Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians’


Acts 20:25-38Resolutions

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A 1915 Postcard: New Year’s Resolutions

A new day dawns, a new year begins . . . we have before us a new opportunity for reconnection and rebirth.  In today’s Noontime we examine part of Paul’s farewell speech to the Ephesian elders in Miletus in which he lays out a kind of instruction manual for those whom he has brought into Christ’s infant church . . . and for whom he has great love.

As we begin a new year, we might resolve to take Paul’s admonitions seriously; we might decide to be faithful followers of the Gospel . . . and this may be more difficult than we first think.

I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be fearless in proclaiming the Good News to all we know.  In our secular world it is so easy to say nothing when others rant about how the poor are lazy, about how we need to take back America from the immigrants.  It is easy to remain silent in the face of such anger.  It is convenient to forget that most of us are not descended from indigenous peoples.

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be both watchful and loving, and let us determine to be in the world but not of it. In a presidential election year it will be easy to join a drumbeat of complaint.  It will be difficult to listen without judging.  It will be awkward to express a view that is contrary to the majority.

Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to maintain healthy boundaries as we take care of ourselves even as we tend to the needs of others.  In a self-centered society we will often find ourselves alone when we advocate for the disenfranchised.  We will be at odds with conventional wisdom.  We will run counter to general opinions.  We will struggle with knowing which work is our own and which is not.

Miletus: Agora with public building

Be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be prudent and compassionate in all that we do in Jesus’ name.  In a time when a show of emotion is characterized as a weakness we will be against the tide.  In an era when the phrase “personal responsibility” is used to erase God’s call to heal the broken-hearted and help the marginalized, we will stand out as different and even bizarre.  We will be targets for people’s hatred.

In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to be determined to live out the Gospel message in our support of the marginalized.  Let us acknowledge that the world will disparage who we are and what we do . . . and that Christ will be working right beside us.

When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all . . . As we begin a new year, let us resolve to join others in prayer whenever and wherever possible to unite our voices and hearts in unison with the Creator.  Let us recognize that the work of Christ’s disciples is difficult at best . . . but amazingly rewarding and well worth our personal cost.

Paul reminds the faithful that Christ’s call will run counter to what is comfortable or popular; yet Christ’s message will be wonderfully simple and beautifully plain.  On this New Year’s Day let us remember the gift of Christmas as we resolve to both fashion and fulfill new resolutions that will ask much of us . . . but that will be well worth the sacrifice and even the pain.


A re-post from January 1, 2012.

Images from: http://www.allanbevere.com/2010/10/was-ephesians-circular-letter.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NewYearsResolution1915FirstPostcard.jpg 

Read Full Post »


Nehemiah 6:1-14A Great Enterprise

Monday, December 31, 2018

Model of the Temple Courtyard

Written on January 2, 2011 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

I am engaged in a great enterprise and am unable to come down; why should the work stop, while I leave it to come down to you?

In this portion of the rebuilding story, Nehemiah knows that Israel’s enemies – Sanballat and Gesham – plot against them, trying to create problems for the Jewish people as they rebuild their city and temple.  They invite the builder to the plain of Ono – about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem – in a plot to harm him.  If he does not meet with him, they threaten, they will alert the king of Persia that Nehemiah was planning to make himself king.  Nehemiah refuses their “invitation,” turning away outside threats.

We also read about the advice given to Nehemiah by Shemaiah, a prophet who was likely paid by Sanballat and Tobiah to lure the builder into breaking an important law – laypeople were allowed to seek asylum by grasping the horns of the altar in the courtyard, but were not permitted to enter into the temple itself.  Nehemiah fends off this “invitation” and another from the prophetess Noadiah, turning away threats from within.  (Mays 348)

What was it that called these outer and inner enemies to want to overthrow Nehemiah?  As we see in the previous chapter, he has the well-earned reputation of being a man lacking self-interest, he cannot be bought or bribed, and the enterprise he has undertaken is going well.  His work goes well because it is God’s work, and Nehemiah trusts God to see the work finished.  Those who plot Nehemiah’s end do not understand this perhaps because they do not live their lives in this way.  They do not see themselves as stewards of God’s grace . . . for this is the great enterprise in which Nehemiah sees himself engaged.  It is the huge project he will not forsake.

Today we hear a portion of the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians read to us at Mass in which he explains this special stewardship with which each of us is charged: to share our talents – whatever they may be – with all, in order that we participate fully in God’s plan.  Whether we know or believe this does not matter, we still carry this gift within, and we are meant to share it as Nehemiah shares: utterly, totally, and always.  We are accountable for our own participation in the great enterprise. 

Robert Morneau writes in today’s meditation and then poses questions in DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2010-2011: Everyone is given the privilege and duty of being a steward of God’s grace . . . This stewardship, this receiving, nurturing, and sharing of God’s love and life, is a way of life and involves serious accountability . . . In what way are you called to be a steward of God’s grace?  What is your unique gift?  Do you have a sanctified vision of God’s plan of salvation?

William Brassey: Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem

Nehemiah will not be drawn away from what he sees to be the work that God has laid in his hands.  He is confident of God’s call in his life, and the firmness of this belief is seen in the focus he gives to this work.  He allows no influence – either from within his community or from outside it – to diminish his determination.  In this way, he takes up the gift and privilege of serving God.  In this way, he engages in the greatest enterprise any of us will ever know . . . the work of God’s incomprehensible yet breathtaking plan for our salvation.


A re-post from November 28, 2011. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 348. Print.

Morneau, Robert F. DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2010-2011. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2010

Images from: http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/files/OT_history/unit4/Unit4b_exile.htm and http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/J_Transp/J01_JudaismIntro.html 

Read Full Post »


1 Corinthians 11Imitators of Christ

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Written on January 29 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Vermeer: Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.  Ephesians 5:1-2

You became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model in Macedonia and in Achaia . . . For you became imitators in God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: you suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered.  1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14

This portion of 1 Corinthians deals with problems in liturgical assembles; the church Paul established in Corinth was experiencing difficulties in maintaining the customs instituted by the apostle and so he writes to counsel them.  He encourages them to remember who they are and all that God has given them; he asks them to serve as good models of Christian living – even though he, Paul, is not with them.  He asks that they call upon their faith in Christ’s promise to be with them always in the offering of bread and wine.  He asks that they put aside the corrupt ways they have allowed the creep into their spiritual practices.

Samaritan Woman

Some of what we read is troublesome when we look on these words from our place in the twenty-first century.  Commentary tells us that Paul’s attitude toward women was in concert with the thinking of that day.  Fundamentalists take these words literally and diminish women to a status below men.  Most scholars today aver that if Paul were living in our world he would give women equal status with men.  But rather than focus on some of Paul’s words here, what we can focus on is the way Christ himself treated women, beginning with his own mother, and the sisters of his friend Lazarus, Mary and Martha.  It is clear from the Gospel stories that the Samaritan Woman in John 4, the woman with the hemorrhage in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8, the Canaanite/Syrophonecian woman in Matthew 15, and Mark 7, the woman crippled by a spirit for thirteen years in Luke 13, the woman caught in adultery in John 8 are all important to Jesus.  He uses women in his parables in Matthew 13, for example – The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough and in Luke 15 with the woman and the lost coin.  There are other instances but these few serve to show the respect with which Christ treated women and this is what we are called to model.

Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

As Paul writes to the Corinthians – and to us today – about how we misuse and even abuse the gift of presence God gives to us each day either through the Eucharist or in any other form, we might remind ourselves that while we strive to imitate Christ perfectly we will miss the mark frequently.  And as we read through the many stories we have about Jesus, we find one thing in common: Jesus loves us all, greatly and deeply.  This is what Paul calls us to imitate.  This is what we can strive to be and do.  This is the person we can follow no matter our circumstance, gender, or status.  This is all that God asks of us.  This and nothing more.


A re-post from November 27, 2011.

Images from: http://thesisterproject.com/sisterpedia/fiction-as-a-cure-for-sister-rifts-throwing-the-book-at-bad-behavior/ http://www.haverford.edu/relg/faculty/amcguire/marymimages.htm 

http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2011/03/the-samaritan-woman-loneliness.html 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: