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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Esther C: 14-16: Esther’s Gift of Prayer

Giovanni Andrea Sirani: Esther Before Ahasuerus

Thursday, August 9, 2018

In exile, alone, and confronted with great danger, Esther turns to God for help. In so doing, she leaves a timeless legacy. Yesterday we considered the message others read in our lives. Today we consider the legacy that we, following the example of this young, defenseless woman

Then [Esther] prayed to the LORD, the God if Israel, saying: “My LORD, our King, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O LORD, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among all ancestors, as a lasting heritage, and that you fulfilled all your promises to them”.

We may want to use Esther’s words when we are alone or abandoned, when we have no one to turn to, and no place to go . . . Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.

We may want to use her words when we remember the promise of heritage and wonder how we have arrived at an unexpected place . . . I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O LORD, chose Israel from among all peoples.

We may want to recall, as Esther does, that . . . God alone is King of all.

We may want to remember, as Esther does, that . . . God fulfills all promises.

Esther’s prayer evokes our past, foresees our future, and reinforces our present. Her words serve us in times of trial and pain. Her story encourages steadfastness and hope. Her legacy is one of courage in the face of hatred, expectation in the presence of desperation, and fidelity as the antidote to evil. Esther’s bravery is a gift to us today. We will want to hold it close, remember it well; and redeem ourselves and others as we pray these words with her.


To learn more about the story of Esther, and why some translations include chapter letters as well as numbers, enter her name in to the blog search bar and explore. Or refer to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/esther/0 

Today’s scripture link contains only the NABRE (New American Bible revised Edition)

For a child’s version of this story, visit: http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/jewish/purim/esther_story.htm 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/candy2155/queen-esther/

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1 Timothy 3: 16: The Mystery of Devotion

Monday, August 6, 2018

The GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION of this verse proclaims,

No one can deny how great is the secret of our religion:

He appeared in human form,
    was shown to be right by the Spirit,
    and was seen by angels.
He was preached among the nations,
    was believed in throughout the world,
    and was taken up to heaven.

This secret is one we are called to share with those who have ears to hear, and hands and hearts to act.

The NEW REVISED STANDARD translation announces,

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,
    vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
    believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

This mystery is one we will want to proclaim to those who have lost hope, who feel abandoned, or have gone astray.

THE MESSAGE translation of Timothy’s words declares,

This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough:

He appeared in a human body,
    was proved right by the invisible Spirit,
was seen by angels.
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
    believed in all over the world,
taken up into heavenly glory.

This gift is one we will want to affirm to all – especially our enemies – for it is God’s gift of life that inspires devotion, asserts Christ’s love, and confirms the Spirit’s transforming mercy.


When we compare varying translations of this verse, we begin to experience the mystery, secret, and promise of this great gift. 

Images from: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/wisdom/article/krishna-jesus-and-the-path-of-devotion and http://www.chrisrochephotographer.co.uk/project/devotion/

 

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Numbers 5:22-27The Departure Blessing

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Written on February 27 and posted today as a favorite . . .

“The placement of this benediction seems unusual; it may be another item that prepares the people for the journey through the wilderness.  This is the blessing for the time of departure, and [said] daily throughout their journey.  Each line, with God as subject, is progressively longer (three, five, seven Hebrew words); besides the name YHWH, twelve Hebrew words signify the twelve tribes.  The benediction in some form was used in ancient Israel, especially at the conclusion of worship . . . Putting the name of God on the people may have been understood literally, given the inscription on two cigarette-sized silver plaques found near Jerusalem, dating from the seventh-sixth centuries BCE . . . One probably should not see a climatic arrangement in the clauses; so, for example, blessing would include peace. Perhaps the second verb in each case defines the first more specifically, but together the six verbs cove God’s benevolent activity from various angles and state God’s gracious will for the people.

“Blessing has a wide ranging meaning, touching every sphere of life.  It testifies most basically to the work of God the Creator, both within the community of faith and without.  No conditions are attached.  It signifies any divine gift that serves the life, health, and well-being of individuals and communities.  Keeping is a specific blessing to those with concerns for safety, focusing on God’s protection from all forms of evil (Ps. 121:7-8), pertinent for wilderness wandering”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 116)

We are all wandering through the wilderness, departing each morning for the many destinations of the day, and returning to home each evening to rest before the cycle begins anew.  Each of the days is a testimony to the trust we place in God, the hope we place in Christ, and the comfort we take from the Spirit.  We maneuver our daily obstacles – some small and some gigantic – hoping for sustenance and safety, keeping faith that it is God who guides us rather than some self-serving whim, and witnessing to the message of liberation by loving our enemies into goodness.  I am thinking that I will print this small prayer and put it on the back of my front door above the handle I touch each day to exit.  I need these words as I step into the wilderness each day; I want to put the name of God on my children and their children as they also step into the wilderness.  I also want these words to bless and transform those who do me harm as I pray for the softening of their hearts and the unbending of their stiff necks.  I want all tribes to come together as the twelve tribes of Jacob have done to help one another in their journey through strange and hostile land to the land of peace and security.  This is the departure we can best wish for one another as we step over our thresholds each day to embark on a new and exciting journey filled with pain and promise.  This is the blessing that can touch us as we leave each morning, can keep us in God’s care throughout the day, and can bring us back home to God each evening. This is a pray that blesses us with the name of God and brings us peace.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall address the Israelites.

Say to them:

The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them!”


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 116. Print.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 27, 2011.

Images from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/learning-to-say-goodbye.

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Isaiah 9Peculiarly God’s Own

Friday, July 1, 2018

We are accustomed to hearing this beautiful anthem at Advent and so these words feel odd to us in the northern hemisphere who experience Christmas in the cold and dark.  We are accustomed to frosty, long nights rather than warm, short ones when we think about God’s coming to live among us.   The people who walked in darkness cry out for light.  Isaiah’s people are lonely and afraid as they try to ride out the terms of their exile.  Today’s words must have felt astonishing to them, yet welcome.  These people who were accustomed to neglect and abuse must have felt a fluttering image come into focus of the life they had been promised.  The words we read in Isaiah today may even have taken them back to earlier words of promise in Deuteronomy that we heard in the first reading at Mass today (Deuteronomy 7:6-11): Moses said to the people: “You are a people sacred to the Lord, your God; he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be a people peculiarly his own.  It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.  It was because the Lord loved you and because of his fidelity to the oath he had sworn to your fathers, that he brought you out with his strong hand from the place of slavery, and ransomed you . . .”    This small nation, these insignificant people are lifted up and redeemed by a God-hero.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

These words from today’s second reading (1 John 4:7-16) confirm our best hope: In this way the love of God was revealed to us: he sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son as expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God loves us, so we also must love one another.   We who are oppressed or lost, we who are abandoned are redeemed  and brought back by a Wonder-Counselor.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

We hear welcome words from Jesus in today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:25-30): Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light”.   This oppressed people, these burdened people are healed and transformed by a Prince of Peace.  Amazing words and deeds . . .

Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Prince of Peace . . . and yet this one is meek and humble and willing to take on so much that is not his to take.  This is the God who walks among us as one of us.  This is the one who can exert all power over all things and all people yet he stoops to us in humility and meekness . . . because this is how much he loves us.  Amazing . . . and wonderful . . . that we are peculiarly God’s own. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 1, 2011.

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John 6:25-59: “I Am the Bread of Life”

Monday, June 11, 2018

At the Last Supper, Jesus breaks the bread.

Perhaps the most well-known appellation Jesus uses to describe himself is, the Bread of Life. After feeding thousands with several fish and a few loaves of bread, the people find Jesus on the other side of the lake, and say to him, “Teacher, when did you get here?”

Jesus replies: “You are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.”

Like these followers who have lived the miracle of sustenance with Jesus, we also may be surprised to find him by our side when we look for him to save us. We also may ask a simple question that misses the mark Jesus hopes to make with us – that Jesus never abandons us or leaves us behind, that Jesus wants nothing more than to sustain us through difficulty, to heal us in love, and to transform us in hope. For this reason, millennia after the recording of this story we still rely on these verses for wisdom, confidence, and peace.

We find other reflections on Jesus as The Bread of Life on this blog.

The New Exodus: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/03/the-bread-of-life-for-the-new-exodus/

Bread and Stone: https://thenoontimes.com/2016/06/30/matthew-41-11-bread-and-stone/

Body of Christ: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/06/18/john-651-58-body-of-christ/

Recognizing Jesus: https://thenoontimes.com/2016/04/26/john-641-42-recognizing-jesus/

The Some Left Over Parts I-X posts beginning at: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/08/02/2-kings-442-44-some-left-over-part-i/


Image from http://www.redeemerway.org/sermons/2018/2/23/i-am-the-bread-of-life 

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Matthew 2:19-20Rise and Go

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gaetano Gandolfi: Dream of St Joseph

In this Favorite from April 4, 2008, we remember that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt after the birth of Jesus. We also remember that an angel comes to Joseph with the message that it is time to return to the land of Israel. Today, as we continue to explore how Jesus is the resurrection, we contemplate how our own lives move through times of exile, transfiguration, and return; and just as Mary and Joseph respond to God’s urging, we rise and go when we are called . . . for we are resurrection people.   

We are living through the Resurrection time – the time after Jesus rises from the dead in unity of body and soul and the time that he ascends to heaven.  We are a Resurrection people.  We are immortal.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection: Those who bear the sign of immortality are attractive to others.  People group around them . . . The Resurrected Lord gives a new lightness of the Spirit . . . Easter’s unity . . . This is a sign that little by little, the spirit of Easter is filling our lives and is pushing out the devil who is division and rivalry, jealousy and hate, the incapacity to carry each other’s weight.  The experience of the Resurrection carries a continual note of hope into our lives . . . Hope arises from faith; it is the visibility of faith; it is faith which becomes operative with the present.  Hope is life in action which transfigures the present; it does not permit “victory” of nothingness – delusion, a bitter nostalgia, narcissistic self-contemplation, the desire to do without another person.  Everything which would be a victory for nothingness is forced out by the victory of Christ.  The Spirit of the Risen Lord enters our lives and makes us creators of unity, filled with new creativity and hope for ourselves and therefore for all people. (Monsignor Massimo Camisasca)

We are a Resurrection people.  And just as the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and so many others in scripture, so too do angels appear to us.  They bring the message of hope, of courage  . . . of transfiguration.  We too, may be transfigured in Christ.  We too, can be hope to others.  We too, must trust the Lord as did Joseph and Mary.  We too can respond to the call of Rise and go! 

For we are a Resurrection people. 

Tomorrow, what do we do with our anger?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.8 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://russ-ramsey.com/day-20-when-joseph-woke-from-his-dream-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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John 14: Jesus is The Way

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This week we continue our exploration of the manner in which Jesus describes himself, helping us to find our beyond the obstacles on our path, to accompany one another in both sorrow and joy, to give thanks for God’s always present power.

We ask which way to go, how to speak, what to do with what we hear and see; and Jesus speaks constantly in our ear. When we question, we receive. When we knock on the door, it opens. When we seek, we find.

Jesus answered [Thomas], “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Now that you have known me,” he said to them, “you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and you have seen him.” Jesus answered [Philip], “For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me?”

We are astounded by Jesus’ confidence and long for his compassion. We are eager for Jesus’ friendship and rely on his wisdom. We are hopeful in Jesus’ message and give thanks for his understanding.

Jesus told them, “Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me”. 

These words are so well known. They are straightforward and astounding. They promise the unthinkable and spell out the profound.

We constantly look for the Spirit’s presence and miracles; yet we too often give up on following The Way that lies before us. Yesterday we remembered the guidance we receive from Jesus, The Good Shepherd. Today we step boldly onto Christ’s Way.


Tomorrow, finding our Way.

Image from: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-jesus-is-way-and-how-he-is-truth.html

 

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Exodus 3: “I AM”

Sébastien Bourdon: Burning Bush

Ascension Sunday, May 13, 2018

In order to make the traditional feast of Ascension Thursday accessible to more of the faithful, some dioceses observe its celebration on the Sunday following the customary date. Today we reflect on the message God gives to Moses through the medium of the burning bush that never burns; and over the next days, we will spend time reflecting on how God communicates with us the enormity and the mystery that is God’s love for us.

God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I Am has sent me to you.’ Tell the Israelites that I, the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have sent you to them. This is my name forever; this is what all future generations are to call me”. 

“I am who am”.  

What does this simplest of phrases mean for us? That all of creation announces God. That all of humanity comes from this source.

“I am who am”.  

What might this simplest of phrases hold for us? God’s promise that we are never alone, and never abandoned.

“I am who am”.  

What might this simplest of phrases portend for us? That we have nothing to fear and everything to expect.

“I am who am”.  

Today as we contemplate God’s gift of self to each of us, we spend time with this simplest of phases as we reflect on its meaning and promise.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bourdon,_S%C3%A9bastien_-_Burning_bush.jpg

For an explanation of the significance of the tetragrammaton YHWH, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yahweh

Mark’s Gospel is a lightning bolt paean describing the story of Jesus’ coming among us, this presence of God who longs to live among the faithful. For a reflection on this blog, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/mark-i-am/

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Abandoned by God 

Francisco de Zurbarán: Agnus Dei

Easter Friday, April 6, 2018

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.

On Veteran’s Day in the U.S., we celebrate the end of war. Today we reflect on Jesus’ death last Friday, and the silence that reigned in the Christian world last Saturday as Jesus transitioned from healing prophet to the Messiah Christ. If we are able to take the time to pause, we think a bit about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged. We consider the constant question of whether or not God has deserted a planet created for and in love. We reflect on the many times the world asks Christians . . . where is your God? And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NABRE the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Our feet must be shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

If we might find the minutes to pray this psalm today, we find not only the dark fear of abandonment, but also the burning hope of resurrection.

Tomorrow, proclaiming God’s name.


For more on the meaning of Bashan, visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bashan/http://biblehub.com/topical/b/bashan.htm , http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaBashan.htm, and https://www.britannica.com/place/Bashan 

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/francisco-de-zurbaran/agnus-dei-1640 

For more on Zurbarán’s work Agnus Dei, visit The Prado site at: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/agnus-dei/795b841a-ec81-4d10-bd8b-0c7a870e327b 

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