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Posts Tagged ‘evil’


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

Thursday, May 5, 2022

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_refugeegraphicrevisedThursday, September 23, 2021

Jeremiah 44

Scattered Refugees

Only scattered refugees will return.

This reflection was written in 2014 and is posted again today when the world now has 82.4 million refugees as reported by the United Nations Refugee Agency. Today we consider not only the millions of people who search for security and peace, but the forces in our world that increase rather than decrease this human tragedy. 

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. Images from:  

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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shepherdSaturday, August 14, 2021

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

Image from: http://www.open-mike.ca/2013/08/13/day-225/

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Bathsheba

Bathsheba

Friday, June 25, 2021

1 Chronicles 20

Not Judging 

From the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (633): “At this point 2 Samuel 11.2-12.25 tells the story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the prophetic condemnation by Nathan before reporting the conclusion of the battle with the Ammonites. Since Chronicles idealizes David’s and Solomon’s work for the temple and its ritual life, it would not have served its purposes to rehearse the sins of the United Monarchy. We may be sure that the Chronicler and his readers were well aware of these negative incidents”.

Evil sneaks up on us when things are going well, when we are most confident and assured and most likely to have left God for a time. God accompanies us in our good times and bad. We may not feel God’s presence but God is with us all the same.

Thoughts from Scripture . . .

John 15:18: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

Wisdom 2:12: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.

Jeremiah 18:18: The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said, “Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah”.

Matthew 20:26: Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be you servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Matthew 20:22: Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?

The Chronicler knows, as we read in our notes, that David has sinned. So have we all.

Jesus tells his apostles that leading is serving. This Message we have heard many times.

Jeremiah witnesses to the treachery that lies in wait for the faithful. This reality we have lived.

Jesus reminds us that the world hates goodness. This rejection we have felt.

Jesus asks us if we can drink from his chalice. This question we have heard within ourselves.

Judging. Not judging. It is difficult for us to refrain from forming ideas for or against individuals or groups but it is essential for us to refrain from judging. We know that the measure that we measure is measured out to us. Ultimately, we have only this to ask ourselves: Can we live up to the harsh yardstick against which we measure others?


Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 633. Print. (Meeks)

To learn more about Bathsheba’s story, click on the image above or go to: https://bible.wikia.org/wiki/Bathsheba

Adapted from a March 23, 2011 favorite.

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Prudence

Michael Whelan: Prudence

Amos 5:7-17

First Woe

You shall not live in the houses you fashion for yourself. You shall not drink of the wine from your vineyard. You have taken bribes and oppressed the just. Therefore, the prudent one is silent at this time.

Today Amos announces the first of three woes and he is quite clear about the consequences that will befall those who allow themselves to slide into corrupt and evil ways.

God says: You hear today about wailing and crying. This need not take place. You read about destruction and loss. This need not happen. You see images of evil against good. This need not be so. Put down your arms. Cease your self-defense. This is how we put an end to mourning and lament. Celebrate what is good in each of you. Cease judging. Praise what you find to be positive in both yourself and others and begin with that. The smallest ounce of goodness is ample space for me to gain a foothold in your heart. This woe is taken from your shoulders when you turn and return to me.

As we watch our evening news we see interviews with family members of those who have been murdered who choose diverging paths. Some want to exact revenge. Others are willing to forgive, knowing that revenge eats holes only in those who exact a price.

As we watch the evening news we see nations striking out at one another, seizing assets, prevaricating and stirring discord. We may think we gain anonymity when we hide in a crowd of millions or even billions and say nothing about injustice, and yet . . . God knows how willing we are to live in and for all that Christ teaches us.

Today we consider the images Amos brings to us, we examine our hearts and minds, and we consider . . .

Tomorrow, the second woe of Amos.


Michael Whelan images at: http://www.michaelwhelan.com/shop/reproductions/all-reproductions/prudence-2/

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Friday, February 5, 2021

the-letter-sadhe[1]Psalm 119:137-144

Sadhe

I am consumed by rage, because my foes forget your words . . . Your decrees are forever just; give me discernment that I may live.

We become indignant when we believe that others do not understand the message of the Gospel; others become indignant with us when we behave in a narrow way.

God says: I really do understand how anger and frustration might consume you; but I ask that you take this negative energy and hand it to me. Together we will transform the ugliness and pettiness and cruelty you see in the world . . . to beautiful truth, inspiring authenticity and salvific love. Together we will bring goodness out of harm. Together we will build a kingdom so that all might live eternally.

Once we allow ourselves to pardon enemies we experience love as God does. We find a new tranquility and balance. And we discover that the evil around us melts into nothingness. This new serenity begins when we can bring ourselves to love our enemies as Jesus does.

Jesus says: You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly father . . . For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? (Matthew 5:43-47)

In this newest lesson presented to us in Psalm 119 we find the greatest – and perhaps the most difficult and certainly the most important – lesson of all. We find our divinity by fully and completely turning our most basic human instincts over to God. We find the kingdom that lies before us by interceding for all of. We find discernment by turning all of our rage into love. And all of this brings us serenity.


For more on how Sadhe speaks to us of faith that is found in the righteous, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tzadik.htm

For a quick view of the Hebrew letters, click on the image above and then click through the alphabet to the left, or go to: http://www.heb4you.com/hebrew-alephbet/18th-letter-of-the-hebrew-alphabet.html

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Monday, November 2, 2020

On the eve of a major election in the USA, we reflect on extremes and how living on the edge might be our greatest teacher. 

restoration_449x3181[1]Psalm 69:4-5

Extremes

I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause. Too many for my strength are my treacherous enemies. Must I now restore what I did not steal?

When life’s extremes weigh us down and wear us out there is only one place to go for restoration. When too many lies evil and too much denial tax us beyond our reserves there is only one path to take for transformation. When all roads close, when too much is asked of us there is only one person who understands our experience of extremes.

God says: I never intend for you to go beyond your limits; pushing you too far is a sure sentence of death. Your voice has disappeared from too much crying, your eyes are weary from so much looking. You are outnumbered and overdrawn. You are beyond weary; you are spent. When your body fails and your mental powers ebb, place your heart in my hands. I will not let you vanish into dust. I will champion you against your foes. I will restore even that which has been taken from you.


Also visit the Noontime reflection Without Cause by entering the words into the blog search bar.

Image from: http://bumponablog.com/2010/03/gentle-restoration/ 

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Monday, May 25, 2020

tr-trinity-symbol1[1]Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Calamities – Part III

We do not like to think of the calamities that happen to us, or of the ones yet to come; yet we realize that the human condition is precisely this: the learning to survive in a healthy way when disaster strikes – as it always will.

This week we have reflected on how we handle calamity when we live in discipleship.  Today we reflect on calamity as seen from the center of the loving Trinity that embraces us.

The evil time is not known . . . but the time of goodness is – it is now, and we make it so by our words and deeds.

The evil time falls suddenly upon them . . . but the goodness is always with us – and we live out this goodness to others by our words and deeds.

A time of calamity comes to all alike . . . and a time of redemption through the goodness of God, the deeds and words of Christ, and the gifts of the Spirit.

Pole or North Star

The Pole or North Star guides those who watch and witness . . .

The race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the valiant, nor a livelihood by the wise, nor riches by the shrewd, nor favor by the experts . . . yet we are given all of this and more when we live in Christ rather than in the world.

Amid all of the uncertainties of life, this we know for certain: calamity does arrive.  And when it does, we will want to be wearing Christ as our armor, following God as our polestar, and living in the eternal peace of the Spirit.


Images from: http://thinkingthoughtful.wordpress.com/2012/05/ and https://www.farmersalmanac.com/north-star-brightest-star-19822

Adapted from a reflection written on September 28, 2010.

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2 Kings 3: Withdrawal


Thursday, January 23, 2020

2 Kings 3: Withdrawal

imagesCAHQ96XWElijah has ascended to heaven.  Jehoram reigns over Israel.  King Mesha of Moab has decided to rebel now that Ahab is no longer king of Israel.  King Jehoram musters his troops and prepares for battle and he calls on King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join in the struggle against the Moabites.  Will you go with me to battle?

They go into Edom where that king joins them and so the three of them stand ready to fight, except . . . there is no water.  The king of Israel cries out: Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?  And Elisha, Elijah’s servant, is named and consulted.  Water arrives and the battle is engaged.  Things go badly for Mesha who immolates his son on the wall to appease his pagan god.  Commentary suggests that “the text may be implying that the anger of the Moab’s god caused the Israelites to withdraw”.  (Mays 564)  In the face of this human sacrifice, the Israelites pull back.  So might we all.

Our natural instinct may be to avoid evil; it may also be to strike out against it.  We may be inspired to form solidarity with the weak in order to empower them against the aggressor.   Or we may hide in order that we protect what little we have.  Today’s story leaves us with these words: And so they withdrew from him and returned to their own land. 

I heard a sermon recently advising Christians to be cautious when dealing with evil.  The idea that we risk too much danger when we operate in close combat with the devil is one we spent time with several weeks ago when we considered Luke 4 and the devil’s temptation of Jesus.  We noted that day that Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time.  We concluded that: The devil never gives up . . . nor does God.

When we find ourselves shoulder deep in a situation that does not make sense, we know that somewhere someone is lying.

When we realize that betrayal is taking place on a deep and intimate level, we know that danger is quite near.

In all circumstances there is only one place to seek haven or ask for help: in God.  We may determine that we need to withdraw and return to our own land.  We may as likely determine that we need to gather troops, consult with the prophet and make a stand.  In either case, it is important that we remain in God no matter what.  For in God is our only hope of salvation.  No wickedness is too great for God to handle.  No malicious act is too horrible for God to transform.  No evil can overcome or outlast God’s love for his people.

So if we must withdraw . . . let us open our hearts . . . and withdraw into God.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 564. Print.

For a reflection on Matthew’s description of Christ’s temptation, go to The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations

Written on March 18, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://daleallynphoto.com/index.php/gallery/image_full/20/

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