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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’


Matthew 22:1-14: The Wedding Feast

Sunday, August 4, 2019 

Tintoretto: The Wedding Feast

When I was a child, each time I heard this parable I thought the king to be a bit harsh.  How was the man tossed into the night to know that he should have dressed up for the party?  Hadn’t he been halted on his way down the road of life and invited suddenly to the Wedding?  Now as an adult I understand that the point of this story is about being prepared always.    It is about going about life as if each day holds an invitation for the Wedding.  It is about rising each morning knowing that we are called.  It is about taking the time each morning to put on the wedding garment before I step across my threshold into the world.  It is about checking the garment for readiness several times a day.  It is about laying out that garment each night as I go to my bed . . . in preparation for dinning the next day.

Christ is constantly prepared to receive us.  God the Father is constantly guiding and protecting us.  The Holy Spirit is constantly abiding and comforting us.  Can I not be constantly mindful of these great gifts of being called . . . being protected . . . being loved?

May we never be reduced to silence as is the guest in today’s parable.

May we always be ready and willing to go to the feast.

May we always strive for constancy . . . just as our God is always constant with us.


Image from: http://abcdfinnestad.blogspot.com/2010/06/parable-of-wedding-feast.html

Written on July 14, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.  For more on The Wedding Feast, click on the image above or go to: http://abcdfinnestad.blogspot.com/2010/06/parable-of-wedding-feast.html

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Song of Songs 6:4-12: The Charms of the Beloved

Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Tirzah Valley

Tirzah is a probable reference to the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and most likely means pleasantThe following descriptions use pastoral allusions, creating images that would certainly be pleasant to the people in the first century before Christ.  The other marriage imagery is familiar to New Testament readers who are accustomed to hearing Christ describe his own union with us, his church, his bride, his beloved.  Footnotes send us to Matthew 9:15; 25:1-13; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32 and Revelation 19:7; 21:9.  The portion of the Song of Songs we focus on today is a description of the charming characteristics of the groom’s beloved – – – a description of us, the bride.

We see here that Christ is centered on wooing us, drawing us into his ways.  Do we consider Christ to be the center of our own lives?

We read here that Christ seeks us out no matter where we are.  Do we seek Christ in the same way?

We reflect on the fact that Christ sacrifices all he has – himself – for his beloved.  Do we sacrifice all that we are and have in the same way for Christ?

This is how we acquire the charming inner beauty of the Beloved we read about today: through our constancy, preparedness, fidelity, and trust.  This inner beauty radiates outward, calling to the groom, echoing his own faithful love.  Nothing else matters.  No other union is more real.  No other love is more secure.

This Song is accredited to Solomon yet was most likely written at the end of the Exile (around 538 B.C.E.).  It describes the intimacy of a conjugal relationship; the same relationship we are to have with Christ.  In such a close bond there in nothing hidden, there is no illusion, no deception.  We must put all of that aside if we are to find the happiness we seek.

In this sublime description of abiding, ardent and even passionate love, we find the meaning otherwise hidden from us by a material life full of itself with its alluring deceits, waywardness and trickery.  If we are to be both serene and passionate in our love for God, if we are to find peace that holds us faithful, we must put all worldly ways aside because . . . my lover belongs to me and I to him . . . Before I know it, my heart makes me the blessed one of my kinswoman.

Pomegranate Trees

The invitation to union with the beloved is open to each of us.  So let us go down to the garden to look at the fresh growth of the valley, to see if the vines are in bloom, if the pomegranates have blossomed . . . let us set a little time apart each day . . . for it is in this serene and peace-filled place that we encounter a love we have only otherwise imagined . . . the love of Christ.


A re-post from May 26, 2012. Originally written on April 21, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

For a Bible Walk through the Tirzah Valley click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/Makhruk.html

For some interesting history, and a few tips on how to eat a pomegranate, click on the fruit image or go to: http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2009/10/how-to_eat_a_pomegranate.html

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Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Isaiah 45Reminders

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The wise men approach from the East, bearing gifts that will sanctify, purify and sustain.  They are yet another sign of God’s promise to us that he loves, guards and guides us.  We will want to be watching for the many reminders God gives to us as marking posts along the way of our journey.

This reflection was written on January 3, 2010 and it is posted today as a Favorite . . .

I have not spoken from hiding nor from some dark place on the earth . . . I, the Lord, promise justice, I foretell what is right.

The prophet Isaiah brings us a message today that we already know; yet we can use a frequent reminder. He announces the coming of hope, the arrival of the long-awaited one who frees us from defeat, the advent of one who helps each of us to cross our daily hurdles.

It was I who stirred up one for the triumph of justice; all his ways I make level.

If we wish to walk in the level path, we have only to follow God’s anointed one.  In today’s reading it is Cyrus, the Persian king who rises up against Babylon and releases the captive nations.  As the New Testament story tells us, God also sends a true Messiah who releases us from our bondage of sorrow and chaos.  He sends the Christ.

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.  Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up!

Today we celebrate the idea that although political kings did not recognize the power of Christ, three wise magi from the East bring frankincense, gold and myrrh to the most unlikely of all kings, the child of Light, the child of Justice.  Isaiah reminds us that this child brings something to us which we all seek . . . true peace, eternal serenity . . . if only we might walk with him a little way, pray with him a little while.

Come and assemble, gather together, you fugitives . . .

Rather than stand alone on the rampart, Isaiah reminds us that we must gather into phalanxes with all of the faithful, that we must put aside our squabbles so that we might rise at the sound of the Shepherd’s voice to form solidarity as we witness.

Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!

There is no dark corner that the eye of the Lord does not see.  There is no sequestered portion of creation from which the ear of God cannot hear the plea of the weary.  There is no god who can outlast our God, none who can withstand our God, not one who will win any battle against this God.

The prophet Isaiah brings us a message today that we already know . . . yet we can use a frequent reminder.

Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!


As we ponder the plight of refugees around the world in 219, we visit this re-post from January 2, 2012.

Images from: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wise-men-ancient-text-differs-bible-tale-magi/story?id=12460820 

For an interesting new twist to the Magi story, click the image above or go to http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wise-men-ancient-text-differs-bible-tale-magi/story?id=12460820

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Acts 20:25-38Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A 1915 Postcard: New Year’s Resolutions

A new day dawns, a new year begins . . . we have before us a new opportunity for reconnection and rebirth.  In today’s Noontime we examine part of Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian elders in Miletus in which he lays out a kind of instruction manual for those whom he has brought into Christ’s infant church . . . and for whom he has great love.

As we begin a new year, we might resolve to take Paul’s admonitions seriously; we might decide to be faithful followers of the Gospel . . . and this may be more difficult than we first think.

I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be fearless in proclaiming the Good News to all we know.  In our secular world it is so easy to say nothing when others rant about how the poor are lazy, about how we need to take back America from the immigrants.  It is easy to remain silent in the face of such anger.  It is convenient to forget that most of us are not descended from indigenous peoples.

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be both watchful and loving, and let us determine to be in the world but not of it. In a presidential election year it will be easy to join a drumbeat of complaint.  It will be difficult to listen without judging.  It will be awkward to express a view that is contrary to the majority.

Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to maintain healthy boundaries as we take care of ourselves even as we tend to the needs of others.  In a self-centered society we will often find ourselves alone when we advocate for the disenfranchised.  We will be at odds with conventional wisdom.  We will run counter to general opinions.  We will struggle with knowing which work is our own and which is not.

Miletus: Agora with public building

Be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be prudent and compassionate in all that we do in Jesus’ name.  In a time when a show of emotion is characterized as a weakness we will be against the tide.  In an era when the phrase “personal responsibility” is used to erase God’s call to heal the broken-hearted and help the marginalized, we will stand out as different and even bizarre.  We will be targets for people’s hatred.

In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be determined to live out the Gospel message in our support of the marginalized.  Let us acknowledge that the world will disparage who we are and what we do . . . and that Christ will be working right beside us.

When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to join others in prayer whenever and wherever possible to unite our voices and hearts in unison with the Creator.  Let us recognize that the work of Christ’s disciples is difficult at best . . . but amazingly rewarding and well worth our personal cost.

Paul reminds the faithful that Christ’s call will run counter to what is comfortable or popular; yet Christ’s message will be wonderfully simple and beautifully plain.  On this New Year’s Day let us remember the gift of Christmas as we resolve to both fashion and fulfill new resolutions that will ask much of us . . . but that will be well worth the sacrifice and even the pain.


A re-post from January 1, 2012.

Images from: http://www.allanbevere.com/2010/10/was-ephesians-circular-letter.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NewYearsResolution1915FirstPostcard.jpg 

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Daniel 8The King’s Business

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Written on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . . Even when – and perhaps especially when we are in the midst of darkness, we  must arise to be about the King’s business . . .

In the vision I was looking and saw myself . . . I looked up and saw . . .  

The symbols in this oracle were understood by the ancient people; we will need a bit of explanation.  Scholars tell us that the two-horned ram is the combined kingdoms of Medes and Persia, and these were destroyed by Alexander the Great.  The swiftly advancing goat is the Macedonian army; the horn between its eyes is Alexander.  The little horn in verse 9 represents Palestine.  The host of the heaven is either God’s people or angels, and the prince is God himself.  The sin here is the placement of the statue of Antiochus – the abomination – in the Jerusalem temple; the end time is the day when God will judge the nations.  The beautiful land is Judea.  It is clear that the pagan ruler Antiochus is seen as challenging heaven itself.  Daniel is to keep this vision secret for a time; further emphasizing the mystery already engendered by the many symbols.

As I was watching . . .

In the book of Daniel we have a series of oracles and stories along with the appearance of the Son of Man, the one who prefigures Christ and whose title is used to describe Jesus.  This particular oracle is laden with symbolism and foretells without equivocation the future of Daniel’s people.  It foretells our own future as well.

When I had seen the vision I tried to understand it . . .

When we dream, either in our sleep or in our waking, we envision the life we wish to have, the person we wish to be.  Sometimes our imaginings are close to reality and other times not so much.

I was overcome . . .

We carry the vision of our possibilities within, expecting that the goodness comes to fruition, hoping that the darkness does not overcome the small aura of light we manage to engender.  Conserving our energy and working from the synergy created by our solidarity with other faithful we arise.  We unite with one another in Christ to go about the business of building the kingdom . . . knowing that the king has taken us all well in hand.

And then I arose and went about the king’s business. 


A re-post from September 27, 2011.

Image from: http://www.rajeshsetty.com/2008/10/27/diwali-wishes-and-a-related-thought/ 

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Ecclesiastes 1: Seek Trust

Blaise Nicolas Le Sueur: Solomon Before the Ark of the Covenant

Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017

Vanity

This book was written not by Solomon as claimed, but by a writer who actually identifies himself “as a subject (4:13, 8:2, 9:14-16, 10:16-17 and 20), noting conditions of oppression (4:13), injustice (4:8, 5:8), and social upheaval (10:6-7).  The language . . . is a late form of biblical Hebrew, coming closest of any Old Testament book to post-biblical Mishnaic Hebrew.  The presence of Persian loan-words requires a date well after Israel’s release from exile in 539 B.C.E.  Fragments of the book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran community date to the mid-second century B.C.E.  Most scholars date the book’s composition between 300 and 200 B.C.E.”  (Meeks 986)  The Mishnah is a collection of oral literature of the early Hebrew people who appear to us as the first portion of the Torah.

We find the theme of this book laid out clearly in the first chapter: All is vanity that does not come from God.  It does not take any time at all for us to put this reading into the context of our own lives.  What does take some time is to determine what to do with this self-knowledge.

We have entered the season of Advent – an exciting, mysterious time in the liturgical calendar that we associate with a feeling of expectation – a time of promises and fulfillment.  We in the northern hemisphere also associate this time of year with the coming on of darkness and cold; while in the southern hemisphere, Advent is experienced as a time of lengthening days and rising temperatures.  I often think that the later is more apt.  Warmth, light, ease of days, promise . . . Christ.  The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that all else besides a life that acts in this promise is futile.  As followers of Christ, our example of living in hope is paramount for ourselves, for our community, and for the greater world.  We enact Christ when we put aside the vanity that we are all, and take on the understanding that The Promise is all.

As we move through this day and begin this week after spending a day or days of Thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth, we will want to pause to examine our spiritual bounty as well.  Just as we examine our relationships with family and friends, we will also want to examine our relationship with the Creator, the Redeemer and the Comforter.  We will want to unfold the miracle of this love so great that it overcomes all trials and injustices.  We will want to allow ourselves to step into that which is not in vain.  We will want to remember, we will want to trust, we will want to believe, we will want to hope.

We already know that there is nothing new under the sun . . . and so what we hope to experience is that which is new . . . that which is not in vain . . . and that which is worthy of every ounce of strength we have in body, mind and soul.

Like the audience of Ecclesiastes, we who have returned from exile will want to reunite in intimacy with our God and so we might try to spend more time this season with this book of wisdom, parsing out its verses to complement our days.  In this way, we might hope to be full of God’s wisdom rather than our own, we might hope to live in God’s love rather than our own, and we might hope to be Christ rather than an empty vanity of vanities.

To celebrate this Second Sunday of Advent, we join voices with this traditional hymn, O Come, O come, Emmanuel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-4 

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  

A Favorite from November 30, 2009.

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Galatians: Watchful Fidelity

First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2015galatians-mclellan

A Favorite from November 30, 2008.

This epistle, along with Romans and 2 Corinthians, was written to re-state the Gospel story which had been perverted by Pharisaic emissaries to their communities.  The Galatians were most likely descendents of Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor in the third century B.C.E. near modern Ankara, Turkey today.  (Senior 293)

After reading these verses, we understand the importance of fidelity . . . for it is faithfulness that gives birth to true Christian charity . . . love that is so enduring it is extended to our enemies.  It is this love that brings us true spiritual liberation . . . a freedom that makes it possible for us to be truly and totally open to Christ.  This is the invitation we all receive at our baptism, and it is this invitation that continues to be open to us.

Paul is exasperated with his friends.  Oh stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly crucified?  I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you have heard?  Are you so stupid?  (3:1-2)   He may well be exasperated with us today.

steadfastness-vs-instability-5-728Paul asks these converts to remain steadfast in their belief and to turn aside from those ideas which subvert the truth.  Realize then that it is those who have faith who are the children of Abraham.  (3:7) Paul knows how easy it is for us to be turned by old customs and long-held beliefs.  He asks that we take these beliefs and magnify them in the way we have been taught by Christ.

You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth? (5:7) We might ask ourselves this question when family, friends or associates try to convince us with logic and “group think” of something we know to be counter to Christ.  We might also ask ourselves this question when formal structures refuse to listen to an idea which blooms from the heart.  We will want to read this letter when our faith in the risen Christ is challenged.  This is when we will need to hear again . . .

Fruits of the SpiritThe fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit let us allow the Spirit.  Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

Spiritual freedom comes when we are faithful and watchful.  As we begin the Advent season today, let us resolve to put aside behaviors that inhibit a free and open union with Christ.  Let us decide to watch for his coming.  And let us allow ourselves to be transformed by the living Christ.  The reward for all of this patience and endurance is beyond imagining.  For when we empty self to allow Christ in, when we give up all to obey . . . we do not lose ourselves, we gain something far greater.  True Life.  Eternal Life.  Life with and in Christ.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293. Print. http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Galatians&ch=

For another post on the Book of Galatians, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/galatians-magnanimity/

 

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2 Corinthians 2:14-3: The Mystery of Covenant Contract_with-_Seal_XL

Friday, June 26, 2015

Christ comes into the world not to abolish the old covenant but to fulfill it. Christ comes into the world not to erase the old agreement but to bring it to fruition. Christ comes into the world not to punish us for wrongdoing but to heal and comfort, pardon and redeem.

Paul tells the people of Corinth and he tells us that there is a contrast between the old and new covenants. And he tells us that we must caution ourselves against a smug pride in our credentials that may – or may not – match our life in the Gospel. Do we claim to be followers of Christ through our words or through our actions? Paul questions us today.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

Paul also tells us that it will be our work in the world that defines us as disciples of Christ – or that shows us to be followers of false gods and idols. We find Christ’s true presence, and our “letter of recommendation,” in the fruit of our labor. What fruits do our labors bear? Paul asks us today.

You are our letter, written on our hearts . . .

Christ’s peace is eternal and universal.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all . . .

Christ’s letter of recommendation is our covenant of love.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us . . .

Christ’s covenant with God’s people lives in and through us.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink, but by the spirit of the living God . . .

love_of_god1Christ’s covenant of love is permanent and impermeable.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink, but by the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but in tablets that are the hearts of flesh.

Christ’s covenant is a mystery written on our hearts, never to be extinguished, always to be cherished, always to be trusted, always is gift.

To better understand the concept of covenant as used in the Old Testament, click on the contract image above, or visit: http://www.setapartpeople.com/introduction-covenants-part-1

To understand the covenant written on the human heart that Paul describes, click on the heart in scripture image above or go to: http://heavenlychristianforums.com/threads/a-love-letter.294/ 

Tomorrow, moving from the old to the new covenant. 

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