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Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’


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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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Luke 18:31-34

Comprehension

“Luke understands the events of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but, as is usually the case in Luke-Acts, the author does not specify which Old Testament prophets he has in mind”.   (Senior 133 cf.)

Many of us live much of our lives in this way: we do as God asks with the understanding that that we are fulfilling some needed action . . . without fully comprehending how our small part fits in with God’s great plan. Discipleship is characteristically vague in this way, asking us to rely in faith on God, asking us to rest in hope with God, asking us to act in love for God.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . .

Each time we feel God’s desire move through us we know that we are going up to Jerusalem.

The Son of Man will be handed over . . .

Each time we follow Christ we understand that we run the risk of being handed over to the scoffers, the naysayers, the plotters and the complacent.

He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon . . .

Each time we lament that disciple work is difficult we put aside the memory of Jesus’s last days.

After they have scourged him they will kill him . . .

Each time we die another small death we believe we have no more energy to move forward.

But on the third day he will rise . . .

Each time we think we are extinguished forever we rise in restoration and healing.

But they understood nothing of this . . .

Each time we try to explain the reasons for our outrageous hope we meet expressionless faces.

And the word remained hidden from them . . .

Each time we come up against the wall of incomprehension we must remember that even those who followed Jesus day to day did not fully understand . . . until Christ returned to them following the events of his Passion and death.

And they failed to comprehend what he said . . .

Each time we believe that we are lost we must remember that God always acts through inversion and so the lost will be found.

Each time we fall Christ is there – even though we do not comprehend.

Each time we suffer Christ is there – even though we do not understand.

Each time we die one of those many small deaths that mark our passing, Christ is there – even though we do not fully see.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.133. Print.   

Enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem – A Prayer into the blog search bar and explore another reflection. To better understand the expression, enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem and visit the three-part post.

To read about Jerusalem Day and the crowds who pray at the southern wall of the Temple, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.friendlyplanet.com/2013/03/the-top-10-places-and-sites-to-visit-in-israel.html

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Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Friday. August 14, 2020bigstock-Worship-to-God-Element-of-des-18657185-1[1]John 16:2-4

Knowing God

They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.  They will do this because they do not know either the Father or me.  I have told you this so that when the hour comes you may remember that I told you.   

Jesus explains the cost of discipleship to his followers; he warns that the price for their loyalty to him is high.  But with this risk also comes a security that no amount of money can purchase.  No walls, no alarm system, no weapons can guarantee.  He tells the faithful that although their constancy in following God may bring them rejection and pain . . . it also brings the peace the world seeks.

God says: So many of you ask what I am thinking and doing. You only have to look at the actions of my Word to you, the Christ, to know. You want to know how to find me. I am with you even now. You seek deep knowledge and understanding of my ways. It is for this knowing that I prepare you. It is for this intense relationship that I teach you. If you want to fully see me and recognize my Way, watch my son and do as he does. You must expect denunciation, mistreatment and even death because of me. Those who beat you and deny your ways may believe that they reverence me by killing you. They believe this because they do not rightly know me as you do. So do not be afraid. When you know and understand my son you know and understand me. Remember all that I have shown you. 

When we know God we also know that any persecution we suffer in God’s name is balanced by immeasurable joy.  When we follow God’s Way we live in a security that is unmatched by any human fortress.  When we live in God’s Word we come to know the peace that is promised for eternity.  This is the knowing of God that will carry us when the hour comes.


A re-post from August 21, 2013.

Image from: https://www.freepik.com/premium-photo/silhouette-man-mountain-top-sky-sun-light-success-leadership-people-concept_5349675.htm

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joseph's Dream

Joseph’s Dream

Genesis 45:5

Sent Ahead

Do not be distressed and so not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.

Amazingly, Joseph is able to forgive his brothers who years before had sold him – the favored son – into slavery.  His fidelity to God brings him solace and rescue.  His hope in God brings him salvation and healing.  His love of God brings him humility and transformation.

God says: We can see how difficult life was for my servant Joseph yet Joseph continued to trust me even as his blessed and happy life became one of hardship and confusion.  Joseph had always been marked as special and his brothers plotted first to kill him out of their envy.  Later they sold him to a passing caravan and lied to their father Jacob about what had taken place.  For years their sorrow festered.  Not so with Joseph.  Despite the turmoil Joseph kept his eye on me.  Despite the frustration Joseph spoke with me.  Despite the fear Joseph trusted in me.  It was for these reasons that Joseph was able to fulfill the dream I placed in him: he was willing to go ahead of the Hebrew nation so that many might be saved.

God brings good out of all harm.  We need not waste ourselves with worry and anxiety.  Each of us has a place in God’s plan of salvation.  We only need be open to the outrageous possibility of God’s dream for us.


To better understand Joseph’s fidelity in the face of crisis and how each of us may be sent ahead, read the story of Joseph and His Brothers in Genesis Chapters 37 to 50.

For more about the emotions of resentment and envy, visit: https://www.intentionalcommunication.com/envy-jealousy-resentment-the-comparison-emotions-at-work-reprise/

Image from: https://www.sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=859

For a reflection and a prayer on this story of Truth Revealed, enter the words in tot the bog search bar and explore. 

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