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Posts Tagged ‘Herod’


Matthew 2:1-12Leaving by Another Road – A Reprise

Epiphany Sunday, January 7, 2018

Edward Burne-Jones: The Adoration of the Magi

With Christmastide ended, we find ourselves observing the official feast of Epiphany. What significance does this feast hold for us? To further explore, we return to a Noontime reflection on the wisdom of the Magi. We reflect on the wisdom they reveal, the wisdom of patience, willingness, and  openness . . . as they listen to God’s voice that speaks within. 

I love this portion of the Christmas story.  The wise men are so wise that they are able to read Herod’s secret intent.  Nothing can be hidden from the wise because they are so connected to the creator that they seem to have special insight.  What they really have is patience, serenity, and a finely tuned ear for God’s word.  And so the wise men left for their own country by another road.

I am thinking about the number of times I have averted disaster because that calm, strong voice within indicated that I was to stay put.  We notice that an attitude of patience and a willingness to obey always accompany the wise.  They do not appear to be brash or excitable.  They do not speak harshly, nor are they silenced.  Like the Persistent Widow, they know when to persevere in speaking God’s word.  And like the Three Magi, they know when to stand down and melt away into God’s protecting presence.

The wise know when to stand and witness . . . and when to leave quietly by another road.

A reflection from June 7, 2011.

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Matthew 2:1-12: Do Not Fear – Part XIV

Sunday, January 8, 2017

tissot-the-magi-in-the-house-of-herod-719x596x721

James Tissot: The Magi in the House of Herod

Matthew describes divergent reactions to the news that a new king has come to Judea. Scholars from the east spend time and finances looking for this new leader. King Herod and the city of Jerusalem show us a different response. What is our own reaction to this news?

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

In the Day by Day meditation presented in today’s MAGNIFICAT, Fr. Alfred Delp has more words for us about the magi. They are the men with clear eyes that probe things to their very depths. They have a real hunger and thirst for knowledge. And we might ask . . . what is our own hunger? After what do we thirst?

Delp’s words mean more to us when we remember that he died in a Nazi concentration camp: I know what that means now. They are capable of arriving at right decisions. They subordinate their lives to the end in view and they willingly journey to the ends of the earth in quest of knowledge, following a star, a sign, obeying an inner voice that would never have made itself heard but for the hunger and the intense alertness that hunger produces. And we might ask ourselves . . . are we willing to subordinate our lives to such a quest? Are we willing to give up the familiarity of our fears to follow the star, the sign that Christ wants to move and act in us? Do we genuinely welcome the newness of the Christ child? Are we willing to accept this gift of Epiphany, this revelation, this surprise?

More from Delp: What are we looking for anyway? And where will we find genuine yearning so strong that neither fatigue, nor distance, nor fear of the unknown, nor loneliness, nor ridicule will deter us? And we might ask . . . are we willing to take on these questions each day as we rise, each Noontime as we pause, and each evening as we retire?

Herod responds to this mystery of knowledge, redemption and love with his familiar fears. He flies into a rage and lashes out at this child who represents something new. The magi, on the other hand, tell us how to take in the gift of this child who grows to be a man willing to sacrifice all in order to save us.

bhreligion-science-and-the-journey-of-the-magiThey rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

As we close this Christmastide, we reflect on our willingness to give our fears to the Christ who is able to turn harm into good. As we carry this season of joy into the new year, we consider our openness to the journey of life in Christ, the quest for a food that satisfies for eternity. And we consider our persistence in the pursuit of the star that will lead us to Christ and his surprising offer of eternal peace. This is an Epiphany worth celebrating.

For a homily on spirituality versus religion, and today’s feast as a journey of seeking – our quest for God, and God’s relentless quest for our hearts, click on the image of the Magi and the Holy Family. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Day by Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 8.1 (2017): 115-116. Print.  

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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part III

Saturday, November 12, 2016

James Tissot: The return of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Return of the Prisoners

We consider the marvels God has done for the faithful in ancient days, and we consider the response of the faithful.

The people who had returned from exile celebrated.

We recall the marvels God has done for our own ancestors, and we recall their celebration of God’s fidelity.

With great joy they celebrated.

We remember the presence of God in our lives, the miracles God has wrought in us, and we remember our celebration of God’s presence in our own days and nights.

For seven days they joyfully celebrated.

We hope for the presence of God in the lives of our children and grandchildren, and we hope that our children celebrate in joy for this presence.

The Lord had made them joyful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did the people of old.

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

They were full of joy.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did our ancestors.

And they kept the feast.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice when we pass on this tradition of joy as we also keep the feast.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare translations of these verses, we find that we have great cause to rejoice.

For more on Herod’s reconstruction work, click on the image of the rebuilt temple, or visit: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/second-temple/ 

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140620_refugeegraphicrevisedMonday, October 6, 2014

Jeremiah 44

Scattered Refugees

Only scattered refugees will return.

Through Jeremiah, Yahweh tells the people once again that their journey to Egypt has been futile. In seeking an alliance with Pharoah Hophra, Zedekiah and his followers have not found refuge; rather, they have further incurred the anger of Nebuchadnezzar. Yahweh promises that those who smugly thought to avoid the consequences of their actions will, in due time, fall to the armies of Babylon. And if we doubt the outcome here, history tells us what happened to those who went down to Egypt.

In the New Testament, Jesus’ family escaped Herod’s wrath by fleeing to Egypt.  (Matthew 2:13-23) Upon their return, Joseph takes his wife and child to Nazareth in Galilee. The ruler Archelaus was a leader who did not inspire confidence.

In our world today there are millions of refugees who flee home for political, social or religious reasons. The office of the United Nations Commission on Refugees gives us facts and figures and tells us that there are over 51 million refugees in the world today.

refugeeOn the Foreign Policy blog we learn that these millions of refugees could stretch around the world more than twice if they were holding hands.

And the Catholic Charities site gives us a definition that ought to make it clear that any one of us might be a refugee if the circumstances were right.

Today Jeremiah brings us these words from God: Though I kept sending to you all my servants the prophets . . . you would not listen or accept the warning to turn away from evil.

Let us hope that we hear God’s voice today. Let us have faith that we might become instruments for peace and justice through our small but not insignificant acts today. And let us lovingly seek intercession for those who engage in evil with no concern for the safety or welfare of others.

God’s position is clear. God resides with the homeless, the hungry, the rejected and the outcast. Jesus accompanies the displaced, the starving and those who have no shelter or help. The Spirit remains in the hearts and souls of the scattered refugees who sit on our borders asking for help. Let us inform ourselves today . . . and resolve to commit an act of kindness for the outcast. For it is only by God’s grace that we are not now among their number.

TentsExplore the United Nations, Foreign Policy and Catholic Charities links and share what you learn with others. Then commit to a healing act of solidarity through an offer of help in some way to those who so desperately need it. If you are a U.S. citizen, also consider contacting those who represent you in state, local or federal government to ask that they come together to address the needs of a the world in which more than 51 million of us seek refuge. Or visit: 

http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/06/20/there_are_as_many_refugees_in_the_world_as_justin_bieber_twitter_followers

and http://www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/refugee-resettlement

 

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Tissot: The False Witness

Tissot: False Witness before Caiaphas

Luke 22 – The Plot to Kill Jesus

Over and over again we read frightening lines like this one: The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.   The leaders see that they will lose influence and power because to Jesus offers compassion and healing to those who suffer.  The leaders also worry that Jesus’ actions might attract the attention of the overlord Romans, and they do not want to encourage another Jewish rebellion.  They search for a way to do away with this troublesome rabbi who asks piercing questions.  Jesus – who presents a way of finding timeless peace and healing restoration – is eliminated by those who offer far less.  The paradox is that this cornerstone that is rejected becomes a salvific force which redeems not only friends but enemies – if only these adversaries might put down their weapons and return to the goodness to which they are called.

Today we continue with our theme of dark schemes and wicked conspirators, and we look at how events around Jesus’ last hours unwind . . .

While Jesus and his followers prepare for Passover, the shadowy plot of murder unwinds; these two activities coil around one another in a twisting dance of darkness and light.  This serves to remind us that in this world goodness and evil often walk side by side unremarked . . . almost accepted.  We fool ourselves into believing that all around us must be perfect.  Who is the reaper who knows to sort the grain from the chaff?

A foreshadowing of Peter’s denial sends a frisson of consciousness through us . . . we too have denied Christ when we are under pressure.  Jesus reminds us that we need nothing for our journey save his protection and guidance.  We fool ourselves into believing that we make our own way and earn our own bread. Who is the source of our talents?

Jesus prays.  Judas betrays.  The faithful scatter.  The powerful take over.  The odd dance of inversion continues as those with arms believe themselves to be the strongest.  We fool ourselves into believing that we can exert pressure to win arguments by overwhelming knowledge when overwhelming goodness is the true strength.  Who allows himself to be made weak so that he might be strong in the creator?

Arrest, denial, rejection.  Jesus stands innocent before Pilate and Herod.  He is beaten and sentenced to death.  He carries his cross, he is crucified and dies . . . and he awaits the resurrection he has been promised by the Father.  We fool ourselves into believing that this story was lived once by a man two thousand years ago.  Who suffers each day with each of his billions of sisters and brother?

There is no plot Jesus does not comprehend.  There is no darkness he has not experienced.  There is no pain he has not suffered.  There is no mockery, no betrayal, no rebuffing, no murder he has not survived.  Jesus experiences all, and Jesus wants to save and restore all . . . if we only rely on him.

When the situation is bleakest, when the plot is thickest, when the hour is darkest . . . this is where Christ stands.  This is where he waits . . . for he knows that we will need him because we take nothing else with us on this journey – no purse, no bag, no sword.  We take only Christ, for he is all we need against any evil, against any plot . . . against even murder.

Adapted from a Noontime written on November 18, 2009.

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Herod’s End


Tuesday, January 8, 2013 – Acts 12:18-25 – Herod’s End

King Herod

King Herod

“Miracles granted and yet not believed.  We are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us”.  This is the closing line of our Noontime reflection Expect MiraclesToday we see what becomes of Herod when he attempted to make himself a god.  It is not a pretty end. 

At the beginning of this chapter we find Herod persecuting the Christians; he has James killed and had Peter arrested.  In the central portion of this chapter, we read about the miracle that God brings about to free Peter, and then we have the closing that describes the end of the man who would set himself up as a god . . . he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.  Notes tell us that Josephus describes this same accounting of events and that the people of the time saw it as divine punishment.  We can only speculate about the effects of his death on the people but still, we are given something to chew over here.  We are reminded once again that . . . God is in charge.  We cannot make something happen that is not part of God’s plan.  Nor can we prevent something from happening that is a part of God’s plan. 

We are also reminded that miracles happen under our noses every day that we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us. 

Herod missed his opportunity to know new life.  He believed that he might force his vision of the world on others, and we see how wrong he was.  He believed that he understood how the world really works, and we see how wrong he was.  He believed that he could bring to bear every resource available to end this movement that had plagued the region since the appearance of the magi who followed a bright star to Bethlehem, and we see how wrong he was. 

Miracles are granted to us every day yet we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us.

The miracle of the gift of Jesus is something that Herod would not acknowledge.  The miracle of the hope of Jesus is a possibility that Herod wanted to erase because it was beyond his control.  The miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of our own resurrection is something we do not want to miss, for we have read and understood Herod’s end.  So let us not forget that . . . Miracles are granted to us every day yet we are so quick to explain away the simple answer that God is always accompanying us.

For more on the miracle of Peter’s deliverance from Herod’s prison, see the Expect Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/expect-miracles/

Written on August 23, 2010 and re-written today as a Favorite.

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Confession


Friday, December 30, 2011 – Nehemiah 9 – Confession

Carpaccio: The Flight to Egypt

This is the perfect time of year to think about our relationship with God – this God who comes into our lives as one of us in such a humble way that his family must beg for shelter, and within days of the child’s delivery they must flee into exile.  The Messiah’s family life is one of constant dichotomy and this is fitting for it reflects our own lives of surprises, disappointments, and promises both fulfilled and unfulfilled.  Our days are a series of hills and valleys, of ups and downs that make us anxious and fearful – we wish everything to be settled and determined.  These highs and lows show us our mortality and make us uncomfortable – we prefer a life in which we control all. 

From the very beginning of Jesus’ story we see his family’s split reality; they are welcomed and gifted by both shepherds and magi . . . and they are hunted by Herod’s soldiers.  (Matthew 2:1-18)  In today’s Noontime we go back to the time when the people of Israel have come home to Jerusalem after exile.  They too, live lives of dichotomy, lives full of fear and hope for they know that the nation’s disobedience and errant ways have separated them from God; yet they hope for a return to their special status before God. 

The Israelites gather to pray in unison with their priest Ezra, and as they begin their confession they recognize the great dichotomy that is their life: It is you, O Lord, you are the one; you made the heavens, the highest heavens and all their host, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them.  To all of them you give life, and the heavenly hosts bow down before you . . . These promises of yours you fulfilled for you are just . . . But they, our fathers, proved to be insolent; they held their necks stiff and would not obey your commandments.  They . . . no longer remembered the miracles you had worked for them.  They stiffened their necks and turned their heads . . . but you are a God of pardons, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in mercy; you do not forsake them. 

These people whose fathers and mothers were deported to foreign lands and ruled by pagan rulers comprehend that their cold hearts and stiff necks took them into darkness.  They also understand that their God is so loving and compassionate that despite their own shallowness and fickle ways, they may confess and ask for forgiveness. We might wonder how many of us would forgive such a people.  As soon as they had relief, they would go back to doing evil in your sight . . . they were insolent and would not obey your commandments . . . they turned stubborn backs, stiffened their necks, and would not obey.  You were patient with them for many years . . . you did not forsake them, for you are a kind and merciful God. 

Murillo: The Holy Family with a Little Bird

The Israelites have suffered to the point of exhaustion and in their extremity they recognize that they have no place to turn but to God.  They recognize the dichotomy of the goodness and weakness in their lives; and they also recognize God’s immense generosity in welcoming them home.   We see this same dichotomy of extremes in the Christmas story.  When God comes to us as a babe born in a stable to a family that must move into exile, it is easier for us to confess as the Israelites do.  When God comes to us a child welcomed by shepherds and wise men but also hunted by kings, it is easier for us to believe that God understands the dichotomy in our own lives. 

It may seem a great irony that we seek protection and sustenance from our God who comes to us as a vulnerable child needing shelter and care; yet how well this reflects the divergence we experience in our own lives.  How odd this seems at the outset and yet after reflection . . . how fitting.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011 – Luke 9:1-9 – God in Their Midst

Written on February 20 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us that we are not to throw pearls before swine.  We are too precious to throw ourselves away or to allow ourselves to be used up in senseless waste.  We walk a fine line between helping others and being abused, between loving those who hate us and enabling those who would use us.  Today’s Noontime, and similar descriptions of these words of Jesus in Mark 6:10-11, Matthew 10:12-14, tell us that we are not meant to be doormats.  We are to extend God’s peace to others and tell the good news of freedom brought by Christ.  If we are rebuffed, we are to shake their dust from our feet in testimony . . . and move on.  We are to journey on, witnessing, ministering, hoping, and enacting Christ – even to the point of suffering and death.  This death in Christ is not pointless as some would have us think; rather, this dying to Christ causes our enemies to wonder – just as Herod does with Jesus – about our origin, our goal and our mission.  If we live our lives as Jesus instructs the twelve today, our enemies may reject us . . . but they will keep trying to see us.  They will keep trying to understand our motivation, our sustenance . . . and our joy. 

Our lives of faith will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of strength and determination – even in the face of overwhelming odds – and this they will want to see and experience for themselves. 

Our lives of hope will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of serenity and peace – even in the face of overwhelming cruelty – and this they will want to see and feel for themselves.

Our lives of love will cause our enemies to wonder about our source of compassion and mercy – even in the face of overwhelming pain – and this they will want to see and live for themselves. 

Jesus sent the twelve, he sent the seventy, he sent the seventy-two, and he sends us . . . into the world to witness, to cure, to heal, to carry back those who hunger and thirst for the truth.  We are part of his mission.  We are part of his family.  And we will want to act in such a way that those who seek God will look to us and know . . . that through us, they have seen, and touched, and felt . . . the living presence of God in their midst.

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