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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Luke 8:1-3: Ministering Women – Part II

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bernardino Luini:The Conversion of the Magdalene

Bernardino Luini:The Conversion of the Magdalene

A Favorite from September 6, 2008.

As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God.  Psalm 84:4

From a MAGNIFICAT Meditation (September 22, 2007) by Father Maurice Zundel, a Swiss mystic, poet, philosopher, liturgist and author who writes about the present Messianic age, the age of Mary: The new vision of woman, that Mary inspires by her presence in our history, constitutes a vital opportunity to establish a truly free world . . . Woman, fashioned after this model, transcending the species and attracting man by the light of her inner life, might suggest a real answer to the condition of contemporary humanity.  She can reveal to man the highest spheres of her own being by embodying the perpetual need to surpass himself.

Does the world of men feel this surpassing and so strive to control it?  Does the world of women feel overwhelmed by this challenge and seek to become like men rather than bloom into full femininity?

Father Zundel continues: We cannot hope to find a human solution to all the problems facing us as long as we fail to recognize our capacity for the infinite, a capacity that unhinges us when it cannot be actualized in a field of expansion as vast as its potential.

We cannot expect to find unity among us if we step back from the challenge given us – this challenge of being infinite – of unifying in the divine corpus of Christ.  If we fail to recognize the pitfall of concentrating on all that divides us, of focusing on our lack rather than on our potential, we cannot live up to this potential.  If we believe that this expansion of which Father Zundel writes is impossible, we fail God.  We lack faith in God’s ability to make all things happen.  We fall into the darkness of doubt, of leaving-well-enough-alone, of despair, of anxiety.

We cannot become frightened of the challenges God gives us.  Rather we must be encouraged by the confidence he places in us.  We must rise to the hope and the potential placed in us.  For in this hope lies the rescue of the world.  In this hope lies our true union with God – our infiniteness.

The potential that God places in each of us is what Jesus saw in the women and men who accompanied him to Jerusalem.  The Hope of God was placed in us – men and women – at birth.  The Spirit of God is nurtured in each of us as God’s children – female and male.

Tomorrow, Jerusalem, the cross and the grave.

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Sirach 3:17-29: An Attentive Ear

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Woman whispering and woman listening on a white background

These words are so simple. These words ask so little. These words bring us so much.

Be humble in everything you do, and people will appreciate it more than gifts.

God says: Listen to the words of my servant Sirach. Watch the actions of my incarnate self. Ease into the hands of my always-present Spirit. Be humble, as I am humble. You will receive more than you can imagine.

Don’t try to understand things that are too hard for you, or investigate matters that are beyond your power to know. Concentrate on the Law, which has been given to you. You do not need to know about things which the Lord has not revealed, so don’t concern yourself with them. 

God says: When I ask you to focus on the Law, I am speaking of the Law of Love that I show you in the life of Christ. Love your enemies. Gather those on the margins and tend to them. Your reward in this life and in the next is waiting for you.

Many people have been misled by their own opinions; their wrong ideas have warped their judgment.

God says: It is tempting to listen to yourself alone. While it is true that you need to test the teachers, prophets and spirits to see if they come from me, remember that listening to yourself alone is dangerous for it narrows your world. Open your ears to my voice and attend my wisdom.

Stubbornness will get you into trouble at the end. If you live dangerously, it will kill you. A stubborn person will be burdened down with troubles. 

God says: The attentive ear is always open and discerning because it spends more time listening to me than any other voice that clamors for your attention. When you listen to me, your hear good news that overwhelms the chaos of the world.

There is no cure for the troubles that arrogant people have; wickedness has taken deep root in them. Intelligent people will learn from proverbs and parables. They listen well because they want to learn.

God says: When you think more of yourself than you do of others, you cannot hear my voice. Your ear cannot attend. Your eye no longer sees the beauty that surrounds you. Put your pride behind you and follow me. Open your eyes. Open your ears. Open your heart. The peace and joy I have already planted in you will begin to grow and flourish. Hope and fidelity and love will mark you as my own.

 

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Deuteronomy 5:15: Our God

Friday, September 16, 2016sabbatday

The writer of Deuteronomy records Moses’ words faithfully.

Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That’s why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest. (MSG: The Message)

Through Moses, God calls us to rest in the Lord each Sabbath day.

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath. (GNT: Good News Translation)

Through his prophet, the Lord reminds us that we were once slaves, rescued by God.

Remember that thou also didst serve in Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out from thence with a strong hand, and a stretched out arm. Therefore hath he commanded thee that thou shouldst observe the sabbath day. (DRA: Douay-Rheims)

Through the voice of scripture, the Lord calls us to rescue others just as we are rescued.

And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and that Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence with a powerful hand and with a stretched-out arm; therefore Jehovah thy God hath commanded thee to observe the sabbath day. (Darby: Darby Translation)

Through the work of Christ among us, through the consolation and power of the Spirit, the Lord Our God asks that we show mercy to all, as the Lord has shown mercy to us.

You are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Adonai your God brought you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Adonai your God has ordered you to keep the day of Shabbat. (CJB: Complete Jewish Bible)

When we refrain from gossiping we free others from the personality we have set in stone with our unkind words. We make room for growth in ourselves and others.

When we speak for those who have no voice we free others from the curse of invisibility. We nurture hope in the darkness.

When we include those excluded by others we open our lives – and the lives of all – to the outrageous possibilities engendered by God’s healing love. We embody mercy and compassion.

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. (NRSV: New Revised Standard Version)

God, Adonai, Jehovah, the Living One, this is whom we find when we compare varying translations of this verse. God’s wisdom, Jesus’ strength, the Spirit’s compassion, these are gifts we receive and share when we consider how enormous is the love of Our God.  

As we consider these verses, we might listen to Chris Tomlin’s HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk 

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Ephesians 6:14-20: A Prayer for Spiritual Warfare

Wednesday, September 7, 201632643-15133-armor-of-god.1200w.tn

Patience and perseverance. These are the qualities we know will open us to God’s nourishing goodness as we wade into daily spiritual warfare. Prayer and thanksgiving. These are the actions we need take as we look to Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (THE MESSAGE)

When we compare another version of these verses, we open ourselves to the strength that only God can provide.

So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret. For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should. (THE GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

And so we pray.

When we meet circumstances that overwhelm us, we remember that our fidelity to The Word and our readiness to share God’s promise and hope are the strongest armor we might employ. Resilient God, lend us your strength.

When we stumble over obstacles that threaten our peace and security, we remember that our joy in The Word and our delight in Jesus’ story are the enduring armor we might put on. Confident God, lend us your hope.

When we falter with doubt and anxiety crushes us, we remember that our prayers always rise directly to you. Authentic God, lend us your love.

In Jesus’ name we wait patiently in you. In the Spirit’s power we persist always in you. In God’s name we give thanks always for you. Amen.

 

 

 

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Sirach 51: 13-30: Pursuit of Wisdom – Part IIsuffering servant

Friday, September 2, 2016

I burned with desire for her,
    never relenting.
I became preoccupied with her,
    never weary of extolling her.

We expend all our resources to discover wisdom’s secrets.

I spread out my hands to the heavens
    and I came to know her secrets.

For her I purified my hands;
    in cleanness I attained to her.

At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding
    such that I will never forsake her.

We promise to remain faithful, no matter the obstacles.

My whole being was stirred to seek her;
    therefore I have made her my prize possession.

The Lord has rewarded me with lips,
    with a tongue for praising him.

We thank God for the passion of wisdom’s teachings, for the hope of wisdom’s lessons, and for the love of wisdom’s healing transformation.

Tomorrow, calling on wisdom.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore Proverbs 2:1-22, we discover the passion of wisdom.

For a reflection on the wisdom of listening, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.whereisthefountain.com/2015_03_01_archive.html 

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Deuteronomy 32:3-12: A Straight-Arrow God

Friday, August 26, 2016unity

When we look upon the world that surrounds us we may well wonder why so many of us throw so many sticks and stones at those who do not measure up to our standards; yet God believes in all of us still.

His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
throw mud at him but none of it sticks.

When we criticize and gossip, pass on rumors and make innuendo, we might be making more of a statement about ourselves than others; yet God is patient with us still.

Don’t you realize it is God you are treating like this?
This is crazy; don’t you have any sense of reverence?

When we forget our own shortcomings but are critical of others, when we ignore well-advised words, we signal how much confidence we lack by the false confidence we feign; yet God places hope in us still.

Read up on what happened before you were born;
dig into the past, understand your roots.
    Ask your parents what it was like before you were born;
ask the old-ones, they’ll tell you a thing or two.

When we look for a model, search for wisdom, cry out for peace, we open ourselves to this straight-as-an-arrow God who abides, steers and protects; and despite our efforts to leave God behind, God loves us still.

  A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
a straight-arrow God.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we discover more than we have imagined about our God who consoles, remains and encourages us still.

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John 11The Death of Lazarus

Wednesday, August 24, 2016Lazarus

A Favorite from August 28, 2009.

This is a bittersweet story if we believe in the resurrection.  Each time I read it, I linger over verse 35: Jesus wept.  As a child I believed that the Christ wept because his good friend had died.  As I grew older I believed he mourned the fact that he knew he was calling this friend back from a beatific place.  Now when I read this verse it seems to me that Christ cries out of his humanity; he cries at the tragedy of our human fragility.  As I continue to grow I am guessing that I will have other perspectives, other reasons for Jesus’ tears.  This is what is so wonderful about the message of the Messiah: each time we read it, we come away with something new, something surprising, something healing.  This is why, I believe, God came to walk among us . . . so that we might number our sorrows with his.  When we cry out to God, he can honestly tell us that he experiences our pain.

There is another point which always intrigues me about this story.  Hard on its heels arrives the story of the plot to kill Jesus.  I am always struck with the vigor of the jealousy and venom of his enemies.  Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council and said, “What are we to do?  This man is performing miracles, many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the holy place and our nation”.  This narrative continues to verses 53 and 54: So from that day on they planned to put him to death.  Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews.  And this chapter ends with . . . Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him. 

When I put myself into this story, I wonder where I would fall.  Am I among the Pharisees, the priests, the followers who report Jesus?  Am I one who succumbs to jealousy and revenge?  Am I one who believes and follows?  Do I understand that the “death” of Lazarus is really the initiation rite of his new life?  Am I willing to enter into the hope God offers us when he frees us in the person of Jesus?  Do I comprehend the joy I might experience when I unite with the Holy Spirit to carry the message of freedom to others?  Am I willing to accept surprise in my life?  Am I willing to hand myself over to a belief in something I cannot see?  Am I ready to accept a new way of living?

There is much newness to think about as we read this old story.  What appears to be death might actually be life.  What seems to the end of a story, may actually be the beginning.  What is apparently a handing over of self in obedience can be a surprising release into a full liberty of expression.  We will only know when we choose to follow.

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Isaiah 57:14-21: The Restless Sea

Monday, August 22, 2016restless seas

In days when political and civic leaders grapple with the realities of our common world, Isaiah reminds us that the wicked are always with us, obscuring truth, engendering deceit.

The wicked are storm-battered seas that can’t quiet down. The waves stir up garbage and mud. (THE MESSAGE)

In times when religious and community leaders struggle to bring light to a present darkness, Isaiah reminds us that evil relies on chaotic upheaval and unpredictable alliances.

Evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

In the hour of darkness when friends and family clash over how to move forward for the good of all, Isaiah tells us that God’s promise of healing and restoration is authentic.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud. (NRSV)

In the moment of fear and division when anxiety and confusion threaten our relationship with God, Isaiah tells us that there is one person, one person, one bond that calms all fear and quiets all anxiety. Isaiah reminds us that there is a voice that persists as it calls out: Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road and make it ready!

Help and healing, humility and repentance, confidence and hope, eternal promise and love. Isaiah comforts us as he has done for millennia. Isaiah reminds us that God waits eternally for those who look to move from mourning to joy.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore various translations of these verses, we discover how we might all survive the restless seas.

Visit http://www.spiritualwarbiblestudies.com/index.php?topic=112.0 for a post exploring Isaiah 57:14-21. 

 

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behemoth

A depiction of the mythical Behemoth

Job 40: Fear

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chapter 40 of Job is sandwiched between the threat of Satan and the promise of restoration, bringing home to us the marvel of God’s immense love for us.

When we focus on 40:15 we see the Behemoth who sneezes, sending forth light flashes. Sparks fly from his mouth, his breath lights fires, his heart is hard as stone, the mighty fear him, nothing frightens him.  This monster – who later appears in Revelation – is drawn so vividly that we tremble before him.  What does he represent?  Perhaps he signifies all the fear we have ever felt about all things, both little and large.

We know that we must fight back the fear but the task is daunting.  When we spend time with Job we understand that when we allow God to be God, we enter into God’s love.

The Gospels tell us that when the Sea of Galilee is whipped by a storm, endangering the apostles in their tiny boat, we find Jesus walking on the water to calm both the turbulent waves and his followers.  Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! (Matthew 14:22-36Mark 6:45-56John 6:16-24) Just as the apostles follow Christ, so must we.

In the New Testament letters, John writes eloquently in his soaring verses to tell of the awesome enormity of the love God brings to us, the same love to which God calls us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:1-4) Just as John encourages us to believe, so must we encourage one another.

When the behemoth of fear stalks us, waits at the next corner, rides home with us in the back seat of the car, springs from under the bed . . . we must turn to Christ and to his colossal, freely-given love.

So let us perfect this love which God plants in each of us.  Let us revel in it.  Let us share it, speak of it, spend time with it.

And let us pray: Let us put fear aside.

When loved ones betray or disappoint us . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find the day too arduous and the night too long . . . Let us put fear aside.

When the behemoth springs from nowhere to instill us with foreboding . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we are anxious and tired and do not have the strength to summons the courage we so desperately seek . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find ourselves separate from you . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we seek punishment instead of love . . . Let us put fear aside.

Amen. 

I there is time today, spend time with John’s letters, and let God’s awesome love chase away the behemoth of fear.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 7, 2009.

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