Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s call’


Esther: Received by the King

Ernest Normand: Esther Denouncing Haman

Saturday, February 10, 2018

We have learned from the story of Job that God interacts with us when we argue as easily as when we petition or praise. As we near the feast of Purim, we consider the story of Esther.

Notes and commentaries will help us unravel the confusion of the chapters in this book, and it will be a worthwhile task – for this story is one of the most uplifting in the Old Testament.  It reminds us of the fear all humans feel when they see a task looming before them which causes them to faint away.  It also reminds us of the surprising gentleness we will find in the heart of an awesome, fear-inspiring king.  And it finally reminds us of the courage we receive as grace when we place ourselves in the hands of this king.

Life is difficult.  It is threatening, it is sometimes over-powering.  Where do we go when we feel panic, anxiety, abandonment, a sense of uselessness or futility?  Like Esther, we discard our penitential garments and don our vestments of royal attire.  As adopted sisters and brothers of Christ, we take ourselves before our king, we lay our life in his hands, and we petition, even though we may faint away from the effort.

Spending time with this story we remember and reflect on some of its essential elements: we must respond when we are called (4:14), God saves us from the power of the wicked (C:29), those who plot our downfall end by suffering the punishment they would have inflicted on the faithful (6:8-11), hopeless situations can be reversed because with God all things are possible (9:1).

When terror looms before us on the narrow path we follow closely in this journey home, we might cry out like Mordecai: Do not spurn your portion, which you redeemed for yourself out of Egypt.  Hear my prayer; have pity on your inheritance and turn our sorrow into joy; thus we shall live to sing praise to your name, O Lord.  Do not silence those who praise you.  (C:9-10)

And like Esther: 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.  (C:14-15)

To these prayers let us add our own . . . Amen!

Tomorrow, Mordecai’s Dream. 

The citations with the letter C indicate verses from the Greek additions. (Senior 536-537)

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.536-537. Print.   

Written on July 16, 2008.

Read Full Post »


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.  

Read Full Post »


Order: The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

The Tenth Day of Christmas, January 3, 2018

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me ten lords a-leaping.

Many of us are familiar with The Ten Commandments that Yahweh gives to Moses, but how often do we pause to think of the fact the God, through Moses, not only gives us a simple set of rules to follow, but that he explains the effect these rules will have on our lives. God sees our authenticity by the way we live, and by the way we do or do not say, “Yes,” in response to God’s call. Today the old Christmas carol poses these questions to us: do we see the Gospel stories as a fulfillment of God’s hope in the covenant God establishes with us in the promise of the Ten Commandments?

This part of the Exodus story is bracketed by two convergent episodes: the provision of quail, manna and water by God to the Israelites, and the planning and building of a desert temple-tent for Yahweh by the Israelites. We see actions by both God and the Chosen People that speak of their desire to live in a covenant relationship. And the actual agreement, along with its explanations and implications, lies between these two actions in chapters 20 to 24.

The Holy Spirit

God takes the Israelites out of bondage – just as Jesus later does for all when he comes to live among us and to institute the Kingdom (in Luke 4:14-30). With the giving of the commandments, God foresees the struggle of the people in the desert. God’s preservation and protection of these people bring to God not only fame, glory and praise, but also an arrogant, contemptuous rejection by us. So too does Jesus arrive among God’s people to fulfill the Mosaic Law, to provide and protect us, and then to suffer at our hands; yet ultimately, God the Father and God the Son both offer their compassion and mercy to us when we are wayward. All that is required of us is that we repent of our past transgressions and then respond to the call. Just as God sent an angel to guard the Israelites and bring them to the place God had in mind for them (23: 20-33), so too does Jesus send the Holy Spirit to dwell with us after Jesus’ resurrection – to guide and protect, and to lead us to the holy place he has prepared for us. Of course, later in Chapter 32 of Exodus, the people tire of waiting for Moses to descend Mt. Sinai, so they create and worship the Golden Calf. Moses returns, breaks the tablets and loses his patience. The people repent, agree to do as Yahweh asks and Yahweh restores the tablets. A familiar story that we repeat today – we only need to read and compare history and current events. And it is no wonder that we stray – no wonder that the Israelites strayed. When we look at chapters 20 to 24 of Exodus, we see the social implications of the Mosaic Law. We might pay special attention to some of the verses that hold ideas difficult to take, verses that call for us to respect ourselves and one another: 22:15, 23:1, 22: 1-3, 22: 20, 21:35-36.

So on this day when we continue our celebration of God’s truest gift of love, we take a few moments to recollect our experiences in covenant relationships with others. We might mediate for a bit on how we might remain faithful to the one central covenant in our lives. And we might decide how best to renew that covenant each day with our Creator.

Adapted from a reflection on The Ten Commandments written February 14, 2007.

Read Full Post »


Ezekiel 33:7-9: Warning to All

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We have read this message before. We have heard this call. Today we have the opportunity to respond to the warning, and to pass it along to others.

From last Sunday’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection in the Morning Prayer: The greatest demand love makes on us is that we help one another into the kingdom of God. Sometimes love requires us to speak a painful word of truth to awaken someone blinded by sin, recognizing that we ourselves are also sinners. Let us do for one another what we would have others do for us. (Cameron 130)

Of course, there are days when our ego wants to do precisely what we like without regard for anyone or anything. The child in us wants to have our way. There are other days when we want to take splinters our of our neighbors eyes without tending to the beams in our own. And there are days when we take credit for all that goes well while throwing blame on others for all that goes wrong. Ezekiel tells us that God warns the sentinels among us, and he tells us that we must listen for the word of warning from them and from God.

Yesterday we spent time reflecting on true wisdom – what it is and where it is found. Today we further explore that wisdom as we hear it when we listen to the sentinel warning, and when we experience it as we gather together in Jesus’ name.

Other readings from last Sunday that accompany Ezekiel’s warning bring us further wisdom when we spend time with them. Psalm 95 . . . If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts. Romans 13:8-10 . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. And in Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus gives us a tiered process to rebuke or warn another. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you . . . If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Giving voice to warnings, rebuking one another in love, these are hallmarks of a disciple and we need true wisdom from God in order to follow the process Jesus describes for us. And so we reflect today.

Do we listen for or listen to the warnings we hear? Do we rebuke one another with compassion? Do we listen when others rebuke us? Do we witness with kindness? Do we gossip about others because we cannot summon up the courage to go to another in mercy? How do we react to gossip spread about us? How do we rebuke gossip when we hear it? And what do we do when scandal hits our church, our group of loved ones who gather in Christ’s name?

We must heed the warnings we hear. We must interact with others with patience, care and wisdom. We must seek true sentinels rather than false prophets. And we must always be certain that our actions bear fruit that is goodness and that bring goodness out of harm.

We must take time to reflect today, for we never know at what hour God’s warnings arrive. And we must prepare ourselves, for we will need all the wisdom and love God gifts to disciples.

When we compare varying translation of these verses, we open ourselves to God’s warning, we better learn how to rebuke another, and we better learn how to receive a rebuke from another. 

For more reflections on false and true prophets, for sentinels who hear and pass along warnings, and for ways to rebuke and be rebuked, use the blog search bar and explore.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.9 (2017): 129-130. Print.

 

Read Full Post »


Acts 11:4-18: Step By Step

Friday, May 5, 2017

Jan Styla: Saint Peter

Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step.

Step-by-step God works with Peter until the faithful servant hears and follows the call. Step-by-step God works with each of us until we do the same.

But a second time the voice answered from heaven.

Opportunity recycles and returns to us. The more we ignore God’s voice, the more often God returns to speak to us. The louder the voice, the more forceful the call. We have only to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts.

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.

Step-by-step God works with us until we understand and act on the call to come together despite our differences.

“Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning”. 

New openings return to us, never leaving even one lost sheep behind. The more we resist, the stronger the pull. Peter steps beyond his wildest dreams to comfort and save an entire world. Peter steps into our lives to change us forever.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to take in the Spirit. We allow change to enter into our hearts . . . and live there always.

Tomorrow, Peter walks out of prison.

 

Read Full Post »


James 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Friday, October 30, 2015patience1

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us and all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humbly ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.

 

 

Read Full Post »


Mark 12:35-44: Comparison

James C Christenen: The Widow's Mite

James C. Christensen: The Widow’s Mite

Monday, August 31, 2015

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, we are struck again by his immediacy and precision; and we see how Jesus turns stark divisions into unifying calls. 

The widow we meet today who gives from her poverty is seen in sharp contrast to the scribes who give from their surplus.  Jesus as the son of God is also juxtaposed against those who would be servants but who are more enamored of status, money and place.  The obvious lesson here is understood quickly, even by children.  The widow’s contribution – small as it is – is worth as much and perhaps even more than the large amount given by others from their surplus; and the widow herself is as valuable, or more, as those who profess great learning and experience.  We can see that this portion of Mark’s Gospel asks us to take a deep look to examine our own status, our own motivations, our own spiritual life in Christ.  The more obscure lesson is this: We ought not to worry if we only have two cents when come forward to add to God’s treasury . . . God is counting on this small gift to appear and God has a plan for this small gift which we cannot see from where we stand.

My dad, the oldest of eleven, always used to say that when we compare ourselves to others we will always come up way short of some and way ahead of others.  He would encourage us to compare what we have done in a day to what we might have done on a good day.  He asked that we measure ourselves against our own potential.  He directed us to steer well clear of comparing ourselves to others in any way with the words: You have no way of knowing what God knows.  And when he himself became frustrated with life and with what he believed to be his own weaknesses, he would often murmur repeatedly in low words:  God only knows.  Only God knows.  God only knows.  Only God knows. 

My mother, born the seventh of eleven, was fond of telling us – when we balked at going somewhere we thought we might be bored – Did you ever stop to think that God might have need of you today?  Did it ever occur to you that your presence has a purpose even when you do not see it?  Maybe you are being asked to bring something you do not realize you have.  Go and find out what it is.  And so we would go . . . and we always found out that yes, we had two cents, and they belonged in God’s treasury.

When we believe that the efforts we make are puny in attempting to answer God’s call, we might remember the contributions of the scribes and the widow.

When we fear that we have erred in responding to God’s call, we might remember that Jesus sees all of us, knows our worth and values our gifts accordingly.

When we feel that we have somehow gotten things wrong, that we have misunderstood the instructions we think we hear, we might remember that with God, our two cents are worth worlds . . . because we have come to God, trusted God and loved God.

And so we pray.

Precious God, We know that we often misunderstand messages.  We sometimes doubt our ability to hear you clearly.  We also know that we ought to be wary of those wearing robes for the sake of show.  We sometimes become enamored of the robes ourselves.  We always know that when you destroy temples you also rebuild them in days . . . deep within our hearts.  Continue to guide us as we filter through the pageantry of life to find that which is worth more than the mere two-cent value it appears to have at first glance.  Help us to compare ourselves to our own work rather than to the work of others.  Lead us to your way of seeing and thinking.  Lead us to your way of trusting and believing.  Lead us always back to you.  Amen. 

A favorite from August 23, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Luke 2Our Story – Part Ishooting star

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our story is told through the whole of scripture as the story of Christ. Today we reflect on the traces of this story that we find in our own lives from the first words of Genesis . . . In the beginning . . . to the last words of Revelation . . . The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  What has been our beginning? What do our lives reveal?

From the Torah and narratives, through the books of wisdom and prophets, and finally with the gospels, letters and final oracles, we read the story of Jesus who is predicted and promised, and who comes to fulfill that covenant promise.  What is our prediction? What potential of hope has God placed within us? What is the promise our lives disclose?

The scripture stories fit together, notching closely as a mosaic to form the Mystical Body of Christ. What sort of image of God do we speak to the world with our lives? How do the stories we play out speak of our relationship with God?

Christ’s story can be our own not in that we live perfect lives as Jesus did, but in that we strive for this perfect love that Jesus teaches us daily.  Today, we look at the words that begin his story as a human . . . In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled . . . and we take the opportunity to consider once again how our own story might begin . . . In those days a war erupted between . . . In those days there was great political, economic and social unrest . . . In those days peace had come upon the land . . . In those days there was much to celebrate . . . We might enumerate our family lineage as Matthew does in his Gospel.  We might wade immediately into our story as Mark does; or we might allow poetry to take over as does John . . . In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   Our own New Testament might begin . . . In the beginning there was Fury . . . there was Peace . . . there was Confusion . . . there was Joy.

Today we spend time reflecting on the introduction of our story. The introduction of our hope. The introduction of the love we bring to the world as our response to God’s call.

Tomorrow, our stories of obstacles and rejections.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 21, 2010.

 

Read Full Post »


Matthew 9:35-38: The Compassion of Jesusharvest

May 22, 2015

We have spent time with Jesus as he heals leprosy, paralysis and blindness, stills an intense and dangerous storm and enables the mute to speak. We have followed him as he casts out demons, admonishes corrupt leaders and heals an older woman’s hemorrhaging on his way to raise a young woman from the dead. We listen to Jesus when he reminds us to use shrunken cloth to mend our old cloaks and to put our new wine into new skins. Jesus is well aware of the suffering that surrounds him yet he does not shrink from the painful challenge; rather, he brings joy and healing and transformation.

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

Let us imagine a world in which we all proclaim the good news, in which we all teach with our example of witness, in which we touch our enemies and friends alike with compassion.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Let us imagine a world in which we shepherd one another when our hearts are low and our spirits falter, in which we act in mercy rather than revenge, in which we look for union rather than separateness.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send the laborers for his harvest.

Let us imagine a world in which masters and laborers work together to bring compassion to work places across the globe, in which parents and children act in love and peace in their homes, in which leaders and followers find common ground for the common good.

As we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost and the close of Eastertide, let us imagine a world such as this . . . and let us step into the role that Jesus has in mind for us as we bring Christ’s compassion to the world.

Visit the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Movement site at www.catholicworker.org or another site of your choice, and be open to the harvesting work to which God may be calling you. Share your experience in a blog comment and invite others to join in Jesus call of compassion for the world.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: