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Posts Tagged ‘derision’


joy-quote-nouwenThursday, January 6, 2022

Joy and Ezekiel

Contempt

We have traveled through the Old and New Testaments discovering the many ways that joy visits not only on the days of celebration when we expect her arrival but also on days without light and nights without end. We have journeyed from the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation to find that no matter the 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.  For the next several days we re-visit the prophets for a final experience of joy in darkness. And we remind ourselves that we have the power to bring God’s infinite, sustaining, persistent joy to others.

It is difficult to find any reference to joy in Ezekiel’s prophecy that does not refer to a contempt-filled celebration, a rejoicing at the destruction or fall of God’s faithful. We might consider what we celebrate to our own delight but to the grief and sadness of others. We might reflect on our own sense of satisfaction at the expense of others. And we might take heed of this prophet’s warming that what appears to be joy may instead be our own malicious, contempt and derision.

Ezekiel 25:6: This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: You clapped your hands and jumped for joy. You despised the land of Israel.

Ezekiel describes for us a New Jerusalem with a new Temple that heals, sustains and brings joy to the faithful. And he warns us against supposing that we have the power to determine the parameters of this New Covenant. “The new heart and the new spirit which must exist under the new covenant cannot be the work of man; they too, must be the work of God. By such teachings, [Ezekiel] helped prepare for the New Testament doctrine of salvation through grace”. (Senior 1034)

Ezekiel 36:5: Therefore thus says the Lord God: Surely in the fire of my hot jealousy have I spoken against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who have given to themselves my land with wholehearted joy and with uttermost contempt, that they might empty it out and possess it for a prey and a spoil.

valley-of-dry-bonesEzekiel foreshadows Christ’s coming when a new order fulfills the old promise; dry bones rise from the valley floor (Ezekiel 34:1-14) to take on tendons and flesh and skin. Hopeless, dry bones that are cut off from life are promised new breath, new vitality, and a new ruler. In this new kingdom intercession for enemies replaces desire for revenge, and the Messiah’s inclusive love supplants anger, and jealousy. (Ezekiel 34:15-28) Let us keep these images in mind as we enter 2015 with its fresh opportunities for newness, let us remember Ezekiel’s warning about replacing joy with derision. Let us recall his promise that dry bones come together again with the breath of new life. And let us resolve to move away from the darkness of contempt toward the salvation of Christ’s joy.

Today, January 6, is the liturgical celebration of the visit of the three Magi to the stable in Bethlehem. When you can gather the time, watch THE NATIVITY STORY film produced in 2006. You will find the depiction of the three wise ones delightful, and the portrayal of Mary and Joseph grounded and uplifting. Before filming, the cast learned how to milk goats, make cheese, and to use simple tools used two millennia ago. (Source IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0762121/) These magi understood how dry bones might come to new life. We might avow our own beliefs today. 


For another reflection on Ezekiel’s prophecy, click on the Valley of Dry Bones image above , or visit: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/ 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1034. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the Old or New Testaments, 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.

Citation image from: http://www.bestsayingsquotes.com/category/joy-image-quotes-and-sayings-1.html

Dry bones image from: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/

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Acts 26:24-25: Reactions to Paul’s Speech

Monday, May 20, 2019

Richard Serrin: Paul in Chains

Paul presents a defense to King Agrippa of his work with The Way in Chapter 26 of Acts and these two verses give a succinct report of the reaction to his words. He is “speaking words of truth and reason” yet people think he is “mad.” You may want to read further into Acts to see how the courtroom scene continues to play out.

Paul’s experience tells us this: Having people believe that we are crazy is often the cost of discipleship.

We hear God’s word, we convert ourselves, we begin to perform acts of truth and mercy and reason, we do God’s work, we no longer fit the mold we were in, we move out and into a strange and liminal newness . . . and others notice this. They do not like the change of dynamic. They were comfortable with “the way things were.” They want the old “games” to continue. Our newness is a challenge to the “oldness.” We are new wine in old wine skins . . . and the old skins know that they will break. So, much like Paul before the Pharisees and King Agrippa, we will encounter derision.

In each of the Gospels we hear the story of the crippled man whom Jesus cures and in each version of this story (Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:11, Luke 5:24, John 5:8) Jesus tells the man to take up his mat and walk.  In the Synoptic Gospels all are amazed; in John’s story Jesus causes a stir because he heals this man on the Sabbath – a day when no work is permitted . . . not even the carrying of a mat.  We notice that Jesus supersedes this old Sabbath law and heals those who ask for his help regardless of the day or time.  In Mark’s Gospel the man’s companions lower him through the roof of a house and challenge even the rules of physics by bringing their friend into the very space where Jesus stands.  We wonder if we are persistent enough to act in this way for our own friends.

We notice something else about these stories.  Jesus does not tell the man he heals to walk away from the mat that has served as his home for so long, nor does he say that the mat is to be hidden in any way; rather, Jesus says: Go and take your mat with youThe mat becomes a symbol of what has been endured and overcome through the healing generosity of Christ.  We can choose to see our own mat as a burden and curse . . . or we can choose to see it as a symbol of God’s love for us and his presence in our lives.   The manner in which Paul defends himself and his story before Agrippa reminds us of the mat which he has taken up in Christ’s name – his work with and for God.

A few days ago I was asking what I should do with the mat I now carry around which serves as an outward sign of my work with and for God. Paul gives me an answer.  He does not fear the derision or persecution that may follow.  And he regards his “mat” with honor rather than embarrassment.   Paul is not afraid to be amazed by and though and for Christ.  He moves forward, still with the mat; and in quiet, persistent confidence in God and God’s plan, he does not back down, he does not step away. He stands and witnesses.

And so must we step forward.  So must we witness in truth.  So must we act . . . for who can say what effect our words and actions will have on ourselves and others? Perhaps, like Paul, we will hear the words he heard from the Agrippa before whom we stand to testify, “You will soon persuade me to play the Christian.”


A re-post from May 5, 2012.

For a blog on the Cost of Discipleship with poetry and reflections, click on the image above or go to: http://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2012/02/unquenchable-desire.html

First written on March 22, 2007 and re-written today as a Favorite.

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