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Posts Tagged ‘fidelity’


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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Saturday, October 3, 2020

week-4[1]1 Peter 4:12 – 5:14

Out of Our Comfort Zone

It is human nature to avoid or reject anything which challenges us to move out of our comfort zone. We may want to eliminate from our lives anything which makes us re-think an idea, an issue, or a long-held perception of a person. We may want to circumvent any conflict or idea that challenges the status quo or asks us to open our minds to a new concept.  Peter tells us clearly that suffering can actually be good for us when we suffer according to God’s willnot according to some trial we create for ourselves out of our own stubbornness, pride or envy.

In our prayer time this weekend we might want to examine our desire to remain comfortable to determine if our trials are truly in line with Peter’s idea in verse 19: those who suffer in accord with God’s will hand their souls over to a faithful creator as they do good.

From this morning’s Liturgy of the Hours in MAGNIFICAT: God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind.  In the end, God is all there is and all there need be.

May we find fidelity as the keystone of our relationship with our faithful creator.

May we remain constant even as we learn to shift ourselves out of our comfort zones.

May we do good today and every day as we hand our souls over to the will of God in accordance with the covenant we hold together.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT.14.3 (2007). Print.

A re-post from October 5, 2013 and adapted from a reflection written on March 14, 2007.

Enter the word suffering into the blog search bar and spend some time with the concept of suffering.

The quote in the image above is credited to Neale Donald Walsch, the author of the “Conversations with God” series. The image is from Breathe Out.com at: http://www.breathe-out.com/?p=306

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

god_speaks[1]Proverbs 2:6-8

God’s Mouth

For the Lord gives wisdom, from God’s mouth come knowledge and understanding; God has counsel in store for the upright, God is the shield of those who walk honestly, guarding the paths of justice, protecting the way of the faithful.

We are often tempted to go our own way, convincing ourselves that we have enough personal strength, enough contacts, enough resources to protect ourselves. Yet when disaster strikes all of this power is useless.

God says, When I see you placing all of your efforts into temporal storehouses I love you all the more. When days and weeks and months go by without your speaking to me, I call to you. I come to walk among you in the person of Jesus to give you counsel. My Spirit dwells within you to serve as your shield, to guard you each day, to protect you from the disasters that will befall you. Jesus comes to you as My Word. Jesus brings knowledge and understanding from mouth to your heart. Open your heart to me.

God is not remote or detached. God does not watch us from a distance. God is around us in all of creation. God is within us giving knowledge and understanding. God’s wisdom reverberates in the hearts of those who walk with honesty and live faithfully. Although we cannot hear God, God speaks to us each minute of each day, bringing us knowledge and understanding.


Image from: http://christiancrosstalk.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-does-god-speak-to-us.html

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Friday, June 12, 2020

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Francesco del Cairo: Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Judith 12:16Holofernes’ Banquet

As we continue our series of reflections on the nature of schemers and their plots, how to avoid them and how to rebuke those who lie on couches to conspire, we return to the story of Judith.

Holofernes is a man accustomed to using power and he also knows how to bide his time, lay traps, and bring others into his schemes.  What he has never encountered in his powerful life is a woman who is as beautiful, God-centered, and determined as Judith. And Holofernes’ lust is no match for Judith’s constant, prayerful attendance on God.  This story is worth reading from beginning to end but if there is time for only one verse, it is 12:16 for it teaches us how to deal with schemers, seducers and plot-builders.

“The story of Judith is full of unexpected turns.  The first and most obvious . . . was that a woman – and not a man – saved Judah in its time of severe distress.  Judith is more faithful and resourceful than any of the men of BethuliaShe is more eloquent than the king and more courageous than any of the leading citizens of the city, yet Judith is a very unlikely heroine”.  (Senior RG 213)

The story of Judith is full of the detail which we might overlook if we rush through the reading; and it is the kind of detail that a good writer uses to describe the depth of one’s personality, the reason for one’s perversion, the cause of one’s sociopathy.  It is the kind of writing which brings us up sharply when we experience the shuddering reality that human beings often spend more time trying to lure others into a personal agenda than they do honestly working at the task God assigned to them.  The image of this man “burning with desire . . . yet biding his time” is one that haunts me.  I cannot shake it.  And it returns in the written word on a day like most others  . . . packed with activity . . . with so little time for reflection about what is real and not real.

This story tells of how God delivers the faithful through a crushing crisis . . . and how God does this through a woman.  The Reader’s Guide of the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE tells us that Judith destroys the enemy not through might but by “her beguiling charm and disarming beauty.  The Bible sometimes portrays a woman’s beauty negatively as a snare, but here it is the means of deliverance”.  (Senior RG 213)

And so we hear this story which has been retold so many times through history and in so many ways.  It is a story that teaches us how to combat the lavish allure of the banquets staged by those who plot against innocents and of a woman who answers God’s call with the only tools left to her.  It is a story rife with irony and inversion.  It is a story of how God moves in our lives if we but allow God to enter.

May we all take a lesson from Judith.


To see and study more paintings of  Judith and Holofernes, visit: https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/best-judith-head-holofernes-paintings/

To read more Noontimes reflections on Judith, enter her name in the blog search bar, seek . . . and find.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 213. Print.   

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Judith_with_the_Head_of_Holofernes,_by_Francesco_del_Cairo,_c._1633-1637,_oil_on_canvas_-_John_and_Mable_Ringling_Museum_of_Art_-_Sarasota,_FL_-_DSC00631.jpg

A Favorite from October 3, 2007. 

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Sandys: Judith

Frederick Sandys: Judith

Judith 16

Praise in Celebration

During the shelter-in-place practiced in much of the world during the Covid 19 pandemic, we know that domestic abuse, and abuse against women in particular, will rise sharply. Let us remember that although we “turn the other cheek” to offense, we never promote the idea that anyone remain with an abuser. Wherever we are, whenever we find violence in the home, we look for help for ourselves or others. A helpful resource and hotline in the U.S. can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 

Imagine the consternation that would stir in hard hearts if instead of subjugating women we celebrated them as this canticle does: The Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female!

Imagine the change that might take place in the world if we allowed our love of God to shine from our eyes and go forth from our mouths: Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her face brought him down.

Imagine the world as a place where we helped those who have few or no resources rather than took advantage of the vulnerable: When my lowly ones shouted, and my weak ones cried out the enemy was terrified, screamed and took to flight.

Imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us when we have died: During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

The Canticle of Judith holds dreadful, vengeful, Old Testament imagery that celebrates retaliation against our enemies.  It also reveals the coming of the New Testament when Christ tells us that a new Way has come to dwell in us.  We are to turn the other cheek and pray for those who brutalize others; we are to heal the wounded with soft words and gentle gestures; we must take risks with Christ and trust in the guidance of the Spirit; and we are called to witness to the coming of this newness. We are called to be one of the powerless, one of the vulnerable, one of the abused disciples of this New Way.  And we are called to witness and celebrate God’s gift of discipleship to us.

Judith 16 is a famous canticle of praise for the woman who dares to do God’s will against all advice, against all odds. Her tools are not power and influence that she has gleaned for herself; rather, they are her beauty and her fidelity to God, both gifts from her creator.

Let us pause today to thank God for all we are given.  Let us sing a canticle of praise, and let us imagine how the world would be if we all believed that we can do the impossible by following God’s voice . . . just as Judith does. And let us imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us: During her lifetime, and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer in celebration . . . Pentecost . . .


Image from: http://preraphaelitepaintings.blogspot.com/2009/06/frederick-sandys-judith.html

A re-post from May 18, 2013.

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