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Posts Tagged ‘confidence’


Saturday, October 17, 2020Grace_wordle[1]Psalm 32

Overwhelmed by Grace

The second of the penitential psalms “is a joyous testimony of gratitude for God’s gift of forgiveness for those who confess their sins and follow the law of God. Instead of constantly pondering their sins, believers acknowledge their wretchedness before God and accept forgiveness and reconciliation. Their torment ceases, and a new person is born, overwhelmed by grace, confidence, and a sense of obedience.

“In praying the psalm, we can focus not only on the happiness resulting from the forgiveness of particular sin, but also on the more profound happiness obtained by the complete victory given us by God in Christ over sin in all forms”.  (Psalms 86)

We too often emphasize all that is wrong with the world, our community, our colleagues and even our friends, family and self. Today’s reading invites us to accept the knowledge that we are not perfect, to ask forgiveness for the times we have wronged self and others, to graciously accept the pardon we receive, and to allow God’s grace, joy and peace to bring us profound happiness. This deep and lasting contentment is the gift of complete victory we are free to reject or receive.

And so we pray . . .

Forgiving and unifying God, we lay all our imperfections in your hands.

Grant us this day the complete victory of your love as we come to you in truth.

Give us the confidence we need to believe that your love has the power to bring joy out of suffering.

Inspire in us such love for you that our obedience is a source of delight rather than a burden to shoulder.

Move in us a spirit of reconciliation that surmounts all fears, calms all anxieties, and heals all wounds.

Bring us your profound happiness that heals, binds, unifies and transforms.

Grant us your lasting gift of overwhelming grace that seeps into the bone, calms the heart, and warms the troubled soul. 

We ask this as we ask all things through  your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 86. Print.

For a sermon on Grace: The Verb, click on the image above or go to: http://ssje.org/ssje/2010/03/09/grace-the-verb-br-mark-brown/

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Gerbrand Van den EEckhout:Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

Gerbrand Van den Eckhout: Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

1 Samuel 1

Steadfastness in Hope: Miracles

As we continue to shelter in place in order to combat a pandemic, we remember the steadfastness of Hannah. 

Today we read the story of a woman who is well-loved . . . and well taunted, a woman who will not give up her hope for something new.  Previously in our Noontime journey we have examined the piety, constancy and fidelity of Hannah.  Today, as we continue to explore the quality of steadfastness, we look for surprises, joy and hope that mark Hannah’s journey, and we allow ourselves to be open to surprise, joy and hope even as we remain steadfast.  Several verses leap off the page to give us new meaning from familiar old words.

Verse 6:  Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren.  Knowing that a woman’s worth in ancient times was measured by her virginity as a maiden and her fertility as a woman, Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, is perhaps jealous of the double portions of love Hannah receives despite her barrenness.  Perhaps Peninnah is younger and more beautiful . . . and thinks herself deserving of something better.  We know many people who are Peninnahs to us and to others.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the joy of life in Christ softens their hearts of stone.

Verse 15: I am an unhappy woman . . . I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.  Hannah takes her burden to the proper place . . . to her creator who knows both her gifts and her plight better than any human.  We are all Hannah at one time or another in our homeward journey.  Sometimes we try to carry our burdens on our own; sometimes we share our woes with friends and counselors as we should.  We must also remember to take our problems daily to the one who has the best solutions. During this Eastertide, let us pray that our confidence in Christ softens our hearts of stone.

Verse 18:  She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast.  Hannah is first rebuked by the priest Eli who thinks that she is drunk as she prays.  Once he understands her misery, he blesses her and urges her to in peace, relying on the God of Israel to hear her request.  She exhibits immediate confidence and joy. We find consolation when we take our troubles to God.  May we encourage one another to bring their burdens to the Lord who heals and frees all from sadness.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the hope of life in Christ opens our hearts of stone.

Verse 19: The Lord remembered her.  The Lord is mindful of his faithful handmaid for many years.  Hannah not only bears a son, Samuel, whom she dedicates to God; she also receives the gift of three more sons and two daughters.  This family is an ample witness to Hannah, to Peninnah, and to us that a steadfast, confident, joyful heart receives miracles beyond imagining.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that our life in Christ opens all hearts to the miracles God has in mind for us this day.

When we persist in our steadfastness we ultimately experience hope.  When we rest in our steadfastness we ultimately experience joy.  When we persevere in our steadfastness we ultimately experience surprise.  In this Eastertide, let us welcome God’s presence in our lives and remain steadfast.  Let us be open to the surprises, joy and miracles that await us.

Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerbrand_van_den_Eeckhout_-_Anna_toont_haar_zoon_Samu%C3%ABl_aan_de_priester_Eli.jpg

Adapted from the December 7, 2008 Noontime.

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Numbers 14:8: From Grumbling to Peace

Monday, April 16, 2018

Route Map of the Israelite Exodus

If the Lord is pleased with us, he will take us there and give us that rich and fertile land. 

In Numbers 14, we hear murmurs among the people as they tire of wandering in the desert in expectation of a promised land where the faithful will flourish to pass down their fidelity to God through many generations. Although scholars find little evidence of this difficult, 40-year desert pilgrimage, we appreciate the desert wanderings of the twelve tribes of Hebrew peoples. Not only do they suffer physical hardship, they suffer mental distress as well. They wonder why they have left the comfort of a home where although they lived in slavery, they knew what to expect each day. Now in the desert, searching for water and food, and evading bands of marauders, they question the wisdom of following leaders shown to them by The Living God.

Our Old Testament thinking is binary; when we behave as God asks, God rewards us. When we do not, we expect punishment. Our New Testament thinking removes the fear of ancient ancestors as we remember Jesus’ words as recorded by John: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:7)

God says: I know that you worry each morning as you rise about the thousands of details you tend to as you support a life of work, play and prayer. I know that you move through the day and into the evening juggling people and circumstances, numbers and facts, opposites and equals, clarity and confusion. I know that you think of me each night as you set up your evening tent and tuck into your bed. I know that you keep your eye on me as you traverse the deserts in your life; and for this I love you more than you can imagine. When you grumble, I hold you close. When you cry out, I am at your side. When you weep, I dry your tears. I am with you always. As Jesus tells you, do not let your hearts be troubled. Do I not go before you each day as a pillar of smoke? Do I not follow you each night as a pillar of fire?

In the Moroccan Desert

Although we fear, we move forward in confidence. Although we complain, we step into each day with conviction. Although we doubt, we follow Christ with steadfastness. In this way, we allow God to convert our grumbling and fear into Christ’s calm and loving peace.

During the day the Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. (Exodus 13:21)


For a reflection on the Book of Numbers, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/numbers-arrangement-of-the-tribes/

For a reflection on Numbers 14:1-4, enter the words Back to Egypt into the blog search bar.

To read about scholarly opinions on the Sinai wanderings, visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/world/africa/03iht-moses.4.5130043.html

Images from: http://wildmorocco.com/cosmic-fireworks-from-the-sahara-desert/ and http://www.bible-history.com/maps/route_exodus.html

 

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Isaiah 57:14-21: The Restless Sea

Monday, August 22, 2016restless seas

In days when political and civic leaders grapple with the realities of our common world, Isaiah reminds us that the wicked are always with us, obscuring truth, engendering deceit.

The wicked are storm-battered seas that can’t quiet down. The waves stir up garbage and mud. (THE MESSAGE)

In times when religious and community leaders struggle to bring light to a present darkness, Isaiah reminds us that evil relies on chaotic upheaval and unpredictable alliances.

Evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

In the hour of darkness when friends and family clash over how to move forward for the good of all, Isaiah tells us that God’s promise of healing and restoration is authentic.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud. (NRSV)

In the moment of fear and division when anxiety and confusion threaten our relationship with God, Isaiah tells us that there is one person, one person, one bond that calms all fear and quiets all anxiety. Isaiah reminds us that there is a voice that persists as it calls out: Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road and make it ready!

Help and healing, humility and repentance, confidence and hope, eternal promise and love. Isaiah comforts us as he has done for millennia. Isaiah reminds us that God waits eternally for those who look to move from mourning to joy.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore various translations of these verses, we discover how we might all survive the restless seas.

Visit http://www.spiritualwarbiblestudies.com/index.php?topic=112.0 for a post exploring Isaiah 57:14-21. 

 

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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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Thursday, July 10, 2014

1 Samuel 12

christ washing feetJudging         

Yesterday we contemplated how we might refrain from judging one another. Today we reflect on how we might judge as God judges.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord . . . It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal . . .

What we read today is how to “fear” the Lord, how to stand in awe of God before all else and before anyone else. Only God is God. Only God matters. God alone is enough, says Teresa of Ávila.

The Liturgy of the Hours prayers and Mass readings often reflect this theme.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful . . . Whoever exalts himself will be humbled . . . Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Pride sets subtle snares. Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like gods”. Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not only by our own power but by the power of the cross. (MAGNIFICAT, 304)

We have a number of reminders today: No one’s but God’s opinion matters; we do not need to strive to be gods for we are children of God; we behave divinely when we humble ourselves just as Jesus does; our happiness comes after and through our suffering; pride is deceptive and alluring.

In his farewell speech, Samuel challenges his audience to judge him or to find fault with his conduct. Paul tells us that he does not care at all about who judges him or how. The one who judges me is the Lord. Of course, we can take these views to the extreme and pretend that we can do as we like and that we do not have to conform to any civil rules or social mores. This would be an extreme and unreasonable position to hold for even Jesus tells us to render Caesar’s business unto Caesar. The words we read today help us with the most important part of our being . . . our spiritual self. These words today help us to focus properly on what is vital to us and significant in our lives: our relationship with God.

Fortunately for us God is merciful and forgiving. Blessedly for us God loves us and is waiting for us to turn to him. God waits for us graciously and compassionately. Let us accept God’s gift with humility. Let us take the lowest seat at the table so that we might stand before God and others to declare our faithfulness to God in confidence and love.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 22 March 2011. 304. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 22, 2011.

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