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Posts Tagged ‘constancy’


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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Saturday, October 5, 2013

week-4[1]1 Peter 4:12 – 5:14

Out of Our Comfort Zone

It is human nature to avoid or reject anything which challenges us to move out of our comfort zone. We may want to eliminate from our lives anything which makes us re-think an idea, an issue, or a long-held perception of a person. We may want to circumvent any conflict or idea that challenges the status quo or asks us to open our minds to a new concept.  Peter tells us clearly that suffering can actually be good for us when we suffer according to God’s will – not according to some trial we create for ourselves out of our own stubbornness, pride or envy.

In our prayer time this weekend we might want to examine our desire to remain comfortable to determine if our trials are truly in line with Peter’s idea in verse 19: those who suffer in accord with God’s will hand their souls over to a faithful creator as they do good.

From this morning’s Liturgy of the Hours in MAGNIFICAT: 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.  In the end, God is all there is and all there need be.

May we find fidelity as the keystone of our relationship with our faithful creator.

May we remain constant even as we learn to shift ourselves out of our comfort zones.

May we do good today and every day as we hand our souls over to the will of God in accordance with the covenant we hold together.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT.14.3 (2007). Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 14, 2007.

Enter the word suffering into the blog search bar and spend some time with the concept of suffering.

The quote in the image above is credited to Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the “Conversations with God” series. The image is from Breathe Out.com at: http://www.breathe-out.com/?p=306

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/03/28/an-intimate-companion/

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"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.

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

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

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Judith 12:16 – Holofernes’ 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 Bethulia.  She 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’s encounter with Holofernes, click on the image above or go to: http://bjws.blogspot.com/2011/08/judith-holofernes-1600s.html 

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.   

Adapted from a Noontime first written on October 3, 2007.

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