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Posts Tagged ‘fidelity’


Holy Tuesday, March 30, 2021

200px-Prophet_Amos_002Amos 7

God’s Servants

Through a series of visions Amos leads us to his central message: we must respond to God’s call to correct the social injustice we see around us. In Chapter 7 we see the core of Amos’ message through a series of visions but it is perhaps his personality that moves us more than the images he describes. Amos displays characteristics we see in Jesus, and these are the same tools we must nurture so that we might be faithful servants of God’s Word: frankness, brevity, an insistence to stay “on message” despite the chastisement and threats received from a corrupt civil, social or religious structure.

Amos refuses to hire himself out, as other prophets do. He resists the urge to say more than Yahweh has told him. He speaks, takes no credit or blame, remains faithful and tenacious, then stands down when his work of prophecy is complete, returning to the productive life he had lived before he stepped into history.

We are each called to be Amos. We are each called to speak in witness to what we know to be truth and light. We each live in the providential care of God. We each have the power of speech and spirit. We each must intercede for our family, friends and enemies – just as Amos does. And then we may return to our work, living the Gospel we know to be true until we are called again by God.

Life lived in this manner becomes less complicated, less frightening, more fulfilling, and more peaceful. Life lived in this manner – even in the midst of painful abuse and dire extremes – is seen as beautiful and serene. Life lived as Amos shows us is life in its proper alignment – we become good and faithful servants doing the work of God. As humble and honest workers, we demonstrate our understanding that God is in charge, that God’s plan will not be thwarted, that God can be trusted to turn all acts of malicious damage into acts of saving love.

This then is the lesson of Amos: Speak when we know we must, listen for the Word always, step forward when called and back when the time for speaking has ended. Act always in God and through God. Remain always God’s willing servant who brings a full and open heart to each day. Trust God . . . and stay out of God’s way. 


Tomorrow, a Prayer for Faithful Servants.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2008.

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Yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the death of Bishop Oscar Romero who was murdered as he celebrated Mass. View this powerful music video produced by The Martyrs Project at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be

Or return to the Amos and Amaziah by entering the words in the blog search bar

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Prophet Amos

The Prophet Amos

Amos 9:1-8

Vision of the Altar

“Amos’ final vision (9:1-4) does not begin with the same formula [as the other visions] and, this time, does not involve objects or animals. Instead, he sees God, who stands beside an altar. The mention of capitals and thresholds suggests a real temple . . . God begins by acting in the temple; both the people and structure itself will fall, and although readers have been made aware that no one will escape, God’s determination to root out every last person is highlighted here”. (Mays 652)

Climbing to the heavens, hiding in the bottom of the sea, ascending to the summit of Carmel, living in captivity. It does not matter where the Ethiopians, Philistines, Arameans, Israelites or any of us hides, all the peoples of the world are known to God. Why does Amos tell us this? What does he expect from us? How might we use his words, how might we interpret these woes, what are we to make of his visions?

Rather than seeing this imagery as a dualistic, black-or-white, either-or world of good people and bad in which some suffer and others are saved, let us consider that each of us is both foolish and faithful. Let us put away our pride and greed and instead focus on living our lives as positive manifestations of God’s hope for us. Let us decide what or how we will amend our habits and customs as we bring the gift of ourselves to the altar. And as our Lenten act of fidelity, let us determine to show our gratitude for the depth and breadth and height of God’s enormous love.

Tomorrow, Messianic Perspective.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 652. Print.

For more on the significance of Mount Carmel, visit: http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm 

For more information on the peoples named by Amos, see the following site and visit these links.

Arameans: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-arameans

Philistines: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Philistines.html

Ethiopians: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/ejhist.html

 Image from: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2020/06/15/101724-prophet-amos

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Amos 4

Second Word

Amos delivers God’s word to the priests in Bethel for a year and when he is rejected he returns to his shepherding work. He speaks to the Israel nation about their lack of fidelity. And he reminds us of how we can turn back to God and the covenant once we discover that we have again fallen under the spell of the pagan gods of fame, money, influence and power. Amos reminds us that there is always redemption. Restoration is always possible.

God says: In this time of Lent I call you to examine your conscience and you perform this scrutiny well. You are aware of all that you do when you allow yourself to be honest. You know where and how to return to me when you allow yourself a bit of quiet and a dose of truth. So put your worries and fears aside for your renovation already lies within you. Your recovery from all that plagues you is already in your body, mind and soul. All that needs happen is that you note what you do, that you put aside your pagan gods, and that you turn and return to me. Uprightness lives in you through me. Do what you must to nourish the integrity that dwells in you. This is the Second Word that comes from me through my prophet Amos.

In our modern society we are not much different from our ancient ancestors despite our science and technology; the very real temptation to become Cows of Bashan is as keen and alluring today as it was millennia ago; yet we know that life is more than we see before us.  And so we still yearn for union.  We still seek wisdom and peace.  We are still vessels of the Spirit that creates us. God still dwells within . . . waiting to transform and rescue us.

Tomorrow, Third Word.


For information about Bashan, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/golanheights.htm

For another Noontime reflection on Amos 4:1-2, enter the words The Cows of Bashan into the blog search bar and explore.

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Sunday, February 7, 2021

sparks of fireWisdom 3:1-9

A Prayer for Fallen Sparks

They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead . . . but they are in peace . . . They shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble . . . they shall judge nations and rule over peoples . . . and the Lord shall be their King forever . . . because grace and mercy and care are with God’s holy ones.

We near the end of our journey through Psalm 119, and today we pause to reflect and consider the insights and wisdom God reveals to us through the written word. We have come to understand that God is too great and too good to describe and therefore we dart about, looking for a time and place to ignite the smallest bit of kindling so that our small spark of life might not be extinguished. In the coming week, we move through the ending stanzas of this psalm and a certain simplicity and intelligence settles over us.  As we find new understanding, we pray.

Knowing that we are always in God’s hands although we may not feel God’s presence we pray: Providential God, speak to us in a way that we might hear you.

Knowing that God’s Word lives in and around us although we may not comprehend it, we pray: Consoling God, reveal yourself to us in a way that we might see you.

Knowing that God’s fidelity saves us although we may not believe it, we pray: Faithful God, abide with us in a way that we might sense you.

Knowing that God’s love redeems us although we may not trust it, we pray: Redemptive God, hold and rescue us in a way that we might feel you.

Knowing that God’s grace and mercy are present to and in us although we may not believe it, we pray: Gracious God, continue to wrap us in your kindness and beauty although we may not thank you.

Knowing that we are fallen sparks, little life forces that dart to and fro, seeking origin and end, looking for wisdom and security, we pray:  Loving God, although we may not believe that you sacrifice all in order to transform us, bring us insight and serenity so that we might rest eternally in you.  Amen.   

Tomorrow, we near the end of Psalm 119 . . . Qoph.


Image from: http://www.torange.us/Fashion-and-beauty/fireworks/sparks-of-fire-25690.html

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Christmas Eve – December 24, 2020

4112920[1]Luke 2:39-40

Filled With Wisdom and Light

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Last week we spent time with Luke’s telling of the Nativity Story and in our reflections we explored four Lucan themes: the rearing of Jesus in the Mosaic Law and traditions, the importance of Jerusalem and the Temple in Jesus’ family life, the presence of God’s Spirit in the Jesus story, and Jesus as the presence of truth and light that will effect decision and judgment. (Mays 932)

God says: When you experience my son in this story you too will be filled with wisdom and light. When you live in my Spirit you too will find your decisions come to you more easily for they will be made in and through me. I do not want to control you and that is why I have given you full free will. I want to love you, and I want you to love me. Jesus lives by the old law in order to bring about the new. This is not easy and it involves misery and disappointment; yet this sadness is transformed just as a butterfly arises from the cocoon spun by a caterpillar; new life springs from the decaying seeds of the old tree, and eternal life arrives through the fidelity and integrity of your relationships. Remain in me as I remain in you. Allow yourself to be filled with my wisdom and light. And allow my favor to bring you out of all suffering and pain. 

As the child grows strong and becomes filled with wisdom, so too do we grow in strength and understanding when we grow in God. As God’s favor rests upon the Child of Wisdom and Light, so too does God’s favor rest on each of us when we live and work in the Spirit. As we move through this holiest of weeks, let us open our hearts and minds to the gift of endless light and life.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

Image from: http://wallpaper4god.com/en/background_christian-graphic-light-of-the-world/

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt Rijn: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgment. However, in so doing he will face opposition and death. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity. She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient. Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets, all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear. As we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time when we near the announcement of joy to the world because the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people. And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.


For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Thursday, December 3, 2020

imagesCAO1YZTJLuke 1:26-38

Finding Favor

Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.  

We know little about Mary, the mother of the Christ, and yet we know all that we need to know. Mary was reared as a faithful child of God. Mary remained faithful to God throughout the turmoil of her life. Mary remains faithful still as she continues to visit the children of God.

God says: Many of you strive to find favor with friends, loved ones and those with whom you work; yet you only once in a while think of me or think of finding favor with me. I do not ask that you spend an unreasonable amount of your time away from your favorite pursuits or companions but I do ask this – remember me each day for I am the one who has given you time. Bring your sorrows to me each day for I am the one who brings you hope. Rejoice and sing with me each day for I am the one who gives you life.

To find favor with God we might follow the example shown to us by Mary. Let us remain faithful children of God despite the tumult in our lives. Let us bring our fears and sorrows to God who created us. And let us celebrate with God who brings us life.


We celebrate the day of Gabriel’s visitation on March 23. For more on this day, click on the image above or go to: http://wordincarnate.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/word-made-flesh/

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Monday, November 30, 2020

El Greco: St. John the Baptist

El Greco: St. John the Baptist

Luke 1:5-17

Turning Many

There was a priest named Zechariah who had a wife, Elizabeth.  Both were righteous in the eyes of God, but they had no child because Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years.  An angel of God came to Zechariah and announced: “Do not be afraid, your prayer has been answered. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God”.

John the Baptist turns many to God. Might we say the same of ourselves?

God says: Each of you is my witness. Each of you has the capacity to call others to my side. The work of witnessing does not require great works. On the contrary, it only requires simple and honest living. Your actions speak far more eloquently than your words so do not worry about what you might say on my behalf. Live your life in fidelity to me. Live your life with integrity in the Spirit. Live your life openly and honestly as Jesus does . . . and this will be witness enough. In this way, your life will be the turning of many to me.

We too often depend on our own resources to do God’s will when all God asks is that we serve as a faithful conduit. We must learn to let God do the heavy lifting, quick thinking, and clever speaking . . . through the authentic living of our lives.

To learn more about John the Baptist, enter his name in the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John_the_Baptist_(El_Greco)

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Judges 13-16

Light Overcomes the Darkness

We know the story of Samson and Delilah well. He the child whose birth an angel announces to a barren woman and who is reared with devotion. She a Philistine woman with the power to bewitch and who uses any means to achieve her goal. When we read this familiar story slowly, we will find many twists and turns left out of the abbreviated version we usually hear, and these turnings will give us the opportunity to reflect on the parts of our own lives that might mirror the fortunes and failures of this complicated story.

We see Samson as the clever solver of riddles who visits harlots, a warrior of incredible strength who wishes to marry outside of his tribe. We see him rise to fame and power and we also see him stumble and fall into a mockery of his former self.

We watch Delilah enter into Samson’s confidence to exact his secret for a price, using any trick or deception to gain the tightly held information. In her campaign to learn about his power, Delilah says to Samson, How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?  She chooses her words well because Samson took her completely into his confidence and told her. 

There is a part in each of us that identifies with both Samson and Delilah.  There is betrayal, deception, anger and revenge. And there is also a strength and light that persists despite the darkness.

As we approach the Advent season, a time of year when we celebrate the arrival of a new light into a world of darkness, we will want to prepare ourselves for the gift of truth and openness that Christ brings. With the dawning of this great awakening, let us examine our way of living and resolve to put away any darkness that leads us away from God, and let us welcome the light that is Christ.

Let us petition God for greater fidelity to our covenant promise to walk with Christ.

Let us petition God for deeper courage to remain steadfast in Christ.

Let us petition God for Samson-like strength to choose life that unites and enlightens rather than death that divides and scatters.

Let us petition God for the light that we know will overcome all darkness, no matter how deep, no matter how intense.

And let us remain in this light of Christ always, for it is the only power that overcomes the dark.   


Adapted from a reflection written on November 25, 2009.

Image from: https://www.wga.hu/html_m/s/stom/samson.html

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