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Posts Tagged ‘faith’


Matthew 7:1-5: The Splinter and the Beam

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in scripture . . . and the most ignored.

What is it we must do to remove our blinders, to open our ears, to unclutter our hearts?

God says: I know that you cannot help but see the shortcomings of those around you. I also know that you have great difficulty observing your own need to change; but you need not worry. Rather than punish yourself, imagine that you are the very people you accuse. Rather than punish others, treat them with kindness and acceptance. When you have been wronged, protect yourself as best you can and then rely on me. Allow me to judge. Allow me to operate. Allow me to abide. The injustices of the world are well within my view . . . and well within my capacity to manage. When you believe that I have abandoned you, it is you have abandoned me. So when splinters and beams clutter your lives, manage what you can and rely on me. Abide in me as I abide in you. Live in kindness and mercy rather that anger and vengeance. Live in hope and fidelity rather than worry and anxiety. Live in me rather than in the woes of the world.

pointing-fingersEnter the word judging into the blog search bar and explore the possibilities of trust in God, forgiveness of our enemies, and mercy toward all. Click on the image of Matthew above to access a series of reflections on Matthew’s Gospel.


Enter the words Stop Judging in the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeo_Batoni_(1708-1787)_-_Saint_Matthew_-_266907_-_National_Trust.jpg and http://www.patentpracticeliability.com/2012/03/26/the-perils-of-patent-prosecution-delegation-a-cautionary-tale/

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Colossians 1: 24-29Christ in UsChrist-in-you

March 29, 2022

That we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

This is St Paul’s goal. And as modern apostles, it can be ours. We work on our own conversion, we rebuke sinners, we pray for our enemies, we hope for the impossible, and we abide in the faith that all will be well.

The letter to the people of Colossae was written before Paul had visited the town east of Ephesus. A small Jesus community had begun there but they had no clear disciple to follow. A man named Epaphras asked Paul’s help in instructing the people about the Christ . . . and so we have these words today.

Paul writes that suffering and persevering through the antics of pagans and heretics is precisely the work of a disciple of Christ. This letter is a mini-lecture on who the Christ is, the nature of our work done in his name, various warnings against false teachers, and what our mystical end ought to be. It is a snapshot of who and what we are, and who and what we hope to be. The letter is a perfect message for us when we find ourselves surrounded by ineptitude, corruption, deceit, envy, pride and vice.

When we reflect on some of the conversations we have had during these weeks of lent, we might use these verses.

When we think about our Noontime reflections this week, we might use these words.

When we consider the gift of a Lenten journey and our Easter Resurrection, we might enact this message.

When we put ourselves in the first century in the place of those in Colossae, we might better understand that the perfection to which we are called is not a lock of error, but rather a perfection in perseverance. For it is in this way that we best find Christ in us.

Tomorrow, the poor in body and spirit.


Adapted from a Favorite written on April 20, 2007.

Image from: http://www.unlockingthegrowth.com/2013/06/invitation-to-discover-christ-in-you/

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Da Vinci: St James

Leonardo Da Vinci: St James

Saturday, January 1, 2021

New Year’s Day

Joy and Our Choices

James 1:2-3

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given.

With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow. Today James reminds us that strength appears when we consider our trials with joy.

On this day when we celebrate new beginnings, let us consider . . .

The author of this letter is a relative of Jesus and is generally described as the brother of the Lord. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3) We know that he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and that Paul described him as one of the pillars of the early church (Galatians 2:9) “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sins, and expectation of judgment”. James lived out his beliefs until his death in 62 CE when, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was stoned to death under the high priest Ananus (Senior 368-369).

James 1:2-3: Consider it all joy, my [sisters and] brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

If we have the time to read James’ entire letter, we find that he “advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior . . . [and his] target is the Christian who is ‘double-minded’ . . . who lives by two standards at once; that of God and that of the world. James demands a choice. Not only speech, but also the use of possessions and the practice of fairness within the community . . . He especially attacks envy, which perfectly illustrates the morals of ‘the world’ as opposed to God”. (Senior RG 547-548)

joyJames calls us out of our egocentric selves but rather than scold he calls us to an alternative option to the sorrow and fear the world offers. James tells us with his words and shows us with his life that we find strength and power in the choosing of joy in all we think and say and do. During this Christmastide and in the early days of this new year, how do we choose to respond to this invitation?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369 & RG 547-548. Print.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/leonardo-da-vinci/head-of-st-james-the-less

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Isaiah 35

Joy and Imagination

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he will save you. 

Perhaps we do not use our imagination enough when we pray and plan with God.  Perhaps our dreams of vindication and recompense and kingdom building are not bright enough.

From the writings of Katherine Drexel (MAGINIFCAT Meditation for March 3, 2010):  I looked up in wonder at God’s wonderful ways and thought how little we imagine what may be the result of listening and acting on desire he puts in the heart.  If he puts it into the heart, he will bless it, if we try to act upon it, and great will be the effect before God.  It will be success before God even if it be not so to our weak understanding.  For God means that which he breathes into the soul should bring forth fruit to eternal life. 

Perhaps we do not give free rein to our hope when we petition God for the desires of our broken hearts.  Perhaps we see our situation as a kind of purgatory rather than as a vineyard where we are workers in the kingdom.

Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.  Streams burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.

Perhaps we do not share our faith enough with others, encouraging fellow pilgrims to remain steadfast and to persevere.  Perhaps we see joy as something that other people experience but do not picture it in ourselves.

Katherine Drexel: These are the desire God has placed in your hearts and great will be the effort if you continue as you do, to nourish these desires and act upon them.  He will fulfill your desires with good things far beyond your expectations. 

Perhaps we do not act in love as we might, thinking that others do not need our concern or prayers.  Perhaps we do not realize how great a price God has paid and continues to pay for us each day.

Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

Perhaps we do not fully comprehend that we are remnant.

Perhaps we might begin today to sing in praise and joy.


Image from: https://keepitmagical.net/the-power-of-imagination/

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joySunday, October 24, 2021

Deuteronomy 16

Joy and Feasts

From time to time we will visit scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a number of ways. If you wish to explore other stories in which joy astonishes us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Deuteronomy.

God of forgiveness, God of love, you teach us to celebrate with you; and yet, we forget your teaching.

God of hope, God of faith, you instill us with a model of your love; and yet, we put aside your inspiration.

God of promise, God of hope, you ask us to reverence you; and yet, we overlook your many miracles that grace our lives.

God of mercy, God of wisdom, you inspire us to worship you; and yet, we create vast deserts of days without thanking you.

God of feasts, God of joy, you offer us your merciful justice; and yet we hoard your compassion and neglect to share this gift so lovingly given by you.

Deuteronomy 16:15: Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

Let us remember to thank God for the gift of our health, our gifts, our hearth, our goods, our home, family and friends by sharing joy gladly, by celebrating freely, and by thanking God often for the great gift of Feasts.


To read about the feasts of Passover, Weeks and Booths, read Deuteronomy 16. Also visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/passover.htm, http://biblehub.com/dictionary/w/weeks.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/b/booths.htm 

To learn about the importance of Feasts in the Old and New Testaments, click on the image of Solomon’s Jerusalem below, or visit: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2012/20121001.htm 

solomon's jerusalemFor more about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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christ heals crippled womanWednesday, October 20, 2021

Luke 13:10-17

Set Free

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said . . .

Jesus heals in the moment he sees suffering. Let us also heal one another with kind words and acts of mercy.

“You are set free . . .”

Jesus speaks in the simplest of terms the words we long to hear, “You are set free!” Let us also keep our hearts simple and our minds open for possibility.

He laid his hands on her . . .

Jesus does not fear interaction with the stranger. Let us also extend ourselves to those we meet in our daily journey, especially the broken-hearted and the down-trodden.

At once she stood erect . . .

Jesus brings healing to those who suffer. Let us also offer hope and love and faith to those who are troubled or oppressed.

But the leader, indignant, said . . .

Jesus is condemned by those who want to regulate or limit God’s infinite love. Let us also remember that discipleship is a difficult road.

“Why heal today when there are six days to heal . . . ?”

Jesus is challenged by stiff necks and narrow minds. Let us also offer Christ’s goodness and power against the stinginess and cruelty we meet in these words.

And Jesus said . . .

TwoBrothers_BentWoman_710Jesus so often answers a challenge with a question. Let us also offer up a question rather than argument to those who would bend the world to their will.

“Does not each of you untie an ox on the Sabbath . . . ?”

Jesus is so sensible and concise in his replies to those who wish to silence him. Let us also remember to keep our dialogs simple, our prayers intense, and our eyes always on the Lord.

It is in this way that we set one another and ourselves free of terror, oppression and fear.

Amen.


Click on the image above to see a video clip from the Jesus Film Project posted on YouTube, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_80Xpyqibr0

For commentary on these verses, click on the carving above or visit: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1753

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

John 19:38-42

descent from the cross

Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

Burial

In this time of harvest when the northern hemisphere gives up her gifts of summer to prepare us for the cold darkness of winter, I cannot quite let go of the images and sounds of last week’s memorial Mass in which we celebrated the life of a young woman who died much too early. The gift of her life still rides with me as I journey back and forth to the school where she and I smiled at one another in the hallways and classroom. The wisdom of her youth still whispers to me as I greet and teach her grieving friends. The grace of her dying still accompanies me as I prepare lessons in the quiet evenings of the gathering autumn. Looking to meet the significance of this persistent presence, I go in search of a painting that soothes grief. As always, it reminds me of the wondrous sacrificial love that descends from the cross to offer itself when all else fails. And I come across this reflection written on September 25, 2008. I share it today with you.

Descent from the Cross

Detail frm Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

One of my favorite paintings is Van der Weyden’s “Descent from the Cross”.  It lives in the Prado museum in Madrid, and when I travel there I like to spend as much time with it as possible.  It hangs alone on a large, pale wall . . . where the downward movement from the cross moves through Jesus . . . through his fainting mother . . . past Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and John, the Beloved Apostle to whom Jesus commends his mother . . . lingering with the brokenhearted women . . . hesitating with the grieving men . . . off of the canvas . . . and out of the room. 

Detail from Roger Van Der Weyden: The Descent From the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

It is as if all of the sorrow of the world falls away from us and into the pale, dead body of the Christ.  We can sense his downward journey into hell for the redemption of souls.  We can anticipate his return. 

St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:16: What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: “I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people”. 

St. John reminds us in 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

Through this Descent from the Cross we feel an abiding compassion that persists through the most difficult of circumstances.  We see an enduring passion that remains beyond all imaginings.  We experience a love that knows only intimate union through mercy and justice.  We sense that something will swing back through the red and blue and white of the canvas to leap out into us . . . to bring us in . . . to sweep us up into the arms now outstretched in death.  We gaze upon the hope that tells us we are redeemable and worth fighting for.

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The descent from the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

And with faith . . . we know with certainty that this saver of souls lives.  We know that he acts in us and through us.  We know that he has returned to complete his mission of bringing fire and love to consume the world.  We only need open our hearts . . . and trust him to act in our lives. 

Amen.

Tomorrow . . . Resurrection


For more information about this masterpiece, visit: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum/15-masterpieces/work-card/obra/descent-from-the-cross/ or http://hubpages.com/hub/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross or http://hubpages.com/hub/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross

 

To discover who is who in this painting and to learn about the symbolism used by the artist, visit: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/descent-from-the-cross-weyden.htm

To learn about the connection with Belgian crossbowmen, visit:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Descent_from_the_Cross_(van_der_Weyden) 

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ascendingSaturday, September 25, 2021

Psalm 119:54-55

Our Songs

Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Life brings many forms of darkness, night times when we feel as though we are apart and journeying to a half-known destination, places that remind us of once-sacred spaces that we can no longer can find. It is at these moments and in these places that we most often are uncertain and even afraid. It is in these places that we look for a security we once had and are no longer certain of how to find. But these dark pilgrimages are sacred opportunities to draw closer to God. These journeys of faith and hope are holy encounters with the in-dwelling Spirit. These passages are encounters with the eternal and universal Christ who loves us so dearly that he insists on searching for us even if we are the one lost when ninety-nine are found.

God says: The patriarchs lived in covenant with me through which we expressed our love for one another. The Hebrew nation made a tent in which I dwelt so that we might have an intimate union. The early followers of my son Jesus celebrated the Eucharist to create a sacred place and time that we might share. You also come to me in so many ways at so many times in so many places. The truth is this . . . that wherever you are, I am. Wherever I am, there is a possibility for peace. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, the impossible becomes possible. When you ascend to the holy temple within yourself, sing your own song of praise. When you think of my laws, consider how they free you rather than bind against you. For I have planted my hope in your heart. I have sown my fidelity in your mind and my courage in your soul. Allow my presence to break forth in joyful song as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of one another.


Spend some time comparing different versions of these verses at the scripture site above. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) and allow the ancient verses to resonate within. Share your gratitude through acts of kindness and justice.  And sing out joy and praise to God who never leaves our side.

To learn more about Songs of Ascent, visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/655450/jewish/What-is-a-Song-of-Ascents.htm 

For a meditation with Psalm 130, click on the image above or go to: http://jdittes.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-watchmen-wait-for-morning.html

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jeremiah5Friday, September 24, 2021

Jeremiah 45

Anguish of the Heart

“Issues of messianic hope, centering on the Davidic dynasty and the Temple, were highlighted much more in the prophetic school of Isaiah. Other prophets like Amos and Micah felt more keenly about social justice. The touch of Jeremiah shows up rather in compassion and prayer as well as in fidelity to a covenant inscribed upon the heart”. (Senior RG 314-315)

Notes from The Catholic Study Bible focus on four themes found in this prophecy.

The New Covenant: “Jeremiah’s covenant was ‘new’ only to the extent that it newly emphasized what the people were neglecting. Jeremiah was not eliminating teachers and preachers . . . but it was rejecting authoritarian styles of leadership”. (Senior RG 315)

God says: In your homes and in your workplaces, take care to deal with one another in a collegial and open manner. Include all. Exclude none. Listen to the voices you may not want to hear. They bring you a “new” truth.

Sin and Atonement: “The prophet declares realistically that sin inevitably brings its own sorrow. If the people ‘went after empty idols, [then they] became empty themselves . . . In this movement from sin to suffering, Jeremiah was never far removed from the suffering of the people . . . Hope is always stirring with the barren earth”. (Senior RG 316)

God says: When you have erred, it is best to ask forgiveness. If you have not erred and still you suffer, it is best that you bring this pain to me. Joy is always a possible result of sorrow. Hope is always present for I am always with you. Particularly when your days are dark.  

Faith and Prayer: “Jeremiah is constantly laying bare the anguish of his heart . . . God never answers Jeremiah’s question but rather expects his faith to become even sturdier. Symbolically Jeremiah is admitting that things must get worse before they get better. He will still plunge ahead”. (Senior RG 316-317)

God says: Once you ask for my help I will deliver it. This is always my promise. The difficulty arises when circumstances worsen before they improve. It is impossible for you to see what I see, hear what I hear, and know what I know. My plan takes all peoples and all times into account. You must trust me when the night darkens before the dawn. Pray with me as I pray with you. Prayer is a gift we give to one another. 

heart-cloud-2True and False Prophecy: “Jeremiah defies all pat answers for determining the credentials of an authentic prophet . . . In calling the priests and temple prophets adulterers, Jeremiah is speaking metaphorically; in their ministry they have betrayed the supreme and intimate love of God. To justify their own halfhearted and wicked ways”. (Senior RG 317)

God says: Remember to test the Spirit to see from where it comes. Remember to rely on me when doubt visits you. Remember to remain constant to the covenant promise we have gifted to one another. Each obstacle you hurdle brings you closer to me. Each burden you hand over to me brings you my compassion. Each sorrow you willingly offer to me brings you hope. Listen to my prophet. And listen to your own prophetic voice that I have planted in you. Speak and share. Act and commit. You are mine and I love you still. Do not be afraid to live in me . . . for when you live in me, you give to me all the anguish of your heart.

Tomorrow . . . oracles against the nations.


For a Jeremiah study guide, click on the image above or go to: http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/prophets/process_activity3_group3.htm

 

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