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Posts Tagged ‘chaos’

Matthew 7:7: Ask


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

ask-seek-and-knock[1]Matthew 7:7

Ask

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

We are too easily convinced that God does not listen or that God is entirely absent; and yet we are constantly receiving God’s gift of life.  Our hearts beat, blood flows, we feel hunger, thirst, anger, joy, anxiety, peace. God is continually present to us, and still me complain and worry.

God says: Because I created you, I understand that you become anxious when it appears as though the chaos of the world will swallow you. I understand why you believe that your welfare is not important to me when you do not see me as present in the events that flood your senses. But I am with you always, waiting for you to call upon me. I dwell in your heart where your center lies.  I occupy your mind where your thoughts collide. And I nourish your soul where your Spirit takes shape. It is impossible for me to leave you. I cannot leave your side. I wait for you to knock at the door of my own sacred heart. Ask, seek, knock . . . begin with the first step. I am here. Ask.

We cannot allow either the enormity or the insignificance of our problems to discourage us from asking God for help. When life crowds or confuses us, let us take the first step. And let us ask . . .

Enter the words ask-seek-knock into the blog search bar and reflect on when, and how and why we ask . . . or do not ask God for help.


Image from: http://theshinyheadedprophet.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/are-we-ready-to-ask-seek-knock/

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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Psalm-69-14[1]Psalm 69:2-3

Great Distress

Save me, O God, for the waters have reached my neck.  I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me.

Anyone who has stepped into murky waters at land’s edge will know the sensation of mud oozing between toes. It does not take much imagination to conjure up the feeling of water rising slowly to envelope us. Death by drowning overtakes the lungs, strangling any cry for help.

God says: The chaos and deception of the world have frightened you; but remember that I am always with you. The dragging darkness threatens you; but keep in mind that I guide and protect you. The feelings of loss and desperation weigh you down, robbing you of your natural buoyancy and positive outlook. Turn to me when the world sweeps over you. Rely on me when darkness becomes too heavy. Trust me when you are at your last ounce of energy and hope. When great distress paralyzes you and saps your very breath, allow me to breathe for you. I have plumbed the breadth and depths of the ocean; I know the boggy reed beds where you have lost your way. Lift your eyes and heart and hopes to me. And I will pull you out of your great distress. 

We recognize that we too often rely on self rather than God. Let us determine today that it will be God’s name we call upon when shadowy depths bring us great distress.


Image from: http://www.iwantcovers.com/psalm-6914/

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sirach 24:7-8

Seeking Our Inheritance

When we reflect on Scripture we find stories and themes of irony. The last shall be first while the first are last. The chosen people squander their advantage. The son who cheats his brother becomes founder of a nation. The faithless wife has a faithful husband. The one who denies knowing the Messiah becomes the Rock on which a religion stands. The chief persecutor of the fledgling Jesus community becomes a source of strength. We must die in order to live. Examples seem endless. Every chapter brings us a new example of how our human existence pulls us in opposite directions. We may consider this as confusing, or we may use this fog of contradiction to teach us. As always with Scripture and in life, our stumbling blocks become our lesson plans, our hurdles become our stepping stones when we open our hearts, minds, ears and eyes to the wisdom that suffering and chaos offer. Today we reflect on the inheritance we already hold and yet seek. Perhaps the richness of this inheritance is too much for us to take in.

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? In Genesis we see the devil tempt Adam and Eve with the promise of something they already hold. You can become like gods, Satan tells us just as he told the couple living in the perfection of Eden; yet clearly, they already have this inheritance. What was it they sought? And what do we seek?

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? Satan tempts Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, again offering him gifts he already holds: the awesome and infinite powers of God. As sisters and brothers of Christ, we too share this same inheritance. Are we able to put aside the false siren song of power and fame to take up our inheritance of humility, patience, perseverance, and love of our enemies? It is difficult to follow Jesus’ example, yet we know that The Way he shows us is the way of our inheritance of peace.

In Jacob make your dwelling, in Israel your inheritance. What is the dwelling of Jacob? What is this inheritance of Israel? The story of Jacob is one of deceit and redemption. This is a tent that shelters our own story. The Twelve Tribes of Israel show us the diversity of God’s family. This is a family in which we can find membership. The gifts we seek we already possess. The promise we pursue we already own. When we give ourselves over to the Creator, we hold the same promise given to Abraham of security and protection. We hold the same miracle of impossibility given to Sarah. When we become one with Jesus to best of our talents, we enjoy the peace of this union that only Christ can give. When we live in the Spirit that binds each of us to all, we rejoice in the inheritance we seek. The inheritance that is already given. Let us celebrate this inheritance today and all days by living the gift of immortal life we already have, that despite our infidelity and deceit, we find a home in salvation. Amid the chaos and fear, we find peace and salvation.


For a reflection on the Temptations experienced by Jesus, visit The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Image from: https://smartasset.com/investing/how-does-inheritance-work

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Edward Gooch: Ezekiel’s Vision

Ezekiel 12:1-12

A Rebellious House

The prophet Ezekiel writes about the time of captivity when the people of Israel were conquered by their enemies. Leaders and the intelligentsia are carried away while a faithful remnant remains to live in the ruins of what was once a splendid city. A culture that had been the envy of all peoples goes underground and clings to the God who has lead and protected them through millennia. Chaos arrives when corruption flourishes, and those close to the center of power enable lies and deceit. Status, wealth and comfort trump charity, empathy and authentic living. This is, indeed, a rebellious house. And in the midst of pandemic, we take time to reflect on our own rebellious house.

They have eyes to see but do not see. Some of us persist in imagining a reality that does not exit.

They have ears to hear but do not hear. Sometimes we insist on imposing a point of view.

For they are a rebellious house. At times we are infatuated with our own importance.

Prepare your baggage as though for an exile. We affirm evil when we and neglect science and biology.

Migrate from where you live to another place. We must step out of our old selves to encounter the new.

I did as I was told. I set out in darkness and shouldered my burden. We must take responsibility for our silence or inaction.

The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden and set out in darkness. The truth will always reveal itself.

Ezekiel lives in exile with an exiled people and many of us may feel as though we also live in a place and time that are unrecognizable. But our hope lies in the promise and grace of the God who loves and forgives, nurtures and heals. Our future lies in opening our ears more than our mouths, opening our hearts more than our eyes. There are times when we alone cannot resolve entrenched violence or evil; and it is at those times that we might take up the gift of God’s love as we head out into exile with our baggage prepared.

When we discover that we live in a rebellious house and fear begins to rise, as we prepare our baggage for the next leg in our journey, let us remind one another that there is always hope when we come together in solidarity for the truth. Let us arm ourselves with integrity, curiosity, empathy, and humility. Let us remember that in darkness there is always an opportunity for the light. Ezekiel tells us . . . Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house. Let us recognize Christ in one another, join our hands, open our hearts, and come together in the mind of Christ.


For another reflection on this citation, enter the word While they were looking on into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://www.learnreligions.com/introduction-to-the-book-of-ezekiel-701131

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2 Samuel 8Bureaucracy

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Commentary will explain for us that what we read today will both settle and unsettle us.  After reading the accounts of combat, the writer brings us to a kind of resting place where he summarizes for us the results of recent warfare; we have the borders of David’s new nation defined.  We also see how David determines to administer his newly-forged kingdom, and with this description of personnel and policy we have a foreshadowing of what is to come.  An uneasy feeling may flicker through us when we realize that David – who has been so faithful to God – now allows himself to nibble at the edges of his authenticity.

From THE HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, page 267: “Skirting the edges of Deuteronomic law (“nor is he to multiply greatly for himself silver and gold,” Deut. 17:17), the king dedicates gifts and booty of silver and gold to Yhwh [Yahweh] (8:11).  So “Yhwh gave David victory everywhere he went (v. 14) . . . For David’s sons to be priests is to flout the Mosaic law that draws the priesthood exclusively from the tribe of Levi . . . Many versions, like many commentators, have attempted to smooth the text by rewriting it”.  It seems that with David – just as we find in our own lives – with every gain of stability there will be a fluttering of worry.

Almost daily in our world of instant, mass communication we have word that more nepotism has been exposed.  Another leader falls to the noisy masses; one more plot of corrupt practices covered by officials is revealed.  There is nothing new in our modern headlines and today we see that bureaucracy breeds its own end.  Transparency may be the present watchword for leaders, but dishonesty appears to be the practice.  There is something about power that corrupts even the best of us.

In Jesus’ early church the structure was horizontal; it lacked a hierarchy of platoons and divisions; there was no ladder for priests to climb.  Jesus names Peter as the rock (Matthew 16:18) on which the church will be erected by those who accompany him . . . and by billions of kingdom-builders to come.  Christ does not lay out an elaborate bureaucracy of functionaries.  Instead, he charges each of us with our own participation function in his community according to our gifts.

In 2 Samuel 11 we hear of David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Can it be that we begin to see David wobble in chapter 8 once he establishes the kingdom of Israel, once he becomes comfortable?  Perhaps we can learn a lesson from today’s story, and perhaps it is this.  When we find ourselves on firm ground and feeling confident in a newly-formed strength, we will want to pause and reflect on the subtle snares that lie hidden in our success.  This is not to say that we ought not enjoy the satisfaction that comes from having achieved stability in our lives; but it is to say that once we humans conquer our enemies and our fears . . . we must remember who it is who makes all of this conquest and all of this steadiness possible.  And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, Remind us that when we celebrate stability after chaos, we celebrate you.  Tell us often that when we find peace after struggle, that peace is you.  Guide us in the remembering that layers of power do not govern well but that a convoluted structure leaves many little places for little demons to hide.  We know that you want to erase fear from our lives.  We know that you want to bring us stability.  We know that you are present to us and in us directly.  We know how much you love us.  Keep us from creating labyrinths that separate us from one another and from you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who lives in each of us.  Amen. 


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 267. Print.

Image from: http://www.visualsermons.co.uk/

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Thursday, October 6, 2016order-chaos

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

We do not want to stir or foment division.  As Christians and as those who live in the light we want to be able to say that we have added to the world’s serenity and not caused unhealthy competition; but when “serenity” is used to avoid doing and saying what needs doing and saying, this is not God’s uproar we initiate, it is the darkness.  We enter into God’s uproar when the marginalized are included, when bridges are built and wounds are healed.  Once we begin to look carefully at the tumult around us, we realize that there is a fine difference between chaos with its attendant prejudices and God’s uproar.  We see the former as the work of darkness; the latter as the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we also call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies and when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, we cause God’s uproar.

Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Wednesday, October 5, 201625-republican-convention-chaos-w750-h560-2x

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service . . . or it can call us to bond with God even more strongly.  The choice is always ours to make.

Yesterday’s Mass readings continue this same theme: Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.  And there are these from yesterday’s Morning Prayer: Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.  They advise us that resentment will be a constant companion in this life and that we will want to learn to live without it here so as to not anticipate it in the next life.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . .  Store up treasures in heaven . . .

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2016

E.O. WIlson

E.O. Wilson

Unhealthy competition brings about a kind of chaos in the sound; it becomes impossible to find inner peace and community serenity. How then, can we see God’s presence in the work of Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers? How then do we understand the kind of uproar that Jesus’ life and words so often engender?

Each time we stand up for the marginalized, we bring about God’s uproar. When bridges are built over chaos and disarray, when wounds are healed, when differences reconciled, we enter in God’s uproar.  Once we look carefully at the tumult around us, we begin to realize that there is a fine difference the chaos of darkness with its attendant prejudices, the transformation of God’s uproar.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies, when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, when we insist on reminding ourselves and others of Christ’s good news, we cause God’s uproar.

wild-map-640Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by Christ’s light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

Consider God’s uproar and read the NY Times review of  Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by O.E. Wilson, biologist. Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard and the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Or consider the Audubon Society’s perspective at: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/eo-wilson-wants-us-leave-half-earth

Visit the EO Wilson Foundation, click on the images above for more information, or watch a PBS episode on Wilson’s bold proposal at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/ 

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