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Posts Tagged ‘God turns harm to good’


1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21). We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing. We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new. The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places. We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom? Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives? Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives? Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives? Can we love those who harm us?  an we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God? Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons. The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises. Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3). Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human willfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, willfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.


Image from: http://findfruit.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

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Mark 1:14-34: The Beginning

Abbot Handerson Thayer: Mary, Jesus and John the Baptist

Abbot Handerson Thayer: Mary, Jesus and John the Baptist

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

We have spent a number of days reflecting on the Gospel of Mark and today we remember the struggle of darkness and light that Jesus endures as he brings freedom, light and the good news to the faithful. Today we see how Jesus began.

We are accustomed to associating the words in the beginning with the opening words of Genesis of the soaring Gospel of John; today we see it and hear it in connection with the shortest and possibly the most powerful of the Gospels. Mark recounts that Jesus began his ministry when John the Baptizer was executed, when he saw that God’s plan was ready for the Good News, when he knew that fulfillment of God’s promise was at hand . . . through him.

In Luke’s Gospel we are told of how the people attending a service where Jesus proclaims God’s promise fulfilled in himself rose up, drove him out of town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed away through the midst of them and went away.  Luke 4:29-30

Many of us may have decided that the world is too crazy and too volatile to try to bring the message of hope to cranky and churlish people; yet these Gospels both record that after Jesus escaped this ugly mob, he went out among the people and immediately cured a “demoniac” in Capernaum.  He then healed Simon’s mother and finally . . . at sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.  (Luke 4:40When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.  The whole town was gathered at his door.  He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove our many demons, not permitting them to speak because he knew them.  (Mark 1:32-34)

We today are grateful that Jesus does not give up in the beginning when he was rejected by the rabble.

And so we pray . . .

We today are grateful that God never turns away from us when we have gone astray. 

We today are grateful that the Spirit always resides in us to bring comfort as we confront our hectic days.

We today are grateful that Jesus is constantly beside us to rescue us from the coming whirlwind. 

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is good and solid . . . even though we cannot fully comprehend its height, and breadth and depth. 

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is authentic and beautiful . . . even though we cannot fully comprehend its present, past or future.

We today are grateful that from the beginning there is a plan, and that this plan is, and was and always will be . . . one which turns all harm to good, all darkness to light, all anger to peace, all deception to fidelity, all fear to trust, and all hatred to love . . . if we only allow it. 

Amen.


A favorite from September 11, 2010.

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/john-the-baptist/

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The Four Gospels: Theophilusbible-1

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

In the next days of our Lenten pilgrimage as we near the celebration of the Easter miracle, we will focus on the New Testament with its words of joy that call us to newness. Today we take time to compare varying versions of verses as we listen for the voice that speaks within. If possible, we will look for a quiet place and time in which we can look at the opening verses of each Gospel.  And we will listen for God’s wisdom, ask for God’s grace, and rest in God’s mercy.

Matthew 1 begins with: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. When we consider why Matthew was calling his largely Jewish audience to Jesus’ lineage, we may begin to understand the importance of our own heritage, the influence of our tribe and its traditions, and the opportunities for division that unity in Christ might bridge.

Mark 1 begins in this way. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thinking about this story that was written quite close to the resurrection event, we may begin to comprehend the fear and awe that gripped these first followers of Christ, the same fear and awe that take hold of us today, and the prospect that Christ heals all wounds when we open ourselves to his care.

Luke 1 begins in another manner: Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the vents that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word handed down to them to us, I too have decided after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Contemplating these words, we might also consider how our own story of our life in Christ might begin, how it might play out, and how it might conclude. We might also consider how we live out Christ’s message each day as we play and work and pray.

John 1 begins with its soaring, beautiful language that carries us on a journey we cannot forget or put aside: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Meditating on these concepts, we might allow ourselves to be called into newness, to be open to restoration and to forgive others as we are forgiven.

Today we think, we contemplate, we consider and we meditate on the story of Jesus. Let us also act in Christ’s name to heal a world that longs for peace and mercy. When we click on the scripture links we open a world of hope where before there was no possibility. We enter into a world of fidelity where before there was only betrayal. And we allow Christ to create goodness and light out of harm where before there was only darkness and evil. Let us, like Theophilus, enter into our relationship as a beloved friend of God. And let us allow God to bring us the Easter promise in a full and meaningful way so that we might realize the certainty of the teachings we have received, so that we might pass on the goodness that God has in store for each of us.


For more information on ideas for Luke’s use of the name Theophilus, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/t/theophilus.htm

Image from: https://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was 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, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Jeremiah 9

Main_Lodge_fsThe Desert Lodge

Would that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodge! That I might leave my people and depart from them.

Jeremiah sees the corruption into which his world has fallen. He gives warning but no one takes note, and so he wishes for a secluded place to which he might remove himself, hoping to avoid the coming maelstrom. And so we consider: Do we also yearn for a hermitage when the world threatens? If so, where might we go? If not, how might we help those who are overwhelmed?

The Desert Lodge

Corruption whispers into our busy living, giving no warning, sending no harbinger.

Ready tongues like drawn bows pass along the latest wisp of gossip.

“Be on your guard!” we are warned. But how? From whom?

And so we look for our desert lodge where no caravan passes, where we might step back from the winds of deceit and the torment of war.

Yet still we hear the Teacher’s voice lifted on the steady breeze.

We recall that the world’s wisdom cannot unravel the puzzle of human deceit, nor can the world’s strength bring peace.

We remember that the Lord abides with the remnant, the faithful who rise each morning to intone first light’s prayer.

We remind one another that the Lord listens to noonday petitions lifted on tired arms that seek another day’s grace.

We know the Lord takes in our evening plaint as we put drowsy heads on tired pillows.

“Be on your guard!”

We ask for benediction. We ask for peace. We ask for the end to corruption. We ask for the coming of joy.

And with fresh surety we remember . . .

The Lord turns all harm to goodness. The Lord answers all prayers of the broken. The Lord brings all joy out of corruption.

And with this knowing, a quiet peace settles upon us.

In this knowing . . . is our impregnable desert lodge.


For more on Joy Out of Corruption, enter these words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/kulala-desert-lodge

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Friday, March 19, 2021

no diving from bridgeAmos 7:4-6

Vision of Fire

A persistent drought burns up the land. Crops wither, ancient orchards fade. Dry wadis remain where rivulets once danced among rocks. Children perish. The remnant struggles to survive. Perhaps we need to turn to God in hope and say: Cease, O Lord God! How can we stand?  We are so small!

And surely God will answer: This also shall not be.

When we focus on our weakness we forget to look for answers in our most precious resource, the indestructible strength that comes to us through our relationship with God. Again we miss the opportunity to draw goodness from harm just as God does. As part of our Lenten promise to change for the better, let us commit to turning to God when we feel weak and vulnerable; and let us share the good news of God’s saving power.

When we ask God to strengthen us, we show the creator our understanding that we are Children of God. We show Christ our willingness to lean on him when we experience trouble. And we show the Spirit our desire to find courage in the abiding, forgiving presence of the Lord. As part of our Lenten journey, let us determine to always turn to God in hope.

Tomorrow, Vision of the Plummet.


Image from: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/05/us/05drought.html?_r=0

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

locust_616_600x450[1]Amos 7:1-3

Vision of Locusts

Amos has conveyed his Words and Woes.  oday he begins to share his visions with us.

From the National Geographic site: “A plague of locusts is a devastating natural disaster. These infestations have been feared and revered throughout history. Unfortunately, they still wreak havoc today . . . Locust swarms devastate crops and cause major agricultural damage and attendant human misery—famine and starvation. They occur in many parts of the world, but today locusts are most destructive in sustenance farming regions of Africa . . . A desert locust swarm can be 460 square miles in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into less than half a square mile.  Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm of such size would eat 423 million pounds of plants every day.  Like the individual animals within them, locust swarms are typically in motion and can cover vast distances. In 1954, a swarm flew from northwest Africa to Great Britain. In 1988, another made the lengthy trek from West Africa to the Caribbean”. (“Locust”)

We ask God why natural disasters strike. We want to know why the innocent suffer. We look for answers to our troubling questions. Perhaps we only need say: How can we stand?  We are so small!

And surely God will answer: It shall not be.

World-News-Tomorrow6-300x181[1]

Locust Swarm in Madagascar

When we focus only on devastation and loss we miss the chance to see how God pulls goodness out of harm. And we also miss the opportunity to do the same.  As part of our Lenten promise to change for the better, let us commit to looking for God’s generosity and love rather than what we perceive as God’s neglect.

When we ask God to intercede for us, we show the creator our understanding that we are Children of God. We show Christ our willingness to enter into his mystical body. And we show the Spirit our desire to find union in the consoling, loving presence of the Lord. As part of our Lenten journey with God, let us determine to ask for God’s help.

Tomorrow, Vision of Fire.


“Locust.” National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 7 Mar 2014. <http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/locust/&gt;.

For more on locusts, click on the images above or go to: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/locust/ or http://www.worldnewstomorrow.com/?p=7047

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Psalm 119

Our Portion

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God.

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God. This is Our Portion.

Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope . . . My portion is the Lord; I promise to keep your words.

Last week we reflected on how Mary treasured the Word of God in her heart and body. We know that we are created in God’s image; we understand that we are dearly loved by God; and we believe that God constantly accompanies us through life even though we do not always sense God’s presence. This is our portion in life.

As we explore God’s word in Psalm 119 strophes four through eight, let us also examine what our portion is. And let us consider the lessons and promises that unfold.

Daleth: Selflessness – God invites us to take part in creation by living out the Law of Love. Do we accept this door that invites us to love?

He: Thought, Speech and Action – We see how me might answer God’s call: first in our thoughts, then in our words and finally in our deeds. Do we accept this challenge to believe in God’s promise?

Waw: Connection – Even if we try to deny our connection with God it exists; even if we turn our back on God, God continues to dwell within. Do we recognize the portion God gives to us?

Zayin: Woman of Valor – God enters the human race in the person of Jesus, relying on a woman of valor, Mary. Are we equally willing to accept God’s presence in our lives?

Heth: The Life Value of Run and Return – We sometimes fail to recognize God in the marginalized who live at the edges of society. Are we willing to run toward the poor, the sick and the outcast in our return to God?

Tomorrow, A Prayer to Rejoice in Our Portion.  

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

new-heart[1]Psalm 32:11

Upright Hearts

Rejoice in Yahweh, exult, you virtuous, shout for joy, all upright hearts.

In Jewish tradition, the heart is the center of human spirit, thought and emotion.  It is the heart that gives rise to action. (PSALMS 31)

God says: When you live in me you will find yourself rejoicing no matter your circumstances for you will understand that I turn all harm to good, you will comprehend that the faithful need not fight because I fight for them, and you will know that I guide and protect you always. If you live in a world of denial, deceit and betrayal you will find it difficult to trust your loved ones. You will feel most comfortable inhabiting a world of forces that control and are controlled. You will seek others who prefer a lie to truth. The upright heart cannot bear the darkness. The honest heart seeks light and truth and good. Come to me, all you who shout continually for joy just knowing that I am with you. Come to me this day, no matter your circumstance. For we have much to do. We have much to celebrate.

For a week of days we have explored Psalm 32; we have scanned its verses and parsed its words as we look for the deeper meaning that remains with us once we close the pages of the Bible. We have allowed the Word to seep into our sinews, to strengthen our bones, and to bring new life to a tired spirit. Let us return to the first verse, and read again these treasured words of instruction that bring us remission, grace and wisdom. Let us take in these words that renew the spirit, and then let us rise in action.

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven . . .


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 31. Print.

Image from: http://www.pbwu.org/w/p/daily-encouraging-word-a-new-heart-and-a-new-spirit/

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