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Posts Tagged ‘fear’


Mark 4:12-25: The Parable of the Lampshining-our-light_med_hr

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Our talents are gifts from God and they are meant to be shared with the community – not hidden and kept away for ourselves. The last verse sounds so harsh, perhaps silly. Its true meaning is that once we begin to share what we have, we will be given the further gift of wanting to share. We will increase, we will convert, and we will find intimate union with God.

If our great fear is fear to commit, then once we begin to commit to others, the action becomes easier. If we do not take those steps toward others, if we build walls, then we will end up with less than we had when we arrived here. We will be alone in our tower – a tower built with our own hands.

Using another example, if we have a fear of paying attention to others because we want all the attention for ourselves, we will never be fulfilled. If, on the other hand, we practice stepping out of ourselves and giving to others, we will receive further gifts which will enable us to truly forget ourselves and do for others. If we do not take these steps, we will end by being alone – separated from humans and from God – and again, all by our own hand.

Fill in the italicized words above with any human fear and Jesus’ message is this: Once we take the steps to convert ourselves in the area where we know we need improvement, we will receive more and more gifts which will empower us to continue our conversion. If we refuse to enter into this difficult process of conversion, we will lack more and more – until we have and are nothing. We will have diminished rather than increased. We will have separated ourselves from God. We will have descended the ladder of Beatitude into a lonely place – rather than ascended it to intimate union with God.

Mark’s Gospel is the most brief and succinct. His descriptions are precise. Jesus’ actions are seen in a clean, clear trajectory of purpose. His words are unadorned and plain, but strong and resolute. Mark’s story of Jesus is powerful.

May the power of these words be with each of you today.


Image from: http://www.gloryknowledge.com/parables/parable-1.html

Adapted from a reflection written on April 16, 2007.

 

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Isaiah 42:6-7: The Mystery of Wisdom – Part IIcandle and scripture

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

I am the Lord, I have called you . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we call on the Lord, we find the answer lying in our own response to God’s call to intimacy with goodness.

I will hold you by the hand and watch over you . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we take God’s hand, we discover that we are also called to extend our other hand to those who live in darkness.

I will make you as a covenant to my people . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we extend our hand to others, we have entered into God’s promise.

I will make you a light to the nations . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we enter into God’s promise, God’s light flows through and from us.

I will call you to open blind eyes . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when God’s light flows from us, we begin to heal others.

I will call you to bring out prisoners from the dungeons . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we begin to heal others, we bring them forth from their prisons of fear, anger, anxiety and prejudice.

I will call you to bring out those who sit and wait in darkness . . .

The mystery of wisdom is that when we bring others forth from their prisons of darkness . . . we find ourselves standing in the fullness of God’s eternal, all-encompassing and nourishing wisdom.

Tomorrow, wisdom as promise and grace.


Image from: http://wallpapersinhq.com/55874-the_light_of_wisdom/

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Matthew 9:1-8: Taking Up Our Bedtake up your bed

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 22, 2021

They brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed . . .

Jesus says: Take courage . . . Get up . . . pick up your bed and go home . . .

God says: Each little incident that paralyzes you with fear is not from me. I only bring you love. Each enormous obstacle that looms before you is not from me. I only bring you hope. When you are paralyzed with fear, reach for me. When you are knocked off your feet, take up the bed of sorrow onto which you have fallen, and come home.

When we give ourselves over to fear we let go of God’s hand. When we languish in our sorrow and remain on our paralytic bed we reject the offer of newness God brings. If depression or anxiety overwhelm us we must seek professional guidance and help. God wants to convert the paralysis in our lives to loving acts of kindness, mercy and justice.

 


Image from: https://www.wordonfire.org/articles/fellows/pick-up-your-mat/

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Mark 16: Obeying Fear

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ Mourned by the Three Marys

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ Mourned by the Three Marys

Friday, March 25, 2015

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and John, and Salome bought spices so that they might go anoint Jesus . . . Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone for they were afraid . . .

In this ending of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ followers obey their fear. Our Lenten journey brings us the opportunity to examine our own temptation to obey our fears rather than trust the Easter miracle.

When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene . . . when they heard he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe . . . After this he appeared in another form to two or three of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them . . . Later, as the eleven were at the table, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.

In this ending of Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ love overcome his followers’ distress. Our Lenten journey brings us the opportunity to believe the resurrection story and follow Christ.

boat-on-the-seashoreGod says: If you read my scripture carefully you will see how many times these sacred writers record my assurance to you that you need not be afraid. Spend time with my servant Mark today and allow my grace to fill you. Read the end of his story with its double ending and examine your own doubts and fears. Allow my story to sink into your bones and feel the promise I offer you. My love does not fail. My promise remains for eternity. Rather than obeying your fears, bring them to me . . . for I will still your uneasy heart.


Using the scripture link, study the various versions of Mark’s Chapter 16, and decide to put away your fears.

Carracci image from: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_magdalene.htm

Boat image from: https://highwidhim.wordpress.com/tag/insult/

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

JRC Martin: Resurrection Morning

JRC Martin: Resurrection Morning

Daniel 12

The Great Apocalypse

What images come to mind when we hear the word ApocalypseWhat are our hopes? What are our fears? And what image of God do we offer to the world with all we say and do?

“Resurrection is explicitly affirmed only here in the OT, though belief subsequently spread until it finally became orthodox Jewish doctrine. But who is to be revived? ‘Many’ appears to mean only ‘some’, but it includes righteous and wicked. The scenario makes best sense if we see the problem being addressed as one of justice. There are those who have suffered undeservedly and those who have sinned without punishment. Both groups must be revived so that justice can be administered”. (Barton, and Muddiman 570)

And so we pray . . .

Good and faithful God, teach us to remain in you as you remain in us.

Good and patient Christ, help us to love our enemies as you love yours.

Good and encouraging Spirit, heal us of all our wounds and worries, our hates and fears . . . so that we might remain ever in and with you. Amen.


Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford: Christ Raising the Dead

Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford: Christ Raising the Dead

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 570. Print.

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

Images from: http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?tag=resurrection and https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/waterford-christ-raising-the-dead-n03222

 

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je suis charlieSaturday, January 15, 2022

Joy and Habakkuk

Questions

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Habakkuk reminds us that too often our ways are not God’s ways.

“For what may be the first time in Israelite literature, a man questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls him to account for his government of the world”. God replies that he will send “a chastising rod, Babylon”. And God also replies with divine assurance the faithful will not perish. (Senior 1150)

God says: I know that my plan seems slow to you and I understand your impatience for my ways are not always your ways. My prophets deliver your anger, exasperation, and sorrow to me; and I hear your plaint. My prophets also deliver My Word to you. I walk among you as the man Jesus and although you may not see him he is with you all the same. The anger of Habakkuk has not dissolved . . . and nor has my love. Each time you throw your anger at me I return it to you transformed in and by and through love. I return it to you as the gift of love. Read the words of Habakkuk . . . and bring me your fears and desperation. Bring me your sorrow, your worries and your questions. In return, you have my answer . . . the gifts of my presence, mercy, rescue and love.

In this prophecy, it is difficult to find the joy we hope to experience.  How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not intervene. (1:2)

In this prophecy, we hear the words that speak to human fear, suffering and frustration with the divine plan. I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint”. (2:1)

In this prophecy, we hear the Lord’s reply that we will want to hold close when pain and anxiety set in, when we wonder about the promise of God’s rescue and redemption. The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (2:3-4)

In this prophecy, we pray with Habakkuk: God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights. (3:19)

In this prophecy . . . we have the eternal answers to our unrelenting questions.

Several years ago, after the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, the nation of France prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to celebrate with joy in the face of enormous anger and grief. To learn more, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

Or you want to visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Charlie-Hebdo-shooting

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1150. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

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joyFriday, November 12, 2021

1 Maccabees

Joy and Misery

The Books of Maccabees are fraught with violence, rebellion, abhorrence and fear. We may be surprised to find that joy threads its way through these stories. As we examine the tales of the Maccabees family, let us consider how our own families are caught up in global and local affairs . . . and how miserable circumstances may well be hiding glimmers of joy . . . if we might only look. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of misery.

The opening verses of this story are simple and straightforward; yet they tell a complex story of warring tribes that fill a civil void to wreak havoc on the people.

Verses 1:1-9: This history begins when Alexander the Great, son of Philip of Macedonia, marched from Macedonia and attacked Darius, king of Persia and Media. Alexander enlarged the Greek Empire by defeating Darius and seizing his throne. He fought many battles, captured fortified cities, and put the kings of the region to death. As he advanced to the ends of the earth, he plundered many nations; and when he had conquered the world, he became proud and arrogant by building up a strong army, he dominated whole nations and their rulers, and forced everyone to pay him taxes. When Alexander had been emperor for twelve years, he fell ill and realized that he was about to die. He called together his generals, noblemen who had been brought up with him since his early childhood, and he divided his empire, giving a part to each of them. After his death, the generals took control, and each had himself crowned king of his own territory. The descendants of these kings ruled for many generations and brought a great deal of misery on the world.

This is a story that is as old as time; yet it is also fresh as it announces events we witness daily.

Reubens: The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus

Peter Paul Reubens: The Triumph of Judas Maccabeus

Verses 1:34-40: They brought in a group of traitorous Jews and installed them there. They also brought in arms and supplies and stored in the fort all the loot that they had taken in Jerusalem. This fort became a great threat to the city. The fort was a threat to the Temple, a constant, evil menace for Israel. Innocent people were murdered around the altar; the Holy Place was defiled by murderers. The people of Jerusalem fled in fear, and the city became a colony of foreigners. Jerusalem was foreign to its own people, who had been forced to abandon the city. Her Temple was as empty as a wilderness; her festivals were turned into days of mourning, her Sabbath joy into shame. Her honor became an object of ridicule. Her shame was as great as her former glory, and her pride was turned into deepest mourning.

This is a story that is as old as humanity; yet it is one that offers an opportunity to find joy even in the midst of violence and abuse.  This is a story that repeats itself too often; yet it is a tale that begs for change in stony hearts.

Let us pause to consider how we might break the cycle of violence and misery that seizes the world all too easily. And let us call one another to a new dedication of ourselves to God.


For more Noontime reflections about this tumultuous time, enter the word Maccabees into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.english.rfi.fr/france/20111110-belgium-demands-return-rubens-seized-during-french-revolution

Read more of this story and look for the times that joy finds a way to break through the chains of misery that enslave the people. Look especially at 3:7, 3:45, 4:56-59, 9:41, 13:52 and 14:11-21.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joyMonday, October 25, 2021

Judges 9

Joy and Conspiracy

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Judges.

In today’s story we have a cast of characters, most of them vicious and all of them passionate. Jotham, Abimelech and Jerubbaal are prominent as we visit Shechem, Beth-millo and Mount Gerizim; yet, despite the unusual names and distant locations, this is a story that in many ways takes place in our own neighborhood. Today we read about fear, violence and conspiracy, and the unexpected hope that always accompanies us, even in the most dire of circumstances.

Mount Gerizim

Jotham escapes assassination and summits mount Gerizim to pronounce the tale of the trees that speaks truth in a way that even the hardest of hearts can understand. We may have heard this fable of the trees as children but if not, today we take the time to sit with it. We listen to the words from the olive, the fig, the vine and the bramble to see if we might hear them from the lips of friends, family or colleagues. Or perhaps we have uttered – or thought – these words ourselves. Perhaps we have experienced the violence we read about today in a very real, physical way; or perhaps we have suffered emotional trauma that has left its marks of damage on our hearts and minds. Whatever the case, we have something to learn. Joy is always present in the darkest of hours. Joy is always possible in the most evil of conspiracies. Joy is constantly with us in the presence of God.


For information on Mount Gerizim, visit: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/gerizim-mount 

Image from: https://virtualreligion.net/iho/gerizim.html  

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the joy image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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