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Ezekiel 28: The King of Tyre

Ruins of ancient Tyre

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The prophet Ezekiel speaks to the chosen people who live exiled in Babylon. He tells his people that they will not be returning to Jerusalem; and he also prepares them for the heartbreaking news that the Jerusalem they know will be fully and totally destroyed. Corruption has brought them to a dismal, painful place. The chase after power over others, world-wide fame, and wealth beyond imagining has distorted the collective vision.

Puffed up with pride, you claim to be a god. 

Ezekiel speaks to the broken-hearted and he also speaks to us when he condemns those who spoil God’s gift of creation and who bring the faithful to ruin.

Your wisdom and skill made you rich with treasures of gold and silver. You made clever business deals and kept on making profits. How proud you are of your wealth!

Ezekiel reminds us that the gift of our creation is wondrous, and that we are well-loved children of God who have in our hands more than we understand.

You were once an example of perfection. How wise and handsome you were! You lived in Eden, the garden of God, and wore gems of every kind: rubies and diamonds; topaz, beryl, carnelian, and jasper; sapphires, emeralds, and garnets. You had ornaments of gold. They were made for you on the day you were created. 

Britannica online: Main road through ancient Tyre, Lebanon

What are the gems we overlook each day? Who are the wise and handsome among us and where is this Eden? What have we done with the ornaments of gold we are gifted?

Your conduct was perfect from the day you were created until you began to do evil. You were busy buying and selling, and this led you to violence and sin. You were proud of being handsome, and your fame made you act like a fool. 

History tells us that Ezekiel’s people will eventually return to their promised city and they will rebuild the sacred Temple. It also tells us that this will all again be lost. Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can take away from these words is this . . . that just as the King of Tyre misjudges the source of his wealth, power and fame, so might we.  Unlike King Hiram, might we make the most of the riches we have at hand without worrying about increasing our wealth? Might we rely on God and praise God for turning harm into good? Might we give thanks for all we have and all we are to the one who loves us more than we imagine?


When we find the time to compare other translations with these words from The Good News version, we give ourselves the gift of understanding Hiram, Ezekiel, and the nature of beauty, fame, power and wealth. 

Hiram (or Huram, or Ahiram), The King of Tyre, lived from 969-936 B.C.E. He was an ally of Kings David and Solomon, and provided many of the materials needed to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Visit Britannica online at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hiram-king-of-Tyre

Tyre was a town on the Mediterranean coast with two harbors and so was able to gain predominance in the region. To read more about the city’s importance and history, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/01/26/The-Biblical-Cities-Of-Tyre-And-Sidon.aspx or https://www.ancient.eu/Tyre/ 

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Esther C: 14-16: Esther’s Gift of Prayer

Giovanni Andrea Sirani: Esther Before Ahasuerus

Thursday, August 9, 2018

In exile, alone, and confronted with great danger, Esther turns to God for help. In so doing, she leaves a timeless legacy. Yesterday we considered the message others read in our lives. Today we consider the legacy that we, following the example of this young, defenseless woman

Then [Esther] prayed to the LORD, the God if Israel, saying: “My LORD, our King, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O LORD, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among all ancestors, as a lasting heritage, and that you fulfilled all your promises to them”.

We may want to use Esther’s words when we are alone or abandoned, when we have no one to turn to, and no place to go . . . Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.

We may want to use her words when we remember the promise of heritage and wonder how we have arrived at an unexpected place . . . I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O LORD, chose Israel from among all peoples.

We may want to recall, as Esther does, that . . . God alone is King of all.

We may want to remember, as Esther does, that . . . God fulfills all promises.

Esther’s prayer evokes our past, foresees our future, and reinforces our present. Her words serve us in times of trial and pain. Her story encourages steadfastness and hope. Her legacy is one of courage in the face of hatred, expectation in the presence of desperation, and fidelity as the antidote to evil. Esther’s bravery is a gift to us today. We will want to hold it close, remember it well; and redeem ourselves and others as we pray these words with her.


To learn more about the story of Esther, and why some translations include chapter letters as well as numbers, enter her name in to the blog search bar and explore. Or refer to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/esther/0 

Today’s scripture link contains only the NABRE (New American Bible revised Edition)

For a child’s version of this story, visit: http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/jewish/purim/esther_story.htm 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/candy2155/queen-esther/

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2 Maccabees 10Battle – Part IV

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Friday, March 9, 2018

Second Maccabees is a narration of the revolt led by the Maccabeus family in the second century before Christ.  Part of this narrative is a description of the political intrigue accompanying the physical battle.  We can imagine the plotting and counter-plotting that took place.  Chapter 10 describes how the faithful purified and re-dedicated their temple after they removed the profane statues placed in the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes.  We arrive breathless at the end of the chapter to read: . . . with hymns and thanksgiving they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory. 

We will find ourselves from time to time in a place of battle, unable to fully hear or see in the dust and din of clashing fears and realities.  In these times of cacophony, it is difficult to hear the difference between the voice of God and our ego-centrist, inner voice of survival.  For this reason, we turn to God frequently during our days and nights so that we might best hear God’s voice and respond to it rather than our own.  During times of stress, we might fall back on John 10 in which Jesus tells us that faithful sheep will know the voice of the true shepherd so well that they will follow no other.   This shepherd we follow is one who forgives continually, calls endlessly, and waits patiently.   This shepherd will not lead falsely, will not abandon the flock, and he will go out in search of the last lost sheep to return it to the fold.

We are in the beginning of our Lenten journey and we are just commencing to unpack the baggage we have been carrying all winter.  What is it we need to re-sanctify and re-pack?  What is it that we need to sweep away forever?  What is it that brings us such confusion that we cannot decide how to handle it?  What are the battles we can wage on our own, and what are the battles we must hand over to God?  Which of these battles are psychological?  Which are emotional or physical?  And which are purely spiritual?

All of these questions ask us to examine our own motivations and actions, but the most important questions are these. How do we thank God under all circumstances for the gift of who we are and what we have been called to be? What hymns of thanksgiving do we sing to bless the Lord?  How do we tell this one who shows us great kindness and who gives us victory in our battles, that we are God’s and God’s alone?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 23, 2010. 

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

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Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part VII

Monday, January 29, 2018

Paolo Veronese: The Anointing of David

Finding the Servant

God finds a faithful servant in the youngest son of Jesse, David, a simple shepherd. This servant is not perfect, and this is good news for nor are we. Yet, this servant is faithful in his determination to follow God, no matter the obstacles or circumstances. Today we pray with the young king.

Then King David went into the Tent of the Lord‘s presence, sat down and prayed, “Sovereign Lord, I am not worthy of what you have already done for me, nor is my family. Yet now you are doing even more . . . we have always known that you alone are God.

Dearest Lord, you know our sorrows and our joys; these we bring to you in the hope that your presence transforms us.

“And now, Lord God, fulfill for all time the promise you made about me and my descendants, and do what you said you would. Your fame will be great, and people will forever say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel.’

Dearest Christ, you know our family and our friends; these we dedicate to you in fidelity and trust.

“And now, Sovereign Lord, you are God; you always keep your promises, and you have made this wonderful promise to me. I ask you to bless my descendants so that they will continue to enjoy your favor. You, Sovereign Lord, have promised this, and your blessing will rest on my descendants forever.”

Holy Spirit, you know our shortcoming and our gifts; these we offer up to you in confidence and love.

We hear this prayer. . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

When we compare other translations of this prayer, we come to the full knowledge that God seeks servants among us, and we begin to understand the gentle yet persistent power of God’s call.  

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Saturday, October 13, 2012 – 2 Samuel 8 & 9 – After Conflict . . . Mercy

King David

This is such a straightforward story.  David is anointed king but must battle years against Saul while he waits for the crown to come to him in God’s time.  Jonathan, the son of Saul, is his boon companion in battle and in peace.  Theirs is a story worth reading.

Both Saul and Jonathan die during this conflict which leaves a vacuum for a time . . . and this is where we enter the story today.  When the dust settles, David is victorious and becomes king.  In his first days as king, he restores what was lost to the son of his friend Jonathan.  David embodies mercy.  This is why we regard him as great.  He loves.

Verses 15-18 of Chapter 8 remind me of Acts 2:42-47.  After tremendous strife there comes the lull, like the brilliant blue skies after a cloud-sweeping hurricane.  After violence and death, there is always the potent force of peace, of mercy; but there is also something always lurking – the trap door of forgetting God.  For David his sin is succumbing to the temptation of Bathsheba – the mother of Solomon.  He takes her willfully, joins with her, impregnates her, and lays a trap to murder her husband.  Then later – after his sin is cleverly pointed out by the prophet Nathan, he despairs of his actions and repents.  This is also why we regard him as great.  He atones.

“Bathsheba was capable, subtle, and gifted. She produced a son, Solomon, whose wisdom and intellectual brilliance would be known throughout history”.
Frank Dicksee: Leilahttp://www.womeninthebible.net/1.11.Bathsheba.htm  

In times of plenty we ought to rejoice, but we also must hold ourselves ready for the temptations which always follow when tensions ease.  Perhaps a little conflict is a good thing – it keeps us prepared for what is important.  It prevents us from thinking that we alone are sufficient.  It reminds us that God alone is enough.  This is the greatest lesson David brings to us.  He remembers . . . that even in cataclysmic times we must show mercy . . . for we will want mercy shown to us in like fashion.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive . . .

Amen.

Written on October 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

To see two short video clips from NOVA about the unearthing of the walls of Jerusalem and its palace, click on the image of David above and go through the six slides, or go to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/maza-01.html

To read more about Bathsheba, click on the image of “Leila” above or go to: http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.11.Bathsheba.htm

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