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Posts Tagged ‘God turns harm to good’


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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Saturday, September 26, 2020

old-steps[1]Amos 5:7-27 and 6

The Three Woes . . . and Restoration

There is an order to nature. Things do not happen by chance. This order comes from God as we hear in the opening lines of Genesis when God brings order and light out of chaos and darkness. We are the people who have walked in darkness and can now see a great light. We are messianic people We bring light to the world, healing to the poor in spirit, hope to the hopeless, faith to those who live in anxiety, and love to those who have been abandoned or betrayed.

We are messianic people . . . and like Christ, we will be wounded in this journey we make toward the New Jerusalem that we see in Revelation. We will be hounded, persecuted, stoned, vilified and mocked, but we will also be healed, transformed, lifted up and brought up high, filled, rejuvenated and restored. Through the prophet Joel, our God tells us: I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten. (2:25) 

We are messianic people . . . and so many times we hear about restoration being promised from the story of Adam and Eve in the first book of God’s word to the last book of God’s Revelation of the New Jerusalem. We find ourselves slipping into the idea that this restoration comes in the next life but as children of God we are meant to feel this fullness now. The journey will be arduous but we follow where many have gone before us; it is the very journey itself that restores.

We are messianic people . . . and we are the work of God, therefore we cannot be complacent. We must move and act in God, for in this way we become the exit from sorrow and woe not only for others but for ourselves. In serving others from our own wounded-ness and from our own woe, we become healers of others and thereby we become healed.

We are messianic people . . . and as healers we have a part to play in the Economy of Salvation, in this Divine Plan of God’s for our happiness. We have an essential part to play in this world and in the next.

We are messianic people . . .a nd so when we experience woe, we know that we will rest in this grief for a time and we also know that there is joy and celebration to be found in the sadness for as children of God know that God turns all harm to good.

We are messianic people . . . and God yearns for intimate union with us. This union, so many times found through sorrow, brings complete and everlasting joy.

We are messianic people . . . and so we pray . . .   

Dearest, loving God, draw us close to you for we wish to be with you always. We know that you are in all things and with all people. We believe that you set all things right. We hope for the perfection of your plan in each of us. We love those who most need our intercession and we understand that by asking for healing for those who need it most we meet you face to face. We are messianic people . . . and so we seek healing and restoration here, now, and for eternity. Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on December 30, 2007.

The journey is arduous but we follow many who have gone before us.  The steps of The Way are well worn . . . and it is the very journey itself that brings restoration.  To read a simple reflection on Hosea 6 and the steps for spiritual restoration, click on the image above or go to: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/steps-for-spiritual-restoration/  This site also archives a one-year study of the Bible beginning at: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2012/08/

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Friday, September 25, 2020

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Gottlieb Schumacher’s expedition of Megiddo, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected. His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God. Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them. Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them. They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God. The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power. Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be. Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting. Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully. “His style is blunt and even offensive”. (Senior RG 362) He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot. “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”. He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard. Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion. No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus. Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed. We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.


For information about Gottlieb Schumacher’s Expedition and Report of Tell el-Mutesellim (Megiddo), visit: https://megiddoexpedition.wordpress.com/schumachers-expedition/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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