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Posts Tagged ‘goodness’


Tobit 4:5-7: Through All Our Days

book-of-tobit1

Mattie Preti: Tobit Blesses Tobias

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tobit gives instruction to his son just as God gives instruction to us.

Tobit says: Through all your days, keep the Lord in mind.

God says: Through all your days, remain in me as I remain in you.

Tobit says: Do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments.

God says: Through all your days, practice kindness and mercy, charity and forgiveness, and forgive all as I forgive you.

Tobit says: Perform righteous deeds all the days of your life.

God says: Through all your days, witness, watch and wait, calling always on me.

Tobit says: Do not tread the paths of wickedness.

God says: Through all your days, persist in goodness and shun revenge.

Tobit says: Give alms from your possessions.

God says: Through all your days, care for the marginalized, for that is where you find me.

Tobit says: Do not turn your face away from any of the poor.

God says: Through all your days, look on me as I look on you with loving eyes, healing hands, and grateful heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we know how to move through all our days . . . whether they be filled with grief or joy.

To better understand the story of Tobit and Tobias, go to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/tobit/0 

 

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Matthew 9:1-8: Gossipy Whispering

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Too often when we come into contact with those among us who suffer physical or mental differences, we turn away in alarm or surprise. Or worse, we give in to the temptation to whisper about someone’s condition without realizing that our behavior is clearly visible. Our gossipy whispering is audible.

Jesus teaches us a difficult lesson today.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’?” 

We know that in ancient times – and still in some cultures today – afflictions are seen as divine punishment for sin. Jesus forgives with the authority given him by the Creator.

Jesus teaches us how to measure our compassion today.

“Get up. Take your bed and go home”.

In our hearts and minds we are grateful when we do not suffer, grateful when we walk in bounty. We also know that God’s grace blesses us with the gifts that make it possible for us to earn a living, to afford a roof, food and clothing. Although in many societies we believe that everyone is entitled to an equal opportunity, we also must know that not everyone is equally endowed.

Jesus teaches us how to heal today.

And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

In a world that is strangely topsy-turvy, we know that we are responsible for our response to God’s call more than we are responsible for our fame, wealth or power. Jesus calls us to put aside our gossipy whispering and invite those among us who are paralyzed in any way to join us. Jesus invites all to come together with whatever gifts we have to build the infinite and boundless kingdom.

Jesus teaches us about goodness today.

When we use the scripture link above and the drop-down menus to explore other translations of this story, we hear God’s call as healing and compassionate kingdom-builders.

To learn more about Jesus’ miracles, click on the image above or visit: http://iconsandimagery.blogspot.com/2012_10_01_archive.html  

Tomorrow, withering the fig tree. 

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John 2:1-12: “Do Whatever he tells You”

Friday, July 1, 2016

Jan Vermeyen: The Marriage Feast at Cana

Jan Vermeyen: The Marriage Feast at Cana

This brief but important story tells us a great deal about Jesus’ relationship with his mother and so it bears re-reading. When we begin to believe that we have lived beyond life’s rewards, we must remember the words of the wedding guest to the host: “You have kept the best wine until now!”

When we are too frightened or too confused to know what steps to next take when confronted by life, let us follow the advice of the Blessed Mother when she says . . . Do whatever he tells you . . . 

Let us be prepared to experience more goodness and joy than we can imagine.

To learn more about this painting, click on the image. To suggest other images we might enjoy seeing, enter the painter and the name of the work as a the comment to this post.

Over the next few weeks we will be away from easy internet access but we will be pausing to read scripture and to pray and reflect at noon, keeping those in The Noontime Circle in mid-day prayer. You may want to click on the Connecting at Noon page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/ Or you may want to follow a series of brief posts that begins today, inspired by paintings of the life of Jesus Christ  that can be found at: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_family.htm In these posts, we will have the opportunity to reflect on a scripture verse and an artist’s rendition of that event. Wishing you grace and love and peace in Christ Jesus.

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Micah 6: Path to Perfection

Thursday, June 16, 2016Micah6-8

Adapted from a Favorite written on June 16, 2009. Yesterday we considered false prophets and false leaders; today we reflect on who and what and how a true leader is and how her or his leadership impacts the world.

Is this coincidence that here I am on an SSND retreat and for the first time as a Noontime reflection this citation of Micah 6:8 appears?  I do not know.  These words that stand high on the cafeteria wall above the statue of the Blessed Mother regulate the small detains and the big events of our lives at NDP.  They are words that are important to anyone who believes that God is the creator of all good.  They are words to live by.

Micah speaks to those who turn their gaze away from social injustice and in this chapter we hear the Lord ask: My people, how have I offended you?  I who took you out of Egypt and slavery, I who gave to you as guides Moses, Aaron and Miriam, I who saved you from pagan nations, what have I done that you ignore me? 

Today’s Gospel is Matthew 5:43-48 and I am thinking about today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Alfred Delp, a priest condemned to death in Germany in 1945.  He wrote about the path to perfection which Micah foretells and which Jesus describes.  The essential requirement is that humanity must wake up to the truth about itself.  We must rouse our consciousness to our own worth and dignity, of the divine and human potentialities within ourselves, and at the same time we must master the undisciplined passions and forces which, in our name and by bemusing us with delight in our own ego, have made us what we are . . . Humans want to be happy and it is right that they should.  But by thinking only in terms of self we destroy ourselves for it is a limited concept and has no room for anything stronger than the human order.  Left entirely to themselves humans are unhappy and intrinsically insincere.  We need other people to give us a sense of completeness; we need the community.  We need the world and the duty of serving it.  We need eternity, or rather, we need the eternal, the infinite. 

The people to whom the prophet Micah spoke were not much different from us today in that these were people of means who sought to enjoy the gifts of life.  What they forgot – and what we may also forget if we do not remind ourselves – is this: We are made by God, in God’s image to bring our diverse expressions of God together into one body, the body of Christ.  When troubles assail us, as they always do and are meant to do, we might smile as we step into them, seeing them as opportunities to serve God rather than as obstacles to pleasure.  Life and its turmoil is our playground where we are given the chance to interact justly, wisely and humbly with God guiding and speaking to us constantly . . . telling us how to go and where to go.

This is the mystery we are offered.  It is the mystery we might share for eternity . . . if first we remember to respect good, to love with fidelity, and to obey humbly.  We are not asked to be perfect by God for this is an impossibility; but it is true that God asks us to seek perfection in our search of him, and in our desire to be God’s instrument.  In this way we do become perfect.  If this is our path, the humble, loving and wise path described by Micah, then we cannot misstep.  It is in this kind of journey that we find true, deep and ever-living happiness . . . through our perfect desire to be with and follow God . . . lovingly, justly, wisely, humbly.

Cameron, Peter John, ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.6 (20o9). Print.  

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Matthew 1: God’s Yardstick – Joseph

Chagrined But Noble

John Everett Millais: Christ in the House of His Parents - The Carpenter's Shop

John Everett Millais: Christ in the House of His Parents – The Carpenter’s Shop

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

The measure that Joseph presents to us might appear as an obstacle more than a help. We look more closely at the story of Jesus’ family.

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

The yardstick that Joseph presents rises from his relationship with God, and gives us ground in which we can also rise and flourish.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.”

The yardstick that Joseph offers is a generous and loving request for joy.

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream.

When Joseph is dismayed and disappointed he relies not on fear but on the gifts of decency, grace and goodness God has given to him. Joseph relies on the gift that all humanity possesses if we only care to open it . . . the gift of our own nobility.

Explore more of the Gospel of Matthew to learn more about Jesus’ earthly father, or visit: http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/p/josephprofile.htm

Tomorrow, John the Baptist.

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Daniel 13: God’s Yardstick – Susanna

When Goodness attracts Evil

Valentin de Boulogne: The Judgment of Daniel or the Innocence of Susanna

Valentin de Boulogne: The Judgment of Daniel or the Innocence of Susanna

Thursday, January 14, 2016

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.

Today’s Noontime is a beautiful but difficult story.  An innocent, virtuous woman is wrongly accused; and an innocent yet wise child reveals lust and deceit.  Goodness wins in the end; evil slithers away to return another day.

The idea that Susanna’s virtue is the reason for her trial is a frightening thought. Her parents took care, the story tells us, to bring her up in the ways of Yahweh. And this was what stirred the lascivious men.

What does Susanna do when accused?  To whom does she turn?  What does she say in her defense?

Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly . . . “Oh, eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: you know that they have testified falsely against me.  Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me”.  As the story continues, we see that the evil elders – whom the people had trusted – are done in by their own web of lies.  The story unfolds as the child Daniel cries out: Now have your past sins come to term: passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty” . . . The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those that hope in him.  They rose up against the two elders, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury. 

UK Parliament - John Rogers Herbert: The Judgment of Daniel

UK Parliament – John Rogers Herbert: The Judgment of Daniel

The end of this story is immediately satisfying.  Unfortunately for us, situations like these in our own lives may endure many days or months or years before the lies against us are revealed; yet revealed they will be for God’s goodness and truth always overcome darkness.  The measuring stick that Susanna uses, and that we must use, is to follow Yahweh, the creator who molds us from star dust for the purpose of love alone.

Our task, as followers of Christ, is to faithfully and persistently petition God, to fall back into the comfort of the Holy Spirit, to model ourselves after Jesus, and to continue to hope in the covenant promise that we are eternally forgiven and saved.  We might remind ourselves of the gifts we receive when we use God’s yardstick at the troubling times in our lives. The message of Daniel is clear:  When goodness attracts evil – as it surely will – the faithful need not fight; they need only rely on God . . . and never allow themselves to be separated in any way from their God who measures life in so loving a way. And so we pray . . .

The gift of persistence calls us to rely on the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of faith asks us to place our petitions in God’s hands.

The gift of hope in the person of Jesus shows us how to offer love on behalf of our enemies.

The gift of life itself asks us to allow goodness and truth to conquer lust, lies and deceit. Amen.

A favorite from Saturday, November 21, 2009.

Enter the name Susanna in the blog search bar for more reflections about this woman.

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James 3:13-4:10: Envy

Friday, November 13, 2015envy

“Within this call to conversion, James develops the theme of envy as exemplifying the measure of the world . . . Why is envy so singled out? Because its underlying assumption is that your gain is my loss. This is the opposite of the Spirit of the community, where all gain by anyone’s growth and all rejoice in anyone’s good fortune. Envy causes me to sorrow when another has something I lack. And when life is measured simply in terms of what I possess – ‘I am what I have’ – then for another to have and me to lack is intolerable. Envy drives the acquisitive instinct . . . the step is a short one to conflict, war, and murder, not only between individuals but also between nations . . . It is remarkable that this passage, which alone in the New Testament analyzes the causes of human conflict, should play so little role in moral discussions of war and peace”. (RG 551-552)

God says: James is correct when he tells you that envy is often at the root of your violence and anger. He is also correct when he points out that life in the Spirit means that you feel joy when one of you rejoices and sadness when one of you is in pain. Your friendship with me brings much than consolation; it brings you the ability to see the world as I see it, full of potential for goodness. I resist those who are full of pride in themselves and I nurture those who look for life in me. When you agree to live in The Way you will no longer be envious of others and you will celebrate when any one of you does well because you will understand that all good things come from me. When you are envious of others I am saddened, for your envy tells me that you do not understand my generosity. When you make war against one another I grieve,  for I can see that you do not understand my love. James is bringing my message to you . . . take time with it today.

Enter the word envy into the blog search bar and explore.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 551-552. Print.

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James 5:19-20: Harvest of Hope

Monday, November 2, 2015HarvestLogo

My dear friends . . .

What are we to make of James’ letter to us? How does he frame his closing remarks?

If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth . . .

And surely we must know someone who is broken or abandoned. And just as surely we will know someone who is full of pride and over-confident.

Don’t write them off . . .

thorn heart bibleThis may be difficult. James has asked us to find a way to communicate with those whose anxiety or pride have put them out of our reach; yet James admonishes us.

Go after them . . .

We have no excuses. James wants to see our faith played out in our works.

Get them back . . .

James wants to see us as wounded healers, as a light in the darkness, as salt for the earth.

And you will have rescued precious lives from destruction . . .

James urges us to bring hope to and out of those who despair and those who shun God.

And you will have prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God . . .

James urges us to look for God’s image in others. He asks that we continue to commit our work and our prayer to God as we struggle to unlock the goodness waiting to rise from so many wounded souls. He asks us to participate fully in God’s outrageous and daring harvest of hope.

Tomorrow, a prayer for harvesting hope.

Use the scripture link to find other versions of these verses from THE MESSAGE. 

 

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James 3:3-7: Apples and Berries

Thursday, October 15, 2015red-apples-on-tree-11294511627z6e

My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?

James continues to be clear about his meaning . . . with Jesus, pretense is impossible. God sees and understands all. Apples grow on trees. Strawberries grow on vines. We cannot pretend otherwise.

In the Spirit, fruit is borne from the work of the one who seeks union with God, God who makes the impossible possible. When we live in union with God we refrain from gossip and slander, and we also witness to this message by calling others to goodness. Apples grow on trees. Strawberries grow on vines. We cannot pretend otherwise.

Matthew reminds us that: It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. (Matthew 12:34) Apples grow on trees. Strawberries grow on vines. We cannot pretend otherwise.

strawberriesPaul tells the Philippians and us: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:8). Apples grow on trees. Strawberries grow on vines. We cannot pretend otherwise.

Tomorrow, living well.

Use the scripture links to explore varying versions of these verses and reflect on the choice before us to praise or to curse.

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