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Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’


Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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Isaiah 24 – 27Elusive Antagonists

Monday, October 8, 2018

Written on February 25 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Scripture persistently warns us about how to live, whom to follow, and what traps lie ahead to ensnare us.  All we have to do is to pay a bit of attention.

Each of us has our personal impediments to the progress of the soul.  All of us must come face to face with ourselves and the lives we have lived.  Our antagonists are sometimes in our faces, but more frequently they slip in among our friends and loved ones to betray us in our inmost heart.  Those who oppose us openly are easily identifiable; the more dangerous enemies, Isaiah warns, are those who come in the guise of goodness – and for this reason the Lord turns the world upside down . . . to see who shakes out, and who has learned the skills needed by the faithful.

If we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given shelter to the homeless and taken in the lost, we have been putting ourselves through our lessons well.

If we have mourned the dead, tended to the sick, ministered to the imprisoned and entered into the vineyard to do God’s work, we have becomes accustomed to living in mercy and compassion.

If we have witnessed to evil, rebuked our companions, atoned for our sins and made changes in our lives, we know how to live in God’s vineyard . . . and we will put our heads down, go indoors, and await the passing of the dreadful singing of the harvesting sword.

We ought not fear the obstacles we constantly stumble against for they are lesson plans that refine us.  If we have answered God’s call and accepted our work as remnant toiling in God’s vineyard, then we need not fear the coming of the day as we see it here . . . for with God all things are possible.  God will turn all that is evil to an end that is goodness, and we will know peace out of chaos, justice out of ruin, humility out of pride, love out of envy, and joy out of sorrow.  Our elusive antagonists who have hounded our heels and sent chills of fear through our bones will have honed our skills at kingdom building and as remnant . . . and we will find to our amazement, that we will have readied ourselves for the work of God’s eternal city.


A re-post from September 5, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.annerobertson.com/2009/04/naboths-vineyard.html

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2 Samuel 15:13-18: Fleeing the Sanctuary

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

In thinking about David as King and priestly leader of a chosen nation, we might forget about the twisting and turning of his story and the times when he fled a place or a people where he had previously found refuge.  One summer, I was able to slowly read the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles to get a better picture of the spiritual history from which we spring.  As with all history, the saga is full of error and woe, accompanied by the providential watchfulness of God, and our experience of joy.  The story of David is no different, and it merits careful reading and reflection because there are many places in this narrative in which we will want to stop along the way, places that speak to both our losses and our celebrations.

From Psalm 24: Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who shall stand in his holy place?  The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things, who has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbor.

David Roberts: Citadel of Jerusalem

We are imperfect, yet we cannot let this imperfection keep us from seeking the perfection that is God.  Sometimes this seeking is also a healthy escape as when Joseph takes Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt to avoid the wrath of corrupt leadership.  We notice in today’s reading that David in flight pauses opposite the ascent to the Mount of Olives.  This is the place where Jesus also halts before entering Jerusalem triumphantly on the day we now celebrate on Palm Sunday.  He stays there and sends his disciples ahead to prepare for his entry.  Many times in the Gospel, we see Jesus pause, retreat, and even vacate a place or people.  We will also notice, if we continue to read, that he gathers himself for re-entry.

From 2 Chronicles 30:18-19: May the Lord, who is good, grant pardon to everyone who has resolved to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, though he be not clean as holiness requires.

Absalom

Sometimes it is necessary to evacuate the sanctuary.  Sometimes we leave behind all that we cherish, all that has made us feel safe and comfortable.  Sometimes we step off into an abyss of doubt and anxiety because we fear the destruction of the people and places that normally are our havens.

From Psalm 92How great are your works, Lord!  How profound your purpose!

Sometimes we must leave the sanctuary . . . and take the faithful with us . . . because we go toward something that holds greater value . . . greater potential . . . greater hope and life.

From MAGNIFICAT today: To be a disciple means to follow the Master.  He ascended the hill of the cross and transformed it into the seat of glory, a holy place.  Risen, he invites us to leave behind all worthless desires and seek him in holiness, that is, in love. 

Sometimes we are driven from the sanctuary by the ones we hold dearest . . . as with David and his son Absalom who later self-implodes.

1 Corinthians 2:11: No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Sometimes we evacuate the haven to look for restoration and then, like David, we may be lead back to this refuge. As humans, it is impossible to know the plan or mind of God, but what we do know, if we allow ourselves to rest in the Spirit, is God’s care, Christ’s healing touch and restoring hand. Yet despite this love, there are times when – in order to take in the enormity of this precious gift, in order to fully receive this gift – we first must evacuate our safe harbor. We must flee the sanctuary.

Tomorrow, despite our flight . . . we make a presentation of our work.

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 15, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 15 May 2008. Print.


Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul and http://www.darnleyfineart.com/component/igallery/david-roberts and http://justoccurred.blogspot.com/2014/07/that-this-young-guy-had-issues.html 

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Jeremiah 20:10-13: Whispering 

Friday, March 23, 2018

On this Friday before Palm Sunday, we visit the first reading for today’s liturgy, and we reflect upon the difficulties of life when we believe our friends have betrayed us.

For I hear many whispering:
    “Terror is all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
    All my close friends
    are watching for me to stumble.

On this Friday before we re-live Christ’s deep passion for eternal life, and deep love for God’s people, we reflect upon the path that is open to us when we feel terror on every side.

But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior;
    therefore my persecutors will stumble,
    and they will not prevail.
They will be greatly shamed,
    for they will not succeed.

On this Friday before we enter into the holiest of weeks, we reflect upon the wonders that God works in our lives . . . and we give thanks.

Sing to the Lord;
    praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
    from the hands of evildoers.

Visit the posts Desire and Terror, and Terror and Wisdom on this blog. https://thenoontimes.com/2012/05/09/desire-and-terror/ and https://thenoontimes.com/2012/03/04/terror-and-wisdom/

Image from: http://hearinghealthmatters.org/betterhearingconsumer/2013/the-hearing-loss-whisper-game/

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Ezekiel 12: Ridicule

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fake Dictionary, definition of the word bullying.

In Acts 26 we see that the people of Caesarea listening to Paul think him mad from too much learning!  Today we see that the prophet wars exacted a toll on those who spoke on God’s behalf.  The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY tells us that in chaotic times such as those in the days of the exile, prophets often gave “conflicting messages concerning the way people should react and by predicting different courses for future events.  In times of prophetic conflict, people are likely to question prophetic authority, and prophets often respond to this situation by undergirding their own authority in various ways and by undermining the authority of their prophetic rivals”.  We see the conflict in Ezekiel 12 with false visions or deceitful divinations within the house of Israel.  This calls us to think about the false prophesies or divinations we may have witnessed or passed on.  How do we know a false prophet when we see one?

If we have never placed our faith in those who betray our trust, we might thank God. If we have suffered betrayal, we may become more circumspect in our interactions with others, and we may even discover that our actions become too cautious, too prudent. We must guard against giving in to any temptation to strike back, or to submitting to fear or paranoia. We must be willing to move forward in hope, ignoring any ridicule we suffer, doing the work we are meant to do.

Ridicule is a weapon used expertly by mean girls and bullies.  A recent survey gave us an interesting statistic: upwards of 68% of people who dislike their work do not dislike the actual task they have chosen or been given . . . they dislike the work place . . . because of bullying. We may naïvely believe that most people in most work places have equipped themselves with the necessary tools to defend themselves from haranguing and harassment.

In the U.S. this spring and summer we have seen bold examples of rude behavior and name-calling used to overpower others. This meanness is often described later as “a joke gone bad,” sarcasm or frank speech that is meant to counteract political correctness.

We might look for solutions to bullying but no matter the action we decide to take it is always good to remember to communicate our fears to God. If we do not know where to begin, we might find Psalm 42 helpful: Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.  My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of my God? . . . Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of the waters: your torrents and all your waves swept over me . . . With cries that pierce me to the heart, my enemies revile me, saying to me all day long “Where is your God?”  Why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?  Hope in God: I will praise him still, my savior and my God.

Where is your God?  Hope in God. We will praise God still.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?  . . .  Go to my brothers and your brothers and tell them, “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.  (John 20:15)

Where is your God?  Hope in God. We will praise God still.

When bullies approach, as they surely will, we must hope in God to defend us from ridicule. We must rely on God to show us the way to go. And we must praise God still.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 25, 2008.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we open our eyes and ears to God’s wisdom as God shows us how we might confront the ridicule we meet.

For a parent guide to combat bullying, click on the image above or visit: http://wpri.com/parent-resource-guide/bullying-prevention/ 

For an interesting article on workplace bullying, visit the Society for Human Resource Management at: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/1014-viewpoint-workplace-bullying.aspx

 

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John 13:31-35: Loving Judas

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Caravaggio: The Taking of Jesus Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

Caravaggio: The Taking of Jesus
Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

We have reflected on seeking, finding and recognizing Jesus. We have thought about Jesus as God’s Word in human form among us.  We have explored what God must mean when coming to live with us and one of us and we have been incredulous as we see how God, through Jesus, converts the impossible to the possible. Perhaps we remain incredulous. Today we see Jesus act in a most challenging way . . .

When Judas had left them, Jesus said . . .

We cannot escape betrayal, abandonment, deception or chaos. These disruptive forces must be seen for what they are. When in doubt we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both pain and joy, corruption and peace.

Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: Where I go, you are not able to come.

Jesus does not stop Judas from reporting his whereabouts to the authorities. Instead, he prepares those who love him. When confronted with our own Judas, we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both sorrow and rejoicing, evil and mercy.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.

Jesus does not stop us from doing evil. Rather, he calls us to his side, to accompany him as a child follows a loving parent. When lost in our world of ego and self-orientation, we might follow Jesus, the one who knows both cruelty and kindness, hate and love.

When we suffer at the hands of Judas, let us remember to follow Jesus in love.

Compare differing versions of these verses today, and allow God’s Word to bring reconciliation so that we might better love the Judas in our lives. Or enter the words Judas or betrayal into the blog search bar and explore. 

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John 12:1-11: Anointing in Bethany

Holy Monday, March 21, 2016Mary_Anointing_Jesus__feet

Perhaps it was in deep gratitude that Mary, Lazarus’ sister, uses a jar of expensive aromatic oil to anoint and massage Jesus’ feet when he visits his friends’ home in Bethany. These are the same feet that will be pierced in a short time giving us a sign of Jesus’ deep sacrificial love for each of us. Other omens of the drama to come unfold in these verses: Judas’ betrayal and the plot to do away with Lazarus. As we read and reflect on these verses today, let us consider how Jesus’ great love is met with great betrayal. On this Holy Monday, let us resolve to bring healing and peace to the world – even in the face of great deceit or duplicity – so that in our small way we might perform our own anointing of Jesus’ feet.

Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ anointing in Bethany in the house of Simon, a man who suffers from leprosy. (Matthew 26:6-13)For another Noontime reflection, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/03/11/the-anointing/ March 11, 2013

Today we might also consider the Passover anointing of the faithful before their exodus from Egypt and how it foreshadows Jesus’ anointing in Bethany. For a video message from musician Matt Maher that reflects on the Exodus Passover and the Last Supper,  visithttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN9hroFevrM

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Matthew 20:17-28: The Chalice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016communion-cup_bread

Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedee brothers, asks Jesus to give her sons places of honor in the new kingdom; yet she does not fully understand . . . and so Jesus explains the terrible and beautiful importance of this special cup of blessing.

From Psalm 116 (verses 12-18)

What can I give back to God
    for the blessings the LORD poured out on me?

We are accustomed to asking God for favors. Do we think about giving thanks for our cup of salvation?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

We are accustomed to thanking God quietly and privately. Do we think to join our voices with others in praise of God’s goodness?

I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
    and I’ll do it together with God’s people.

We are accustomed to joining in Sabbath prayer and song. Do we think about giving testimony to a broader circle about God’s mercy?

When they arrive at the gates of death,
    God welcomes those who love the LORD.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
    your faithful servant: set me free for your service!

bread cupWe are accustomed to approaching each day’s obstacles. Do we think about serving God by tending to the barriers we meet as Jesus does? Do we think about the cup we have asked to take as curse or blessing? Are we prepared to accept the cup that passes before us?

As we think about God’s beautiful and challenging cup of salvation, we remember our Lenten practice. 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 rich man and Lazarus.

 

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Mark 14:17-21: The Betrayer

Caravaggio: The Taking of Christ

Caravaggio: The Taking of Christ

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

During Holy Week we often reflect on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus on the evening of the Last Supper. Today in our journey through Mark, we open scripture to the moment when we hear Jesus announce that his betrayer is quite close by. As we read varying translations of these verses, we ask ourselves if we have suffered betrayal at the hands of someone close to us . . . or if we have been the betrayer. In either case, Christ understands the piercing pain of this intense suffering that comes when we arrive at the end of our strength.

From MAGNIFICAT: In the suffering of Christ, we hear the depths of God’s love spoken in a language we can understand. (Cameron 78)

From Psalm 69: More numerous than the hairs on my head are those who hate me without cause.  Those who attack me with lies are too much for my strength . . . You know how they taunt and deride me; my oppressors are all before you.  Taunts have broken my heart; I have reached the end of my strength.

God says: Life will include sorrow but you are not expected to cry alone. Life will include joy. Remember me as you celebrate. When you are betrayed, remember that my son has walked this Way before you, and he walks with you today.

This is the dreadful beauty of the story of Christ.  He suffers with us . . . so that we might believe.  If we can but stay with him a little while.

When we spend time with Psalm 69 and Mark 14:17-21, we find the gift of Christ’s company. If we can stay awhile with him. Choose a face in the image above and focus on the emotion Caravaggio communicates. Who are we in this moment of betrayal? And what does Christ say to us? 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 20 March 2008: 78. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 20, 2008.

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