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Posts Tagged ‘grace’


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 25, 2023

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.

Tomorrow, John the Baptist.


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

Image from: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/15.html

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James 1-4: A Prayer to Resolve Turmoil

Wednesday, October 19, 2022peace-key-703x201

No matter the constraint, no matter the barriers to resolution, there is always a path to find peace when we live in Christ, James tells us. We have seen, in the last few days as we have spent time with the opening chapters of James’ letter, the steps for resolution are not complicated when we live in the Spirit. We see today when we reflect on all that James has shared with us, there is always a way forward with God. And so we pray.

Faith and works together will bring us wisdom . . . good and gracious God, bring us your wisdom. Remind us to rely on what we learn from you rather than our intelligence.

Good works bear good fruit . . . generous and faithful God, bring us your grace. Remind us that apples do not grow on vines and berries do not grow on trees.

Wars and quarrels are of our own making and not God’s . . . peaceful and sustaining God, bring us your serenity. Remind us that with you all things are possible.

God’s love is persistent, patient, strong and at the same time gentle . . . loving and courageous God, bring us your meekness. Remind us that humility can achieve more than all earthly power, fame and glory.

No matter the problem, there is always a solution . . . life-giving and eternal God, bring us your fortitude. Remind us that your love for us will never die.

Amen.


For reflections on how to find peace in today’s world, click on the image above or visit: http://www.peacepoint.com/find-peace

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Genesis 1:9-31: The Mystery of IncarnationNativity_450x259

Monday, June 13, 2015

Richard Rohr, OFM in his June 5, 2015 tells us: “If incarnation is the big thing, then Christmas is bigger than Easter (which it actually is in most Western Christian countries). If God became a human being, then it’s good to be human and incarnation is already redemption. Francis and the Franciscans were the first to popularize Christmas. For the first 1,000 years of the church, there was greater celebration and emphasis on Easter. For Francis, if the Incarnation was true, then Easter took care of itself. Resurrection is simply incarnation coming to its logical conclusion: we are returning to our original union with God. If God is already in everything, then everything is unto glory! Much of the early church did not have trouble with what many would now call universal salvation (apocatastasis, as in Acts 3:21). We are all saved by infinite love and mercy anyway. ‘God alone is good’ (Mark 10:18), so there’s no point in distinguishing degrees of worthiness. Everything in creation merely participates in God’s infinite goodness, and our job is to trust and allow that as much as possible.

“As Matthew Fox said, we made a terrible mistake by starting with ‘original sin’ (a phrase not in the Bible); we absolutely must begin with original blessing. ‘God created it, and it was good’ is stated six times in a row in our Creation story (Genesis 1:9-31), ending with ‘indeed it was very good!’ But, up to the present time, most of Christianity concentrated on what went wrong with our original goodness . . .

“The Franciscan starting point is not sin; our starting point is Divine Incarnation itself. So our ending point is inevitable and predictable: resurrection. God will lead all things to their glorious conclusion, despite the crucifixions in between. Jesus is the standing icon of the entire spiritual journey from start to finish: divine conception, ordinary life, moments of enlightenment (such as his baptism, Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ transfiguration), works of love and healing, rejection, death, resurrection, and ascension. That is not just Jesus; it is true for all of us.”

Richard Rohr, OFM, Adapted from an unpublished talk and posted on June 5, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Christ is present in all of creation. Christ is present in each of us. This is the mystery of incarnation. We know that God creates the universe and the microverse out of great love and deep compassion. We know that Christ comes to walk among us as salvation and redemption. We know that the Spirit abides with us to console and heal. This we know and yet it is mystery when we wonder . . . how is it that God loves us this deeply and this well? And how is it that we fail to trust this great love?

To read a commentary about the mystery of the incarnation, click on the image above or visit: http://www.catholica.com.au/ianstake/023_it_print.php 

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Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part IV

We have looked at how the conquerors become the conquered and we have considered that through the lens of Christ we see God’s wrath as God’s love. We have also considered what we believe we see through this accounting. Today we continue to explore Jeremiah’s prophecy as we discover and affirm what it is we believe. Do we lose heart as we focus only on the horrors and terrors of war, or are we open to loving our enemies into goodness as Jesus asks?

We believe that our consoling and loving God wants complete restoration for the faithful and calls to us to join God in the days when the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well . . . [when] mourning will be turned into joy . . . [when the Lord will] console and gladden them after their sorrows.

We believe that despite what we see and hear in the news about our world, despite the tragedies that unfold daily in war zones around the planet, we are offered a life in which war wages no more, when never again shall the city be rooted up or thrown down. 

We believe that we are to act in our hope of the fulfillment of these prophecies of Jeremiah, the promises of our God, of Yahweh for a new covenant has replaced the Law . . . and it now written in our hearts. 

We believe that we are to act in the faith and knowledge that Yahweh is our God . . . and we are God’s people . . . and all, from the greatest to the least, now knows the Lord.

We believe that we are to act in love because we are forgiven . . . our sin remembered no more.

We believe that we are the New Jerusalem for we are delivered . . . from all the places to which we have been banished . . . we have been brought back from exile.

We believe that rather than look at the ruin around us we must focus on the promise of fulfillment and restoration for we are the light, we are the hope, we are The Way.

Let us give thanks to the Lord for this new opportunity to begin new life with softened hearts. Let us give thanks for the many Blessings and Graces God bestows on each of us in this time of renewal and resurrection.

Tomorrow, deliverance.


For Bible commentary, click on the image or visit: https://explainingthebook.com/2017/04/30/jeremiah-52-summary/

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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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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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Tuesday, March 1, 2022evergreen in snow

Psalm 147:12-20

Praise

Tomorrow we begin the season of Lent, a time when the earth shifts moods with the changing seasons. In the northern hemisphere the promise of spring and the Easter Passion hover amid the snow-covered trees while all of creation anticipates new burgeoning and promise. In the southern hemisphere autumn prepares us for winter as we gather harvests, snug in and burrow down, resting in the nurturing strength of the covenant promise. No matter our mood or circumstance, Lent offers us an opportunity to renew, re-touch, and re-encounter the risen Christ. Lent gives us a way to examine and re-define. Lent brings us a fresh wind and a new heart. Today we pray with Psalm 147 as we prepare for Lent, and look forward to the fulfillment of the Good News.

Glorify the Lord and offer praise to your God . . .

Today we give thanks for both our blessings and obstacles, realizing that grace arrives with our sufferings as well as our joys.

Who has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within you . . . ?

Today we give thanks for our progeny and our future, looking forward to the events that bring us into union with God.

Who has brought peace to your borders, and filled you with finest wheat . . . ?

Today we give thanks for all the harvests in our lives, for the opportunity to both give and receive God’s plenty that graces the earth.

The Lord sends a command to earth; God’s word runs swiftly! Snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash, hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze. Again the Lord sends God’s word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow . . .

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

And so, we pray,

Today we give thanks for all that we receive, knowing that we are asked to share these gifts from the Lord. Today we give thanks for all that we experience, knowing that we are called to love one another. Today we give thanks for all that is to come, knowing that The Lord has peace and joy in great store for us. Today, with all of creation, we give thanks and praise to God. Amen.

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.


For everyday words of encouragement, click on the evergreen tree above or visit: http://everydayencouragement.org/2014/02/23/god-bends-down-to-hear-your-prayers/

For more beautiful images from National Geographic, click on the image of the night sky in Patagonia, or visit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/tree-stars-patagonia/

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Saturday, February 12, 2022stumblingbnr

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Loving our Stumbling Blocks

As we study our stumbling blocks we hear the call to be prophets in the Messianic Age. We are asked to call others to kingdom work just as we have been called.

Once we spend time with our stumbling blocks we begin to understand the important role they play in our lives, the vital function they perform. We are asked to demonstrate our comprehension by willingly taking on our responsibility as Sentinel People. We are asked to call out to others the message of the Word Among Us.

Rather than walk around or away from our stumbling blocks we freely and even cheerfully go in search of a ladder that will allow us to climb atop our obstacle. We see the world and ourselves from a different angle, perhaps an angle that God the Creator might use. We are asked to bring this gift of insight to our Kingdom building.

Once we begin to act in and through Christ we receive abundant grace, courage, fortitude, and mercy. Love grows out of our suffering. Sudden and inexplicable joy takes hold and in a moment of irreversible transformation we move into the life God has planned for us since our inception.

And once we have run the arc from grief to joy, we give thanks for the great suffering we have endured.

As Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. points out in his February 10, 2015 Meditation, it is not so much that we are so chosen or so suddenly more greatly loved by God in our moment of fear and turmoil; rather, it is that we have listened, waited, and pruned ourselves for the reception of this enormous and endless love. As we consider the grace and peace and blessing of the Stumbling Block, let us give thanks to the one who abides, and heals and loves.


Richard Rohr: Adapted fromThe Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament, pp. 1-5 (published by Franciscan Media); and Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download

Image from: http://www.lebtahor.com/StumblingBlocks/stumblingblocks.htm

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

psalm 32Psalm 32

Time of Need

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.

I groaned all the day long for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.

Indeed my strength was dried up by the summer’s heat.

We do not know but we can imagine that the prophet Jeremiah prayed the psalms from his prison cell or from the bottom of the miry cistern. Chains alone did not stop him from speaking. Scorn and mockery could not hold back the words he knew he must deliver and the actions he knew he must take. If he intoned Psalm 32 it may have been bitterly for he could not put an end to his punishment by acknowledging his sin or by recanting an evil act; or it may have been joyfully for he also knew that God was his only place of safety. Jeremiah, the innocent, bemoaned his reality as he suffered at the hands of corrupt and unjust leaders; but Jeremiah, the prophet, understood the message of hope in this prayer.

So let every good man pray to you in the time of need.

The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach.

You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress.

You surround me with cries of deliverance.

In our moment of stress, God replies through the voice of the psalmist.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

In our time of need, God speaks to us today.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult all you upright of heart.

When the weight of the world is too much to balance, let us give our burden of despair to God, and be glad in the hope, and grace and love of the Lord.


Visit the Overwhelmed By Grace post on this blog by entering the words in the search bar.

Image from: http://loopyloo305.com/2012/12/16/psalm-32/

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