Posts Tagged ‘foregiveness’

2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part V

Click on this image for a video commentary.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Today’s Favorite returns once more to 2 Maccabees, the first Book cited in the first Noontime Scripture reflection. The message is as simple, constant, and powerful today as it was more than a decade ago. Be steadfast. Trust in God. Remain faithful to God. Life is a struggle, but God is with us. We need not be afraid. 

Today’s citation reminds us of a strong underpinning of those themes: there is life after our apparent death, and we must pray not only for ourselves but for those who have strayed from the covenant as well.  1 Maccabees 5:6 gives a different reason for the fall of the Israelite troops – the priests had wanted to distinguish themselves in battle – but the message is the same: if we succeed in remaining faithful to our covenant with God, we must pray for those who fallen.

We will not want to miss the true life that follows this one, and we will want to share this full and generous life with our families and friends.  And lest we fear that our loved ones will not accompany us, we remember that it is possible to bring straying sheep into the fold through petition to the Creator. We remember that with God all things are possible.

Christ is the one who offers himself in expiation for the downfall of the world and thus becomes the Redeemer of all.  We participate in this redemption by offering our own sufferings in expiation for others.  The dead will live again, and this we can believe.

Over time, we have spent several Noontimes reflecting on the lessons brought to us by the Maccabeus family.  Their stamina, their perseverance, their refusal to be extinguished, and their refusal to allow God’s law of forgiveness, mercy and justice to be extinguished is seen again in all of Christ’s followers.  Jesus’ disciples are constant searchers of God’s essence and truth.  They will always hunger and thirst for an essence they feel but cannot see, a Spirit they know but cannot always touch. The Maccabeus family tells us this story. Jesus the Redeemer invites all of us to be these followers.

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

Tomorrow, a prayer for trials and obstacles.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

To learn why the Books of the Maccabees are not included in the Jewish Bible, visit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/ 

Watch a video commentary at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdHjJFQAoZk 

Images from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-mind-3-steadfastness-barry-walsh/ and https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IV1 tim 1

Friday, September 18, 2015

Perhaps the reason we do not find serenity is that we do not ask for restoration. Today St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that reunion with God is only a petition away. He is a follower of Christ because he answered God’s invitation to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find peace is that we do not ask for strength.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find solace is that we do not ask forgiveness.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience love is that we have not shown mercy.

I have been mercifully treated . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience transformation is that we do not believe in restoration.

The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ . . .

Today we spend time with the opening chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and we ponder what our lives might be like if and when we seek strength, forgiveness and mercy. We reflect on the possibility of new life rising from the arid bones of our sorrow.

Use the scripture link to explore varying editions of 1 Timothy 1. 

Tomorrow, finding faith . . . 


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psalm 55 verse 22Monday, July 14, 2014

Psalm 55:13-14

A Lament Over Betrayal

My companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng.

God says: You will see in this ancient song that the psalmist asks for destruction to fall on the enemy and that is a certain way of believing and acting; however, today I say to you, “do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”. (Matthew 5:39) This is difficult for you to take in, I know, but take it in you must. For you own dear sake and for the good of the Kingdom.

Perhaps the most difficult lesson for all of humanity to learn is the turning away from vengeance. Enter the work revenge into the blog search bar and spend some time today with these thoughts. What do we gain from our attempts to destroy another but our own destruction?

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Jeroboam and Rehoboam

Jeroboam and Rehoboam

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2 Chronicles 11

A Prayer for Returning Home

Let every man return home, for what has occurred I have brought about . . .

Civil War is averted for a time when the sons of Solomon, Jeroboam and Rehoboam, divide their father’s kingdom in two: the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south still loyal to Jerusalem and Yahweh, the other ten tribes to the north fashioning idol gods and leaving the covenant. The Levite priests and others who wish to remain with Yahweh leave their assigned places in the north to move south. Rehoboam amasses his troops, but does not strike at the north . . . because God requires that they all return home. When we read chapters 12 and 13 we see what happens to Rehoboam. Despite the fact that here he listens to Yahweh, he later strays. This all seems a ridiculous plan for Yahweh to have designed . . . yet, is it? Psalm 55 provides us with a food for thoughts about splits among friends as Intimate Civil Wars, and Internal Schisms.

But it is you, my own companion,

my intimate friend!

How close was the friendship between us.

We walked together in harmony

in the house of God.        (Psalm 55)

Other useful citations are John 13:21 when Jesus declares that one of the twelve will betray him, when the prophet Jeremiah describes terror on every side in 20:10, and when Job declares in 19:19 that, All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I loved have turned against me! Psalm 27 verse 12 cries out, False witnesses have stood up against me, and my enemies threaten violence; Lord do not surrender me into their power!

All of this reminds us that there will be deep and seemingly insurmountable schisms even in our most intimate relationships, often caused by those whom we have trusted and loved beyond measure. It is at these times of deepest burden that we have the opportunity to grow even closer to God, for when we offer our pain and suffering that flows from a terrible betrayal to intimacy or to a severe blow to our confidence, we realize that there is nowhere else to turn but to God. These readings today are a reminder that everyone must return home . . . for perhaps what has occurred God has brought about.

We do not suggest here that God causes suffering, yet we notice from sacred scripture that we find God most quickly in our pain. We have no way of telling, of course, if the damage done to us by others will lead to a conversion through the petition and granting of forgiveness. Nor do we know if a betrayal committed will lead to our salvation or the salvation of one who has wounded us deeply. But this is what we do know . . . that in all circumstances, both joy and sorrow, we must return home. We must take both our wailing and our singing to that place which understands and heals all pain. And so we pray at a time of year when we often gather for family reunions.

Where do we find the strength to go on when we are spent? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the courage to take up the task laid before us? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the heart to forgive one whose betrayal cuts more deeply and sharply than any other? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the love to ask forgiveness and to forgive? . . . We return home.

Where do find the life that lasts for time everlasting? . . . We return home.

On this holy summer Sabbath, let us turn our steps toward Jerusalem like those who wished to remain near Yahweh despite the civil and personal conflict, let us join one another in pilgrimage . . . and let us return home together. Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 7, 2009.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jeremiah 12

Plots of Darkness

The prophecy of Jeremiah is a strong one and in chapter 12 we see the prophet exchanging frank words with the creator.  He enters into a dialog in which he tells God that he is unhappy because while he obeys God and abides in faithfulness the wicked prosper.  Jeremiah – the innocent lamb – works hard at doing as God asks yet he is surrounded and attacked by those who lay plots of darkness to bring about his end.  Jeremiah’s enemies, the people of Anathoth, are his own family and friends (Meeks 1136-1137) and the reason for their persecution of Jeremiah is unclear.  The point is that the prophet suffers at the hands of those who ought to be living in concord with him, and who ought to be joining him in performing good works to live in and with God.  We might find ourselves in similar situations today when those closest to us betray us, seek our end, and seem to prosper all the while.

Thomson: Anathoth

Thomson: Anathoth

God’s response is typical of the Old Testament in that it has words of violence and revenge yet the seeds of optimism.  The New Testament, as we often remind ourselves during our Noontime reflections, is one of forgiveness and hope.  The idea of resurrection does not occur in Jewish sacred scripture until the second century before Christ in the book of Daniel, but here with Jeremiah’s second lament (the first is in chapter 11) we see the beginnings of Jesus’ message of freedom and restoration.  In verses 14 through 17 God speaks of having pity and of bringing back those who repent.  This is a clear indication that God’s hope and God’s power to restore know no bounds.  And it is a message to us today that we might try to strive for the same level of union with all . . . even those who have sought our end.

As Saint Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:11: Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.  And we might add . . . and let God handle them.  As we have reflected often, the hardest work for any of us is this . . . to pray for those who have damaged us.  God expects us to ask for the impossible and we delight God when we seek intervention on behalf of those who do us harm because God knows that the dark depths of evil plots are beyond our skill level.  God wants to help us and so we pray . . .

Dearest God whose love knows no bounds, you are willing to seek, to call, to forgive and to heal.  You want to mend each of us in order that we might unite ourselves with you and with one another.  Bring us the gift of humility, the grace of peace, the steadfastness of faith, the passion of hope and the touch of your love.  Allow us to express our fears and doubts and anger with you.  Let us speak about the plots of darkness that frighten us and then . . . call us back . . . calm our hearts . . . restore our spirit . . . and carry us home with you.  Amen. 

Adapted from a Noontime written on September 1, 2009.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.

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