Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘corruption’


Deuteronomy 26: 16-19: The Covenantthe-new-covenant

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Celebrating the Beatitudes, striving to fully take in Jesus’ teachings, we remind ourselves of our heritage and our commitment. Our relationship with God is one we entered into at our creation; and it is a connection and support that will hold us forever.

Today the Lord is making this agreement with you . . .

These are such simple and beautiful words coming from the book of Deuteronomy, or “second law”. Here we find a kind of re-hashing of the historical events which brought the Hebrews to the Moab desert where they waited for forty days before crossing the Jordan to enter their promised land.

You are a people peculiarly God’s own . . . as God promised you . . .

Jesus uses words from this book in his interchanges with Satan when he goes to the desert for forty days just before the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 4). Jesus again quotes Deuteronomy when he explains the first and greatest commandment of love to a young man (Matthew 22). Matthew, who was writing for a Jewish audience to help his reader understand the implications of these Deuteronomy citations by Jesus, stirred up the corrupt Jewish leadership who had tended to the letter of the law while neglecting its spirit.

God will raise you high in praise and renown and glory . . .

Just so might these words stir up contention today; yet just so will these words bring consolation to those who live a just and authentic life.

God will make you a people sacred to the Lord . . .

Jesus becomes the fulfillment of this Old Covenant because he is the New Covenant. As this new agreement and promise, he is also hope. In this season when we continue to celebrate the miracle of Easter, let us be careful to observe Jesus’ statute of loving one another – even our enemies – with our whole heart and our whole soul. Let us continue to walk in his ways, and hearken to his voice. And let us continue to be a people sacred to God . . . as he has promised.


Image from: http://imgkid.com/covenant-with-god-through-jesus.shtml

Read Full Post »


Matthew 28:11-15: The Report

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

Thursday, March 24, 2015

While they were going . . . We are eager to hear the resurrection story again. We anticipate the revelation of Christ’s powerful restoration message. What seemed lost is found. What was empty is now full. Jesus’ faithful followers go to Galilee to meet with Jesus. What must they have been imagining? What do we imagine as we set off each day to do God’s work in an often hostile world?

Some of the guard assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers . . . We dislike the corruption and deceit that surrounds the resurrection story. We are saddened by the darkness that clouds this beautiful exemplar. What is light is threatened by the darkness. What is holy is stalked by evil. Jesus’ enemies cannot abide the truth that stares them down. How do they think they can silence the very hope they themselves have sought? How do we avoid the truths that stare at us each day?

ontheshoreThe soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this is the story that has circulated to the present day . . . We forswear duplicity and promise to cease all gossip. We are stunned by lies and shudder at the audacity of others to twist reality to their own vision. What is dead now lives forever. What is slandered is now exalted. What report of God’s love do these schemers present to the world with lies and deceit? What daily report of God’s love do we present to the world through our actions and words?

No principality or power can overcome the love that the Spirit bestows on us. No tempest or evil can undo the healing the Spirit brings to us. No strident denial, no manipulative tyrant can drown out the justice that Christ speaks through his actions. And this is our Lenten promise from God. We are rescued. We are healed. We are redeemed. We are loved beyond measure. The false report that ends Matthew’s Gospel continues for a time in its falsehood while the report of Good News has held through the ages and will hold until the end of time.

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

We are bearers of this wonderful news, so let us carry this Word forward in joy-filled hope.  We are children of God, so let us share this marvelous news with those who have ears to hear. We are sisters and brothers of Christ in the Spirit, let us determine to hold fast to the report brought to us through the power and love of God.

Yesterday we considered whose good opinions we seek, today we consider whose reports we believe, tomorrow we consider what fears we obey. 


The Carracci image from: http://www.bible-people.info/Mary-Magdalene-bible-text.htm

The fishing boats and fire image from: https://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/page/3/

The Tissot image from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/luke/tissot-artwork-new-testament.htm

Read Full Post »


Saturday, February 5, 2022roots and branches

Malachi 4 (Malachi 3:19-24)

Roots and Branches

Destruction is a familiar theme in the Old Testament; restoration is a theme in the New.  We seem always to be looking for the phoenix life – one in which our past is obliterated when we rise from the ashes of our former selves.  In today’s Noontime the wicked will be like ashes under the feet of the righteous.  This place which Malachi describes does not appear to offer resurrection; evidently there are actions from which there is no turning back.  The New Testament Jesus calls all of us – even those who seem to be lost in total perdition.  In today’s reading we hear that neither root nor branch will survive the coming fire.  There will be no source of renewal and no bearing of fruit for some.  We might wonder who these wicked are . . . and why they deserve this end.

This prophecy was written after the restoration and re-dedication of the Temple by Ezra and Nehemiah.  Evidently the people had not learned much from their suffering in exile.  These people sound a good deal like us.   “Unlike such early prophecies as Amos and Hosea, the late prophetic book of Malachi is not simply the voice of the observant masses against a corrupt priesthood, though it readily indicts the priesthood for its failures.  It identifies itself with Levitical priestly circles and believes deeply in the temple, true worship, and the payment of tithes as means for obtaining the blessing of the land”.  (Mays 1428-1429)  Malachi saw the corruption and witnessed truth to the power structure.  Clearly, he was ignored.  The Temple fell to final ruin in the Roman-Jewish conflict around the year 70 C.E.  We might wonder how history would have resulted differently if the temple hierarchy had acted positively in response to this prophecy.  We might wonder if we are like the temple priests whom Malachi describes to us today.

tree_vision1Psalm 119, sometimes entitled The Glories of God’s Law, is a long one but we cannot let it discourage us from exploring its verses.  One weekend several years ago I used it for a self-imposed three-day retreat on my porch at home.  Every few hours I went to the corner settee to sit awhile and look at the beauty of nature before me, and then I read and reflected on a portion of this Psalm.  I interspersed this with yoga, reflective music, and reading Thomas Merton, Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, and Henri Nouwen.  By the end of the weekend, after immersing myself in God’s Law, I had come to better understand an obstacle in my path.  By the end of that weekend I had learned how to rise from ashes so that I might not be trampled underfoot.  By the end of the weekend I had learned again how to put down roots . . . and how to lift up branches in order to bear fruit out of suffering.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1428-1429. Print.

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 9, 2011.  

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi in the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://thewordspeaks.wordpress.com/tag/hope/ 

Read Full Post »


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Joy and Zephaniah

Degradation

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Zephaniah describes how we might respond in joy even when we suffer the curse of degradation.

“The age of Zephaniah was a time of religious degradation, when the old idolatries reappeared and men worshiped sun, moon, and stars”. This prophet calls us to oppose the worship of false gods and the adulation of false priests and ministers. It is a message we cannot hear too often. (Senior 1153)

Fanaticism will always flourish whether it comes from the both ends of a political, civil, social or religious spectrum. Ancient and contemporary philosophers promote moderation and balance. Scholars assess the values presented by sophist, pluralistic and diverse viewpoints. Arguments divide families and workplaces. Corruption finds a home in an environment of fear and settle into our bones as a response to our anxieties. Extremism and division will always plague us. What then, is to be done?

Zephaniah 3:17-18: For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you with great gladness; he will love you and not accuse you.” Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song. “I have gathered your wounded and taken away your reproach.

God says: So what is the great gladness that lives among you and does not accuse you? It is My Word. What is the joyous choir we hear? It is the billions of voices in my creation coming together: the songs of my trees and winds and seas, the voices of my birds, and reptiles and mammals, the songs of my faithful people. All of this beautiful, universal sound is in and with and through me. Come to me. Despite the degradation that threatens to pull you into darkness, listen for the songs of joy that the faithful are singing. And join your voice with theirs.

A week ago today more than three million people in the country of France came together to sing in the universal song of solidarity. Spend some time investigating the myriad issues that surfaced in Europe and around the world last week. Click on the image above and visit the UNESCO Free Press post. Reflect on the importance of open, free and authentic journalism, and decide how our many voices might come together in a song of joy to God.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1153. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

For more about world press freedom, click on the image or visit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2019/04/23/the-state-of-world-press-freedom-in-2019-infographic/?sh=1c6012aabbab

Read Full Post »


Christmas_BethlehemFriday, January 14, 2022

Joy and Micah

Outrage

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we feel the outrage of the prophet Micah who challenges the rich, witnesses to the corruption and immorality of religious leaders . . . and offers hope and promise to the exploited.  

The second chapter of Micah begins: Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it is all he has); you take it by fraud and threats and violence. (2:1-2)

We do not have to wonder about the identity of Micah’s audience. A contemporary of Isaiah, little is known about him except that, “With burning eloquence he attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. Scholars note that although Micah delivers “reproach and the threat of punishment, [he also offers] a note of hope and promise”. (Senior 1140)

According to Micah, the Lord promises to deliver evil for evil (2:3). The Lord’s threats are for our good, the prophet tells us, to get us on the right path. (2:7) Exasperated, Micah speaks frankly: You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, who walk in peace. You have driven out the widows from their homes and stripped their children of every God-given right. Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it with sin, and it will vomit you out. I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink”—that is the kind of drunken, lying prophet that you like! (2:9-11)

Micah confronts evil with its own image, pointing out to those who find comfort at the expense of truth and integrity that they deceive no one by pretending that the joy they find in temporal pleasure can in any way equal the joy God offers.

Restoration is assured, Micah tells anyone who will listen. Humans will no longer train for war; each one of us might sit serenely beneath our own fig trees without fear. And who will bring this renewal? O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past! (5:2)

As we reflect on this Christmastide we have so recently shared, let us consider the gift of self that God brings us. And let us remember that despite his outrage . . . Micah brings us the good news of redemption, hope and promise.


For a reflection on finding Christmas in the Old Testament, click on the Bethlehem image above, or visit: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/ 

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1140. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Image from: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/

Read Full Post »


pope-francis_2541160b

Pope Francis

Monday, January 10, 2022

Joy and Amos

The Bitter Day

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds. Today Amos brings the past into focus with the present as he foretells the joy we might find even in the bitterness of our own indictment.

Amos was a shepherd “who exercised his ministry during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). He prophesied in Israel at the great cult center of Bethel, from which he was finally expelled by the priest in charge of this royal sanctuary . . . In common with the other prophets Amos knew that divine punishment in never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men. The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God”. (Senior 1126)

Amos 8:10: And I will turn your parties into times of mourning, and your songs of joy will be turned to cries of despair. You will wear funeral clothes and shave your heads as signs of sorrow, as if your only son had died; bitter, bitter will be that day.

More than any other prophet, Amos “speaks directly to the issue of social justice, with a vigor unparalleled anywhere in the Bible . . . No prophet is more easily related to the modern world than Amos, for the social inequities that he denounced in the eighth-century B.C. Israel are still very much with us . . . The first lesson to be learned from Amos is that social justice is the business of religion. The test of piety is what happens in the marketplace rather than what happens in the church or temple”. (Senior RG 365-366)

Amos 5:18: You say, ‘If only the Day of the Lord were here, for then God would deliver us from all our foes.’ But you have no idea what you ask. For that day will not be light and prosperity, but darkness and doom! How terrible the darkness will be for you; not a ray of joy or hope will shine.

Amos witnesses to the corruption and hypocrisy he sees before him. He is expelled from the temple community and then returns to his orchards and flocks but before he goes back to his work, he warns his listeners of the bitter day they hope to avoid, knowing that ultimately – as is always true with God – the joy opportunity for salvation surprises us even as we hear our own bitter indictment.


joyRead about Pope Francis’ recent address to the Curia in which he describes the “spiritual Alzheimer’s” of church leaders; and let us consider our own behavior. Do we contribute to hypocrisy in our own circles by remaining silent when we are called to speak? What joy surprises us in the midst of our indictment? What does our daily living say about our image of God? http://www.religionnews.com/2014/12/22/pope-francis-curia-merry-christmas-power-hungry-hypocrites/ and http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/pope-francis-address-curia

To read Pope Francis’ June 5, 2014 brief address and consider how we might hear his words in the context of this prophecy, visit: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130605_udienza-generale.html  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1126, RG 365-366. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/10342768/Pope-Francis-to-rip-up-and-rewrite-Vatican-constitution.html

Read Full Post »


Balancing stones

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Isaiah 1

Joy and Balance

In the first chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy we read all that we need to know about who we are, how we are to act, and how we are likely to act as we journey through life. Here Daughter Zion is described in her wanton lust to do all as she wishes. We know women like this. The strong man sees his work become a spark and there is nothing to quench the destruction. We know men like this. Isaiah speaks to the corruption of his time and he speaks to us, bringing a warning that we must maintain balance in our lives.

It is easy to think that the first chapter of this prophecy we hear so much during Advent that refers only to overt lust, greed or pride. With a bit of energy and openness, we can also think of the subtle ways we allow our own little corruptions to ease into our lives – we succumb to old fears when we have been assured that all is well, we stir up old dramas when these dramas have been resolved, we sulk over losses, we rekindle old gossip that puts others in chains, and we refuse to move forward into the new paths of our new life.

Moderation is the hallmark of the developed soul. Just enough prayer balanced with just enough action. Just enough sleep balanced with just enough work. Just enough companionship balanced with just enough solitude. Just enough joy balanced with just enough prudence. And an abundance of love balanced with just enough caution. 

We hope to remain on the narrow path that leads through the narrow gate of life yet we know we will slip. Fortunately, God has more than enough patience, wisdom and forgiveness for all. The size of our error does not matter. The intensity of our fall is not measured. All that God wants is our recognition of who we are, and our desire to be what God calls us to be. All that God wants is our love. 

On this Advent Eve, when we are asked the question: What has Christ done for you? Let us answer: He gave up all for me. And when we are asked: Why did Christ do this for you?  Let us reply: Because I am well loved by Christ. And when we are asked: What do you do for Jesus? Let us sing out with just enough courage, just enough patience, and just enough reality: I will love Christ with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole body and my whole soul. I will do all for him. 


Adapted from a reflection written on Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Image from: https://leadingwithtrust.com/2018/02/18/forget-work-life-balance-and-focus-on-these-5-things-instead/

Read Full Post »


parent-worthyWednesday, October 6, 2021

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .


Image from: http://antiochcofc.org/#/worthy-of-gods-call/4556896195

Read Full Post »


Temple

The Jerusalem Temple in the days of Herod

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Ephesians 4:1-6

In a Manner Worthy

For a number of weeks we have spent our noontimes with the prophecy of Jeremiah examining the loss of the great temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the humbling experience of exile and deportation. We have also considered our own exile, we have reflected on the prophet’s foreshadowing of the Christ, and we have examined how we might be Jeremiah’s enemies or companions. Today we consider the final message from the prophet that holds so much importance for us. Despite accumulating deceits and betrayals, there is always hope . . . because God is always with us, moving us to live in a manner worthy of God’s call.

From Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Ephesus, and to each of us . . .

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received . . .

In an ever-quicker world we may not pause often enough to hear God’s voice.

With all humility and gentleness . . .

In an always-competitive world we may not make room for those on the margins.

With patience, bearing with one another through love . . .

In an increasingly self-centric world we may not feel the need to advocate for those who have no voice.

Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace . . .

In a world of crisis and emergency we may not restore the soul or rest in God.

One body and one Spirit . . .

In an always-dynamic world we may not see that we are one.

As you were also called to the one hope of your call . . .

In an always-problematic world we may not believe in a reason to hope.

humilityOne Lord, one faith, one baptism . . .

In an always-divergent world we may not want to listen to others.

One God and Father of all . . .

In a world that thinks there is no God we may not witness to injustice and corruption.

Who is over all and through all and in all . . .

In an always-vibrant world we must believe that we are worthy of the call that God has sent us.

Amen.


To learn more about Solomon’s Temple and the renovations made by Herod, visit The Archeology of the Bible site by clicking the temple image above or visiting: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/temple_of_jerusalem.htm 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: