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Posts Tagged ‘honesty’


Monday, November 30, 2020

El Greco: St. John the Baptist

El Greco: St. John the Baptist

Luke 1:5-17

Turning Many

There was a priest named Zechariah who had a wife, Elizabeth.  Both were righteous in the eyes of God, but they had no child because Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years.  An angel of God came to Zechariah and announced: “Do not be afraid, your prayer has been answered. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God”.

John the Baptist turns many to God. Might we say the same of ourselves?

God says: Each of you is my witness. Each of you has the capacity to call others to my side. The work of witnessing does not require great works. On the contrary, it only requires simple and honest living. Your actions speak far more eloquently than your words so do not worry about what you might say on my behalf. Live your life in fidelity to me. Live your life with integrity in the Spirit. Live your life openly and honestly as Jesus does . . . and this will be witness enough. In this way, your life will be the turning of many to me.

We too often depend on our own resources to do God’s will when all God asks is that we serve as a faithful conduit. We must learn to let God do the heavy lifting, quick thinking, and clever speaking . . . through the authentic living of our lives.

To learn more about John the Baptist, enter his name in the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John_the_Baptist_(El_Greco)

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

noara_lambMarch3_12[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12

A Prayer for Sin and Parable

The rich man had herds and flocks in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. 

This is a story with a familiar ending. Those who have much use their influence and power to take from the poor what little they have. The poor man gathers money, plans how he will finally gather around him the small beginning of self-sufficiency and the momentous ending of oppression.

He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. 

The poor man empties all that he has and all that he is into this precious possession that promises not only a ladder out of misery but a new feeling of comfort, compassion and love. The little ewe sheep comes to symbolize much more than the object she is. She becomes a unique sign of peace and stability.

Now the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to visit him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb . . .

The two-headed monster of envy and greed raises itself from the shadows and David’s sin is revealed.

David grew very angry . . . then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned . . .”

When we feel anger rise at the honest observation offered by a friend we must turn as David does. And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God, it is so difficult to hear our secrets revealed when we believe we have them well-hidden away. Help us to return to you.

Honest and kind God, we are so weak and vulnerable in the harsh light of our own judgment. Send us your persistence and power.

Good and noble God, we need your encouragement and wisdom to lead us to the light of truth. Remind us that truth always reveals itself in your time.

Mighty and compassionate God, we ask for your strength and grace to willingly reveal all that we have concealed. Recount for us all the times you have saved us.

Sweet and loving God, speak to us in parables that enlighten us when we cannot bear the burden of the truth. Help us to understand that secrets only fester in the darkness of guilt.

Forgiving and understanding God, speak to us plainly in words that call us to you. Bring us the simplicity of your peace and love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


To read posts from a shepherd’s blog, click on the image above or go to: http://hillshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/03/nora-had-ewe-lamb-last-night.html

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Friday, November 13, 2020

holding-lamb[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable

Conclusion

We humans often reject the opportunities life presents to us through which we might reflect on how sin affects us, for sin affects us all. We are a bit more quick to take a second look at other people’s sin than we are our own. This may be because we do not have a balanced perspective. It may be that we are too easily overcome by guilt. Or we may believe that redemption only comes to those who live a life without fault. For all of these reasons we benefit from taking an honest, open look at ourselves.

When do we elbow past crowds or shove past social and moral parameters to gain someone or some thing we want? When do we kill the spirit or soul, the body or mind of another without even caring?

We humans are so much better at learning from the stories we hear about others; we do not seem capable of looking at ourselves squarely, openly, willingly or honestly. It is for this reason that Nathan wisely tells his king a story about a shepherd who nourishes a ewe lamb and holds her to his heart. We may be too afraid to look at our own lives. We may be too comfortable in our easy ways. Or we may believe that we have all the answers to all the world’s problems. For all of these reasons we benefit from reading the parables we see in the faces of others who interact with us each day.

When do we turn away from the truth we see in the face of another when we want someone or some thing more than we are willing to admit? When do we open our eyes and ears, our minds and ourselves to our actions and the hurting or healing they commit?

This sin of wanting what is not ours is all too common. We know and respect David too well to ignore him. The surging after a desired object is too present in our lives to say we do not recognize it. There are too many ewe lambs of others that we hold close to our own hearts.

The parable of Nathan is a story that each of us can see in our own lives. We know and believe that we too, have erred. Let us take the time today to reflect on Psalm 51 to re-experience what we have learned. Let us store in our memories today the emotions we feel when we read 2 Samuel 11 and 12. Let us reflect carefully on David’s sin and allow Nathan’s words to pierce the false armor with which we have protected ourselves.

And when the day is done, let us consider the sins we commit, the parables our lives tell, and the courage we will need to allow our wanderings to become lessons of reflection for ourselves and others.


Image from: http://multiplythemessage.com/the-lord-is-my-shepherd/

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

new-heart[1]Psalm 32:11

Upright Hearts

Rejoice in Yahweh, exult, you virtuous, shout for joy, all upright hearts.

In Jewish tradition, the heart is the center of human spirit, thought and emotion.  It is the heart that gives rise to action. (PSALMS 31)

God says: When you live in me you will find yourself rejoicing no matter your circumstances for you will understand that I turn all harm to good, you will comprehend that the faithful need not fight because I fight for them, and you will know that I guide and protect you always. If you live in a world of denial, deceit and betrayal you will find it difficult to trust your loved ones. You will feel most comfortable inhabiting a world of forces that control and are controlled. You will seek others who prefer a lie to truth. The upright heart cannot bear the darkness. The honest heart seeks light and truth and good. Come to me, all you who shout continually for joy just knowing that I am with you. Come to me this day, no matter your circumstance. For we have much to do. We have much to celebrate.

For a week of days we have explored Psalm 32; we have scanned its verses and parsed its words as we look for the deeper meaning that remains with us once we close the pages of the Bible. We have allowed the Word to seep into our sinews, to strengthen our bones, and to bring new life to a tired spirit. Let us return to the first verse, and read again these treasured words of instruction that bring us remission, grace and wisdom. Let us take in these words that renew the spirit, and then let us rise in action.

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven . . .


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 31. Print.

Image from: http://www.pbwu.org/w/p/daily-encouraging-word-a-new-heart-and-a-new-spirit/

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

shhhh[1]Psalms 32:3-4

Keeping Silence

All the time I kept silent, my bones were wasting away with groans, day in, day out; day and night your hand lay heavy upon me; my heart grew parched as stubble in summer drought.

We do not give voice to our worries for fear of appearing weak or because we anticipate rejection. We harbor our words out of a need to control through passivity. We refrain from speaking because we are proud, or frightened or lost; and yet holding all this negative silence drains our energy, saps our strength and weighs us down. The springs that nourish us dry up and our bones begin to waste away. In our resistance to openness we guarantee that the unholy fist of brooding silence will maintain a firm grip upon our souls.

God says: I see that you are afraid and so you retreat – yet withdrawal takes you further from me and my healing hands. I understand that you do not want to hear what others have to say when you speak – yet by holding your words you give permission for others to decide what you are thinking. I know that you are confused and that you look for release from the troubled place in which you find yourself – yet your hiding only adds to your pain. Corrupt arrogance, false stoicism, prideful deceit, distrust and dishonesty: is this the world you want to inhabit forever? Forgiveness, compassion, peace, unity and honesty: is this the eternity you wish to spend with me?

There are times when silence is holy and there are times when silence stifles the soul. The psalmist calls us to a candid remission of our faults and a conversation with God. God’s covenant promises a guiding Spirit and a merciful embrace. Jesus show us mercy and justice. When we remain silent about all that troubles us we invite dark thoughts and we see only hopelessness on the horizon. God invites us to much more than this. God invites us to a remission of all that troubles us. Let us give voice to our fears and worries.

To reflect on the positive and negative ways that silence can act in our lives, enter the words silent or silence into the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: http://www.incasa.org/2011/11/14/the-culture-of-silence/

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

purity_heart[1]1 Peter 1:22

Mutual Love

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.

Peter has led us along The Way with Christ.  He has described our gift and call.  He has explained the benefits of obedience and the look of true reverence.  Today he brings us to the heart of Christ – to mutual love.

God says: I am sometimes saddened by the way you look away when I speak of purity. When I speak to you of this quality it is not cleanliness and spotlessness that I have in my mind. This is a kind of perfection that causes you to think of yourself as flawed and imperfect – and these are words I do not use when I think of you. Rather, the purity I plant in you is one which brings clarity to your world, one which engenders in you a simplicity of mind and purpose. The purity of which I speak does away with complications and convolutions. You should not find yourself twisted as you aspire to purity for this simplicity of spirit is accompanied by ease and straightforwardness, by openness and directness, by honesty and mutual love.

In Luke’s Gospel we hear these well-known words from Jesus: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:32-36)

Let us take a few moments to listen to the words of Peter for he is one who travelled closely and well with Jesus.  He is one who understands the depth and breadth and height of mutual love.

Tomorrow, the imperishable seed of God’s Word.


Image from: http://knockingonthebrotheldoor.wordpress.com/

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

pathways[1]Proverbs 2:9-11

Wisdom’s Companions

Then you will understand rectitude and justice, honesty, every good path; for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will please your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you . . .

We somehow believe that Wisdom travels alone or that she resides in some remote, ivory tower when in fact she journeys with friends and lives with her companions. The names of those in her cohort will not surprise us: Rectitude . . . Honesty . . . Justice . . . Knowledge of the Lord . . . Discretion . . . and Understanding. Can we say that we have the came companions?

pathways-report_img_9[1]God says: There are many good paths you might follow that will bring you to me and while they vary, they all have something in common.These paths are best found when you first put on honesty, discretion, understanding, rectitude, justice, and knowledge of your God. The path that nurtures these qualities will also nourish Wisdom for she eats and drinks of these values. And where you find Wisdom, there also will you find me.

We somehow believe that there is one true path to God’s Wisdom or that there is only one way to know God and yet our experiences tell us that this is not so.  There are many varied passages we humans make as we journey with and to God.  Spend a bit of time today reflecting on the nature of your own journey.  Think about how and where and when you find these companions of Wisdom.  And if this image of your journey and the names of these Wisdom Companions elude you, consider how and where and when you might best encounter them.


The images above from: http://craigspoems.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/pathways/

For a variety of beautiful journey images, click on the image below or go to: http://blog.zeemp.com/wonders-of-nature-enchanted-pathways/  Also see the Journeys of Transformation tab on this blog.

etp15[1]

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

god_speaks[1]Proverbs 2:6-8

God’s Mouth

For the Lord gives wisdom, from God’s mouth come knowledge and understanding; God has counsel in store for the upright, God is the shield of those who walk honestly, guarding the paths of justice, protecting the way of the faithful.

We are often tempted to go our own way, convincing ourselves that we have enough personal strength, enough contacts, enough resources to protect ourselves. Yet when disaster strikes all of this power is useless.

God says, When I see you placing all of your efforts into temporal storehouses I love you all the more. When days and weeks and months go by without your speaking to me, I call to you. I come to walk among you in the person of Jesus to give you counsel. My Spirit dwells within you to serve as your shield, to guard you each day, to protect you from the disasters that will befall you. Jesus comes to you as My Word. Jesus brings knowledge and understanding from mouth to your heart. Open your heart to me.

God is not remote or detached. God does not watch us from a distance. God is around us in all of creation. God is within us giving knowledge and understanding. God’s wisdom reverberates in the hearts of those who walk with honesty and live faithfully. Although we cannot hear God, God speaks to us each minute of each day, bringing us knowledge and understanding.


Image from: http://christiancrosstalk.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-does-god-speak-to-us.html

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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Salomon de Bray: Joseph Receives His Father and Brother in Egypt

Salomon de Bray: Joseph Receives His Father and Brother in Egypt

Genesis 45:1-15

A Prayer for Truth Revealed

It was not really you but God who had me come here.

People, places and situations do not govern us. We do not even govern ourselves. God sees, knows and does all.  God pulls goodness out of harm.  God converts evil into something that we can use.  God transforms all suffering and sadness.  If we trust in God above all else and at all times, this truth will eventually dawn on us.  And we will be grateful for this dawning.  We will be grateful for this plan that at first seemed all wrong but which later comes into full focus as being better than any we might have devised on our own.

As St. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians: In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ.

As we suffer, as we undergo, as we bear all things, endure all things, we do well to do them for Christ and in Christ . . . because Christ does them with us.

As we strive to be faithful disciples, as we struggle and persevere, follow and persist, we do well to abide with and in the Spirit . . . because the Spirit dwells in us.

As we seek God, as we knock at God’s door, as we petition, question and dialog, we do well to turn to God first in all matters . . . because God awaits our turning with eager and open arms.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and it is not until years later that the truth is revealed.  Joseph waited, worked, prayed, remained, dwelt, and loved in God.  Truth revealed.  Character honed.  Spirit strengthened.  Pain transformed.  Love born.  This is the gift of integrity and honesty.  It is the gift of discipleship.  It is the gift of life itself.

And so we pray . . .

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,

We thank you for having created us.

We thank you for having saved us.

We thank you for dwelling in us.

May we always reach for the hope you place in us.

May we always remain faithful to your promise which rests in us.

May we always abide with one another as we undergo suffering.

May we be good and faithful remnants for you in all of the places and situations we find ourselves which feel so foreign.

And may we, as Joseph did when he heard your voice, listen for you . . . and spread open arms to welcome those who have harmed us.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salomon_de_Bray_-_Joseph_Receives_His_Father_and_Brothers_in_Egypt_-_WGA3146.jpg

First written on November 15, 2007. Re-written and posted today.

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