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Posts Tagged ‘God does the impossible’


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIwith-God

Thursday, September 15, 2022

At the end of chapter 37 is the Oracle of the Two Sticks in which we understand that the two kingdoms will be re-united (something thought totally impossible) and the true Davidic king will reign eternally from Jerusalem – Jesus. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog, again a dramatic description, and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. In all, this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tells the reader that what is thought impossible . . . is possible for God. It tells us that God does not abandon us even when we abandon God. It tells us that God loves us and God is constantly with us, even when we have turned away.

The most hopeless of cases have hope in them somewhere, but it takes an act of great love to resuscitate what has been lost.  God does this for us, and God calls us to do the same for one another.  When we move through a desert experience it is difficult to believe that God is with us; but this difficulty does not make God’s love more distant. Through the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel we see that with God all things are possible. It is possible to move toward our own conversion. It is possible to move away from the brittleness of the dry bones and toward the refreshing, renewing waters of restoration in the New Jerusalem.

There is a line from an old novena to St. Jude that I remember: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted.  It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services: “The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer”.  Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

Jesus saidAnd so we can petition God for forgiveness – which God freely gives. We can ask for restoration. And this God also gives.  We can come before God humbly as we stagger through the deserts of our lives, and we can ask that God grant us all that we believe to be impossible. And God will always answer.

In MAGNIFICAT on Saturday evening, there was a small reflection at the beginning of the Evening Prayer: God is present in the deserts of our lives.  It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham.  It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations.  Let us rejoice in this blessed desert . . . where Christ reveals himself.  

As we tumble into our beds, perhaps weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, let us remember to pray for the impossible as the psalmist does in Psalm 63.

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise. So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy. On my bed I remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.

 As we begin our days that promise impossibility, let us remember . . .

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  Your love is better than life . . . My souls clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, praying for the impossible . . . 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.1 (2008). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008. 

Images from: https://olayemirichard.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/with-god-all-things-are-possible/

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Iwasted food

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Today’s verses for reflection are the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, the metaphor which describes the reunion of our own body and soul at our own resurrection.  This book is a panoply of images, for this prophet speaks in a variety of metaphors which, when examined, bring the understanding that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Restoration after great tragedy can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Several summers ago I had the gift of living in the Arizona desert for a week to witness the quiet but sudden blooming which happens after a rain. Tiny delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up overnight after a scattering of dew . . . and then disappear again with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure is fascinating.

So, too, are Ezekiel’s bones which clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation, or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in this resurrection which does occur quite dramatically. What was thought as lost has been found. And restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 


Click on the image above for more of Chef Barber’s vision or visit: http://www.karenandandrew.com/2015/03/chef-dan-barbers-vision-to-slash-food-waste-transforms-blue-hill-into-wasted-through-march-31st/ 

And as you consider resurrection from desolation, you may want to read about chef Dan Barber who pulls together exquisite meals from food that would otherwise be thrown away. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/waste-not-want-not-eat-up

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

 

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Mark 4:1-25: The Parable of the Sowergoodsoillogo

Saturday, September 10, 2022

This is a familiar story we frequently hear. The other synoptic (meaning “seen as one”) gospels of Matthew and Luke have this same parable with little variations. Matthew also tells of the farmer who sows wheat in the day time but then an evil person sows weeds at night in the same field. When the workers want to pull the weeds, the owner says no; he knows that they may also pull up the wheat. The weed in this story is most likely the darnel plant that looks exactly like wheat until it matures. The allegory, therefore, is that we should not judge who is wheat and who is weed in our own little fields because we all look alike until the end of the journey. And only God can discern which is which – who is who.

Our scripture group recently shared ideas about how we each are a type of seed. We lack understanding when we allow “the evil one” to steal us away from God (the seed on the path). We allow persecution and tribulation to wear us down (the seed on the rocks). We allow our worldly goods and worries to separate us from God (the seed in the thorns). We all hope to be seed with a proper disposition – the seed which falls on fertile soil; yet we cannot tell who is who.

We also spoke of the ancient custom of plowing after sowing – so once the seed is disbursed it has to endure the plow before it germinates and grows; but the message of two thousand years ago is the same message we hear today: discipleship is difficult, troublesome, and usually unpopular. We have received the Word, but allowing it to flourish in our hearts and then govern our hands, feet, lips, and minds can be another thing entirely. When we are feeling as though discipleship is too onerous for us, we always go back to the one idea which is central to our lives: With God, all things are possible. Life may look impossible when we are down, but we can still reach our potential as a disciple. We can still be Christ-like. We can transform ourselves with the purifying fire of the struggles we experience. We can be touched and healed if we open ourselves to the possibility of miracles. And we can, in turn, offer our simple life to Christ by opening it to others.


Image from: https://cdcloans.com/?attachment_id=2824

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 3, 2007.

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Mark 16:1-3: Rolling Back the Stonerolling back the stone from the tomb

Monday, September 5, 2022

[Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome] were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

Not long ago I heard a Ted Talk on rewilding on a day when I also had spent time reflecting on the last chapter of Mark’s Gospel. As a child I took for granted that the women who returned to Jesus’ tomb to dress his body might rely on finding someone to roll away the heavy stone for them. As an adult, I now better understand the trust these women, either knowingly or unwittingly, placed in God’s plan that they might be given the opportunity to serve as an integral part of the resurrection story. They thought they were going to anoint the dead body of a well-loved prophet and healer; but what God has in mind is their role as the first proclaimers of the Good News that Jesus has risen.

On that warm afternoon in August I considered how off the mark we are when we make plans with definitive outcomes without considering God’s input. And I determined to readjust my thinking yet again to leave my thinking more open to God’s powerful dreams and possibilities.

If we ever doubt God’s desire to love us into goodness, we need only remember the outcomes of giant dreams and enormous possibilities presented in these and other video presentations. Today we pause in our study of Mark’s story and remember why, and when and how the little roles we imagine for ourselves in kingdom building become opportunities for intimate relationship with our loving and healing God.

Watch one or all of the short clips below and consider how and when and why God rolls back the heavy stones in our lives. Reflect on the power of God to heal, restore and change . . . and how we humans fit into God’s amazing plan.


How Wolves Change Rivers at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

How Whales Change Climate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M18HxXve3CM

Humpback Whale Shows Appreciation after Being Freed from Nets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcXU7G6zhjU

To learn more about rewilding, visit: http://rewilding.org/rewildit/

More Ted Talks can be found at: https://www.ted.com/talks 

Image from: https://stthomasplymouth.org/the-stone-that-needs-to-be-rolled-away/ 

 Enter the words The Magdalen into the blog search bar and discover more about Christ’s first disciple.

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Mark 9:1-7: Jesus Transfigured

Icon: The Transfiguration

Icon: The Transfiguration

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Rather than ask for a sign of our worthiness or God’s presence, we might act on the opportunity we are given to witness to Christ’s transformation as did Peter, James and John.

When we pause in the rush of life to examine those around us . . .

When we listen for God’s voice and do as God bids us . . .

When we are loving in our approach to enemies . . .

When we are patient with ourselves, faithful to our covenant, hopeful that our impossible dreams will be realized . . .

We see miraculous conversions taking place around us constantly . . . and this is our sign.

We witness the transformation of the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, we discover that we ourselves are transfigured . . . and this is our sign.

We see the blessing of the gifts offered by the Holy Spirit . . . and this is our sign.

We keep vigil at the tomb to witness to the Resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of ourselves and so we begin to fully understand that it is through his own transfiguration that Christ transfigures each of us. And this surely and simply and certainly is our sign . . . that we are well and truly loved by God.


For more on icons, click on the image above or visit: https://iconreader.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/transfiguration-icon-the-event-and-the-process/ 

Adapted from a favorite written on March 22, 2008.

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Mark 6:1-6Jesus of Nazareth

Diego Velázquez: Christ Cricufied - The Prado Museum, Madrid

Diego Velázquez: Christ Crucified – The Prado Museum, Madrid

Friday, August 26, 2022

“What is this wisdom that is given to him?  What mean such miracles wrought by his hands?” . . .  And Jesus marveled at their unbelief.  (Douay)

“Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands?”  . . .  He was amazed at their lack of faith.  (NAB)

“This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Jude and Simon?  His sisters, too, are they not here with us?”  And they would not accept him. . . .  He was amazed at their lack of faith.  (Jerusalem Bible)

“Where did he get the things he is teaching?” they said.  How can he perform such miracles?”  . . .  He was amazed at their unwillingness to believe.  (William Barclay translation)

When I reflect on the Crucifixion, call to mind the image created by Diego Velázquez that tells us – much like Marks’s Gospel – of the stark reality of the love Jesus, this God-man, has for each of us. It seems to me that Velázquez has captured the unambiguous difference between the healing, merciful Christ and the Jesus of Nazareth who is disbelieved in his own town. The mystical eeriness produced by the floating cross coupled with the universality of Jesus’ half-covered face allow us to personalize this image with our own version of the very human Christ.

I imagine that our own lack of faith proves a heavy obstacle to the performing of miracles and to the healing of bodies and souls; yet Jesus of Nazareth abides. He still performs the impossible.

Let us invite this Jesus into our homes today and every day. Let us open our hearts and minds to the wild possibilities he dares to dream with us.  Let us gather together as his resurrected body to bring healing and hope to one another.


Use the scripture link above to explore other translations of these verses.

Adapted from a favorite written on June 8, 2008. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Featured_picture_candidates/Crucified_Christ_(Vel%C3%A1zquez)

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Sirach 15:14-17: The Mystery of Free WillFree-Will-10

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

God in the beginning created human beings and made them subject to their own free choice. If you choose, you can keep the commandments; loyalty is doing the will of God. Set before you are fire and water; to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand. Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them.

The concept of free well is one with which we struggle and frequently we hear ourselves asking God the familiar question. Dear God – if all things are possible for you, why don’t you fix all that is wrong with the world?

God says: I love you so much that I do not want to force you to love me in return. I have infinite patience and limitless persistence so I am willing to give you free rein as you decide how you want to live. Our goal is not to have you do precisely as I say; rather, our goal is to come into union in celebration of our mutual understanding and love. Our goal is not to have a perfect world; rather, our goal is to come together in the kingdom I have described for you in which we are motivated by love rather than anger, envy or self-interest. I want to love you into loving me. I want you to love me as much as I love you. I created you in the hope that you and I will have an eternal relationship. And this is entirely possible for us because yes, for me . . . all things are possible.

The mystery of free will is one we might easily misunderstand. When we spend time today with this wisdom from Sirach, we begin to trust in the potential God has planted in each of us.

Use the scripture link to compare these words from Jesus Ben Sirach and consider how we might show God that we understand this gift of free will.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/paths-intersecting.html

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HaveFaithThursday, July 8, 2021

Luke 17:5-6

The Mulberry Tree

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you”.

God says: When you read about the apostles who followed Christ you hear and see their question . . . and perhaps you have the same petition for me. Can you not imagine a mulberry tree responding to your voice? Is it difficult for you to imagine this tree planted in the moving water? Are you thinking in the concrete terms of the world you see around you? Are you able to open your mind to a world that you cannot imagine, your heart to a love you have yet to feel?

We are reminded in scripture constantly that with God all is possible. We re-read this Parable of the Mustard Seed and wonder if Jesus’ words in the telling of this story are hyperbolic. What might happen if we read these words and decided that Jesus’ words are true?

Enter the word faith in to the blog search bar and consider our belief in the power of faith as small – and yet as powerful – as the Mustard Seed.


Image from: http://trinity-live.org/october-3-2013-643/

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Psalm 119:25-32

daleth[1]Daleth

I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life . . . I disclosed my ways and you answered me . . . you open my docile heart . . .

We find ourselves at our lowest ebb; we see the abyss yawning before us . . . and yet we know that God is with us; we know that God has the power to do the impossible with, and for, and in each of us.

God says: You may see your world as hostile and lacking nourishment yet what I see is a universe of hearts and souls. When you bring me your dreams I dream them with you. When you bring me your pain I suffer with you. When you bring me your joy I celebrate with you. 

We must strive to be open and vulnerable to God.  We must put aside our reliance on self rather than God. And we must be willing to dream what at first seems impossible.

Today we reflect on the fourth lesson in Psalm 119.  It is a reminder that with God all things are possible. Tomorrow, He.

Jesus said to them: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  (Matthew 17:20)


To learn more about the importance of the Hebrew letter Daleth, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://gnosticteachings.org/courses/alphabet-of-kabbalah/716-daleth.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-meir/381626970/

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