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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Ephesians 2:8: God’s Handiwork

Thursday, June 8, 2017ephesians-2-10.jpg

This verse is so important that it deserves our reflection time. Let us remember God’s infinite fidelity.

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. (GNT)

This verse reminds us that we cannot earn God’s love because this love is already freely given. Let us remember God’s infinite compassion for us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (NRSV)

This verse recalls for us that we are all children of God. Let us remember God’s infinite mercy with us.

For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. (CJB)

This verse tells us that we are God’s handiwork. Let us remember God’s infinite hope in us.

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. (VOICE)

This verse is so important that it deserves our attention and time. Let us remember God’s infinite wisdom.

When we compare translations of this verse, we begin to understand the wonder of God’s marvelous work in us.

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Ephesians 2:7-10: A Shower of Grace and Kindness

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In faith, we abide with God, as God abides with us.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.

In hope, we trust in God, as God trusts in us.

Saving is all God’s idea, and all God’s work. All we do is trust God enough to let God do it. 

In love, we live in God, as God lives in us.

It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing!

In faith, through hope, by love, we are images of God’s passion in a world longing for transformation.

We neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.

In faith, through hope, by love, we are Christ’s hands and feet in the world looking for kindness.

God creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join God in the work God does, the good work God has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

In faith, through hope, by love, we are the Spirit’s healing presence among people who yearn for peace.

When we compare translations of these verses and open ourselves to God’s kindness, we encounter the transforming power of God’s grace.

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Hebrews 11Something Betterrainbow-forest-468

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. 

“This chapter draws upon the people and events of the Old Testament to paint an inspiring portrait of religious faith, firm and unyielding in the face of any obstacles that confront itThese pages rank among the most eloquent and lofty of the Bible”.

All these [holy women and men of the Old Testament] died in faith.  They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth . . . Perhaps when we feel as though we are alien to those around us it is because we are living in two different worlds: the first being what we see around us, the second being the reality of the world of the Spirit.

“The author gives the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament, though his interest does not lie in a technical, theological definition.  In view of the needs of his audience he describes what faith does, not what it is itself”.  

hebrews 11Women received back their dead through resurrection . . . Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment . . . The world was not worthy of them . . . Perhaps when we are persecuted for God’s sake it is because we bring a truth to those who wish to live in this world rather than build God’s world.

“Through faith, God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what he promises will eventually come to pass”. 

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac . . . By faith, Joseph spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites . . . By faith Moses was hidden by his parents . . . By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the disobedient . . . What more shall I say? . . . Perhaps we might have more confidence in the future if we thank God for the many miracles we have received in the past and receive even today.

“Christians have even greater reason to remain firm in faith since they, unlike the Old Testament men and women of faith, have perceived the beginning of God’s fulfillment of his messianic promises”.

God had foreseen something better for us . . . And perhaps we already hold in our hands something better than what we had anticipated . . . if we might only live as if we have evidence of our faith.

Today, we hear from the 35th chapter of Isaiah in the first reading at Mass and I smile.  The prophet describes what he sees in the future . . . and I like to think he sees who and what Christ’s followers are and are becoming.  He speaks of the desert and the parched land will exult: the steppe rejoice and bloom . . . Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.  The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water . . . No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it.  It is for those with the journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.  Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee . . .

This is what God envisions for us.  This is what God promises us.  This is the gift we have been given . . . a faith that is the realization of what is hoped for . . . and is evidence of things not seen . . . a faith that is evidence of something better . . . 

Citations are from THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. 

A Favorite from December 6, 2010.

For more about Rahab, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/r/rahab_or_rachab.htm

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.363-364. Print.   

 

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Romans 5:1-5: Indwelling and Endurance

Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017

PENTECOST-

Jean Restout: Pentecost

With the indwelling of the Spirit, we know Christ more intimately.

Jesus Christ has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live.

Through the promise and gift of God’s grace, we live more fully.

And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory!

With the gift of life’s obstacles, we find our way to God through Christ.

We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and God’s approval creates hope.

With the transformation and peace of God’s wisdom, we become true disciples of Christ.

This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out God’s love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.

With persistence in faith, courage in hope, and charity in love, we come to understand the true gift of the Spirit’s indwelling.

When we spend time with these verses by reflecting on varying translations, we open ourselves to the Spirit’s indwelling, and we learn to endure in Christ.

For a slide show of Pentecost paintings, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/pentecost-in-art-paintings-stained-glass-windows-frescoes-and-more-photos_n_3303122.html?slideshow=true#gallery/298296/0

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Ezekiel 43: God’s Glory Returns

archway-roman-ruins-tyre-lebanon_12240_600x450

National Geographic: Ruins of Roman Archway in Tyre, Lebanon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As a counterbalance to the description of the downfall of Tyre on which we have reflected before, today we have a description of the temple in the New Jerusalem. What we see described here is God living with all of the Israelites forever. The man leading the prophet through this beautiful scenario says: Describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangements, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is full of detailed descriptions of the place and the people who make up this new city where God dwells forever with his people. It was meant to both instruct and to bring comfort to those who lived in exile with this prophet. The footnotes in the NAB point out that in the new Israel the temple is free, even physically, from civil jurisdiction – moving away from the habit of corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh who treated it as a private chapel for pagan rites.

Jerusalem _ Old City Walls _ Noam Chen_IMOT

Noam Chen: Old City of  Jerusalem

When Jesus arrived on the scene hundreds of years later as the true Messiah, he upset much of this separatist and purist thinking. It was for his openness and universality that he was hunted down, condemned and put to death.  Because his new Law of Love fulfilled and superseded the old Law of Moses, he and his apostles were hounded out of towns and executed. Even in the early Christian church we see the struggle with this idea of openness and universality with the first Council which convened in Jerusalem to determine the importance of circumcision as a requirement for church membership. After discussion, and when the dust settles, we read in Acts that circumcision was not determined necessary.  God’s church is open to Gentile and Jew, slave or free, woman or man – to all those who will be faithful to the Covenant first established with Adam and Eve.

This is how we see the New Temple and the New Jerusalem as revealed by Ezekiel millennia ago. This place of worship where God dwells is where we live even today . . . if we might only choose to open our eyes and ears to it. This prophet was painting a picture of radiance for his exiled peope, and they must have taken heart at the memories these words stirred of how it is to gather together as Yahweh’s faithful to repent, to petition, to give thanks, to worship.

As Easter people who believe in the Resurrected Jesus, we too, can relax into these images and make them our own. We can carry them into the world with us each day as we encounter and then counter the darkness that wishes to prevail. We can arm ourselves with these pictures of the universal gathering of all of God’s People . . . the Faithful to the Covenant . . . the Hopeful in all things hopeless . . . the Truthful in all relationships . . . the Struggling with the cares of this world . . . the Freed who have escaped the chains of doubt and anxiety. For we are Easter people who live the Resurrection even now. For God’s Glory has returned in us . . . in our willingness to serve . . . our willingness to be vulnerable . . . our willingness to witness . . . our willingness to be Christ and Light and Truth to a world struggling to be free of the darkness.

This is God’s Plan. This is God’s Design. This is God’s Law.

Amen.  Alleluia!

A Favorite from April 13, 2008.

For a Noontime reflection on Tyre, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/18/tyre/ 

For more National Geographic images of Lebanon, click on the image above. 

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1 Peter 2:4-9: A Living Stone

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2017

Today Peter says to us,

Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable.

We reflect on the times we have rejected the Word that has come to us through the voices and actions of others; and we remember the times we are rejected when we struggle to bring light to darkness.

God says,

I chose a valuable stone,
    which I am placing as the cornerstone in Zion;
    and whoever believes in him will never be disappointed.

We examine the strength of our faith in Christ as the Living Stone, the foundation of the new temple in which each of us is invited to join Christ as living stones raising thanks to God.

Isaiah foretells and Peter repeats,

This is the stone that will make people stumble,
    the rock that will make them fall.

We explore the depth of our hope, the strength of our love, the authenticity of our trust and the clarity of our minds as we give our hearts over as Living Stones for Christ.

Peter reminds us,

They stumbled because they did not believe in the word; such was God’s will for them.

As we reflect, we open ourselves to the reality that our stumblings are tumbles into Christ’s arms. Our shortcomings are windows into the New Temple of Living Stones. And our failings are invitations to join Christ as the cornerstone in our new lives of peace.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore thee verses, we recognize the Word and we become more willing to tumble into Christ’s ample, healing and loving heart.

For  better understanding of the city of Zion and what it might represent, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zion.htm 

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Isaiah 41:13: Your Right Hand

God’s left hand waits for our right hand . . .

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I am the Lord, your God, who gasp your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you”.

How often do we take our hands for granted? How much of our life do we hold in our hands?

I am the Lord your God;
I strengthen you and tell you,
“Do not be afraid; I will help you.” (GNT)

Do we believe that God’s hands manage the details of our lives? Do we see God’s hands at work in the broad horizon of our days and nights?

For I, Adonai, your God,
say to you, as I hold your right hand,
‘Have no fear; I will help you. (CJB)

Dylan Pierce: Child and Man

Can we say with hope that God brings all harm to good? Can we relinquish our fear and pride long enough to place ourselves in God’s hands?

I, your God,
have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, “Don’t panic.
I’m right here to help you.” (MSG)

Can we remain faithful to God’s goodness and rely on God’s wisdom? Can we open ourselves to God’s grace and follow where God leads as God takes us by our right hand?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open our hands to God, and give ourselves over to God’s goodness.

 

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part V

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How are we baptized in Christ’s love?

The rite of Baptism signifies our immersion into Christ’s death so that we might rise again with him. Peter writes that this baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to God.

As we reflect on salvific suffering, we come to understand that suffering with and through and in Christ is not a punishment; rather, it is a gift to be lived out, a gift undergone not alone but with Christ – who accompanies us on every step of our daily journey toward him.  In this light, we can share joyfully with Peter when he writes: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Always be ready to give an explanation of your joy, always reply to your accusers with gentleness and a clear conscience, for it is better to suffer for doing good than to do evil.

Be joyfully filled with hope . . . for you suffer not alone . . .

Take up your personal cross and follow . . .

For by doing so . . . you add your little particle of redemption . . .

To the redemption of the world . . .

There can be no greater calling . . . no greater work . . .

No greater God than our God . . .

Who is an awesome God . . .

Who cradles us each day and all through the night . . .

And shares this gift of treasure with us . . .

Watching . . . waiting . . . smiling . . . abiding . . .

Calling us constantly home.

Amen.

Baptism is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1214 at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

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John 21:1-14: Throwing Our Nets Yet Again

Friday, April 28, 2017jesus-beach

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day six, Easter Friday, we hear John’s familiar story of Jesus appearing at the Sea of Galilee. The details in the story open doors of Easter joy and hope for us.

First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, we see again that the disciples do not recognize Jesus when they first see him. Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has stood before us, and our eyes have not seen. The unwanted visitor. The neighbor who challenges us. The colleague who asks a question we do not want to answer.

Jesus asks the disciples to expect something new when he asks them to do something they have been doing for hours. Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has asked us to once more open ourselves to optimism when we have already given up on hope. The task we have already completed. The cause we believe to be dead. The optimism we see as pointless.

Jesus prepares a meal for his friends, and then he says, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has waited on us, served us, healed us and loved us. We recall the worries and anxieties that too often govern us. We remember the doubts and fears that too frequently control us. We remember the Easter promise of healing and transformation. And we look toward the end of John’s Gospel when he tells us, There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books. (John 21:25)

And we ask ourselves . . . can we recognize the Christ moments in our lives? Are we willing to muster the courage to throw our nets another time where we have already thrown them endlessly? Are we prepared to welcome the joy and peace of Easter? And are we willing to witness to these life-giving encounters with Christ so that others might live and believe?

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