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Posts Tagged ‘God’s goodness’


Isaiah 41:13: Your Right Hand

God’s left hand waits for our right hand . . .

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I am the Lord, your God, who gasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you”.

How often do we take our hands for granted? How much of our life do we hold in our hands?

I am the Lord your God;
I strengthen you and tell you,
“Do not be afraid; I will help you.” (GNT)

Do we believe that God’s hands manage the details of our lives? Do we see God’s hands at work in the broad horizon of our days and nights?

For I, Adonai, your God,
say to you, as I hold your right hand,
‘Have no fear; I will help you. (CJB)

Dylan Pierce: Child and Man

Can we say with hope that God brings all harm to good? Can we relinquish our fear and pride long enough to place ourselves in God’s hands?

I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, “Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.” (MSG)

Can we remain faithful to God’s goodness and rely on God’s wisdom? Can we open ourselves to God’s grace and follow where God leads as God takes us by our right hand?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open our hands to God, and give ourselves over to God’s goodness.

 

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Titus 3:4-7:In Partnership with God

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Michelangelo: Creation of Eve

From the Letter of Paul to Titus: It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. (MSG)

Father Alfred Delp, S.. was hanged for high treason against Hitler’s Nazi Reich just a few months before the end of WW II. Hitler hoped to erase Delp from history by ordering that his body be cremated and his ashes scattered; but despite this effort, Delp and his words are remembered today. We might take them in as part of our Lenten journey. From Prison Writings,

Toil, heat, and grief express fundamental conditions of human nature which always make themselves felt as long as one is on one’s journey through life. They are not always so abnormally prevalent as they are today but they are nevertheless an indispensable part of our existence. And only when we fail to go through life in partnership with God do these things get the upper hand, bursting all bounds and overwhelming us with trouble of all kinds.

Can we imagine ourselves in partnership with God? What is it like to have an intimate relationship with one who is capable of great authority and great love?

Paul to Titus: But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, God saved us from all that. It was all God’s doing; we had nothing to do with it. God gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.

How might we use these verses in our Lenten journey toward Easter peace?

Michelangelo: Creation of Adam – Detail

More from Delp: I am not concerned here with the material needs of humankind but with our own degeneration, our blunted faculties and spiritual poverty – all the burdens in fact which the kind of existence one leads have introduced into one’s life and which have now become characteristic of one’s nature. Just as there are virtues that can be acquired so also there are faults that result from repetition such as habitual unawareness of individuality, perpetual relinquishment of powers of decision, permanent weakening of the sense of reality, and so on. Faced with these shortcomings we find ourselves under a terrible strain and utterly helpless.

Do we see Delp’s description of his society reflected in our own? Are there any parallels to discern or lessons to learn? What do we do when we feel helpless or under great strain? Whose counsel do we seek? What transformation do we hope to experience?

Delp: One must accept responsibility for the misuse of one’s free will. Being prone to such errors of judgment the only thing one can do is to turn again and again to God praying earnestly that the Holy Spirit may take pity on one’s failings and let the healing current flow freely through one’s life.

Where do we turn when we are overwhelmed by our own shortcomings or those of others? What are the prayers we offer to God? How often do we allow the Spirit’s healing current to flow freely through our lives?

Both Delp and Paul remind us of the great partnership we are offered, and the consequences of this gift.

Paul to Titus: God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Partnership with God is the eternal transformation we seek. It is the gift we already hold. We are even now beloved children in God’s kingdom of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love. Let us move forward in our Lenten journey, and forward into the world, transformed in this belief. Let us behave as if we hold these truths in our hearts. And let us be eager to share with others the promise and goodness of God’s love.

Delp, Alfred. Prison Writings. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2004. To learn more about Delp, visit: http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/642/article/martyr-nazis  

For more on Michelangelo, the Italian Renaissance, and his paintings in the Sistine Chapel, click: http://www.italianrenaissance.org/a-closer-look-michelangelos-painting-of-the-sistine-chapel-ceiling/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.3 (2017): 260-261. Print.  

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Revelation 19:5-10: Victory Song

Friday, October 28, 2016victory

Although we have spent time with this imagery in the past, certain verses made a strong impression on us regarding the two beasts that crawl out of the sea and the earth.  Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast . . . It performed great signs . . . It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform . . . It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave . . . so that no one could buy or sell except the one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for the name.  (13:3; 13-14; 16-17)

What is it about the shadow world and evil that draws us in?  Do we think we might overcome these forces like a superhero?  What is it about membership in a secret society that lures us?  Is it a feeling of belonging and protection through dark arts we think we might manipulate?

Are we really so susceptible to the siren song of the temptation Adam and Eve first heard:  You can be like gods?  Why can we not see that the God who is Love and Goodness will never force us in any way . . . even if for our own good?  What do we not understand about God that we insist on wanting things our way?  Why can we not be faithful . . . true . . . honest . . . patient . . . and persevering?  Is the reward of happiness not enough for us?  What is it we truly seek?

We move through our weekend errands.  Grocery shopping, haircut, Starbuck’s, bookstore and craft store.  As we bump into friends, visit with children and grandchildren, our existential questions surface each time we pause to allow silence and prayer.  Finally, sitting quietly with scripture to examine the book of Revelation, we find The Victory Song.

The wedding day of the Lord has come and the bride has made herself ready. 

And we might sing . . . The wedding day of the Lord has come and we have made ourselves ready. 

The angel tells us: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

When we fall down to worship, the angel replies: Don’t!  I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers who bear witness to Jesus.  Worship God.  Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

We are creatures fashioned to worship our maker.  There is a universal gift to come to this wedding feast as bride, adorned by the white gown of our honest deeds.

Do we think this wedding covenant is impossible?  Is it too much to ask that we worship God only in the company of God’s creation?  Are we waiting to be forced into worship as the adorers of the beast are forced?

Our good and loving God who is rich in kindness forces no one.  This merciful and just God calls each and all.  This adoring and adored God of all Creation wants to rejoice with us in the Victory Song.  This patient God, for whom all things are possible, invites us to the feast as bride to his bridegroom.  All we need bring is our humble and imperfect selves.  Our God, the God who heals and who makes imperfect creatures whole, awaits our answer to his invitation.  Let us sing out our own Amen, Alleluia!

Adapted from a Favorite from October 25, 2008.

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Esther 10 and F: Thanksgiving – Part V

Friday, September 30, 2016

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumhp of Mordecai

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumph of Mordecai

A Favorite from October 6, 2007.

Mordecai’s Dream Fulfilled

A Favorite from October 6, 2007. To read the epilogue (Esther F), consult the New American Bible (NABRE) using the scripture link above. 

When we explore Esther’s story, we discover God’s gift of goodness.

How many times has this kind of rescue happened in small ways in our lives that we have given momentary thanksgiving and moved on to our next petition in our list of dreams?  How many times have we quickly curtsied or bowed as we said a hasty “Thank you” before rushing on to out next request?  We must always make the time to give full and abundant thanks to God.  For has not God’s goodness been overflowing to us?  We must pass along these stories to those who follow.  For have not these stories been passed along to us?  We must, like Mordecai who realizes that his highest hopes have been born out of God’s providence and mercy, gather together with joy and happiness before God that we may celebrate.  We must rejoice in the goodness of God for only this gladness and joy will carry us forward to New Life in the fullest.

When we spend time with the story of Esther, Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus, we open our hearts to thanksgiving. We open ourselves to the Spirit. 

Click on the image above to learn more about the characters in this very human story, or visit: http://www.moshereiss.org/messenger/15_esther/15_esther.html

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Mark 7:31-37: The Deaf

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ottheinrich Folio: Jesus Heals a Man who is Deaf and Mute

Ottheinrich Folio: Jesus Heals a Man who is Deaf and Mute

And it happened. The man’s hearing was clear and his speech plain—just like that.

We rise in the morning to greet another day . . . just like that.

We move through our communities without major mishap . . . just like that.

We have enough to eat and enough to drink . . . just like that.

We have health care, networks, access to information . . . just like that.

We interact with family, friends and colleagues . . . just like that.

We lay tired heads on plump pillows . . . just like that.

For those of us on the planet who have received the gift of so much, including the gift of hard work that allows us to enter into the marketplace to compete fairly with others, we must remember that despite all our thinking otherwise . . . all that we have is by the grace of God . . . just like that.

For those of us on the planet who are hampered and even imprisoned and murdered by unjust regimes, we must remember that despite all the solidarity God’s people might muster . . . all that they were promised has been taken away . . . just like that.

As we move through our day giving thanks for the words we hear, let us remember that despite all the rancor they may contain . . . we might allow God’s love to transform the world’s hatred into joy when we remember the Law of Love that Jesus shows us through the miracle of healing . . . just like that.

As we move into the evening giving thanks for the words we use, let us remember that despite all the wisdom they may contain . . . they may easily fall on deaf ears . . . just like that.

And so we pray.

Wise and gentle God, knowing that all that we have and all that we are comes from you, remind us to keep eyes, ears and hearts open in gratitude to you.

Strong and persistent God, understanding that words – whether spoken or unspoken – are powerful instruments of both fear and love, remind us to measure our words and be mindful of their effect.

Merciful and loving God, believing that truth endures beyond lies, integrity outlives deceit, and love is greater than any evil, remind us that our very existence relies on your compassion and fidelity.

We ask this through Christ our Lord, the healer of all that is wrong, the bearer of all that is praiseworthy. Amen.

For more on the Ottheinrich Folio, visit: http://www.facsimilefinder.com/facsimiles/ottheinrich-s-bible-facsimile

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Micah 3Downfall

Wednesday, June 15, 2016camels in needle eye

This Favorite from May 18, 2007 seems appropriate in our present social, spiritual and political times. So many themes in scripture are universal and eternal. Let us enter into conversation with others to look for best ways to come together. Let us enter into conversation with God to look for guidance, connection and peace that is lasting. As we reflect today, we remember Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 19:23-24 about the ease of fitting a camel through the eye of a needle. 

From the NAB footnotes: “Here Micah accuses them [the false prophets] of prophesying for venal motives and determining the prophecy by the price that is paid them; he contrasts his own disinterested preaching of the word of God.” Micah calls us to evaluate our own motives.

ken-fong-more-than-writing-checks-100131-3-728 (1)I am reflecting on the “flip-flop” tendency of human beings to self-serve. So many of us say and do what results best for us in the short run while neglecting what is best for the greater good in the long run. So many of us close our eyes to the truth, to the obvious. We “strain out gnats and swallow camels” like the false leaders we hear about in Matthew (23:24). We even manage to twist God’s goodness to make it suit our own desires rather than his.

LORD above all, keep us close to you every day, in every way. Steer us away from venal motives. Guide us with your merciful hand. Touch our hearts and our lives. Call us to our greater good, our greater potential. Be the pillar of fire of smoke which both leads and protects. Abide with us. Comfort us. Heal us. Save us. Restore us.

Amen. For more reflections on false leaders, enter the word Downfall into the blog search bar and explore.

 

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Matthew 20:17-28: The Chalice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016communion-cup_bread

Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedee brothers, asks Jesus to give her sons places of honor in the new kingdom; yet she does not fully understand . . . and so Jesus explains the terrible and beautiful importance of this special cup of blessing.

From Psalm 116 (verses 12-18)

What can I give back to God
    for the blessings the LORD poured out on me?

We are accustomed to asking God for favors. Do we think about giving thanks for our cup of salvation?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

We are accustomed to thanking God quietly and privately. Do we think to join our voices with others in praise of God’s goodness?

I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
    and I’ll do it together with God’s people.

We are accustomed to joining in Sabbath prayer and song. Do we think about giving testimony to a broader circle about God’s mercy?

When they arrive at the gates of death,
    God welcomes those who love the LORD.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
    your faithful servant: set me free for your service!

bread cupWe are accustomed to approaching each day’s obstacles. Do we think about serving God by tending to the barriers we meet as Jesus does? Do we think about the cup we have asked to take as curse or blessing? Are we prepared to accept the cup that passes before us?

As we think about God’s beautiful and challenging cup of salvation, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the rich man and Lazarus.

 

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Psalms 30, 34 and 126: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part III

Beyond the Poverty of Spiritpoor in spirit

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in New Scripture.

As we learn how to enter into God’s humility we also acquire self-knowledge, and it is this deeper understanding that leads us to the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This poverty of spirit shows us that sadness is not to be avoided for it is in the depths of grief that we encounter God most deeply. Through humility we arrive at understanding that our successes and failures come to us through no talent of our own . . . but through God’s deep, infinite and abiding goodness. When we refuse to understand this truth we find ourselves stalled on God’s ladder of beatitude. When we blame God for the disaster, sadness and darkness in the world, we demonstrate our own refusal to act with God to heal, bridge, console, and include. When we admit that we are not in charge, we are ready for the third rung on God’s Yardstick.

Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed
    will come back singing for joy,
    as they bring in the harvest. (Psalm 126:6)

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” We often understand the quality of meekness as sweetness and affability rather than strength, but the meekness that Jesus displays is a willingness to be taught. Those who are meek as Jesus is meek have submitted their strength to God for God’s use. They have no arrogance and so they become instruments of God’s authority – both here on earth and later. So it is through our poverty of spirit and sadness that we arrive at possessing authority. It is through the power of Christ that the paradox unfolds . . . and we move to the fourth beatitude.

Tomorrow, God’s righteousness.

Adapted from a favorite written on January 5, 2007.

 

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1 Samuel 1 & 2: God’s Yardstick – Hannah

Loving Patience

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tissot: The High Priest and Hannah

Tissot: The High Priest and Hannah

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Who among us will so willingly give away the very gift we have sought for so long a time? Hannah shows us how we might measure our lives in this way. (1 Samuel 1:24-28)

Who among us exults in God’s goodness in the face of adversity so joyfully and without thought of revenge? Hannah models for us the words we might use in gratitude to God. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

When we use the scripture links to explore these well-known words and the verses that surround them, God’s yardstick becomes more clear and our lives become more focused, peace-filled and joyful. Adversity brings us less anxiety to bring us instead an amazing sense of serenity. Ugliness falls away to give birth to quiet beauty.

When we spend time with Hannah’s story and her yardstick, power and status melt away to reveal the incalculable value of gentle persistence and hopeful love. Hannah, faced with the cruelties of life, allows perseverance, faith and hope to transform her grief. In this way, she offers us her life as a new measure of success . . . a measure that foreshadows the great love of Mary, mother of God.

Using this link, spend time with 1 Samuel 1 & 2 and look for Hannah’s yardstick. To learn more about her story, click on the image above.

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