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Third Sunday of Lent, March 15, 2020

Luke 23:6-16: Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We are so eager to know Christ; we bring our small and big worries to his feet.  We have heard so much about him.  We are hoping that he will cure our woes and still our anxiety.  We have some specific tasks for him to complete for us; we hold a short but good list of wrongs for him to right.

Herod questioned Jesus at length . . .

But Jesus gave him no answer . . .

Herod treated Jesus contemptuously and mocked him . . .

Herod and the guards clothed Jesus in resplendent garb and sent him back to Pilate . . .

We have a lot of questions for Jesus and we present our daily list of petitions faithfully; but – strangely – it seems that Jesus is not listening.  There are no answered requests for us to tick off our list.  We feel disappointed and even let down.  We wonder if the naysayers are correct . . . perhaps there is no resurrection.  Perhaps we believe in folly.

Herod decides to have Jesus flogged and released.  Pilate washes his hands of the man. 

We have passed the half-way mark in our Lenten journey and so we take an accounting.  We have given alms.  We have fasted.  We have attended morning and evening prayer.  We have participated in the sacrament of reconciliation.  We have checked off our chores like small children pleasing our parents and still our little lists of favors, pleas and signs appear to be left unanswered.  We wonder if Jesus is listening and we continue to look for a sign.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We arise each morning to fresh water, food and clothing for the day, transportation, information, friendships.  We travel through the day experiencing little miracles all along the way, little signs of God’s love.  And we somehow miss them.

Evening falls and we count our accomplishments and disappointments.  We enter them into a mental balance sheet and come up with a balance.  We take credit for all that goes well and we assign blame to ourselves or others for all that seems to fail.  And we again miss the miracle that we have wandered through another day in the company of a God who loves us so much that we are never left alone for an instant.

Herod sits and speaks with Jesus and does not understand the miracle of the gift of God’s love.  We too might speak with Jesus each day and open ourselves to the wonder of God’s care.

Herod looks for a momentous sign so that he might have full confidence in Jesus’ power to save and while he is scanning his surroundings he looks past the obvious sign that sits before him . . . the embodiment of God’s protection and promise in the person of Jesus.  We too might look past the obvious today . . . or we might choose to believe.

Herod wants a sign that he already has.  Let us take each small miracle as it comes to us.  And let us remember that the sign of God’s love is always with us.  Jesus never leaves our side.


Image from: http://www.kunst-fuer-alle.de/english/fine-art/artist/image/andrea-schiavone/8293/4/111915/christ-before-herod/index.htm

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Psalm 91: Clinging to God – Part I

NPR Morning Edition - Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the "Nones" Jan 14, 2013

NPR Morning Edition – Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the “Nones” Jan 14, 2013

This week we spent time with the opening chapters of Deuteronomy reflecting on what it means to be in relationship with God.  This may have generated questions that still linger.  Do we need scientific evidence in order to believe that God is with us and that God exists?  Do we keep the new word that God loves and protects us to ourselves or do we teach this story to our children and to our children’s children?  What does God’s guidance look like?  How are we to respond to God’s assistance?  Do we owe something in return for God’s protection and mercy?  Do we deserve the unmerited successes we are given at no cost?

Psalm 91, a hymn of thanksgiving and remembrance, describes the meaning of God’s presence.  Psalm 91, an anthem of hope and petition, expresses our basic human want to be protected from evil.  Psalm 91, a song of call and response, is an intimate conversation with God.

You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see.  Looking at the negatives in life it appears that the wicked always win; remembering the many small times when we somehow did not fall into the path of the wicked, we give thanks for God’s enduring wisdom.

You have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.  Knowing that God chooses to love us no matter our faith, no matter our hope, no matter our love, we give thanks for God’s enduring persistence.

No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.  Choosing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, God among us, we give thanks for God’s enduring power

For God commands the angels to guard you in all his ways.  Giving ourselves over to the Spirit who abides within each of us, we give thanks for God’s enduring love.

With their hands they shall support you; lest you strike your foot upon a stone.  Accepting the guidance and protection freely given to us, we give thanks for God’s enduring presence.


For a reflection on our Unmerited Success, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore. 

On U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion.  Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.  Click on the image above or go to: http://www.npr.org/series/169065270/losing-our-religion

A re-post from January 19, 2013.

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Jeremiah 20: A Prayer for Those Willing to be Duped

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

light-vs-dark[1]Dearest Creator God,

We know that you love us;  we know that you are waiting for us in the deep recesses of our being. 

We know that you created us and this means that you know our shadowy corners; but we are frightened that when we turn on the light we will see what we do not want to see. 

We are afraid that we will be overtaken by the thing that will leap from the dark corners in our lives.  

We know that you are constant and abiding; but sometimes the challenge is too frightening. 

Hold us closely as we wend our way through the briars and brambles of life. 

SunRise[1]Whisper to us steadily; defend us always from the terrors. 

Remind us that what we avoid is precisely what we need to see. 

Help us to be our best selves. 

Help us to fulfill the hope you have placed in us. 

Amen.


First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Images from: http://chakrabodyyoga.blogspot.com/2012/06/from-blah-to-brilliant-3-great-reasons.html and http://danmayberry.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/light-vs-dark/

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Jeremiah 20: Being Duped by God

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

46564700-1246927298[1]Jeremiah is a frequent companion on our Noontime journey and today’s theme is one we have visited often: Sometimes our great fall comes as a direct result of doing precisely what God has asked us to do.  Sometimes we are duped by God.

The interior crisis – the situation in which he hope to never find ourselves – is something we all work diligently to avoid . . . and we ought not.  It is, in fact, the very reason we are here on earth.  It is our personal work.  It is the way we arrive at our highest potential.

The places within – the ones we avoid – are the places we must approach with candor and even eagerness.  They are our “working edge”.  They are our labs, our quizzes, our tests.  They are our final exam.

The interior self whom we avoid – the part of ourselves that we shun – is the very place where God dwells.  He is there waiting for us with open joy, celebrating with us that we have had the courage to take the scales from our eyes, the mask from our face, the blinders from our perspective.

God is always anticipating our arrival; God is always on the other side of the door we refuse to approach.  God is calling out to us to knock and enter.  God is waiting there patiently, always abiding.  God is our goal in all things and at all times.  There is nothing else that matters.  No other work.  No other cause.  No other person.  This is what Jesus means when he says that the dead will bury the dead.  (Matthew 8:22)  There is no thing and no one who ought to stand between us and God.  And we will surely find God when we open the dark part of ourselves to allow God’s light into the dim corners.

Each of us has “a shadow self”, the person whom we fasten away, hoping to keep shut in from ourselves and from the world.  Much like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, each of us has a lunatic spouse we keep locked in the north tower . . . and if the metaphor holds we can see the destruction that will arrive if we try to keep that door bolted.

Suffering follows once we open the lock . . . but so does restoration.  This is the message of the prophet Jeremiah.  It is the message of St. Paul.  If we avoid the work we are called to do with and for ourselves, we avoid our personal mission.

Does God dupe us?  Yes, God does.  Why?  Because God loves us, wants us to face our fears while relying on Christ, and God wants us to trust the saving newness of the resurrection that Jesus brings to us without our even asking.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

When we lock ourselves away with our fears, we have no other recourse but to listen. If we open ourselves to listening to God’s voice, we have the opportunity to respond.  And once we respond, we take our first steps toward reconciliation, conversion, and salvation.

God is in charge.  There is an Economy of Salvation.  There are no mistakes in God’s plan . . . only opportunities for God’s love to triumph.

Tomorrow . . . a Prayer for those who are willing to be duped . . .


Image from: https://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/223193

First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Friday, January 3, 2020

1 John 5: Victory

reclaiming_gods_hope[1]For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

We are so often told – and we so often forget – that once we place ourselves in God’s hands we need not struggle.  From the first books of the Torah to the final words of Revelation we hear this message and yet we fight with and against the world.

Sometimes we fear one another.  We hoard money, goods, guns, plots and any object or idea we believe keeps us special . . . and this is sad because we are already special.

Sometimes we fear the past or the future.  We look over our shoulders constantly or peer into the coming days looking for clues about how we should act and decide . . . and this is so senseless because these preoccupations takes us away from the holy present.

Sometimes we fear God.  We look for full comprehension or we want total control; we deny, cajole, and make bargains . . . and this is so little of us because as John tells us today: The surest victory over the world comes not from our actions or thoughts but through our faith in God.

I write these things to you so that you may know you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.  And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything in accordance with his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked of him is ours. 

John cannot speak more plainly to us.  In his Gospel he tells us quite clearly that Jesus is the unique Son of God.  He reminds us that salvation comes through our belief in the Son.  He explains that “Jesus is not the victim of human injustice even though those who killed him were evil people.  Jesus chose to offer his life for others so that they could see God’s love revealed on the cross.  When we see God’s love on the cross, we are reminded that God identifies with the lowly, suffering people of the world by joining with them”. And finally, John’s Gospel describes for us how mutual love and unity express God’s love.  (Senior RG 450-451)   All of this is explained to us and yet our fears overcome our faith; we allow the turmoil of the world to overcome us; we forget that victory comes through our faith in the story that we witness through John and the other apostles.

John tells in his writings that he has witnessed all that he recounts – we are not reading a second, third or fourth-hand accounting.  In his first letter, John intertwines the very real with the ideal and we may become confused with this fusion of two perspectives; yet in is this dance between two opposites and the synthesis they present, John describes a world of universal acceptance and love that we seek.

Jesus tells us endlessly that God’s simple commandment to us is his call to love.  We struggle with this for we do not see it in the world we occupy.

John tells us endlessly that Jesus’ simple commandment to love comes directly from God the creator.  We struggle with this and we let doubt and fear and a desire to control our world to take us over.

As we begin a new year in our western calendar, let us decide to put aside our anxieties about the world.  Let us spend time reflecting with John, a man who accompanied Christ – God Among Us.  And let us place all our fears and hopes in the hands of a God who loves us deeply and always . . . for it is in that place alone that we experience victory that conquers the world.


A re-post from December 31, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 450-451. Print.   

For more on the First Letter of John, visit the 1 John – Testimony page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/1-john-testimony/

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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2 Corinthians 2: Painful Circumstances

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Some of us avoid pain; some of us hesitate to inflict pain on another.  Others of us use pain as a weapon against anyone who gets in our way or even ourselves.  Today we read from Paul’s second letter to the people of Corinth and quite close to the opening, he addresses his audience to speak of painful circumstances.  Scholars speculate that either Paul had heard of an aggravating matter that needed to be addressed or that Paul had been rejected by some of the Corinthians.  In either case we are left with the aftermath and on-going effects of suffering.  The group suffers as a result of an action by a member or members of their community.  What one endures, we all endure.  This is the world of Jesus into which we wish to enter.

Paul suggests forgiveness as the central and most important tool that we might use to extricate ourselves from painful circumstances.  It is this same forgiveness that brings us the peace of Christ and assuages anxiety as we live out the after effects of painful circumstancesAs I read Paul’s words, I am reminded of the concise but excellent homily we heard this morning from Bishop Newman as he commented on the first reading at Mass from the first letter of Peter.  He said that these words are some of his favorite: You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  We are special, we are the brother and sisters of the prince of light, Christ, we are united with others God has chosen, and we are to proclaim God’s goodness to all.  As God’s chosen, royal people we will encounter painful circumstances and we will need to forgive the trespasses of others, and we will even have to forgive ourselves for our own lapses in kingdom building.

Peter tells us: Once you were no people but now you are God’s people . . . (1 Peter 2)

Paul repeats to us: God loves us so much that he created us and calls us out of darkness into the light so we must forgive as God forgives.

Peter writes to us: You had not received mercy but now you have received mercy . . .  (1 Peter 2)

Paul reminds us: God loves us so much that he forgives us endlessly, wanting us to forgive ourselves and one another . . . so that we might resolve all painful circumstances as we come together in Christ.


A re-post from September 13, 2012.

For more on how to forgive and what real forgiveness looks like, click on the image above or go to: http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/biblical/forgiveness1.html

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Psalm 121:5-6: The Lord himself watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand, so that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

How wonderful it is the sun does not scorch us the moon does not lead us astray.

How marvelous it is that we are watched over and protected from the enemy.

How amazing it is that God wants to spend so much time with us!

God says: You are correct.  All of this is true. I love to spend time with you and it does not matter what you are doing.  I want to be with you in all you do.  I delight in your delight.  Watching over you is simple for me because beside you is the only place I want to be.  How wonderful you are. How marvelous . . . how amazing! 

We ought not shy away from God when he approaches.  We must remain open . . . and welcoming.  And we must be amazed . . . that we are so well-loved by the Lord himself.


Go to The Book of Our Life page of this blog to reflect on how the Lord brings himself to us in Scripture at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/  And then consider the story your life tells the world about you.

Image from: http://christianbackground.info/holy-spirit/holy-spirit-manifest-background/

A re-post from August 23, 2012.

 

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Henry Hillier: Harvest Time, Lambourne, Berks

2 Corinthians 9:6Brothers and sisters: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.    

God says: I know that there are days when you feel as though I ask too much of you.  I understand that there are times when you are too exhausted to take another step in your journey.  This is why I have asked you to cast your troubles on my shoulders – for my burden is light and I am ready to carry your worries for you. I see how the world draws you in and I am here to accompany you each day.  You have only to call on me.      

At times it seems as if the only harvest we reap is anxiety and sadness and we find it difficult to believe the promise of the resurrection. Yet God abides with us in our apprehension.  This is the message he wishes to give us – that despite our fears, we are saved.  Despite our dread we are redeemed.  And despite our wretchedness we are loved.  This is the miracle of God’s love.  Let us sow the love God gives to us . . . that we might in turn reap God’s love with the harvest.

Enter the word promise in the blog search box and continue to reflect on the promises God intends to keep.


A re-post from August 14, 2012.

Image from: http://www.topart168.com/oil_paintings/Harvest_Time,_Lambourne,_Berks_1481_painting.html

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