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Posts Tagged ‘God’s mercy’


James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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

On 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.

In the northern hemisphere days shorten and nights lengthen. In less than a week we will move back to standard time and celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. As we watch, wait, work, and witness, we prepare for these feasts that anticipate the great feast of salvation that we will celebrate at Easter. 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Appears_to_the_Holy_Women_(Apparition_de_J%C3%A9sus_aux_saintes_femmes)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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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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Friday, February 12, 2021

Psalm 119

In a world that still struggles with so many assaults on love, God continues to abide with us to remind us that God’s love alone will bridge all gaps and heal all wounds. The skeptics among us scoff as they ask how the faithful believe that God is with us when anger and fear stalk the world. The defeated among us cry out to ask how long the faithful will carry the onerous weight of the war and pestilence that takes its dreadful toll. The remnant among us find joy and sing praise as they give their share of the world’s burden to a loving, generous God who converts all harm to good.

We spend time reflecting on the last chapters of this song of God’s love to creation.

Qoph: Redemption of Fallen Sparks – God’s love redeems us although we may not trust it.

Resh: Clarity – God’s grace and mercy are present to us although we may not see it.

Shin: The Eternal Flame – God’s Law of Love is infinite and all-encompassing although we may not count it.

Taw: The Seal of Creation – God’s creation marks us with the sign of love although we may not sense it. It is through this creation that God marks us forever with the mark of Love.

Tomorrow, God’s Love Letter.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Over the next few weeks we will look closely at Psalm 119, the longest chapter in Scripture. In this time of pandemic, transition, and social and political unrest, we turn to this acrostic poem that brings us God’s beautiful message of love in groups of eight verses named for the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. 

Psalm 119:1-8

aleph[1]Aleph

Walk in the law . . .

Laws, precepts, testimonies, statutes, precepts, commandments, decrees, ordinances, the Way. So many words to express a concept so simple.

We are made in God’s image and so we are called to nourish God’s Law of Love within ourselves and in others. We are made as creatures of mercy and so we are called to nurture God’s Testimony of Mercy wherever and whenever we find it. We are made to love boldly and well and so let us move among both our friends and our enemies to serve as catalysts of God’s Way of Love for the world.

God says: Do not be overwhelmed when I call you to love as I do. I have placed seeds of love in each of you and I nourish them daily so that they might bloom in you. You are too often downcast at the obstacles you find before you, but I tell you that when you lift your eyes above these barriers you find me. When you love for my sake you bring a new eternal life into the world for me. When you endure as I do . . . you last forever as I do. 

We too often see our limitations rather than our promise.

Today we reflect on the first lesson in Psalm 119.  It is God’s simple request that we walk in the way the Lord shows to us.  Tomorrow, Beth.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, God’s love endures forever . . . (Psalm 118:1)


To learn more about the Hebrew letter Aleph, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://biblehub.com/topical/a/aleph.htm and http://alephjournal.wordpress.com/about/

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Friday, January 8, 2021

1 John 4:10

images[8]This is Love

In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that God loved us and sent God’s Son as expiation for our sins.

Jesus tells us that it is easy to love those who treat us well and difficult to love those who do us harm, and yet if we wish to emulate Christ we must learn to love our enemies. This is the love that the Apostle John saw at close range. It is the love that he describes in his Gospel and letters. It is a love that knows no bounds or limitations. It is a love that refreshes, renews, heals and restores. It is a love that changes us forever when we receive it and when we enact it.  This is the love that changes and transforms us . . . and this is what it means to be Christmas people.

Be merciful as God is merciful.  (Luke 6:32-36)


Image from: http://trystanowainhughes.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/prison-sunday/

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Isaiah 54:10: Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

It is difficult to imagine that the Alps or the Andes or the Himalayan Mountains might leave their place . . . and yet with God’s mercy they do.

When we place all hope in God, massive obstacles are overcome.

When we move through our days in Christ’s faith, immense disabilities are re-mediated.

When we act in the Spirit’s love, impossible circumstances melt away.

God’s overpowering love moves the mountains in our lives . . . when we act in God’s unlimited mercy.  God’s covenant with us is eternal.  Let us remain faithful to God and to the promises we make.


Dr. Paul Farmer and his family

A re-post from July 16, 2012.

Images from: http://destinationtravels999.blogspot.com/2012/03/beautiful-alps-mountainsswitzerland-hd.html

Dr. Paul Farmer has refused to bow to overwhelming odds and Tracey Kidder tells us the details of a portion of his story in his book Mountains Beyond Mountains.  For more details on an interview with Kidder on NPR go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1472188

For more on how Farmer provides a preferential health care option for the poor, go to: http://www.pih.org/publications/entry/partner-to-the-poor-a-paul-farmer-reader/

For more on Paul Farmer, go to: http://ghsm.hms.harvard.edu/people/faculty/farmer/ and more on Kidder;s book, go to: http://mbmsummary.blogspot.com/2005/11/summaries.html

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Judith 7: The Heart of the Just

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Titian: Judith and the Head of Holofernes

This is one of my favorite stories – perhaps because the protagonist is a woman.  A good commentary will let us know that there were Hebrew, Latin and Greek versions of this story and that while no one knows the actual events which this narrative describes, it is meant as a text that will bolster the peoples’ faith in the presence of God among them.  It is “a tract for difficult times; the reader, it is hoped, would take to heart the lesson that God was still the Master of history, who would save Israel from her enemies.  Note the parallel with the time of Exodus: as God had delivered his people by the hands of Moses, so he could deliver them by the hand of the pious widow Judith”.  (Senior 520)

Chapter 7 tells of the siege of the town Bethulia by the Assyrian troops of King Nebuchadnezzar under the military leadership of Holofernes together with local tribes; and it sets the story.  If you have time today or this evening, read the entire story.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

It is fascinating to read about these two groups of men who take into account both the small details and the broad strategies in order to lay out the best plans.  They reconnoiter approaches, locate water sources, assess troop strength, close off escape routes, and store up resources.  Meanwhile, the Israelites watch and pray.  Their leader tells them: Let us wait five days more for the Lord our God, to show his mercy toward us; he will not utterly forsake us.  Still, because the odds were so stacked against them, the Hebrew people of Bethulia mourned.  They saw no hope of deliverance and believed they would all be killed or enslaved.

They were in a desperate place with desperate circumstances, yet they hoped.  And a woman acts to save them.  As we have observed, it is a great story.

As we reflect on this story we arrive at this thought: If we always turned to God at the first moment an army amassed itself against us, and if we would be willing to trust an unlikely agent – such as the widow Judith – we might find ourselves less anxious and more joyful.

Today’s Psalm at Mass is 112 with the repeated antiphon: The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.  One of the stanzas reads: An evil report he shall not fear; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear till he looks down upon his foes.

If we might trust as Judith trusts, if we might steady our hearts to make them steadfast and focused on Christ – the rescuer who rescues all who turn to him – we might find more success and less war.  When we hear evil reports as we do each day when we tune into the news, we would tremble less.  When we hear rumors about family, friends and colleagues, we might wait five days or so and petition God for advice in the meantime.  When we fear that we have gone wrong and have lost our way, we might rely on God’s mercy, knowing that he will not forsake us.

If you have time today to spend with some ancient people who thought they faced extinction and yet were saved, you will be rewarded with a story about a pious widow who saves a town . . . and your heart may move closer to firmness, to justice, to trust in the Lord.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.520. Print.

Written on June 2, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/499.html

Visit A Historical Commentary on the Book of Judith at: http://kinghezekiahofjudah2.blogspot.com/2008/06/location-of-judiths-town-of-bethulia.html

For more about this amazing woman’s story, go to Judith – Sublime Faith, Heroic Love at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/judith-sublime-faith-heroic-love/ or use the search the name Judith on this blog. 

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Mark 14:8: She has done what she could . . .

Easter Monday, April 2, 2018

Woman with the Alabaster Jar

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this happiest of liturgical seasons, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, opening our ears and eyes to the possibility of God’s promise. Opening our hearts to the comfort of the Spirit’s healing. Opening our minds to the teachings of Christ.

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. (NRSV)

Criticized by his followers, Jesus broadens the horizons of those willing to look beyond their comfort zone.

This woman did the only thing she could do for me; she poured perfume on my body to prepare me for burial. (NCV)

Questioned by his critics, Jesus calls those willing to follow him in the difficult path of the way of peace.

What she could do, she did do — in advance she poured perfume on my body to prepare it for burial. (CJB)

Watched by those who seek wisdom, Jesus opens possibility by affirming the act of the woman who carries the alabaster jar.

She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly. (MSG)

Examined by those who look for mercy, Jesus encourages all who respond to the world’s fears with compassion.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore this verse, we open doors, ears, eyes, minds and hearts to the compassion that only God can give . . . and we do what we can do.


Image from: http://walkwithmeonourjourney.blogspot.com/2015/06/lets-talk-about-family-hood.html 

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Esther F: The River is Esther

Edward Armitage: The Feast of Esther

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It has been a week since Ash Wednesday when we began our Lenten journey of discovery, renewal, and transformation. We have had seven days to contemplate the state of our world and our personal circumstances. We have reflected on the violence in Esther’s world and in our own. Today, amidst bloodshed and reversals, and despite our fears, we find a way to give thanks.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai declare his praise for God’s providence. We too, might announce our acclaim.

Then Mordecai said: “This is the work of God. I recall the dream I had about these very things, and not a single detail has been left unfulfilled – the tiny spring that grew into a river, and there was light, and sun, and many waters”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai describe God’s river of compassion, and the river is Esther. We too, might affirm God’s love.

“The river is Esther, whom the king married and made queen”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai announce his gratitude for God’s power. We too, might proclaim our appreciation.

“The Lord saved his people and delivered us from all these evils. God worked signs and great wonders, such as have not occurred among the nations”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai assert his joy for God’s presence. We too, might broadcast to anyone who will listen our confidence that God also abides.

“Gathering together with joy and happiness before God, they shall celebrate these days on the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month Adar throughout all future generations of his people Israel”.

With these apocryphal verses, we experience the river that is God’s power, fidelity, hope and mercy. And this river is Esther.

 Tomorrow,, Esther on the fringes of society.  

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