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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’


Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 2, 2023f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this time of political tension around the world, Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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Psalm 42: Longing for God’s Presence

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

As we have explored God’s yardstick in the measure of our lives, we have discovered that God’s love and mercy are infinite, healing and present to each of us. Today we respond to Christ’s loving call to join him in this Spirit of love. We ask to live in God’s presence.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Like the doe seeking water to sustain her young, we move through our days in search of God’s presence.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We are pilgrim people, wandering the deserts of our lives on our way to the land promised us by God.  We are a people in exile, waiting to return to the temple, living out our hope in Babylon.

Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide.

There is no other source of light or life worth pursuing.

And bring me to your holy mountain, the place of your dwelling.

There is no other place worth seeking except God’s holy presence.  As adopted sisters and brothers of Christ, we now hold that temple within our hearts and God has written the great promise of love on our hearts. Touched with the mark of Tau as God’s faithful, we are called back to God’s holy place.

Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

There is no other song worth singing except the song which praises God’s bounty to us.  There is no other grace so blessed.  No other gift worth receiving.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We wait, we watch, we witness.  We are a people of hope.  We are a people of justice.  We are a faithful and faith-filled people.  We are a people of love.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Amen.


psalms

The Revised Grail Psalter

Many of the Psalms were written during the forty years that Israel wandered in the desert.  Many more were written by David when he spent years evading King Saul when he sought David’s death.  Still other Psalms were written during the Babylonian captivity.  Today, the Hebrew Psalter (differing slightly in numbering from the Greek translation) contains 150 beautiful hymns of lament, praise, thanksgiving and petition.  These songs describe our own journey of life. Psalm 42 is the cry of one longing to be in God’s presence.

For more on the Grail Psalter, click on the image above or visit: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2008/12/the-revised-grail-psalter-conc/

For more information on Psalms, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/psalms.htm 

For more reflections on The Mark of Tau, use the blog search bar and explore. 

Image of the Bodleian Psalter from: https://www.eurojewishstudies.org/digital-forum-showcase-reports/footprints-in-frankfurt-tracing-the-circulation-of-early-hebrew-books/

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2007.

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John 20: God’s Yardstick – Mary of Magdala

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene (The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD)

Absolute Fidelity

Monday, January 9, 2023

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.

There are many places to explore the story of Mary Magdalene but perhaps we need only look at one – her response to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Surely her fidelity and openness to Christ’s healing presence are models we might follow.

Much has been written of this woman and we can guess that nearly all is conjecture. We began our exploration of women who serve as God’s measuring stick with Mary the mother of Jesus. Today we close this portion of our reflections with the other most significant woman in Jesus’ life. This must be admitted even if we believe that the Magdalene was a reformed prostitute or had recovered from epilepsy by Jesus’ healing hand. Whether we believe she was a camp-follower, a friend, a companion or a spouse, we need only to read John’s account of the resurrection story to understand that her devotion to Jesus governed her life.

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Desxcent from the Cross (The Pradoi Museum, Madrid, Spain)

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Descent from the Cross (The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain) Mary Magdalene to the far right

On the day following Shabbat she returns to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body, braving any punishment she might experience at Roman or Jewish hands. Her reward is an encounter she did not expect. The Magdalene does not hold this good news to herself; rather, she runs to tell the others that Christ is still among them and is waiting to meet them in Galilee. She also runs to tell us that Christ is with us and is waiting within our own broken hearts. Just as Mary the Mother brings the presence of God into the world, so do does Mary of Magdala bring his story to us. It is for this reason alone that we easily look to her life as a persistent, enduring, loving measure of God’s love.


For Smithsonian articles that uncover the mystery of The Magdalene and the places Jesus lived and worked and prayed, visit: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-mary-magdalene-119565482/?no-ist or http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unearthing-world-jesus-180957515/ Use the Smithsonian site to search for more information about these people and places.

For information about each of these paintings, their provenance, the artists and the symbolism, click on the images or visit: http://hubpages.com/art/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross and http://art.thewalters.org/detail/37520/mary-magdalen/ 

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar and explore.

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Matthew 5:38-48: The Presence

Thursday, December 15, 2022godspresence

Today’s reading gives us the core of Jesus’ message: Resist evil and take no revenge; love our enemies . . . intercede for those who do us harm. This is a difficult teaching, a complex lesson which unfolds to us as we live each day. When we unwrap the bundle of fear and anxiety we experience, we begin to understand pain and suffering. Rather than being consumed or stepping away, we must open ourselves to transformation. We must be willing to be vulnerable just as Jesus is vulnerable.

It struck me this morning as Mass began that of course God comes to us an infant needing our care and attention. He submits himself to our ministrations – no matter how adequate or inadequate – and by this example he shows us how we too, are to live. If we allow him to subsume our entire being, we will realize that this presence of Christ in us is The Presence we continually seek.

From this morning’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT: The lowly will find joy and the pure rejoice. Why? Because of a Presence that even a blind man can sense . . . because it is the Presence we have been waiting for all our life.

Because Christ brings us a message of inversion, he comes to us as an extraordinarily powerful sovereign and creator in the form of a human infant. This is a revolutionary idea. It is an existence which challenges all that has gone before.  It is in this humble form that Jesus first draws us in to later invite us to intimacy with him.

practicing-the-presence-of-god
It is this intimacy, this presence, that we know we are missing – and that we try to fill with immediate pleasure and satisfaction.

It is this communion, this presence, that we constantly seek in all of the places we will not find it – in the emptiness of success, money and power.

It is this love, this presence, that manifests itself – and that asks us to manifest our own selves by praying and by acting on behalf of our enemies.

I have read the prophet Isaiah many times and yet this morning as I read out the first reading at Mass, I was struck by this verse (29:24): And those who err in spirit will acquire understanding, and those who find fault will receive instruction. Learning about Christ and learning how to live in Christ is a continual process into which we are always welcome to enter at any time in any circumstance. Even those of us who come late to the lesson, or those of us who come with unwilling heart will eventually arrive at accepting the message we do not want to hear which is: We save ourselves by loosing ourselves to Christ; we fill ourselves by emptying ourselves of all that is worldly; and we find The Presence we have always been seeking when we rest and act in the love that is Christ.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 4 December 2009. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 4, 2009.

Images from: https://pastorfish.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/practicing-the-presence-of-god-september-18-2011/ 

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Isaiah 40:25-31: God’s Power

Wednesday, December 7, 2022isaiah-40-31

God does not tire and does not even pause to catch a breath, Isaiah tells us, and we are happy to hear this news.

God knows everything, inside and out, and we are grateful for God’s wisdom and presence.

God energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to those who drop out, and we celebrate God’s willingness to share energy and compassion.

Even young people tire and fall back, Isaiah continues; the young in their prime stumble and fall. And we rejoice in God’s perseverance and courage.

Those who wait upon God find fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and do not tire, they walk and do not lag behind. And so we rest in God’s strength, fidelity, hope and love. Let us offer God’s gift of life to someone today who has fallen back, faded out, turned away or collapsed.


Image from: https://karenwingate.com/renewingyourstrengthhowtorunwithoutgrowingweary/

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Ephesians 1:3-6: Entering In

Tuesday, December 6, 2022good-news

From THE MESSAGE version of today’s reading: Long, long ago God decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

I am wondering if we really believe this. At first glance the world seems to teem with evil plots and conniving deceit; with a second look we see differently. Family and friends tell me they cannot stay connected with world news because it is so frightening that it makes them anxious. So we go in search of good news. It is not difficult to find and, in fact, it surrounds us.

Average citizens refuse to back down from the extremism of terrorists, two men save a trapped American bald eagle, countless communities gather food and clothing for the poor, a professional American footballer and his daughter show incredible strength in the face of disease, activists work in cities and towns around the globe to create housing and support networks for those who have no homes, thousands work for new ways to bring water and electricity to the millions on the planet who live without it. Sites like, Upworthy, ABC and Huffington Post Good News remind us that humans are capable of conversion. Balance against evil and darkness can always be tipped in favor of goodness and light.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing God is! He is the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 

good-news (1)To be made whole and holy by God’s love. Long before the foundation of the world was laid down. This is special indeed. To receive the gift of life and belonging. Long before our suffering began. This is miraculous and promising. To be sisters and brothers of Christ. Long before we ever conceived of the possibilities God has in mind for us. This is life worth entering into. This is news most worthy of announcing!

How blessed is God! How blessed are we! How promising is this season of holy coming! Let us fully and finally and completely enter in. For the price of turning away is far to great to imagine.


For more links to Good News sites, visit THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW at: http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/good_news_is_good_business_but.php

Images from: https://mvc.life/sharing-good-news/ and https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/entertainment-letterpress.html?pg=2

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Wisdom 13:1-9: The Wisdom of God’s Creation

Monday, November 21, 2022Gods-creation

Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish.

When we look at the beauty of the planet, we see God’s goodness.

Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God.

When we share earth’s resources, we experience God’s generosity.

They have studied the things God made, but they have not recognized the one who made them.

When we bring together science, reason and spirituality, we experience God’s wisdom.

Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies.

When we see the elements as God’s gifts to us, we see God’s trust in us.

tree in handsPeople were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that the master is much greater than all of them, for God is the creator of beauty, and God created them.

When we pause to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, we see God’s hope for us.

Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful.

When we witness to the resiliency in God’s creation, we begin to understand God’s strength.

When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

creationWhen we witness to the complexity of God’s creation, we begin to understand God.

If the foolish had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

Today we have the opportunity to discover if we are wise or foolish about God’s creation. We can read about the United Nations COP29 conference at: https://cop27.eg/#/ 


Images from: https://blog.greatnonprofits.org/save-the-planet-for-earth-day-with-nonprofits-that-care/ and https://newscenter.baruch.cuny.edu/news/baruchs-climate-scholars-program-expands-to-four-cuny-schools/ and https://www.nasa.gov/content/sunrise-from-the-international-space-station

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Psalm 146: The Abundant Helper

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, salvation life.

God’s generosity cannot be outdone; God’s love cannot be overcome.

Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them.

God’s hope is eternal; God’s fidelity is everlasting.

God always does what he says – he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry.

Jesus heals the broken and comforts the abandoned.

God frees prisoners – he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen.

Jesus calls each of us to pardon as we are pardoned.

God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked.

The Spirit dwells within each of us, making a place for God’s abundant help to rescue, reconcile and redeem . . . so that we too might take part in God’s great plan of salvation.

When we use the scripture link to explore other versions of Psalm 146, we discover God’s abundant help. We discover God’s great plan for salvation life.


Click on the image to discover more about “Accessing God’s Willing Generosity,” and other thoughts on God’s abundant help. Or visit: http://raynoah.com/2011/02/24/accessing-gods-willing-generosity/

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James: Lessons in Love512px-Bible_paper

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

We have spent several weeks reflecting on James’s letter to the people of his day and to us in our own day. We have spent a number of weeks exploring his themes and sifting through his lessons. Some of our encounters with James make us uncomfortable. We are not always willing to step out of comfort zones and into a newness that tempts but does not guarantee. We are too often content with our harvest of the obvious before us and too often afraid to imagine the harvest of hope that God asks us to undertake.

epistle-of-james-project-590x382Other encounters with James bring a quiet understanding of God’s voice we hear in the precision and honesty of James’ words. We have felt Christ’s presence in the strength of James’ verses. We have been visited by the Spirit as we dwell in the wisdom of these Lessons in Love. Today we take time to gather these teachings and pledge to make them an active influence in our lives.

When we choose a Lesson in Love and decide to live it for the next month in our lives, what new possibility will open for us?

Chapter 1: The Value of Obstacles – the barriers we encounter are lessons in finding our inner strength in God.

Chapter 2: The Value of Balance – the extremes we experience are lessons in learning to balance God’s joy with the difficulties of the world.

JamesChapter 3: The Value of Living Wisely, Justly and Well – our words and actions indicate the quality of our discipleship in Christ.

Chapter 4: The Value of Turmoil – the storms and upheaval we meet are lessons in faith and hope in Christ.

Chapter 5: The Value of Patience – our common practices and plain speech are lessons in love and life in Christ.

And so we pray . . . Wise, Gentle, Balanced, Patient and Loving Jesus, continue to shepherd us as we take on your lessons in love. Speak to us clearly through the words of your servant James. Live in us daily through the power of your redeeming Spirit. Amen. 

james-1We might bookmark and re-visit this post when we are ready to enact another Lesson in Love as shown to us by James.

Tomorrow, our abundant helper . . . 

 

 

For notes on this letter, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/james/0

Images from: http://www.readthespirit.com/bookstore/books/ian-flemings-seven-deadlier-sins/more/c1/the-book-of-james-new-testament/ and http://bibledude.net/epistle-of-james-project-wordles/ and http://michaeljkruger.com/why-we-need-the-book-of-james-in-the-new-testament-canon/ and https://www.youracc.org/sermons/faith-perseveres-james-a-faith-to-live-by-11-18/

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