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Posts Tagged ‘faith’


faith the size of mustard seedFriday, July 9, 2021

Mark 4:30-34

The Shade of the Kingdom

Jesus says: How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.

God says: I understand how difficult it is for you to step beyond the limits of your world but this is where I live . . . both within you to comfort you and beyond you to call you to greatness. My kingdom is greater than any dispute, wider than any war, deeper than any betrayal, and more infinite than any love. It begins as a tiny germ within you and grows to offer shelter for others. This is what I plant in you . . . an opportunity to experience the hope I have created in your heart. Come to rest in the shelter I offer against the buffets of the world . . . and in turn, offer my peace to others.

When we abide in the shadow of God’s love and respond to the seed sowed within, God gives us the power to root ourselves in God’s grace and to raise ourselves as branches so that others might nest in the shade of the kingdom.

Enter the word kingdom into the blog search bar and consider how we see the kingdom in our everyday lives.


Image from: http://boldandfab.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/got-faith/

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HaveFaithThursday, July 8, 2021

Luke 17:5-6

The Mulberry Tree

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you”.

God says: When you read about the apostles who followed Christ you hear and see their question . . . and perhaps you have the same petition for me. Can you not imagine a mulberry tree responding to your voice? Is it difficult for you to imagine this tree planted in the moving water? Are you thinking in the concrete terms of the world you see around you? Are you able to open your mind to a world that you cannot imagine, your heart to a love you have yet to feel?

We are reminded in scripture constantly that with God all is possible. We re-read this Parable of the Mustard Seed and wonder if Jesus’ words in the telling of this story are hyperbolic. What might happen if we read these words and decided that Jesus’ words are true?

Enter the word faith in to the blog search bar and consider our belief in the power of faith as small – and yet as powerful – as the Mustard Seed.


Image from: http://trinity-live.org/october-3-2013-643/

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faith as mustard seedWednesday, July 7, 2021

Matthew 17:14-20

The Mustard Seed

The mustard seed was the smallest seed known to farmers in Galilee in Jesus’ day, yet once planted in fertile soil, the tiny seed grew into a bush as high as ten feet. An amazing change for something so small – and an apt metaphor for the change that can occur in any one of us – once we believe in the Word of God and the abundant possibilities that God opens to each of us.

In today’s Noontime we read about a boy whose demon proves stronger than the faith of Jesus’ disciples, and so the child’s father takes him to the Master in order that the demon be driven out. This same story can be read in Mark 9:14-29 where we find a slightly longer, slightly different version; however, in both cases we see the themes of faith and prayer brought into focus by our trust in God.

Like the father in today’s story, we are to bring our petitions to Jesus. Like the boy himself, we are to give ourselves over to the possibility of being healed, even when we suffer from birth, even when our plight seems permanent. Like the apostles who cannot affect a cure, we are to stay close to Christ as we tend to the mission we have been given.

Platitudes are ineffective when we experience or witness great suffering. Wise sayings affirm our beliefs. Acts of love, of kindness, of hope and of faith are our outward signs of our relationship with God. Our prayer, our fasting, our almsgiving, our constancy in attending to our interior temple are our inward maintenance of this relationship.

We are here on earth to complete our mission, to experience the true potential God has placed in us. We are here to bring soft and open hearts to a hard and suffering world. We are here to offer yielding necks to an excessive and difficult society. We are here to witness and to live lives of compassion and justice. We are here to be healers and to be healed.

We are here to be mustard seed, to yield plenty from the smallest grain, to give as we have been given, to transform as we have been transformed, to love as we are loved.


A Favorite Noontime from July 17, 2008.

Visit Mark 4:30-34 and Luke 13:18-21 and 17:1-10 to hear more of Jesus’ words about faith as the Mustard Seed.

Photo credit: beaconfallscongregational.org from Karina’s Thought at WordPress: http://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/faith-as-small-as-a-mustard-seed/

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Simon Vouet: The Apostle John

Simon Vouet: The Apostle John

1 John

Connection

“The purpose of this letter is to combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community . . . The author affirms that authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ . . . The letter is of particular value for its declaration of the humanity and divinity of Christ as an apostolic teaching and for its development of the intrinsic connection between Christian moral conduct and Christine doctrine”. (Senior 387)

God comes to live among the created as one of their number. God wants to share our sorrows and our joys. Gods want to be numbered among us. God wants to number us as Children of God. The apostle John records not only his beautiful Gospel of love, he also leaves us his letters of assertion and encouragement.

What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with God and with the Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that your joy may be complete.

God says: I want you to make the connection that just as Jesus is both divine and human so are you. Just as my Spirit comforts and consoles so do you. Just as I myself save and guide. So do you. I send you this invitation to be one with and in me. If you turn me away today I return tomorrow. This is how much I love you. My apostle John makes connections in his letter to you, and he asks that you connect what you do with what you believe, what you say with how you act.  Make that connection now, put aside all else, and come to me.

“1 John lends itself more readily to every time and place . . . It is amazingly positive and loving in tone. For Christians through the ages it has transcended its hard circumstances of origin to be considered one of the great spiritual witnesses of the New Testament”. (Senior RG 563)

In the coming days we will explore John’s message of love that nourishes the faithful throughout time, and we will explore ways to make connections to what John has seen and heard and touched.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387 and RG563. Print.   

For another Noontime reflection on this letter, go to the 1 John – Testimony page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/1-john-testimony/

Image from: https://www.pinterest.dk/pin/459226493229842593/?amp_client_id=CLIENT_ID(_)&mweb_unauth_id={{default.session}}&amp_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.dk%2Famp%2Fpin%2F459226493229842593%2F&from_amp_pin_page=true 

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet

Dirck van Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet

Our Experience of Christ – Part II

Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the spirit are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain?  . . . Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of God.

Today’s lesson is a difficult one.  It asks us to exercise our faith.  It asks us to acknowledge and remember all of the times that we have been rescued.  It asks that we tell the story of our redemption.  It asks that we act in this belief that God is God, that God created us, that God loves us, and that God longs to hold us close.

O you stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?

Who has talked us out of believing our own story?  Who has convinced us that Christ does not exist?  Who has persuaded us that a false story is better than the vibrant experience of Christ that we have lived?

We so frequently doubt and when we do there is only one remedy.  We must cast back through our lives to remember the many small and great ways that we have been rescued, the small and great ways that we have been loved.  When we do this . . . we will find it easier and more natural to act in faith as Paul asks us to do.  We will find that no one and no thing will ever bewitch us.  No one and no thing will ever lure us away from Christ.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer:

You led your people through the sea dry-shod: let us put our trust in you as you lead us through this day’s challenges.  We put our trust in you!

You fed them in the desert: let us hear your word of life amid the noise of our bust lives today. We put our trust in you!

You gave them water from the rock: let us drink from the fountain of life and not from bitter and polluted waters.  We put our trust in you!


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.4 (2010). Print.   

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirck_van_Baburen_-_Christ_Washing_the_Apostles_Feet_-_WGA1090.jpg

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

thebible-jesus-disciples-20130321Our Experience of Christ – Part I

Who has bewitched you?

We might ask ourselves this question a thousand times during the day and the answer is always the same.  It is our doubt, our lack of faith that clouds our vision.  Paul reminds us that our justification, or our salvation, comes “not through the law or works of the law but by faith in Christ and in his death . . . The gift of God’s spirit to the Galatians came from the Gospel received in faith, not from doing what the law enjoins”.  (Senior 297)  Paul appeals to our experience of Christ both in our daily lives and as we meet him in scripture, and he reminds us that while we might come close to Christ by observing the law, it is through faith that we are blessed and redeemed.  This was promised to Abraham and now – Paul reminds us – it is promised to the gentiles.

These new Christians in Galatia to whom Paul writes were former pagans and they were being encouraged by other missionaries to observe all Jewish law along with Christ’s law of love.  This even included circumcision. (Senior 293)  Having descended from the Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor three hundred years prior, the Galatians had little experience in discerning and living a relationship with one true creator who loves his creatures so much that he is willing to die for them.  We might find ourselves to be much like these Galatians.


 Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293,297. Print.

First written on April 23, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://btscelebs.com/2013/03/21/the-bible-mission-real-verse-jesus-christ-on-palm-sunday/

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it 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.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God. And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us? Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us. All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted. It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services:“The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer.” Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

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Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned. When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

Along the old Silk Road
The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part II

Lifeless bones clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought. When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question. What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in a rebirth that occurs quite dramatically. What was thought as lost is found and restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

What might we do to rise when we believe there is no hope? We call on God who makes all things possible. What might we do when we have stumbled into an oasis we thought was merely a mirage? We continue to follow Christ who carries our burden. How might we validate our new life in the Spirit? We give thanks to God for affirming and claiming our potential.

Ezekiel has much to teach us about the bone-strewn valleys where we see only mirages on the horizon. When we place all hope in God we are not disappointed. When we lean on faith in Christ we are always redeemed. And when we are willing to move forward in the love of the Spirit, we are renewed, restored and rewarded. Let us not shrink from dry bones or the desert wastes in our lives . . . for we may be missing a deep and eternal experience that only the desert oasis can provide.

Tomorrow, the Oracle of Two Sticks.  


Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

To visit other desert oases, click on the image above or go to: http://cristinabarkerjones.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/9-most-beautiful-oases-in-the-world/

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