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Daniel 6:11: Expectation

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Written on January 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Anton Rivière: Daniel

Nearly three years ago we looked at Chapter 6 of Daniel – the well-known story of the young man’s trial in the lion’s den.  We reflected at that time on the vigor of Daniel’s enemies.  Today we might want to spend time thinking about what brought Daniel out of the den: his – and God’s – constancy, his – and God’s – hope, his – and God’s – expectation of goodness.

Even when Daniel hears dreadful news he remains optimistic – because it is his custom to trust in God.

Even when Daniel is sent in the lion’s den he remains fearless – because it is custom to give all to God.

Even when Daniel spends the night with the animals that later attack and kill his enemies he remains hopeful – because it is his custom to expect that God will act for and in him.

Anton Rivière: Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Even when Daniel exits the lion’s den unharmed he remains humble and hopeful – because it is custom to always expect great things from God, and to remember that God converts all harm to good.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Mother Elvira Petrozzi, founder of a community with a presence in fifteen countries that opens its arms to the lost and desperate:  The biggest sickness in our world is sadness, indifference, and loneliness.  Like parched land waiting for water, so the world is waiting for those who will proclaim hope.  God has freely chosen us to proclaim this hope.  He has given us the strength to follow him and has put in our hearts the desire to embrace this wounded humanity.  In receiving mankind, the living hope in us must become love in gestures, in works, and in life.  Jesus is telling us to give life, to give ourselves, not only a part of us or a few hours of work.  If we do not give our life, spend our life for others, it will vanish from our hands.  (107-108)

This is what Daniel knows: that the life he has is really God’s life in him.

This is what Daniel believes: that by giving his life on earth, he gains eternity with God.

This is what Daniel does: all that God asks – even when it does not seem to make sense.

Today’s Gospel is an accounting of one of the times Jesus cured a man of leprosy (Luke 5:12-16) and the mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT speaks to the expectation this man had when he approached Jesus with these words: Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.   “When the leper approaches Christ filled with expectation, his entire life changes”.  (102)  How much better we might be if we approach our worries in this fullness of expectancy.  How much better might the world be if we all were to approach our problems in an expectation of goodness . . . hopeful of kindness . . . joyful in our vindication by God.

And so we pray . . . Good, and gracious, and gentle, and hope-bearing God, you walk amidst us, sharing our sorrow, lifting our fears.  Bring us to you in joyful expectation of your mercy.  Bring us to you in the fullness of your time and your plan.  Give us courage.  Give us constancy.  Give us perseverance.  Give us hope.  Give us the spirit of Daniel as he enters the lion’s den, as he lingers there, and as he comes forth into the light of a new day.  Give us Daniel’s humility.  Give us Daniel’s peace.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


A re-post from December 6, 2011.

Images from: http://kosarajuraj.blogspot.com/2011/06/miracles-of-jesus-christ.html and http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/riviere-briton/daniel-in-the-lions-den-1.html 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 7 January 2011: 102, 107-108. Print.

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Isaiah 39Peace and Truth

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

This chapter brings to a close the first portion of Isaiah’s prophecy and prepares us to hear what the prophet has to say in the rest of his prophecy.  We witness Hezekiah’s hospitality and hear the conversation he has with the prophet, Isaiah; and we want to know more about this man who becomes king at age 25, and who reforms his government and his people while reigning successfully for 29 years.  Today we also witness a harbinger of events to come . . . the invasion of Judah and the deportation of her people.  Hezekiah does not allow ominous omens to diminish his faith.  He does not waver from his belief that Yahweh saves.  And he makes certain to foster peace and truth in all that he proclaims and does.  To examine the story of Hezekiah more closely, we return to a reflection we shared on January 11, 2009 on 2 Kings 18 and 19 entitled Desperation. 

We have taken a look at Hezekiah, son of idolatrous Ahaz, a half-dozen times since we began our Noontime reflections; and each time we pause with him, I am always impressed by his fidelity and perseverance.  Having Ahaz as a father, Isaiah as a prophet, and Sennacherib as an adversary . . . Hezekiah seems doomed to a story of failure.  Yet he is not.  To read more about him, turn to Chronicles or go to these sites http://www.varchive.org/tac/hezekiah.htm http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p82.htm and http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_hezekiah.html. Discover how the people build an amazing tunnel under his guidance to bring water to the besieged city.  Read about how he consults with the prophet Isaiah who speaks plainly about their dire straits.  Read about the odds that confront this man and this nation . . . and be amazed.  Through many trials Hezekiah is accompanied by the God who accompanies us.

We may want to review Chapter 18 of 2 Kings to understand where we are in the story.

  • Verse 3: Thus says Hezekiah: “This is a day of distress, of rebuke and of disgrace”.
  • Verse 4: So send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.
  • Verse 5: Thus says the Lord: “Do not be frightened by the words you have heard”.
  • Verses 15 – 19: Hezekiah prays in the Lord’s presence: “O Lord . . . incline your ear . . . and listen!  Open your eyes, O Lord and see!  . . . Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God”. 

    Pool of Siloam and the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel

God hears the prayer and answers Hezekiah.  In Chapter 20, Hezekiah falls ill and God rescues him.  This ruler is destined to serve God and through perseverance he does so . . . and he does so quite well.  We can reflect on the life of this servant to compare it to our own.  When the Assyrians in our lives are at the gates, will we go immediately to the Lord God to ask him for help or will we rely on our own resources?  And when the Lord God has answered our prayers – no matter the response – do we give thanks and continue to trust in God?

We find ourselves in distress and disgrace . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We send up our prayer to God who accompanies Hezekiah and all the faithful . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We are desperate and tempted to turn to our own resources . . . but let us instead go up to the Temple of the Lord and enter the Holy of Holies . . . to lay our petition on the altar of the Lord our God . . . and let us say. . .

Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.  Amen. 


A re-post from January 16, 2012.

Images from: http://www.hellotravel.com/israel/walking-through-hezekiahs-tunnel and http://www.wildolive.co.uk/baptism.htm

For more information on the excavation of Hezekiah’s tunnel, see: http://www.bibleplaces.com/heztunnel.htm  and http://www.hellotravel.com/israel/walking-through-hezekiahs-tunnel

For other Noontime reflections on Hezekiah, see The Book of Micah: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/micah-doom-and-hope-constancy/  and False Idols: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/29/false-idols/

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Psalm 89Steadfast Love

Friday, October 12, 2018

Written on March 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Righteousness, justice, faithfulness and steadfast love – these are the tenets of God’s covenant with David and we see steadfast love repeated in this song.  This puts me in mind of Paul’s beautiful anthem to love in 1 CorinthiansLove is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know it in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears.  When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Mosaic Law has many parts and multiple nuances.  The Law that Christ brings, the Law of Love, is but one that supersedes all others; this one law is the perfection of love as we see it lived by Jesus.

In today’s Psalm we see the “creative work of God as a defeat of the powers of chaos”.  The references to the north and south signify the entire whole universe.  The great height of mounts Tabor and Hermon imply God’s might and omniscience.  Steadfast love and faithfulness are “personified here as companions or servants who lead the way of the Lord”.  Festal shouts describe the joy of the people.  We may be taunted from time to time that God has abandoned us as is the king in this psalm, but we know that it is impossible for God to abandon his creatures.  This hymn of praise to the creator himself helps to put us in proper relationship to God; and it reminds us of God’s most salient characteristic . . . God is steadfast love.  (Mays 883-885)

In today’s Gospel from Mark (12:1-12) Jesus reminds us that although he is the cornerstone rejected by builders he will remain faithful and constant.  He tells the parable of the farmer who erects a vineyard and wine press and leaves it with tenants to go on a journey.  When the master wishes to collect what is due him, his servants and even his son are rejected and even put to death.  So too are those who follow Christ; but we are to remain steadfast just as God is steadfast.  We are to remain in love, just as Christ remains in love.  And we are to sing of God’s steadfast love and proclaim God’s faithfulness to the generations.  For this faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.  There is no other cornerstone that holds up the heavens and stands firm on the earth.  There is no other cornerstone on which to build our faith. 


A re-post from September 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/245315/relaxation-candles-heart-light.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 883-885. Print.

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Ezra-Nehemiah: Prayer


Ezra-Nehemiah: Prayer

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Everyone knew that the work had been done with God’s help. (Nehemiah 6:15-16)

The enemies of Ezra and Nehemiah are made to look foolish by the good deeds of these two men, and by the fidelity of their God.  When we spend time with this story we find the affirmation of the knowledge that all faithful hold . . . that in God’s plan and in God’s world, the faithful need not fight – they only need to stand and avoid anyone and anything that comes between them and God.  Ezra and Nehemiah act, as priest and the administrator, as Law and City, as idea and deed.

In Nehemiah 5 we hear of the anti-social behavior of some in the community and Nehemiah’s lack of self interest.  In Chapter 6 we hear about the plots against him, and how the work concludes successfully despite the traps laid for him.  In today’s verses, we see that the plots of the wicked are as chaff which is easily blown away from the grains of wheat.  God cares for the faithful. God brings all fruit to maturity. God abides and does not disappoint. When we are honest with ourselves, we know that God has not changed in two thousand plus years. We know that we can rely on God’s protection and guidance, just as Ezra and Nehemiah do. And we know that we too, must remain in constant connection with God through prayer and reflection.

Today as we surmount obstacles and solve problems, we rest in God’s immense heart. We consider the power of our prayer and constancy.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 16, 2007. 

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Judges 2: Joshua

Saturday, July 1, 2017

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

The Book of Judges, as we have seen, brings us accounts of God’s fidelity in the face of the faithful’s repeated and blatant infidelity. Human nature has not changed over the millennia and so we may want to reassure ourselves that God indeed sends heroes to save us, despite our lack of constancy.

Today’s chapter recalls the leader Joshua who leads the Israelites into Canaan and establishes the twelve tribes in the land promised to them by Yahweh. When we see how the people turn to pagan gods to later turn and repent, we might also see our own repeated cycle. We become comfortable, then turn to our own pagan gods of social media, status seeking, and comfort zones. We encounter obstacles only to realize that while God helps us through our daily turmoil, God also sustains our eternal selves.

As for me and my family, we will serve God. (Joshua 24:15)

Of course, Yahweh abides – as God always does. But what we notice today is that once the generation who trekked from bondage to freedom has passed away, once all of these people who suffered in the desert are gone, once they have been nourished and fed and can relax a bit, the Israelites fall back into the old patterns and habits of sin. As we progress in our own pilgrimage from desert to promise, we might reflect on the heroes who intervene for us at just the right moments. And we might turn and return to God, to take up where we have left off in our journey home.

When we revive the old tales of salvation, we remember our own stories. Each time God saves us, heals, transforms and lifts us up, we might want to record our transformation and give thanks to God. We might also share our stories of redemption so that others might remember God’s love and generosity.

As for me and my household, we will worship the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

As a young man, Joshua joins the great Exodus from Egypt and rises to second-in-command as the twelve tribes journey through the desert. Serving Yahweh, he shows his strengths as a practical leader. Although we can imagine that Joshua had moments of doubt, scripture gives us no story of his turning away from the Lord. Always serving, Joshua remains constant, persistent and generous, ready to do what Yahweh asks of him. Always moving forward, Joshua remains hopeful, courageous and open to Yahweh’s call. Today we reflect on how we might look at Joshua to discern what we might learn, and how we too, might serve as one of God’s heroes.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Adapted from a reflection written on February 22, 2007.

For commentary on Joshua, click the image above or visit: https://theisraelbible.com/bible/joshua 

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Psalm 105:15: God’s Anointed

Monday, October 31, 2016prophets

Yesterday we spent time with this psalm.  Today we take a deeper look.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we define faithfulness?  Do we admire our ability to hang on no matter what?  Are we stubborn to a fault in our persistence to see something through?  Do we waver and zigzag in order to gain ground?  Or do we model ourselves after Yahweh who is eternally faithful to his sheep?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Do we duplicate as much as possible God’s fidelity in our own relationships?  Are we dedicated to truth and openness?  Are we predictable?  Do our relationships create a safe harbor?

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What is it that stands in stark contrast with God’s fidelity?  The pursuit of petty agendas?  Egocentrism?  Meanness of spirit?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What do we need to jettison in our lives in order to create serenity and peace in our relationships?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we imitate God’s bringing forth of unity out of schism?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Can we see ourselves as prophets and anointed ones? If not, what do we want to change?  How do we become one with such a one who loves so well?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

For God all things are possible.  In Christ all wounds are healed.  Together with the Holy Spirit we are become one.  We are invited to enter into holy communion with one another.  We are invited to prophesy the Word of God.  We are anointed in God.  We are one in God.  We are blessed in God.  We are saved in God.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Adapted from a reflection written on October 9, 2009.

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit

Monday, February 8, 2016

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

The second chapter of Acts contains the description of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the joy and enthusiasm of the apostles. This bursting forth from the Upper Room, this settling into communal life . . . this might be the description of the initiation of any intimate relationship that begins with fire and energy to settle into a constant, abiding love.   Joy settling into constancy returning to joy again.  This is what we seek.  This is what God seeks.  Why do we so often forget this?

There is an image in today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection which describes how the tiny particles of smoke fog our vision.  It continues with the thought that as we seek God through the haze, we pray for one another . . . and in so doing we exhibit our faith and longing for God.  God sees and recognizes this.  Father Men tells us that then all of us will ascend toward the Lord, as if holding onto that prayer.  This is the main thing – the rest will follow – but this is essential to our lives.  Then Jesus, seeing our faith, will say to all those for whom we have been praying: “My child, awake from your sleep and your sickness, from your palsy, your spiritual paralysis; arise, your sins are forgiven you”.

The image of the apostles who gathered in fear and spiritual paralysis in the Upper Room to pray as they consoled one another is strong as we read this chapter of Acts.  These early disciples are rewarded for their faith, for turning to God.  They receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that their ardor never flags.  We, too, receive this Spirit.  We, too, are loved.  We, too, are lifted up in joy to our God.  May our own desire and zeal for the Lord never falter.

A Favorite from March 3, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.3 (2008). Print.  

 

 

 

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2 Chronicles 26: Pride and Fall

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

This chapter in 2 Chronicles tells us a great deal about Uzziah, a promising man who falls when he presumes that he can be God to himself and others in the way he chooses.  He might represent the perennial flaw in humankind.

But after he had become strong, he became proud to his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.

And how did this happen?

He entered the temple of the Lord to make an offering on the altar of incense.

Why was this incorrect?

But Azariah the priest, and with him eighty other priests of the Lord, courageous men, followed him . . . saying to him: “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests . . . who have been consecrated for this purpose”. 

Today, we each bring our offerings to the Lord.  Christian liturgies often provide a time when we can offer ourselves back to God both collectively and individually. These moments give us the opportunity to be priests ourselves. They bring us the opening to enter fully into relationship with God . . . in our personal service to God on the manner God shows us. The Old Testament Law asks us to remain in covenant with the Lord and to serve God with burnt offerings and sacrifice. The New Testament Law of Love asks us to live the Beatitudes in an intentional way. Both Testaments bring us a yardstick with which we might measure our adherence to this law . . . our fulfillment of old statutes . . . our flowering in Christ.  The presence of Christ that we bring to our troubled world.

Today’s readings in MAGNIFICAT are God’s constancy . . . and ours.  Our fidelity to God and to one another.  God’s law is not a set of arbitrary rules but the concrete shape given to the lasting covenant that God has made with human beings – broken many times by faithless people, kept from generation to generation by our God.  God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind.  Even when those who love us are inconstant, we must remain constant in our love of them for in this way we reflect God’s constancy to us.

Pride calls us to our false selves. Constancy in God helps us to remain faithful in God. The story of Uzziah is one in which we may see ourselves or others puffing up in self-importance, blinding our vision to the fall that inevitably follows. God’s Law of fidelity and gratitude never fails; it brings flourishing rather than destruction. God’s laws are the statutes we teach ourselves and our children. They are the laws that open us to possibility, and that bind our hearts forever to God.

On this last Sunday before Lent, let us consider the temptation to  ignore pride in our own lives. And let us determine to remain constant and faithful to God.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.2 (2008). Print.

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