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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Jeremiah 9

Main_Lodge_fsThe Desert Lodge

Would that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodge! That I might leave my people and depart from them.

Jeremiah sees the corruption into which his world has fallen. He gives warning but no one takes note, and so he wishes for a secluded place to which he might remove himself, hoping to avoid the coming maelstrom. And so we consider: Do we also yearn for a hermitage when the world threatens? If so, where might we go? If not, how might we help those who are overwhelmed?

The Desert Lodge

Corruption whispers into our busy living, giving no warning, sending no harbinger.

Ready tongues like drawn bows pass along the latest wisp of gossip.

“Be on your guard!” we are warned. But how? From whom?

And so we look for our desert lodge where no caravan passes, where we might step back from the winds of deceit and the torment of war.

Yet still we hear the Teacher’s voice lifted on the steady breeze.

We recall that the world’s wisdom cannot unravel the puzzle of human deceit, nor can the world’s strength bring peace.

We remember that the Lord abides with the remnant, the faithful who rise each morning to intone first light’s prayer.

We remind one another that the Lord listens to noonday petitions lifted on tired arms that seek another day’s grace.

We know the Lord takes in our evening plaint as we put drowsy heads on tired pillows.

“Be on your guard!”

We ask for benediction. We ask for peace. We ask for the end to corruption. We ask for the coming of joy.

And with fresh surety we remember . . .

The Lord turns all harm to goodness. The Lord answers all prayers of the broken. The Lord brings all joy out of corruption.

And with this knowing, a quiet peace settles upon us.

In this knowing . . . is our impregnable desert lodge.


For more on Joy Out of Corruption, enter these words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/kulala-desert-lodge

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mark 13:9-13

Brueghel_l'Ancien_-_La_Prédication_de_Saint_Jean-Baptiste

Pieter Brueghel The Elder: The Preaching of St. John the Baptist

Preaching With Our Lives

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the Gospel must be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

False preachers might leave us with a negative impression of God’s word. Good preachers leave us with an inspired desire to know more. Each of us is a preacher in that we speak of our relationship with God in every interaction we have with others. Each of us tells the story of the Living God in every action we carry out in the quiet times and places when no one sees what we are doing. Each of us speaks our creed loudly not in our words, but in our care for self and others, and in our trust in the Spirit of the Living God.

God says: It is really quite simple. You cannot rid the world of corruption and ruin but you can react to it as the Spirit directs you. Open your mind to the gift of counsel that the Spirit brings to you. Open your hands to my gift of consolation. Open your hearts to my gift of love. Nothing will destroy you for you are my love in and to the world. Nothing will obliterate you for you are my hands and feet in and to the world. Nothing will annihilate you for you are my presence in a world that longs for peace.

As we consider how we live out God’s presence through our words, thoughts and acts, reflect on the preaching you have heard . . . and reflect on the preaching your life brings to the world.

Tomorrow, a prayer for times of tribulation.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Preaching_of_St_John_the_Baptist_(Pieter_Brueghel_the_Elder)

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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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