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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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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Delacroix: Christ on the Sea of Galilee

Eugène Delacroix: Christ on the Sea of Galilee

Mark 4:37-41

A Great Calm

As we move through Jeremiah’s prophecy we may feel as though we are tossed by a violent squall, our little ship of life rolling up and down thundering waves. When we feel swamped, we panic. When lightning flashes, our spirit fades. Looking for a break in the cloud cover or searching for the slightest sign of sunlight from beyond the glowering clouds, we might feel as the apostles did when they called out: Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.

Our personal and public lives are jammed with the minutiae of a modern life. Newsfeeds, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the Blogosphere all fill our waking and sleeping thoughts whether consciously or subconsciously.  Friendly resources have become too much information, but turning off the inflow only serves to isolate us. And we are filling up. Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?

We look for a leader who will solve the world’s problems. We look for the seer who might tell us how to maneuver the difficulties we see looming like the giant waves of the storm-tossed sea. We look for the teacher who will show us wisdom.

Jesus rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”

We look for the pill that will ease our tension. We look for the possession that will fulfill our need. We look for the status that will give us security.

The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

In struggling with the details we miss the bigger picture. In cutting down the saplings we miss the enormous trees. We upbraid ourselves and others for all that is lacking only to miss all that is there.

Here_Today-Gone_TomorrowThey were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?”

Let us also be filled with awe at the impossible that God brings into our lives. Let us also be filled with wonder at the mystery and beauty of God’s love. Let us nourish the gift of faith we are given – no matter how small or struggling. When we flounder, let us sing out to the Teacher that we are perishing. When we are full of anxiety or fear, let us be ready to hear God’s word: Quiet! Be still! Why are you terrified? I am the one whom even the wind and the sea obey.

And let us be prepared for the great calm that will always follow the violent squall.


Enter the word storm into the blog search bar and reflect on the times that God has quieted the squalls of our lives.

Images from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/eugene-delacroix/christ-on-the-sea-of-galilee-1854 and http://the3rs.mlblogs.com/tag/dustin-pedroia/

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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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