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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it 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.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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Second Sunday in Lent, February 28, 2021

Psalm 94psalm-94-18-19[1]

Our Interior Law – Part IV

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We ask for wisdom so that we might discern your law that lives within each of us.

Blessed the one whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach, giving them rest from evil days. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for peace in our turbulent days so that we must rest with you as we move through our days.

For the Lord will not cast off God’s people, nor abandon God’s inheritance; but judgment will be with justice, and all the upright of heart will follow it. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for integrity and uprightness so that we might live out the Gospel as Jesus teaches us.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your mercy, O Lord, sustains me; when cares abound within me, your comfort gladdens my soul. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for compassion and forgiveness so that we might live the love the Spirit inspires in each of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We tap into our interior law, knowing that it always leads us in the best direction, understanding that it flourishes at the best of God’s time, and believing that it nourishes and sustains each of us and all of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

Jesus says, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”  They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”  (Mark 8:17-21)

God’s love is far greater than we can imagine and far more durable than we can believe.  And this is God’s law of love.  There is always love in abundance . . . forever. Blessed are those who see and hear. Blessed are those who allow God to soften hearts. Blessed are those who believe that God’s law lives within.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.


Image from: http://shareaverse.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/comfort-3/psalm-94-18-19/ 

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

12-lamedh[2]Psalm 119:89-96

Lamedh

Your word, Lord, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens . . . Had your teachings not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction . . . I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds.

There is no true perfection but God’s and so the flawlessness God asks of us is that we persist in following the Law of Love. Our own perfection lies not in our living life without error, but in our determined turning to God in all things.

God says: Do not tax yourself with the millions of details that fill your day. This is not where true perfection lies. Do not punish yourself for the slips you make along life’s path. The pain of those errors is punishment enough. Do not expect that you will live a life without fault. What I ask is that you always turn and return to me. And then I ask that you forgive one another as I have forgiven you . . . no matter how difficult this may be. In your willingness to attempt this following of my Law of Love . . . in this lies your perfection.

We need not create a world of guilt for ourselves and others. When we read the many parables through which Jesus still teaches us today, we understand that God is always willing to love us no matter how grave our error, and that we are asked to extend this same forgiveness to others.

Peter asks Jesus: Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times? Jesus answers: I say to you not seven times but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)


To learn more about the letter Lamedh, perfection, and the contemplation of the heart, click on the image above, or go to: http://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/limited-perfection-psalm-119-lamedh/ or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/lamed.htm

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

david repent[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part IV

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 

The separation from society when murder is arranged and enacted is evident. Yet what we often fail to see is the damage which occurs to the murderer, the arranger. This man or woman who either commits the act, causes or arranges the act is in such a place of darkness and of self-importance that the light does not penetrate. And the fact that lust, adultery and murder are here so closely entwined is an important one. Lust which is acted upon is a kind of murder, both of self and of the other.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

David serves as a wonderful model of how those who are blessed with amazing gifts are not immune from suffering.  David ennobles himself through his pain by admitting guilt and repenting.  David turns back to Yahweh. David and is forgiven and loved by Yahweh . . . eternally.

We might allow our pain to transform us into wounded healers. We might return to ask forgiveness. We might ennoble ourselves through the admission of guilt.  e might turn back and repent for we, like David, are always and forever loved by God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

For a blog posting on David’s faith, click on the image above or go to: http://dreamsalongtheway.blogspot.com/p/sermon-series-man-who-would-be-king.html

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Saturday, October 17, 2020Grace_wordle[1]Psalm 32

Overwhelmed by Grace

The second of the penitential psalms “is a joyous testimony of gratitude for God’s gift of forgiveness for those who confess their sins and follow the law of God. Instead of constantly pondering their sins, believers acknowledge their wretchedness before God and accept forgiveness and reconciliation. Their torment ceases, and a new person is born, overwhelmed by grace, confidence, and a sense of obedience.

“In praying the psalm, we can focus not only on the happiness resulting from the forgiveness of particular sin, but also on the more profound happiness obtained by the complete victory given us by God in Christ over sin in all forms”.  (Psalms 86)

We too often emphasize all that is wrong with the world, our community, our colleagues and even our friends, family and self. Today’s reading invites us to accept the knowledge that we are not perfect, to ask forgiveness for the times we have wronged self and others, to graciously accept the pardon we receive, and to allow God’s grace, joy and peace to bring us profound happiness. This deep and lasting contentment is the gift of complete victory we are free to reject or receive.

And so we pray . . .

Forgiving and unifying God, we lay all our imperfections in your hands.

Grant us this day the complete victory of your love as we come to you in truth.

Give us the confidence we need to believe that your love has the power to bring joy out of suffering.

Inspire in us such love for you that our obedience is a source of delight rather than a burden to shoulder.

Move in us a spirit of reconciliation that surmounts all fears, calms all anxieties, and heals all wounds.

Bring us your profound happiness that heals, binds, unifies and transforms.

Grant us your lasting gift of overwhelming grace that seeps into the bone, calms the heart, and warms the troubled soul. 

We ask this as we ask all things through  your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 86. Print.

For a sermon on Grace: The Verb, click on the image above or go to: http://ssje.org/ssje/2010/03/09/grace-the-verb-br-mark-brown/

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

you are forgivenPsalm 32:1-2

Remission

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out; happy the one whom Yahweh accuses of no guilt, whose spirit is incapable of deceit!

Each of us knows that we are imperfect. Each day we struggle with the temptation to react in anger, to share gossip, to judge, to allow envy to take us over. And yet we also hope to stand blameless before the creator. The miracle of God’s goodness and greatness brings us this opportunity for redemption, this offer of remission.

God says: I do not want you to hide from me because you know you have been unpleasant, unhelpful or even angry with others. I do not want you to believe that the obstacles you see between you and me are insurmountable. Rather, I want you to bring your fears, your worries and your imperfections to  me. Together we will lift them. I promise to take on the heaviest of loads. There is no wrong you can describe to me that will make me shudder. My patience and forgiveness are bottomless; my love and hope are limitless; my yearning to have you close to me is unbearable. Come to me so that we can lay aside all that bothers and frightens you. 

God knows us too well to expect that we will never err. God loves too well to leave us by the wayside.

Christ loves us so well that he removes all guilt with a healing look. Christ seeks us so fervently that all blemish and all imperfection fall away with a healing touch.

No threat of guile or deceit is too much for the Spirit to transform. No rumor of sin is so enduring that the Spirit will not outlast it.

Let us put aside our fear and go to God that we might receive the gift of remission.

Tomorrow, the effects of remaining silent.


Image from: https://holycrossrumson.typepad.com/pastor/2018/08/forgive-us-our-trespasses-as-we-forgive-those.html

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

GIMP_Arrogance_Grunge_II_by_Project_GimpBC[1]2 Peter 2:10-13

Bold and Arrogant

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings, whereas angels, despite their superior strength and power, do not bring a reviling judgment against them from the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals . . . revile things they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrong as payment for wrongdoing.

As we hear so often in the Peter’s words: We reap what we sow. False teachers are always among us but Jesus is clear in his many parables that wheat is separated from chaff and sheep from goats. The marvelous quality about God’s love is that God is always willing to forgive us. The story of the Prodigal Son might also be named the story of the Forgiving Father and we are grateful for this parable of abundantly generous love.

Today, let us spend some time reflecting on who we follow and why. Let us decipher the words we take as true and why. What campaigns do we believe? What newscasts or papers do we follow? Which of our family, neighbors or friends do we believe over others and why? Do we pursue comfort or growth? Do we look for unity or create division? Do we question to learn or question to make a point? Are we bold and arrogant and irrational? Or are we humble and modest and rational? And why?


Image from: http://project-gimpbc.deviantart.com/art/GIMP-Arrogance-Grunge-II-63786001

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Los Angeles Times: 2019 Fire at Carquinez Bridge

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Wrath and Anger

Last Sunday was the twenty-fourth in Ordinary time and the themes from those readings continue to resonate within. Arriving in a time when we experience great medical, social, political, and ecological stress, we must be grateful for their teaching.

Sirach 27:30 to 28:7: We are accustomed to the advice that continues to serve us millennia after Jesus ben Sirach captures God’s inspired message. Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. This Old Testament admonition leads us to dualistic thinking that we are justified in exacting an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; but the New Testament readings balance the urge to seek revenge.

Romans 14:7-9: None of us lives for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. With New Testament thinking, we remember that each word we speak is our representation of God’s breath in creation. Each action we take is Christ’s hand among us. Each prayer we raise is a prayer of the Holy Spirit. How then can we foster hate and division? How can we seek revenge in anger? How can we hope and pray for another’s destruction?

Matthew 18:21-35 offers a way forward, a way to transform our human, childish wants into childlike trust in God. How often must we forgive? The parable of the unforgiving servant is a stark reminder that when we extend mercy, understanding, and forgiveness, we extend the hand of God. When we trust that God has a plan for all that seems incomprehensible, we think with the mind of Christ. And when we love with unending love, we love in the Spirit.

Psalm 103 offers us this final thought: The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion. Not according to our sins does God deal with us, nor does God requite us according to our crimes. God pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills, redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.

In a time when a best seller work of non-fiction bears the single-word title Rage, we need these readings. In a time when a pandemic continues to turn lives upside down, we need one another. In a time when forests burn and tempests rage, we must help one another. In a time when weapons speak before words, we must listen to one another. In a time when so many ask, “Where is your God”, we must live in faith and hope. In a time when words of wrath and anger are normalized in a world called to love, we must heal one another. For it is in our steadfast response to God’s call for patience and compassion that we are transformed.

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. How often must we forgive? Not seven times, but seven times seventy-seven times. Jesus reminds us that we must interact with our enemies as our neighbors, for in so doing we help to save the world.


For more reflections on wrath, enter the word in the blog search bar and explore. 

The image of compassionate hands is from: https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/04/14/calm-amid-covid-compassion/

Click on the image to find videos in which “UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner discusses the benefits of compassion for others and ourselves.

The image and story of the fire at Carquinez Bridge are from a 2019 article in the Los Angeles Times. 

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-10-27/major-fire-breaks-out-at-carquinez-bridge-in-vallejo-interstate-80-closed

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Psalm 64

The Perfect Plot

“The psalmist shows that the righteous are often defenseless before the cynicism of the machinations and calumnies to which they are prey.  Those who weave their intrigues act in shadows and believe they are hidden from view.  However, God sees everything, even secret human actions and designs.  His judgment overtakes those who evade justice . . . God will turn their evil against the wicked while publicly acquitting the righteous.  Each life will be brought before the judgment of God; the righteous will find their joy in the Lord”.  (The Psalms 161)

I suspect that every one of us has been the victim of a perfect plot at one time or another in our lives.  Perhaps it was an adolescent bullying that set us apart and taught us a lesson.  Maybe there is jealousy in our workplace and we have become the object of someone’s campaign to see that we find the office too ugly a place to stay.  Or it is possible that within the sanctity of our family or prayer circle – the very refuge where we take shelter from the storms of life – we have been the object of a perfect plot.  If this is so, we feel the angst and sorrow in this psalm.

We have visited this theme before. If we type the word couches or Susana, or plot into the blog search bar we will find other reflections in which we have struggled with the apparent immunity of those who lie on their dark couches and willfully plot to inflict harm on the faithful.  The psalmist today rails against this seeming imperviousness to consequences but he also reminds us that God is in charge . . . that this kind of suffering is part of our human condition . . . and that although we may not see the consequence exacted from these evil ones, still God holds them to an accounting.  It is best to let the matter lie there and avoid thoughts of revenge or payback of any kind.  It is best to allow God to tend to these perfect, secret plots as only God can . . . with deep wisdom, with unblemished justice, with transparent grace, and with a full and burgeoning love of humanity.

I was taught as a child to pray for my enemies and today, as I read this psalm, I come to understand that only God can handle real evil. Only God can create a plan that saves all. And only God has the wisdom, beauty, and power to convert into goodness our dark and devious conspiracies.

If only we might remember that Jesus died as a result of an evil intent that took hold of those who laid out their perfect plot against him.  If only we might follow Jesus’ example as he prays for his killers.  If only we too might intervene on behalf of those who construct perfect plots against us . . . and if only we might ask our compassionate and patient God for forgiveness and renewal for all.

Tomorrow, the mystery of God’s reversal . . .  


A re-post from June 9, 2013.

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 161. Print.

Image from: https://theencouragingword.co/2016/03/03/sheep-in-wolfs-clothing/

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