Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘humility’


Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hosea 5:1-15: Affliction

Hear this, O priests, pay attention, O house of Israel . . . 

This is a sad picture – a people turned away from God in such a way that they have eliminated any possibility of return.  In today’s Noontime, the leaders in particular are held to judgment since they have been given the gift of office – yet they abuse it.  The priests celebrate their own harlotry.  Arrogance bears witness against itself.  There is political upheaval and insincere conversion.  All appears to be lost.

O household of the king, give ear . . . 

Hosea predicts an all-consuming whirlwind later in his prophecy, a coming storm that the prophet Ezekiel also predicts.  It is fascinating that no matter how much we are warned of our own coming fall, and no matter how much we learn about ourselves, we continue to walk toward and even tumble over the precipice that is clearly labeled with warnings.  There is something about us that wants to self-destruct.

And yet there is more to this story. We are graced to be New Testament people who know that God forgives us when we return to God’s call – even when this turning comes at the last moment. And so we look for salvation from our affliction. Do we know that what we truly seek is our own transformation? And do we know that we hold the key to this redemption and rebirth within?

As we move through our Lenten journey, we are called to return to God. Called to turn back to a time when we accepted God’s love with childlike glee. With this turning, we find an openness to change and possibility for healing from our own afflictions. We find a newness of change in Christ.

So although our leaders may have fallen into deep affliction, we need not follow. God’s persistent love – if only we open ourselves to its healing power – brings with it an invitation to wisdom, an offer of grace, a measure of humility, a taste of fidelity and strength, and the enduring gift of un-imagined freedom. Today we ask that God’s persistent love convert our deep affliction to the abiding hope and love that Hosea foretells.


Adapted from a Favorite written on September 8, 2010.

To find prayers for those who suffer during the Easter season, click on the image above or visit: https://newtonpresbytery.org/2019/04/25/prayers-for-those-suffering-in-this-season-of-easter/ 

Read Full Post »

Sirach 5: Presumption


Thursday, February 29, 2020

Sirach 5: Presumption

reality-check-road-sign[1]Rely not on your wealth; say not “I have the power”.  Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart . . . Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.

I am always moved by the simplicity yet gravity of the words of Ben Sirach and their ability to reach across the millennia to us.  The use of the delayed negative is effective here.  Ben Sirach gets our attention by reversing the word order in these negative commands, luring us in with the concepts we use to filter our thoughts and actions: self-reliance, belief in might making right, the power of fortune and fame.

As humans – and particularly as citizens of the free world – we are tempted to think that all we have and all we do are ours by our own merit.  Our soul must put aside this presumption.  This is the conversion to which we are called.  What are the results of our humility before God?

Sincerity in speech . . .  our words can both destroy and heal . . . ourselves and others.

Winnow not in every wind, and start off not in every direction.  Be consistent in your thoughts; steadfast to your words.  Be swift to hear, but slow to answer . . . Honor and dishonor through talking!  

In all problems, at all times, for all reasons, in all relationships . . . our presumption is the stumbling block to true and total conversion.  Humility in all things, with all people, in all times . . . humility before God . . . this is the way to finding the answers we seek.  Be swift to hear, but slow to answer . . . lest we presume much and know little.

Just last week I was listening to NPR when I heard about a recent study showing that today’s children in the elementary grades are suffering from an over large amount of self-esteem which leads to a sense of entitlement.  Jesus Ben Sirach speaks to those families in which this kind of narcissism is nurtured.  He tells us today that when we put presumption aside we are better able to see ourselves as God sees us. He also tells us that a life lived without presumption is fertile ground in which sincerity may grow and flourish.  And this sincerity brings forth justice . . . for ourselves . . . and for God’s kingdom.  Let us delay not our conversion to the Lord . . . let us put it not off even one day.

Once we submit to God’s love for us and agree to do away with all that presumes we are our own creation . . . then will we know the peace and serenity we seek.

Delay not your conversion to God. 


Image from: http://spiritualhealingsource.com/?p=2669

Written on January 8, 2009; revised and posted today as a Favorite.

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sirach 3: Stubbornness

stubbornness-hand-200[1]A stubborn heart ends badly; an obstinate heart is full of disquiet.  When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing. 

This book opens with a series of paths we might follow to gain the sort of wisdom that transforms the world: awe of the Lord, self-control, sincerity, patience, faithfulness, respect of elders, humility, and almsgiving.  Each of these avenues holds its own form of consolation.  Each promises serenity.  As we investigate our interior, we will need this kind of wisdom to sort out what it is we are called to do as builders of God’s kingdom.  As we open ourselves to God’s piercing love, we will need this kind of wisdom to fully take in the goodness God has in store for us.

The first portion of this chapter is devoted to the relationship we are to have with our parents.  Some of us are painfully aware that not all parenting is good.  Some of us are blessed to have lived in families that thrived in the hands of merciful yet just parents.  In the later case, we might share the love we have been given with those who lack it.  In the former case, we might look for people in our lives who can bring us the kind of sustaining constancy we have lacked growing up.  In both cases, God the Father, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus the brother and the consoling Holy Spirit can bring us all that humans in our lives have been incapable of providing.

The second portion of this chapter focuses on the difference in a life lived in pride as contrasted with one lived in humility.  It is easy to make the statement that humble hearts are more serene than proud ones.  It is difficult to actually live a modest life.  Service to God and others and the will to do God’s will rather than our own are keys to success if we are to find any sort of peace at all in our daily living.

Christ’s meekness confounds his enemies.  God’s love does not make sense in our secular world.  The Holy Spirit abides and consoles even, and especially, through horror and pain. Perhaps this is why we often feel so torn, pushed, and plucked at in our culture.  We have forgotten who we are: humble creatures dearly loved by the triune creator, wayward children called home each day by our loving parents.

As we read Sirach today, we can use these images to bring us back to our true hearth where our mother, father and the love they hold between them bind us to them.  With care they tend the fire that will protect us from the cold and over which they will prepare our meal.  With compassion they will bind up our wounds of the day.  With justice they will defend us from all that is evil.

A stubborn heart ends badly; an obstinate heart is full of disquiet.  When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing.

When we are feeling alone, bereft, confused, agitated, hurt or anxious, we will do well to humble ourselves, to put away our stubbornness, and to return to the forgiving love of the creator.


Image from: http://personalityspirituality.net/articles/the-michael-teachings/chief-features/stubbornness/

Revised from a reflection first written on March 22, 2010, and posted today as a Favorite. 

For interesting insight about stubbornness, click on the image above or go to: http://personalityspirituality.net/articles/the-michael-teachings/chief-features/stubbornness/

Read Full Post »


Daniel 10: God’s Mission

Saturday, December 21, 2019

This is a portion of the story of the bright, young Jewish man, Daniel, who goes in to exile with the Jewish nation.  He continues to follow God’s will in the new and alien land; and God never lets him down.  Rather, God cares for Daniel – and his companions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Chapter 3) even the fires of a great furnace.  This prophecy is full of wonderful stories we heard as children.  It is full of mysterious visions that explain our future.  It is full of the promise of the present . . . and we have much we might learn about humble obedience when called . . .

Stand up, for my mission now is to you . . .

When we hear these words we, like Daniel, struggle to understand what God has in mind for us and how we might do God’s will.

From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard . . .

When we understand that God has chosen us for a mission, we will likely fear that is too difficult and too impossible for us.

Fear not beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong . . .

When we believe that God is with us, there is nothing we cannot do when God asks . . .


Written on November 18, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://bongodogblog.com/tag/shadrach-meshach-and-abednego/

Read Full Post »


James 3:13-18: Authentic Wisdom

Friday, December 6, 2019

I love this letter.  We do not visit it often enough.  Today’s reading is particularly interesting to me as I notice that in my Spanish Biblia verse 16 the Spanish is envidia (envy) rather than celos (jealousy).  Thus in the Spanish version of James, we are called to put aside our envy – our wanting others to suffer loss – rather than mere jealousy – our wanting what others have.  James is the patron saint of Spain – I wonder if they know him better than we English speakers do.

The reason I enjoy reading James is that he is so plain.  There is no wondering about his words.  He goes to the root causes of division and he makes strong suggestions for a positive change.  He sees our obstacles as: pride, presumption, loose tongues, ambition, material goods.  He recommends patience, forbearance, firmness of heart, perseverance, humility, confession, union with God.

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Jean Vanier: Many of us live in delusion about ourselves, unable to see ourselves as we really are.  The veil [that prevents our encounter with Jesus] has to be broken somewhere in our deep inner being . . . Jesus is the healer, the One who comes to bring me life and liberate me from myself.  He comes to heal me from my egoism, from aggressiveness.  He comes to heal me from my anguish . . . It is a beautiful thing to meet people in deep anguish, who are able to say . . . that they are beginning to find peace . . . They know what it is to find pass from death to life.  They know the quiet experience of the healing power of the Spirit. 

James brings us the opportunity to take a long, hard look at ourselves.  James lays out the parameters for living of life of Christ rather than a life outside of  Christ.  It is not difficult to discern our path once we take off our blinders.

It is the removal of the blinders that is difficult.

It is the taking down of the illusion that we resist.

It is the deconstructing all the ramparts of our fear that we have built up so earnestly that we reject.  It is the disassembling of our false god that we have woven so meticulously that we fear.

What brings us healing?  What brings us peace?

It is the coming to Christ with nothing but our actions.

It is the rising to the true challenge and purpose of our lives.

It is the revelation of ourselves unashamedly to our God.

It is the humbling of ourselves.

It is the asking of God for the strength to do his will.

This is what brings healing.  This is what brings peace.

This baring of naked self leads to authenticity . . . This authenticity invites wisdom.

This wisdom engenders a life into which Christ easily steps.


For more on Authenticity, click on the image above or go to: http://elementsofyourlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/live-your-life-with-authenticity.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4 November 2008. Print.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 4, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Read Full Post »


Ezra 3: A Great Shout

Friday, November 1, 2019

I love this story of a joyful people who realize that they have been saved from the teeth of death.  They fully know that their God loves them despite their collective and individual transgressions, and they also recognize that they have another opportunity to begin anew.  We can all use this message from time to time.

The people in today’s story are still close to the bitterness of their exile experience and they have not allowed time to dim or re-write their reality.  They have not yet given in to the temptation to morph memories into events which did not happen.  They are still being honest with themselves.

St. Paul writes to the Colossians (3:12-14) and to us to remind us of how we are to live in our new life after our own exile and return.  He tells us what we yearn to know: How are we to be when we come into God’s presence?  How are we to wear Christ as a garment into a society which is focused on the things of the world?  Paul says simply: Put on, then, as God’s chosen, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

The people in today’s reading are chosen and loved by God.  We today are also chosen and loved.  We so often seek perfection in our actions and words.  We try to avoid error in order to steer clear of pain.  We return from our exile times and wonder how to begin again.

Today we read about a great shout of joy and weeping that goes up from the returned.  We might want to add our own tears and voices to the chorus.


Written on September 25, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite. 

To read more about Ezra click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/people/ezra.htm

Read Full Post »


Psalm 131: Humble Trust in God

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

This is one of the shortest psalms in the Bible – only 3 verses – and yet its message is one of the most important.  We must trust God.  And if we truly do, we will have less anxiety, less fear, more hope, and more serenity.  This is so simple, and yet so difficult.

Jesus demonstrates his own filial boldness when he tells us, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.  (Mark 11:24)  He abides by the Father just as the Father abides by him and he reminds us to knock, seek and ask.  (Matthew 7:7-14)  Jesus believes that the promises he has been given will be fulfilled . . . and they are . . . but not without suffering.

We need not look to Jesus for our only inspiration to trust.  We also have the marvelous examples of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman. (Matthew 8:10 and 15:28)   Jesus himself remarks on the depth of their faith, and we can see their persistence.  The Catechism in paragraph 2613 reminds us to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith (my italics).  And this many of us do, but perhaps we leave out one important step.  A true prayer of faith is not only the words and the intent, but the true disposition of one’s heart to do the will of the Father.  (My italics again)  Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.  (CCC 2611)

Why do we not trust God enough to let go of our little and big worries?  Why do we doubt that God will do anything but what is good for us?  God is goodness itself and truth itself, and so God is incapable of doing anything but the best for us.  Perhaps we mull over conversations we have had with God which have not brought us precisely what we thought we deserved.  Maybe be believe that we have a better plan in mind.

As I watch my life and that of others, as I observe the sun and the stars and the moon and the seas, as I watch a flock of birds lift in unison, or trees bend before the force of a hurricane, I am stunned by how little I trust.  The simplest and greatest of God’s creation trust that all will be well better than I.  Perhaps I do not humble myself enough.  Perhaps I think I understand more than the birds or the planets or the flowers because I am a creature who has the power of reason and problem solving.  If this is so, I must turn to this simplest of psalms which holds so much truth.  And I must humble myself to believe that God has a far better plan for my life and the lives of those around me than I could ever devise.

Lord, I am not proud; nor are my eyes haughty.  I do not busy myself with things that are too sublime for me.  Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.  Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.  Israel, hope in the Lord, now and forever.  Amen.


Written on October 5, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://www.mikepedersen.com/building-trust-online-to-maximize-your-business-growth/

Read Full Post »


1 Kings 2: Consolidation

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Ferdinand Bol: David’s Dying Charge to Solomon

Today’s reading is full of violence and intrigue – not unlike the political and social landscape in which we constantly find ourselves.  People do not hide out much in the tent of the Lord these days, nor do they order heads to be severed from bodies in retribution; but we do indeed destroy reputations, we intimidate and threaten, we use ever kind of subtle and not so subtle violence to get what we want.  We usually do this without counting the cost to others; and we also forget to measure the ultimate cost to ourselves.

In this forgetting of self and others . . . we show our forgetfulness of God.

David leaves a kingdom and a way of life to his son, Solomon because he knows how difficult it is to maintain fidelity and remain in God.  David also knows how much God loves his people and how willing God is to forgive us our faults.  The aging father tries to pass along his understanding of “the measure” to his young son and when we read this entire story we see how much Solomon is able to retain; we find out how and if he prospers from his father’s final words.

Jesus makes the rules of his kingdom clear to us: The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  There is only one true commandment – love God and love one another, even as I have loved you.  In this week’s scripture class we are asked to re-think the yardsticks we constantly use to make decisions about what we will say and what we will do.  Do we show partiality to a special group of people or to a special idea?  How do we perceive others?  How do we perceive ourselves?  How do our actions demonstrate our perception of God?

James calls us back to the realization that we do not see as God sees, and he reminds us that when we make judgments we so often are looking at the external and forgetting that Jesus lives in everyone we meet – even those people we do not like.  James tells us in 2:1-13 that when we show deference to those with money and power, we neglect those who are poor in worldly treasures and those who are poor in spirit.  We neglect those with whom Jesus chooses to reside, the physically, emotionally and spiritually marginalized.  Jesus calls the poor and the broken-hearted to himself in order that he might heal them.  These are the people for whom Jesus demonstrates compassion.  And so ought we.  Jesus calls the rich and powerful to an accounting.  He is moved to rebuke them for their lack of regard for his poor and broken-hearted.  And so ought we to be moved if we wish to bring about the kingdom.

Today we read of all the plotting and scheming that occur as the young King Solomon consolidates his kingdom.  He lives in treacherous times.  So do we.   And so we pray . . .

Dear Lord,

It is so very difficult to trust in you alone.  We so often forget that you are watching over us and accompanying us in our journey.  The world seems so very scary and in our human survival reaction to our fears, we forget to rely on you alone.  Help us to see as you see.  Help us to look past the external.  Help us to feel as you feel.  Move us with your compassion.  Grace us with the gift of your love.  Help us to free ourselves by acting in humility, mercy and forgiveness.  Help us to see that by freeing others we also free ourselves. And when we move to consolidate our forces from our feeble human weak places, remind us to come together with others in you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name as we give ourselves over to the power of the Holy Spirit who lives and moves in us, and who calls us to unity. 

Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection written on January 30, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on the story portrayed in the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://fourhandles.blogspot.com/2011/04/1-kings-23-davids-final-advise-to.html

Read Full Post »


Revelation 4: Heavenly Worship

Monday, September 2, 2019

Written on August 2, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Footnotes tell us that much of this imagery can also be found in Ezekiel, where God is seen as surrounded by worshiping figures.  All of these creatures and people are symbolic; and good footnotes or a good commentary are helpful when sorting and understanding all of these ideas.  What makes so much sense to me is the idea that it is right and good to live a life in constant praise of God.  I like this thought.  It brings me comfort to know that the angels, saints and all creatures celebrate God in heaven just as we do here on earth.  I think that being in God’s presence necessitates a willingness to worship, to praise, to thank and to petition.  What will we do in heaven if we have not practiced coming together to be near to God?  How can we expect to understand any heavenly rite if we do not accustom ourselves to ritual here on earth?  Why would we think that we might get along with lambs who frolic among lions . . . if we cannot live in harmony here on earth?

We have many earthly opportunities to demonstrate our willingness to be humble, to build bridges between ourselves and our enemies, to be peacemakers.  Where do expect to stand when we arrive at the heavenly throne room?  How do we expect to know how to behave?  Why do we expect that in another place we will suddenly be able to love . . . when we have not learned to do so here?

We have this idea so often that God is in his heaven while we are in the world.  We have forgotten the lesson of this story . . . that the kingdom is now, the kingdom is here.  We are every waking and sleeping moment in God’s presence . . . and how do we behave?

Today we might begin anew with our lessons for Heavenly Worship.  We might begin anew in our lessons of Love and Unity.


Image from: http://epitemnein-epitomic.blogspot.com/2012/06/gods-institutes-of-praise-prayer-and.html

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: