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Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’


Matthew 8:18-22: Followersfox-kit-at-den-entrance-in-saskatchewan

Friday, May 20, 2022

We say: Teacher, I will follow you wherever you will go . . .

Jesus says: Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head . . .

God says: These may seem like sad words to you but they express a reality. I knock on the doors of those who ask for my help yet so often no one answers because they see a beggar, a woman, one suffering from disease, an outcast outside their comfortable home. When you see the least of my people you see me. Remember that I am meek and humble of heart. I am a child coming to your with nowhere to lay my head. I look for refuge with you even as you look for me.

We say: Lord, let me go first and bury my father . . .

Jesus says: Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead . . .

Why-do-birds-build-nest1God says: These words may sound harsh but again, they tell of a reality that I see. My children concern themselves for that which is already gone, for that which they cannot control, for that which is mine to handle. When I make plans for you to learn the lessons that will soften your heart and unbend your stiff neck, I do this out of love. I have plans for your wholeness and unity in me. I do not have plans for your woe. I have plans for your happiness and love through me. I do not have plans for your pain. I have plans to heal your suffering and to transform our heart; I do not have plans for your ruin. I have plans for life eternal in me. Seize this opportunity to be a true follower rather than one who would be . . .

Enter the word disciple into the blog search bar and explore the words we have heard so often that reveal our life in Christ.


Click on the images in this post to learn more about why birds build nests and why Jesus may have used this imagery. 

Images from: http://emmock.com/2013/10/05/bible-blog-1162/ and 

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James 3:17-18: A Holy Life
burning-bush1

Monday, May 16, 2022

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor”. THE MESSAGE

Jesus has told us about the nature of true discipleship. God has created us in the image of goodness and light and truth. The Spirit lives within, waking us each day to new possibilities of hope and peace and mercy. In celebration of the continuing gift of Easter life, let us spend time today in God’s intimate company, and let us thank God for the gift of a holy life by striving to live on true discipleship.

Using the scripture link above, compare other versions of these versions from James’ letter


Image from: http://providenceswfl.com/blog/brought-near-a-holy-god/

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Tuesday, February 1. 2022Malachi1

Malachi 1

God’s Messengers

The last of the Minor Prophets, this anonymous writer gathers a collection of oracles in which he reproaches the authority caste – the priests and rulers.  It is likely because his criticism is direct and pointed that he does not reveal his identity and he chooses the name Malachi, or My Messenger.  This prophet writes about how a life of discipleship is equivalent to the process which silver or gold undergo during smelting – hard and fast fire under the watchful eye and in the careful hands of the smith.  This particular book gives us an historical perspective of life in the Jewish community returned from exile, between the period of Haggai and the reforms instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah.  It is likely that this writer’s words helped to prepare the community for the necessary reforms which took place in about 480 – 460 B.C.E.  This prophecy is perhaps a response to the great skepticism and apathy of the time; it recalls God’s love for us, and his divine retribution and justice.  It is perhaps the most cited of the prophetic books in the New Testament. This Messenger has come as a precursor to John the Baptist, announcing the impending arrival of the Messiah.  (Senior 1170 and La Biblia de América 1022)

When we look at these verses today, we can see that Malachi points directly to the leadership for their lack of stewardship and even for their pollution of sacred rituals and rites; but any one of us might examine our role as shepherd to see where and how we have served poorly and well.  Each of us is called to guide others as we journey together toward the New Kingdom.  And each of us can find ourselves in conversation with God, discerning how we have done well and how we might improve.

Today we might take a wider look at ourselves to see how we – as priests and leaders in our families and places of work and play – have brought Christ’s message to others.  Have we been good and faithful messengers on God’s behalf?  Have we incarnated this message to speak about it through our actions rather than through our words?  Have we been a constant bride to the constant bridegroom?  Do we tell the story well that God walks among us to release us from our fears and anxieties?  Have we let others know that our salvation is already been purchased for each of us?  Have we proclaimed aloud the good news that we are each born as children of God, and that we each have gifts freely given to us to share with God’s humanity?

Part of the evening prayer in MAGNIFICAT today is from the Acts of the Apostles 13:32-33: We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us, [their] children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”.

So as we prepare for evening, we might turn to God in prayer with these words.

Good and gracious God of all of us gathered here before you,

We come humbly before you to learn how we might better shepherd ourselves, and how we might better shepherd those you send along your Way to accompany us.  May we be ever mindful of this work, may we be ever truthful to your Way.  And when we lose our footing, may we always turn to you as the source and summit of all that is good.  We ask this in the name of our brother, Jesus Christ, who lives and walks with us today.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 24.8 (2009). Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1170. Print.   

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. 1022. Print.

A Favorite from August 24, 2009.

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi in the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: http://samluce.com/2014/02/free-bible-lesson-malachi-book-obedience/

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fortitudeThursday, December 16, 2021

Joy and Sirach 1

Fortitude

Moving into a wisdom book written by Jesus ben Sirach, we find more words that surprise us with joy. If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today we consider the great joy that is found in Wisdom’s fortitude.

Yesterday we considered Wisdom’s companions of prudence, moderation, righteousness and fortitude. These qualities bring us more than serenity; they offer us a pathway to discipleship in Christ. They offer us immortal life.

Verse 1:12: Fear of the Lord rejoices the heart, giving gladness, joy, and long life.

joyGod says: Fear of the Lord” is really about your love for me. I do not want you to tremble in fear of punishment; rather, I want you to tremble in great joy and anticipation of spending time with me. I want you to stand in awe of my great love for you. Do you know how much happiness you bring to me? Do you understand that I spend every moment of eternity waiting for you, calling to you, rescuing you, restoring you? Do you believe that I am everywhere at all times lifting you, healing you, transforming you? When you practice prudence and moderation you will feel my presence. When you humble yourself in righteousness you will know my wisdom. When you persist with my fortitude you will be my wisdom. Come, live in me today . . . and share my goodness with others. 

Choose more of these verses and reflect on them, considering how often you invite Wisdom into your heart and home. Compare the different versions of Sirach 1 at the scripture link above and reflect on Jesus Ben Sirach’s words.


Image from: http://conversationrevolution.com/2014/03/this-weeks-word-is-fortitude/

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

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Jeremiah 21

Oracles and Kings

19th Century English School: Blind Zedekiah, Last King of Judah, Before Nebuchadnezzar

19th Century English School: Blind Zedekiah, Last King of Judah, Before Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon

Many of us dislike hearing bad news; most of us hate delivering an unwanted message or information. We ask for input and then complain about the information we receive. “Consider the source,” my dad used to say, “and then take it to God”.

In today’s reading from Jeremiah we enter into the portion of his prophecy in which he brings us God’s word regarding the line of David, those who followed on the heels of greatness to lose the covenant gift given by God. The prophet speaks of the work of justice which must be done in this world in order to experience the next world well; we are to be about the work of advocacy for the poor, the down-trodden and those on the margins of life. This is clear. Verse 12: Each morning dispense justice, rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor. When we continue reading, we see the consequence that Jeremiah foretells if we do not rise to answer our call.

The Gospel describes how Jesus’ disciples struggle to understand the true meaning of discipleship; they are no longer “of this world” just as Jesus is not of this world. Jesus asks that his disciples be “consecrated in truth” – consecrated in the word. There is no greater life to which a human might aspire than to stand in solidarity with those who suffer innocently. And Jeremiah calls to King, High Priest and commoner alike.

We are all Kings of the house of Judah; each of us is the High Priest; we also the adopted siblings of Christ. We are all called to abide by our covenant promises just as God abides with us. We are all called to dispense justice, to deliver hope in a real and immediate way, to advocate for those who have no voice. We are all called to consecration in the truth of the word of God just as the women and men who traveled with Jesus were. We are all called to be of the other world while still living in this world. We are all called to listen to the oracles of the Kings. And we are all called to respond.


Adapted from a reflection written on May 23, 2007.

Image from: http://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/M819181-88/The-Blind-Zedekiah-Last-King-of-Judah-before-Nebuchadnezzar-of-Babylon?img=1&search=Zedekiah&bool=phrase

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Monday, February 8, 2021

3_letters_quph[1]Psalm 119:145-152

Qoph

I call with all my heart, O Lord . . . I call to you to save me . . . I rise before dawn and cry out . . . I put my hope in your words.  

In this eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119 we join our voice with the psalmist’s as we respond to the call God sends us at birth.

God says: It brings me joy to hear your response to the song I have been singing to you. Your call can arrive at any hour of any day or night. It can come to me from any place and I will come to you for I always know when and where you are. My words are true. My promise is authentic. You can place all your hope in me for I bring rejoicing out of disaster and joy out of sorrow. You have every reason to trust me explicitly and totally. For I am your God . . . and you are my people.

Rather than curse the darkness, let us hand over our worries to God. Rather than follow an easy, convenient, little god, let us respond to the call we receive from the one, the only, our compassionate God.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  o, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”.  (Matthew 28:16-20)

Following Christ is never easy for The Way is strewn with obstacles that bring us anxiety, doubt and frustration. But this same journey is also graced with the presence of Christ in every hour of every day and night. Let us bolster one another with courage as we finally respond to God’s call.

Tomorrow, Resh.


For more on how Qoph speaks to us of redemption and God’s loving, omniscient presence, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/kuf.htm 

 

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The Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 20, 2020

Hebrews-6-19[1]

Hebrews 5:11-14 & 6

Resting in the Promise

You have become sluggish in hearing . . .

Notes from the NAB, page 1328: Rather than allow the slow to become content in their slowness, Paul exhorts them to even higher levels of spirituality.  He is not lenient. And as for those who have fallen away completely, he does not even address these apostates. If all we need is energy to progress in our spiritual journey, we can turn to Christ for he tells us through Matthew (10:28-30), my yoke is easy, my burden light.  Christ himself exhorts us Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Sometimes we are not so much sluggish as afraid. We know that the task lying before us is laden with tricky passages, dark corners, deceitful paving stones that look firm and yet sink into quicksand. On these occasions we must also turn to Christ, trusting him when he says take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. Disobedience is not an option for an apostle.

Paul tells us that Christ’s promise is immutable, and he uses the long story of the covenant promise between Yahweh and Abraham as ample proof. Did not the elderly couple – Sarah and Abraham –   begin a kingdom of millions? Did this new way of seeking God not travel to all peoples of all nations? Do we not know even today the story of this Abraham, Sarah, and the high priest Melchizedek? Paul reminds us that it is impossible for God to lie; his very goodness and honesty force him to keep his covenant with his people.

So when we feel weary or afraid, we might turn to Paul for a reminder of the words of hope we can never hear too often. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil [into the Holy of Holies], where Jesus has entered as forerunner . . .

In this Advent season when we anticipate the arrival of Emmanuel, God among us, let us rest in this promise. Let us acknowledge that when all is dark and appears to be lost, when all is more difficult or more terrifying than we can bear we must be still  . . . so that we might hear again . . .

Come to me . . . and you will find rest for your souls . . .


Image from: http://society6.com/PocketFuel/Hebrews-619_Print#1=45

Adapted from a reflection written on December 11, 2008.

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Monday, November 16, 2020

pearl-in-clam[1]Matthew 7:6

Pearls of Great Price

Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Swine and dogs were words used by Jews to express contempt for Gentiles. Commentary tells us that they may also be used by Christians to describe those obstinate, impenitent Christians. In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer records the teachings of Jesus in which we are asked to pray for one another rather than judge one another. A true disciple is one who is willing to go to his knees and pass through the narrow gate onto The Way which Jesus walks. A true disciple is wary of false prophets, looks to build his life on a sturdy, strong foundation, and understands that he need not fight God’s fight. A true disciple knows that if we want to tap into our divinity, we must first humble ourselves as Christ does. A true Christian depends on God for all things, and witnesses this loyalty by praying for the swine and the dogs in his life.

This saying can be a harsh one. This teaching can be difficult to take on and live out. It calls for the courage to remain on our own with God rather than be in the company of a crowd. It calls for perseverance in traveling a long road with many turnings that hide the future from our eyes. But we are pearls of great price, worth more than any amount we might imagine. And these pearls have been bought at great cost by Jesus’ redemptive suffering, death and resurrection. These pearls will not be left alone to be snatched up by a thief. These pearls are worn by God with great love. They are tended with great care.

We are pearls of great price, as Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), bought with sacrifice and love. So rather than step casually into a life we have been given as gift, let us live each day with the care and devotion God gives to our creation. Let us value the breath we have been given even as wet us pray for those who do not. And rather than give what is holy to dogs or allow ourselves to be trampled by swine, let us celebrate with joy each new dawn that brings us the mystery and of God’s love.


Image from: http://connectathens.blogspot.com/2009/08/pearl-of-great-price-032509.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 9, 2010.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

luke[1]Luke 22:35-38

Instructions

The instructions Jesus gave to the disciples he sent out into the world earlier in his ministry are simple. Take nothing with you except for the gifts God has given you. All will be provided as you do the work of God. Today’s Noontime reading is the slice of time between the prediction of Peter’s denial and Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. We listen and watch as those closest to Jesus misunderstand the words of the instructions he has given them. They take them literally. We may likewise misunderstand today.

We are told so frequently what is important and yet we forget. We are asked: When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 

And we reply: No, nothing. Yet do we truly trust God in time of crisis? Or do we rely on the sack, the sandals and the sword before all else? We believe in God’s presence and we rely on God when all is going well; but what do we do when a life sours and begins to devolve? Do we succumb to the temptation to second guess ourselves and our childlike placing of ourselves in God’s care? Do we begin to think ourselves foolish for having been so trusting and innocent? Do we think that kingdom building comes without a price? Do we take the words of Jesus literally, as the disciples do in today’s reading?

It is enough, Jesus says to his followers when they do not comprehend, and then he moves into the garden to begin his final agony, knowing all the while that he will be abandoned – has already been abandoned – by many. The disciples melt away when the pressure becomes too great or the fear too overwhelming; yet the Lord kneels in prayer for all of us, for each of us. It is enough.

When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 

As we set out each day with Jesus on the road to Gethsemane and Calvary, let us try to remember our instructions for a time of crisis. And when calamity strikes, as it always does, we must remember that true discipleship is difficult . . . yet fulfilling. We find strength in acting in our belief that we are loved and provided for; and we find peace in hoping for the best outcome from horrific scenarios. The story of redemption and salvation begins with an all-encompassing love that is rejected, vilified, and even reviled. So when we find ourselves in crisis we do well to remember the instructions Jesus gives to all his disciples . . .

When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 


First written on March 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com/tag/luke/

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