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Posts Tagged ‘deceit’


Matthew 5:27-30: Teaching on AdulteryDishonesty

Monday, April 25, 2022

These words spoken by Jesus may be difficult to understand and so we may want to read various versions in order to allow God’s teaching to settle into our consciousness.

God says: Adultery has many ways of seeping into your being. You may be deeply sad and looking for happiness in places and ways you will never find it. Infidelity has many forms of appearing in your lives. You may have arrived at performing ritual rather than actively engaging with me and with others. Deceit has many slippery slopes on which you may take the first perilous step. You may be seeking to deny a truth that stands before you; reality may be too difficult to take in or comprehend. No matter what form this betrayal takes, and whether you are the betrayer or the betrayed, remain close to me at all times so that you might recognize dishonesty when you see it at its inception. Remain in me so that you might have awareness of its strength. Remain for me so that you might overcome it at all times in all places.

Faithlessness is more that the sin of lust. It is even more than stepping into an act that we know is dishonest or unfaithful. It is the smallest turning away from what we know to be true. Let us consider Jesus’ teaching today and determine how we might bring Easter salt and light into the smallest part of each day.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about divorce.


Image from: http://www.skipprichard.com/tag/dishonesty/

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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

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Wisdom 1: The Key to Lifekey of life

March 10, 2015

Love justice . . . seek the Lord with integrity of heart . . .

Perverse counsels separate a man from God . . .

The holy spirit of discipline flees deceit and withdraws from senseless counsels . . .

When injustice occurs it is rebuked . . .

God is the witness of the inmost self and the sure observer of the heart . . .

The spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows what each one says.

No one who utters wicked things can go unnoticed . . .

A jealous ear hearkens to everything . . .

Discordant grumblings are no secret . . .

Guard against profitless grumbling, and from calumny withhold your tongues . . .

A stealthy utterance does not go unpunished . . .

A lying mouth slays the soul . . .

Justice is undying.

God says: These words of wisdom are sent to you through my servant who recorded these thoughts for you centuries ago. They are ancient words yet they hold modern meaning. In this season of Lent as you anticipate the miracle of Easter, open your arms, widen your horizon, unbend your stiff neck and renew your heart. Separation from me does not occur like a thunder clap or an explosion; rather, it begins by tiny steps away from me, away from the light that breaks through all darkness and calls forth all healing. If you wish to hold the keys to life, remain in me as I remain in you. I will give you rest and mercy and peace. 

Use the scripture link to explore different versions of these verses, and allow them to reveal the wisdom of God’s words.  


Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/79102167@N00/12687461/

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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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Thursday, July 9, 2020

"Show me a denarius," Jesus said. "Whose portrait and title are on it?"

“Show me a denarius,” Jesus said. “Whose portrait and title are on it?”

Luke 20:23

Awareness of Cunning

So they waited their opportunity and sent agents as upright men, and to catch him out in something he might say and so enable them to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor . . . They put to him this question, “Master, we know that you say and teach what is right; you favor no one but teach the way of God in all honesty.  Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But he was aware of their cunning . . .

Sometimes we send our own agents as the upright.  Sometimes we stand in open and full light.  Sometimes we are the upright who are sent as one of the cunning.  Sometimes we stand with the Master to witness.

God says: I know that you live in a complicated world of complex alliances and arrangements.  I know that once you have established yourself with a group it is difficult to go against them even when you know they are off in the wrong direction. I know that you love me and rely on the fact that I am forgiving, and so I am.  But there is no need for duplicity or deceit.  It is not necessary to come at me sideways.  Am I not always open and honest with you?  There is no need for you to be cunning with me since I know all that you think and all that you do. So come to me and render to me what is divine . . . and so shall you come into your own divinity. 

Straightforwardness, constancy, honesty.  We know what we must render to Caesar and we know what we must render to God.  Let us not hesitate . . . and let us stay well away from any thought or word or deed that is duplicitous . . . for Jesus is aware of our cunning.


For other reflections on this blog about this story, enter Luke 20 into the search bar.

To read different translations of this verse, click on the citation above or go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2020:20-23&version=NIV;MSG;DRA;EXB

The emperor portrayed on the denarius above is Tiberius.  He ruled from the year 14 to 37 C.E.  To learn more about this coin, go to: http://topicalbible.org/d/denarius.htm

The denarius is often called a tribute penny. To discover more, visit: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Tribute%20Penny

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribute_penny

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Munizÿaba Cave, Entrance PitThe Subtle Slide into Darkness

Psalm 1:1-2

Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

Nor sit in the company of scoffers.

Our first steps into darkness are so often imperceptible; the first encounters are brief and even tangential to our lives; later we find ourselves standing around the office water cooler or coffee pot; and finally we become a member of the group who gossip, criticize and deceive.

Rather, the faithful delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law they meditate day and night. 

When we remain in God and filter all of our actions and words through the Law of Love incarnated in Jesus, we see the subtle slide from its beginning.

God says: I know how much you like to be a part of the crowd; I too, like to be in the company of others. I also know how gentle is the beginning slope of the slide into darkness . . . and how steep is this same slope once the light begins to wane.  Abide with me, re-read the words spoken by Jesus, allow the Spirit to dwell in you . . . and you will see where these secret slides are hidden. 

It is possible to find friends who enact God’s compassion, who critique with kindness and who speak truth gently.  Enter the word friend in the blog search bar and reflect on what our relationships say about our image of God.


Image from: http://thedailychapter.wordpress.com/page/22/

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Haman, Ahasuerus and Esther

Edward Armitage: Haman, Ahasuerus and Esther

The Story of Esther

What do we teach ourselves and others with our lives?

The triangle of Esther, Ahasuerus and Haman is a delicate one.  The young Queen has hidden her ethnic origin and fears discovery and death.  The King has followed the advice of his trusted vizier Haman and now finds that he has been betrayed.  Haman has allowed jealousy to consume him to the point of his own destruction.  Where do we see these characters in our lives today . . . and who are we in the scenarios that play out around us?

In the workplace, a plot slowly brews until an awful truth comes forward to appall or disgust us.   Betrayal, slander, back-stabbing, false accusations fly and we find that we have sudden choices to make.  How do we determine where we stand?  Where are we in this scenario?  How do we react?  What do we do? What do we learn?  What message do we teach with our lives?

A family member or close friend has become depressive and negative and looks not for companions in grief but for compatriots in gossip.  What do we do in this circumstance?  Do we gently rebuke?  Do we comply with this gentle slide into evil? What do we say?  What do we learn?  What do we represent with our lives?

We have recently been invited to join a group we have wanted to be a part of for some time yet now we discover the price of admittance is our unquestioning, fanatic loyalty.  What role do we play in this picture?  Do we quietly escape and think only of ourselves?  Do we warn potential victims and look for an authentic, loving response?  How do we decide? What do we learn? What do we embody with our lives?

As we allow this story to trickle through our thinking to reflect back to us little mirror images of who we are and what we do, is there some new idea that comes to us?  Some thought we want to share with others?  If so, enter your comment below.


To read this story in an edition of the Bible other than the one you already know, click on the scripture link above or go to: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+1-10&version=GNT;NRSV;CJB;MSG 

Image from: https://www.jewishboston.com/long-live-the-queen

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Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2020

Jeremiah 14:20-27: Jerusalem’s Disgrace

The remains of the southern wall of Jerusalem's Temple

The remains of the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple

Jerusalem, a city of promise, the holy city of God.  She has so much potential.  And she has so far to fall.  Today Jeremiah reminds us that deceit and envy will always snuggle into comfort and ease.  When we find ourselves with no problems to solve, my parents often said, we know that we do not have long to wait . . . trouble has a way of finding good fortune.

Some of the imagery in today’s reading is difficult to read and even more difficult to envision.  The image of Israel’s skirts being torn away when she is violated is such a strong one.  The idea that a flock has been entrusted to a shepherd who then abuses that trust is so insidious yet these actions play out more often than we like to think.  The realization that nothing we do is done in private is stark in these verses.  We cannot run.  We cannot hide.  As Mother and Dad always said: The truth always comes out in the end.

Yet we continue to delude ourselves and just when we are offered so much promise.  Easter with all its possibilities, draws near.  We have spent nearly forty days examining and prodding ourselves into admitting what we must change and yet we ramble forward, hoping that no one will notice that we haven’t.  How do we moderate our poor behavior?

By gently but firmly rebuking that which is secretive, that which dissembles, hides, colludes, becomes submissive because we fear someone’s anger, rejection, ridicule or abandonment.  In my extended family we have tried to live by doing not what others expect of us but rather by doing what God expects.  It is not always easy.  We need not fight, nor do we need go along with the crowd but what we must do, to the best of our abilities, is “the right thing”.

We pause over the last lines:

Your adulteries, your neighing, your shameless prostitutions: 

On the hills in the highlands I see these horrible crimes of yours.

Woe to you, Jerusalem, how long will it yet be before you come clean!

Jerusalem has so much potential and in Jeremiah today we hear a prediction of woe to come.  We only need read ancient history to know that the destruction predicted will indeed arrive.   If only Jerusalem might repair and reform.  If only Jerusalem might stand and declare what she knows to be right and good and true.

When things got a bit turbulent my Dad would always say: “Sometimes it is stand up time!”  He would elaborate: “The right thing sometimes is the lonely thing.  You might find that you are the only person in an ocean of people who has the courage to stand and be counted.  If you talk with your Creator and have heard his advice . . . and if the advice is to ‘stand up and be counted’, then you best not be found sitting down”.

Sometimes it is stand-up time.  Oh Jerusalem!  If only you might stand!


Image from: http://www.jabberwocky.com/photo/israel/jerusalem.html

First written on December 10, 2007.  Edited and posted today as a Favorite.

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Sirach 11:29-34: Guests and Strangers – Care in Choosing Friends

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Biblia de América which I have been using as a resource lately, names this citation differently from our NAB as we can see from the title above.  In addition, it has references to Proverbs 1:10-16, 5:10 and 6:1 for this citation which, if you have time to look at them, will add some depth to today’s reading.  The footnotes in this same Biblia remind us that sowers of discord are to be avoided at all cost, as their deceits create structures of illusion – they are the people of the darkness, people of deception and lies . . . with a spark he sets many coals afire.

I am thinking of a counterpoint to this image.  I am remembering the description of the souls of the just from this past Sunday’s first reading.  These souls are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace.  For if before men they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.  As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.  In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge the nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their king forever.  Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.  (Wisdom 3:1-9)  [My bold font.]

This is not a call to exclusivity; rather, it is a call to universality.  It is a universal invitation to openness, to mercy, to fidelity, to love.  We are each invited to lead lives worthy of the creator – honest and compassionate lives, faithful and constant lives, forgiving and loving lives.  Ardent lives which burn with the fire of Christ’s love.

It is also a call which carries with it a degree of heat – the fire of the gold smith’s forge – but we ought not fear this furnace.  It is the crucible of life with which God prunes and disciplines us . . . for when we are tried and tested, so then are we proved.  And when we are proved we are graced.  When we are graced we are holy.

There is a clear choice before us:  we may become like the sparks which set many tongues wagging and many hearts gossiping.  Or we may be the spark which sets souls ablaze with the fire and love of Christ.

We must take care in choosing our associates and friends for they are either strangers, sowers of discord who are to be avoided; or they are guests who are soul mates to be welcomed into our hearts.

St. Paul tells us (Romans 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:1, Galatians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 13:5) that we are to test the spirit for this is how we will find if travelers are either the tinder of deceit . . . or the kindling of the Pentecost.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 6, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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