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Posts Tagged ‘evil’


Saturday, September 21, 2019

Psalm 18:26-27: With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God; with the forthright you show yourself forthright.  With the pure you show yourself pure, but with the wicked you are wily.  

God is greater than any evil we encounter in our lives.  God is more forgiving than any compassion we may be shown.  God is more gentle, more kind, more persevering and forgiving than we can imagine.  God endures.  God does not give up or give in.

God says: Do you find it difficult to think of me as wily when I deal with the wicked?  I am prudent with them just as I ask you to be. I know that the wicked believe in themselves more than they believe in me.  I know that many of the wicked are fearful and so I call them to serenity just as I call you.  I have created all of humanity and my hope is that each of you will rise to the fidelity, the purity, the forthrightness and holiness that calls you.  When you meet the wicked and do not know how to handle them . . . call on me.  My wiliness is far greater than their evil.

The practices of the wicked lead us away from life eternal.

The practices of fidelity lead us to a life of purity.

The practice of forthrightness leads us to a life of honesty.

The practice of prudence leads us always back to God.


For some additional thoughts on Purity click on the image above or go to: http://acelebrationofwomen.org/2012/07/shirlee-hall-what-is-purity/

A re-post from August 29, 2012.

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Isaiah 5: The Vineyard Song

Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018

With this adapted Favorite from February 13, 2011, we give thanks for the presence of The Spirit as we struggle against all that would hold us down, all that would keep us from remaining on The Vine.

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer for Saturday, February 12: A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings for the evil out of a store of evil.  (Matthew 12:35)

The power of evil is insidious.  It conceals itself within our lives posing as good. Discernment is the process of determining what is the counterfeit of good and what is true good.  Let us apply ourselves wholeheartedly to discernment and to living godly lives.  (MAGNIFICAT Mini-reflection, 168)

The power of evil is insidious  . . . There is so much around us locally and globally that discourages us.  We feel as though evil has taken over the world and that God does nothing to prevent this evil; yet here is a reminder that God is not evil, that God invites goodness, and that God is goodness.

Evil conceals itself within our lives posing as good . . . Matthew reminds us (6:12) that where our treasure lies there also is our heart. Jesus tells the rich young man, and us, that if we seek perfection we must sell what we have, give it to the poor and follow him (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21 and Luke 12:33-34 and 18:22).  Not many of us have the confidence to follow God in this way.  Not many of us trust God enough to believe that God will truly care for our needs.  We too often are planted in well-prepared soil and produce little fruit, and then we blame God for the evil in the world.  We trick ourselves into thinking that we have done all that can be humanly done.  Or we convince ourselves that we are powerless.

Discernment is the process of determining what is the counterfeit of good and what is true good . . . Over the past weeks and days we have witnessed the will of thousands to overcome oppression in northern African countries.  I am imagining how the world might be different if all of us were to speak out against evil in our families and communities.  The vineyard in which we are growing might then grow the beautiful, full and nourishing grapes which the vineyard keeper has planted rather than the puny, wild grapes of unpredictable quality we allow to grow.  It is not difficult to distinguish what is good from what is evil, what is true and what is false.  When we begin to trust God to lead us, our sensitivity to goodness heightens and  it becomes easier with practice to distinguish what we are to do and what we are to say.

Let us apply ourselves wholeheartedly to discernment and to living godly lives . . . Isaiah’s Vineyard Song is followed by descriptions of the “doom of the unjust” and the subsequent invasion.   Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem!  If we are vague about who or what indicates wild grapes, Isaiah provides us with an exact listing.  We cannot say that we have not been told or that we do not understand what evil is and does.  We cannot say that we do not know what goodness is and what goodness does.  We ought not be surprised, therefore, at our fate.

Israel turned away from the God who saved and nurtured her and we are given the same choice to choose our own fate.  In today’s reading for Mass we have a clear description in Sirach 15:15-20, 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 and Matthew 5:17-27.  We have a clear road map with clear markers along the way.  When we join in singing Isaiah’s Vineyard Song, do we sing with full throat and heart?  We will want our voices to join with those who yearn to live in the kingdom.

The power of evil is insidious.  It conceals itself within our lives posing as good. Discernment is the process of determining what is the counterfeit of good and what is true good.  Let us apply ourselves wholeheartedly to discernment and to living godly lives. 


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 12 February 2011. Print.

Tomorrow, Naboth’s vineyard. 

Image from: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2017/05/deacon-bickerstaff-daily-reflection-vine-and-branches/

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Proverbs 6:1-11: The Deer and the Ant

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Cut your losses,” the writer of Proverbs tells us. “Run from the corruption in which you find yourself. Maybe you knowingly followed the path into darkness; perhaps you stumbled into it unwittingly, but whatever the case, remove yourself from the influence of the evil one. It is never too late to return to the path of light, integrity and honesty”.

“And then consider the story of the ant who instinctively works to do as she is called to do. She does not laze around on hot summer days,” we read. “She stores up. She measures out. She preserves and takes care. This is an example worth emulating”.

Scripture is of full of allegories and parables; they give us simple lessons to imitate. What stories do our own lives teach? Are we the ant or the deer? What legends do we establish? What values do we validate? What knowledge and beauty do we find that instruct us so simply and so well?

When we compare different versions of these verses, we discover the story of our own life that we might share. 

 

 

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Isaiah 58:7-10: A Prayer for Dissenters

Sunday, February 12, 2017dissent

Isaiah’s words might be spoken to one who teaches the very young.

Share your food . . .

Isaiah’s words might be heard in a meeting of those who sponsor refugees.

Open your home . . .

Isaiah’s words might be spoken in a classroom where tomorrow’s adults are formed.

Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear . . .

17320284-abstract-word-cloud-for-understanding-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photoIsaiah’s words might be heard in a workshop offered on how to embody scripture.

Do not refuse to help your own relatives . . .

Isaiah’s words might be brought to life by anyone who hopes to incarnate The Word, to follow The Word, to live, breathe and be The Word among us.

Put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt . . . 

Isaiah’s words might be spoken on a picket line.

Put an end to every evil word . . .

Isaiah’s words are a rubric to measure our actions, a template to codify life, a handbook for those who yearn to walk in the land of the living.

If you satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.

And so we pray with Isaiah.

history-lessonsGood, and holy and generous God, guide us as we struggle with our fears of darkness and evil. Direct us as we look for the best way to become your Word. Remain with us as we gather in dissent against the tactics of bullies who hope to divide us. Walk with us as we navigate the thin line between resistance and violence. Abide with us in our struggle for clarity, compassion and peace. For we wish to do your will. We wish to be light to the world. We wish to bring hope to the marginalized. We wish to be the eyes and ears, the voice and heart, the hands and feet of Christ for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of these words, we find patience, clarity, and the beginnings of peace for a troubled heart.

For ten lessons history teaches us about leadership with exemplars like Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, click on the image of the clasped hands, or visit: http://www.andysowards.com/blog/2016/10-lessons-history-teaches-us-about-leadership/

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Revelation 19:5-10: Victory Song

Friday, October 28, 2016victory

Although we have spent time with this imagery in the past, certain verses made a strong impression on us regarding the two beasts that crawl out of the sea and the earth.  Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast . . . It performed great signs . . . It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform . . . It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave . . . so that no one could buy or sell except the one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for the name.  (13:3; 13-14; 16-17)

What is it about the shadow world and evil that draws us in?  Do we think we might overcome these forces like a superhero?  What is it about membership in a secret society that lures us?  Is it a feeling of belonging and protection through dark arts we think we might manipulate?

Are we really so susceptible to the siren song of the temptation Adam and Eve first heard:  You can be like gods?  Why can we not see that the God who is Love and Goodness will never force us in any way . . . even if for our own good?  What do we not understand about God that we insist on wanting things our way?  Why can we not be faithful . . . true . . . honest . . . patient . . . and persevering?  Is the reward of happiness not enough for us?  What is it we truly seek?

We move through our weekend errands.  Grocery shopping, haircut, Starbuck’s, bookstore and craft store.  As we bump into friends, visit with children and grandchildren, our existential questions surface each time we pause to allow silence and prayer.  Finally, sitting quietly with scripture to examine the book of Revelation, we find The Victory Song.

The wedding day of the Lord has come and the bride has made herself ready. 

And we might sing . . . The wedding day of the Lord has come and we have made ourselves ready. 

The angel tells us: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

When we fall down to worship, the angel replies: Don’t!  I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers who bear witness to Jesus.  Worship God.  Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

We are creatures fashioned to worship our maker.  There is a universal gift to come to this wedding feast as bride, adorned by the white gown of our honest deeds.

Do we think this wedding covenant is impossible?  Is it too much to ask that we worship God only in the company of God’s creation?  Are we waiting to be forced into worship as the adorers of the beast are forced?

Our good and loving God who is rich in kindness forces no one.  This merciful and just God calls each and all.  This adoring and adored God of all Creation wants to rejoice with us in the Victory Song.  This patient God, for whom all things are possible, invites us to the feast as bride to his bridegroom.  All we need bring is our humble and imperfect selves.  Our God, the God who heals and who makes imperfect creatures whole, awaits our answer to his invitation.  Let us sing out our own Amen, Alleluia!

Adapted from a Favorite from October 25, 2008.

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Esther 4:12-14: God’s Yardstick – Esther

Trusting God’s Providence

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Esther

Esther

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Queen Vashti refuses to obey an order from King Ahasuerus to come into his presence. From this single decision comes the opening for Mordecai and his niece Esther to come to the king’s attention; and it also opens the door for the courtier Haman to plot the end of all Jews living in the kingdom. This may or may not be a familiar story. It may or may not ring with a story we ourselves have lived.

Standing against evil is nothing new in human history; yet when the need to renounce wickedness comes into our lives we are tempted to hide or flee. When we experience the level of malice that Haman displays, it is natural to react as Esther does, wanting to hide or protect ourselves or, at the least, hoping to look out for our own interests first before tending to others.

But Esther hears the warning: Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive.

Esther takes in the wider and deeper meaning: If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out.

Esther steps away the fear that holds her: Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.

Esther steps into the challenge before her and asks for solidarity when she says to her uncle: Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you.

Esther commits to measuring her life with God’s yardstick rather than her own: If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.

Esther allows God’s providence and wisdom to transform her fear. Esther enacts a lesson for us today.

wqueenvashti-0303414jpg-1423640271

Queen Vashti and Esther – image by Edwin Long

For more reflections on Esther, enter her names in to the blog search bar and explore. For more versions of these verses, use this scripture link for Esther 4 to examine Esther’s yardstick. Click on the image to the left for more on International Women’s Day or visit: http://forward.com/opinion/193773/remember-vashti-and-esther-on-international-womens/

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Matthew 6:19-24: Treasure, Hearts, and Godfollow-gods-heart-545x408

April 29, 2015

Store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth no decay destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be . . . 

If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light . . . 

No one can serve two masters . . .

We have reflected frequently on the concept of storing treasure in our Noontimes journey and today, as we move through Jesus’ teachings as recorded in Matthew we have another opportunity to pause again to consider . . . what it is we value and store . . . where we place our hopes . . . and how we expend our energies.

In Easter celebration we remember that, despite the evil that looms too closely, God is light to the world and that we are called to be part of that light.

In Easter thanksgiving we remember that, despite what the world may tell us, God is the only master we need serve.

In Easter beatitude we remember that, despite our disappointments and struggles, God is the only treasure that we need store in our hearts.

Use the scripture link to examine different versions of these verses. Enter the word treasure in the blog search bar and explore. For more devotionals on following God’s heart, click on the image above or visit: http://www.devotionaldiva.com/2013/04/follow-gods-heart/

Tomorrow, dependence on God.

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140620_refugeegraphicrevisedMonday, October 6, 2014

Jeremiah 44

Scattered Refugees

Only scattered refugees will return.

Through Jeremiah, Yahweh tells the people once again that their journey to Egypt has been futile. In seeking an alliance with Pharoah Hophra, Zedekiah and his followers have not found refuge; rather, they have further incurred the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. Yahweh promises that those who smugly thought to avoid the consequences of their actions will, in due time, fall to the armies of Babylon. And if we doubt the outcome here, history tells us what happened to those who went down to Egypt.

In the New Testament, Jesus’ family escaped Herod’s wrath by fleeing to Egypt.  (Matthew 2:13-23) Upon their return, Joseph takes his wife and child to Nazareth in Galilee. The ruler Archelaus was a leader who did not inspire confidence.

In our world today there are millions of refugees who flee home for political, social or religious reasons. The office of the United Nations Commission on Refugees gives us facts and figures and tells us that there are over 51 million refugees in the world today.

refugeeOn the Foreign Policy blog we learn that these millions of refugees could stretch around the world more than twice if they were holding hands.

And the Catholic Charities site gives us a definition that ought to make it clear that any one of us might be a refugee if the circumstances were right.

Today Jeremiah brings us these words from God: Though I kept sending to you all my servants the prophets . . . you would not listen or accept the warning to turn away from evil.

Let us hope that we hear God’s voice today. Let us have faith that we might become instruments for peace and justice through our small but not insignificant acts today. And let us lovingly seek intercession for those who engage in evil with no concern for the safety or welfare of others.

God’s position is clear. God resides with the homeless, the hungry, the rejected and the outcast. Jesus accompanies the displaced, the starving and those who have no shelter or help. The Spirit remains in the hearts and souls of the scattered refugees who sit on our borders asking for help. Let us inform ourselves today . . . and resolve to commit an act of kindness for the outcast. For it is only by God’s grace that we are not now among their number.

TentsExplore the United Nations, Foreign Policy and Catholic Charities links and share what you learn with others. Then commit to a healing act of solidarity through an offer of help in some way to those who so desperately need it. If you are a U.S. citizen, also consider contacting those who represent you in state, local or federal government to ask that they come together to address the needs of a the world in which more than 51 million of us seek refuge. Or visit: 

http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/06/20/there_are_as_many_refugees_in_the_world_as_justin_bieber_twitter_followers

and http://www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/refugee-resettlement

 

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shepherdWednesday, August 27, 2014

Jeremiah 22 & 23

Ungodliness

Jeremiah presents us with a roll call of false leaders, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jeconiah.

Woe to him who builds his house on wrong; his terraces on injustice, who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages.

Jeremiah also presents us with a messianic vision, the promise of a good and honest shepherd who fulfills the promise of bringing the faithful home.

I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.

Jeremiah shows us the dichotomy of evil and goodness in which we live. He gives us mirror in which we might discover our own ungodliness.

God says: You need not tremble when you read about the terrible leaders who lead my faithful away from me and to the hungry, demanding little gods of Baal. You need not fear for your life if you live in me. You need not hide or bury yourself away when danger threatens. You need only rest in me. Allow my peace to give you a quiet place of rest. Let the freedom I give you prove the depth of my love, the strength of my fidelity, and the healing power of my hope.  

False and true leaders, false and true prophets, false and true shepherds. Jeremiah draws clear pictures of what we may see in ourselves and others as he warns us of the danger of ungodliness.

For information about Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jeconiah, visit:

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jehoahaz.htm

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jehoiakim.htm

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jeconiah.htm

To learn about Josiah, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/josiah.htm

 

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