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Posts Tagged ‘false teachers’


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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1 Timothy 1:3-20: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love Conclusion

Living the Yardsticklawoflove or loveoflaw

Monday, January 25, 2016

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the New Testament, with Christ’s Law of Love superseding the Old Testament Mosaic Law.

Paul writes to Timothy, the disciple he left in Ephesus, to continue the work they began in Christ. Paul might be writing these words to us today.

Stay on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience.

Paul might also remind us today that the laws of the world too often stand at odds with the Law of Love that Christ teaches. When we find ourselves between these two ends, we need only come to the center where Christ always is. In love.

The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

Paul might also urge us to share the Good News of the coming and in-dwelling of the Spirit. He might caution us that we will meet opposition. And he might remind us that we only need act in love as Jesus does.

It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

Tissot_Lost_Drachma_710

James Tissot: The Lost Drachma

Paul might thank us as he thanks Timothy. He might remind all of us of our inadequacies. And he might also urge us to place these liabilities in God’s great hands, the hands that created each of us to be blessed with Beatitude and nourished with Love.

I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

Paul might tell us that God’s mercy will overcome all adversity; that the Spirit will heal any injury; that Jesus will accompany any and each of us in our journey. He might urge us to persist in sharing this message with the same diligence as the woman who seeks the one lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). When we read Paul’s words we might realize that he speaks not only to Timothy but to each of us, urging us to rely on the Spirit and to remain in Christ. Paul might remind us that we come from God’s love and are to return this love in all we say and do. Paul might speak to us of this great Law of Love . . . might we persist in sharing this love today?

When we use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses with The Message translation we find here, we the opportunity Christ offers to explore his Law of Love . . . and to live this measure of God’s love more fully each day.

For a reflection on 1 Timothy 1:12-17, click on the image of the painting by Tissot. To read the Parable of the Lost Coin and consider how this story calls us to the Law of Love, read Luke 15:8-10.

Tomorrow, Mattathias.

 

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2 Corinthians 11:1-29: False Apostlesunmaskinghypocrite

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Paul contrasts apostles of the light with those of the dark in today’s reading.  As we have before in our Noontime journey, we know that evil is everywhere, present in the many small and big ways that we allow division to happen within ourselves and within our communities.  Wherever difference occurs, demons and their works flourish.  Using the most insidious of methods, false prophets take on the guise of protection and guidance but they deliver deception and manipulation.  We can feel Paul’s frustration in his words today.

For a detailed commentary we can look at notes; as an overview we might consider these words from yesterday’s Evening Prayer in MAGNIFICAT, and we might use them in a prayer offering to God this evening. The mini-reflection: We can use our treasured capacity for speech to offer prayer as fragrant as incense before God or to offer hurt to another.  Psalm 19:15: May the spoken words of my mouth, the thoughts of my heart, win favor in your sight, O Lord.  Psalm 141: I have called to you, Lord; hasten to help me!  Hear my voice when I cry to you.  Let my prayer arise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.  Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips!  Do not turn my heart to things that are wrong, to evil deeds with men who are sinners.  Never allow me to share in their feasting.  If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness; but let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head.  To you, Lord God, my eyes are turned: in you I take refuge.

Both the psalmist and Paul recognize the power of words, those which we say and those we hear.  They also recognize our human need to be in society, to share meals, time, problems and prayer.  They know that evil and goodness live side by side and that it is often difficult to discern the difference between the two.

As we struggle to determine if the apostles we follow are true or false, as we struggle to remain faithful apostles of Christ rather than the false apostles Paul describes for us today, we pray.

Loving and patient God, we lift our prayer to you like incense in the night. May our prayers be pleasing to you.

Knowing and persistent God, we struggle to discern the difference between false and true leaders. May our eyes see with your wisdom and love.

Faithful and just God, we abide with and in your Spirit. May our hearts be always open to you.

Strong and compassionate Christ, we look to you as a model of how we are to act in the world. May our hands and feet be willing followers of your Way.

We ask this today and all days. Amen. 

In different versions, Psalm 19 has a varying number of verses. Use the link above go to the last verse in this psalm for other translations.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.10(2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2009.

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shepherdWednesday, August 27, 2014

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

 

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