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Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence’


Luke 24:1-12: Our Story – Part III, Resurrection Luke24-5-6

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

For the past two days we have reflected on the story of our lives. Today we remember the good news of Jesus’ story. 

We can never read this part of The Story too many times; the gift is too precious, the love too prized . . . and then he went home amazed at what had happened. 

We live in a world that is too casual about the miracles that happen before us constantly. Medicine has advanced; yet not enough to please all our wishes. We produce food in record amounts; yet millions go hungry each day. Energy sources seem limitless; yet we pollute the world and kill God’s creatures – and ourselves – in our greed. And still we refuse to be amazed at what had happened when we experience God’s goodness in our lives.

We go to the food market and there is an abundance; and we credit ourselves with the harvest. We go to clothing stalls where too many varieties of the same shoe tempt us to buy; and we complain that there is nothing to wear. We drive through neighborhoods with empty or underused homes; and we never seem to be able to house the homeless. And still we refuse to be amazed at what had happened when we experience God’s generosity in our lives.

We are self-centered beings who have difficulty seeing beyond our noses. We cry out for help when we need it, and casually put God as the last item on our agendas when times are good. In the peace that follows conflict we gear up for more strife. We become so accustomed to struggle that we forget to rejoice. Former enemies sit down to speak peace and we are too impatient when a world leader speaks to us and pre-empts a football game or a favorite show. A friend calls on the phone and we silently begrudge the time they ask of us because we have too much work to do. And still we refuse to be amazed at what had happened when we experience God’s love in our lives.

God is a loving God and this we know because even though we ruin the environment with our lack of care, the trees continue to return to foliage each spring cycle, the waters have smaller “dead zones” when they are given the time to rejuvenate, the souls of the faithful departed enjoy eternal communion with God in the New Jerusalem. And still we refuse to be amazed at what had happened when we experience God’s power in our lives.

We can never over-estimate the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s presence in our lives, especially when we contemplate this portion of The Story. So let us today, like Peter, go home at the end of our day . . . let us thank God for all that we are and all that we have . . . let us be amazed at what has happened in our lives . . . and witness to the miracle and the joy of the resurrection which the savior has given as gift to each of us. Amen.


A Favorite from  June 23, 2010.

Image from: http://straight-friendly.blogspot.com/

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John 16: Glory, Part VII – Trouble

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we experience God’s glory, barrenness is made fertile, mourning becomes joy, and lack becomes surfeit. We must not avoid the deserts in our lives.

In his last evening with his disciples, Jesus leaves with a warning of persecution and he tells them of how the world will hate him and all that he stands for. Discipleship will be difficult, he says, but there is also good news: a new Comforter will come to them and he himself will rejoin them in a way they have not been able to imagine.  He will return from the dead. And he will reveal even more to them than he already has. All of this is too much for them to take in. It is too much for us to take in. Yet these words lay out the premise that we experience God’s glory through the trouble in our lives.

You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice; you will have pain but your pain will turn into joy. 

All of this brings us to a basic truth: the difficulties we experience are more than they seem . . . they are opportunities for joy and an insurmountable interior peace. A mini-reflection from MAGNIFICAT reads: What we formerly perceived as barrenness in our life has become filled with a Presence – the Presence for which we were made.  This is in reference to an important story in 1 Samuel 1, the story of Hannah, the barren wife who pleads with God out of her sorrow.  Her request is granted and she not only bears her first son who becomes the great prophet Samuel, she bears even more.  We are told that Hannah weeps from the bitterness of her soul (1 Samuel 1:10).  Peninnah, her husband’s; second wife who is not barren, taunts Hannah about her apparent curse; Hannah persists in her praying. The priest Eli believes her to be drunk (1 Samuel 1:13); yet Hannah continues in her prayer. Then Eli tells her that the Lord will hear her petition and Hannah’s face is no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:18). She returns home and her grief becomes joy when she conceives and bears this son who is to be an integral part of human history. It is then that she understands how her barrenness has turned into joy – through the work of God’s plan – and she rejoices that she has been able to participate fully in this mystery.  She sings a hymn of praise (1 Samuel 2): My heart rejoices in the Lord . . . there is no one like the Lord . . . there is no rock like our God . . . the Lord brings death and he makes alive . . . he brings down to the grave and he raises up.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered . . . He will guard the feet of his saints.

Jesus reminds us of this again today. He says: I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . I have told you so that you might have peace in me.   In the world you have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

When we find ourselves in a barren portion of our lives, we might come back to these stories and these words to remind ourselves that when misery overtakes us and the pain is greater than we can bear, this may well be an indication that we have entered into the very mystery we have sought. This may be evidence that we are fully engaging in our own transformation.  It may be the opening to a new Presence, a new beatitude which we otherwise cannot experience . . . if we have not found ourselves in trouble with the world.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 11 January 2010. Print.

Compare various Bible versions of this story and consider when or how our mourning might lead to our joy.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hannah_VICTORS,_Jan.jpg

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herrods_temple

The Ezekiel Temple

Ezekiel 8: The Mystery of the Temple

Friday, July 1, 2022

Throughout this reading the Spirit continues to ask us as we encounter the world: Have you seen enough yet? How do we reply, and how do we react?

We might turn away in fear or disgust when our fellow human beings behave in abominable ways; yet how does this witness to the love of God that is somehow present everywhere at every time?

We might collapse in anxiety or denial when our friends and neighbors behave brutally toward us and others; yet how does this move us into solidarity with those who suffer so horribly?

We might despair in pain and sorrow when our loved ones betray or abandon us; yet how does this enact God’s love in a world looking for peace and serenity?

Ezekiel describes vividly how the Temple is desecrated with obscenity, greed, and idol-worship; yet who is this angry God we hear described in verse 18? Can this be the same God of hope and peace and love who comes to walk among us with mercy? What happens to this holy dwelling place and how are we to see God’s presence amid the rubble and ruin of what was once beauty and light?

Despite the deep corruption we see today, God abides in this place and with this people. Despite the brutality we read about today, God persists in converting harm into blessing. And despite the horror that we witness today, God pardons, heals and calls. This is the mystery of God’s sacred place and time: it is a temple of a healing, transforming, persisting, loving force that cannot be denied. This temple is a living essence that struggles to remain and grow within each of us. And life in this living temple is a mystery that we are invited to enter.

Do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture? 

Who are our little gods and how do we express God in our everyday actions and voice? Do we operate in the dark or in the open light? When and where and how do we see the Mystery of God’s love amid the abominations of the world? And do we plan to accept the invitation that this mystery of sacred space and time has laid before us?


For a study on the Ezekiel temple, click on the image above or visit: http://israelmybeloved.com/the-ezekiel-temple/

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Acts 2: Dialog with GodChild-Praying-300x246

Monday, May 2, 2022

In the turmoil of the world, it may be difficult to feel God’s presence; yet surely God is near.

To my words give ear, O Lord, give heed to my groaning, attend to the sound of my cries. (Psalm 5)

In the cacophony of the world, it may be difficult to hear God’s voice; yet surely God speaks.

A voice I did not know said to me: “I freed your shoulder from the burden; your hands are freed from the load. You call in distress and I saved you. (Psalm 81)

In the strife of the world, it may be difficult to believe in God’s peace; yet surely God offers us this gift.

I will hear what the Lord God had to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to them in their hearts. (Psalm 85)

In this time and place of the Easter miracle, it may be difficult to witness to our defender God, our redeemer Christ and our healer Spirit, and yet we must. On this fourth Sunday of Easter, let us spend time with God’s word and listen for the word of God that calls us to witness to the enormity of the Easter gift of beatitude.

Spend time today with these verses, use the scripture links to reflect with varying versions, and enter into dialog with God.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching on prayer.


Image from: http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2014/03/raising-godly-children-kids-need-god.html

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Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

Wednesday, March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?


Image from: https://eraoftechnology.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/over-inflating-your-opinion/

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prophet_jonah__image_10_sjpg2463Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Joy and Jonah

Reluctance

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 we may or may not identify with Jonah’s story. If we do, we understand that we are loved despite our reluctance to respond to God’s goodness. If we do not, we have all the more reason to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.

“This book is a didactic story with an important theological message. It concerns a disobedient prophet who attempted to run away from his divine commission, was cast overboard and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and sent on his way to Nineveh, the traditional enemy of Israel . . . From this partly humorous story, a very sublime lesson may be drawn. Jonah stands for a narrow and vindictive mentality, all too common among the Jews of that period . . . [This prophecy] has prepared the way for the gospel with its message of redemption for all”. (Senior 1137)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of the netherworld I cried for help, and you heard my voice . . . In the maelstrom God is always present.

Jonah 2:6: The waters swirled around me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed hung about my heard. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; . . . but you brought up my life from the pit . . . In the storms of life God’s promise prevails.

Matthew 12:39-41: [Jesus] answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. j   For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.

joyJonah tells us that despite his reluctance and fear, he finds a reason to rejoice.

Jesus tells us that despite the storm that rages, he is always with us.

If can find the time to spend with this short prophecy, we will be well rewarded. And we may find the strength and joy to celebrate an end to our own reluctance.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1137. Print.

If 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://thepropheticbooksofbible.org/

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hosea and gomerSaturday, January 8, 2022

Joy and Hosea – Metaphor

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words 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 Hosea shows us his love for Gomer, his unfaithful wife. And he tells us that God’s joy will renew the darkest betrayal.

“A very sensitive, emotional man who could pass quickly from violent anger to the deepest tenderness. The prophecy pivots around his own unfortunate marriage to Gomer, a personal tragedy which profoundly influenced his teaching. In fact, his own prophetic vocation and message were immeasurably deepened by the painful experience he underwent in his married life”. (Senior 1108)

Hosea 2:15: There I will give back her vineyards to her and transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope. She will respond to me there, singing with joy as in days long ago in her youth after I had freed her from captivity in Egypt.

We might see this prophecy as a description of God’s infinite capacity for unrelenting compassion and restoration. And we might also experience it as a call to our own potential to forgive and heal.

I will give back her vineyards . . .

We might see this prophecy as Gomer’s inability to remain steadfast or faithful. And we might also experience it as our own opportunity to change.

She will respond to me there . . .

We might see this prophecy as Hosea’s journey from sorrow to joy. And we might also experience it as our own deepening joy in God’s presence in our lives.

She will sing with joy . . .

joySearch the verses of this prophecy and look for the metaphors that reflect your own valleys of troubles and doors of hope. In what relationships have you experienced betrayal by someone quite close to you? Where are the deserts and vineyards in your life? What idols and their priests have drawn you into their false promise? What doors of hope and joy have opened to you?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1108. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to further explore scripture, 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.

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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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ascendingSaturday, September 25, 2021

Psalm 119:54-55

Our Songs

Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Life brings many forms of darkness, night times when we feel as though we are apart and journeying to a half-known destination, places that remind us of once-sacred spaces that we can no longer can find. It is at these moments and in these places that we most often are uncertain and even afraid. It is in these places that we look for a security we once had and are no longer certain of how to find. But these dark pilgrimages are sacred opportunities to draw closer to God. These journeys of faith and hope are holy encounters with the in-dwelling Spirit. These passages are encounters with the eternal and universal Christ who loves us so dearly that he insists on searching for us even if we are the one lost when ninety-nine are found.

God says: The patriarchs lived in covenant with me through which we expressed our love for one another. The Hebrew nation made a tent in which I dwelt so that we might have an intimate union. The early followers of my son Jesus celebrated the Eucharist to create a sacred place and time that we might share. You also come to me in so many ways at so many times in so many places. The truth is this . . . that wherever you are, I am. Wherever I am, there is a possibility for peace. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, the impossible becomes possible. When you ascend to the holy temple within yourself, sing your own song of praise. When you think of my laws, consider how they free you rather than bind against you. For I have planted my hope in your heart. I have sown my fidelity in your mind and my courage in your soul. Allow my presence to break forth in joyful song as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of one another.


Spend some time comparing different versions of these verses at the scripture site above. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) and allow the ancient verses to resonate within. Share your gratitude through acts of kindness and justice.  And sing out joy and praise to God who never leaves our side.

To learn more about Songs of Ascent, visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/655450/jewish/What-is-a-Song-of-Ascents.htm 

For a meditation with Psalm 130, click on the image above or go to: http://jdittes.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-watchmen-wait-for-morning.html

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