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Posts Tagged ‘faith-hope-love’


Psalm 130: Fullness of Redemption

Monday, July 30, 2018

Psalm 130 also carries the name A Prayer for Help, a song we might want to sing today. National, international, and local events stir us to look to the LORD for help when we believe that no aide arrives in dark days.

From the depths of my despair, I call to you, Lord.
Hear my cry, O Lord;
    listen to my call for help!

In matters large and small, we must go to God first when we find ourselves up against walls that are too high, too thick, too solid to conquer. There is no power on heaven or earth that overcomes the deceit, fraud and malevolence the world experiences.

If you kept a record of our sins,
    who could escape being condemned?
But you forgive us,
    so that we should stand in awe of you.

As we look to condemn our enemies, we must do as our brother Jesus who asks. We must pray for those who harm us as quickly as we pray for those we love. There is no other light that pierces the darkness overtaking us.

I wait eagerly for the Lord‘s help,
    and in his word I trust.
I wait for the Lord
    more eagerly than sentries wait for the dawn—
    than sentries wait for the dawn.

When love betrays us, when corruption stalks us, when comfort vanishes and life proves too difficult, we seek comfort, wisdom, and healing from the Spirit. There is no other source of goodness that will overcome the evil we experience.

Israel, trust in the Lord,
    because his love is constant
    and he is always willing to save.
He will save his people Israel
    from all their sins.

When there is no exit, when there is no hope, when there is no compassion . . . we find faith in Christ, hope in the LORD, and mercy in the Spirit.

God says: I know the emptiness you feel when you read the events that surround you. And I know the safety you experience when you recognize my presence in a world that confuses you. Rely on your relationship with me. Spend time with me. Abide in me. I know that too often all seems lost but when you bring me your worries and anxieties, you bring them to the one person who sees, hears and knows all.

When we spend time with these verses, we find the energy to make the small changes open to each day. We find the solace and peace to lie down in peace each night. We find the compassion to act in justice each moment of our lives. We find mercy that rewards us with fullness in redemption.


When we compare the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION of this psalm with other translations, we discover a newness that will carry us forward in confident expectation of God’s providence.

Image from: http://2uomaha.org/2014/from-the-minister/redemption

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Exodus 3: Sacred Ground, Sacred Name

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Over the last few weeks, we have reflected on the seven times Jesus tells us, “I am . . .” We have looked to his words for wisdom; we have looked at his actions for guidance. Jesus’ statements also reflect the “I am who I am” statement and the sacred Tetragrammaton of four Hebrew consonants YHWH. Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us the importance of this name and today we consider just what this great I AM might mean to us.

From Richard Rohr, OFM: I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Jewish revelation of the name of God. As we Christians spell and pronounce it, the word is Yahweh. In Hebrew, it is the sacred Tetragrammaton YHVH (yod, he, vay, and he). I am told that those are the only consonants in the Hebrew alphabet that are not articulated with lips and tongue. Rather, they are breathed, with the tongue relaxed and lips apart. YHVH was considered a literally unspeakable word for Jews, and any attempt to know what they were talking about was “in vain.” As the commandment said: “Do not utter the name of God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). All attempts to fully think God are in vain. From God’s side, the divine identity was kept mysterious and unavailable to the mind. When Moses asked for the divinity’s name, he received only the phrase that translates “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) . . . When considered in this way, God is suddenly as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe. Exactly as some teachers of prayer say, “Stay with the breath, attend to your breath”—the same breath that was breathed into Adam’s nostrils by this Yahweh (Genesis 2:7); the very breath “spirit” that Jesus handed over with trust on the cross (John 19:30) and then breathed on us as shalom, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit all at once (John 20:21-23). And isn’t it wonderful that breath, wind, spirit, and air are precisely nothing—and yet everything?

Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, pp. 25-26

(Rohr, Breathing Yahweh)

God the creator comes to us each morning as we rise to remind us that we are created in God’s image out of love, to be used in and for love. Christ the redeemer leads us each day to guide us with his example of hope and compassion. The Holy Spirit abides with us faithfully each evening, resting upon our open hearts to heal us as evening closes in. As we consider what God means with this great promise of I AM Who I AM, we put ourselves in the hands of the one who created us, the one who heals us, the one who loves us beyond all that is comprehensible.

Tomorrow, “you are . . .”


Rohr, Richard. “The Gate of Heaven is Everywhere.” Center for Action and Contemplation, 6 Oct. 2014, cac.org/.

Images from: http://1049theriver.com/he-is-yahweh/ and https://www.quora.com/Is-Jehovah-Yahweh

For more on the seven times Jesus says, “I am,” visit: https://www.voiceofprophecy.com/articles/blog/7-times-jesus-said-i-am

 

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1 Corinthians 15:35-38: Our Mode of Resurrection

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Christ has asked us to rise and go; and this we do with fidelity. We have felt the wrath of anger and a desire for revenge; and we have found hope of the Spirit’s justification. But what will be the manner of our transition from this life to the next? Can we explain it? Can we believe it? Can we share it’s promise with others?

It is likely that we have all pondered the resurrection at one time or another. We know that we have been sent to this earth to present to and for the world a unique face of God. Our face of God is what we sow, and it is also what we will reap. The Gospel evangelists tell us, by repeating Jesus’ words so succinctly and well, that we all are on a pilgrimage to the next world. Like the ten bridesmaids in one of Jesus’ many parables, we can choose to be prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom, or we can choose to burn our oil foolishly so that when he arrives we will not be present. We gain admittance to the Resurrection wedding feast by becoming incorruptible, but what does this incorruptibility look like? We remain steadfast and firm, faithful to God’s promises, hopeful in the Spirit’s wisdom, living God’s word as Jesus did, and by putting away our envy and pride. Once at the great feast, we will look around to see that all are equal, and – most importantly – we will be content with that fact. A famous Renaissance poet Jorge Manrique has written beautiful lines about his thoughts upon the death of his father, “Coplas a la muerte de mi padre.” He expresses this idea, “All of our lives are rivers – and all of these rivers, big and small, run to the sea . . . where they disappear into one another.” This might be our image of heaven as evoked by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. Only those who have put away envy and pride, only those who have truly humbled themselves to obey will even be able to imagine such a place where we are all special – and where no one is more special than anyone else.

When Jesus speaks of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew, he says that John is the greatest prophet of all time – even greater than Elijah; and yet, the least in heaven is greater than this great prophet. The least will be great, and greater than anything we can imagine.

So can we explain our mode of resurrection? Can we believe in Christ’s fidelity? Can we rely on the hope of the Spirit? Can we share the joy of God’s promise of resurrection?


Adapted from a reflection written on February 7, 2007.

Image from: https://www.jesuschristformuslims.com/support-us/

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John 15: The Vine and Branches

Saturday, May 19, 2018

We continue our exploration of the way in which Jesus describes himself, helping us to sustain strength on our difficult journey, to remain always in and for the Lord.

Because he understands the difficulties of our lives, Jesus explains our connection to him with a simple yet powerful image. This power, wisdom, strength, and understanding were predicted by the prophet Isaiah. Listen while I sing you this song, a song of my friend and his vineyard. (Isaiah 5:1)

Later, Jesus tells his followers – as he tells us – just how important we are to his kingdom.

I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

Jesus says to his disciples – as he says to us – that we are essential to God’s plan.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

Jesus wants each of us to experience the joy of sorrow becoming celebration, of grief turning to gladness.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you.

Jesus leads us into the newness of redemption and resurrection with the grace of fidelity. Jesus leads us from fear to mercy with the gift of transformative love. Jesus shows us the Way from shadow to sunshine and invites us to join him in outrageous hope.


Tomorrow, Isaiah and The Vineyard Song.

When we compare other translations of John 15, we discover how we might become strong branches on Christ’s sustaining vine.  

Image from: https://redeeminggod.com/sermons/john/john_15_1-8/

 

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Isaiah 26:8-12: The Duality of Justice

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Like the Old Testament psalmists, we ask God to avenge the wrongs done to us. Like the New Testament followers of Christ, we ask God to forgive our enemies who know not what they do. This dichotomy of justice reflects God’s merciful nature. It is, at the same time, a challenge we hope to meet.

On the cross that serves as the mechanism of his human death, Jesus requests that God the Creator forgive those who kill him, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)

In his ghastly death by stoning, Stephen uses a last breath to intercede for his attackers saying, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. (Acts 7:60)

These are challenging actions to imitate; this state of mind asks of us an incredibly high level of persistence, patience and fidelity to God’s ways. We doubt that we can rise to this demanding witness to God’s great love, and so we ask . . . How do we bridge the gap between God’s way and our own?

Carlo Crivelli: Saint Stephen

When doubt rises within, we rely on the gift of faith planted in us at our inception. When we relax into God’s plan, this gift flourishes in such a way that we receive much more than we give.

When desperation erodes the sense of peace and good will we have nurtured, we trust the gift of hope in God’s promises to us. When we rest in the memories of God’s power to move in our lives, anxiety crumbles, worry dissolves.

When our circumstances point to all that is wrong with the world, we act in the gift of God’s love as demonstrated in the many small miracles that shower our lives like the gentle rain after a dry season. When we put aside our desire for revenge, our anger subsides. When we determine to address our enemies with mercy, our hope for destruction of those who oppose us ebbs away. When we make the decision to meet our enemies with prudent love and faith-filled awe of the Lord, we find that we are suddenly open to the possibility that the duality we see in God’s justice will bring about the transformation of the world.


To learn more about Saint Stephen, click on the image above or visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen and https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-stephen/

Images from: http://ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/mercy-without-justice-mother-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-cruelty and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen

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John 20:19-31: Beyond Locked Doors

Third Sunday of Easter, April 15, 2018

It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid.

How can we doubt the love of God when Christ moves through locked doors to console his followers?

Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you.”

How can we turn away from the hope God brings to us to conquer our fear?

The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord.

How can we refuse to unlock our hearts when Christ offers love so astounding that it overcomes all obstacles?

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

How can we close ourselves off from Christ’s compassion?

Jesus said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

How can we reject God’s gift of self in the person of Christ, in the presence of the Spirit?

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

On this third Sunday of Easter, let us willingly take up this gift, and let us share the good news of Christ’s fidelity, hope, love and joy with others.


When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we invite Christ to open the locks with which we have closed our hearts. 

Images from: https://demetriusrogers.com/2014/09/06/closed-doors/ and https://www.adventure-journal.com/2012/02/25-more-awesome-hearts-found-in-nature/ 

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John 20:11-18: Overwhelmed

Antiveduto Gramatica: Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on our response to the Risen Christ’s call that we too often miss because we are overwhelmed.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

We wonder where we might find God amid the horrors of war. We see no way forward and shrink from those why ask, “Where is your God now?” And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in faith.

Woman, why are you crying?

We wonder where to look for God amid the homeless, the radically poor, and the fully marginalized. We move forward slowly in darkness, waiting for the light. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in hope.

Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?”

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus at the Empty Tomb

We wonder how to encounter God as we struggle to survive the battles of life. We grope for surety, anticipate a surge of confidence, and wonder where compassion is hiding. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in love.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

The angels of God ask Mary directly – and they ask, “Woman, why are you crying?” Can we give up our fears, give in to these angels, and rely on Christ’s presence?

Christ himself stands before Mary – and he stands before us – to ask, “Who is it you are looking for?” Can we surrender our anxieties, trust Christ himself, and believe that God turns all harm to good?

When circumstances and emotions overwhelm us . . . are we willing to let go of all that terrifies us . . . to fall into the loving presence of the risen Christ?


This selection from John’s Gospel appears frequently in liturgical readings and when we spend time with these verses, we understand why. Read more reflections on this citation on this blog, search for these posts: Overwhelmed by GraceWhere the Body Had Been, Possibilities, Turning Again.

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar to discover what she has to say to us today.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiveduto_Gramatica_-_Mary_Magdalene_at_the_Tomb_-_WGA10352.jpg and http://www.graspinggod.com/jesus-and-mary-magdalene.html

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Isaiah 49:1-6: The Servant’s Mission

Holy Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the role of the servant in God’s plan for creation. Today we reflect on the servant’s mission.

I will also make you a light to the nations—
    so that all the world may be saved. (GNT)

When we wonder if our thoughts are one with God’s, we examine the source of our motivations. Do we forgive our enemies? Do we pray for those who harm us? Do we reach out to those who are broken-hearted?

I will give you as a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (NRSV)

When we wonder if our words reflect God’s plan, we examine the foundation of our beliefs. Do we speak up when we see injustice? Do we rebuke ourselves and our loved ones when we go astray? Do we shelter the homeless and feed the hungry?

I will also make you a light to the nations,
so my salvation can spread to the ends of the earth. (CJB)

When we wonder if our actions serve to build God’s kingdom, we examine the fruits born from our life’s work. Do we work to break down unjust structures? Do we work with others to ferret out corruption no matter where we find it? Do we work to create societies that give preference to the poor?

I’m setting you up as a light for the nations
    so that my salvation becomes global” (MSG)

When we wonder if we have the faith to persist in our mission, we ask God for strength. When we wonder if we have the hope to believe in God’s promises, we rely on Christ’s encouraging presence. When we wonder if we have the love to work for the transformation of the world, we rest in the Spirit who heals, counsels, and consoles. As we near the Easter Triduum, we move forward to continue the work of our mission as God’s servants.


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the strength, confidence and mercy to move forward in our mission as disciples of Christ. 

Images from: http://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/sermon-january-12th-2014-isaiah-42 and http://www.turnbacktogod.com/pray-for-gods-servants/ 

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2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part VI

Ernest William Tristram: Reconstruction of Medieval Mural Painting, Battle of Judas Maccabeus with Timotheus and the Fall of Maspha – Parliamentary Art Collection, UK

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

We engage in battle with the world; we struggle with circumstances beyond our control. We look for peace where there is only strife. Anxiety builds as we look for serenity; and fear overtakes us too often. When we examine our journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, we know that we cannot escape our battles. When we remember the story of the Maccabeus family, we also know that it is our battles that transform us. And so we continue to search.

The way of the Seeker has been demonstrated to us by Christ for if God so loved the world that he sent his only son (John 3:16), and if this son dies in expiation for the sins of all, how can we not forgive all and ask to be forgiven in all?  How can we not enter into this sacrifice and petition to God to redeem all those who have fallen away? How can we refuse to move forward trusting in God and exercising compassion for ourselves and others?

In our Lenten journey as we anticipate the promise of Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of the dead, we find ourselves called to the sheepfold by the love of the Great Shepherd.  If we seek to know this shepherd most intimately, we will imitate Christ in all ways possible, and we will offer all that we suffer for the saving of those who struggle to enter the fold. And so we pray.

Good and strong and gentle God, entering into Christ’s sacrifice with our fellow seekers, we offer our pain willingly.  We lift joyful hearts and songs of praise because by the mercy and surrender of Christ, we are released from the fear and pain that enslaves us.  We ask that our hearts of stone be made warm by the Holy Spirit’s love, that our necks stiffened in pride be made humble in God’s mercy, and that our straying from the sheepfold be redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice. Amen.    

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

Find image at http://www.artuk.org/artworks/reconstruction-of-medieval-mural-painting-battle-of-judas-maccabeus-with-timotheus-and-the-fall-of-maspha-214242

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