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Posts Tagged ‘God’s promises’


Easter Saturday, April 18, 2020Double-Rainbow-3[1]Genesis 9: The Example of Noah

Like so many stories in scripture, the tale of Noah is so familiar to us that we might easily pass over verses through which God speaks to us.  Once again we are shown a figure around whom an entire saga unfolds who is at once faithful and flawed.  There is always something to learn about ourselves as we read about others.

Into your power they are delivered . . . I give them all to you. 

God is so generous with the gifts God creates for us – the planet and all that is on it – that we too easily take God’s bigheartedness for granted.  God is generous so that we might learn to be generous as well.

I will demand an accounting . . .

Although God is lavish beyond imagining with the millions of species of animals and plants scattered about the earth, we must remember that there will be a reckoning.  Each feather on each sparrow is precious – just as we are precious.

I am establishing my covenant with you . . .

God is constantly seeking union and reunion with us.  God promises to protect and keep us.  To guide and rescue us.  For our part, we are asked to follow and abide.  It ought to be easy to find serenity within the embrace of this gentle yet strong God . . . and yet we resist.

This is the sign I give you  . . .

God is constantly working wonders in our lives in small and tremendous ways.  God persists with the signs we request, knowing that we will be too scattered, too anxious, too angry, too bored, too self-obsessed to see them.  God invites us to put away our yearning for these portents and to accept the gift of eternal life so willingly and eagerly given.

I set my bow in the heavens . . .

From childhood we are taught the greater meaning of the beautifully arching colors created by the prism of droplets in the air.  Science explains the mechanics of the arc but our hearts linger with the deeper significance in the phenomenon.

When he drank some of the wine he became drunk . . .

God continues to give us examples of imperfect humans so that we might bring our own imperfections forward to lay in sacrifice on the altar of our lives.  God does not ask for perfection in us – God knows us so well.  God asks that we persevere.  God asks that we trust.  God asks that we love.

This familiar childhood story deserves more time than we usually give to it.  Let us take that time today to look beyond our little horizon to see God as magnanimous protector, God as ardent lover, God as careful promise, God as loyal friend, and God as eternal truth.  It is this perfect God who calls our imperfection home.  It is this vigilant God who heals our aching flaws.  It is this tender and devoted God who creates for us the wonders of the planet . . . and allows her creatures the marvelous freedom to choose to return to the covenant.

In this Eastertide when we experience the full force of God’s promise to each of us, let us think about returning our own imperfections to God, and let us examine the example of Noah.


Image from: http://allwallsinfo.com/double-rainbow/

A re-post from April 18, 2013. 

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Third Sunday of Lent, March 15, 2020

Luke 23:6-16: Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We are so eager to know Christ; we bring our small and big worries to his feet.  We have heard so much about him.  We are hoping that he will cure our woes and still our anxiety.  We have some specific tasks for him to complete for us; we hold a short but good list of wrongs for him to right.

Herod questioned Jesus at length . . .

But Jesus gave him no answer . . .

Herod treated Jesus contemptuously and mocked him . . .

Herod and the guards clothed Jesus in resplendent garb and sent him back to Pilate . . .

We have a lot of questions for Jesus and we present our daily list of petitions faithfully; but – strangely – it seems that Jesus is not listening.  There are no answered requests for us to tick off our list.  We feel disappointed and even let down.  We wonder if the naysayers are correct . . . perhaps there is no resurrection.  Perhaps we believe in folly.

Herod decides to have Jesus flogged and released.  Pilate washes his hands of the man. 

We have passed the half-way mark in our Lenten journey and so we take an accounting.  We have given alms.  We have fasted.  We have attended morning and evening prayer.  We have participated in the sacrament of reconciliation.  We have checked off our chores like small children pleasing our parents and still our little lists of favors, pleas and signs appear to be left unanswered.  We wonder if Jesus is listening and we continue to look for a sign.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We arise each morning to fresh water, food and clothing for the day, transportation, information, friendships.  We travel through the day experiencing little miracles all along the way, little signs of God’s love.  And we somehow miss them.

Evening falls and we count our accomplishments and disappointments.  We enter them into a mental balance sheet and come up with a balance.  We take credit for all that goes well and we assign blame to ourselves or others for all that seems to fail.  And we again miss the miracle that we have wandered through another day in the company of a God who loves us so much that we are never left alone for an instant.

Herod sits and speaks with Jesus and does not understand the miracle of the gift of God’s love.  We too might speak with Jesus each day and open ourselves to the wonder of God’s care.

Herod looks for a momentous sign so that he might have full confidence in Jesus’ power to save and while he is scanning his surroundings he looks past the obvious sign that sits before him . . . the embodiment of God’s protection and promise in the person of Jesus.  We too might look past the obvious today . . . or we might choose to believe.

Herod wants a sign that he already has.  Let us take each small miracle as it comes to us.  And let us remember that the sign of God’s love is always with us.  Jesus never leaves our side.


Image from: http://www.kunst-fuer-alle.de/english/fine-art/artist/image/andrea-schiavone/8293/4/111915/christ-before-herod/index.htm

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Deuteronomy 4: Proofs

Teach them to your children, and to your children’s children . . .

Evidence%20Based%20Practice[1]Each time I read from the books of the law, the Torah, I again understand how difficult it was for Jewish leaders to take hold of and believe the words that Jesus spoke to them about the merciful love of God.  I also understand how difficult it was for these followers of the Mosaic Code to believe that anyone but God who lived in the temple and out of reach of the ordinary human could forgive sin.  These ideas were revolutionary for them, even blasphemous; yet, the man who delivered them was not only able to restore health, he was also able to calm the elements of nature.

What we read today tells us of a God who is faithful, a God who has shown his constancy, a God who continued to reveal himself to his people despite their errant ways.

Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it heard of? 

Yahweh rescued his people, he brought them out of slavery, he nourished them and taught them who they were, how they were to be, and what their potential was.  Jesus arrived to walk the earth as God among his people.  Jesus fulfilled prophecy.  Jesus compressed the hundreds of Torah laws into one . . . the Law of Freedom, the Law of Love.  Nothing like this had ever been heard of.  Nothing like this has ever been heard of.

You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.

The focus in this reading is on the dichotomy between believing in God and believing in idols.  One of the rewards for following Yahweh is the gift of physical territory which God grants to his chosen people.  Other rewards are his fidelity to us, and his mercy when considering our actions.  These are all proofs of God’s love.  Further proofs of God’s goodness are that once Jesus is resurrected and returns to God, The Holy Spirit settles upon us to abide with us and to dwell in us, God’s people.  This is God’s promise and as we hear in today’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT: God is true: he has a long memory for his own promises and a short memory for our failures to keep ours.  In the gift of his promised Spirit, we find our daily joy.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us the Morning Prayer: Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love never shall leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.  (54:10)  

We look for assurances and guarantees; we sign contracts and agreements that we trust more than we trust God’s love for us.  He has given us proofs . . . and this is the story that we must pass down to our children and our children’s children . . . so that it may live with us and in us . . . beyond the end of time.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 May 2010:265. Print.

Image from: http://www.caresearch.com.au/caresearch/tabid/1590/Default.aspx

Written on May 19, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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2 Maccabees 9: Giving Up & Giving In

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

We might eliminate a good deal of treachery and betrayal from our lives if we first find a way of doing all things through, and for, and with God alone . . . for God alone guarantees an honorable path for living.  God alone assures us a life spent in eternal serenity.  God alone makes promises that are fully and truly kept. 

These are the closing words from Saturday’s Noontime when we reflected on Chapter 8 of 2 Maccabees.  Today we look at The Punishment and Death of Antiochus: the stories of Antiochus’ illness and death.  Verses 8 – 11: Thus, he who previously, in his superhuman presumption, thought he could command the waves of the sea, and imagined he could weigh the mountaintops in his scales, was now thrown to the ground and had to be carried on a litter, clearly manifesting to all the power of God . . . Shortly before, he had thought that he could reach the stars of heaven, and now, no one could endure to transport the man because of his intolerable stench.  At last, broken in spirit, he began to give up his excessive arrogance, and to gain some understanding, under the scourge of God, for he was racked with pain unceasingly. 

After suffering the torment of his pain, he capitulates to the will of God.  He vows to restore all that he has ruined, and even vows that he will convert to Judaism.  This is a story of a fearsome ruler who surrenders to an even more fearsome Old Testament Yahweh, a God who is relentless in delivering justice.   The story ends sadly, with Yahweh apparently deaf to this sinner’s petitions for mercy.  So this murderer and blasphemer, after extreme sufferings, such as he had inflicted on others, died a miserable death in the mountains of a foreign land. 

We have no way on knowing how this man is ultimately judged by his maker.  In the context of the times he was seen as one who sinned so greatly that he became a lost soul, succumbing to the temptation of sin.  This is a man who would have done well by listening to the words of Psalm 36: Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of the heart.  There is no fear of God before his eyes.  He so flatters himself in his mind that he knows not his guilt.  In his mouth are mischief and deceit.  All wisdom is gone.  He plots the defeat of goodness as he lies on his bed.  He has set his foot on evil ways, he clings to what is evil. 

The psalmist does not try to solve the riddle of evil into which souls enter when they begin to love lies and deception; nor may we for these are the inscrutable ways of Yahweh.  Instead, we might look at this man and ourselves with New Testament eyes, and we might continue with Psalm 36 as we sing to God: To both man and beast you give protection.  O Lord, how precious is your love.  My God, the sons of men find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  They feast on the riches of your house; they drink from the stream of your delight.  In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.

Superhuman presumption, excessive arrogance . . . a broken spirit, a believer in love.  Nicanor and Antiochus . . . Paul and Abraham.  Those who trust only power and self . . . those who trust only God.

Even if – and perhaps especially when – the path directly before us is shrouded in mystery, we are given a clear direction by the source of all life itself so that we might orient our journey.  When we suffer from a broken spirit, we will want to see this sorrow as what it is . . . a giving up of presumption and arrogance . . . and a giving in to goodness and light.


For an interesting post about journeying, click on the image above or go to: http://journeyintomidlife.com/contact.htm

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Romans 4:18-21: Being Prepared

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Last week-end when I was returning home after several days packed with more activity than reflection, I turned on the radio and the words of a sermon saluted me in the dark.  The voice spoke through the car speakers saying: Life is not about knowing and understanding what we are doing next, it is about being prepared.  The homilist then developed his theme by reminding his radio flock of the number of times that God leads people into greatness . . . without their full comprehension of how or when this plan God speaks of will unfold.  The radio voice then told a series of stories and it pointed out that this string of figures from scripture hold something in common: the protagonists are all prepared to receive the word . . . and to follow it in faith . . . hoping against hope . . . obeying, trusting  and loving God.

As I made my way home through the warm, falling darkness, the headlamps of my car were only lighting the winding way a hundred yards or so before me.  The night was creeping up behind and snugging in beside me; the light before me was fading fast.  And even though I was traveling a well-memorized route, I really had no idea of what lay ahead of me in the darkness the headlights did not pierce.  But the voice on the radio and the night beyond the car’s head beams drew me on.  The homilist reminded listeners that when God invites us to move to a new place he does not divulge the entire plan – this plan is too complex in the first place and knowledge of its entirety is not necessary in the second.  It is enough that we follow and enact God’s will as best we can.  That is all that is required of us.  God knows our strengths and weaknesses.  He did, after all, create us.

This always happens to me when I tell God that I think he has chosen an improper servant to do his work after he has sent me into the fray of life and I feel that I have come up short of God’s and my own expectations.  Without fail when I am feeling this way, I receive a clear signal that God well knows what he is doing . . . and that I must doubt God and myself less . . . and trust in God and myself more.  He delivered the message again on that beautiful dark night last week-end, and here he delivers it again through St. Paul in this recounting of Abraham and Sarah’s leap of faith.

I must devote myself to being more prepared in this life.  I must remember that with God all things are possible . . . and I must be prepared to answer God’s call, being fully aware that whatever God has promised he is able to perform.


Image from: http://www.turnbacktogod.com/pray-for-gods-servants/

Written on September 27, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 138:8: God’s Promise

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Psalm 138:8The Lord will make good his purpose to me; O Lord, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands. 

God always keeps God’s promises.

God says: In the flutter and clutter of living, it is easy to become distracted by the necessities of getting through a day.  I see how easy it is to become wrapped into the details and to forget your purpose.  I am with you to carry you through those times when you cannot possibly keep track of the minutiae.  You are special to me.  You will never be without me.  I will never let you drift alone.  I will always be with you.  You are a glorious gift, the work of my hands.  You will endure forever in my love when you come to me.

May God’s promises bloom into miracles for you.

Spend some time with the Falling Down the Well page on this blog and consider how God has kept promises and formed miracles in your own life. https://thenoontimes.com/falling-down-the-well/


A re-post from July 7, 2012.

Image from: http://alookintomymind.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/gods-promises/

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Psalm 119: God Carries My Burden

Friday, July 5, 2019

Psalm 119:25, 37, 40, 50, 93, 145, 154 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.  How I long for your precepts!  Preserve my life in your righteousness.  My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life.  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.  I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes.  Defend my life and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promises. 

This psalm is the longest in this longest of Books in the Bible.  It is an ‘alphabetical’ psalm in that the first 8 verses of each strophe begin with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and each verse (except for verse 122) contains one of the terms of the Law or Teachings or Statutes in which Jesus was raised.  This psalm, along with many others, and the Books of the Torah, Wisdom and Prophets, were Jesus’ school house.  The revelation handed down through the millennia to guide humankind still serves us today.  When we see the word life in this psalm, we understand it to refer to the concept of life in its fullest sense: happiness, security, and liberation from all that oppresses us.

God says: I know that sometimes you are so burdened you cannot think.  You have so much to do that there is no time.  You are so tired that you cannot sleep.  Yet . . . I abide with you still . . . even though you do not see me . . . even though you may not feel my presence . . . still, I am with you, as I am always with you . . . even until the end of time.  If all you can do is pray this verse today, that is enough: “I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes”.  I am answering you each time you call.  Listen, for I am near. 

All of God’s promises are renewed.  All of God’s promises are kept.  May you know the love and peace of Christ.

Explore the reflection on the God Time page of this blog: https://thenoontimes.com/god-time/


A re-post from June 21, 2012.

Image of detail from a mural by Diego Rivera from: http://domania.us/SwordSisters/Inspirations5/Burden.html

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Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Acts 13:44-52Address to the Gentiles

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Yesterday we reflected on Paul’s Summary story of God’s constancy in his love for his people.    God keeps his promises.  God has good things in mind for his creation.  God loves us more than we can imagine.

We first spent time with this portion of Acts on May 29, 2008 and we revisit that reflection today as a Favorite . . .

Because many of those Paul addressed in the synagogue refused to hear the story of Jesus, Paul took his message to the gentile nations.  Many have ears but do not hear, eyes but do not see.  I am thinking about how we humans form community . . . and how we also create obstacles to the formation of community.  We conjure up sides, form alliances, close ranks and lock steps to keep out those who do not comply.  We have the choice in this life to follow Mean Girl Queens and Playground Bullies which ultimately means that we must succumb to threats and insinuations.  We also have the option to stand on Gospel Values . . . which means that we must work to become constant disciples of Jesus.  And it also means that we must put down our old familiar weapons of separation to take up the arms of unity and peace.

The prophecy of Daniel and the story of Esther are worth remembering because they are where we learn that . . . the faithful need not fight, they only need to refuse to comply with anything which causes them to abandon their God.  This is the same message that Jesus brings to us; this is how the kingdom becomes universal.  This is how the Spirit abides and how the Gospel message spreads – through conflict resolved, through obstacles overcome, through pain endured, through reparations made and forgiveness granted.  Where do we go for solace and comfort when we must squeeze ourselves through these Narrow Gate ExperiencesHow do we mature spiritually?  How do we find and maintain the serenity we say we seek? Paul tells this in Pisidia who will hear him, and he tells us today . . .

When we suffer for Christ, we know that we have been chosen . . . we also know that we are loved.

When we live in the Spirit, we know that we live in God . . . and we also know that we live in love.

When we call on God, we know that we are heard . . . and we also know that we are rescued.

I am looking at the morning prayers and petitions from MAGNIFICAT.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him; he is their mighty shield and strong support, a shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun, a guard against stumbling, a help against falling.  (Sirach 34:16)

You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress; shelter from the rain, shade from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4)

With confidence in the God who hears our prayers and protects us, let us pray:  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You shield us from harm: teach us to protect goodness in ourselves and in others.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You guard us against stumbling and help us against falling: strengthen our reliance on you in every temptation.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You are the shelter of all those who are in need: make us a shelter to all who call upon our help. To our words give ear, O Lord.

O God of glory, you are our shelter against the burning heat of the day and the storms of life.  Help us when we stumble, catch us when we fall, and guide our steps firmly in faith toward the promise of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


A re-post from January 8, 2012.

Images from: http://www.davincisartandcoffee.com/Metal/cross/Heart/default.asp and http://northwaystudents.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/wide-gate-vs-narrow-gate/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.5 (2008): 392-393. Print.  

For a reflection on the Book of Daniel on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/daniel-god-calls-the-faithful-and-faithless/

For thoughts on Esther see: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

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