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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’


God-Loves-YouWednesday, October 13, 2021

Mark 8:14-21

Understanding

Reflecting on our passage through Jeremiah’s prophecy, we may want to know that even the apostles who lived with Jesus did not understand what he was really about.  When God calls, we struggle to hear, but we do not always discern.

Our world is one of instant messaging in which we are always expecting immediate replies to our questions.  And we want these replies to make sense to us.  We know that God is always with us, speaking to us, asking us to follow; and we are made to respond to this call. Yet, we so often lack something so simple but essential: understanding.

As we read this story from Mark that we have heard many times, we wonder if perhaps the apostles lacked understanding – and we as well – because we do not trust God.  Are we second-guessing God?  Do we believe that we have misheard God’s word to us?  Do we want to believe that the universe is one big coincidence rather than think that there is an immensity to creation which we have only begun to mine?

Today Jesus reminds his friends of the times that he has sustained them out of nothing and then he asks: Do you still not understand? We might have this conversation with God frequently, and we might believe that we have not heard or understood what it is that we are to do or not do, what we are to say or not say. Thinking that we have likely gotten something scrambled in our decoding, we re-question God and present our scrambled understanding.  This is the best that we can do.

Fortunately for all of us, God does not mind. In that infinite patience and wisdom that characterizes God, we are asked an unlimited number of times: Do you still not understand? 

Beyond this simple question, God continues to call, continues to love. What a great and glorious God have we that God’s understanding is so immense that it encompasses and transforms all of our many misunderstandings. And so, we await again God’s words to us that always arrives with a smile: Do you still not understand? As this beneficent face of a loving parent swims vaguely before us, let us focus on our own understanding of God’s plan for the Kingdom, rather than God’s apparent miss-understanding of us.


Adapted from a reflection written on September 9, 2009.

Image from: http://allenmjones.blogspot.com/ 

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parent-worthyWednesday, October 6, 2021

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .


Image from: http://antiochcofc.org/#/worthy-of-gods-call/4556896195

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ancient_prison_by_p_h_o_t_o_n1Monday, October 4, 2021

Jeremiah 52:31-34

The End – Part III: Hope

In the last verses of this prophecy we read an addendum that at first glance we might toss away as another confusing story from scripture. We see before us the tale of the last two kings of Judah: Jehoiachin who surrendered himself and his family to Nebuchadnezzar to live in exile, and Zedekiah, who plotted against Nebuchadnezzar with the Egyptians, later fled during the Babylonian siege, was captured, blinded and was also sent to Babylon. Years later Evil-merodach brings Jehoiachin from his prison cell to give him a life-time stipend and a place of relative honor in the foreign court; Zedekiah does not appear again in this saga of violence and turmoil.  What is their end? We have few details. How could they have avoided capture and destruction? We have few answers. What might we learn from this dire account? That is our reflection for today.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is well spoken but ignored. Are we the prophet who speaks against the wind? Are we those who might be saved by the prophet’s warning? In either case, the fear of capture and destruction has already overwhelmed us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s hope and compassion.

Jeremiah’s life is a foreshadowing of the suffering and death of Jesus the Nazorean. Are we the people of Judah who hear his words and are transformed? Are we those who scoff and persecute him? In either scenario, the tumult of life has already entangled us. We have no other place to turn but to God’s strength and mercy.

Jeremiah’s words resonate in our world today. Are we those who hide from the reality of famine, civil strife, epidemics and enormous natural disaster because they do not touch us personally? Are we those who work against catastrophe and injustice wherever and however we can? In either event, we are already involved and connected. We may not recognize that a calamity’s one last flickering ember of hope lies in us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s presence and love.

Cataclysm is part of the human experience as is God’s hope. Catastrophe haunts our daily living while God’s providence serves as guide. Disaster can never be avoided, nor can God’s call to love.

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Jehoiachin and Zedekiah share a place in the Babylonian court although from different vantage points. At any time in their life journey God grants them the opportunity to live in hope, in a manner worthy of God’s call. From the darkness of his blinded vision, Zedekiah has only to seek and accept God’s forgiveness. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the shame of surrender and captivity, Jehoiachin has only to ask for God’s hope and receive it. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the place where we stand in our life’s journey we have only to look for God’s presence and accept it. Perhaps we do. If so, then we will always know that God is with us from the beginning to the end. God abides through capture and dwells within during destruction. Whether our fate is in the hands of our own Nebuchadnezzar or his son Evil-merodach, there is never an end without hope, for there is never an end without God.

Tomorrow, Part IV . . . In a Manner Worthy


To read about the excavation of Jehoiachin’s ration tablets in Irag, click on images above or visit: http://forourlearning.wordpress.com/  OR http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nebuchadnezzar/anet308.html 

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KIng Zedekiah

King Zedekiah

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jeremiah 52:1-11

The End – Part I: Capture

Over the next days we will look closely at the end which came to Jerusalem, the end that Jeremiah predicted. We will examine the verses carefully, looking for a hint of lessons we might learn from this ancient people who would not heed a warning so clearly spelled out for them. We will explore our own temptation to deny the reality in which we live. And we will consider what lessons we might learn so that our own end becomes a new beginning rather than a final departure.

king-zedekiahZedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

God says: Watch for the times when you believe you have all answers to all problems. When you learn to rely on yourself alone you draw hour heart away from me . . . and this is an end that is difficult to overcome.

His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

God says: Your parents bring you into this world and they tend to you while you are young. I tend to you for now, in the past, and into the infinite future. This is a relationship you will not want to ignore.

He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Just as Jehoiakim had done.

God says: I do not ask much of you but I do ask is that you enact goodness in the world. In order to do this well it is essential that you listen for my word daily and that stay always close by and in me.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

God says: Be careful about the alliances you make and break. Use caution when you pledge yourself to another person or cause. These may be your undoing if you do not exercise great care.

In the tenth month of the tenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side.

Jerusalem: Zedekiah's Cave

Jerusalem: Zedekiah’s Cave

God says: When the enemy threatens, turn to me. When the earth rumbles with the steady onslaught of forces that will surely overcome you, stay with me.

The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

God says: When you feel you can no longer go on, turn your struggle over to me.

On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine gripped the city and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached.

God says: When you struggle to lift your head and raise your arm, place your burden on my broad shoulders.

Then all the soldiers took to flight and left the city by night through the gate between the two walls which was near the king’s garden.

God says: When everyone else abandons you, remain in me. You are never alone for I am always with you.

Destruction of JerusalemWith the Chaldeans surrounding the city they went in the direction of the Arabah.

God says: Do not think that you can avoid or outrun me. Do not be anxious that you may be unworthy. I am waiting to heal and transform you, and for me all things are possible.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the desert near Jericho, while his whole army fled him.

God says: Even when you have strayed far from my precepts and my truth I will still welcome you home and celebrate your return. This is how much I love you.

Tomorrow, Part II . . . Destruction


To learn more about King Zedekiah, click on his images above and find study outlines at: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/bible-study-outlines/bible-study-outline-on-king-zedekiah/

Find video at: http://bibleseriesguide.com/episode5.htm#.VDb_L_ldWSo 

To learn about the enormous cave under the city of Jerusalem, how it came to be there, and why the Freemasons gather there every year, click on the cave image above or visit www.aboutjerusalem.com at: http://allaboutjerusalem.com/article/zedekiahs-cave-secret-cave-jerusalem to watch a brief, interesting video clip.

 

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god-of-hopeFriday, October 1, 2021

Jeremiah 50 & 51

Against Babylon: A Reprise

Announce and publish it among the nations . . .

We must share the good news of the many times God has walked intimately in our midst . . .

Publish it, hide it not . . .

We must speak up when we see injustice in our world . . .

Lost sheep were my people, their shepherds mislead them . . .

We must witness to the false leaders and shepherds of our present day Babylons . . .

Flee from Babylon, leave the land of the Chaldeans . . .

We must declare our willingness to step away from the corruption and deceit of our new Babylons . . .

Israel and Judah are not widowed of their God . . .

We must remember that despite our exile in our own Babylon, we are never abandoned, never alone . . .

Raise a signal on the earth, blow the trumpet among the nations . . .

We must share the good news of the many ways God remains intimately in our midst . . .

Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trodden; yet a little while, and the harvest will come for her . . .

We must share the good news of God’s hope for the children of God . . .

Be not discouraged for fear of rumors spread in the land . . . but behold the days are coming  . . .

When we will no longer doubt . . . that God is always with us . . . against all of our Babylons.

Amen.


Image from: http://pathwayofblessing.wordpress.com/

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e.John14.6Saturday, September 18, 2021

Psalm 25 and John 14

God Shows the Way

Part II

While we pause in our journey with the prophet Jeremiah we rest in the knowledge that God accompanies us always. While we ponder Jeremiah’s circumstances and how he suffers innocently, we spend time with Psalm 25 and reflect on the beautiful way it foreshadows God’s physical presence among us in the person of Jesus. While we come to understand the magnitude and intensity of God’s love for us, we spend a bit of time considering the beauty of the Spirit who dwells within, and the healing, redemptive hand of the one who created us.

In her bio, Heather King remarks that when she was asked how she could become a convert in Los Angeles with its juxtaposition of abundance and scarcity she replied with a question – as Jesus so often does – How could she not? Jeremiah may well have asked himself this question when found himself abused and imprisoned for speaking on God’s behalf. Today we ask ourselves this same question despite the pain of our journey . . . when we are called to follow Christ . . . how can we not?

When we find that we are in dark surroundings, we must not be afraid for God has come to us in human form to show us the way: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  (John 14:1) When we find ourselves surrounded by those who know only evil, we must follow the roadmap Jesus has left for us: You have faith in God; have faith also in me. (John 14:1)  When we find ourselves overcome with sorrow or loss, we have a path to follow: I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6) When we feel abandoned or betrayed, we have a guide to follow: I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (John 14:3)  When we are alone and lost, there is a trail before us standing open and inviting.  Where I am going you also know the way.  Jesus is amazed at our fear: Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? (John 14:9) Yet he loves us and is constantly making a way for us.  I am going to prepare a place for you.  (John 14:3)

The apostle John captures Jesus’ last discourse for us so beautifully that these words will not fail to sooth us when we suffer through our own Jeremiah times. It with these words that God shows us the way; and it is God’s Spirit that abides in us every inch of our journey.  With Christ as a brother, we are a part of the great human yearning for union with God.  Like homing birds we know the way . . . yet we too often allow the fears of the world to drown out the true voice that speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts.

I wait for you, O Lord, the psalmist sings, remember no more the sins of my youth, remember me only I the light of your love.  And God replies: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Where I am you also may be.  Have faith in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. 

God shows us the way. Let us turn our eyes and ears to God to take the loving hand that is offered.


Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

To learn more about Heather King, visit her blog at: http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/ 

Image from: http://www.word-picture.org/john-14-6-via-veritas-vita/

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fruit_of_vineThursday, September 16, 2021

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Seen and Unseen

If only we might remember Paul’s words when we are overwhelmed. If only we might trust in God’s plan for us.

We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

If only we might recall that we are all souls that join in Christ’s body and that Christ is the vine while we are the branches. If only we might join God in outrageous hope by asking for the impossible.

For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen . . .

If only we might take a moment to pause and relax rather than launch into reaction before thinking. If only we might allow God’s wisdom to settle into our bones.

For what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

If only we might hold on to the promise God places before us that redemption is eternal, that hope is infinite, and that God’s love knows no bounds. If only we might be open to God’s amazing grace.

Much of Jeremiah’s audience looked for all that was seen while only a few loyal followers saw the eternal meaning in God’s words as delivered by this prophet. Today we have the choice clearly before us. If only we might share with God all that is unseen each day in our lives.  If only . . .


Enter the words 2 Corinthians in the blog search bar to see what else St. Paul might tell us about what is seen and unseen.

Compare several versions of this citation by clicking on the scripture link above, or choose other versions from the drop down menus on the scripture site . . . and listen for God’s word to us that has previously gone unheard.

Image from: http://www.themooresonline.org/blog/journal-thoughts-vine-branches/02

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

psalm 32Psalm 32

Time of Need

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.

I groaned all the day long for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.

Indeed my strength was dried up by the summer’s heat.

We do not know but we can imagine that the prophet Jeremiah prayed the psalms from his prison cell or from the bottom of the miry cistern. Chains alone did not stop him from speaking. Scorn and mockery could not hold back the words he knew he must deliver and the actions he knew he must take. If he intoned Psalm 32 it may have been bitterly for he could not put an end to his punishment by acknowledging his sin or by recanting an evil act; or it may have been joyfully for he also knew that God was his only place of safety. Jeremiah, the innocent, bemoaned his reality as he suffered at the hands of corrupt and unjust leaders; but Jeremiah, the prophet, understood the message of hope in this prayer.

So let every good man pray to you in the time of need.

The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach.

You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress.

You surround me with cries of deliverance.

In our moment of stress, God replies through the voice of the psalmist.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

In our time of need, God speaks to us today.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult all you upright of heart.

When the weight of the world is too much to balance, let us give our burden of despair to God, and be glad in the hope, and grace and love of the Lord.


Visit the Overwhelmed By Grace post on this blog by entering the words in the search bar.

Image from: http://loopyloo305.com/2012/12/16/psalm-32/

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

God's heart for the worldJeremiah 32

Pledge of Restoration

Never again shall the city be rooted up or thrown down.

These are the reassuring words we finally hear as a prelude to the description of restoration we read today. The prophet Jeremiah buys a plot of land, “to testify that Judah will be restored and the life of the past will be rescued”. (Senior cf. 989) This might seem improbable after we have heard so many predictions of death and destruction but when we hear the Lord’s pledge, we know that all is well

Is anything impossible to me?

Let us take our worries and cares to the one for whom the impossible is possible.

They shall be my people and I shall be their God.

Let us rely on the one who is the creator of all life.

One heart and one way I shall give them.

Let us rest in the peace of God’s great and generous heart.

I will make with them an eternal covenant, never to cease doing good to them.

Let us trust in God’s fidelity and outrageous hope.

I will take delight in doing good to them.

Let us answer God’s call to celebrate the joy of the kingdom.

I will replant them firmly in this land, with all my heart and soul.

Let us share God’s goodness with open and loving hearts.

Amen.  


Image from: http://www.spiritualliving360.com/index.php/discovering-gods-heart-for-the-world-47201/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.989. Print.   

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