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Posts Tagged ‘constancy’


Friday, July 10, 2020

images[9]Psalm 55:18

Morning, Noon and Night

Evening, morning and noon I will cry out in my distress, and God will hear my voice.

Like Judith and her maid who were accustomed to going out of the enemy camp at regular prayer intervals, we will escape the traps that await us.  Even more than this, in our regular communication with God we become conduits of God’s action on earth.

God says: I know how busy your days and nights are.  Do I not see all?  Did I not create you?  It brings me joy to be with you in prayer and it matters not if you bring me your sorrows or your joys.  All that matters to me is that you arrive in the evening, in the morning and at noon.  I do not ask that you neglect your work or your loved ones.  I ask that you pause and think of me, speak to, pray with me for even the briefest of moments.  I am always with you . . . but your prayer delights me . . . and I long to hear your voice.

God created Jesus as God’s Word and it is clear from this creation that communication is paramount to God.  Can we imagine a life lived in such constancy to God?  Can we imagine a life without God at all?  Let us consider how we might pause if only for a moment in the morning when we rise, at noon as we traverse our day, and in the evening as we lay our head on the pillow.  In this way we place ourselves in God’s hands so that we might complete God’s work.

For more information about Judith and her maid, enter the word Judith in the blog search bar and explore.


To read different translations of this verse, click on the citation above or go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2055:18&version=NIV;MSG;DRA;EXB

For a Noontime reflection on how Psalm 55 and how God guides us when we are betrayed by an intimate companion, enter the words An Intimate Companion into the blog search bar. 

Image from: http://marashgirl.blogspot.com/2011/07/morning-noon-night-farewell-sagamore.html

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

"Show me a denarius," Jesus said. "Whose portrait and title are on it?"

“Show me a denarius,” Jesus said. “Whose portrait and title are on it?”

Luke 20:23

Awareness of Cunning

So they waited their opportunity and sent agents as upright men, and to catch him out in something he might say and so enable them to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor . . . They put to him this question, “Master, we know that you say and teach what is right; you favor no one but teach the way of God in all honesty.  Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But he was aware of their cunning . . .

Sometimes we send our own agents as the upright.  Sometimes we stand in open and full light.  Sometimes we are the upright who are sent as one of the cunning.  Sometimes we stand with the Master to witness.

God says: I know that you live in a complicated world of complex alliances and arrangements.  I know that once you have established yourself with a group it is difficult to go against them even when you know they are off in the wrong direction. I know that you love me and rely on the fact that I am forgiving, and so I am.  But there is no need for duplicity or deceit.  It is not necessary to come at me sideways.  Am I not always open and honest with you?  There is no need for you to be cunning with me since I know all that you think and all that you do. So come to me and render to me what is divine . . . and so shall you come into your own divinity. 

Straightforwardness, constancy, honesty.  We know what we must render to Caesar and we know what we must render to God.  Let us not hesitate . . . and let us stay well away from any thought or word or deed that is duplicitous . . . for Jesus is aware of our cunning.


For other reflections on this blog about this story, enter Luke 20 into the search bar.

To read different translations of this verse, click on the citation above or go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2020:20-23&version=NIV;MSG;DRA;EXB

The emperor portrayed on the denarius above is Tiberius.  He ruled from the year 14 to 37 C.E.  To learn more about this coin, go to: http://topicalbible.org/d/denarius.htm

The denarius is often called a tribute penny. To discover more, visit: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Tribute%20Penny

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribute_penny

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Judith 12:16Holofernes’ Banquet

As we continue our series of reflections on the nature of schemers and their plots, how to avoid them and how to rebuke those who lie on couches to conspire, we return to the story of Judith.

Holofernes is a man accustomed to using power and he also knows how to bide his time, lay traps, and bring others into his schemes.  What he has never encountered in his powerful life is a woman who is as beautiful, God-centered, and determined as Judith. And Holofernes’ lust is no match for Judith’s constant, prayerful attendance on God.  This story is worth reading from beginning to end but if there is time for only one verse, it is 12:16 for it teaches us how to deal with schemers, seducers and plot-builders.

“The story of Judith is full of unexpected turns.  The first and most obvious . . . was that a woman – and not a man – saved Judah in its time of severe distress.  Judith is more faithful and resourceful than any of the men of BethuliaShe is more eloquent than the king and more courageous than any of the leading citizens of the city, yet Judith is a very unlikely heroine”.  (Senior RG 213)

The story of Judith is full of the detail which we might overlook if we rush through the reading; and it is the kind of detail that a good writer uses to describe the depth of one’s personality, the reason for one’s perversion, the cause of one’s sociopathy.  It is the kind of writing which brings us up sharply when we experience the shuddering reality that human beings often spend more time trying to lure others into a personal agenda than they do honestly working at the task God assigned to them.  The image of this man “burning with desire . . . yet biding his time” is one that haunts me.  I cannot shake it.  And it returns in the written word on a day like most others  . . . packed with activity . . . with so little time for reflection about what is real and not real.

This story tells of how God delivers the faithful through a crushing crisis . . . and how God does this through a woman.  The Reader’s Guide of the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE tells us that Judith destroys the enemy not through might but by “her beguiling charm and disarming beauty.  The Bible sometimes portrays a woman’s beauty negatively as a snare, but here it is the means of deliverance”.  (Senior RG 213)

And so we hear this story which has been retold so many times through history and in so many ways.  It is a story that teaches us how to combat the lavish allure of the banquets staged by those who plot against innocents and of a woman who answers God’s call with the only tools left to her.  It is a story rife with irony and inversion.  It is a story of how God moves in our lives if we but allow God to enter.

May we all take a lesson from Judith.


To see and study more paintings of  Judith and Holofernes, visit: https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/best-judith-head-holofernes-paintings/

To read more Noontimes reflections on Judith, enter her name in the blog search bar, seek . . . and find.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 213. Print.   

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Judith_with_the_Head_of_Holofernes,_by_Francesco_del_Cairo,_c._1633-1637,_oil_on_canvas_-_John_and_Mable_Ringling_Museum_of_Art_-_Sarasota,_FL_-_DSC00631.jpg

A Favorite from October 3, 2007. 

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Friday, May 1, 2020

Psalms1[1]1 Chronicles 18

Our Campaigns

All of our works tell of our relationship with God.  All of our campaigns speak of our reverence for God.  All of our gestures tell of our constancy in discipleship to God.

Thus the Lord made David victorious in all his campaigns.

If only we might remember this.  It is the Lord who makes all our campaigns victorious; not our cleverness, or looks, wealth or power.  It is the Lord.

David took the golden shields that were carried by Hadadezer’s attendants and brought them to Jerusalem.

We need to return all the spoils of our campaigns to God.  They are the Lord’s.

He likewise took away . . . large quantities of bronze, which Solomon later used to make the bronze sea and the pillars and the vessels of bronze.

We must dedicate all that we have to the one who provided it for us.  All that we have belongs to God.

Hadadezar . . . sent David gold, silver and bronze utensils of every sort.  These also King David consecrated to the Lord along with all the silver and gold that he had taken from the nations.

We are wise to consecrate all that we are to the Lord for our origin and our existence are from God.  All that we are belongs to God.

As we wage our daily campaigns with family, friends and colleagues at home, in our communities and in the workplace, we must keep our focus on what God is asking that we do . . . rather than on what we want to do.

As we gather the booty and measure the value of our successes, we must remind ourselves that our victories are due both to God’s credit and our willingness to obey God’s call.  In this act of giving back to God what is God’s we can claim our divinity . . . in and with God.

Thus the Lord makes us victorious in all his campaigns.

When we meet failure rather than success we do well to look to ourselves and ask . . . Do we strive to hurdle some barrier because we will ourselves to do so?  Are we setting our own priorities rather than God’s?  Are we backing away from some request God makes of us rather than trusting God’s wisdom because we fear our inadequacy or vulnerability?

Are the campaigns into which we enter of God . . . or of us?  And how do we know?

We shall know by our lives that we dedicate to God. We shall know by the works that we consecrate to the Lord.  We shall know by the abundance of fruit that we bear back to God for . . .

Thus the Lord makes us victorious in all his campaigns.

Tomorrow, another gift of discipleship . . . honesty . . .


Image from: http://mondaysorchids.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/king-david-5-facts-you-probably-didnt-know/

Written on May 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Moretto: King David

Moretto da Brescia: King David

1 Chronicles 16

Ministry

If we remain constant and in constant dialog with God we are continually surprised by God’s goodness.  When God’s is the first advice we seek, we cannot go wrong; our daily battles will be upheld, and we will stand in awe of God’s generosity.

The Levite hymn of praise that appears in this chapter is thought, by some scholars, to have been added later; other experts believe that it so reflects The Chronicler’s style that it must have always been included in this part of David’s story.  That discussion aside, we can see that David, at this point in his life, makes no decisions without God’s input.  The years he spent on the run avoiding Saul’s troops and making his little guerrilla strikes, have prepared him well for this.  We see here someone who understands that even those close to us, those to whom we have pledged our loyalty and love, can and will betray us, someone who understands the importance of fidelity, perseverance and thanksgiving.  The David we see today has come through fire and understands his place in God’s plan, and he understands and accepts his ministry as his vocation.

When we read David’s entire story, we also see that David slips into separation from God.  He is never, nor are we, a finished product.  He is in process with God and his faith journey will take him many places before it ends in old age.  Even at his death, David is embroiled in the argument of which son will rule after him and the death of his beloved Absalom will bring him deep sadness in his final days; yet David continues to commune with God, to listen and to daily dialog, and to live out his ministry as a faithful servant.

Each of us has a ministry we hope to fulfill.  I admit to struggling with my own vocation.  It would be so much easier, I say to God regularly, if I did not have to do all that God asks, if I might pick and choose my own works as I see them suiting my talents.  The reply always returns with an accompanying chuckle: God knows that the path is full of obstacles, and God knows how we tire.  It is for this reason that God abides constantly, never leaving our side.  God knows well the plans God has in mind for us, as the prophet Jeremiah tells us (29:11), and God desires to surprise us at every turn with an encouraging smile, a loving caress, a kiss that does not betray.  God’s constancy and goodness and wisdom are tools lent to us in order that we perform our ministry.  God also provides us with little respites at oases that suddenly and surprisingly appear.  Those are the moments in which we might raise our own hymns of praise just as the Levites do in today’s reading.

As we remain constant, we remain close to God.  As we remain close, we commune with God.  As we commune, we worship.  Let us lift our voices together in a paean of praise.

Tomorrow, the constancy of dialog with God . . .


Image from: https://www.pubhist.com/w4727

Written on June 20, 2009. Revised and posted today as a Favorite. 

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Judith 13: Slaying Holofernes

Judith teaches us about courage, fidelity, and divine providence.  She shows us clearly the strength of women, the power of faithfulness through duress, the results of steady, enduring, immutability . . . and the gift of God’s abiding presence.  Judith instructs us on the results of constancy and the privilege of discipleship.

In this particular chapter, we see Judith carry out the final stages of her plan . . . and I am always intrigued by the fact that none of Holofernes’ soldiers see anything suspicious about two women leaving the camp and the reason for this is that from the first night of her stay Judith makes it clear that she and her maid will go out to pray each evening.  For this reason their escape route is made through their accustomed daily commitment to God (12:5-9).

It is also clear that Holofernes’ principle error is seeing women as sexual objects.  The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken.  He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.  (12:16) Neither this man – nor anyone in his inner circle – sees the true significance of the presence of this quiet, beautiful, spiritual woman in their midst.  And they pay for this blindness with the loss of life and the loss of the campaign they have planned against the people of Bethulia.

What can we learn from this today?  How can we take this lesson into our own lives and honor it?  What is it about Judith’s conduct that speaks of her so well?

This story – when read from beginning to end – is full of unexpected twists.  And so is life.  This story – when we take the time to examine it more fully – can startle us and even repel us with its stark reality and violence.  And so can life.  This story – when reflected upon in the context of the coming of Christ – brings us the expectation of restoration, justice and joy.  And so does life.  This story brings us the gift of constancy, a gift we receive through our own discipleship.

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

What do we do against life’s twists and turns and ironies?  We remain constant, we abide with God, we fear less and we pray endlessly.  We empty ourselves of ego and pride . . . and we allow God to complete and fill us.  We act – just as Judith did – from a custom of constantly walking and praying with God.

Good, merciful and just Creator, we place ourselves in your hands each day at our rising.  We carry you with us throughout each day.  We return to you each evening just as we return to family, home and hearth.  Abide with us this day and all days, just as you accompanied Judith and her maid into the enemy’s camp.  Abide with us each evening as we walk out to the ravine to pray with you, just as Judith and her maid were accustomed to doing.  We seek you, just as Judith sought you.  We bring to you our worries and fears, just as these women did.  May we too remain constant to you in our prayers and in our actions.  May we too know the triumph and the peace which comes from abiding with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


If you have time to read more about Judith’s story and reflect on her importance in our lives today, enter her name in the search box on this blog and spend time with her.  Or open your Bible to this book and begin her story in Judith 8.  For background, and to better understand the context, begin reading from Chapter 1.   For an online commentary, click on the model of ancient Jerusalem above.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/220px-cristofano_allori_0021.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/reconstruction_model_of_ancient_jerusalem_in_museum_of_david_castle1.jpg

First written on July 27, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Hosea 11: Destruction Not for All

dew[1]As we near the half-way point in our Lenten journey we hear Yahweh’s word that he persists in loving the child Israel just as Hosea loves the wayward Gomer . . . he recalls that he raised her from a child and so cannot destroy her as he might be justified in doing.  This is the promise of restoration we long to hear.

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

This is all so simple, really.  There is nothing complex in truly loving someone.  At least this is the case if we love as God asks: justly, wisely, authentically.

To love justly is to act with mercy rather than leniency.

To love wisely is to be vulnerable to God through one another.

To love well is to amplify rather than obliterate, to persevere rather than control, to speak to truth and listen for authenticity rather than to mollify or pacify.

To love with integrity is to be honest with ourselves and to look for solutions within rather than from some outside source.

To love well is to follow the example of Christ . . . and this we are all called to do.

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. 

We look for peace.  We look for serenity.  We look for healing and restoration.  In order to find these things, we must fasten our eyes, our ears, our voices, our hands and our feet to God and not let go.  We must watch, we must wait, we must listen, we must speak, we must witness.  God always abides.

For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.

Hosea is constant.  Gomer is fickle.  We run to the high places to worship a new idol when we grow bored.  We seek out some old addiction when we grow tired.

new_easter_lilies[1]The more I called them, the farther they went from me . . . yet it was I who taught [them] . . . to walk . . . though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. 

We do not have to go off to far or exotic places to find this God we seek.  We need only tum and return to one another.

How could I give you up . . . or deliver you up?

My heart is overwhelmed . . .

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

Restoration is upon us.  The end of our exile is as far away as our own fingertips, our own lips, our own feet.  We must turn and return.  How much are we willing to risk?  How much are we willing to love?


Images from: http://restministries.com/2011/02/21/devotion-seeking-saturation-at-the-lords-feet-in-our-pain-not-just-getting-by/ and http://www.mydesignideas.com/images/Garden%20File/garden_gallery_dupe.html

First written on January 22, 2008. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Hosea 1: The Covenant Path

path[1]I will save them by the Lord, their God; but I will not save them by war, by sword or bow, by horses or horsemen.

I am always struck by the deep sadness which permeates this prophecy and also by the intense loyalty which the prophet shows his harlot wife, Gomer.  This is the same fidelity which God demonstrates to us, the same constancy to which we are all called, the same covenant we have entered into with Our God.

. . . for you are my people and I will be your God.

The good news about this prophecy is that we are told again that no matter how often or how far we stray, we may return.  The tough part is that we must leave everything we have in order to follow this loyal, constant, ardent spouse.  In Luke 5:1-11 we hear the familiar story we have heard so often – Jesus calls Simon Peter and his partners James and John, sons of Zebedee, to follow him.  “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men”.  When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.  Jesus worked a miracle for these men – when they did as he told them, they suddenly hauled in a huge catch where previously there had been nothing.  They recognized his divinity, left the things of this world and followed.  Jesus works miracles for us constantly yet for the most part we are unwilling to leave all and follow.  Do we act with constancy?  Do we maintain our covenant promise or do we return to the straying path which seems so much easier and so much more fun to follow?

Hosea forgives Gomer countless times.  Yet he maintains fidelity in the face of scandal and shame.  He demonstrates fidelity to her through great cost to himself.  He forgives.  We too, are forgiven.  We too, might forgive.  We too, are called.  We too, might follow.

We are asked to be faithful to our God and to God’s call, to the promise of fulfillment placed in us at our birth.

We are asked to follow the path less traveled, the road on which Christ accompanies us, the road with Christ as it destination.

We are asked to respond to the Spirit within, despite our inconstancy, our blundering and our misunderstanding.

We are asked to put all blaming and name-calling aside and we are asked to follow the covenant path of promise . . . for it is the only true path worth walking.  It is the only path that can save.  It is the only path that binds us in covenant love.


Image from: http://calebcompany.org/2012/09/gods-path-to-success/

First written on September 4, 2008. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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1 Maccabees 12:19-38: In the Face of Great Odds

Friday, December 20, 2019

Jonathan Maccabeus

We have looked at the verses that precede and follow today’s citation, reflecting on friendship and betrayal, on constancy and convolution.  Today we see Jonathan Maccabeus experiencing success as he follows the call of God.  He is later betrayed, but his betrayer suffers a sad end.  We might learn about the kind of patience needed for fidelity when we ponder this story; and we may better understand the need for fortitude and hope when we follow God’s call.  Jonathan’s victory in today’s Noontime comes from his faith in a God who does not abandon his creatures.  Jonathan’s true triumph is not the battles the battles he wins . . . but his commitment to the promise he has made to God.  His true reward is not the fame of the battle won . . . but the serenity of knowing that all is best and all is well when our work is placed in God’s hands.

From today’s Evening Prayer in MAGNIFICAT:

Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.  1 Peter 1:8

Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.  It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ.  Philippians 3: 7, 12

Although Jonathan did not see God, he loved God and followed his calling . . . even to death.

Whatever gain or loss Jonathan had, he had in God.

May we too, be as constant and as hope-filled as Jonathan . . . even in the face of the greatest odds.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.11 (2010). Print.  

Written on November 16, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://all-generals.ru/index.php?id=1193

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