Posts Tagged ‘God’s plan’

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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Habakkuk 2:3-4: The Delayimpatienceordivineanticipationb1

First Sunday in Lent, March 6, 2022

In this Lenten season, we witness to the presence of Christ in our daily routine. In this time of introspection, we welcome the Spirit into the temple of our hearts. In this time of healing and re-making, we thank God for the gifts of grace and mercy and patience. In this time of transformation, we come to understand the essence of our Lenten delay.

If it delays, wait for it . . .

Like small children, we want all our woes and anxieties resolved within seconds of their borning; like small children we must learn that waiting in joyful anticipation brings the gift of wisdom.

It will surely come . . .

Like energetic teenagers, we easily slip into the thinking that the multiverse holds us at its center; like energetic teenagers we reluctantly admit that our way is not always God’s way.

It will not be late . . .

Like impatient adults, we ask the world to move at our singular command; like impatient adults we come to see that the common good is more valuable in God’s eyes than our individual desire.

The rash one has no integrity . . .

In our Lenten journey we come to understand – if we are open – that God is present in misery just as in joy.

But the just one, because of faith, will live . . .

In our Lenten passage we come to know – if we are open – that God’s delay is part of God’s plan.

As we move through this second full week of Lent, let us take all of our impatience and anxiety, all of our anger and frustration to the one who mends and heals all wounds. And let us – like Jesus – make a willing sacrifice of our waiting as we anticipate in joyful hope God’s fulfillment of our great delay.

Image from: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/6328/impatience-or-divine-anticipation/

Enter the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar to explore other reflections on the wisdom brought to us through the words of this prophet.

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je suis charlieSaturday, January 15, 2022

Joy and Habakkuk


The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Habakkuk reminds us that too often our ways are not God’s ways.

“For what may be the first time in Israelite literature, a man questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls him to account for his government of the world”. God replies that he will send “a chastising rod, Babylon”. And God also replies with divine assurance the faithful will not perish. (Senior 1150)

God says: I know that my plan seems slow to you and I understand your impatience for my ways are not always your ways. My prophets deliver your anger, exasperation, and sorrow to me; and I hear your plaint. My prophets also deliver My Word to you. I walk among you as the man Jesus and although you may not see him he is with you all the same. The anger of Habakkuk has not dissolved . . . and nor has my love. Each time you throw your anger at me I return it to you transformed in and by and through love. I return it to you as the gift of love. Read the words of Habakkuk . . . and bring me your fears and desperation. Bring me your sorrow, your worries and your questions. In return, you have my answer . . . the gifts of my presence, mercy, rescue and love.

In this prophecy, it is difficult to find the joy we hope to experience.  How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not intervene. (1:2)

In this prophecy, we hear the words that speak to human fear, suffering and frustration with the divine plan. I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint”. (2:1)

In this prophecy, we hear the Lord’s reply that we will want to hold close when pain and anxiety set in, when we wonder about the promise of God’s rescue and redemption. The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (2:3-4)

In this prophecy, we pray with Habakkuk: God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights. (3:19)

In this prophecy . . . we have the eternal answers to our unrelenting questions.

Several years ago, after the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, the nation of France prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to celebrate with joy in the face of enormous anger and grief. To learn more, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

Or you want to visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Charlie-Hebdo-shooting

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1150. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ezekiel 19: Joy and Two Allegories

Lions raised with care to protect become man-eaters. Vines that sprout strong branches because of abundant water die in the desert. Notes tell us that these two allegories are written in the style of a dirge, a particular kind of funeral song serving as a lamentation comparing present doom with past glory. Ezekiel writes at a time when all hope might be lost; however, as pointed out in notes, Ezekiel elsewhere rejects this sense of hopelessness.

It is difficult, in the times when all around us is dark, and when we find ourselves in drastic circumstances, to keep hope alive. The lioness in today’s reading does her best to rear strong male lions that protect and guide their pride. In the second allegory, the vine is destroyed by drought, fire, wind and heartless transplantation in desert surroundings.  In ideal circumstances, the lioness and the mother vine do all they can to nourish life and yet they fail, or seem to fail. 

What else do these images call forth? We know that the Lion of Judah later roars out of the south to redeem the universe, but in the form of the Lamb in the person of Christ Jesus. We also know that from this stump of vine in the desert which is carted off to Egypt and to Babylon, from this lineage of Jesse and David will eventually spring forth the shoot of the Messiah.  

We know that when something is bound to occur in God’s economy, no force, no circumstance, no evil intent can hold it back. We know that when things appear to be most hopeless, God is most with us. God never fails, especially in God’s time rather than in ours. 

St. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

In Luke 21:5-11 Jesus tells us:  All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down . . .  See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, “I am he”, and “The time has come”.  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end. 

Jesus is constantly calming the turbulent waters, healing the blind, deaf and lame, bringing light and life out of darkness and death. When times are darkest, Jesus is nearest. The Lion of Judah roars and saves. The vine will bloom, even in the desert. In the Book of Revelation the virgin bearing the child is swept into the desert where she is kept safe from the beast. This tells us that what appears to be an end is a beginning.  What appears to be lost will be found. It tells us that we must trust God’s plan no matter how bleak it may appear. God’s plan is ever so much better than our own. St. Paul writes to the Philippians (3:7): Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Whatever plans I have, I consider as nothing in the economy of God’s providence and love.

And so we pray: On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, let us keep in mind all the times we have waited in darkness and anxiety, and let us turn our worries and complaints over to the one who handles all things well, bringing them to the light of perfection. Let us give our incompleteness to the one who completes. Let us bring our broken hearts and our dirges to God’s feet and offer these woes to the one who will transform them into blessings. Let us bring God our mourning so that it may be joy.  Amen. 


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Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Mark 12:18-27

Resurrection – Part II: Waiting 

Have you not read . . .?

Yesterday we explored the clash of movements into which Jesus steps and we can see why certain sectors of ancient society might oppose the teachings of Jesus. He strikes at the root of power and influence. If we all have access to the temple through our personal relationship with God in the person of Jesus, we have no need of hierarchy. If we all have access to God through our deeds rather than through temple sacrifice, we have no need of priests. If we all have access to forgiveness and justice through God as sisters and brothers of Christ, then we have no need of a power structure’s intercession on our behalf. As siblings in one family, we are all called to intercede for one another. As children of the living God, we all have access to new life and new beginnings. This is, indeed, good news for us . . . but not for these Sadducees who challenge Jesus because they see in him an end of their hold on power, an end to their income, an end to life as they know it. We can understand their fear, and we might dig deep within ourselves to see our clinging to authority and structure. How much of the Sadducee hides within our own heart? How willing are we to wait on God’s plan? How eager are we to live in the Spirit of discipleship that holds little comfort and even less prestige? How prepared are we to step into the vineyard to gather the fruit of God’s harvest rather than the fruit of our own plan?

God says: I understand that the plans you make in my name are good and honest and that you see your ideas as an outflowing of my heart. I love the energy you spend on my work. I am enchanted by the care you take in the precision of your labor. I am in love with your goodness and mercy in my name. I also see much more than you can see. I understand far more than you can understand and this is as it should be. I created you. You do not create me. I love you and call you to goodness. This is all that I require: that you act in prudence, watch in hope, remain in faith and witness in love. You can give me no greater gift than the full and complete surrender of yourself to the work of my Kingdom.

Are we prepared to watch for the resurrection that in promised to each of us? Do we have waiting hearts and minds open ready to receive the gift of new life that comes to us without our asking?

Tomorrow, working . . . 

Adapted from a reflection written on November 22, 2008.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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little and big handsTrinity Sunday, May 30, 2021

1 John 3:19-24

Confidence Before God

Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth . . .

Now this is how we shall know that we walk in Christ’s footsteps . . . when we show confidence as we do God’s work.

God is greater than our hearts and knows everything . . .

This is how we know that God guides us . . . when we show confidence in God’s plan.

We have confidence in God . . . and we do what pleases God . . .

This is how we know that we live in God’s plan . . . when we find serenity.

We will believe in the name of God’s son, Jesus Christ . . .

This is how we bring serenity to others . . . when we give all to God.

We will love one another as Jesus asked us . . .

This is how we are able to love our enemies . . . when we rest in God’s Spirit.

Those who keep this commandment of love remain in Christ . . . and Christ in them . . .

This is how we find peace in turmoil . . . when we allow Jesus to make a way for us.

The way we know that Christ remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us . . .

This is how we know we have confidence before God . . . when we fully and totally and faithfully trust God.

Read Luke 17:5-10 and consider Jesus’ words to us as he describes faith and the attitude of a servant.  For a reflection on this citation, click on the image above or go to: http://frvlad.blogspot.com/2013/10/trust-and-confidence-in-god.html

Using the scripture link above, study several versions of these verses and reflect on how or if or when we have confidence before God.

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