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Posts Tagged ‘clarity’


Matthew 21: Clarification

Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Fig Tree

A re-post from February 28, 2012. On this Palm Sunday, we look for clarification and transformation. 

The parables and narrative in this chapter give us a perspective of Jesus’ life and works alongside those of Israel.  We see him enter Jerusalem – the Old Jerusalem which is to be replaced by the New – we see him cleanse the temple – the Old Temple which is to be replaced by the New – we see his authority questioned – as it is at the Second Coming – and we read parables and stories of vineyards, workers and fig trees that depict the unfaithful nation of Israel – the Old Israel which is now . . . us.

The content of this chapter is a microcosm of Jesus’ life: parables and action, identification as King, identification as sacrificial victim.  The juxtaposition of the various elements in this chapter further emphasize for us that we have a clear choice before us: to live by the principles declared and here clarified by Christ or to choose our own way, to be faithful to the principles demonstrated by Christ or to live a life if infidelity.  We are always free to choose.

In this chapter of Jesus’ life he seeks to clarify for us how we might live.  We may be a lazy and unproductive fig tree, cursed by its creator.  We may be a bountiful vineyard yielding fruit for the harvest.  We may be envious neighbors who murder the owner’s son in the hopes of taking that which is not ours.  We may be unscrupulous in our daily shepherding of resources.  We may demonstrate peaceful resistance to all that colludes and deceives.  We many choose to make a profit from the sacred acts of others.  We may join Christ in rebuking those who sell what God gives as gift.  We may be the learned who plot against truth because it takes away our power to manipulate.  We may be life.  We may be conduit of goodness.  We may rage or conspire against the kingdom.  We may join in the work of building kingdom.

The choice is clear; and Jesus makes this choice even clearer in the event that we have doubted his authenticity.  If we ask for clarification we have only to turn to this chapter to see what is before us.  Do we hide and conspire or do we reveal and build?

We see Jesus declare and clarify himself today in these stories and in these actions.  What do our stories and gestures declare and clarify about us?


Image from: http://remnantbride.com/blog/?p=508 

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Psalm 19The Builder’s Craft

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If we get away from ambient light to look into the heavens on a clear night, we will see millions of stars . . . and it is all too breath-taking.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

On a clear day when we look into the skies, we see powder puffs or high horse tails of clouds; on other days the banks and streaks of clouds announce a coming storm . . . and it is all too awesome.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

If we look at the one who announces God among us, Jesus, we see that . . . he is all too splendid.  He too, proclaims the builder’s craft.  He is the Lord’s law, the new law that supersedes the old and fulfills the promises made to Abraham.  The psalmist describes this law, this Christ to us.  He is . . . perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, giving wisdom, right, clear, pure, true, desirable, and sweet.  He comes to save and restore.  He is among us to transform.  He is our rock and our redeemer.

We are also the builder’s craft for we are created in God’s image, adopted as Jesus’ sisters and brothers, consoled and protected by God’s Spirit.  When we allow ourselves to be cleansed of our faults – both known and unknown – then shall we be blameless and innocent of grave sin.

Then will the words or our mouths meet with the Lord’s favor.

Then will we keep our thoughts ever before God.

Then will we fully know that we are, like the skies, the handiwork of God’s loving hands.

Then will we declare with full voice the glory of God, and like the skies, then will we . . . proclaim the builder’s craft.


A re-post from November 8, 2011.

Image from: http://www.arizonatourismcenter.com/scottsdale/index-scottsdale.php/Stargazing-Tours-14/

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Luke 6:45: Fullness of Heart

RC DeWinter: The Tree of Hearts

Saturday, May 12, 2018

We have established a dwelling place where we rest in the Spirit only to find that there are times when we must flee this sanctuary. Some of us are called to remain forever outside of that refuge, and others are called to return transformed and transforming. No matter our circumstances, we might do as the words from Luke ask us.

A good person out of the store of goodness in the heart produces good; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. (NAB)

In this image of God’s kingdom as a tree bearing fruit, there is no doubt that storing up goodness is the heart of our daily mission; but today we pause to reflect on what we might do when we are weighted with a burden too heavy to carry. How are we to manage when we are overwhelmed with doubt or fear? Jesus tells us: Do not let your hearts be troubled. (John 14:1) Today we rest in these words.

A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (GNT)

The looming image of God measuring out the good from the bad is too terrible for us to consider for those who find themselves barely able to journey from morning to evening without losing heart. How are we to manage when our hearts are too empty to fill? Jesus reminds us: Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4) Today we rely on these words.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. (NRSV)

The dual image of an either/or world asks us to make too simple a choice when we know that few of us are all good or all bad, but rather a blend of both worlds. How are we to manage a dualistic world that offers only black-or-white decisions when we know that the real world we live in is mostly gray? Jesus asks us: Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast. (Matthew 22:9) Today we have hope in these words.

The good person produces good things from the store of good in his heart, while the evil person produces evil things from the store of evil in his heart. For his mouth speaks what overflows from his heart. (CJB)

The image of an intense struggle between goodness and evil rises before us as we consider this verse, giving us a deceiving reality of false choices. How are we to behave when it appears that everything and everyone align in a tribal dance of self versus other? Jesus says to us:  Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (Luke 6:35) Today we find a challenge in these words.

You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. (MSG)

If the image of a worm-infested life terrifies us so that we are unable to accept our reality, we have taken this image too far. When life itself frightens us, we must find a way to pray for those who harm us, and ask that Christ show us the way to still our troubled minds and dissolve the anger, fear, hatred, and fog . . . and to fill our troubled hearts with forgiveness, patience, courage and clarity. In time, we discover that despite, or perhaps because of all we have suffered, we have a certain fullness of the heart.


When we compare translations of these verses, we open our hearts so that Christ might fill them with his generous love. 

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-tree-of-hearts-rc-dewinter.html and http://www.boiseccc.org/sermons/chouer-love-your-enemies-2/

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John 17: Two Worlds 

NASA: Spiral Galaxies in Collision

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 6, 2018

In September of 2017, Pope Francis reminded us: We are a people chosen for the truth, and our call has to be in truth. There can be no place for deceit, hypocrisy, or small-mindedness if we are . . . to bear fruit. (Cameron 422)

We have heard Christ’s message that the Creator calls each of us to live in both this world and the next. We have felt the Spirit’s urging to bear fruit in good season. Today, as we reflect on the challenge of living this dual life as if it were one, we explore words from Pope Francis as he unravels the mystery that is Christ, our human and divine brother.

“We all would like to count on a world with straightforward families and relationships, but we are part of this changing age, of this cultural crisis and, in the midst of it, in response to God’s continuing call . . . Even with [today’s] crisis, God still calls. It would be almost unrealistic to think that all of you heard the call of God in the midst of families sustained by a strong love and full of values such as generosity, compromise, fidelity, and patience; some, yes, but not all. Some families are like this, and I pray to God that there are many. But keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground means recognizing that our vocational experiences, the awakening of God’s call, brings us closer to what God’s Word already reveals”. (Cameron 422)

NASA: Space Hubble Telescope

Like Jesus, Francis asks us to cease making excuses for our unwillingness to sit at the banquet of life with those who hate or harm us. In the Spirit, Francis points out that few of us have perfect families, perfect circumstances or perfect relationships. Like the Creator, Francis calls us to something beyond our smallness, something greater than our fears. Francis urges us to maintain contact with God always so that the great vine of God’s love might sustain us through drought and nourish us through upheaval.

“Don’t think of an ideal situation, for this situation is the real one. God manifests his closeness and his election where he wills, in the land he wills, in whatever situation it is in, with its real contradictions, as he wills. He changes the course of events to call men and women in the frailty of their own personal and shared history”. (Cameron 422)

Rather than long for ideal circumstances that will likely never fall into place, Francis urges us to seize on the moment we now have. Rather than yearn for people to surround one another with a love they proscribe, Christ calls us to rest in the love of his ample arms. Rather than reason with us over the causes of contradictions that plague the world, the Spirit calls us to goodness despite our conditions. So rather than wait for the perfection of a world that does not exist, let us plant our feet firmly in our imperfect world, and ask God for the patience, courage, persistence, and clarity to live in the two worlds of our humanity and divinity.


When we use multiple translations of John 17 to study Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, we open our minds and hearts to better understanding what it means to live in two worlds.  

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.4 (2018): 421-423. Print. 

Explore the worlds of the universe with NASA and Hubble photographs by clicking on the images, or visiting: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140119.html and https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html

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Wisdom 3: Duality in Fire

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As we continue to spend time reflecting on our duality, we revisit the theme of trial and endurance; we ask and we pray . . . from whence comes the strength, courage, and clarity we need to discern Jesus’ Way through the fires of life?

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 29, 2010.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality we may undervalue in our culture that relies heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self-esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism; and self-flagellation is not a healthy tool for us to use when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience resulting from contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show, or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered to us today so that we might examine our motivations. In this way we discern the origin of our actions to discover if they are worthy of God’s love for us. Do we sacrifice for self? Or do we sacrifice for God?

Remembering that God does not expect perfection in all we do, we lift up our lives as sparks that fly in the dark night. Remembering that God asks us to be perfect in our perseverance through trials in love, we raise up our hearts like sparks that fly through the stubble of the winnowed field. Remembering that God asks us to remain constant in our search for truth, we rise with the flame of God’s love in us.

In the duality of fire that destroys when it goes beyond reasonable limits yet sustains when it brings light and nourishment to cold darkness, we rest in the wisdom of God.


To reflect more on the duality of fire, enter the word Sparks in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.nhfaithfusion.com/2014/12/cultivating-warm-heart-creates-meaningful-life/ 

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Wisdom 7:22-30: Seek Splendor

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Do we know women and men who exemplify Wisdom?

Intelligent, holy, unique. Manifold, subtle, agile. Clear, unstained, certain.

Are we able to allow Wisdom to operate in us?

Not baneful, loving the good, keen. Unhampered, beneficent, kindly. Firm, secure, tranquil.

Do we see Wisdom waiting by our gate each day when we step out of the door?

All-powerful, all-seeing, pervading all spirits. Mobile beyond all motion. Penetrating, pervading all things.

Do we touch base with Wisdom as we go through our day?

An aura of the might of God. A pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty.

Do we give thanks for Wisdom each evening when we retire?

Nought that is sullied enters into her. She is the refulgence of eternal light.

Do we believe that Wisdom is with us every moment of every day, in every space and in every time? If not, we might spend time with Wisdom today.

When we compare versions of these verses, we find that we encounter the splendor we seek.

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Isaiah 58:7-10: A Prayer for Dissenters

Sunday, February 12, 2017dissent

Isaiah’s words might be spoken to one who teaches the very young.

Share your food . . .

Isaiah’s words might be heard in a meeting of those who sponsor refugees.

Open your home . . .

Isaiah’s words might be spoken in a classroom where tomorrow’s adults are formed.

Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear . . .

17320284-abstract-word-cloud-for-understanding-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photoIsaiah’s words might be heard in a workshop offered on how to embody scripture.

Do not refuse to help your own relatives . . .

Isaiah’s words might be brought to life by anyone who hopes to incarnate The Word, to follow The Word, to live, breathe and be The Word among us.

Put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt . . . 

Isaiah’s words might be spoken on a picket line.

Put an end to every evil word . . .

Isaiah’s words are a rubric to measure our actions, a template to codify life, a handbook for those who yearn to walk in the land of the living.

If you satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.

And so we pray with Isaiah.

history-lessonsGood, and holy and generous God, guide us as we struggle with our fears of darkness and evil. Direct us as we look for the best way to become your Word. Remain with us as we gather in dissent against the tactics of bullies who hope to divide us. Walk with us as we navigate the thin line between resistance and violence. Abide with us in our struggle for clarity, compassion and peace. For we wish to do your will. We wish to be light to the world. We wish to bring hope to the marginalized. We wish to be the eyes and ears, the voice and heart, the hands and feet of Christ for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of these words, we find patience, clarity, and the beginnings of peace for a troubled heart.

For ten lessons history teaches us about leadership with exemplars like Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, click on the image of the clasped hands, or visit: http://www.andysowards.com/blog/2016/10-lessons-history-teaches-us-about-leadership/

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1 Corinthians 2:10: Scrutiny – Part II

Friday, September 9, 2016scrutiny-248x248 (1)

The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

When a political, social or religious structure prohibits us from asking questions we need to be wary.

When friends, relatives or colleagues tell us to keep secrets we must not go along with the group.

When we are tempted to conceal truth, to fog reality or look the other way we are obliged to seek clarity and advocate for openness.

God says: Do not be afraid to scrutinize your surroundings; honest questions bring you to the truth.  Many will attempt to keep you far from me and away from the light but I can and do permeate all space.  I am present in all times.  I penetrate closed doors and I enter hard hearts. I soften stiff necks and I convert the most twisted sinner.  So do not fear inquiry; it becomes you.  Do not be afraid to allow your doubts to generate questions that will free you from fear.  I am open to each of you.  I have told you who I am and how I am.  I know all about you for I have created you in my image.  Scrutinize everything, even me.  I long to hold you within my own heart.

For more reflections, type the word Ask God or Asking God into the blog search box to see where the Spirit leads you.

A Mini-Noontime reprise, originally posted on August 28, 2012

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John 6:1-15: Some Left Over – Part VIIfive-loaves-of-bread-and-two-fish

Saturday, August 8, 2015

John’s recounting of the multiplication story brings us even more insight and perhaps answers to questions raised over the last several days. Is this a miracle of greed becoming generosity or does Jesus actually multiply bread and fish? Why does God bring together so many in need? Why does Jesus ask the apostles to provide food when he knows they do not have the funds to do so? How is it that the Spirit heals so generously and so completely?

A large crowd followed Jesus and his disciples because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

God’s response to our many needs to walk among us as one of us. Let us pray that we leave our hearts and minds open to this presence.

“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Jesus said this to test Philip, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Jesus’ instruction of those closest to him is constant and loving. Let us pray that we treat others with this same respect and dignity.

When they had their fill, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted”.

The Spirit’s power to heal cannot be overestimated. Let us pray that we have the foresight to honor the Spirit as we ought.

So they collected the fragments, and filled twelve baskets from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world”.

And so we pray as we explore God’s word.

Tintoretto: The Miracles of the Loaves and Fishes

Tintoretto: The Miracles of the Loaves and Fishes

When we encounter God’s generosity, we pray for humility so that we might give thanks for this enormous gift.

When we come upon Jesus’ warmth and presence, we pray for clarity so that we might follow wherever the path of discipleship leads us.

When we receive the Spirit’s healing, we pray for confidence so that we might join him in his loving response to pain and need.

We pray as we reflect on this well-known story of God’s presence in our lives. And we do this in Jesus’ name, in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tomorrow, bread of life. 

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