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Posts Tagged ‘faith’


2 Timothy 2: Purity of Heart

Friday, October 19, 2019

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Again today we hear clear instruction from Paul about how an apostle of Christ is to conduct herself or himself.

What you have heard from me entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

It is also clear that we are not to hoard what we have learned but are to pass it along and to share it with others.

Bear you share of hardships along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Paul also gives us ample warning that the life of apostleship is not an easy one.  If we are entirely comfortable with who and where we are . . . we might look around to see who is lacking in something, and then begin the work of an apostle of Christ to bring justice to the world.

The Lord will give you understanding in everything.

We cannot back away from this work thinking that we are not God’s proper tool.

The word of God is not chained.

Nothing is impossible for God and God will find a way to open the path to which he has called us.

Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.

We are to act our teaching more than we are to preach it.

Be eager to present yourself as acceptable before God.

We are to live the Word of God just as Jesus did.

In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use.

We have diverse gifts which God calls into use according to his vision of the world.

Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.

Purity of intent, purity of mind, purity of heart . . . we must strain to move beyond our lacks into our promise and potential.

Avoid foolish and ignorant debates for you know that they breed quarrels.

Bring peace.  Create places of concord.  Greet anger and anxiety with gentleness and mercy.

A slave of the Lord should not quarrel but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness.  It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.

But do not back away from the challenge for when we do this we back away from God.  We are to continue to run the race . . . and run it well . . . as best we are able.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.


To reflect more of Purity of Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.piercedhearts.org/purity_heart_morality/a_purity_heart.htm

 Written on September 18, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Ezekiel 26: Prophecy Part I

Monday, October 7, 2019

Yesterday we took a look at Ezekiel 25; today and tomorrow we spend time with Chapter 26 as we examine our own views on prophecy . . .

James Tissot: The Prophet Ezekiel

Several hundred years before Alexander the Great destroyed the city of Tyre, Ezekiel writes a nearly perfect description of the siege.  And perhaps the princes of the coastlands trembled for a while at the wrath they witnessed . . . just as we do when we see a prophecy fulfilled.  But humans quickly forget the consequences of actions taken and promises kept in their own lives.  While it is not good to dwell upon failure and misery, neither is it good to repeat the mistakes in our own history; yet this is how we so often live: learning little while recycling our pain, scoffing at prophecies brought to us by our own holy ones.

I had a dream last night that was unusual in that first, I remembered it, and second, I was with people in my present life whom I mistrust deeply.  However, in this dream I was open and frank, honest and unafraid.  I awoke before I knew the outcome.  Had they changed?  Had I changed?  Was I correct in trusting them?  Was my trust in them repaid by more violence or by genuine friendship?  I spent a bit of time wondering if this dream might be a window into the future and, more importantly, I wondered if this were perhaps a portent of things to come, of bridges mended, friendships renewed and extended, trust restored.  Was this a prophecy?  What do I do if it is?

I sometimes wish I might be as innocent as people in ancient times who put so much faith in dreams and their portent.  I think that our scientific method and our modernism may have jaded us by requiring that we seek hard evidence for beliefs.  Faith, of course, springs from the heart rather than the microscope and yet . . .

I have read somewhere that Einstein grew in his belief in a higher power and in the presence of God in creation as his knowledge of math grew.  His famous E = mc2 brought him not only a belief that the power of tiny atoms might be unleashed . . . but that there was a purpose and a plan behind that power.

Prophecy . . . what to believe . . . what to discount . . . how to act . . . false and true prophets . . . magicians and tricks . . . deception . . . fidelity . . . interlopers . . . constant friends.  Concepts converge and unravel as we examine them closely.  Who do we believe . . . and how do we believe?


A re-post from September 16, 2012.

To see other Tissot images of prophets, click on the image r visit: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/223.html

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Obadiah 1:15-21: The Measure

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THINK team commemoration design

A favorite from September 11, 2012. Let us consider again the measure of our lives . . .

The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  John the Evangelist speaks of the measure of God’s joy which we will know when we follow Jesus.  All three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38) remind us that we are measured by our own actions; this is the same message we hear from the prophet Obadiah today; yet . . . Do we truly listen to these words? 

Countless times in the Old Testament we hear stories of how people are done in by the plans they designed for their perceived enemies.  The story of Esther is a wonderful example which I always recall because it illustrates this point in the person of Haman who is executed on the gallows he ordered constructed for Mordecai, the man he envied and wanted to eliminate.

Do we truly listen to these words?

Each time we find ourselves plotting to “teach someone a lesson”:  Do we truly listen to these words?

When we worry about the schemes of others more than we place our petitions for change in God’s hands: Do we truly listen to these words?

If we engage in gossip or enable disrespectful or abusive behavior without saying a word: Do we truly listen to these words?

If there are times that we refuse to witness as God asks: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we have given up hope and cease asking God to intercede for those who harm us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we allow our doubts and fears about God’s love for us and the goodness of his creation to overcome his love for us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we examine the measure with which we measure others . . . will we want to be valued by this standard?  Will we want to have others’ opinions rammed into our minds?  Will we want others to lapse into mediocrity for fear of failure?  Will we want others to give up entirely?  Will we want others to speak in compassionate truth?  Will we want to be measured with the norm we use when looking at others?

Do we truly listen to these words?

Notes from La Biblia de América: Can patience run dry?  Does the capacity to lend support have a limit?  Our Christian faith teaches us that the answer is, no.  It is necessary to forgive seven times seven times – or infinitely.  Love cannot have limits.  Is this the only message Obadiah wants to communicate . . . is he merely acting to break a cycle of violence in his own day, or does he speak to us as well?  This briefest of prophecies has as a target the Edomites, a people in constant conflict with those in Judah, the descendents of Jacob’s brother, Esau.  The abrasive conflict reaches a height when Edom backs the invading Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and carry the Jewish people off into exile.  Obadiah speaks to the remnant left behind after the Assyrian holocaust.  Obadiah speaks to us now.

Who are the Edomites in our own lives today?  We know the land of Edom well.  It is the place where our constant adversaries live.  It is the hard heart which envies who we are and what we have.  It is the stiff-necked place from where schemes and lies and plots all spring . . . and these are the places we are asked to measure with the same measure we wish ourselves to be measured.  We are asked to measure in faith, with hope . . . and through love.  Let us go to Edom with a full measure of love in our hearts.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Adapted from a post written on May 11, 2009.  

For more information on the THINK team design, click on the image above or go to:

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John 1:12-13: Children of God

Saturday, August 24, 2019

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 

For a long time I have reflected on the idea of how it is determined who is given the gift of faith and who is not.  I have had conversations with God in which I ask why it is that some of us are so stiff-necked and others of us have the gift of patience.  I trust God’s plan, I believe that we are created to be God’s children, and here in the Gospel of John, in one simple sentence, we are enlightened.  I will have to refer to this citation when the questions rise from some place of wonder to pull me from my core of belief.

Believing in Jesus as the Word, as Resurrected, as brother – this is what makes us children of God.  Through him, with him, in him, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is pre-existence.  Jesus is the Incarnation – the word and thought and touch of God amidst us.  Jesus is an offering, a gift freely given by a loving and passionate God . . . a God who loves us so deeply and so endlessly . . . that he brings himself to us without our even asking.

What a wondrous God is this.


Adapted from a Noontime written on April 23, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.elizabethhillgrove.com/2012/05/monday-after-mass-vol-1.html

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Psalm 71:18: Waiting in Patience

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Psalm 71:18I shall always wait in patience, and shall praise you more and more.

Patience is difficult to practice because we have so many fears and we do not want to fail, to be exposed, to lose, to be in pain, to suffer in any way.  Yet the practice of patience itself wears down the fears . . . and brings more patience.

God says: The wisdom I wish to impart to you can only arrive to you through your patient, active waiting.  This patience can be learned through your salvific suffering – by offering your pain for the forgiveness of others.  You cannot solve your problems through your own cleverness or virtue for they weigh too heavily upon you.  I have given you the gift of faith.  From this gift will grow mountains of patience – much like the mustard seed in the parable my son loves to tell.   I also send you hope, through my son, Jesus Christ.  From this gift will flow rivers of patience – much like the rivers in the vision of my prophet Ezekiel.  I have given you the gift of charity toward all.  From this Love of your enemy will flower infinite patience . . . much like the patience my son shows as he dies innocently for others.  And with this faithful, hope-filling, abiding patience . . . you have won my heart.  Be patient with me and with my loving discipline, even as I am patient with you.  Praise me more and more . . . and this patience will permeate you in such a way that it will never leave you.  Just as I will never leave you.  You will never have to be without me.

As you wait for patience to settle into your being, I wish you a blessed and holy day.  A blessed and holy night.


A re-post from July 3, 2012.

Image from: http://adelecassidyyoga.blogspot.com/2012/02/sweet-patience.html

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Ezra 10:16-44: The Guilty

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tower of David Ruins: Jerusalem

At the time that the Jews were returning from their exile, Ezra condemns certain priests who intermarried with the Gentiles strayed from Yahweh.  Their solution?  To sever relationships with wives and children and make a guilt offering.  This is a course of action appropriate for their time but it is not the action that New Testament people will take.  If we are People of the Restoration, People of Resurrection and healing, we will build bridges where there is dissent and conflict.  We will look for compassionate yet just ways to maintain contact and to heal breaches in relationships.

Let us welcome the guilty . . . for we are among them.

Let us forgive . . . for we are forgiven

From the MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions.

You made all human beings in your image: fill us with reverence for one another.  Hear your children’s plea!

You restored us in your image through the work of the cross: teach us to work to restore the dignity of all those degraded by the works of evil.  Hear your children’s plea!

You raise us to newness of life in Jesus Christ: fill us always with Easter joy.  Hear your children’s plea!


Written on April 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.moderatotours.com/easter_abroad.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.16 (2008). Print.

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Hebrews 11:1: The Dogwood Tree

Monday, June 17, 2019

Today’s Noontime is a reflection written for the dedication of a dogwood tree in the memory of Sophie Myers who was born and died on September 25, 2011.   It springs from the first verse of Hebrews 11.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

I share with you today some thoughts about how the small and beautiful dogwood tree is a symbol of life and faith – a reminder that despite the fact that we cannot see or hear or smell or touch someone . . . she does, indeed, exist.

The dogwood tree is one of the smallest in the forest but just because it is small does not mean it is any less alive.  Older, taller, more substantial trees tower over her but it is the dogwood – even when quite young – that dresses nature with airy pastel blossoms. She brings beauty and lightness and hope to the otherwise darkened forest.  Despite her size, the dogwood tree is an integral part of the woods.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

My son Will reminded us on the day of Sophie’s funeral that the shortness of her life does not diminish her significance.  That shortness does not mean that we love her any less and in fact, her quick coming and going make her existence all the more powerful.  This brevity reminds us to tell and show the people we love that we do, indeed, love them.  This brevity calls us forward to live our own lives in the assurance and in the conviction that Sophie is here with us today despite the fact that we cannot see or touch her.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The urn that contains the earth-held remains of Sophia Josephine Myers is decorated with four dogwood flowers.  Each of these flowers has four petals that symbolize her family: Gabby, Will, Vivian . . . and Sophie.  On the prayer card created for Sophia’s funeral there is a photograph of one small, green dogwood leaf floating as it moves along the surface of a crystal clear stream.  A sunbeam glints off the rippling water.  One tiny droplet rides on the leaf and is carried downstream to an unknown destination.  We do not see the end . . . yet the journey takes place.  We do not know the moment of arrival . . . yet the arrival happens.  Of this we are assured.  Of this we are convicted.  This we know.  This we live . . . in faith.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Sophie died in her transit to this world and yet . . . still she lives.  We pause to reflect today – in faith – on what that might mean.  We pause to reflect today on the beauty and the power and the importance . . . of the Dogwood Tree.

Amen.


A re-post from June 3, 2012.

Image of dogwood flower from: http://www.ridgewoodcameraclub.org/steinmeyer.html

To discover how to create a garden as a living memory of a loved one click on the dogwood tree image above or go to: http://www.recover-from-grief.com/memorial-garden.html

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John 14: Being

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?

I am thinking that this is God’s reply to me when I show up every morning with my same list of thanksgivings and petitions.  Of course God knows that I am grateful for the miracles he has sent to me which keep my hope burning.  Of course God knows the desires of my heart for the people I love and know well, for the people I do not know so well but who come onto my horizon, and even for the people with whom I am in conflict.  Of course God knows all, and yet still I persist because this is my way of showing constancy.  It is my way of sustaining faith in the fact that we are already saved and have only to follow in order to enter into Christ.  It is my way of maintaining the hope that all sheep will enter into the sheepfold.  It is also my way of loving God in others – this perseverance in seeking intercession.

The Last Supper Discourses begin in this chapter of John and they are – for me – the most beautiful part of this story.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Any one of us who has worried, been anxious, angry or deeply sad will be able to turn to this verses and find consolation.  Any one of us who has mourned loss, who has celebrated joy, who has spent a lifetime searching for answers will find the portal to true understanding and experiencing God’s love.

I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I go you may also be.

Any one of us who has been abandoned, betrayed, cheated or cut off from something or someone we love will find peace in these words.  Any one of us who lied to another or who has intentionally deceived or hurt another, will also find forgiveness and assurance in these words.

Whoever has believed in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.

Any one of us who has drained themselves for the sake of others will find strength in these words.

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

Any one of us who has trouble just being on any given day, just surviving any given day will find life in these words.

If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 

We ought not shrink from giving thanks to or from petitioning the one who created us.  Let us go with open eyes, open minds and open hearts to the one who gives life in abundance that we may live in him.  This is what God expects.  It is what God asks . . . that we be in him . . . as he is in us.

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?


A re-post from May 10, 2012.

Images from: http://ipeace.us/profiles/blogs/about-gratitude and http://benison.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/the-creation-and-the-scripture-number-5/

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Sirach 7: Public and Private Life

Friday, March 29, 2019

Several days ago we reflected on the meaning of our public image in the Book of Daniel; today with Sirach we might spend time with how this compares to our private life.  The Irish culture holds an image of a man who is a street angel but a house devil . . . pleasant and amiable – even lovable – to his neighbors . . . while beating his wife and children behind closed doors.  How many of us harbor devils inside that we do not show to the world?  How do these devils slip into our lives without our knowing?

We are advised by Jesus ben Sirach to bring our public and private lives into line with our covenant promise with Yahweh.

In this book of wisdom, we are cautioned that we must be humble in our dealings with one another; we ought not seek out the high places at the table.  We are warned to refrain from seeking work as a judge unless we have the strength to root out crime; otherwise we succumb to corruption and mar our integrity.  We ought not flaunt our wisdom, our power, our wealth, our specialness in any way . . . for our pride will be our undoing.  This is how humility arrives.

We are also advised to steer clear of situations the catechism refers to as near occasions of sin: those times when we ourselves do not sin but come dangerously close to slipping over the precipice into evil.  Standing by wordless as we watch malevolence occur without offering witness to injustice is not the way of the Lord. When we lack courage, we only need to look to God for strength.  This is how fortitude arrives.

We ought to pray in earnest and not hurry through prayer as this leaves room for a false sense of independence from God.  We humble ourselves appropriately when we come before the Lord and so we ought to enter into prayerfulness with deliberation and patience so that we might all the better hear the word of God.  This is how wisdom arrives.

In private and in our family life, we need to continue to live with thoughtfulness, with intention.  Treating servants well – or the people we meet in the mall, in the supermarket, in the gas station – leads us to treating all well.  Honoring elders, respecting the living, remembering the dead.  This is how piety arrives.

Refrain from bartering for friends.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Steer clear of those who do not.  Visit the sick.  This is how compassion arrives.

When we eliminate fear and pain from our lives by blocking them out and riding over these powerful emotions, we also eliminate important opportunities for learning the ways of God.  We erase the opportunities for God to guide and protect us.  When we petition God and thank him for his bounty, we indicate our understanding that we are his creatures.  This is how faith arrives.

When we balance our inner self with our outer self, we clear away the dark corners where house devils might lurk.  Integrity finds a comfortable dwelling place within . . . and chases away these devils to make room for angels.  This is how hope arrives.

When we bring into focus our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole body and our whole soul to celebrate our union with God, we enter into his divinity.  This is why the words of Jesus ben Sirach are so important to us today.  With all your strength, love your Creator . . . for this is how love arrives.


A re-post from March 29, 2012.

Image from: http://sandeshavahini.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-heart-in-the-bible/

To review the Noontime reflection on Public Life go to: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/3/23/

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