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Posts Tagged ‘faith’


1 Peter 1:3-9: A Living Hope

Third Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017

Peter Denies Christ
John 18

As we enter into the third week of Eastertide, we look to Peter, Jesus’ companion who denied knowing him (John 18); and who later pledged to the resurrected Christ that he would feed and love his sheep (John 21). We are those sheep and today we listen to Peter’s words.

What a God we have! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 

As we move through our days and nights, this is good news. In our typically linear way of thinking, the past, present and future are separate entities that we cannot manipulate; yet Peter tells us that Jesus has changed the natural order of time. Past, present and future fuse into an eternal timelessness, an infinite oneness, an unending union. And we are invited to participate in this union.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.

As we look at our lives and our surrounding circumstances, these are joyful words. In our consumption and status driven world, the powerful hold sway over the poor, sickness opposes good health, and death overcomes life; yet Peter reminds us of the many miracles that erase the demarcation between wholeness and weakness.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

James Tissot: Feed My Lambs
John 21

As we anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promise, the serenity of Jesus’ Good News, and perfect union with and in the healing of the Spirit, we find Peter’s words reassuring. In the rush of our days, we pause to reflect on the healing power of Peter’s testimony. From one who once renounced the Living God, we hear the miracle of his conversion. And we turn from our anxieties and fears to the assurance of this Living Hope.

The verses cited above are from THE MESSAGE. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore Peter’s message of A Living Hope to us.

Tomorrow, the first of Peter’s sermons following Pentecost.

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John 12:44-50: Re-Creation – Christ

the_good_shepherd_by_zaghami-d6rzo8x

ZaGHaMi: The Good Shepherd

Second Sunday of Easter, April 23, 2017

When we see the Bible as an entire story of God’s people, we know that Jesus is not God’s Plan B. Jesus is Plan A. God does not see that humanity has gone awry and then decide to send in the saving force of Jesus. God’s direct interaction with creation has no beginning or end. It is eternal, just as God is eternal.

Jesus says: Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.

God always has faith that God will find every lost sheep.

If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world.

God has outrageous hope that every lost sheep will return to the fold.

But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own.

God’s love knows no bounds. God has always loved us. God will always love us. God continues to love us each day.

The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.

As Richard Rohr, OFM, has said with a chuckle, “God is victorious. God doesn’t lose. That’s what it means to be God”.

Today as we settle into this second Sunday of Eastertide, let us hold these truths closely. Let us open our ears and open our eyes. And let us determine to be re-created in Christ so that we might live as Jesus lives . . . so that all may be one in this universal message of universal love.

Listen to a four-and-a-half minute chat with Fr. Richard Rohr on this topic at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZRS5WVJuM

jesus-icon-1000

The photograph above was taken “along the dusty roads of rural Punjab, Pakistan”. The icon is a traditional early image of Jesus.

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Galatians 3:26-29: Re-Creation – God’s People

Easter Friday, April 21, 2017

If we wonder how God sees the children God lovingly created to bring light to the darkness, we might consider Paul’s words to the Galatians.

It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

Through God’s grace, we receive the gift of faith and we read the testimony left by others.

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1)

Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we receive the gift of life eternal. On this Easter Friday, as we gather ourselves for Easter re-creation, we benefit from spending time with John’s first letter of testimony. He tells us that all he recounts is real. He reminds us that all he recounts to us has taken place. And he states very clearly that all he reports to us continues to occur today.

To explore varying versions of the verses cited in today’s Noontime, use the scripture links and the drop-down menus.

 

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Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.  

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

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Romans 9: Children of the Promise – Part I

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on June 3, 2010.

In this chapter of Romans, Paul puzzles over the lack of faith in the Christ story among the Jewish people.  They are clearly chosen by God to convey the message of freedom and salvation to the world and in fact, one of their own is the Messiah; yet they reject the message of hope and promise that Jesus offers. This is also the message that Paul proclaims anew.

In the previous chapter (Romans 8), Paul reminds us that faith is the belief in things not seen; hope is the exercise of expecting something that is greater and better than we think likely (8:24-25).  He reminds all of us that the Holy Spirit is at work in and among us, and that we must be open to God’s plan rather than forwarding our own.  Now he puzzles over the lack of expectation and fidelity in those who have had the advantage of the special status; he finds it strange that the very people and tradition that have engendered the message now turn against it.

Do we see this same contradiction in our own age? Do we see it in ourselves? If not, we might be content to muddle forward as always. If so, we have a clear choice before us. Do we blame God for the failings and lacks in society? Or do we examine ourselves, and then rely on God as we take action?

Paul answers some of his, and our, questions in verses 14 to 16: What then are we to say?  Is there injustice on the part of God?  Of course not . . . it depends not upon a person’s will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy. 

We are part of God’s great design and are called to take part in the redemption of the world.

Shall we say, then, that God is unjust? Not at all . . . So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy. (GNT)

We are God’s precious children, and are asked to demonstrate the same mercy that God shows us.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! . . .  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (NASB)

We are the receivers of God’s great promise. Let us accept this gift graciously, and act with God’s justice for all.

Tomorrow, more of Paul’s thinking. How does it affect all that we do?

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Romans 12:2-16: Into the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.

Today Paul gives us specific guidelines for how to live the Beatitudes, what we are to do with our concerns, how we are to handle our negative emotions, and where we might take our worries and fears. Our God-given identity calls us to reflect Christ in the world; but how are we to do this? Paul reminds us of God’s gracious gift of faith . . . and how we might carry it into a world that will likely be surprised by this message.

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 

Paul reminds us that humility and love serve us much more than revenge.

Love must be completely sincere. Hold on to what is good.

God turns all harm to goodness. We have proof of this and we can rely on this.

Love one another warmly, and be eager to show respect for one another.

Paul addresses Christians, but we might extend this openness and respect to all.

Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Fidelity and responsibility. Prudence and authenticity. These are our hallmarks of behavior.

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Hope and patience. Prayer and petition. These are foundations on which we stand.

Share your belongings with your needy fellows, and open your homes to strangers.

Community versus individuality. The common good versus the singular gain. These are values we must weigh.

Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.

This is perhaps the most difficult of all Jesus’ messages. Loving those who harm us is a challenge we want to ignore; but with Christ as our guide and refuge, we cannot lose.

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Our brother Jesus celebrates and mourns. We are invited to do the same.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

We are reminded that human wisdom cannot reach the heights of God’s wisdom. We remember that God does not abandon or betray us. We have before us a clear guideline for living as Jesus does, for living as we all might, for living as a builder in God’s kingdom. Today we have a striking description of our own God-given identity. Let us go into the world as if we believe.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions of these words, we discover the blessings and gifts of God.

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Matthew 5:13-16: Salt and Light – A Reprise

pope-francis

Pope Francis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus tells us that we must be salt for the earth, adding flavor, bringing joy; and we are to share this salt of our faith with others.

Jesus tells us that we must be light for the world, slicing through the darkness, bringing hope; and we are to shine this light on the margins and into the corners.

To hear Pope Francis’ words on how we might be both salt and light, visit Vatican Radio at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/06/07/pope_on_how_to_be_salt_of_the_earth_and_light_of_the_world/1235417

 

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Matthew 4:12-23: Going to Galilee

Sunday, January 29, 2017

www.bible-history.comMap of Ancient Israel

http://www.bible-history.com: Map of Ancient Israel

I am still reflecting on last Sunday’s Gospel to consider how it speaks to me today.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

We look at a map of the Palestine in ancient days to study how Jesus’ actions suggest a plan for our own lives.

We investigate the spiritual, civil and social characteristics of Galilee in Jesus’ time to understand the environment in which he worked, and prayed, and played and we find our question on a PBS Frontline  episode. “What kind of place was Galilee at the time of Jesus? Was it a quiet, rustic, peaceful little tranquil place? It looks that way, sure. But the region was known for being a hotbed of political activity and some of it violent . . . But in [an] historical context that region was always a contested region”.  We can read more if we want to go further but I realize, as I spend time all week uncovering my own emotions over the past few days, and I wonder . . . what might we do with this story?

www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

http://www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

When we look for information about Capernaum, we remember that the people of the town rejected Jesus and his miracles, so we go back to today’s Noontime verses.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

When we find ourselves in a hotbed of political activity, we do not run away. We hold firm quietly to meet threats with grace and love.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

When our friends and colleagues suffer persecution, and we know the hatchet is coming our way, we rely on the authority Jesus gives us. We remember that Jesus calls us to outrageous hope.

Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

www.pbs.org: A portrait of Jesus' World

http://www.pbs.org: Galilee, A portrait of Jesus’ World

When we realize that we are in the middle of contested regions where lies replace certainties, we hold tightly to the truth, we listen to our persecutors and pray for them, and we ask that Jesus turn all hearts of stone to hearts of mercy and compassion.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

If we want to follow the Christ, we too must journey to Galilee and Capernaum and although we may flinch, we fire up our souls with the love of Christ . . . and we go.

To explore Galilee and Capernaum, click on the links and images for more information.

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Isaiah 11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XII

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gregory Perillo: Peaceable Kingdom - Nations at Rest

Gregory Perillo: Peaceable Kingdom – Nations at Rest

Can we possibly imagine . . . ?

Wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, calves and lions . . . and a child shall lead them.

Cattle and bears, lions and oxen, the infant plays at the lair of the asp . . . and a child shall lay his hand on the adder.  

Pain and destruction shall fall away. The earth is full of knowledge. The faithful remnant recovers.

The outcasts are gathered. The dispersed come from the four corners of the earth.  

Jealousy departs, hostility is cut off. God’s Word has come to inhabit the world.

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Do we expect an apocalyptic judging of those who are not “us” and “we”? Or do we await the gentle yet firm turning of all to the kingdom that Isaiah foretells and Jesus embodies? Our behavior each day is an indication to ourselves and to the world of our relationship with God, of our faith in the past, our hope for the future, and our love for the conversion of the present. Moving forward in reconciliation, we recognize Christ in the “other” who walks with us. And we invite the Spirit to remain with us always as we all come together in God’s peaceable kingdom of inversion.

Compare varying versions of these verses by using the scripture link for a view of God’s Kingdom.

For a reprise of The Noontimes reflection on Isaiah 11, visit the On that day . . . post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/12/10/isaiah-11-on-that-day/ 

Click on the Hicks image or visit http://poulwebb.blogspot.com/2013/08/edward-hicks-part-2.html for an interesting comparison of Hicks’ images of the kingdom. 

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