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Posts Tagged ‘false gods’


An Almond Tree

An Almond Tree

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Jeremiah 1 & 2

The Watching Tree

Footnotes tell us that the watching tree in verse 11 refers to the almond tree; “the first to bloom in the springtime as though it had not slept. The Hebrew name contains a play on words with ‘I am watching’.” The opening lines here tell us of Jeremiah’s office as prophet. We are given his credentials, so that we might hear and heed the words here offered, so that we might not be afraid, so that we might remember to turn to God in times of turmoil, and so that we might shun the false idols that offer themselves in place of God.

Jeremiah protests that he is too young to serve God as prophet but the Lord says to him: Have no fear . . . because I am with you to deliver you . . . It is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass . . . they will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.

These are words of warning to a people who had turned away from Yahweh and back to the Baal gods. They are also words of encouragement to us. History tells us that the oracles predicted here by Jeremiah unfolded as truth; therefore, the opening words of this prophecy can serve to comfort us as we struggle to understand our role as followers of Christ. God’s words through Jeremiah are meant to console us while we remain the watching trees that remind others of the hope Christ brings, of the trust we must place in God, and of the danger in worshiping false and feeble gods.

I remember the devotion of your youth, the Lord tells us, Sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of the harvest; should anyone presume to partake of them, evil would befall him, says the Lord. As watching trees, we must have our eyes and hearts open to those who would deceive us, we must announce with a flurry of white blossoming the advent of a time of renewal and rebirth so those who have strayed may yet return. And we need not have any fear about our work of watching, for with God all things are possible. God always delivers the faithful.

When storms destroy all that we hold sacred, there is yet hope.

When trials sap our courage, there is yet strength.

When betrayals blind us to the possibility of a love that knows no bounds, there is yet God.

When suffering swallows our days, there is a place to go and there is something to be done. We are called to be watching trees that announce the hope of the human race. We are created to be watching trees that trust only their maker. We come to fruition as watching trees that offer first fruits back to God and produce good fruit in due season.

We are called by our creator to witness as we watch and wait. When pain and sorrow take over, or in gladness and celebration, let us keep watch as if we have not slept, let us be the first to burst into flower and witness to the hint of spring. And while we wait on the Lord, let us offer our work to the God who made us, God who delivers us, and God who loves us.

No matter our circumstances, sorrow or joy, let us take up our task as watching trees and announce the goodness of God.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 12, 2010.

Image from: http://www.carrollcrossroads.com/blog/the-almond-tree

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Deuteronomy 32: The Song of Moses

Second Sunday of Lent, March 17, 2019

Moses

Yesterday we considered our Lenten Journey and how we might create for ourselves and our loved ones a physical sign of this promise of fidelity to the Living God who is Alive Among Us. Today we spend time with Moses’ words as he calls the Israelites to conversion and urges them to consider a change of heart and habit.  Moses calls his people, and he calls us, to a love that will endure forever. He calls us to love as God loves.

From commentary: In the style of the great prophets, the speaker is often God himself.  The whole song is a poetic sermon, having for its theme God’s benefits to Israel (vv 1-14) and Israel’s ingratitude and idolatry in turning to the gods of the pagans, which sins will be punished by the pagans themselves (vv 15-29); in turn, the foolish pride of the pagans will be punished, and the Lord’s honor will be vindicated (vv 30-43).  (Senior 222)

Who are these gods of the pagans to whom we turn?  Our obsession with immediate and empty gratification?  Our desire to put ourselves first and others last?

Jesus reminds us that in the Kingdom the world is turned on its head. The meek will inherit, the first will be last, what is empty will be full.

Where do we see our own foolish pride?   In the pumping up of self?  In the building of self rather than the building of Kingdom?

Jesus lays out for us the life and work of his disciples so that we might see that we are to act in servant leadership with salvific love. 

How is this foolish life punished?  The unwise are destined to become enslaved by the chains they put on others.  The reckless eventually find themselves enveloped in the same dangerous plots they weave for others.

Jesus shows us that forgiveness and compassion are the tools he uses to engender a love that endures forever and cannot be outdone. 

Moses makes a final appeal to the people, asking that they take to heart all the warning.  Let us too, take up the counsel to root out our foolish pride and banish false gods.  Let us climb our own Mount Hor to see the Promised Land from a distance . . . and then let us ask the Living God for safe passage in this journey of conversion of the heart.


A re-post from March 19, 2012. Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.222. Print.   

For more on The Song of Moses click on the image above or go to: http://www.revelation-today.com/song1.htm

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1 Maccabees 1: The Word Seemed Good

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wojciech Stattler: The Maccabees Rebellion

In today’s reading, we watch a people fall away from the principles, traditions and customs that brought them to success. The peace gained imperceptibly slips away as a people convince themselves that their new behaviors are modern. Because the people convince themselves that this new mode of living is fully legitimate, the relationship that protects them slowly vanishes. They believe the perception and not the reality.

And the word seemed good in their eyes. (DRA)

The slide begins with changes that benefit their pocketbooks rather than their hearts.

They built in Jerusalem a stadium like those in the Greek cities. They had surgery performed to hide their circumcision, abandoned the holy covenant, started associating with Gentiles, and did all sorts of other evil things. (GNT)

Too late, the consequences of their actions come into focus. The heady delight in profits and revelry becomes heartache and mourning.

And there was great mourning throughout all Israel. (CJB)

The place that before had brought them solace has disappeared. The old, familiar rituals that brought them comfort are replaced by empty promise.

[Jerusalem’s] sanctuary was desolate like a wilderness, her festival days were turned into mourning, her sabbaths into reproach, her honours were brought to nothing. (DRA)

Yet despite the bleak circumstances, there are those who remain faithful. Regardless of the restrictions on their lives, those who maintain their relationship with God, keep the covenant in their hearts . . . and they choose to die rather than succumb to the illusion that the new authority brings life rather than death.

But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. Very great wrath came upon Israel. (NRSV)

This opening chapter of the story of the Maccabean revolt is a lesson we will want to take in. When we are called to accommodate to a way of thinking that demeans, excludes, and eliminates, we will want to consider the consequences of following the false god. And we will want to see if the word seems good in our eyes, or if we want to remain in the Word that brings life.

And the word seemed good in their eyes. (DRA)

For more on the Maccabean revolt, visit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/maccabean-revolt/

When we read varying translations of this story, we reflect on the reality and illusion of what is good. 

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