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Posts Tagged ‘God’s kingdom’


Matthew 5:3: The Inverted Kingdom – Part I

Wednesday, January 11, 2017poor-in-spirit

We have heard the words, “Do not fear”. We have struggled to recognize the Christ who accompanies us always. For the next few days we will reflect on the structure of society Jesus proposes when he asks us to forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. We think through the new Law of Love that supersedes the old Mosaic Law. And we spend a bit of time considering the inverted nature of God’s Kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees the broken-hearted as close to God.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees the broken-hearted as central to God’s design.

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (ICB)

This view of the world sees the wealth as non-essential in God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees wealth as a barrier to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word walks among the poor in spirit. They show us that Jesus makes a choice to dwell with the lame, the mourning, the betrayed and the ignored. They show us that the Spirit is always hovering along the margins of society, rather than with those who hold great amounts of wealth.

How do we see ourselves as fitting into God’s designs and plans?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open ourselves to the joy of living in poverty with Jesus and the millions of poor who people the earth. 

For more on Jesus’ teaching and experience on poverty, click on the image above or  visit: http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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Luke 18:9-14: More than Ourselves

Saturday, March 5, 2016pharisee-publican-praying-j

Jesus tells his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people.

The story begins in this way . . . Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man.

“I know this one,” we tell ourselves. But do we really?

“I am the Tax Man,” we say as we move quickly through the verses. But do family, friends and strangers alike see us this way?

“I am humble,” we continue, “and so will be made great”. But is this all there is to the story?

Jesus reminds us: If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.

It is likely that most of us are both tax man and Pharisee as we move through our days; and it is certain that God’s forgiving heart heals our wounds and forgives our errors. When we read various versions of this well-known story, the impact of the daily choice we make to accept our foibles and forgive faults in others is evident. And it is certain that when we lay all that we are and all that we do in God’s able hands, we allow God’s great love to make us more than we ever might have dreamt.

This is God’s great kingdom and commandment of love at work. This is the power of the love that Jesus brings to the world. This is the effect and outcome of the Spirit’s nurturing, healing presence. For even when we walk with our noses in the air, God makes a way for us to become more than ourselves.

As we consider the tax men and Pharisees in our lives and where we place our hopes and build alliances, we better understand the reality of this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Click on the image above for a study and reflection on these verses, or visit: http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/february2014p8.htm 

Tomorrow, you have seen him.

 

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Matthew 25:31-46: When . . .


Matthew 25:31-46: When . . .

Monday, February 15, 2017sheep-and-goats

Jesus’ followers want to better understand the kingdom he is calling them to build. We may not understand this kingdom any better today. His apostles ask, “When did we see you hungry and naked?” We ask this same question today. When?

In our dualistic world we want to have neat formulas and clear lines. We see dichotomies like good versus bad, light versus dark and up versus down; but with Jesus there is always inversion and fuzziness. Up is usually down. Light penetrates the deepest darkness. Goodness and badness inhabit us in the same moment and yet, Jesus calls us to the simplest of principles. The world is a gray amalgamation of black and white; the kingdom is a place of mercy, goodness and understanding.

When did we see you  . . . ?

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.

If we cannot serve food in a soup kitchen or make casseroles for the homeless we can work at changing attitudes about how and why the poor are poor. In the kingdom we not only notice that some of us are worse off than others of us, we also work to change structures that starve, limit, divide and abuse. In the kingdom we not only invite others to serve the marginalized with us, we also abide with the lonely, sick and those imprisoned in physical, emotional or spiritual walls. In the kingdom we speak the same language of love that Jesus speaks.

I was hungry and you fed me . . .

In this Lenten season we put aside the distinction of sheep and goats since we cannot fully comprehend how Jesus makes sheep of us all and how he becomes the great shepherd for everyone. In this Lenten season we continue to practice transformative thinking that has the power to convert all hearts. Today we read these verses and remember . . .

Rather than thinking: “I am misunderstood,” I will think instead, “God is so understanding”.

Tomorrow, babbling.

 

 

 

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1 Corinthians 1:18-31: The Mystery of Wisdom – Part VKeys-to-Wisdom

Friday, July 3, 2015

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.

God says: My servant Paul writes about how the foolishness of the cross becomes the wisdom of the rescued and he does this well. He recalls the words of Psalm 49 that remind you of the durability of my kingdom and the strength of my love. Spend time with these old and new verses today and my wisdom will flourish within you. Allow these words to seep into your bone and sinew and my Spirit will bring you understanding and peace where before there was confusion and sorrow. Paul will also remind you that when you demand signs you may be disappointed for my wisdom does not arrive in that way. He will recall that when you look for wisdom as an entity you will find only emptiness. Paul hands to you the key to understanding my wisdom which is . . . you must trust the mystery of my wisdom. You must trust that the more you rely on me the wiser you become while the more you rely on yourself the more foolish you will be.

Paul tells us that God’s wisdom lies in the paradox of the cross. When we spend time with Psalm 49 and this letter to the Corinthians, the mystery of God’s wisdom blooms within, giving us the key to understanding God’s peace and joy.

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Luke 21: The Mystery of Wisdom – Part IVwisdom1

Thursday, July 2, 2015

We have examined the concept of wisdom not as a body of knowledge but as a way of living. We have explored the idea that wisdom blossoms from strong relationships both with God and with others. And we have reflected on the knowledge that wisdom can be found in God’s promises and grace. Today we spend time with words from Jesus himself so that we might discover how God’s wisdom might be manifested in us.

For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

In this portion of Luke’s story, Jesus has been sharing parables with his followers, describing the kingdom of God and the confusion we experience when we begin to understand its inverted nature. The mighty will be weak while the weak will be strong. The poor in spirit will rejoice and the humble will inherit the earth. The small offering of the widow is worth more than the wealth of kings and emperors. Jesus’ followers ask for clarity and Jesus assures them that the wisdom they will need to enter into and to participate in this kingdom, this wisdom that is eternal and all-encompassing, comes only from God.

When we spend time with this chapter of Luke’s story today and compare varying versions of these verses, we ourselves will grow in this mysterious wisdom that eludes definition – but which saves, redeems and transforms.

If we want to explore more of Jesus’ wisdom, we might read the parables he tells, consider the questions he asks, watch the actions he takes as he moves through adoring crowds and confronts scheming enemies. We may need a good commentary to help us unravel these words and these actions. We may need quiet time to meditate on this amazing life. We may need to read a different version of these verses. Or we may need a mentor or guide to help us in our own wisdom journey. No matter the tools we use, we must take up the invitation to move forward in our understanding of this mystery . . . for this mystery is the essence of life itself, Jesus the Christ. 

Tomorrow, the wisdom of the cross.

 

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Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20: The Poor in Body and Spirit02-sermon-on-the-mount-1800

Holy Monday, March 30, 2015

We have reflected on some of the many names of Jesus; we have considered how we name ourselves as his followers and how we find Christ within. Through this Holy Week we will examine the inverted nature of the Kingdom that Jesus calls each of us to join.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. (Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain)

God says: When you are at your lowest ebb, consider that you have your greatest strength – in me. Consider that when you have nothing, you have all – in me. Also consider this . . . when you have an abundance of joy and a surfeit of goods, you do well to consider sharing them intentionally, thoughtfully and prudently with those who do not. Such is the nature of my kingdom.

Explore the preferential option for the poor as declared by Pope Francis at: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/pope-francis or http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/pope-francis-admirable-war-poverty

To see a Beatitudes video, click on the image above or visit: https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/sermon-on-the-mount-the-beatitudes?lang=eng 

Ferenczy: The Sermon on the Mount

Ferenczy: The Sermon on the Mount

Then, explore options for improving the life of someone who is financially or spiritually poor, and offer God’s abundance as a healing, hope-filled action. 

Tomorrow, Mourning.

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James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mark 12:18-27

A Prayer for Resurrection

On this All Souls Day we remember those who have gone before us . . . as we listen and watch for the resurrection that we are promised.

On this All Souls Day we celebrate those who are yet to come . . . as we watch and wait for the resurrection that is freely given.

On this All Souls Day we call forth the great cloud of witnesses . . . as we wait and work in the resurrection kingdom.

On this All Souls Day we praise God’s goodness and mercy . . . as we work and witness to the healing of the resurrection.

On this All Souls Day we rejoice with the faithful . . . as we witness and we pray for the transformation of the resurrection . . . so that we may not be greatly mislead.

Amen.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

mizpah

Ruins of Mizpah

Jeremiah 40

Points of View

More intrigue follows as the Babylonians establish their control over the city and her people.

“The Judeans who remained in Palestine rallied around Gedaliah, who ass governor stood for a policy of obedience to Babylon, and prospered. But their prospects were undermined by his assassination. Especially because Babylonian soldiers were among those slain, this act had the appearance of rebellion. It caused consternation among the survivors because of the reaction they expected from the Babylonians.

“What motivated the assassination? The perpetrator, Ishmael, was a member of the Judean royal house and during the war had been a freedom fighter . . . Thus, it is possible that this act was a last gasp of the old party struggle. Given the magnitude of Judah’s defeat in 587, this was less likely am attempt to assume leadership than an act of revenge. From one point of view, Gedaliah, like Jeremiah, could be considered a traitor”. (Mays 573)

It is likely that each of us has lived through an overthrow of some kind. A takeover may have occurred in our workplace, with our family, or perhaps in our civil community. No matter the size of the revolution or occupation, a traitor and hero may be one in the same person; collaborators and companions may be difficult to discern. In the end, our point of view will determine how we record an event and how we react afterward.

As Jesus walks among us he constantly asks that we consider the other point of view, listen to the other voice, make room for the other perspective. God’s kingdom is inclusive of all – even those we believe to be our enemies. So as we go about our daily life, let us consider the point of view in which we have planted ourselves. And let us be open to the Gedeliahs and the Ishmaels in our midst.

For more on the murder of Gedaliah, visit: http://professorwillis.blogspot.com/2011/07/ishmael-and-ammonites-murder-gedaliah.html 

For more on Gedaliah, a little known figure, click on the image of Mizpah above, or visit: http://obscurecharacters.com/2013/11/11/gedaliah-nebuchadnezzars-governor/ 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 573. Print.

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Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Amos 7:10-17

Amos and Amaziah

In a wonderfully written essay posted on July 5, 2010, Dan Clendenin weaves the stories of Amos of Tekoa with Oscar Romero, the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop.  Clendenin points out that the story of the meeting between these two men, prophet and priest, would light up the blogosphere if it took place today.

Even when we are warned of impending doom, we manage to convince ourselves that all is well.

Even when we see violence happening to our relatives and neighbors, we convince ourselves that we are not part of the ugliness.

Even when the evidence is incontrovertible, we continue to believe the illusion that we ourselves have created.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might be the Amaziahs in our lives.  Who is it we believe without questioning? Who keeps us comfortable and creates a place for us in which we cease to question or even think?  Who convinces us of the lies we plan together?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might the Amoses in our lives. Who brings us truth that makes us uncomfortable? Who challenges the easy stories that rise out of falsehood? Who calls us to our better and brighter selves?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pledge to spend daily quality time with Christ who is our best and constant teacher.  Let us promise to listen for the words of true prophets who bring us a reality we may not see. Let us promise to see the woes of the world as they really are and not as we wish them to be. And let us promise to keep always before us clear visions of the kingdom of God that Amos calls us to see.

To view a powerful music video about Bishop Oscar Romero, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be  and to learn more about The Martyr’s Project, go to: http://www.themartyrsproject.com/index2.html

To read Clendenin’s post, visit the Journey with Jesus blog at: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20100705JJ.shtml

To learn more about Oscar Romero and more about the International Day of Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victimsvisit: https://www.un.org/en/events/righttotruthday/romero.shtml 

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