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Posts Tagged ‘faith’


Mark 5:21-43: Seek Christ – Part II

Paolo Veronese: Christ and the Woman with the Issue of Blood

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage

The evangelist Mark writes this portion of his story by weaving several strands together – thus replicating the manner in which we all live – and asking us to take a closer look.  Jesus sets off to perform one task and is interrupted by the needs of another.  Once he interacts with the un-named woman, he returns to his original task to complete it – even though circumstances have changed and the case appears to be hopeless. In this way, Mark expresses so much more about Jesus’ essence than his words convey.  He tells us that:

  • Jesus perseveres – and as citizens of the new kingdom, so must we all.
  • Jesus hopes – and as people who believe in the new kingdom, so should we all.
  • Jesus suffers – and as servants in the new kingdom, so will we all.
  • Jesus heals – and as apostles in the new kingdom, so should we all.
  • Jesus admonishes – and as disciples in the new kingdom, so shall we all.
  • Jesus loves – and as lovers of Christ, so are we all required to love.

In today’s reading we see Jesus surrounded by the flock.  We see him wading among the people, being open, being present, holding a standard, carrying the lambs.

What a wonderful brother, father, lover and redeemer.  We, too, may reach out to touch his cloak at any minute as it flutters ahead of us, just within reach.  We, too, can expect to be raised by his hand when we move from this life to the next.  We, too, are his beloved.  We can await no greater words than the words we hear today, Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.

Jesus speaks to us in these words.  Jesus touches, cures, challenges, and sends us forth to heal in his name.  As members of this new kingdom, nothing more is required of us.  And nothing less.

For more on hemorrhages in Biblical times, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/h/hemorrhage.htm

From November 2, 2007.

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Colossians 3:12-14: Chosen

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We may well want to consider how we react to the news that we are chosen loved ones.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Do we step ahead quickly to shove our way forward in response to God’s call? Or do we tend to those along the margins who cannot find a way into the unifying force of God’s hope?

Bear with one another . . .

Do we follow Christ in fits and starts? Or do we move constantly and slowly forward, always remaining faithful in reflection of God’s fidelity?

If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other . . .

Do we greet one another with greed or compassion? Anger or mercy? Chaos or peace?

Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Do we welcome the stranger, speak out against injustice, console the sorrowful, and heal the sick?

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Do we work for reconciliation? Do we open our eyes, ears, hearts, hands and minds? Do we act as if we are chosen in God’s humble love?

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we find that being chosen is more than we have first thought.

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Sirach 24:12-14: Taking Root

Cedars of Lebanon

Saturday, September 2, 2017

In the book of Sirach we find practical wisdom that opens God’s heart and mind to us. These verses give us the opportunity to imagine God in creation. These words invite us to strike deep into the soil of fidelity, to reach our arms upward in hope, and to abide in love.

I struck root among the glorious people,
    in the portion of the Lord.

Just as the Creator takes up residence with the faithful to dwell and remain among them, so might we thrust down deep roots to rest in God’s presence.

Like a cedar in Lebanon I grew tall,
    like a cypress on Mount Hermon.

Just as Jesus lifts us up in the hope of God’s promise, so might we offer our days and nights to God who is willing to share all with us.

I grew tall like a palm tree in Engedi,
    like rosebushes in Jericho.

Just as the Spirit abides in us to heal and console, so might we share God’s generosity and compassion with all.

Like a fair olive tree in the field,
    like a plane tree beside water I grew tall.

Olives ready for harvest in the Holy Land

We might look to the cedar, the cypress, the palm and the rose to observe how God graces nature with strength and beauty. We might look to the olive tree to observe how God nurtures, heals and sustains. We might look to the plane or sycamore tree that filters the air we breathe in gratitude for God’s quiet and persistent attention to our needs. We might do all of this so that we might take root in the depths of God’s open and healing mind and heart.

To explore the place names in these verses, click on the images and links above or visit Bible Places, a pictorial library of Bible lands at: http://www.bibleplaces.com/

The plane is also known as sycamore, buttonwood, buttonball or whitewood tree. See the Britannica at: https://www.britannica.com/plant/plane-tree

For more information on how these trees filter pollution from our environment, and to learn more about “City Trees”, visit: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/07/world/citytree-urban-pollution/index.html

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1 Samuel 17: The Way of Christ

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Caravaggio: David and Goliath

A Favorite from August 16, 2009.

This is a story we know well, and yet we might want to pause in order to spend time with a few details.

  • Battle armor and brave words do not protect Goliath from the truth of David’s one small stone. We might reflect that . . . bluster, barricades and weapons do not serve us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • While David’s oldest brothers go off to fight against the Philistines with Saul, David tends his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. We might reflect that . . . although our work may often seem insignificant, it is always on target when we obey God as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David leaves his flock with another shepherd when he takes roasted grain and cheeses to the battlefield for the troops. We might reflect that . . . even in the midst of our work, we must remember to shepherd those who follow us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David’s brothers are jealous not only of the bravery which stems from David’s special relationship with Yahweh but also because David comes to Saul’s attention for the question he repeatedly asks: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should insult the armies of the living king?” We might reflect that . . . we are often the target of jealousy when we are faithful and courageous as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David says with confidence to Saul: “The Lord, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine”. We might reflect that . . . we too, may place our hope in God’s promises as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David rejects Saul’s unwieldy warrior garments and tools so that he might take up and use the tools he knows best: smooth stones and his slingshot. We might reflect that . . . rather than arms and physical strength, our petitions of intercession on behalf of our enemies are our most powerful weapons as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David answers the enemy’s challenge with these famous words: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of armies of Israel that you have insulted . . . All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he shall deliver you into our hands”. We might reflect that . . . when the crowd jeers and when we appear to be defeated, we too serve as an example of how God saves and restores as we travel along The Way of Christ.  When we rise after apparent defeat, we are justified by God as we travel along The Way of Christ.

This is an old and familiar story against a backdrop of violence, yet it holds simple and valuable lessons for us today.  They are . . .

  • we must believe the story we have heard,
  • we must hope in the promise we have been given, and
  • we must enact love in the world as a sign that . . .
  • we travel along The Way of Christ.

In so doing, the many false and boasting Goliaths who confront us will fall permanently as we journey along The Way of Christ.

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Proverbs 6:12-35 and 7: Something Nasty

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God is perfectly aware that not all creatures understand the goodness and generosity of creation’s gift. Having that in mind, the writer of Proverbs reminds us that the riffraff and rascals who plot and scheme will always – in God’s time and in God’s economy – wind up suffering the consequences of the chaos they plot against others. In a literary context, we refer to this as irony, the end of the twisting plot twisting back on the antagonist. We often believe that in reality the outcome is different: he who plots and schemes becomes rich and powerful; she who plots against the innocent escapes destiny’s karma.

Riffraff and rascals
    talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
    they cross their fingers behind their backs.

If we live in a timeline of the physical world, we might see ourselves as correct in thinking that the spiritual world holds out false hope. When we live in God’s eternal time, we find that we have misunderstood God’s plan for the kingdom. When we ignore God’s time and plan, we find that we have become like the riffraff and rascals we deplore. We have given in to something nasty. We will have rejected the advice of Proverbs that the final total smashup will arrive at our door, and we will become the hypocrites who cross our fingers behind our backs.

Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
    always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
    a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

In the following verses, we hear about human actions that induce God’s ire; these items are laid out clearly. Various translations present differing translations but this interesting list is always the same, a litany of easy signs that we might look for in our own daily actions.

  • A proud look.
  • A lying tongue.
  • Hands that kill innocent people,
  • A mind that thinks up wicked plans.
  • Feet that hurry off to do evil.
  • A witness who tells one lie after another.
  • And someone who stirs up trouble among friends.

As Easter People, we share the Good News Jesus brings to creation that God’s merciful patience and generosity are always waiting in hope to redeem us. God’s persistence and wisdom are always presenting in faith new lessons for us to learn. God’s justice and consolation are always bringing us new opportunities to love as God loves.

The final verses of this chapter reprise the hazards of adultery and we might wonder why the writer brings this theme to us again. Besides the obvious danger of wanton men and women, might we also need be wary of addiction to lusting after power, wealth and fame? Might we need another practical warning to steer clear of riffraff and rascals lest we becomes one of those who ignore God’s call away from something nasty?

Even so, when the dust settles, we find that despite our recalcitrance, despite our rejection of truth, despite our haughtiness and ego-driven behavior, God’s compassion is awaiting us with Christ’s open and holy love. We are invited today to become one with that sacred heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to find different versions of these verses, we explore God’s transparent plan for our good, and the good of all creation.  

The original definition of hypocrite is “actor”. (See Merriam-Webster at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hypocrite-meaning-origin) For interesting thoughts on hypocrisy, click the image of masks above. 

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1 Thessalonians 3Standing Firm in Faith

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer Mini-Reflection: Even today, human beings have no control over storms at sea, and sometimes very little control over storms in the heart.  Only God has the power to still the tempest without and the tempests within. 

In today’s Noontime we can hear the anguish in Paul’s words . . . For this reason, when I too could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith.  There are times when we can bear things no longer, when we must hear from someone, when we must have a sign from God, when we insist on something more than blind faith and wild hope.  Our best antidote to this type of obsessive fear is the act of giving thanks for all that we are and all that we have received from God.  When the storms without and the storms within begin to brew, we must recall the so many times that we are rescued; and we take comfort from knowing that God loves us more than we can imagine.  When we turn to God in thanksgiving we will appreciate Paul’s words: What thanksgiving can we render to God for you? Paul has it right – when the going gets tough, the rocky path suddenly becomes smoother when we praise God.

In the end, what we want most is to know that all is well . . . and it always is when we live in Christ.  So let us give thanks and praise.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that we live in Christ . . . for existing outside of Christ is not the life we are called.  So let us give thanks and praise.

In the end, the only thing that matters at all is that we live with Christ . . . for living without him, living in fear and hopelessness is a life of anxiety and desperation.  So let us give thanks and praise.

Christ is in each of us.  When days are dark, let us give thanks and praise.  When days are bright, let us give thanks and praise.  Let us remain in Christ, in hope, in faith, and in love.  Then perhaps someone will write to us as Paul writes to the Thessalonians of his gratitude that we have remained strong in faith, bold in hope, and merciful in love . . .  For we live, if you now stand firm in the Lord.

Let us also stand firm . . . and let us give thanks and praise.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.10 (2010). Print.

A Favorite from October 26, 2010.

 

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Ephesians 2:7-10: A Shower of Grace and Kindness

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In faith, we abide with God, as God abides with us.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.

In hope, we trust in God, as God trusts in us.

Saving is all God’s idea, and all God’s work. All we do is trust God enough to let God do it. 

In love, we live in God, as God lives in us.

It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!

In faith, through hope, by love, we are images of God’s passion in a world longing for transformation.

We neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.

In faith, through hope, by love, we are Christ’s hands and feet in the world looking for kindness.

God creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join God in the work God does, the good work God has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

In faith, through hope, by love, we are the Spirit’s healing presence among people who yearn for peace.

When we compare translations of these verses and open ourselves to God’s kindness, we encounter the transforming power of God’s grace.

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Hebrews 11Something Betterrainbow-forest-468

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. 

“This chapter draws upon the people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront itThese pages rank among the most eloquent and lofty of the Bible”.

All these [holy women and men of the Old Testament] died in faith.  They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth . . . Perhaps when we feel as though we are alien to those around us it is because we are living in two different worlds: the first being what we see around us, the second being the reality of the world of the Spirit.

“The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition.  In view of the needs of his audience he describes what faith does, not what it is itself”.  

hebrews 11Women received back their dead through resurrection . . . Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment . . . The world was not worthy of them . . . Perhaps when we are persecuted for God’s sake it is because we bring a truth to those who wish to live in this world rather than build God’s world.

“Through faith, God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass”. 

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac . . . By faith, Joseph spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites . . . By faith Moses was hidden by his parents . . . By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient . . . What more shall I say? . . . Perhaps we might have more confidence in the future if we thank God for the many miracles we have received in the past and receive even today.

“Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfillment of his messianic promises”.

God had foreseen something better for us . . . And perhaps we already hold in our hands something better than what we had anticipated . . . if we might only live as if we have evidence of our faith.

Today, we hear from the 35th chapter of Isaiah in the first reading at Mass and I smile.  The prophet describes what he sees in the future . . . and I like to think he sees who and what Christ’s followers are and are becoming.  He speaks of the desert and the parched land will exult: the steppe rejoice and bloom . . . Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.  The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water . . . No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it.  It is for those with the journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.  Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee . . .

This is what God envisions for us.  This is what God promises us.  This is the gift we have been given . . . a faith that is the realization of what is hoped for . . . and is evidence of things not seen . . . a faith that is evidence of something better . . . 

Citations are from THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. 

A Favorite from December 6, 2010.

For more about Rahab, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/r/rahab_or_rachab.htm

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.363-364. Print.   

 

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Romans 5:1-5: Indwelling and Endurance

Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017

PENTECOST-

Jean Restout: Pentecost

With the indwelling of the Spirit, we know Christ more intimately.

Jesus Christ has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live.

Through the promise and gift of God’s grace, we live more fully.

And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory!

With the gift of life’s obstacles, we find our way to God through Christ.

We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and God’s approval creates hope.

With the transformation and peace of God’s wisdom, we become true disciples of Christ.

This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out God’s love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.

With persistence in faith, courage in hope, and charity in love, we come to understand the true gift of the Spirit’s indwelling.

When we spend time with these verses by reflecting on varying translations, we open ourselves to the Spirit’s indwelling, and we learn to endure in Christ.

For a slide show of Pentecost paintings, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/pentecost-in-art-paintings-stained-glass-windows-frescoes-and-more-photos_n_3303122.html?slideshow=true#gallery/298296/0

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