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Matthew 2:19-20Rise and Go

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gaetano Gandolfi: Dream of St Joseph

In this Favorite from April 4, 2008, we remember that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt after the birth of Jesus. We also remember that an angel comes to Joseph with the message that it is time to return to the land of Israel. Today, as we continue to explore how Jesus is the resurrection, we contemplate how our own lives move through times of exile, transfiguration, and return; and just as Mary and Joseph respond to God’s urging, we rise and go when we are called . . . for we are resurrection people.   

We are living through the Resurrection time – the time after Jesus rises from the dead in unity of body and soul and the time that he ascends to heaven.  We are a Resurrection people.  We are immortal.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection: Those who bear the sign of immortality are attractive to others.  People group around them . . . The Resurrected Lord gives a new lightness of the Spirit . . . Easter’s unity . . . This is a sign that little by little, the spirit of Easter is filling our lives and is pushing out the devil who is division and rivalry, jealousy and hate, the incapacity to carry each other’s weight.  The experience of the Resurrection carries a continual note of hope into our lives . . . Hope arises from faith; it is the visibility of faith; it is faith which becomes operative with the present.  Hope is life in action which transfigures the present; it does not permit “victory” of nothingness – delusion, a bitter nostalgia, narcissistic self-contemplation, the desire to do without another person.  Everything which would be a victory for nothingness is forced out by the victory of Christ.  The Spirit of the Risen Lord enters our lives and makes us creators of unity, filled with new creativity and hope for ourselves and therefore for all people. (Monsignor Massimo Camisasca)

We are a Resurrection people.  And just as the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and so many others in scripture, so too do angels appear to us.  They bring the message of hope, of courage  . . . of transfiguration.  We too, may be transfigured in Christ.  We too, can be hope to others.  We too, must trust the Lord as did Joseph and Mary.  We too can respond to the call of Rise and go! 

For we are a Resurrection people. 

Tomorrow, what do we do with our anger?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.8 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://russ-ramsey.com/day-20-when-joseph-woke-from-his-dream-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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Matthew 2:13-15: A Time to Flee

Monday, January 8, 2018

When is it appropriate to flee rather than witness?  When do we step away from injustice rather than challenge it?

After [the Magi] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.” (GNT)

Commentary tells us that, “Egypt was a place of refuge for those fleeing from danger in Palestine (see 1 Kgs 11, 40, Jer 26, 21), but the main reason the child is to be taken to Egypt is that he may relive the Exodus experience of Israel”. (Senior 9)

The Holy Family become refugees in a world of turmoil. A world that persists in tumult today. Seeking shelter, much like their Hebrew ancestors, Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus understand that it is time to seek sanctuary.

Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet, “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (GNT)

Leaving during the night . . .

The act of slipping away in the darkness tells us that Joseph and Mary understood the gravity of the threat. They know that although they have shepherded light into a shadowy world, and despite their belief that God’s light pierces those shadows, they must also act in prudence. They must listen to the voice of God that comes to them through the angel.

“I called my Son out of Egypt . . .”

Jesus re-experiences the exodus journey of his people, showing us that if his family trusts God enough to step away from evil, then so must we.

Stay there until I tell you to leave . . .”

Today we reflect on the flight of The Holy Family to hear what it has to say to us

After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” (MSG)

Are we open to the angels who bring us God’s word?

Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.” (MSG)

Do we obey the call of God’s voice?

He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness . . .

Are we willing to take flight from injustice?

Stay until further notice . . .

And are we prepared to return when God calls us?

When we use the scripture links to read varying translations of these verses, we open our hearts to the messages of angels.

Gentile da Fabriano: Flight Into Eygpt

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.9. Print.

For a chronology of Jesus’ life, click on the map above, or visit: http://www.bible-history.com/Chart_Jesus_Chronology/

For a reflection connecting this reading with the plight of refugees, visit the Flight Noontime at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/24/flight/

 

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Matthew 2:13-14: Migration – Part II

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Flight into Egypt

Flight into Egypt

We are familiar with the problem of migration in modern society. Not only does evil force families to uproot lives and shift to foreign lands, it also stalks the very societies that offer haven. In the presence of this evil, we consider the anger and rage that sends families into exile, and we recall that Mary, Jesus and Joseph were forced to migrate to a foreign land in search of safety. Today we read again the familiar words but with an openness to the plight of migrants looking for safe harbor. We renew our commitment to Christ who asks that we pray for those who hide among the innocent to commit horrendous acts of malice. And we ask for the intercession of the Spirit in the lives of all who forced into migration.

Refugees on the island of Lesbos, autumn 2015

If there is time today, focus on a news story about migration and bring your prayer together with al those who work for peace in homelands and abroad. If we are able, we might render our tithes to an organization that works for local or global peace.

To read a sermon entitled “Holiness Always Wins,” click on the image of the flight into Egypt, or visit: https://interruptingthesilence.com/2014/01/06/holiness-always-wins-a-sermon-on-matthew-213-15-19-23/ 

For drone footage of refugees moving through Slovenia, click on the image from Lesbos, or visit: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/11986994/The-migrant-crisis-is-a-mere-gust-of-the-hurricane-that-will-soon-engulf-Europe.html 

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Genesis 46:1-4Migration – Part IPyramids

Monday, July 25, 2016

I am thinking about how I typically react when God asks me to migrate.  Not in the physical sense – for I have lived and worked and worshiped in the same places my entire life.  I am thinking about the so many times I have been asked to migrate in or out of a relationship, to or away from a task, toward or away from a habit.  Usually my reaction is doubt . . . doubt that I have not heard the inner voice well.  Doubt may be a sign of prudence and healthy caution.  Doubt can also be a sign of recalcitrance, stubbornness, or a lack of faith.

I am reading today’s selection and I am reflecting on the fact that so many times in scripture we hear the Father who created us or the Son who redeemed us whisper to us: Fear not, for I am with you.  I will be with you until the end of the age.  Chapter 43 of Isaiah begins with the beautiful idea that no matter  our circumstances, God will continue to remind us that we redeemed, loved, and each named by God . . . and and called by that name.

Our days are full of activity and noise, but we might continue to think about this idea as we go about all we must do before our heads hit the pillow:  When we are called to migrate, what must we change in ourselves so that we might trust God more?  Do we not remember that even when we step wrongly, we are sustained by the one who created us?  We will want to answer swiftly as Jacob did, “Here I am, Lord”! 

As we examine our need to migrate spiritually, emotionally and physically, we also pray for those who are forced to migrate from the places and people they love.

Adapted from a favorite written on July 31, 2008. 

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.

For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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Wadi-Ferian-Bedowin-women-hSaturday, October 4, 2014

Jeremiah 43

The Insolent

You lie, it is not the Lord, our God, who sent you . . .

Many of us have been in family circumstances in which a loved one accuses us of carrying lies. Perhaps our workplaces or neighborhoods have become places of discomfort rather than sanctuaries from the difficult wider world. If this is the case, we are not alone. Jeremiah refuses to be carried away to Babylon and also refuses to flee to Egypt, knowing that what appears to be a move into safety is, in fact, a desperate, hopeless plan.  And for speaking words of truth, Jeremiah is branded a liar, and the people decide to leave Judah. Against the advice God delivers through Jeremiah, they move south to Egypt, taking the prophet with them to a place called Tahpanhes. There the Lord continues to speak . . . and Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign against Egypt in 568 B.C.E. is predicted.

egypt02God says: There are many occasions when I ask you to trust me and do as I ask. There are many circumstances in which you suffer anxiety and fear because of me. But there are also many times in which you rejoice in my saving love. If you are carried off to Tahpanhes do not fear, I am with you. You may be forced to dwell for a time in a place where all those around you worship pagan gods and pagan ways but do not be afraid, I will not abandon you. No matter your place or your time, I abide with you for I am endless. No matter your worry or your joy, I live with you for I am everywhere and in everything. No matter the gravity of your loss I speak to you . . . just as I spoke to Jeremiah even when he was taken off by insolent men and carried into Egypt, even though he came to find himself in Tahpanhes.

When we doubt that we are living God’s word, we only need ask for affirmation and counsel . . . even though we find ourselves surrounded by the insolent . . . even though we find ourselves in Tahpanhes.

For more on Jeremiah 43, click on the camel and pyramid image above or visit: http://precepts.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/jeremiah-in-egypt/ 

Explore the Egyptian journey of Pastor Al Sandalow by clicking on the other images or by visiting: http://fpeb.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html Scroll down through his posts to read the amazing story of St. Catherine’s and some of his other experiences.St-Cathrines-wide-view-web

 

 

 

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Moses TentFriday, October 3, 2014

Psalm 15

Refusing Panic

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

Jeremiah has spoken to God’s people just as God has asked, and for his fidelity and suffering, he is abused and mocked.  The remnant remain and believe. The faithful know that sooner or later, Jeremiah will be silenced . . . but God’s word, spoken honestly and carefully, will never die. God’s truth lives forever and cannot be extinguished.

Jesus comes to live among us to heal and redeem, and for his compassion and mercy he is rejected and crucified. The remnant remain watchful and hopeful. The faithful know that here and now Christ continues to walk and live among us. God may be placed out of mind but God is present and cannot be denied. The Spirit is indwelling and cannot be extinguished.

A number of months ago we visited with Psalm 15 and we return today as we prepare for Jeremiah’s journey to Egypt – a place where the Hebrew people once sought refuge and became chained by slavery. A place from which the Twelve Tribes made their exodus with Moses to be delivered in their promised land. A place that served as refuge for the Christ family following Herod’s plot to murder the infant Jesus. Today we reflect on Psalm 15 and remind ourselves that when we stand steadfast in Christ, we must be prepared to reject anxiety. We must be ready to shun our fear. We must be willing to refuse any sense of panic.

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

God says: I am well aware of the sacrifices you make for me. I see that you put your desires and sometimes your needs to the side as you take up my cause and deliver my words. Like my prophet Jeremiah you even place yourself at risk when you speak and act as I have asked. Know that I see all of your big and small losses. Understand that I see how you suffer. Believe that I place my hope in you and that you may place all your hope in me. I am goodness and goodness never fails. I am compassion and compassion always heals. I am love and love never abandons . . . always accompanies . . . always saves . . . always redeems . . . always transforms . . . always brings home. If you must be carried off to Egypt, know that I go with you. And know that I will also bring you home.

Today, spend time with this short psalm, and consider not if we may dwell in the Lord’s tent or on God’s holy mountain, consider how we can dwell anywhere else.

Walk without blame, do what is right, speak truth from the heart, do not slander, defame, or harm your neighbor, disdain the wicked, honor those who love God, keep your promises at all cost, accept no bribe . . . for whoever acts like this shall never be shaken. 

See the Fearlessness reflection first written on March 25, 2010 and later posted as a favorite; and reflect on the importance of trusting God, of rejecting panic . . . and remaining as remnant that is never shaken.

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Monday, May 6, 2007

Salomon de Bray: Joseph Receives His Father and Brother in Egypt

Salomon de Bray: Joseph Receives His Father and Brother in Egypt

Genesis 45:1-15

A Prayer for Truth Revealed

It was not really you but God who had me come here.

People, places and situations do not govern us. We do not even govern ourselves. God sees, knows and does all.  God pulls goodness out of harm.  God converts evil into something that we can use.  God transforms all suffering and sadness.  If we trust in God above all else and at all times, this truth will eventually dawn on us.  And we will be grateful for this dawning.  We will be grateful for this plan that at first seemed all wrong but which later comes into full focus as being better than any we might have devised on our own.

As St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians: In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ.

As we suffer, as we undergo, as we bear all things, endure all things, we do well to do them for Christ and in Christ . . . because Christ does them with us.

As we strive to be faithful disciples, as we struggle and persevere, follow and persist, we do well to abide with and in the Spirit . . . because the Spirit dwells in us.

As we seek God, as we knock at God’s door, as we petition, question and dialog, we do well to turn to God first in all matters . . . because God awaits our turning with eager and open arms.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and it is not until years later that the truth is revealed.  Joseph waited, worked, prayed, remained, dwelt, and loved in God.  Truth revealed.  Character honed.  Spirit strengthened.  Pain transformed.  Love born.  This is the gift of integrity and honesty.  It is the gift of discipleship.  It is the gift of life itself.

And so we pray . . .

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,

We thank you for having created us.

We thank you for having saved us.

We thank you for dwelling in us.

May we always reach for the hope you place in us.

May we always remain faithful to your promise which rests in us.

May we always abide with one another as we undergo suffering.

May we be good and faithful remnants for you in all of the places and situations we find ourselves which feel so foreign.

And may we, as Joseph did when he heard your voice, listen for you . . . and spread open arms to welcome those who have harmed us.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

First written on November 15, 2007. Re-written and posted today.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013 – Genesis 42 – The First Journey

West: Jacob Blesses His Sons

West: Jacob Blesses His Sons

Everyone in this story is tested. 

Jacob’s sons are reluctant to go to Egypt for rations of grain even though they starve.  Jacob speaks to them in this way: Why do you keep gaping at one another?  I hear that rations of grain are available in Egypt.  Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive rather than die of hunger.  Later he must allow the precious smallest son, Benjamin, to return to Egypt with his brothers; this is the condition laid upon them by Joseph.  If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to the nether world in grief. 

Joseph suffers greatly when he sees his ten brothers who once discussed murdering him before selling him into slavery.  He speaks to them through an interpreter so as to retain his anonymity; his reaction to their conversation is one of deep sadness: Turning away from them, he wept.

As Joseph’s brothers argue over how to proceed, Reuben reminds them that they ought not to have rid themselves of Joseph years earlier: Didn’t I tell you not to do wrong to the boy?  But you wouldn’t listen!  Now comes a reckoning for his blood.

Everyone in this story suffers. 

Our culture encourages us to avoid pain at all cost.  We are too often taught that failure is a negative to be circumvented . . . not an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and others.  We regard tests as ordeals . . . we do not see them as opportunities to examine our minds and hearts.  We look upon obstacles as objects to be overcome . . . we do not see constricting circumstances as a lesson plan from God.  We too often see adversity as punishment . . . and we miss the fact that hardship and strife give us an occasion to draw nearer to God. 

We are all tested.  We all suffer.  This is an inherent condition of the human experience.  Later in this story (50:20) Joseph will say to his brothers: Even though you meant to harm me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.  Joseph sees his trials for what they are . . . God’s providence and love converting all harm to good.  Joseph makes this journey first, his brothers and father follow later, completing a passage they had never imagined possible.  They experience loss and sorrow, joy and surprise yet they move forward inexorably . . . hoping to traverse their pain. 

What does all our suffering and testing mean?

We might take time today with this part of the Genesis story to contemplate the sons of Jacob and the many lessons their story contains.  Let us make our own first journey to discover the gift of our misfortune.

For a reflection on Genesis 43 – The Second Journey, the journey of return, visit the November 16, 2011 post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/08/16/the-second-journey/

 

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