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Posts Tagged ‘fidelity’


1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part III

The Sadducees

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do we fear . . . and why?

We reflect on the story of the early apostles (Acts 5) as they remain faithful to Christ while suffering and rejoicing with equal energy and passion. When we open ourselves to God’s generosity, we come away refreshed and encouraged with the news that when we respond to the call to do God’s work, we know that we quickly find God in the obstacles that surround us.  We know that we are Rocks in company with Peter; we know that we can serve as foundations of the living temple; we see that we are able confront corrupt authority; we can rejoice in our suffering to bringing truth and light to the world.

When we reflect on this story, we understand that a small group of the faithful, through the power and love of the risen Christ, successfully challenges the old guard. We realize that the Sadducees are afraid to order a sentence of death on these Jesus-followers because they fear the people will revolt. They fear the power of the Spirit.

There is irony in this story. Those who inflict fear on others eventually experience fear themselves. This we see the power of the Spirit unfold, rising from fear to bring us peace. This,we begin to understand, is the gift of salvific suffering.

And so today we ask ourselves, what do we fear, and why?

Tomorrow, how do we suffer with Christ?

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part VII

Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

From Richard Rohr’s A SPRING WITHIN US, we find a challenge that we might explore on this day when we await a loving God who has descended into hell for each of us.

“The Path of Descent could be called the metanarrative of the Bible. It is so obvious and so consistent and so constant that it’s hidden in plain sight . . . God isn’t really the great theme of the Bible. God isn’t really taught in the Bible; God is assumed. There’s never any question that there is a Transcendent Other. The problem is whether this God is good and trustworthy and how to remain in contact with this subtle Transcendence. The path agreed upon by all the monks, hermits, mystics, and serious seekers was a path of descent and an almost-complete rejection of the ego’s desire for achievement, performance, success, power, status, war, and money. The emptiness, waiting, needing, and expecting of the path of descent created a space within where God could show Godself as good, as loving, and faithful”. (Rohr’s italics. Rohr 112-113)

Rohr reminds us that God uses unlikely figures to lead. This new kind of power has no power. Rohr reminds us that we must stumble and fall before we stand and succeed. Loss and mourning teach us humility and grace. Rohr explains that the ego does not like to bear crosses or to suffer; yet these burdens bring us to a new place of self-discovery and sharing. Flawed and wounded women and men teach us more than the famous or wealthy. Rohr reminds us that the Messiah came to us as a defenseless child, dependent on others, a member of a marginalized and oppressed people.

Rohr urges us to discover how we might stumble so that we might grow, how we might lose and still remain faithful despite our doubts and fears. He urges us to discover, and to follow, the path of descent. He asks us to remain in this Messiah who descends into hell so that we might live. He asks us to allow ourselves to be de-created in Christ so that we might then be renewed in Christ.

On this Holy Saturday, let us be Remnant for God. 

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016. 

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Mystery of Trusting Wisdom

The Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

school of Titian Rafael

The School of Titian: Tobias and the Archangel Rafael 

We recall the lessons we learned with these verses yesterday: God is good, we are good, life is brutal and unpredictable but also good because it brings us to God; the faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God.

There is nothing more important to hear, to learn or to repeat to others than the lessons Tobit teaches us today.  All human suffering can be quenched by these precepts.  All human understanding is capable of taking in these ideas; but not all humans have the will to enact what they hear.  That is why we cannot read this story too often.

Wisdom is sometimes defined as patience in the waiting to hear God’s voice.  One definition puts wisdom in its proper place  as coming from God over time – in God’s time and not in our time.  When we think of the wise people we know, we discover that they share a few characteristics in common.

  • Wise people do not often react instantly to an emotional moment; they pause to allow God to speak through them.
  • Wise people declare their thoughts with the wisdom of ages; they have spent a good portion of their lives with and in scripture.
  • Wise people display a certain amount of serenity; they know that all that surrounds them is not real, the justice of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people do not regularly become impatient; they understand that we are here to practice for that which is real, the love of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people display and embody empathy; they have suffered a great deal, and they have allowed themselves to be transformed by this suffering.
  • Wise people do not think first of saving themselves; they have made their suffering salvific, and freely give themselves as co-redeemers with Christ.

The wisdom of the book of Tobit is just this kind of wisdom.  In this story, wisdom maintains her mystery; she is seen as the ultimate act of stepping into the abyss with God. The ultimate act of suffering for and through God. The ultimate act of trust in God.

Wisdom rises from suffering, endures in fidelity, heals in love, restores in hope, and lives in trust.  We can never hear this story too often.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

 

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Favor of Providence

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tobias_cura_a_cegueira_de_seu_pai_-_Domingos_Sequeira

Domingos Sequeira: Tobias Heals the Blindness of his father Tobit

As a Noontime companion, you will know that this book is a favorite. This story is full of fidelity, promise, hope, healing, courage, desperation, prayers answered and the mystery of how we gain most in ourselves by trusting God. The story tells us of the importance of the mystery of trust.  We see God move not only through the disguise of the archangel Rafael, but also through people who respond to God’s call . . . even when it places them in danger.

Today’s excerpt is brief but we gain much if we spend some of our time with these verses. They are a wonderful antidote for a dispirited day.  The story reminds us of all the Old Testament foretells, all the prophets predict, all the wisdom books proclaim, and all that Jesus comes to fulfill. We have valuable lessons here. On this second weekend of Lent, we serve ourselves well by reflecting with these verses and taking in their lessons.

First: Tobit shows us that God is good, and we are good. It also shows us that although life is brutal and unpredictable, it is good because it brings us to God.

Second: The faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God. We need to kill people with kindness, we need to make our hearts open and vulnerable to God, we must become Christ’s hands and feet, head and heart through the act of healing one another, and through the act of interceding for one another, even our enemies. 

Tomorrow, we discover how these lessons teach us the importance of the mystery of wisdom and trust. If we take an hour or so to read more than these verses this weekend, we will not regret our decision to use our time in this way.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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Philippians 2:5-8: The Inverted Kingdom – Part V

Sunday, January 15, 2017inverted-kingdom

Jesus proposes that we set aside the accolades of life as we know it on earth; and this will be difficult to do because our desire for honor and fame, pleasure, power and wealth too often outweighs our willingness to surrender to God’s plan, to forego the hunger for control and celebrity. Today we remember a message from Paul that we have contemplated a number of times during our Noontime journey. We might wonder how we are to invert our lives. We might question how we are to give up all the world offers to take on the qualities of steadfastness, fidelity, meekness, willingness to mourn and to undergo hardship while we follow Christ Jesus on his Way.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. (NSRV)

This picture of the world is the inversion of the one we usually hold dear.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity. (MSG)

This view of the world is one we will want to explore.

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. He was equal with God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be held on to. He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God. He obeyed even when that caused his death—death on a cross. (ICB)

This view of the world shows us a leader who serves with humility and care.

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. (GNT)

This picture of the world invites us to newness through service and love.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand the call to live an inverted life.

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Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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Genesis 15 & 21: Do Not Fear – Part Ibigstock-christ-is-born-55349039-752x440

Christmas Monday, December 26, 2016

We are familiar with the conversation between Abram and “I AM” in which God promises not only a kingship and land but a son and as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great (Genesis 15:1) God’s fidelity is echoed in Abram’s.

Later in this story, Hagar bears Abraham a son and her attitude toward Abraham’s wife Sarah changes. When Hagar and her child Ishmael are sent away to wander in the desert, the same God who promises so much sends a messenger to bring them tidings of peace. The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. (Genesis 21:17Ishmael’s cry is heard by God.

Millennia later God perseveres in watching over the marginalized and invites shepherds as the first witnesses to the arrival of the Messiah in the world. Today we reflect on the gift of fidelity that Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and Ismael teach us. We reflect on the humility and joy of the shepherds who visit the child Jesus. And we reflect on the permanence of God’s love.

Jesus persists in serving as our shield. Today let us consider the fidelity we echo back to God.

To learn more about why and when Abram and Sarai’s names become Abraham and Sarah, visit: http://bibleblender.com/2011/bible-stories/old-testament/genesis/abraham-gets-a-new-name

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to explore the number of ways the Creator tells us that we need not be afraid.

 

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Luke 13:31-35: Gathering Children

Tuesday, November 1, 2016pp-lsh0007mother-hen-posters1

We know the importance of prophecy in God’s kingdom. We know the importance of the prophets themselves as God’s emissaries to the world. And we know that each of us is called to act as one of these messengers. How did Jesus recognize this work?

God says: Just because I call you to work in my vineyard does not mean that the work will be easy. Indeed, it is very likely to be the most difficult portion of your labor for me. My Word comes to earth as human flesh and finds itself rejected in the very heart of the people I have chosen as my own. I have wandered with you for millennia and still you doubt me. I have brought endless miracles to you and still you ask for signs. I have loved you as my own and still you turn away from me. Yet I love you endlessly. I always have since the beginning of time. I always will. I love every portion of you and each of you. There is no place you might go that I do not perceive you for together you are my very Spirit. Rest in me when you are weary. Rest in me when you are anxious. Rest in me when you celebrate and shout for joy. Rest in me always and everywhere.

Jesus says: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!

And we, the people, say: Oh good and loving God, we know that we doubt too often and mourn too long. Each day and in every way we want to return to you. Be patient with us as we flounder. Be strong for us as we waver. Be faithful to us as we stray. Gather us, your children, under your wings as a mother hen gathers her brood; and remain in us forever. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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