Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘corruption’


1 Kings 1: Power Changes Hands

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As Easter approaches, and as we witness the swirling tides of power grow and collapse around us, we remember this reflection from March 14, 2008; and we remember that we are children of God, living with God’s loving promise.

This is a story or power ebbing and rising.  It is also a story of corruption, convolution and byzantine conniving.  And it is also the story of God’s providence, God’s openness to the impossible being possible, and God’s awesome ability to turn all harm to good.  Just reading the first chapter of this book gives us a sliver of our history as Yahweh’s people.  It can even give us a context for the corruption in our church structure today.  We know who we are as God’s children: we are created, we are loved, we are longed for, we are anointed, we are blessed, we are saved, we dance an intimate dance with our God.  The greater question for us may be: Who am I in God’s creation? 

Sometimes these answers are more difficult to live with. If we believe, for example, in the sanctity of life, we must also believe that torture is an unjust way of interrogating people. If we believe that the Christ is present in the world today through us, we are still all God’s children, even if we cannot all agree about all of the details of an issue.

When we read about the people in these historical books, we come away with the assurance that no matter the era or epoch, we are all God’s people under the same skin.  We all err.  We all have the opportunity for redemption.  We may all make reparation.  We may all forgive and be forgiven.  We are all God’s children.

When we read ACTS OF THE APOSTLES to remind myself of the many struggles which the early Church had during its formation, we can see clearly the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s nurturing, abiding presence hovering constantly around these early apostles.  We see power transferring from the Pharisees and their separatist thinking to the apostles and their universal salvation thinking.  And even among the early Christians there was dissent: the necessity of circumcision, the need for baptism by the spirit, and so on.  The Holy Spirit shepherded these people . . . and shepherds us today.

In both the Old and New Testaments we read of the human qualities of contrivance, deceit and falsehood . . . and we also read of honesty and redemption.  Nathan, Bathsheba, Adonijah, Solomon, Zadok are all characters in this tale from long ago . . . and they are the people we see before us on the television screen each evening when we tune in to hear the day’s news.  When we watch these people of then . . . or of today . . . how do we see ourselves responding?  How do we witness to The Word?  How do we react as children of God?

We might ponder these things tonight in our evening prayer.

Read Full Post »


Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part I

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Jesus tells his own generation – and he tells us – that an accounting will be taken.

You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. (THE MESSAGE)

Jesus reminds his neighbors – and he reminds us – that our deeds must match our words.

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

Jesus calls the leaders of his day – and he calls ours – to rise to a level that befits their office.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. (NRSV)

Jesus asks the people of his day – and he asks us – to live as he lives, hope as he hopes, and love as he loves.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. (KJV)

Jesus says to those who will listen – and he says to us – that we must put aside false pretense, we must filter out the noise, and we must cling to all that is good, and whole and holy. Jesus speaks to his generation and he speaks to us. We know what happens to his contemporaries. Do we know what will happen to us?

Tomorrow, the audience.

Using the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we might compare various translations of these verses to better hear The Word.

In the image above, we see the young Jesus taking his place among Temple scholars. Veronese depicts these early leaders as Renaissance Italian courtiers. How would we describe this scene in our own day? 

Read Full Post »


1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Monday, September 21, 2015

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21).  We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing.  We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new.  The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places.  We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom?  Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives?  Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives?  Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives?  Can we love those who harm us?  Can we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God?  Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons.  The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises.  Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3).  Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human wilfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, wilfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

Read Full Post »


John 18:28-38: Glory, Part IX: Handing Ourselves Over1000509261001_1553982855001_Bio-Radio-Mother-Theresa-SF

Monday, July 27, 2015

The scene of Pilate moving from inside to outside and back again as he links Jesus and his accusers is an interesting one in which we see two worlds, two understandings, two ways of thinking collide.  In the end, Jesus allows himself to be handed over for judgment, punishment and execution . . . and in so doing he demonstrates to his followers how we are to behave when faced with insurmountable odds.  We are to obey the voice within, follow the example of Christ, and rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit to become the paradoxical witness to the world we know we are called to be.

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we hope to avoid suffering, we also avoid opportunities for intimacy in Christ.

In an auditorium recently in which young people had gathered to raise funds to help a sister parish in Haiti, teenagers sang and swayed to music glorifying God and his awesome works.  I was struck by their innocence and fervor, and I prayed that the crosses they had already born, along with the ones they would be called to bear, would not weigh on them too heavily.  And then I remembered that earlier that evening I had seen evidence that perhaps these young people were not so innocent of suffering after all.  Tucked quietly in an alcove behind the table where Haitian coffee was being served to guests was a simple hand-painted sign clearly written by a youngster . . . and as I read it, I hoped that this young woman or man understood the enormity of the citation cited from the words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta:

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. 

This speaks such plain truth.  And yet we fear the pain and suffering which leads to this tremendous love in which we might rest for eternity.  We too often rush to the arms of denial, quick comfort, or easy silence which gives assent to corruption and wrong doing.

In today’s reflection we see this truth in the gestures and words of Jesus who allows himself to serve as savior and symbol for all peoples of all times and all places.

May we serve as humble replicas of this paradox of Christ’s love. And may we come to know God’s glory through our simple acts of handing ourselves over to God.

Search for information about Theresa of Calcutta and reflect on why and how her presence among India’s poor gave rise to opposing views about her work. Consider how this paradox may or may not be a sign of God’s glory in our time. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 14, 2008.

Read Full Post »


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

May 2, 2015

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.

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 28, 2007.

 

Read Full Post »


Matthew 28:11-15: The Report

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

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. 

Read Full Post »


Saturday, February 7, 2015roots 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. 

Read Full Post »


UNESCO: World Press Freedom Index 2104

UNESCO: World Press Freedom Index 2104

Sunday

January 18, 2015

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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Read Full Post »


Christmas_BethlehemThursday

January 15, 2015

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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: