Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s goodness’


Judges 1: Cycles of Love

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: The Women of Amphissa

We know that Judges is the book in the Old Testament that takes us from the time following the death of Joshua through several hundred years of leaders, or judges, who include Gideon, Deborah and Samson, to the time of Jesse, father of David.  It delineates the story of a people struggling to understand themselves and one another, a people who constantly cycle through a loop of straying, repenting, returning, and forgetting.  The last verse of the book speaks about the attitude of the people regarding not only their civic relationship with one another, but also their spiritual relationship with God.  In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  We reflected on this idea several days ago, saying that this is a sentiment we might apply to our contemporary times as we watch events unfold over which we have little and no control. It seems that in all ages we humans . . . do what we think best.  We also see God’s reaction to human waywardness: God allows the weeds to grow up with the wheat.

A number of years ago I came across a painting in the National Gallery’s Pompeii exhibit. It showed maenads, those who stir themselves to frenzy with wine and orgy, and who sink so low that they tear apart their own children.  They are the famous Bacchae of Dionysus, the distraught female followers of this god of wine who exacts revenge on any woman who will not submit to his will.  This Dionysus is the antithesis of the God of Israel.  This pagan god takes what he wants for his own satisfaction, and his followers are too exhausted to see the truth of his and their existence.

We are constantly faced with a choice in our lives because God grants us the freedom to follow or to strike out on our own, to enact love or to deaden our senses with the wine of self-pleasure and self-gratification.

The painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadea entitled The Women of Amphissa shows the exhausted maenads as they awaken the morning after a night of mad running through the hillsides in rapacious, orgiastic delight.  We can see their numbness to the light and to life.  The local townswomen protect them and arrange for them to be returned home unharmed; but the damage has already been done, and they remain powerless, forever in the grip of Dionysus.  They cannot escape from his cruel delight in watching them destroy others.  They have no God who loves them enough to sacrifice himself in redemption of their souls.  There is no Christ who refuses to leave his faithful to do what they think best.

Our God . . . the God of Israel . . . the one God of all of us here is not a God who holds us bound by the secrets or the dark debauchery that surround us.  Our God does not destroy with threats, but rather calls us to grow amid the weeds through faith in God’s own hope and love.  Ours is the God who forgives many times and constantly.  Our God welcomes those who witness and turn to goodness.  Our God does not chain us, does not bind us, does not force us into relationships, and does not take revenge.  Our God brings light, and truth and redemption.  And this God asks us to behave in like manner.  God sets us free to search for God’s goodness with our whole heart and our whole soul, to love or to turn away.  Our God is always hoping that when we do what we think best, we will respond in joyful hope to the call of light and truth and authentic, unencumbered love.

Adapted from a reflection written at the close of 2008. 

For more on the Bacchae, Dionysus and the playwirght Euripides, visit : http://www.mythography.com/myth/glimpse-of-a-greek-god-dionysus-in-the-bacchae-of-euripides/

Read Full Post »


John 1:1-18: Divine Energy

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.

Here is a bit of advice from Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell. “You can . . . reread the prologue to John’s gospel, and every time you see the term ‘Word’ or Logos, substitute Relationship or Blueprint, instead, and it will really help you get the message . . . This exact model of relationship is then intended to be passed on to us in what Jesus calls the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is the relationship between Father and the Son. It is this relationship itself that is gratuitously given to us! Or better, we are included inside this love. Wow. This is salvation in one wonderful snapshot”. (Rohr and Morrell 186)

Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.

If we might take this in, we realize that it is almost too wonderful to believe, and yet, it is the reality in and by that, we are called to live. We might have some fears about how we are to surrender to this divine energy. So Rohr and Morrell continue.

God was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.

“This same relationship shows itself in other myriad forms, such as endless animals and wildflowers, mountains and trees, every cultural attempt at art and science and medicine, all positive street theatre, and every movement of renewal. Every one of these manifestations expresses this endless desire to express new forms of life and externalized love. All things good, true, and beautiful are baptized in the one, same Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows herself as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else”. (Rohr and Morrell 186)

No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

This divine energy wants all that is good for us. This divine energy brings all that is holy together in us so that goodness might overcome the darkness. This divine energy will never give up, and will never give in. This divine energy is God’s enormous and all-encompassing love as seen in the creator, the redeemer and the healer. This divine energy lives and loves in us.

When we compare varying translation of John’s prologue, we open ourselves to the divine energy of the Trinity. Tomorrow, everything is holy now.

For photos of Arizona sunsets in the southwest USA that echo divine energy, click on the image above and reflect on the divine energy of creation, or visit: http://www.arizona-leisure.com/arizona-pictures.html 

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print. 

 

 

Read Full Post »


1 Corinthians 12: Trinity as Diversity

El Greco: The Holy Trinity

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell, bring us a vision of the Trinity that may surprise us. “One of the most wonderful things I find in this naming of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is its affirmation that there is an intrinsic plurality to goodness . . . Goodness isn’t sameness. Goodness, to be goodness, needs contrast and tension, not perfect uniformity. If Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God yet clearly different, and we embrace this differentiation, resisting the temptation to blend them into some kind of amorphous blob, then there are at least three shapes to pure goodness”. (Rohr and Morrell 61)

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served.  

Today we examine a thesis that God’s nature is diverse by intention and not accident. When we explore varying versions of these words, we open ourselves to the possibility of this diversity in God. Tomorrow, God’s diversity in us.

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print. 

 

Read Full Post »


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.

 

Read Full Post »



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.  

Read Full Post »


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.

Read Full Post »


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

Read Full Post »


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

Read Full Post »


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.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: