Posts Tagged ‘God’s plan’

Luke 1: God’s Yardstick – Elizabeth

In God’s Wisdom and Time

Tuesday, January 3, 2016

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

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.

All four Gospels tell us the story of John the Baptist who goes before Jesus to announce the good news of God’s coming to the faithful but it is in Luke’s telling that we hear about John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zachariah. Today we spend time reflecting on the power of God to do the impossible, the fidelity of God remaining with the faithful, and the love of God who guides, consoles, rescues and transforms.

Using the scripture link, we read different versions of this story that weaves the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, John and Jesus into a fabric that serves as a mantle to protect us from the winds of time and place. We allow the power of these verses to bring us the wisdom of God’s time, God’s space, and God’s plan. We allow the understanding of God’s yardstick in the life of Elizabeth to bring us the quiet peace and radiant joy of the Christmas season. And we determine to bring this wisdom and peace to bear in our own lives.

To better understand the story of Elizabeth, visit: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.4.Elizabeth.htm 

Image from: http://artgalleryenc.com/en/Encyclopedia/Author/Works/13707/Jacques-Blanchard 

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Job 19Suffering and Rejoicing Well

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Friday, November 25, 2022

The Book of Job is the first in the wisdom portion of scripture and it may be one of our favorites for its honesty and persistence with which this innocent man speaks. Job has been wronged by Satan, yet retains faith and hope in God. He asks the questions we all ask; he makes the observations we all make: why do the wicked seem to skate through life without suffering, and why do the innocent suffer? Each of us has endured hardship as Job does at one time or another; and for this reason his words are so valuable. Job sinks into the lowest of depths with his despair . . . yet he soars with great hope and divine love. This is the gift of his story . . . that he both suffers and rejoices well.

How long will you vex my soul? At times the suffering is too great, too heavy.

I cry for help; there is no redress. In our own lives, and in the lives of others, there are moments that ask too much of human strength and endurance.

My brethren have withdrawn from me, and my friends are wholly estranged. At times we are utterly alone, with no sheltering place, no healing balm.

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I love have turned against me! In the human experience, there is no greater punishment than isolation.

Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey on me? At times we are so low that we descend into pits we did not know existed . . . and this is when we know that something new is arriving.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold him. Job understands that it is impossible for us to comprehend the depth, the width, the height or the timelessness of God. Job – although not content with the mystery of his innocent suffering – accepts that from where he stands he cannot see or know the limitlessness of God or the complexity of his plan. Job reminds us that each of us suffers.  Each of us stands accused at times when we are innocent. Since this is so, the rest of his story is also true. We will be vindicated.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation about the Blessed Mother and her willingness to suffer as an innocent for the good of God’s economy: She neither regretted the past nor wished for the future – she accepted wholeheartedly the magnificent present.  She had found one beautiful pearl, and all she had she gave in order to buy it.  (Mother Marie des Douleurs)

So let us follow the example of Job and the example of Mary. They understood that they, by entering into the mystery of suffering, were sharing in a sacred gift offered by the God who loves us so much that God offers us God’s own divinity.

Let us enter into this story today without looking back in anger or looking forward in despair.

Let us gather all that we have and all that we are to make this one purchase . . . the gift of transformative union where . . . through suffering, we enter into the world of God’s joy.

Image from: http://global.oup.com/obso/focus/focus_on_happiness/

A favorite from March 25, 2009. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

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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 5:7-11: A Prayer for Patience

Saturday, October 29, 2022

We have considered the difficulty of blooming in early or late rains. We have pondered the mercy we find in God’s Law of Love, and we have reflected on the importance of patience in our lives as we learn to live out mercy and humility in an authentic way. Ultimately, each of us, indeed all of us are called. Each of us and all of us are gathered in. Each of us and all of us are offered the gift of transformation. But first we must learn and exercise the practice of patience.

It is easy to define patience as a virtue and still easier to see impatience in others. Patience as a concept can be diminished to a simple exercise that we practice once in a while when there is no great demand placed on us. The more difficult task is to act continually with a patience that is not bitter or nostalgic; and it is a challenge for many of us to operate from humility, to trust God without question.

When asked to place our lives in God’s hands, we must be ready to humble ourselves before God’s plan, to trust God in both simple and grave matters, and to obey God’s call with a grateful and happy heart. This is no small request. And so we pray.

heart-shaped-bible-pageLoyal and healing God, lead us in simple obedience of your well-devised plan.

Powerful and eternal God, guide us in trusting you alone above all else.

Humble and tender God, help us to persevere in patient living with you.

We thank you for coming to us as our human brother, Jesus. We are grateful for the abiding consolation of your Spirit. And we rest in the assurance that the humility and patience that Jesus shows us is The Way we ourselves must follow. May we today and all days live and act in patience. Amen.

Images from: https://www.happierhuman.com/patience-affirmations/ and https://unsplash.com/s/photos/bible-heart

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James 5:10-11: God’s Merciful Lawbible page heart

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Ultimately, God will vindicate those who live and enact the Law of Love; there is no need for us to struggle against life when we place ourselves in God’s hands. Our behavior during times of trial and temptation illustrates our belief in the goodness of God; our grumbling sets up signposts to the world about our suspicion of God’s goodness. James cautions us against all of this.

The prophecy of Isaiah (50:4-10) is full of honesty and hope. When we read it alongside James’ words, we better understand the Law of Love that Jesus brings to us.

The Master, God, has given me a well-taught tongue, so I know how to encourage tired people. He wakes me up in the morning, wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders.

Jesus calls us to join him in discipleship to act with him in prophesying and enacting the Law of Love.

The Master, God, opened my ears, and I didn’t go back to sleep, didn’t pull the covers back over my head. I followed orders, stood there and took it while they beat me, held steady while they pulled out my beard, didn’t dodge their insults, faced them as they spit in my face.

Jesus is persistent in his call. Eventually we understand that the way we best participate in God’s plan is to do nothing more than witness, watch and enact God’s love in all we say, think and do.

And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me, so I’m not disgraced. Therefore I set my face like flint, confident that I’ll never regret this.

The Spirit has taken up her place in our hearts, consoling us in our trials, bolstering us as we confront our temptations.

Lean on your God! But if all you’re after is making trouble, playing with fire, go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, but don’t expect me to just stand there and watch. I’ll hold your feet to those flames.

James, like Isaiah, is honest and hopeful. Offering us a clear image of how the Law of Love operates in our world. Rather than stir up division and discord, we witness to the story of Jesus, we watch for ways to live out this witnessing, and we hand over our frustration, anger and fear to the one who authors this merciful law of love.

Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com

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Tobit 8:5-8: The Mystery of Prayer

Andrea Vaccaro: Tobias Meets the Archangel Raphael

Andrea Vaccaro: Tobias Meets the Archangel Raphael

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

If we ever doubt the power of prayer, we only need to turn to scripture for stories that spark the imagination and lead us to times in our own lives when prayer has linked us in a special way with God’s power to restore and save. If we look at prayer with the eye of superstition and make a prayer a thing that fills prescribed span of time in a designated place, then our goal is to obtain something or someone and bring them into our own plan. If, on the other hand, our prayer is an opening of our hearts and minds to the voice and love of God, then we will more fully understand the mystery of prayer.

In days of trial we lift our prayer to God . . . and wait for answers.

In days of doubt we hide from our fear . . . and ask God for solutions to life-altering problems.

In days of gratitude we bow down in thankfulness . . . and recognize God’s bold strength and tender care.

In days of celebration we leap with joy . . . and tell all the world how great and compassionate and wise is our God.

Today we spend time with a very special prayer. Let us see if can recognize its power in the story of Tobit, Tobias and Sarah. And let us see if we recognize this sane presence of a loving God in our own lives.

When we choose a character to follow as we read the full story of Tobit . . . we might be better able to find the healing grace of Raphael in our own lives.

Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Vaccaro_-_Tobias_Meets_the_Archangel_Raphael_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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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 5:33-37: Teaching about OathsTG_4x5_06.tif

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

In this Eastertide, we humbly consider Jesus’ words.

You have heard it said, “Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow”.

This might be easy or difficult for us. In either case, let us remain faithful to God all we say and do.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by heaven because it is God’s . . .”

How can we know the mind of God? Let us remain always in God’s hope.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by the earth because it is God’s footstool . . .”

How can we know the love of God? By allowing ourselves to love the broken and marginalized.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by Jerusalem because it is the city of a great king . . .”

How do we seek God’s sacred heart? By replacing our pride with humility, our fear with constancy, our strength with weakness and our bravura with vulnerability.

You have heard it said, “Do not swear at all; not by your head because you cannot make a single hair white or black . . .”

Why do we think our agenda surpasses the plans of God? We will always come up against the wall of willfulness if we do not put God first all that we say and do.

You have heard it said, “Let your ‘Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No.’ Anything more is from the evil one”.

Where do we find God’s wisdom? When we heal in the Spirit, remain in Christ and rest in God. Then – and only then – will be able to cease our cursing. Then – and only then – will we come to fully know our God. Then – and only then – will we finally stumble upon God’s serenity.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about retaliation.

Image from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/10/19/bible-oath-axed_n_4126820.html 

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