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shepherdSaturday, August 14, 2021

Jeremiah 22 & 23

Ungodliness

Jeremiah presents us with a roll call of false leaders, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jeconiah.

Woe to him who builds his house on wrong; his terraces on injustice, who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages.

Jeremiah also presents us with a messianic vision, the promise of a good and honest shepherd who fulfills the promise of bringing the faithful home.

I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.

Jeremiah shows us the dichotomy of evil and goodness in which we live. He gives us mirror in which we might discover our own ungodliness.

God says: You need not tremble when you read about the terrible leaders who lead my faithful away from me and to the hungry, demanding little gods of Baal. You need not fear for your life if you live in me. You need not hide or bury yourself away when danger threatens. You need only rest in me. Allow my peace to give you a quiet place of rest. Let the freedom I give you prove the depth of my love, the strength of my fidelity, and the healing power of my hope.  

False and true leaders, false and true prophets, false and true shepherds. Jeremiah draws clear pictures of what we may see in ourselves and others as he warns us of the danger of ungodliness.


For information about Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Jeconiah, visit:

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jehoahaz.htm

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jehoiakim.htm

http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/jeconiah.htm

To learn about Josiah, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/j/josiah.htm

Image from: http://www.open-mike.ca/2013/08/13/day-225/

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bible and candleFriday, May 21, 2021

1 John 2

Ideal and Real – Part I: Treatise

Most scholars agree that this treatise on Christ’s love was not written as a letter but rather as a discourse on “certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community”. (Senior 387)

We too, are presented with false teachings about deeply held beliefs. We too, are in need of a deepening spiritual and social awareness. We too, are called to nourish and tend to our community.

“1 John lends itself . . . readily to every time and place. For a document generated by bitter conflict, it is amazingly positive and loving in tone . . . What is stated positively is sometimes denied a short time later. The reason for this alteration of ideal and real lies in the circumstances being addressed . . . First John’s apparent indecisiveness reflects the chastened perspective caused by the trauma of division. The symbols need reshaping. The author urges his readers away from a smug sense of their own perfection, to an awareness of their need to repent. Not only ‘those who went out from us’ have sinned. All have sinned and need the expiation offered by Jesus”.   (Senior RG 563)

When we face a bitter conflict, we might follow John’s example of adopting an amazing and loving tone.

When we experience indecisiveness, we might want to find out if the wavering comes from a real or perceived trauma.

When we feel smugly superior to others because of our assumed perfection, we might repent and ask forgiveness of those whom we have slighted.

I am writing to you, children, because your sins have been forgiven for his name’s sake.

What is real? What is imagined? What is perfect? What is flawed? Spend a bit of time today with 1 John 2 to consider the challenge this loving apostle lays out before us. Reflect on what is real, on what is ideal, and on what we do with our own flawed and accurate perceptions.

Tomorrow – Part II: Connecting


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387 & RG 563. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on Sunday, January 10, 2010.

Image from: http://www.catholicmarriageprep.com/resources/wedding-readings

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mark 13:9-13

Brueghel_l'Ancien_-_La_Prédication_de_Saint_Jean-Baptiste

Pieter Brueghel The Elder: The Preaching of St. John the Baptist

Preaching With Our Lives

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the Gospel must be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

False preachers might leave us with a negative impression of God’s word. Good preachers leave us with an inspired desire to know more. Each of us is a preacher in that we speak of our relationship with God in every interaction we have with others. Each of us tells the story of the Living God in every action we carry out in the quiet times and places when no one sees what we are doing. Each of us speaks our creed loudly not in our words, but in our care for self and others, and in our trust in the Spirit of the Living God.

God says: It is really quite simple. You cannot rid the world of corruption and ruin but you can react to it as the Spirit directs you. Open your mind to the gift of counsel that the Spirit brings to you. Open your hands to my gift of consolation. Open your hearts to my gift of love. Nothing will destroy you for you are my love in and to the world. Nothing will obliterate you for you are my hands and feet in and to the world. Nothing will annihilate you for you are my presence in a world that longs for peace.

As we consider how we live out God’s presence through our words, thoughts and acts, reflect on the preaching you have heard . . . and reflect on the preaching your life brings to the world.

Tomorrow, a prayer for times of tribulation.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Preaching_of_St_John_the_Baptist_(Pieter_Brueghel_the_Elder)

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

matthew7_1[1]Matthew 7

Lessons in Serenity

As Matthew closes this section of his Gospel he records Jesus as speaking plainly and simply to his followers. There really is no mystery here. What must we do to gain serenity?

Jesus tells us clearly.

Stop judging others and tend to your own progress. The criticisms we level at others are a good place to begin with our own self-development. We critique in others what we dislike most in ourselves. Let us recall the negative comments we have made about others and let us lay them out neatly. We will find an apt and accurate map of the journey we must take.

Matthew-7[1]You are pearls of great price so there is no need to claw your way over those you perceive to be in your path. Once we see where our journey must take us we will want to relax into the great gift God has for us. All of our striving and fixing and arranging may, in fact, be counter to the work we must do on ourselves. Let us learn to bear good fruit in due season.

Ask the creator for all the desires of your heart. Who knows us better than the hand that carved us out of nothing? Fashioned us in God’s image, we do not have to search long or far to discover why we are here or where we are going. Who leads us better than our human and divine brother Jesus? He understands the dichotomy we hold in our hands, the tug from two directions, the calling of two diverging worlds. Who abides with us more faithfully than the Spirit? God’s wisdom and grace dwell within us to guide, protect and console.

matthew_7_13_14_by_phoenixoftheopera-d4247gw[1]Discipleship is difficult and the way to peace is narrow. Quick fixes, easy solutions, pat answers, immediate satisfaction, and feelings of control and power must be put aside in favor of process, dialog, reflection, shared decisions, forgiveness and redemption.

Expect false leaders. And work to be honest followers. Integrity, honesty, courage and persistence are wells from which we must draw. We must learn to rebuke gently, to walk humbly, to accompany without judging, to pray ceaselessly.

You have a choice to make; build on sand or rock. We are free to choose. Stand on solid ground where everyone is open and honest, or allow ourselves to slide into the shifting world of denial, obfuscation and illusion.

The way is clear. The path is open. The winding is narrow but there are signs along the way. These are lessons in serenity.

And so we pray.

Matthew7_24sm[1]Patient and loving father and mother, help us to refrain from judging lest we lose ourselves in the trial. Remind us that we are well loved and well protected. Repeat to us often that we are to knock, ask and seek. Support us as we sift through true and false teachers and leaders. Lead us out of the boggy quicksand of a life lived with the only goal of personal comfort. Steer us away from all that is alluring. Lift us to stand on the rock that is both fortress and refuge. Guide us always back to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Reflect on the past week’s posts and determine what lessons for serenity you hope to learn in the coming season of Advent.

Images from: http://joanmedinanisnisan.wordpress.com/tag/joan-medina-nisnisan/

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

GIMP_Arrogance_Grunge_II_by_Project_GimpBC[1]2 Peter 2:10-13

Bold and Arrogant

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings, whereas angels, despite their superior strength and power, do not bring a reviling judgment against them from the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals . . . revile things they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrong as payment for wrongdoing.

As we hear so often in the Peter’s words: We reap what we sow. False teachers are always among us but Jesus is clear in his many parables that wheat is separated from chaff and sheep from goats. The marvelous quality about God’s love is that God is always willing to forgive us. The story of the Prodigal Son might also be named the story of the Forgiving Father and we are grateful for this parable of abundantly generous love.

Today, let us spend some time reflecting on who we follow and why. Let us decipher the words we take as true and why. What campaigns do we believe? What newscasts or papers do we follow? Which of our family, neighbors or friends do we believe over others and why? Do we pursue comfort or growth? Do we look for unity or create division? Do we question to learn or question to make a point? Are we bold and arrogant and irrational? Or are we humble and modest and rational? And why?


Image from: http://project-gimpbc.deviantart.com/art/GIMP-Arrogance-Grunge-II-63786001

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Saturday, July 4, 2020

gods-hands-holding-child[1]1 John 4:1-3

Belonging

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.

The prophets and the apostles warn us about false spirits and false teachers and their warning is a universal call to be wary of those who come to us in the false disguise of God’s holy ones.  The world is full of those who are adept at deceiving the faithful, and they are often most successful in their deception when we are celebrating.

God says: I do not mean to frighten you; I only encourage you to be cautious when your guard is down.  Know that I am with you always and do not abandon you to the wolves.  But also know how cleverly the false ones costume themselves in sheep’s clothing.  They spend their time and energy looking for ways to gather in my sheep for themselves and yet they never win for I always save my sheep.  So do not fear . . . but be prudent and circumspect . . . and call on me always to save you.

God loves our innocence and trusting spirit.  We can rely on God to preserve us when we falter and to save us when we are beguiled by the false ones. This is why our daily contact with God is so important.  We belong to God and God alone.  Let us rejoice in our belonging.

Enter the word belonging in the blog search bar and examine how, and who, and what, and why you trust.


Image from: http://uncletreeshouse.com/

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The Catholic Letters: Universality

Friday, October 4, 2019

The New American Bible explains the inclusion of the letters of James, Peter, John and Jude in the canon of the New Testament saying that “early Christians saw the New Testament as the depository of apostolic figures to whom they are attributed”.  That being said, there is ambiguity about the authorship of some of these letters; however, they were all written during the early “apostolic age” and as such are important to us – the apostles of the twenty-first century.  What lessons can we take from them?

Scholars tell us that these letters demonstrate the true meaning of the word catholic.  They underscore the idea that Christ came for all.  Christ heals all who seek him.  Christ loves allChrist answers all who call upon him.  So it follows that if we are Christ we, too, must have a universal view of humankind.

When I think of James, I love that he reminds us to be doers of the word and not sayers only.  We cannot be saved by faith alone.

When I think of Peter, I remember that his letters did not make much sense to me until I had suffered greatly.  Peter, Cephas the Rock, writes so beautifully of the way to suffer properly, of how to make our suffering holy and thus unite ourselves with Christ through the cross so that we become co-redeemers with Christ.

John’s letters, and in particular the first two, are beautiful anthems to love.  They are surfacing as first readings at Mass this week and I am always struck by how they amplify the message of John’s lyrical Gospel, and how they give us a clear understanding that God is love and that love is God.

Jude’s one simple letter tells us how to live in a Christian community, how to beware of false teachers, and how to admonish one another properly.

Taken together or separately, there is much to be gained by sitting with a commentary and an epistle or two on a quiet afternoon to understand the allegory and the message meant for us . . . the modern apostles.

We seek God.  We seek union and intimacy with God.  This cannot be done unless we follow in the footsteps of those who shared bread with the Master.  Jesus came as God’s expression of love to us, his creatures.  He comes to us each day in the persons with whom we interact.  He calls us to be the universal church.

God seeks us.  He seeks union and intimacy with us.  This cannot be done unless we allow our hearts to be open to the potential planted in us.  We go to Jesus each day as we demonstrate our faith by loving God our creator fully.  We go out to Christ each day as we unite with Christ, becoming co-creators of love.  We become the universal church.

Jesus, breath of God, abide with us as we rise, become us as we go about our day, dream with us as we put our head upon the pillow at night.  Jesus, we seek you even as you seek us.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2008.

Image from: https://jooinn.com/old-letter-rolls.html

Investigate the Letters of the New Testament at: http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/SFS/an0400.asp

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fake News

Monday, April 9, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on the false news that abounded in Jesus’ time just as it does with us today.

While [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] went on their way, some of the soldiers guarding the tomb went back to the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 

Wherever there is darkness, the light of Christ will pierce deceit and lies.

The chief priests met with the elders and made their plan; they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers and said, “You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep.

Wherever there is secrecy, the power of God will overcome plots and schemes.

And if the Governor should hear of this, we will convince him that you are innocent, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Wherever there is hatred, the consolation of the Spirit will heal with justice and mercy.

The guards took the money and did what they were told to do. And so that is the report spread around by the Jews to this very day.

Wherever there is false news, we rely on the authority of God to lead us to the truth. We trust the model of Christ to ask with compassion. And we believe in the support of the Spirit to reconcile the world.


Click on the image to read about a case study of fake news by Shelly Palmer or visit: https://www.shellypalmer.com/2018/01/fake-news-case-study/

We learn how to spot fake news at the following sites: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/10/31/559571970/learning-to-spot-fake-news-start-with-a-gut-check and http://www.readbrightly.com/critical-reading-teaching-kids-discern-real-information-fake-news/ and https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-ways-to-spot-fake-news-story.htm

Enter the words false teachers, false leaders or false prophets into the blog search bar for how to discern good fruits from bad.

 

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Matthew 23:1-12: Preaching and Practicing

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Accustomed to Confusion, Jesus Teaching

Accustomed to Confusion
Jesus Teaching

Jesus’ words are clear and simple as he tells us how to discern false teaching.

False leaders talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

Jesus’ words carry great weight.

Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals.

Jesus’ words bring us an eternal vision.

They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. 

Jesus’ words lay out clear guideposts.

Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. 

Jesus’ words describe our lives keenly.

They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

Jesus’ words show us how we might change.

Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let God tell you what to do.

Jesus’ words sustain and nurture.

There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

Jesus’ words clarify and heal, explain and comfort, teach and bring peace.

jesusDo you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

Let us pray Jesus’ words together today.

As we think about what we preach and what we practice, we remember to share Jesus’ words with others as we reflect on our Lenten practice for the week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the chalice.

 

 

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