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Easter Monday, April 5, 2021

Bernardino Mei: Christ Cleansing the Temple

Bernardino Mei: Christ Cleansing the Temple

John 2:13-22

Clearing Out

Lent is a time for introspection, examination and evaluation. Lent is a time for starting over, beginning again, for clearing out. Lent is a time for deep preparation, intense consideration and profound joy.

Easter is a time of celebration, regeneration, and commitment. Easter is a time for union, inclusion, and invitation. Easter Is a feast of eight days that rejoice in the journey we have made with Christ to Jerusalem. During this Easter Week we will explore our journey of hope and joy, and the commitment we make to continue our journey beyond the holiday.

Jesus travels to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and when he enters the Temple area he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.

Jesus does not delude himself about who and what he sees. He does not explain away or excuse the corruption he finds.

He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves he said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.

Jesus brings salvation to any who welcome their own redemption. He speaks in terms his listeners do not understand.

Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

Christ calls to each of us that we might follow. The Spirit guides each of us that we might go. God protects each if us so that we might clear out, renew and begin again.

So when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

As we continue our Easter journey, let us consider the many paths we might take to achieve our own clearing out and redemption.


For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the words Clearing Out the Temple into the blog search bar and explore, and use the Amazing Paths link to a Microsoft Word ® document on that post or the link here amazing-paths to reflect on the many ways of return that God offers us in in our lifetime journey. 

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Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021

MADAME~1

Christopher Turner: On the Couch

 Amos 6

The Cost of Prosperity

Before we leave Amos we reflect once more on his theme of the wealthy and comfortable taking advantage of the poor and voiceless. Like his contemporaries Hosea and Joel, Amos spoke out against those who lay upon couches plotting to keep what they had gathered rather than share their prosperity. He brought to light the corruption too often found in those who hoard possessions and power rather than tend to those on the margins who have few or no resources.

Amos spoke so well and so boldly that he was finally expelled by Amaziah, the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary. His delineation of “hollow prosperity” was too much for the power structure and rather than spend time with the prophet’s words, leadership chose to shut down this man who gave their work a “sweeping indictment” of the injustice and idolatry Amos saw everywhere. The prophet is known for his fiery words but also his offering of a messianic perspective of hope. He knows that “divine punishment is 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)

As we read these verses today, we might think of a time when either we too lay upon couches at the expense of others or we were those laboring within a corrupt system. In the modern world, some of us have a the freedom to express our views in the public arena. Sometimes this voice is small, sometimes it carries weight; but no matter the strength of our words we know that when we stand in God’s plan all will be well. All will right itself.

Today’s reading is full of Old Testament ire; yet we can bring our New Testament eyes and ears to this story to put it into context. When we find ourselves in our own Samaria or northern Kingdom, when we see corruption in our holy Bethel city, when our prophets preach caution to a power structure carried away with its own authority, we might pause to remember what Amos tells us: Woe to the complacent, leaders of a favored nation, lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches . . . they devise their own accompaniment.

On this day when we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper, we examine ourselves, our motives, our hopes and desires. We evaluate where and how and why we stand; and we look at those with whom we choose to spend time on idle couches.

When we find ourselves unsatisfied with all we see around us, or when we are content with only our own accompaniment, perhaps it is a warning that we need to look to ourselves and to our companions. Perhaps, on this holy day of celebrated sacrifice, it is time for us to consider the cost of our prosperity.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 7, 2009.

Tomorrow, Unlimited Mercy.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Balthasar Van der Ast: Still LIfe with Basket of Fruit

Amos 8:1-3

Vision of the Fruit Basket

The time is ripe to have done with my people . . .

Locusts and fire are turned away when the prophet pleads the case against destruction.  The plumb line measures behavior and this time Amos is silent except to record what he sees. Amos dares to engage with the corrupt priest, Amaziah.  And now he brings us a vision of the fruit basket, the symbol of a life lived justly, honestly and lovingly, without corruption or deceit.

God says: My prophet Amos served the people well. Many did not heed his words. They relied instead on their influence and wealth, not understanding that all of this passes away under my hand. Do they care for the poor, the orphan and the widow? They do not. They tend to their comfort and power base. Do they believe that the devastation Amos predicts will fall upon them? They do not. They are immune to his words, they believe that the world’s woes are not theirs; and they believe Amos’ visions to be false. Do they heed my words as brought to them by my faithful prophet? Again the answer is no. 

Rather than mercy from those whom God has blessed with power, we see exploitation and cunning.

Rather than love from those whom God has blessed with intelligence, we see narrow-mindedness.

Rather than compassion from those whom God has blessed with fruitful lives, we see greed.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider what visions we have been sent . . .  and how we respond to them.

Tomorrow, Against Greed.

 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Still_Life_with_Basket_of_Fruit_-_Balthasar_van_der_Ast_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 21, 2021

Amos 7:10-17

Amos and Amaziah

In a wonderfully written essay posted on July 5, 2010, Dan Clendenin weaves the stories of Amos of Tekoa with Oscar Romero, the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop.  Clendenin points out that the story of the meeting between these two men, prophet and priest, would light up the blogosphere if it took place today.

Even when we are warned of impending doom, we manage to convince ourselves that all is well.

Even when we see violence happening to our relatives and neighbors, we convince ourselves that we are not part of the ugliness.

Even when the evidence is incontrovertible, we continue to believe the illusion that we ourselves have created.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might be the Amaziahs in our lives. Who is it we believe without questioning? Who keeps us comfortable and creates a place for us in which we cease to question or even think? Who convinces us of the lies we plan together?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might the Amoses in our lives. Who brings us truth that makes us uncomfortable? Who challenges the easy stories that rise out of falsehood? Who calls us to our better and brighter selves?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pledge to spend daily quality time with Christ who is our best and constant teacher. Let us promise to listen for the words of true prophets who bring us a reality we may not see. Let us promise to see the woes of the world as they really are and not as we wish them to be. And let us promise to keep always before us clear visions of the kingdom of God that Amos calls us to see.


To view a powerful music video about Bishop Oscar Romero, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be  and to learn more about The Martyr’s Project, go to: http://www.themartyrsproject.com/index2.html

To read Clendenin’s post, visit the Journey with Jesus blog at: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20100705JJ.shtml

To learn more about Oscar Romero and more about the International Day of Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victimsvisit: https://www.un.org/en/events/righttotruthday/romero.shtml 

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Prudence

Michael Whelan: Prudence

Amos 5:7-17

First Woe

You shall not live in the houses you fashion for yourself. You shall not drink of the wine from your vineyard. You have taken bribes and oppressed the just. Therefore, the prudent one is silent at this time.

Today Amos announces the first of three woes and he is quite clear about the consequences that will befall those who allow themselves to slide into corrupt and evil ways.

God says: You hear today about wailing and crying. This need not take place. You read about destruction and loss. This need not happen. You see images of evil against good. This need not be so. Put down your arms. Cease your self-defense. This is how we put an end to mourning and lament. Celebrate what is good in each of you. Cease judging. Praise what you find to be positive in both yourself and others and begin with that. The smallest ounce of goodness is ample space for me to gain a foothold in your heart. This woe is taken from your shoulders when you turn and return to me.

As we watch our evening news we see interviews with family members of those who have been murdered who choose diverging paths. Some want to exact revenge. Others are willing to forgive, knowing that revenge eats holes only in those who exact a price.

As we watch the evening news we see nations striking out at one another, seizing assets, prevaricating and stirring discord. We may think we gain anonymity when we hide in a crowd of millions or even billions and say nothing about injustice, and yet . . . God knows how willing we are to live in and for all that Christ teaches us.

Today we consider the images Amos brings to us, we examine our hearts and minds, and we consider . . .

Tomorrow, the second woe of Amos.


Michael Whelan images at: http://www.michaelwhelan.com/shop/reproductions/all-reproductions/prudence-2/

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Carl Bloch: Denying Satan

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Amos 1-4

A Prayer to Hear God’s Word

Amos lived in the southern kingdom but prophesied in the north; his oracles began in the oral tradition and were recorded in written form much later. His harshest words are aimed at the cult worship in Bethel. Amos delivers “a broadside against all the festivals of Israel . . . His point is not that all ritual is bad, but that it is not of the essence of religion.  For Amos, the essence of religion is social justice.  If ritual furthers justice, well and good, but too often it does not . . . When the festival was over, they would go back to cheating in the market place . . . Amos insisted that all this was self-delusion.  God would not overlook the injustice of the society because of the sound of the harps, and the Assyrians would rudely shatter the naïve belief that God would protect Israel no matter what”. (Senior RG 364-365)

As we complete three weeks of Lent and continue our journey through this season of quiet and reflection, we remember the familiar Gospel of the devil tempting Jesus, attempting to lure him with the promise of gifts he already possesses.  (Matthew 4:1-11) We too, are tempted to turn over the gifts we already possess for the illusion of an offer that does not exist. In God’s kingdom, power lies in our readiness to be humble, life exists in our willingness to die for one another, and peace rests in our preparedness to act on the Word of God.

And so, at a time for introspection and honesty, together we pray.

That we might step up to the responsibility of discipleship: Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might share the Good News of God’s love for us: Christ, hear our prayer.

That we might act in mercy, kindness, goodness, and forgiveness: Holy Spirit, hear our prayer.

That we might embrace God’s gifts of freedom, transformation and redemption: Lord, hear our prayer.

We understand the importance of hearing God’s word, and so we ask all of this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


For a Noontime reflection on the temptation of Christ, see The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 364-365. Print.   

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Thursday, March 4, 2021

will-religion-become-a-thing-of-the-past.jpg.crop_display[1]The Book of Amos

Responsibility

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent came to us last week and in preparation we wandered through our valleys of dry bones and we have examined both the exterior and interior law.  Yesterday we reflected on social justice and how the human race strives – or does not strive – to match our words with our deeds.  Today we look at a brief, but powerful, prophecy. Amos brings us words we can easily use today.

So let us take on the responsibility of living a life of integrity as we look at these verses to ask ourselves . . .

How do we resist the corruption we nearly always find in powerful and influential forces?

How do we balance our day-to-day reality with the call of the Gospel?

How do we advocate for those who have no voice?

God says: I have sent to you a prophet who has much to offer you. I have given you the courage and zeal to explore his prophecy. And I have bestowed on you the love and compassion you will need to act on his words that come from me. Do you have the determination to explore my Word that arrives through Amos? Do you love me in such a way that you will put aside a few minutes for me each day to study my word? Do you believe that you too are one of my valued prophets?

God gives us many Biblical figures with whom we might journey as we seek to know ourselves, our God, and others better during this Lenten tide.

Tomorrow, the insight of Amos.


To learn more about the exceptional person Amos, read the articles from Britannica online at:  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos and http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21365/Book-of-Amos

Consider the questions below and reflect on what insights Amos might bring to us.

  1. When did Amos write and what did he have to say to the political and social leaders of his time?
  2. Did Amos travel or did he remain in the town of Tekoa where he was born?
  3. Did Amos write his prophecy on his own and who was his audience?
  4. What did Amos predict?
  5. What did Amos believe?
  6. Do we see any similarities between the world of Amos and our own?
  7. What does Amos have to say to us today?

Image from: http://www.ucg.org/commentary/will-religion-become-thing-past/

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Friday, September 25, 2020

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Gottlieb Schumacher’s expedition of Megiddo, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected. His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God. Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them. Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them. They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God. The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power. Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be. Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting. Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully. “His style is blunt and even offensive”. (Senior RG 362) He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot. “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”. He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard. Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion. No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus. Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed. We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.


For information about Gottlieb Schumacher’s Expedition and Report of Tell el-Mutesellim (Megiddo), visit: https://megiddoexpedition.wordpress.com/schumachers-expedition/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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1 Kings 16: Legacy

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ruins of Samaria

King Omri was successful in his political career and for this reason he appears in the ancient documents of several cultures.  He wielded his military power well, winning battles, capturing cities, and establishing the new capital of Samaria.  It seemed that anything he put his hand to was bound to do well, and yet . . . “Omri was an enormously famous and successful king, yet the Bible pays him virtually no attention. Political success, the eyes of the Biblical writers, counted for very little if an individual had turned away from God”.  (Zondervan 512) We might remember Omri more if we paused to remember that he fathered the man often considered the wickedest king in Israel history, Ahab.  The legacy of Omri then is this . . . he founded a major city that came to symbolize corruption, and his son numbered with the vilest of men.  We may want to reflect on this a bit today.

We humans focus too often on controlling the story we hope will be told of us once we have left this earth.

We humans put too much energy in building monuments to ourselves that will eventually crumble.

We humans expend our energy and talent gathering fortune and fame while we neglect the nurturing of heart and soul.

When we consider the legacy of King Omri, founder of Samaria and father of Ahab, we see that he has a great deal to teach us from the grave.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay will destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus reminds his apostles – and he reminds us – that there is no point in gathering wealth and power; there is nothing eternal about building memorials to ourselves.  The testimonials that are everlasting are the many small acts we commit as we love our enemies and help one another to reach the fulfillment of our true potential – our potential in Christ.

No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and Mammon. (Matthew 6:24)

Jesus reminds his followers – and he reminds us – that we cannot try to live in both worlds.  We cannot be “just a little dishonest”.  We cannot turn a blind eye to corruption.  We cannot tell “just one little lie” for once we begin our journey into the world of Omri the lure of false success is too strong.  The end of that journey will be the monument we build to ourselves – an evil dwelling and wicked offspring.

Seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be given to you besides.  (Matthew 6:33) 

Once we learn to rely on God rather than the world of reputation and affluence . . . we will have taken the first steps in securing a legacy that will serve us forever.


A re-post from August 25, 2012.

Image from: http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/339792

“Omri and Samaria.” ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 512. Print.

For more information about the ancient city of Samaria, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/339792

For more information about Omri and Ahab, go to: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2005/10/omri-king-of-israel.aspx#Article  or http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2006/01/02/Ahab-the-Israelite.aspx#Article

 

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