Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

Matthew 7:7-11: The Answerheart_bible_god_739386149

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ask and it will be given to you . . . can we say that we believe that God is this generous?

Seek and you will find . . . can we say that we believe that God is this kind?

Knock and the door will open . . . can we say that we believe that God is this good?

For everyone who asks, receives . . . can we say that we believe that God is this faithful?

Everyone who seeks, finds . . . can we say that we believe that God is this hopeful?

Everyone who knocks, finds the open door . . . can we say that we believe that God is this loving?

Can we say that we believe that God is present even in the midst of calamity? Can we say that we believe that God is determined to bring us into eternal union? Can we say that we believe that God has only our joy in mind?

If we cannot, let us consider the miracle of the Easter resurrection that is offered to each of us each day. If we can, then let us share this good news with a world waiting in sorrow.

Is the central question here God’s ability and readiness to answer our prayers . . . or is it our ability and readiness to accept God’s loving universal plan? The answer to this lies not in God but within our own hearts.

For another reflection on these verses, enter the words The Answer to Prayer into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.churchleaders.com/children/childrens-ministry-blogs/153352-dale_hudson_leading_with_gods_heart.html 

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Matthew 6:16-18: True Fasting . . . True Hopewhats-the-point-of-fasting

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The prophet Isaiah (58) describes the hope that arrives when we practice fasting as Jesus describes it.  When we fast, our physical hunger not only unites us with those who are marginalized, it will also – if we so allow – remind us of the hunger we feel as we seek God, immortality, serenity, joy and peace.  These are the gifts we are already given by God yet we so often do not see them.  We feel alone as so beautifully expressed in verse 3: Why do we fast and you do not see it?  Afflict ourselves and you take no note of it?  Why this aloneness?  Because we have forgotten to turn and return. God is present and waiting, it is we who forget to turn to God.  We have forgotten the simple law of love brought to us by the Christ.  Isaiah himself explains our estrangement in chapter 59: we have erected barriers, isolated ourselves, made little groups and cliques of exclusion. The peace we eagerly seek can be found only in unity, in remaining open rather than closed, in remaining ready for union rather than separation, in remaining ready for the broad and all-encompassing hope of Christ rather than our own small dreams.

We cannot know or understand God’s plan but we can trust God’s wisdom and love. We cannot calculate the complication of ways in which God’s plan will be fulfilled with or without our participation, but we can believe that God’s plan will arrive as best for all.  The problem with God’s apparent silence is not God.  It is ourselves. The Lord has called diverse people to himself, and in the approach we shuffle and bump against one another.  Sometimes we find ourselves walking alongside people who do not share our views or our understanding of The Word, and in our crowded lives we think we are alone. Yet, God is always abiding.  We have only to open our eyes and ears.  We have only to seek intercession for those who obstruct our way.  We have only to trust.  We have only to reflect, to meditate, to fast and to pray.  We have only to open ourselves to the newness of life, to new possibilities for more Easter miracles, to the acceptance of gifts already given.  We have only to empty self and receive this knowing, this sublime gift, this Jesus Christ. As we make our hearts ready to receive the gift of resurrection and redemption offered by Christ, let us acknowledge that in Christ, the time of fulfillment of dreams is here. The time for outrageous hope is already upon us. The time for newness is now.

Tomorrow, our treasure, our hearts, our God.

Image from: http://cureeczemaslowly.com/3-day-water-fasting-experiment-journal/

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Matthew 6:1-4: Teaching on Almsgivinggivinghands

Saturday, April 30, 2022

From the June 20, 2007 MAGNIFICAT reflection, an excerpt from the writings on Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian: “God is no trainer of souls bent on attaining extravagant record performances. He is a Lover who wants nothing but great love and who accepts with a smile everything such love invents to offer him. But he declines everything man uses – no matter how subtly – to put on airs before him.”

God says: The world draws you to extol yourself, to outdo your neighbors, to store up goods for yourself, to regard yourself as the creator of your world. I ask you to aside all prizes and titles except for those I give to you each day. I give you my love unconditionally. I give you myself ceaselessly. I give you life eternally. I call you my children. I call you sisters and brother of Jesus. I call you salt and light for the world. Does not this outweigh all that the world has to offer? All that I offer must – surely – be enough. When you give alms you demonstrate that you understand this relationship with me and my kingdom. When you practice humility you prepare yourself to receive me in my Way. You prepare yourself to travel with me in this eternal path.

Read more about Hans Urs von Balthasar and consider what lessons his life has to offer us as we struggle with our own search for genuine humility. Visit: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/authors/vonbalthasar.asp

Tomorrow, bringing hearts and minds together in Beatitude. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.6.12 (2007). Print.

Image from: http://classicalchristianity.com/2012/01/29/on-almsgiving/

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James Tissot: The Ark Passes Over the Jordan

Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part III

As we continue to explore the historical appendix in Chapter 52 describing the fall of Jerusalem to the Chaldeans (Babylonians), we find details of what happens to the Jewish leadership.  The description is simple but in places horrific, reading like a newspaper report submitted by a correspondent for the evening edition.

Serve Babylon or perish . . . Leave her, my people, let each one save himself from the burning wrath of the Lord. 

I once heard a wise woman say that each time she reads about the wrath of the Lord or the admonition to fear the Lord in the Old Testament that she substitutes the word love. . . because with the New Testament and the coming of Jesus, the complications of the Mosaic Law are transformed into the one word of the New Law. The wrathful God who reigns terror and demands obedience becomes the loving God who calls us to perfect union in him, with him, and for him in the person of Christ and the Mystical Body. This wise woman said that as mighty as the wrath of God is in the early days of history, so passionate is his love for us in the Messianic Days in which we live . . . the days between the First and the Second Coming.  This gives us something to ponder.

I believe that we are constantly in Babylon, rendering unto her as Jesus said that we must render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.  We must serve Babylon or perish. This is where we have been planted.

I believe that a new wave of Persians is always at the gate, amassing forces as numerous as locusts. These are the things of this world, and they are always with us.

I believe that our forgiving and compassionate God regrets the evil he has done us, just as loving parents regret the discipline which they must administer.

Tomorrow, the power of God’s consoling love.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Jacques_Joseph_Tissot_-_The_Ark_Passes_Over_the_Jordan_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Visit a model of Solomon’s Temple at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, NY at: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/metkids/2020/solomons-temple-model-judaica 

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Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Monday, April 11, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part II

Today we continue our study of thoughts on empire and conquerors as we explore words from the prophet Jeremiah to the suffering people of a fallen kingdom. The conquering Babylonians now suffer in the way they had inflicted suffering on others.

51:30 – Babylon’s warriors have ceased to fight, they remain in their strongholds; dried up is their strength, they have become women. Burned are their homes and broken their bars. One runner meets another, herald meets herald, telling the King of Babylon that all his city is taken. 

These verses are followed by images of Daughter Babylon being trodden like a threshing floor, just as Israel had been trodden by the king, Nebuchadnezzar.  Now we read severe imagery of what a horror Babylon has become among nations. The prophecy continues, exhorting the people to flee: Leave her, my people, let each one save himself from the burning wrath of the Lord. 

Verses 59 to 64 complete the prophecy of Jeremiah.  These lines describe how Seraiah, the brother of Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, is to take these words to Babylon, proclaim them, and tie a stone around them and throw them into the Euphrates river as a demonstration of how Babylon will fall.

Tomorrow, a prayer for deliverance from empire.

Image from: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/map-of-the-babylonian-empire-under-king-nebukhadnetzar 

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.

Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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Joshua 1:9: Wherever You Go  

joshua1Monday, February 21, 2022

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

We need not doubt that the Lord our God abides in and with us. Throughout human history we hear the constant message of God’s fidelity and love.

That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham”. (Genesis 25:24)

In our darkest hours on our darkest days God is with us. God wants to bolster us when we falter. God wants to bring us blessings greater than we can imagine.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Not only does the Spirit abide in us, she brings us strength and courage and stamina to live in God’s word.

“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.  (Jeremiah 1:8) Then Haggai, the LORD’S messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. (Haggai 1:13)

God’s prophets are keenly aware of God’s presence. Let us remain in God as these prophets remain, despite any fear or anxiety.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

God sends the Living Word to live among us as one of us. So great is God’s love hat he sacrifices himself that we might be rescued.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9-10)

The resurrected Christ continues to walk with us as we work and play and pray. When we reflect on these verses we are reminded of God’s fidelity and strength and love. Let us give thanks for God’s presence as we continue our Lenten journey.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Use the scripture links above to compare various versions of these verses; and let us listen . . .

Image from: http://book.joshway.com/2012/10/01/episode-11-joshua-and-judges/

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Sunday, February 13, 2022

Dark Sky Association: Hovenweep National Monument

Dark Sky Association: Hovenweep National Monument

Psalm 147:1-7

Calling the Stars by Name

Praise the Lord for God is good; sing to the Lord for God is loving; to God is all our praise due . . .

We may know and understand that God accompanies us as we stumble over and through the obstacles in our lives, but how do we demonstrate our belief that God is good and loving? How do we give to God the praise that is due?

The Lord brings back and builds up, heals the broken-hearted and binds up all their wounds . . .

Each time we help someone in need without complaining, each time we extend ourselves when we ourselves are spent, each time we reach out to heal and soothe, these are the times when we bring God’s goodness to light.

The Lord fixes the number of stars and calls each one by name . . .

Each time we see ourselves in proper perspective with the rest of the universe, each time we honor God’s creation by conserving nature, each time we teach others to reverence the world, these are the times when we bring God’s merciful power to fullness.

Our Lord is great and almighty; God’s wisdom can never be measured . . .

Each time we spend an hour with scripture to understand its deeper meaning, each time we meditate to listen for the word of God, each time we bring God’s wisdom to another, these are the times when we bring God’s insight to the world.

The Lord raises up the lowly and humbles the wicked to the dust . . .

Each time we humble ourselves and allow others to go forward, each time we pray for the wicked who harm us, each time we speak for those who have no voice, these are the times when we bring the Beatitudes to life.

O sing to the Lord and give thanks; sing psalms to our God with the harp . . .

When we consider the panoply of stars in the darkness of the heavens, each time we consider the enormity of the multiverse, each time we allow God to take us into the vision and plan God has in mind . . . these are the times when we too, in unison with God, call each of the stars by name.

To find out if we can really name stars after loved ones, watch a short video or read the article when you visit: http://www.universetoday.com/104134/can-you-really-name-a-star/  Also on this site: images of the Northern Lights, and a link to a YouTube time-lapse stargazing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grAz87CdefI&feature=youtu.be

For a preview of an article on The Multiverse, visit: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-the-multiverse-really-exist/ 

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022how_long

Malachi 1:2

A Reprise: How Long?

I have loved you, says the Lord.  But you say, “How long have you loved us?”

We are always wanting more God.  What we have is never enough.  We long for something and as soon as it arrives, we move on to the next desire.  How easily we succumb to our anxieties . . . and how patient God is with us!

In Luke’s Gospel 10:38-42 we find the story of Mary at Jesus’ feet while Martha prepares dinner.  When Martha complains about her needing help from her sister, Jesus reminds her that while we must eat, wear clothes and secure shelter, none of this has value if we do not know who we are and why we are.  It is the story we might go to when we feel anxious about incomplete work, an empty pantry or overdrawn bank account.  Perhaps we like the story because Jesus reminds us – as he reminds Martha – that none of our work is worth anything if it is not God’s work.

From the mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT this morning: The presence of Christ changes the way we face reality.  And without the presence of Christ, we are left prey to our anxiety, our inadequacy, our inability.  But Christ comes to us, especially in our exasperation, and extends to us “the better part”.  The Father is pleased “to reveal his Son to us” . . . pleased to have us receive him.

When we are told that God loves us, we often take this in and then immediately want more, and then we allow our fretfulness to take over.  When we allow disquiet to settle into our bones there is no room for us to see that Jesus is also present to us – ready to take away our worries, ready to calm our fears.  When we bustle through our list of chores, thinking our work more important than our resting in and with Christ, we are Martha rather than Mary.

God has not only revealed his son to us, he has adopted us as his children.  God has taken us as his own.   How long has God loved us?  God has loved us since our first inception, God loves us still, and God will love us always.

Jesus says to Martha, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

Jesus says to us today.  You are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Come, choose the better part and do not let it be taken from you.  I love you now.  I have always loved you. 

We reply with a list of our fears and ask, How long will you love me and wait on me?

When we listen we hear Jesus say . . . I tell you: I will love you forever . . . and I will wait on you for an eternity.  Come!  Choose the better part, and do not let it be taken from you.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.10 (2010). Print.  

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 5, 2010.  

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi in the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: http://www.radicalfamilysabbatical.com/how-long-should-your-sabbatical-be/

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