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Posts Tagged ‘eternal life’


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

the-letter-shin[1]Psalm 119:161-168

Shin

My heart reveres only your word . . . I rejoice at your promise . . . Your teaching I love . . . Seven times a day I praise you . . . Lovers of your teaching have much peace . . . for them there is no stumbling block . . . I look for your salvation . . . I fulfill your commands . . . I observe your decrees . . . I love them very much . . . All my ways are before you.

In this penultimate strophe the psalmist has finally arrived at deep understanding of what it means to follow the Law.  It is not a stringent adherence to a long and complicated set of requirements.

God says: There is really only one law. Many of you have created layers and contingencies for yourselves but all of your regulations do nothing if they do not build my kingdom. All of your small rules and overbearing stances do nothing if they are not respectful of each human condition. Your fears create worlds I do not intend. Your desire to control only antagonizes others and sends them away from me. There is only one law and it is this: Love one another as I have loved you – love your enemies as well as you love your friends – ask me to intercede for those who harm you. Your joy at finding me in this one law will be evident to all so rather than preach with your lips . . . spread the good news with your thoughts and actions. This will engender in you an eternal fire that overcomes all obstacles, a perpetual passion of love and peace that can never be extinguished.

Our interpretation of God’s law is an invention of our fears and fantasies if it does not call us to forgive one another as God forgives us. Our ideas about Jesus’ teaching are an invention of our egos if they do not urge us to redeem one another as Jesus redeems us. Our beliefs about how to live out God’s precepts are false if they do not move us into action with the Spirit.

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test [Jesus] and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?  How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord your God with your all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”.  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live”.  (Luke 10:25-28)

We look for peace. We seek life eternal. We want all obstacles in our lives to fall away.  A true and deep understanding of God’s love of all – even our enemies – brings us the serenity and union with God that we long for.

When Christ asks us how we read God’s law . . . what do we answer?  How do we act?

Tomorrow, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Taw.


To understand more about the letter Shin and how it represents both the flame that is evident and the flame stored in embers, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/shin.htm

Image from: http://www.heb4you.com/hebrew-alephbet/21th-letter-of-the-hebrew-alphabet.html 

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Friday, October 30, 2020

091212-impossible[1]Daniel 11

God as the Ultimate Power

The king shall do as he pleases, exalting himself and making himself greater than any god; he shall utter dreadful blasphemies against the God of gods. He shall prosper only till divine wrath is ready, for what is determined must take place. He shall have no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one in whom women delight; for no god shall he have regard, because he shall make himself greater than all.  (Verses 36 and 37)

This portion of Daniel’s prophecy is difficult to follow, even with a commentary, as there are varying opinions about the identity of the three kings of Persia, there are several rulers with the name of Antiochus, and kingdoms in the region are morphing and changing while dynasties rise and fall. It is sufficient to note, however, that the writer here conveys the sense of confusion that the Hellenistic Wars bring about. Syria and Egypt battle over who controls the Jewish kingdom and the little people wonder where and how all the conflict will end. The foreign ruler, King Antiochus, venerated Apollo and Zeus and he even saw himself as the king of Mount Olympus, Zeus/Jupiter. He did as he liked, including the placement of a gargantuan of a pagan god in the Jerusalem Temple. All that once was thought immutable is now changing and here the angel of the Lord tells us, through Daniel, that the Lord God will not be manipulated, controlled or mocked; the Lord is ultimately in control of all and everyone. Those who do not understand this will eventually come to see “this simple portrait of a tyrant, possibly even a mad one, willing and able to work his designs without being challenged even by the gods (v. 37) and yet unaware that his ultimate doom has been sealed in secret by the God who is the master of all of history and whose word is the last as well as the first”. The closing verses of this chapter predict the future and in the following chapter we find “the most important innovation contained in the book of Daniel, the notion of resurrection in 12:1-3”.  (Mays 633)

It strikes us as odd that one who professes to lead as a servant might have so little regard for the small works of beauty and goodness that are significant to the community. These leaders appear to place little value on benchmarks or markers or significant events that a people hold in common. They believe themselves more important than a god like Adonis, the one who sways so many women (Jones 1447).

When we find ourselves in the hands of those who are able to work their designs without being challenged by any entity on earth, we will want to remember that God is the ultimate source of infinite power, and that this power brings with it the gift of new, eternal life. This power generates from profound goodness and self-sacrificing love rather that brute muscle and dispassionate control. This power determines the nature of life and even death itself. And this power brings the gift of resurrection to those who follow faithfully.


Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2010.

Image from: http://www.quiettime.org/6243/power/

Jones, Alexander, ed.  THE JERUSALEM BIBLE. New York, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. 1447. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 633. Print.

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Monday, July 6, 2020

website_p5_B_Page_1-300x199[1]1 John 5:9-12

Testimony Within

If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater.  Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.  Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself . . . And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son does not have life.

Although John describes God’s in-dwelling in an abstract manner, he does not mean to say that God is an idea. On the contrary, the presence of Christ in each of us is very real.  The Spirit abides and consoles while Jesus teaches and heals, and God protects and guides.  All three persons of the Trinity are constantly present to and in us.

God says: I understand that the idea of eternal life is both exhilarating and frightening but you need not fear.  It is a real as the pain you feel when you suffer and as real as the joy you feel when you celebrate.  Yet, my love is more than emotion or thought.  My love is substantial.  It cures.  It sustains.  It converts and transforms. It is constant and deep.  It is authentic and reliable.  My love is worthy of your trust.  My love is worthy of your love in return.

When we find that we insist on our own interpretation of scripture or we split hairs and parse words for explicit and implicit meaning . . . we have strayed from the love John explains to us.  When we rely on God’s goodness and the truth of John’s testimony . . . we acknowledge the gift of God’s testimony within each of us.

To reflect on how we might better comprehend God’s love for us, enter the word witness into the blog search bar and explore.

Search for a labyrinth near you and consider this form of prayer.  It may lead you to a meaningful conversation with God Within You. 


The images above shows a labyrinth, a centuries old device for contemplative or meditative prayer. https://www.wildspring.com/labyrinth.htm 

To learn how to use a labyrinth while praying, go to: http://www.emu.edu/seminary/labyrinth or https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/labyrinth-chartres-cathedral 

For information on ancient references to God Within, visit: https://quantumstones.com/embracing-the-god-within-us/

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Exodus 34The Richness of God

Sunday, November 11, 2018

When Moses sees the people worshiping a golden calf they have fashioned for themselves (Exodus 32:19) he smashes the tablets containing the Ten Commandments in a fit of wrath.  In today’s Noontime we read of the renewal of these tablets.  Even in the face of a willful turning away, God shows his chosen people kindness and mercy.  And God shows us this same gentleness and compassion today.

Murillo: The Good Shepherd

Today’s readings are centered on God as the Good Shepherd, the patient night-watcher, the constant day-herder, the wise and loving one who knows us from the womb until our last breath.

Paul writes to the Colossians (3:12-14) and to us: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 

Moses describes God as merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin.  Moses also speaks of how God chastises us – all the while loving us as a loving parent wishing the best for his child.

The Psalm in the Morning Prayer today is Psalm 36:6-10 and it reminds us of the depth and breadth of God’s love.  It also reminds us that God will be painfully truthful with us in order that we also grow in mercy and goodness and truth and justice and light: Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven; your truth to the skies.  Your justice is like God’s mountain, your judgments like the deep. To both man and beast you give protection, O Lord, how precious is your love.  My God, the sons of men find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  They feast on the riches of your house; they drink from the stream of your delight.  In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.

The MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection (Cameron 132-133) helps us to understand why we gather to celebrate Eucharist as often as possible: Through the mystery of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, God has destroyed death forever by transforming it from the end of our story to a passageway into eternal life.  In the Eucharistic feast, we taste the promise of the fulfilled.  It is in and with and through Christ that come we come to know the fullness of God’s love, that he gives his own child so that we might live.  Such is the richness of God.  Such is his gift of light and life to us.

Toward the end of exodus 34 we read about how Moses’ face is so transformed into light that he puts a veil over his face.  God’s radiance is reflected in Moses’ face . . . all of this goodness is nearly too much to bear.

The MAGNIFICAT Morning Intercessions help us to make the connection between God’s feeding of the Hebrews in the desert with God’s abiding love for us in the 21st century.  They let us know that God’s eternal message of peace that made Moses’ face radiant in joy is the same message God has for us today.  When we cry out in sorrow . . . God nourishes us.  When we wander in the darkness . . . God brings us the gift of eternal life.

God feeds us with the finest wheat: our Lord Jesus Christ, source of our life.  And so we pray . . .

You feed us at the table of your word: nourish the thoughts of our heart.

You feed us with the bread of life: grant that we may live in the spirit of self-giving love.

You feed us with the pledge of eternal life: grant that we may receive our daily bread with gratitude.

God of life, you invite all peoples to the feast of life in your kingdom.  Forgive us when, in our foolishness, we refuse your invitation to pursue other interests, and bring us back to your table that we may continue to grow in the life of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.  Amen.

God is the Good Shepherd of all creation; he is the patient night-watcher and the constant day-herder.  God is the wise and loving one who knows us from the womb until our last breath.  God nourishes and feeds; he rescues and saves.  God calls us always to himself.  For God is rich in kindness and mercy, quick to forgive, slow to anger . . . always calling us home.


A re-post from October 9, 2011.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection and Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9 October 2011: 251. Print.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/river-200×15011.jpg and https://fineartamerica.com/featured/sunset-over-wears-valley-tennessee-mountain-art-reid-callaway.html

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Sirach 40: Joys and Miseries of Life

Monday, June 4, 2018

This reflection is adapted from one written August 8, 2007, and it reminds us that we benefit from exploring the human life of Jesus as we navigate the highs and lows of life.

The book of Sirach contains wonderfully easy-to-understand capsules of true wisdom intermixed with Old Testament ideas that Jesus the Messiah asks us to put aside.  Jesus Ben Sirach must have lived a full life in order to write all that he set down for us; and this chapter is no exception.  We examine verses 17 through 27 where he directly compares ways to measure our true success. Gold and silver make one’s way secure but better than either, sound judgment . . . The flute and the harp make sweet music, but better than either a voice that is true.

This chapter is sandwiched between two images of heaven, just as life is sandwiched between the two great transitions in life – our birth and our death. It follows one that describes the heaven we imagine and is followed by one that contemplates death.  This structure reminds us that all of us suffer, and all of us gain. All of us wonder about our origin and end. All of us wonder how we will survive all that destroys us, and how we will celebrate the joys that raise us up. But through all of this, Sirach reminds us that for those who worship false gods, the suffering will be worse while our gain will be as nothing.

All that comes from bribes or injustice will be wiped out,
    but loyalty remains forever.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we accumulate vanishes while all we enact may live forever.

Wealth from injustice is like a flooding wadi,
    like a mighty stream with lightning and thunder,
Which, in its rising, rolls along the stones,
    but suddenly, once and for all, comes to an end.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we do in anger destroys us while all we do in love is eternal.

The offshoot of violence will not flourish,
    for the root of the godless is on sheer rock.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we hope in Christ comes to fruition and all we enact in love will endure.

But goodness, like eternity, will never be cut off,
    and righteousness endures forever.

Like Jesus, Sirach reminds us that all we live in Christ abides with us in our sorrow, and celebrates with us in our joy.

Explore the highs and lows in Jesus’ life by clicking on the category Life of Jesus in Art on this blog.


To learn more about how to find balance in life, click on the dancing flower girl image in this post or visit: https://findyourmiddleground.com/2014/01/08/the-highs-and-lows-of-life/ 

 

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John 1: In the Beginning

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (NRSV)

No matter how often we read these words they bring us new beauty.

Footnotes tell us that the writer lays out the themes that develop as the Gospel continues: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, the pre-existence of Jesus, the incarnate Logos who is God’s revelation and the expression of God’s love for us.  When we think of the stories we hear and read in this Gospel, we know for a certainty that God is calling us to be diverse, to tend to that diversity and to place our hope in this diversity – because it is in this diversity that the Spirit manifests itself best.

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one. (MSG)

God calls us to intimacy, and Jesus calls out this same petition in his brief life.  God asks us to commune with one another in a way we think impossible, and we can only do this if we rely on Wisdom.  This morning’s first reading was from Wisdom 3:1-12, The Hidden Counsels of God on Suffering.  Looking at verse four of that reading we are reminded that our hope is what makes us immortal.  This hidden counsel of God manifests itself in Jesus, the world’s only true hope.

In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. (GNT)

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, comes to us to serve – not to be served.  And so must we serve rather than be served.  No one has ever seen God except through Jesus Christ, the apostle John tells us; yet God speaks to each of us through Jesus.  It is fitting that Jesus represents this hope of God. It is correct that we awake and rise each day to look to Jesus. It is right that we act and live in hope, for it is this hope that makes us immortal.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 20, 2007.

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Galatians 3:26-29: Re-Creation – God’s People

Easter Friday, April 21, 2017

If we wonder how God sees the children God lovingly created to bring light to the darkness, we might consider Paul’s words to the Galatians.

It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

Through God’s grace, we receive the gift of faith and we read the testimony left by others.

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1)

Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we receive the gift of life eternal. On this Easter Friday, as we gather ourselves for Easter re-creation, we benefit from spending time with John’s first letter of testimony. He tells us that all he recounts is real. He reminds us that all he recounts to us has taken place. And he states very clearly that all he reports to us continues to occur today.

To explore varying versions of the verses cited in today’s Noontime, use the scripture links and the drop-down menus.

 

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Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.  

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

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John 11: Healing Death

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Giotto di Bondone: The Raising of Lazarus

Giotto di Bondone: The Raising of Lazarus

John the Baptist was imprisoned and when he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (MSG) This week we are given an opportunity to give our own testimony.

How willing are we to believe that Jesus has power even over death?

 Jesus announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.” (MSG)

How willing are we to act as Jesus does to bring life out of death?

The disciples said, “Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap. (MSG)

How willing are we to tell the world the Good News that Jesus wants each of us to live in eternal space and time in unity with him?

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” (MSG)

How willing are we to heal death as Jesus does?

“Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.” (MSG)

How willing are we to believe?

For more reflections on the raising of Lazarus, enter his name in the blog search bar and explore.

When we compare different translations of these verses we begin to see that God wants for each of us the eternal gift of life.

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