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Posts Tagged ‘fear’


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sirach 24:7-8

Seeking Our Inheritance

When we reflect on Scripture we find stories and themes of irony. The last shall be first while the first are last. The chosen people squander their advantage. The son who cheats his brother becomes founder of a nation. The faithless wife has a faithful husband. The one who denies knowing the Messiah becomes the Rock on which a religion stands. The chief persecutor of the fledgling Jesus community becomes a source of strength. We must die in order to live. Examples seem endless. Every chapter brings us a new example of how our human existence pulls us in opposite directions. We may consider this as confusing, or we may use this fog of contradiction to teach us. As always with Scripture and in life, our stumbling blocks become our lesson plans, our hurdles become our stepping stones when we open our hearts, minds, ears and eyes to the wisdom that suffering and chaos offer. Today we reflect on the inheritance we already hold and yet seek. Perhaps the richness of this inheritance is too much for us to take in.

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? In Genesis we see the devil tempt Adam and Eve with the promise of something they already hold. You can become like gods, Satan tells us just as he told the couple living in the perfection of Eden; yet clearly, they already have this inheritance. What was it they sought? And what do we seek?

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? Satan tempts Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, again offering him gifts he already holds: the awesome and infinite powers of God. As sisters and brothers of Christ, we too share this same inheritance. Are we able to put aside the false siren song of power and fame to take up our inheritance of humility, patience, perseverance, and love of our enemies? It is difficult to follow Jesus’ example, yet we know that The Way he shows us is the way of our inheritance of peace.

In Jacob make your dwelling, in Israel your inheritance. What is the dwelling of Jacob? What is this inheritance of Israel? The story of Jacob is one of deceit and redemption. This is a tent that shelters our own story. The Twelve Tribes of Israel show us the diversity of God’s family. This is a family in which we can find membership. The gifts we seek we already possess. The promise we pursue we already own. When we give ourselves over to the Creator, we hold the same promise given to Abraham of security and protection. We hold the same miracle of impossibility given to Sarah. When we become one with Jesus to best of our talents, we enjoy the peace of this union that only Christ can give. When we live in the Spirit that binds each of us to all, we rejoice in the inheritance we seek. The inheritance that is already given. Let us celebrate this inheritance today and all days by living the gift of immortal life we already have, that despite our infidelity and deceit, we find a home in salvation. Amid the chaos and fear, we find peace and salvation.


For a reflection on the Temptations experienced by Jesus, visit The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Image from: https://smartasset.com/investing/how-does-inheritance-work

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Michelangelo: Creation

Michelangelo: Creation of Adam

Psalms 7 to 18

Life, Death, Divinity, Humanity

This reflection was written upon the death of a friend’s father and is shared today as a Favorite. 

Much of life is lived in a confusion of fear and thanksgiving and we find a jumble of these emotions in Psalms 7 though 18.  Looking at just the New American Bible titles of these poems gives us a series of jubilant prayers mixed with sorrow-filled ones.  It is in this way that these poems bring us a faultless reflection of life.

The fusion of worlds present in the human made in the image of God is a dichotomy which we can either unite our id, ego and superego . . . or it can split us into child and adult separated by a chasm of fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of suffering.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of loss.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of loneliness.  Fear of knowing that we err.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of death.  And when I think of this litany of pain, I realize that each of these woes is accompanied by a restorative.  Joy in celebration.  Joy in exaltation.  Joy in gain.  Joy in companionship.  Joy in intimacy.  Joy in knowing that we are doing the right thing.  Joy in perfect, trust-filled union with another.  Joy in life.  Our fear-filled humanity struggles with our covenant-honoring divinity.

Psalm 8 brings us dichotomous images announced in the title: Divine Majesty and Human Dignity We find more in the psalm: earth and heaven, babes and foes, enemy and avenger.  The verses that tell all that we really need to know:  What are humans that you [God] are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet . . . O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!

What a wonderful God we have who loves us to the extent that he creates us, visits with us, loves and comforts us, feeds, houses and clothes us, heals and tends to us, listens to us, blesses us . . . always . . . with constancy . . . with fidelity . . . with dignity . . . with patience . . . through eternity.

We often feel closer in death to the ones we love than we did when these dear ones were yet in this life.  These loved ones speak to us constantly now that the physical distances of this world no longer separate us.  They bring us the very real presence of the next world with their constant visitation.  We cannot see them because of the limiting time and space of this globe but still their existence is real.

Teilhard de Chardin 2We are human.  We are divine.  And we feel the constant struggle of reconciling these two worlds of self.  A human death brings us up short because we are forced to consider if we believe that we are created as gift.  We pause to think again about the Resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, life everlasting.  We cannot help but reflect on how we have treated this departed one: with the dignity deserved no matter the situation?  With the witness of divine majesty?  Did we salute the gift of this person while they were still in this life?  Did we honor this person while still with us as well as we will honor them in death?

The ones we love who have died linger among us.  We love that much.  They still laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry.  We cannot see them with the eyes of this world, or hear them with these ears.  But they are here with us nonetheless.  As we are with them.  They hold us close.  They have not disappeared.  Their presence is still felt . . . and it will be . . . forever and ever.  Amen.


Adapted from the May 31, 2008 Noontime.

For more information about Teilhard de Chardin, click on his image above or go to: http://teilharddechardin.org/

Image of the creation of Adam from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam

For other reflections on eternal love and human vulnerability, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore.

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

God-is-Love[1]1 John 4:16-19

God is Love

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.  In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

We have the idea that “love” means we have no doubts or fears, that we are constantly positive and fulfilled.  We also believe that “perfection” means that we must never err, never waver, never give in to our desire to control.  John tells us that God’s love does not punish but rather drives out fear . . . and in this there is perfection.

God says: I know that the world is a distressing place but you need not fear for your eternal life.  I want to calm all the big and little anxieties that beset you.  I want to heal all the big and little ways in which you reject me.  I know that you strive for perfection in that you try to always “be good” and this is not what I ask of you.  What I ask is this: Love me as I love you; love others rather than hate them; and in this you will find perfection.  I do not ask that you do not err.  What I ask is this: When you err, come to me; when others err, forgive them and pray for them. In this way you will rest peacefully.  In this way you will come to know my perfection.

In our interconnected world when all that goes wrong floats to the top of the headlines, we frighten ourselves and build walls to keep ourselves safe and “others” out.   In this we fail to see that the “others” are also God’s children.  In our rush to be “perfect” we try to manipulate our circumstances and to control others.  In this we fail to see that true perfection comes from filtering all we say and do through the Gospel and in loving those who harm us.  In our desire to be “good” we create and follow rules that apply to all of humanity in the name of the common good.  In this we fail to see that each of us in created in God’s image . . . and that God is Love.

Enter the phrase God is Love in the blog search bar and continue to reflect on the meaning of God’s Love.


Image from: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-god/god-is-love/

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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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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Word of God

The Word of God

1 John 1:1-4

The Word of Life

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of Life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too many have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

We are a visual, tactile people.  We look for data. We rely on evidence.  We want facts.  We seek reason over emotion and the Apostle John understands this – as does God.

God says: I know that you want cold, hard proof that I am with you and yet you have it each day at your rising to a new sun and a new beginning.  Did I not awaken you this morning? I understand that you rest on science and law and that you measure your life with scientific and legal standards.  Do I not show you my justice and mercy every minute of every hour each day as you go through your work and play? I comprehend that you have fears and anxieties that rattle you and shake your confidence.  Will I abandon you when you lay your head to rest this night to gather strength for a new day?  You can rely on the testimony of the Beloved Apostle who recounts his experiences to you.  Learn to trust his word . . . for it is mine. 

When doubt assails us we waver.  When obstacles obstruct our path we stumble.  When opposing arguments clatter around us we shrink and hesitate.  John tells us today that these doubts, obstacles and arguments are as nothing before the profound truth that supports and protects us. John speaks to us with passion so that we too might believe.  When we spend time with John 1:1-5, we explore our fears and joys about the message we hear.


A re-post from July 1, 2013.

Image from: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=156989&picture=smoke-13

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

John 7:40-53: The Crowd

Munkácsy Mihály: Ecce Homo

Munkácsy Mihály: Ecce Homo

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection: God takes an odd vengeance on Jesus’ human enemies: he offers them eternal life, if only they will hear and see the truth of the one they pursue with such anger. 

With the election of Francis as Roman Catholic Pope, God invites us to explore the Easter message; with Jorge Bergoglio’s elevation to a major public stage we have the opportunity to react to our human dichotomous past and present.  Traitor, saint, collaborator, kingdom-builder . . . we have no way of knowing what Bergoglio’s heart hides or holds.  We have no way of hearing the man’s dialogs with God.  We have no way of living the man’s hopes and fears.  What we do have is the message of Christ brought to us in yesterday’s readings for Mass.  We will want to spend time with them today.

Jeremiah 11:18-20 begins with: I knew their plot because the Lord informed me; at that time you, O Lord, showed me their doings.  We must not allow our fears and anxieties to frighten us away from loving as God loves – with full and open heart – with full and open forgiveness – with full and open return for us, his prodigal daughters and sons.

Psalm 7: O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me, lest I become like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue me.  Our greatest dread is loss – of self, of reputation, of appearance, of control, of comfort, of relationships, of God.  Yet the only loss that is serious is loss of our relationship with God . . . which we forfeit when we turn away.  God never leaves us; God is always waiting for our return no matter the circumstances of our leaving.

John 7:40-53 begins: Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said. “This is truly the Prophet”.  Others said, “This is the Christ”.  But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? . . . So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 

This week we have spent time with the different people who were with Jesus in the last hours before his death and we have looked at the story of the Passion from various perspectives and angles.  Today we reflect on these readings to see where we might be standing in the final crowd that follows and hounds Jesus.  Are we for or against him?  Do we reject or adore?  Do we observe or act?

What circumstances chaff at us?  What situations chill us?  What surrounding conditions irritate us?  What people annoy or terrify or inspire us? What motivates us to stand or hide, to collaborate or sacrifice?  What fears and hopes drive us?  What hates or loves move us?

God takes an odd vengeance on Jesus’ human enemies: he offers them eternal life, if only they will hear and see the truth of the one they pursue with such anger. 

A new Holy Father steps forward to lead.  What was his past?  What is his present? What might be his future?  Only God knows.  And this God is such a generous God that any vengeance exacted will be the offer of eternal life.  May Jorge Bergoglio, and may we in the crowd, go to God with all our questions.  May the new Pope, and may we in the crowd, hear and act on The Word as Christ did as we move through each day.  And may the Holy Father, and we in the crowd, all live in The Spirit of mercy, compassion, justice and forgiveness on this, our Lenten journey.  May we love as God loves . . . for it is our only salvation.


A re-post from March 17, 2013.

Image from: http://www.mihalymunkacsy.org/search

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 16 March 2013: 239. Print.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Jeremiah 20: Being Duped by God

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

46564700-1246927298[1]Jeremiah is a frequent companion on our Noontime journey and today’s theme is one we have visited often: Sometimes our great fall comes as a direct result of doing precisely what God has asked us to do.  Sometimes we are duped by God.

The interior crisis – the situation in which he hope to never find ourselves – is something we all work diligently to avoid . . . and we ought not.  It is, in fact, the very reason we are here on earth.  It is our personal work.  It is the way we arrive at our highest potential.

The places within – the ones we avoid – are the places we must approach with candor and even eagerness.  They are our “working edge”.  They are our labs, our quizzes, our tests.  They are our final exam.

The interior self whom we avoid – the part of ourselves that we shun – is the very place where God dwells.  He is there waiting for us with open joy, celebrating with us that we have had the courage to take the scales from our eyes, the mask from our face, the blinders from our perspective.

God is always anticipating our arrival; God is always on the other side of the door we refuse to approach.  God is calling out to us to knock and enter.  God is waiting there patiently, always abiding.  God is our goal in all things and at all times.  There is nothing else that matters.  No other work.  No other cause.  No other person.  This is what Jesus means when he says that the dead will bury the dead.  (Matthew 8:22)  There is no thing and no one who ought to stand between us and God.  And we will surely find God when we open the dark part of ourselves to allow God’s light into the dim corners.

Each of us has “a shadow self”, the person whom we fasten away, hoping to keep shut in from ourselves and from the world.  Much like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, each of us has a lunatic spouse we keep locked in the north tower . . . and if the metaphor holds we can see the destruction that will arrive if we try to keep that door bolted.

Suffering follows once we open the lock . . . but so does restoration.  This is the message of the prophet Jeremiah.  It is the message of St. Paul.  If we avoid the work we are called to do with and for ourselves, we avoid our personal mission.

Does God dupe us?  Yes, God does.  Why?  Because God loves us, wants us to face our fears while relying on Christ, and God wants us to trust the saving newness of the resurrection that Jesus brings to us without our even asking.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

When we lock ourselves away with our fears, we have no other recourse but to listen. If we open ourselves to listening to God’s voice, we have the opportunity to respond.  And once we respond, we take our first steps toward reconciliation, conversion, and salvation.

God is in charge.  There is an Economy of Salvation.  There are no mistakes in God’s plan . . . only opportunities for God’s love to triumph.

Tomorrow . . . a Prayer for those who are willing to be duped . . .


Image from: https://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/223193

First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Friday, January 3, 2020

1 John 5: Victory

reclaiming_gods_hope[1]For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

We are so often told – and we so often forget – that once we place ourselves in God’s hands we need not struggle.  From the first books of the Torah to the final words of Revelation we hear this message and yet we fight with and against the world.

Sometimes we fear one another.  We hoard money, goods, guns, plots and any object or idea we believe keeps us special . . . and this is sad because we are already special.

Sometimes we fear the past or the future.  We look over our shoulders constantly or peer into the coming days looking for clues about how we should act and decide . . . and this is so senseless because these preoccupations takes us away from the holy present.

Sometimes we fear God.  We look for full comprehension or we want total control; we deny, cajole, and make bargains . . . and this is so little of us because as John tells us today: The surest victory over the world comes not from our actions or thoughts but through our faith in God.

I write these things to you so that you may know you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.  And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything in accordance with his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked of him is ours. 

John cannot speak more plainly to us.  In his Gospel he tells us quite clearly that Jesus is the unique Son of God.  He reminds us that salvation comes through our belief in the Son.  He explains that “Jesus is not the victim of human injustice even though those who killed him were evil people.  Jesus chose to offer his life for others so that they could see God’s love revealed on the cross.  When we see God’s love on the cross, we are reminded that God identifies with the lowly, suffering people of the world by joining with them”. And finally, John’s Gospel describes for us how mutual love and unity express God’s love.  (Senior RG 450-451)   All of this is explained to us and yet our fears overcome our faith; we allow the turmoil of the world to overcome us; we forget that victory comes through our faith in the story that we witness through John and the other apostles.

John tells in his writings that he has witnessed all that he recounts – we are not reading a second, third or fourth-hand accounting.  In his first letter, John intertwines the very real with the ideal and we may become confused with this fusion of two perspectives; yet in is this dance between two opposites and the synthesis they present, John describes a world of universal acceptance and love that we seek.

Jesus tells us endlessly that God’s simple commandment to us is his call to love.  We struggle with this for we do not see it in the world we occupy.

John tells us endlessly that Jesus’ simple commandment to love comes directly from God the creator.  We struggle with this and we let doubt and fear and a desire to control our world to take us over.

As we begin a new year in our western calendar, let us decide to put aside our anxieties about the world.  Let us spend time reflecting with John, a man who accompanied Christ – God Among Us.  And let us place all our fears and hopes in the hands of a God who loves us deeply and always . . . for it is in that place alone that we experience victory that conquers the world.


A re-post from December 31, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 450-451. Print.   

For more on the First Letter of John, visit the 1 John – Testimony page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/1-john-testimony/

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1 Kings 7: Building Palaces

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Herod’s Palace

What do my faerie castles look like?  How thick are the walls of the fortresses I build to keep the world out?  How many rooms do my palaces have?  What are the furnishings?  Whom do I bring home to my safe havens?  How do I spend the precious gifts of time and space that God has given to me?  Where, and when, and how and why do I construct my palaces?

Are these spaces and times meant to keep the world out or to invite the world in?  Have they become oases on the road of life or have they devolved into chaotic and jarring experiences?  Are they God-absent or God-centered?  Am I relying on myself, my skills as an architect and designer . . . or am I trusting God completely?

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious about clothes?  Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.  They do not work or spin.  But I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  (Matthew 6:26-30).

Why do we worry?  Why do we spend so much time building barriers when we ought to be disentangling ourselves from enabling relationships?  Ought not we spend more time bringing The Word to one another and building bridges?  Imagine a world in which we are free from anxiety and fear, a world in which we trust God completely with our needs. Does he not know them better than anyone else?  Ought we not to go to him for our shelter and our shade?  Why do we build so many palaces when God has a dwelling place already fashioned for us?

From last evening’s and this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

God is our promised shelter and our shade.  To him we pray: Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of life’s tribulations, strengthen our hope in your promised kingdom.  Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of physical ailments, grant us trust in your healing power.  Protect us from all harm.

In the midst of worry and distress, send us peace of heart.  Protect us from all harm.

With trust in the love our heavenly Father has for us, we pray: You are our life, O Lord!

You care for the works of your hands: teach us to help and not to hinder your loving providence.  You are our life, O Lord!

 You feed and clothe all of your children: forgive us the greediness that seeks to deprive others for your own benefit.  You are our life, O Lord!

You provide for all the earth: grant us the wisdom to see and to serve your purposes.  You are our life, O Lord!

What need of we of palaces . . . when our God provides us all?


Written on August 26, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.  To learn more about ancient Jerusalem and Herod’s Palace, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblestudyspace.com/page/herod-s-palace

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