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Posts Tagged ‘consolation’


Job 42: Humbled and Satisfied

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If we sit patiently with Job to read his story, we are rewarded . . . just as Job is rewarded for sitting with the Lord through suffering.

If we take in the ideas Job exchanged with his friends, we are healed . . . just as Job is healed when he remains in God.

If we live in fidelity to God as Job does, we experience humility . . . just as Job does when he hears the Lord speak.

If we seek wisdom as Job does, we find satisfaction . . . just as Job does when he hears the Lord address his friends. After God had finished addressing Job, he turned to Eliphaz the Temanite and said, “I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me—not the way my friend Job has.”

Honesty, authenticity, perseverance, courage, fidelity. These are the signposts we might follow as we move through life. They are antecedents of the meekness and fulfilment we see in Christ nearly a thousand years later. They are the presence of the consolation and healing we encounter in the Holy Spirit we experience in our own lives. They are the wisdom and peace we seek today.


Image from: https://lamountaincoaching.com/humility/can-promote-humility/

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Proverbs 6:12-35 and 7: Something Nasty

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God is perfectly aware that not all creatures understand the goodness and generosity of creation’s gift. Having that in mind, the writer of Proverbs reminds us that the riffraff and rascals who plot and scheme will always – in God’s time and in God’s economy – wind up suffering the consequences of the chaos they plot against others. In a literary context, we refer to this as irony, the end of the twisting plot twisting back on the antagonist. We often believe that in reality the outcome is different: he who plots and schemes becomes rich and powerful; she who plots against the innocent escapes destiny’s karma.

Riffraff and rascals
    talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
    they cross their fingers behind their backs.

If we live in a timeline of the physical world, we might see ourselves as correct in thinking that the spiritual world holds out false hope. When we live in God’s eternal time, we find that we have misunderstood God’s plan for the kingdom. When we ignore God’s time and plan, we find that we have become like the riffraff and rascals we deplore. We have given in to something nasty. We will have rejected the advice of Proverbs that the final total smashup will arrive at our door, and we will become the hypocrites who cross our fingers behind our backs.

Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
    always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
    a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

In the following verses, we hear about human actions that induce God’s ire; these items are laid out clearly. Various translations present differing translations but this interesting list is always the same, a litany of easy signs that we might look for in our own daily actions.

  • A proud look.
  • A lying tongue.
  • Hands that kill innocent people,
  • A mind that thinks up wicked plans.
  • Feet that hurry off to do evil.
  • A witness who tells one lie after another.
  • And someone who stirs up trouble among friends.

As Easter People, we share the Good News Jesus brings to creation that God’s merciful patience and generosity are always waiting in hope to redeem us. God’s persistence and wisdom are always presenting in faith new lessons for us to learn. God’s justice and consolation are always bringing us new opportunities to love as God loves.

The final verses of this chapter reprise the hazards of adultery and we might wonder why the writer brings this theme to us again. Besides the obvious danger of wanton men and women, might we also need be wary of addiction to lusting after power, wealth and fame? Might we need another practical warning to steer clear of riffraff and rascals lest we becomes one of those who ignore God’s call away from something nasty?

Even so, when the dust settles, we find that despite our recalcitrance, despite our rejection of truth, despite our haughtiness and ego-driven behavior, God’s compassion is awaiting us with Christ’s open and holy love. We are invited today to become one with that sacred heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to find different versions of these verses, we explore God’s transparent plan for our good, and the good of all creation.  

The original definition of hypocrite is “actor”. (See Merriam-Webster at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hypocrite-meaning-origin) For interesting thoughts on hypocrisy, click the image of masks above. 

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Revelation 6: Cosmic Conflict

Monday, April 4, 2016

EdwardVon Steinle: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

EdwardVon Steinle: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

We might well believe that we live in a world that is in cosmic conflict. Terrorist attacks, extreme politics, fanatic social movements might give us good reason to believe that “the end times” are near. We must exercise caution before reading the last book of the Bible without commentary lest we slip into a dualistic world of fundamentalism. This narrow view emphasizes the vision of universal struggle, and forgets the message of hope, trust, prudence, mercy and love that Jesus delivers. These verses must be read through the filter of unity and solidarity, hope and determination that Jesus brings to the world. Rather than relying on an apocalyptic eschatology in which God rescues the world and sets all wrongs right while we watch and observe, we are urged to delve into the ethical eschatology of joining with Christ to bring his message of love to all.

Commentary cautions us appropriately; it encourages us to take up the challenge of these remarkable verses. “It is useless to tease such poetry into a train schedule. The vision here is not one of history unfolding like clockwork; it is a religious vision of God’s ultimate conquest despite current appearances. Once the reader lets go of the obsessive ‘need to know’ that twists beauty into biorhythm charts, it is possible to wonder at the powerful poetic and religious imagination at work in these glorious images”. (Senior RG 575)

When we spend time with various versions of these verses today, we allow the gift of Christ’s wisdom and love to settle over us. We allow ourselves to become of God’s remarkable kingdom. And we allow the consolation of the Spirit to work through us to heal a waiting world.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 575. Print. 

To explore the imagery of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, read the commentary at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/revelation/6 

Today we remember as we reflect . . . we are Easter People.

 

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mark 13:9-13

John the Baptist Preaching

John the Baptist Preaching

Preaching

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the Gospel must be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

False preachers might leave us with a negative impression of God’s word. Good preachers leave us with an inspired desire to know more. Each of us is a preacher in that we speak of our relationship with God in every interaction we have with others. Each of us tells the story of the Living God in every action we carry out in the quiet times and places when no one sees what we are doing. Each of us speaks our creed loudly not in our words, but in our care for self and others, and in our trust in the Spirit of the Living God.

God says: It is really quite simple. You cannot rid the world of corruption and ruin but you can react to it as the Spirit directs you. Open your mind to the gift of counsel that the Spirit brings to you. Open your hands to my gift of consolation. Open your hearts to my gift of love. Nothing will destroy you for you are my love in and to the world. Nothing will obliterate you for you are my hands and feet in and to the world. Nothing will annihilate you for you are my presence in a world that longs for peace.

As we consider how we live out God’s presence through our words, thoughts and acts, reflect on the preaching you have heard . . . and reflect on the preaching your life brings to the world.

Tomorrow, a prayer for times of tribulation.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

rose[1]Sirach 39:13-16a

Opening Our Petals

Listen, my faithful children: open up your petals, like roses planted near running waters . . .

Much like plants that flower and bloom, each of us has our own needs for sun and shade, heat and coolness. Some of us struggle upward, reaching for the nurturing light, fending off the weeds that threaten to choke us out.  Some of us tussle with thistles or look for places to put down roots in the hardened ground of the well-traveled path. Others are blessed to find themselves in rich, well-plowed soil.  No matter our place or time, we rejoice when we live in days of abundant water, we wait in patience through days of dryness, and always we give thanks as we open our petals to God’s loving kindness.

Send up the sweet odor of incense, break forth in blossoms like the lily.  Send up the sweet odor of your hymn of praise; bless the Lord for all he has done.

In Psalm 119, God has sent us a loving letter of welcome, of initiation in Christ’s Law of Love, of consolation in the Spirit.  How do we respond to God’s offer of peace and kindness?

Proclaim the greatness of God’s name, loudly sing God’s praises, with music on the harp and all stringed instruments; sing out with joy as you proclaim: the works of God are all of them good.

As we move through our work and play over the next hours, let us compose a list of gifts for which we thank God. Let us put down strong roots into God’s word.  And let us open our petals to God’s light so that we might give praise and thanks for the good that comes to us each day.

Tomorrow, a prayer to give thanks for all of God’s works.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgmentHowever, in so doing he will face opposition and death.  When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity.  She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient.  Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets . . . all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear.  As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, a time when we announce to the world with joy that the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people.  And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all the world that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.

For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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