wake.  What today’s story tells us is this:  These enemies drown in their own wake. 

Yes, we reply, we hear this . . . but when will we see it . . . and why does it happen . . . and how do we survive?

We can never visit this story often enough.  We help ourselves if we read it several times a year because it has so much to offer and speaks to the basic human desire to judge and to enact our own retribution.  Various Bibles order the inserts differently and the introductory commentary and the accompanying footnotes will explain the reasons for the jumbled structure of this book which ought to be important to each of.  It is through this story that we are reminded of how our enemies fall.  It is through this story that we remember that we doom ourselves by not answering the call we hear.  It is through this story that we can assure ourselves that our reward will be certain, definite . . . and will flow from our own hands.  It is also from this story we learn that our own actions wash back on us if we enter into the world of envy, fear, obsession and hate.

Rembrandt: Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

Today we read about how Haman is content and happy with the plot he is weaving.  We see how he flatters himself and gets lost in his own distorted view of life.  We cannot miss how Haman’s friends and wife misdirect him.  These are such important lessons for us to read.  We cannot hear them enough.  These are lessons we must see and live because . . . in the living of these events, we become more like God.  We respond to the call of our potential.  We enter Christ’s Mystical Body.  This is how we survive.

And so we pray:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are weary from learning the lessons of life: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we tire from seeking and waiting and searching: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we become lost in the webs we and others weave: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are exhausted from living on the edge:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.


A re-post from May 21, 2012 .

Images from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/haman-begging-esther-for-mercy and http://christianrep.com/blog/2010/08/08/let-your-life-speak/

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Numbers 1: God’s Yardstickyardstick

Friday, January 1, 2016

We human beings always want to know how many, how much, or how often; we seem consumed with counting and itemizing.  We are driven by data; we want our sports teams to be first rather than second or third.  Some of the techniques used by writers of both ancient epic poetry and modern magical realism are similar and they have to do with numbers: listing, enumerating, and exaggeration of how much, how many and how often.  Is this why we are constantly placing ourselves against the yardstick of others rather than self?  Is it an innate quality we humans have to want to be higher, lower, bigger, smaller, greater, less, best, worst at something?

It is good news that God relates to us as individuals and urges us to rise to our personal best – without comparing ourselves to anyone or anything else.

Today we read about how the Hebrew nation takes great pains to count itself; even the enumerators are named.  Some tribes are large, some small, and this will later determine the amount of territory they receive in the Promised Land.  Perhaps we subconsciously worry about the attention we receive from God or others – will we be too small or too unimportant to catch anyone’s notice?

This is the traditional time of year when we look to past and future, stepping from one year to another.  Really, it is a day like any other but it is such a good day to assess as we plan to move forward into a new year.

As we end another cycle, it is also a good time to thank God for all God has done for us – particularly in this last year.  Some of us will have long lists of new intentions, others shorter but lists nonetheless.  As we are making our own enumeration, we may want to pray Psalm 96 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all you lands.  Sing to the Lord; bless God’s name; announce God’s salvation, day after day.

Even when life is bleak there will be something to celebrate.  We may not see this in our moment of suffering, but eventually we do.  After pain comes relief, then finally joy.  After sorrow comes release, then understanding.  After tears, there is a time to sing . . . Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all you lands.  Sing to the Lord; bless God’s name; announce God’s salvation, day after day. 

Let us count ourselves in a new way, using God’s measure of success rather than our own. Let us count ourselves as the faithful, the steadfast, the hope-filled and merciful.  And let us sing a new song to bless God’s name.  Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all you lands.  Sing to the Lord; bless God’s name; announce God’s salvation, day after day. 

Adapted from a reflection written on December 31, 2010.

In the opening days of 2016 we will spend time looking for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.


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plumb bobWednesday, March 19, 2014

Amos 7:7-9

Vision of the Plummet

As a child I learned to use a plumb bob while helping my Dad lay the foundation for a new wing he was adding to our home.  He taught us the importance of walls being plumb and angles being square.  The better the foundation, the better the building.  Today, Amos describes the Lord, standing by a wall, holding up a plumb line.  What does the Lord see?

God says: Each time you see that you are out of alignment, you need not panic. I hold up the plumb line that always accompanies you.  It was established in the moment of your creation.  You need not fear this simple measure for it measures you against your potential.  When you listen for my voice, when you receive my message, you will find that you are as plumb and square as you need be. You will find that you are a good and sturdy foundation on which I can build my kingdom.  When you become distant and turn away, the plumb line fades, and you waver.  None of this is difficult to understand.  The plummet is not really difficult to see.  This measure is quite simple once you agree to look.

How and why are we to be measured?  My Dad always assured us that when we measure ourselves against the potential God places in us, we need not worry.  As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pause to reflect, to listen, and to open our eyes to the measure of the plummet.

Look again at the image of the virtue Prudence in the March 11, 2014  Noontime post. What does she dangle in her hand?   https://thenoontimes.com/2014/03/11/the-first-woe/ 

For more on how to use a plumb line or a plumb bob, go to: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/495-the-plumb-bob/#.Ux93XF_D_IU

For more on interpreting this passage from Amos, go to: http://biblehub.com/amos/7-8.htm

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