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Deuteronomy 28How Big is God?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Written on February 10, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

“So we go to our religious services and make sure we read the latest popular inspirational books and attend all kinds of psychological wellness retreats and conferences.  And we come away feeling good.  But without the willingness to be spiritually challenged, we cannot and will not change.  Without the will to give up whatever is asked of us in order to meet a bigger God, we find that our understanding and experience of the Divine cannot and will not grow.  Try taking that to your prayer and meditation time, and see what happens”.

This citation is from a book that I am reading by Paul Coutinho, S.J. entitled HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?  It is challenging and humorous at the same time and I highly recommend it.  I am smiling as often as I frown.

Today’s Noontime is about the black and white consequences of our obedience.  We may pretend that we follow God . . . or we may truly follow God.  The Old Testament view is that when we do what we are called to do we will prosper physically; when we fail to do what God asks, we suffer.  The Book of Job, however, tells us that this black and white view of the world does not fully serve us because our reality tells us that too frequently the innocent suffer through no fault of their own.  This is a challenge that Coutinho opens to us today: Is it not a very small God who punishes people for misdeeds?  Is it not a very large God who forgives, calls and is infinitely patient?

In the prologue of his book Coutinho writes: “I invite you now to ask yourself: Am I looking to meet a big God, a God without limits?  Do I have the will to experience the Divine – in all its wondrous and infinite possibilities?  He explains that we might begin where Ignatius Loyola began: “by questioning our lives, questioning the world around us, questioning our relationships, questioning our family life, questioning our work, and questioning our passions.  Let’s also question our relationship with God”. 

This is what the Hebrew people confront in today’s Noontime reading:  Everything they do, everything they are has been thrown into question.  At first reading we see this to be a bad thing – they suffer and question.  On second thought we might see this as a good thing . . . they have been given the opportunity to know their God better.  They have the chance to see . . . how big is their God?


A re-post from February 8, 2012.

Image from: http://storagenerve.com/2009/09/17/cloud-the-quest-for-standards/cloud-question-mark-cloud-computing/

Paul Coutinho, S.J., HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? Loyola Press.  Watch Paul Coutinho at: http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/i8icLh   and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozevDJf9q9U

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Luke 8:1-3: Ministering Women – Part II

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bernardino Luini:The Conversion of the Magdalene

Bernardino Luini:The Conversion of the Magdalene

A Favorite from September 6, 2008.

As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God.  Psalm 84:4

From a MAGNIFICAT Meditation (September 22, 2007) by Father Maurice Zundel, a Swiss mystic, poet, philosopher, liturgist and author who writes about the present Messianic age, the age of Mary: The new vision of woman, that Mary inspires by her presence in our history, constitutes a vital opportunity to establish a truly free world . . . Woman, fashioned after this model, transcending the species and attracting man by the light of her inner life, might suggest a real answer to the condition of contemporary humanity.  She can reveal to man the highest spheres of her own being by embodying the perpetual need to surpass himself.

Does the world of men feel this surpassing and so strive to control it?  Does the world of women feel overwhelmed by this challenge and seek to become like men rather than bloom into full femininity?

Father Zundel continues: We cannot hope to find a human solution to all the problems facing us as long as we fail to recognize our capacity for the infinite, a capacity that unhinges us when it cannot be actualized in a field of expansion as vast as its potential.

We cannot expect to find unity among us if we step back from the challenge given us – this challenge of being infinite – of unifying in the divine corpus of Christ.  If we fail to recognize the pitfall of concentrating on all that divides us, of focusing on our lack rather than on our potential, we cannot live up to this potential.  If we believe that this expansion of which Father Zundel writes is impossible, we fail God.  We lack faith in God’s ability to make all things happen.  We fall into the darkness of doubt, of leaving-well-enough-alone, of despair, of anxiety.

We cannot become frightened of the challenges God gives us.  Rather we must be encouraged by the confidence he places in us.  We must rise to the hope and the potential placed in us.  For in this hope lies the rescue of the world.  In this hope lies our true union with God – our infiniteness.

The potential that God places in each of us is what Jesus saw in the women and men who accompanied him to Jerusalem.  The Hope of God was placed in us – men and women – at birth.  The Spirit of God is nurtured in each of us as God’s children – female and male.

Tomorrow, Jerusalem, the cross and the grave.

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Monday, May 20, 2013 – 2 Corinthians

file[1]Chapter 12, verses 7 to 10 and Chapter 13, verses 5 to 13

“By a barrage of questions, by challenges both serious and ironic, by paradox heaped upon paradox, even by insults hurled at his opponents, [Paul] strives to awaken in his hearers a true sense of values and an appropriate response.” (Senior 275). Sometimes in community we need to do the same. We need to challenge, and we also need to use uncomfortable means to save souls. Yet we do this from a stance of weakness, as Paul says, and not from a position which overpowers. We call, we do not force. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. . . For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong.

Paul and the Jesus community of Corinth struggled within a long, faithful, combative covenant, the one never giving up on the other. Scholars believe that this letter may be a cobbling together of several smaller letters and for that reason may seem disjointed; but it is evident that the people in the community of Corinth kept these missives and read them aloud at their gatherings, even though there are passages which are critical of the Corinthians themselves. These people are a solid example of those who are willing to remain in relationship with one another through trial, beyond criticism, straining toward unity and the formation of community.  Paul says in these verses that his own amazing strength comes from his weakness, and that he relies on this mystery of strength through weakness as it was taught by the risen Jesus.  And it is Jesus who continues to teach this lesson to us each day.

We have been celebrating Eastertide and we have examined the gifts we receive through discipleship.  Yesterday we reveled in the Pentecost event when the Spirit comes to live in intimacy with us.  As we witness the mystery of Christ’s passion and resurrection, and our own redemption and restoration, it is good to look at the closing words of this letter. We recognize some of them as the prayer we hear at Mass just before the kiss of peace.

Rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

And may the peace of Christ be with each of you. Amen.

To take part in a Strength Through Weakness discussion board, click on the image above or go to: http://strengththroughweakness.forumer.com/index.php

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.275. Print.

Adapted from a Noontime written on April 5, 2007

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