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Posts Tagged ‘conversion’


Proverbs 16: Plans of the Heart – A Reprise 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Today, as we journey through Proverbs, we reprise a post from several years ago in which we see that . . . Everything Belongs.

Man may make plans in his heart, but what the tongue utters is from the Lord.  All the ways of man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves the spirit.  Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  The Lord has made everything for his own ends, even the wicked for the evil day . . . In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.

Humans have a fertile imagination; and weaving a story about ourselves is part of what we do as we form our self-concept.  We are often anxious about the future:  What am I to do?  Where am I to go?  What am I to say?  How am I to act?  We may worry about the past:  Why was I so blind?  How did I miss what they were saying?  And all the time we worry . . . we are missing the blessed present . . . with its opportunity to open our hearts to God’s economy.  The writer of Proverbs reminds us that the best plans are those guided by God.  Trusting in divine providence is so very difficult . . . yet so essential to serene living.

Better a little with virtue, than a large income with injustice . . . How much better to acquire wisdom than gold!  To acquire understanding is more desirable than silver . . . A patient man is better than a warrior, and he who rules his temper, than he who takes a city.

Wisdom is our best instructor.  Living a life characterized by prudence and temperance is difficult in a society which values the supersize in everything.  It is easy to overdo: too much food, too much drink, too much money spent on heat or air conditioning, too much television, too many movies, too many books, too many people making claims on our time, too much aloneness, too much neglect, too much fuss.  Is there such a thing as too much justice?  Too much hope?  Too much faith or hope?  Too much love?  Finding moderation and balance is a challenge; but our model is the Christ, who interchanged periods of heavy activity with times of prayer and retreat . . . leaving his sacred heart open to God’s plan.

By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by fear [love] of the Lord man avoids evil.

It is never too late to be open to a conversion of the heart.  There is always time to enter through the narrow gate, to step onto the narrow road, to sow peace rather than discord.  It is never too late to open the door and windows of the mind . . . to allow the master planner to enter the heart . . .  to move us through our days . . . to guide us in our thoughts . . . to thaw our stiffened necks . . . to melt our hardened hearts.

Let us vow today to open ourselves . . . to the mind of God . . . that we might receive our plans from God’s own sacred heart.

 

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Lamentations 1:14-22: The Inverted Kingdom – Part X

Friday, January 20, 2017

Amy Bradley: Out of Darkness Came Light

Amy Bradley: Out of Darkness Came Light

Give Heed

This Favorite was written during Eastertide on May 3, 2011. We post it today as a reflection on Christ’s inverted transformation of the world, as an offering of peace in a time of trouble. 

These are such sad verses; the images of the inconsolable one suffering intensely are so very difficult to sit with.  We want to rush past them as we sometimes rush past those who are in pain or those who bear the visible scars of their suffering.  Yet this is where Christ dwells, with the dispossessed, the broken, and those in the captivity of their addictions.  We want our world to be a beautiful and ordered place.  We want happy endings and bright, new beginnings.  We want perfection and comfort. The odd thing is . . . this is what we have and we look quickly away from it because it comes to us through the cross of pain and suffering.  We do not want to be the least discomfited.  We want all things in neat rows and nice packages.  Life is not as tidy as we wish.   And yet it is . . .

When we allow the pain to convert us, as it will, when we allow God’s hands to heal us, as they will, we see that life is about reversal, inversion, irony and paradox.  What appears to be lost is actually found; what we think has gone yet resides within.

Give heed to my groaning . . . 

Matthew 19:30: Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

There is no one to console me . . .

Psalm 126:5: Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. 

All my enemies rejoice at my misfortune . . .

Psalm 126:6: Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundles of sheaves. 

My groans are many, I am sick at heart . . .

We are called today to give heed to the message of lamentations, to our own cries and to the cries of the bereft.  We are called to take courage in the face of opposition, to the obstacles we put in front of ourselves and to those placed there by others.  We are called to give heed to the sadness we experience ourselves and to the sadness we see in others . . . for all lamentation will be transformed into happiness.  Of this we can be certain, for this is the Easter message delivered by Christ.

Psalm 30:11-12: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

These are such beautiful verses; the images of a God so loving that all is forgiven, all are blessed. They are so wonderful to sit with.  We want to rush toward them as we rush toward the Living God.

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John 12:37-41: Incredulity

Saturday, November 21, 2015heart-of-leaf-with-roses

It is always about the conversion of the heart, the transformation of the mind.  Seeing with our eyes and hearing with our ears does not bring us closer to God.  Experiencing the world with our hearts . . . this is what calls us into a state of permanent discipleship. 

Human nature being what it is, we find countless excuses and reasons for not doing the work of discipleship.  The eye and the ear bring us sight and sound which we are accustomed to reasoning away with lines of thought we are practiced in using.  What good can one person do?  This is what people in my neighborhood do and I do not want to offend them.  This way is more convenient for me.  That has no effect upon me.  I like to shop there.  It’s none of my business.  It’s not hurting anybody.  These are the phrases that trip off our lips easily.

Even Jesus with the fullness of the presence of God was not able to turn all hearts and minds to himself and The Way.  He lived and worked and played among an incredulous people hardened by the tortures of the world.  Even some of those among whom he prayed did not believe . . . and this was after seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear.  In John 20:29 Jesus tells his disciples that those who believe without seeing or hearing are blessed indeed.
eye has not seenPaul reminds the Corinthians and he also reminds us that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9We depend on our human resources far too much and far too often, and these eyes and ears and hearts are often incredulous when we begin to consider all that God has in store for us.

And so we have this to ponder.  As Jesus passes among us each day, how do we respond?  Are we the incredulous comfortable crowd?  Or are we the restless, open listeners . . . waiting for The Word?

 

Adapted from a favorite written on September 1, 2008.

 

 

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James the Lesser – Sunday, September 27, 2015

El Greco: James the Lesser

El Greco: James the LesserSunday, September 27, 2015

We have reflected on our restoration from dry bones, placed memorial stones to mark the importance of our relationship with God; we have entered in to the apostolic Spirit and marked the wisdom and prudence we want to govern our lives. And we have given over our interior temple to the transformation God has in mind for us, knowing that from our strife comes our great reward. For the next few weeks we will spend time with the letter of James, examining the message

This letter is likely written by “a relative of Jesus who is usually called “brother of the Lord” (see Mt 13, 55; Mark 6, 3). He is the leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem whom Paul acknowledged as one of the “pillars” (Gal 2, 9). In Acts he appears as an authorized spokesman for the Jewish Christian position in the early Church (Acts 12, 17; 15, 13-21)”. (Senior 368)

The letter, written in Greek despite the fact it is penned by a Jew, is considered one of the best of the New Testament and many believe that it was actually put down by a secretary. Some also regard these verses as some the earliest written after the Christ’s death and, quite likely, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Senior 369)

James’ message is universal and timeless, emphasizing “sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but form a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sin, and expectation of judgment. (1, 17; 4, 12)”. (Senior 369)

When we spend time with this short letter today, we find that its structure is neat and concise, focusing on the value of trials and temptation, the importance of heeding warnings, and the power of prayer. Using the scripture link we can skim differing versions of the letter to examine the themes and structure ourselves as we prepare to hear the message James wants to bring to us.

To learn more about James the Less, as he is often called to distinguish him from the Apostle James (James the Greater), follow the scripture links above in Matthew, Mark and Acts, click on the image above, or use a reference that you find helpful.

Tomorrow, James’ message. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369. Print.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

imagesCAIS5TV1baby feet in handsAmos 3

First Word

In 3:6, Amos states an important belief of ancient theologians, that God causes all events, even disasters. (Mays 650)  In the light of the New Testament, we see God as a forgiving parent, a source of infinite compassion, a God who delivers justice, who pulls good out of harm, who loves us so dearly that he allows us to make decisions . . . even though they may have disastrous results.

God says: When humans first began to believe in my existence, they saw the world as a dual entity in which people, places, ideas and dreams were either good or bad.  There was very little room for fringe thinking because life was so fragile and survival so difficult.  Methods, practices and customs that helped the species to survive were regarded as sacrosanct.  Your ancestors often shunned or even executed innovators and those who understood the wide and long view.  You have evolved and now some of you understand what Jesus means when he speaks of the common good.  You comprehend the importance of forgiving enemies.  And some of you live the life he models for you.  I know that some among you still live with the words from ancient days. You scramble to make your world safe by performing practices with no heart. You believe that a checklist of good deeds saves you when it is really my loving care that restores what you have lost. Rather than lose patience with yourself or with any of these lost children, come to me.  Call the fearful ones to me through your actions and words.  Resist the temptation to believe that I bring about disaster for those who do not follow The Way. Believe that my heart is big enough to love the cruelest among you, persistent enough to convert the most heinous among you, and durable enough to outwait the most cruel and stubborn among you.  The ivory apartments will be ruined through the actions of those who build them.  The horns of the altar will break through the corruption the church leaders allow.  And the many rooms of the wicked will be no more through the actions or inactions of their own lives.  The wicked may escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of cot . . . but they will flee into my relentless, loving arms.  This is my First Word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

When we become inpatient with God’s plan as it unfolds before our eyes and into our lives, we must remember this First Word that Amos brings to us today.

Tomorrow, Second Word.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 650. Print.

For an interesting post about being still to hear God’s word at www.hisinfinitegrace.com, click on the image above, or go to: http://hisinfinitegrace.com/2012/10/30/be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-2/

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Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ash-wednesday-usa[1]Amos 1

Receptive

Today we stand on the threshold of a great opportunity, an opportunity to shed all that we dislike about ourselves, an opportunity to return fully to the promise God sends to the world through us.  We have taken up the prophecy of Amos as our first Lenten lesson plan and today we re-visit an old theme: we ask for the courage to open our hearts and minds and souls to the possibility of newness, we ask for the strength to be receptive to God’s announced gift of regeneration.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  And what is the message we hear today?  Where are we to go to do the work of self-conversion and kingdom building?  Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say.  Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat.  We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility.  They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  They are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.

The paragraph above is an excerpt from a 2012 Noontime.  To read more of this post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/10/09/stepping-into-newness/

To learn more about the places named in Amos 1, click on the following words and consider . . . Do we live in these places?  If so, what do we do to change ourselves . . . so that the world might also change? Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom and Ammon.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

9-teth[1]Psalm 119:65-72

Teth

Teach me your wisdom and knowledge . . . It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your laws . . .

In this ninth strophe we near the middle of Psalm 119 and here the psalmist reaches out to God, asking for wisdom and knowledge specifically, promising to adhere to the Law of loving one another that Yahweh has written on our hearts. The psalmist expresses a truth we all know but often do not want to admit: we learn life’s lessons best when we are under siege or overwhelmed, and it is from this suffering that God calls forth joy.

God says: I tell you frequently so of this you may be certain: I am with you always, I see your joys and sorrows, and I bring nothing but goodness out of the great harm that some of you plot.  So put away any plans of deception and come to the truth.  Honesty, authenticity, integrity and love will heal any rift.  In my plan and in my time, my love transforms even the darkest of hearts.  You may believe my goodness to be hidden . . . but it lives forever in your hearts.

Rather than curse our painful circumstances, let us enter into God’s plan of inversion and allow our sorrow to lead us to the one who can heal the deepest of wounds.  Let us allow God to love us infinitely and unconditionally.

When the Lord restored our fortunes we thought we were dreaming. Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy . . . Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, with return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.  (Psalm 126)

For more information on the letter Teth and how it represents inversion and concealed good, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tet.htm or http://www.hebrewtoday.com/content/hebrew-alphabet-letter-tet-%D7%98

Tomorrow, the letter Yodh.

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Growth


First Sunday of Advent

068[1]December 1, 2013

Acts 16:5

Growth

So the church grew stronger and stronger in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

The beginning of a new year brings an obvious opportunity to begin again.  We have rituals that help us to remember this: a crystal ball slides down a pole as millions watch in a digital world, old calendars are replaced with new in countless homes and offices, toasts are drunk, benchmarks are celebrated; yet do we empower change and growth in our lives or do we enable destructive, predictable and unchanging behaviors?

The cycle of nature in which we experience disintegration followed by the possibility of regeneration models for us a way in which to live.  After the falling apart there is always the chance to come together.  The keys are to remain open to the possibility, to encourage growth, and to look for the newness with open minds rather than heavy hearts.

After the storm there is the calm.

After the winter there is the spring.

After the destruction there is the rebuilding.

After the night there is the dawn.

After the exile there is restoration.

Our wounded-ness becomes healing when we grow with newness.  Our closed-ness becomes resurrection when we believe with determination.  Our humanity becomes divine when we love with vulnerability.  As we stand on the threshold of a new liturgical year, we have again the opportunity to experience conversion of the heart, to turn our stubborn pride into endurance, our anger into healing passion, and our anxiety into enduring love.  Let us welcome this invitation to new growth as warmly as we welcome the Christ Child, Jesus.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2009.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013 – Hosea 10:11-15 – Time to Seek the Lord

morning-dew-fresh-christ-manna-1024x768[1]Ephraim . . . Judah . . . sons of Jacob . . . tribes of Israel . . . northern and southern kingdoms.  Paganism . . . a Covenant relationship with the one true God . . . Infidelity . . . Constancy . . . Pleasure . . . Joy.  Exile . . . Return . . . Repentance . . . Restoration . . . Turmoil . . . Order . . . Chaos . . . Light.

We have seen these words . . . heard these themes . . . so many times . . . yet eye has not seen . . . ear has not heard . . . what God has in mind for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Hosea follows the will of God and marries the harlot Gomer.  His hope is that she will reform.  She does not.  He calls her to love . . . she turns away.  He persists . . . she will return . . . one day . . .

The offenses of Israel are grave and great, almost too much to bear.  And so we look to the end of the story to peek at the outcome.  Looking at the last lines of Hosea’s prophecy:  I will heal their defection; I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.  I will be like the dew of Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.  His splendor shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.  Again they shall dwell in the shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.  Ephraim!  What more has he to do with idols?  I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.  “I am like a verdant cypress tree” – Because of me you bear fruit!  Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.  Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.  (14:5-10)

Lily Five[1]Dear Jesus,

We stumble so frequently yet we turn and return.

We seek your path,

We call on your wisdom, we ask for prudence, courage, fortitude, patience.

We know your ways and your statutes.  We know that you await us.

We see these things, we hear these words, we rely on your constancy and your promise.

We look for the harvest, we look for the shade in the noonday sun.

We seek conversion and transformation.

We seek the Lord.

 Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:9: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard by Marty Haugen video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRyOS0nZr7s

For more thoughts on seeking, go to the God Time page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/god-time/

Written on January 31, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

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