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Matthew 9:18-26The Tassels on our Cloaks

Saturday, October 13, 2018

In this reading we have a clear sense of the kind of excitement Jesus creates and the energy that moves through him.  We see this healing power as something beyond our own selves, something we see or watch  and even thrill in but never expect to experience much less wield on our own.  Too many times we regard miracles as myth or fantasy, stories that people pass along to one another like little worry dolls that lessen anxiety.  And too often we close our eyes to the miracles that happen before us or worse, we declaim them as the result of science or coincidence.  We miss the powerful and life-changing truth brought home to us in today’s Noontime: Miracles happen to and for and in us every day . . . and they have the power to heal others – not only ourselves – as they pass through us.

In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel we see Jesus immersed in a throng of people.  Some of them are merely curious about this Jewish teacher; others distrust him and look for tidbits of information to sell to his enemies.  And still others are desperate for Jesus’ healing touch like the woman suffering hemorrhages or the synagogue official.  They believe so honestly and deeply that they dare to approach him with their request.  Mark’s version of this same story elucidates for us (5:21-43).  The woman suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all she had searching for a cure.  She reaches to touch only the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, and Jesus is aware that the power has gone out of him.  A miracle has taken place.  When she is called forth, the woman approaches in fear and trembling, and Jesus explains: Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.  Commentary tells us that Mosaic Law prescribed tassels to be worn on the corners of cloaks as reminders of fidelity to that law and we might wonder: Is it possible that a single touch of the tassel dangling from Jesus’ cloak is enough to heal this woman?  Can it be that her belief in the possibility of a miracle opens her to receive the power emanating from Christ?  Might we be as open to this possibility . . . or are we more doubting than believing?

The official Jairus also puts aside his fear to ask Jesus’ help.  He dares to approach the man condemned by many in his community on the chance that his daughter might be brought back to him.  Do not be afraid, Jesus says when word arrives that the child has died.  Just have faith.  Do we dare to go against the pressures of society to believe that there is more to healing than science?  Do we have the courage to publicly ask help of the one who is so powerful that even the tassel on his cloak transmits this incredible curing gift?  Might we be as bold in our belief . . . or are we more fearful than fearless?

The intertwined stories of this high official and the Canaanite woman speak to us clearly . . . but we must be as open and as bold as these two believers.  From the highest to the humblest . . . we are all so valued by Jesus that he will heal us.  From the strongest to the weakest . . . we are all so precious to Jesus that the simple touch of his cloak will heal us.  From the prominent to the insignificant . . . we are all so loved by Jesus that he wants to bring us back from the death of disbelief to a life in faith with him.  And how marvelous it might be if rather than hoard up these special favors . . . we might share them with others as signs of our belief . . . as tassels on our cloaks.

And so we pray . . .

Powerful yet tender Jesus, we know that our lives are intertwined with yours like the warp and weft of the interlocking threads in your miraculous cloak.  We ask boldly yet humbly for the marvelous, life-giving and sustaining gift of your miracles.  Help us to knit these miracles so powerfully into our lives that our own cloaks emanate your healing touch.  Remind us to wear these miracles you grant us like tassels on our cloaks so that we might share the good news that each of us is free to reach out to you each day, and that you are eager to come into our homes and hearts.   

Keep us ever open . . . keep us constantly bold . . . and remain with us always as we struggle to believe in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from September 10, 2011.

Images from: http://pastorfergus.wordpress.com/

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Luke 9:1-9God in Their Midst

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Written on February 20 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us that we are not to throw pearls before swine.  We are too precious to throw ourselves away or to allow ourselves to be used up in senseless waste.  We walk a fine line between helping others and being abused, between loving those who hate us and enabling those who would use us.  Today’s Noontime, and similar descriptions of these words of Jesus in Mark 6:10-11, Matthew 10:12-14, tell us that we are not meant to be doormats.  We are to extend God’s peace to others and tell the good news of freedom brought by Christ.  If we are rebuffed, we are to shake their dust from our feet in testimony . . . and move on.  We are to journey on, witnessing, ministering, hoping, and enacting Christ – even to the point of suffering and death.  This death in Christ is not pointless as some would have us think; rather, this dying to Christ causes our enemies to wonder – just as Herod does with Jesus – about our origin, our goal and our mission.  If we live our lives as Jesus instructs the twelve today, our enemies may reject us . . . but they will keep trying to see us.  They will keep trying to understand our motivation, our sustenance . . . and our joy.

Our lives of faith will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of strength and determination – even in the face of overwhelming odds – and this they will want to see and experience for themselves. 

Our lives of hope will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of serenity and peace – even in the face of overwhelming cruelty – and this they will want to see and feel for themselves.

Our lives of love will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of compassion and mercy – even in the face of overwhelming pain – and this they will want to see and live for themselves. 

Jesus sent the twelve, he sent the seventy, he sent the seventy-two, and he sends us . . . into the world to witness, to cure, to heal, to carry back those who hunger and thirst for the truth.  We are part of his mission.  We are part of his family.  And we will want to act in such a way that those who seek God will look to us and know . . . that through us, they have seen, and touched, and felt . . . the living presence of God in their midst.


A re-post from September 8, 2011.

Image from: http://freegiftfromgod.com/blog/2011/05/jesus-sends-out-the-twelve/

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Tobit 14Knowing and Believing

Monday, October 1, 2018

Tobit

Written on March 21 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

For I know and believe that whatever God has said will be fulfilled and will come true; not a single word of the prophecies will fail.

As I read this verse I wonder again why it is that we refuse to believe the prophets among us.  It is a sign of faith to believe that for which we have no absolute evidence but I am interested in the wording of this verse.  Tobit says that he not only believes in the word of God through these prophecies but he knows them to be true.  Perhaps this is because of the wonders God has worked in his life . . . the wonders that arrive after much suffering.

Paul tells the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1) that faith rests not in man’s wisdom but in God’s power We know that this means we cannot earn faith in any way.  It is given freely by God as a gift and in fact God uses the foolish of the world to instruct the wise – if the wise will listen.  God chooses the lowly to inform the exalted – if the strong have time for the lowly.  The weak instruct the strong and the fearful speak to the fearless – if the strong and fearless do not steam roller those who hesitate.  Our ears must be open and willing to receive the message from God when it arrives.  And God’s message is always about inversion so it makes sense – in God’s time and way – that the joy of faith will come through suffering.  This is significant.  It is the answer to the continual questions we say we cannot answer.  The answers are right before us . . . they are swirling about our ears . . . we must choose to examine them and heed them.

Tobit has met and overcome huge obstacles in his life not by patiently waiting out his suffering in blind obedience as we said yesterday.  Rather, Tobit actively waits for the revelation God will ultimately provide.  Tobit trusts and knows that this information will arrive.  Which it does . . . along with a great reward.

In this last chapter of Tobit we find verses useful to us but only after we have read the entire story of healing and blessing.  Only after we have waded through the pain will we be able to fully comprehend and feel the joy Tobit feels.  Only then will we know, as Tobit knows, the power of God.

God will again have mercy on them, and God will bring them back . . . and they will rebuild in splendor . . . they will return from exile . . . and the whole world will be converted and worship God in truth.  We may read these verses and think that Tobit has allowed his imagination to get the best of him when he makes such a positive projection into the future based on such a bleak past, and we would be wrong.  If we believe that Tobit is too hopeful, we must read the story for as many times as it takes for us to see our own lives through the paradigm we are presented here.  And then we will have one more task . . .

So now, my children, I command you, serve God faithfully and do what is pleasing in his sight.  Your children are also to be commanded to do what is right and to give alms, and to be mindful of God and to bless his name at all times with sincerity and with all their strength. 

Only in this way will we too, know and believe that what God promises God will complete.  Only then will we know and believe that God’s prophecies will not fail.


A re-post from August 29, 2011.

Image from: http://www.devinrose.heroicvirtuecreations.com/blog/2009/06/21/calvin-on-the-self-authentication-of-scripture/ 

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2 Kings 4:1-7Deep Trust

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Written on March 20 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

A reflection I read recently pointed out that genuine faith is not blind obedience; rather it is a deep trust in the revealed Christ.  When we receive the Gospel story as coming from God – and not just as a narrative from one of Jesus’ followers – we will naturally raise our limbs to the light to welcome the Spirit into our hearts, and we will put down deep roots in the conviction that God can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Once we allow ourselves to risk believing that God’s love precludes deceit, overcomes all pain, and converts all suffering, we begin to feel the growth of an enduring and unshakable trust deep within.

The widow who complains to Elisha in today’s Noontime acts in faith – not blindly in obedience, but actively trusting, certain that God will fulfill her needs through the prophet.  “Bring me another vessel,” she says to her son; yet when none arrives and when the oil stops, there is enough oil for her to eliminate her debt and feed her children.  God provides.

From Jeremiah 17:7-8: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. 

From Psalm 1:1-3: Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers.  Rather, the law of the Lord is their joy; God’s law they study day and night. They are like a tree planted near streams of water that yields its fruit in season; its leaves never wither; whatever they do prospers.

Job 18:16 describes the wicked man as one whose roots dry up below and branches wither above.

Maxfield Parrish: Riverbank in Autumn

Ezekiel 47:12 describes the fruit trees that will grow by the banks of the river that flows from the new, restored temple: Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail.  Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.  Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. 

Sirach 11:20-21: Hold fast to your duty, busy yourself with it, grow old while doing your task.  Admire not how sinners live, but trust in the Lord and wait for his light.

The desert is a dry and barren place yet even in the arid terrain there is life – for God is everywhere.   The widow in today’s story understands this fact.  She has so little that she and her children will perish.  Elisha speaks to her and through this prophet God works a miracle that rescues her not only for that one day, but for all of her days.  The widow allows her life and the lives of her children to be transformed, not merely changed.  She stays close to God, the living water.  She puts down deep, trusting roots.  She shelters her children beneath the leaves that spring forth in a dry season.

God provides . . . even, and especially, in the desert.  God transforms . . . even, and especially, when we feel that all is lost.   God reveals himself . . . even, and especially, when we are at our lowest point.

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer Mini-reflection: God is very present in the deserts of our lives.  It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham.  It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations.  Let us rejoice in this blessed desert of Lent where Christ reveals himself. 


A re-post from August 28, 2011.

Images from: http://frankordaz.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-easter.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 March 2011. Print.

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John 1:12-13: A Child of God

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

God tells the faithful, “I am who I am”. Jesus says to us: “I am the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door, the Resurrection, the Life, the Way, and Truth. I am the great Vine to your Branches”. Today we begin a series of posts on who we are to God. We open with an adapted reprise of a Favorite posted on August 3, 2012.

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 God determines who receives the gift of faith and who does 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 again to pull me from the core of my 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 infinite pre-existence.  Jesus is all of creations’ eternal future. 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 God brings God’s self to us without our even asking.

When we act in child-like trust rather than childish petulance, we experience the faith of one who is sister and brother to Christ. When we act in outrageous hope that the Father loves each of us more than we can imagine, we experience the bond we have with Jesus. When we act in compassion and mercy toward those we love and those who do us harm, we experience the Holy Spirit’s healing, truth, and transformation.

We are all the Children of God.

What a wondrous God is this.

The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten. (THE MESSAGE)

Relying on God as a trusting child does, we pray Psalm 25 as we close our day. When we repeat the antiphon, Teach me your ways, O Lordwe place ourselves in God’s enormous, loving, life-giving hands. 

Tomorrow, we are branches.


When we compare other translations of these verses, we find that we have gathered at the Father’s knee, we are cradled in the Mother’s arms, we are EACH and ALL blessed by the Holy Spirit as precious and valued children of God.

Enter the words Children of God in to the blog search bar and explore more posts. 

Images from: http://wouldyouliketosingasong.blogspot.com/2013/01/practicing-i-am-child-of-god.html and https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/500000-afghan-children-affected-by-drought-unicef/articleshow/63893237.cms 

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Romans 10: Disobedient and Contentious People

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

With this Favorite from November 17, 2010, we take a final look at Jesus as the Life we wish to live.

Paul explains here that faith has a way of saving us in a way that the Mosaic Law does not . . . and never will.  It is impossible to reach heaven or to be one with God if we live a life full of checklists that attend to the duties prescribed by a structure.  It is equally impossible to not be saved if we live our lives in Christ . . . if we live a life of acting according the Law of Love . . . even when this Law puts us in danger.

Footnotes explain the references to Old Testament verses, and they also remind us that to speak as Paul does here – or to tell and enact the Gospel story as Paul reminds us we are asked to do – often put us in danger.

In the first century, and in certain parts of the world today, being Christian brings exclusion from the wider society and even the death penalty.  We will need to rely on Christ once we respond to the call to tell the story of salvation.

Among many cliques and groups both now and in Paul’s day, living a life of faith brings scorn and derision.  We will need to rely on Christ once we commit to living a life of fidelity to Jesus’ Way.

In families, work places, schools, and any places where we humans gather, living a life of merciful justice and open trust brings ridicule and disdain.  We will need to rely on Christ once we live as fully in him as he asks.

Paul warns us about all of this today.  The easy, comfortable life spent in and for itself must fall away.  The disciplined life of service that we are called to live is not appealing to rebellious and difficult people. And so we have this clear choice before us: to opt for contention and disobedience, or to choose freedom and salvation in Christ.


Image from: http://lwccyork.com/blog/series/this-is-the-way-of-jesus/ 

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Matthew 2:19-20Rise and Go

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gaetano Gandolfi: Dream of St Joseph

In this Favorite from April 4, 2008, we remember that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt after the birth of Jesus. We also remember that an angel comes to Joseph with the message that it is time to return to the land of Israel. Today, as we continue to explore how Jesus is the resurrection, we contemplate how our own lives move through times of exile, transfiguration, and return; and just as Mary and Joseph respond to God’s urging, we rise and go when we are called . . . for we are resurrection people.   

We are living through the Resurrection time – the time after Jesus rises from the dead in unity of body and soul and the time that he ascends to heaven.  We are a Resurrection people.  We are immortal.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection: Those who bear the sign of immortality are attractive to others.  People group around them . . . The Resurrected Lord gives a new lightness of the Spirit . . . Easter’s unity . . . This is a sign that little by little, the spirit of Easter is filling our lives and is pushing out the devil who is division and rivalry, jealousy and hate, the incapacity to carry each other’s weight.  The experience of the Resurrection carries a continual note of hope into our lives . . . Hope arises from faith; it is the visibility of faith; it is faith which becomes operative with the present.  Hope is life in action which transfigures the present; it does not permit “victory” of nothingness – delusion, a bitter nostalgia, narcissistic self-contemplation, the desire to do without another person.  Everything which would be a victory for nothingness is forced out by the victory of Christ.  The Spirit of the Risen Lord enters our lives and makes us creators of unity, filled with new creativity and hope for ourselves and therefore for all people. (Monsignor Massimo Camisasca)

We are a Resurrection people.  And just as the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and so many others in scripture, so too do angels appear to us.  They bring the message of hope, of courage  . . . of transfiguration.  We too, may be transfigured in Christ.  We too, can be hope to others.  We too, must trust the Lord as did Joseph and Mary.  We too can respond to the call of Rise and go! 

For we are a Resurrection people. 

Tomorrow, what do we do with our anger?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.8 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://russ-ramsey.com/day-20-when-joseph-woke-from-his-dream-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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Genesis 17:3-9: Leaving The Comfort of Ur

Ur of the Chaldees

Thursday, March 22, 2018

On this Thursday before Palm Sunday, we remember the story of Abraham and Sarah.

In Chapter 12 of Genesis, we hear God’s call to Abram: Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will bless you and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.

Today we ask ourselves if we are willing to leave all that we know in order to move toward an unseen promise. Do we have faith that God truly calls us as God called Abram? Do we believe in the hope of God’s covenant? Do we share God’s Spirit with open and giving hearts? In today’s Noontime reading, we move further into Abram’s story and we rest in the verses that tell us how and why Abram becomes Abraham. We hear the familiar words describing how and why Sarai becomes Sarah. And we ask . . .

Are we willing to step forward into the unknown as we follow God’s call? Do we anticipate the joy of the journey as we discover new places, times and peoples? Do we act with Christ’s mercy? Do we live in Christ’s joy? And like Sarah and Abraham, are we willing to leave the comfort of Ur?

For information on the city of Ur, visit: https://www.britannica.com/place/Ur

Click on the image of Ur, or visit Antiquity NOW at: https://antiquitynow.org/tag/ur/

Visit the Resting in the Promise post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/12/22/resting-in-the-promise/

Or enter the word Covenant into the blog search bar.

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Job 2: Satan

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We cannot leave this book of wisdom without pausing to confront the evil that sets this story into motion. If we have time today, we will want to listen to an On Being conversation hosted by Krista Tippet with Rabbi Sarah Bassin, and Imam Abdullah Antepli. The discussion is entitled Holy Envy, and it opens a method for confronting evil in our world.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

The image of evil hiding among faithful servants is an unsettling thought.  We go about our work or we rest in fallow time, trusting that all will be well, hoping to be children of light rather than the dark. The image of Satan lurking among the holy ones might unnerve us enough to re-examine the opening chapters of this story so that we might see a few details we have previously ignored. Satan reports that he has been patrolling his domain – – – the earth; yet God expresses confidence in the faithful, patient Job.

We do not like to think about evil, and we too often turn away when it enters the comfort zone we have carefully set up for ourselves.  Usually we believe that we must avoid evil at all costs, or we believe it is a force that only God can handle.  Because we feel powerless, we may not spend much time thinking about what evil is or where it comes from.  Yet we must take it seriously while at the same time not allowing it to paralyze us.

Several summers ago, I read a fascinating novel about how the devil takes up residence in our hearts almost without our noticing.  The Angels’ Game is a remarkable story and well worth reading.  The author, Carlos Luis Zafón, deftly weaves a tale that at once terrifies and holds us in dreadful yet delicious anticipation of what we know the end to be when we align with malignancy.  The story is terrifying in that the reader does not feel God’s presence specifically; rather the reader finds goodness in individual people and from literature itself.  In Zafón’s tale, God is found in books and stories, and there is a spell-binding quality to the plot.  As I closed the last page, I gave thanks for being in a well-loved vacation place with well-loved and loving people. The force of goodness and God-ness through them put my mind at ease. And it is this goodness and God-ness that Job brings to us today. Job’s fidelity and faith not only make him a target of the envious devil, they also save him. And so we are left to reflect . . .

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

God is so good that God does not banish Satan from his presence.

God is so good that God does not allow Satan to have the last word.

God is so good that God rescues, saves, heals and restores.

Job puts all of his trust in this God.

Job refuses to bow to social pressure and to pretend that he is guilty of something he has not done.

Job speaks directly to God, and argues with God, asking for answers.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

We must not fret about evil, yet we must not forget its presence.  When we find ourselves up against one who is a fallen angel, we cannot think that we, on our own, can win against the overwhelming power of Satan.  We must place all of our faith, all of our hope, and all of our trust in the Lord.  Only this one has the power to convert the aftermath of evil into the goodness of love. Only this one has the compassion to love us beyond the arguing.

Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2009.

See a review of The Angel’s Game at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/books/review/Rafferty-t.html 

For more on Zafón and his work, visit: https://frandi.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/the-angels-game-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon-a-book-review/ 

 

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