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jesus-lightFriday, September 17, 2021

Psalm 25

God Shows the Way – Part I

The Lord is good and upright. He shows the path to those who stray, he guides the humble in the right path; he teaches his way to the poor.

The humble, the poor, and those who stray. God tends to those who stumble along The Way Christ shows us.

My eyes are always on the Lord; for he rescues my feet from the snare. Turn to me for I am poor and lonely.

These words touch a chord within us and it may be for this reason that Psalm 25 is frequently used at funerals. We are sending a loved one off on a journey that each of us will take . . . and we are not always certain of the way we ought to go.

Psalm 25 is an acrostic with the first letter of each verse being a successive letter of the alphabet.  As we sing this song, “the palmist mixes ardent pleas (1-2, 16-22) with expressions of confidence in God who forgives and guides”.  (Senior 661)

John 14:1-12 is also often read at a funeral Mass because it brings us comfort to know that there really is no mystery about how to live our lives or what we are to do when we die.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

When we are able to find a pocket of calm from which to assess our lives, we know that in subtle ways, and sometimes not so subtle ways, God provides us with a map for our lives. And when we can trust God enough to relax into the goodness that God is, we also realize we are sent suggestions for our lives much like the directions we receive when we plug in a GPS (Global Positioning System). God constantly warns, guides, prods, encourages and finally shows us The Way we are to go. We have only to relax and follow.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT (315) Day by Day reflection by Heather King, a spiritual writer and a convert to Catholicism: This was a God who was with us in our darkest human moments, who had suffered every insult, humiliation, confusion, loneliness that we have.  I’d think, he knew what it is to yearn, to feel like a loser, a failure, and a misfit . . . I began to see that this God – who had the power to do anything; who commanded the sun and stars – had instead consented to empty himself and become the hardest thing in the universe it is possible to be: a mortal being.  He’s become human in order to enter into our daily lives, to be with us every waking and sleeping moment, to fulfill the deepest desire of the human heart: to not be so eternally, everlastingly alone.  In a way I was becoming a believer just because Christ did fulfill the deepest desire of the heart: isn’t it our greatest wish that God not be some faraway abstract entity, but somehow like us?  That God walks among us is so simple we refuse to believe it; it so fulfills our deepest yearning we’re blind to the fact that it actually has been fulfilled . . . Christ is [not] a fairy tale, or wishful thinking, or an illusion.  We can bring things into being only by believing them with the purest of hearts. We can bring into being only the true and the real – “I am the way the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) – what already exists in a sense.

Jeremiah tells us that God has a plan in mind for us, a plan for our joy and not our woe. As we search for The Way, we humble ourselves . . . as God faithfully shows us The Way.

Tomorrow, how can we not follow? God shows the way, part two.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.5 (2011): 315. Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.661. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

Image from: http://pamandersonblog.com/2013/07/

 

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

1 Samuel 12

christ washing feetJudging         

Yesterday we contemplated how we might refrain from judging one another. Today we reflect on how we might judge as God judges.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord . . . It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal . . .

What we read today is how to “fear” the Lord, how to stand in awe of God before all else and before anyone else. Only God is God. Only God matters. God alone is enough, says Teresa of Ávila.

The Liturgy of the Hours prayers and Mass readings often reflect this theme.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful . . . Whoever exalts himself will be humbled . . . Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

Pride sets subtle snares. Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like gods”. Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not only by our own power but by the power of the cross. (MAGNIFICAT, 304)

We have a number of reminders today: No one’s but God’s opinion matters; we do not need to strive to be gods for we are children of God; we behave divinely when we humble ourselves just as Jesus does; our happiness comes after and through our suffering; pride is deceptive and alluring.

In his farewell speech, Samuel challenges his audience to judge him or to find fault with his conduct. Paul tells us that he does not care at all about who judges him or how. The one who judges me is the Lord. Of course, we can take these views to the extreme and pretend that we can do as we like and that we do not have to conform to any civil rules or social mores. This would be an extreme and unreasonable position to hold for even Jesus tells us to render Caesar’s business unto Caesar. The words we read today help us with the most important part of our being . . . our spiritual self. These words today help us to focus properly on what is vital to us and significant in our lives: our relationship with God.

Fortunately for us God is merciful and forgiving. Blessedly for us God loves us and is waiting for us to turn to him. God waits for us graciously and compassionately. Let us accept God’s gift with humility. Let us take the lowest seat at the table so that we might stand before God and others to declare our faithfulness to God in confidence and love.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 22 March 2011. 304. Print.

Image from: http://drtimwhite.com/humility-is-key-to-the-unity-of-a-church/

Adapted from a reflection written on March 22, 2011.

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Ascension Sunday, May 16, 2021birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt

Matthew 10:29-31

Every Hair

Jesus taught us, saying: Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows”.

In this short citation of Jesus’ words, we learn all that we need to know about living life and about being watchful.

ONE: Nothing can be concealed from God. The Creator knows all that we think and do. The Creator understands our most secret motivations. Why do we try to hide anything we do or anything we think? Secrecy is futile in the kingdom.

Christ walks always with us, calling us forth in the name of the Creator. The Spirit remains in us, filling us with life eternal.

TWO: Nothing we do goes unnoted by God. The Creator marks both our pain and sorrow, our happiness and joy. Why do we persist in relying on our own small forces when we have the omnipotence and omniscience of the Creator buoying us up?  Reliance on self is meaningless in the kingdom.

Christ walks before and behind us, guiding and protecting in the name of the Creator. The Spirit hovers, abiding and consoling with love everlasting.

If God notes even the falling of a sparrow’s feather, how much can our anxiety and willfulness accomplish? How far will our stubbornness carry us in comparison with the power and strength of the Spirit?

If God numbers every hair on our heads, how much do we think we can hide what we do not like about ourselves?

How much will our separateness gain for us in comparison with the unity we have in God’s love? Secrecy and too much reliance on self will always be trumped by humility, generosity and love in the kingdom. Let us live as if we believe that God has numbered our every hair.


Image from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt.html?product=greeting-card

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

vineyardAmos 9:12-15

A Prayer for Perspective

All the nations shall bear my name . . .

So let me begin to praise God now . . .

I, the Lord, will do this . . .

For all that God has done for me . . .

The ploughman shall overtake the reaper . . .

Just as the seasons turn so does God turn to us, all of us the children of God . . .

I will bring about the restoration of my people . . .

Once we understand the importance of humility . . .

They shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities . . .

Once we understand the depth of God’s wisdom . . .

They shall plant vineyards and drink the wine . . .

Once we understand the breadth of God’s reach . . .

057peachesThey shall set out gardens and eat the fruits . . .

Once we understand the height of God’s hope . . .

I will plant them upon their own ground . . .

Once we act in accordance with God’s plan . . .

Never again shall they be plucked . . .

Once we love as God loves . . .

Say I, the Lord, your God . . .

Say I, this child of God . . .

Amen.


Images from: http://www.meadorchards.com/ and http://www.ventanawines.com/sustainability

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God. And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us? Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us. All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted. It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services:“The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer.” Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

ww_pada01[1]

Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned. When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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Thursday, February 18, 2014

desert in bloomJoel 2:18-27

Blessings for God’s People

I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten . . . you shall praise the name of the Lord because God has dealt wondrously with you . . .

When we experience loss we believe that our work has been in vain; yet God says: There is nothing lost that cannot be found. Nothing spent that cannot be restored. Nothing ruined that cannot be rebuilt. I am the great restorer. It is not true that the work you have given to me as a kingdom-builder can really be destroyed. Nothing done by you in my name is ever erased, and I can call it to life in an instant so do not panic. Do not be afraid. I see a vast and complicated plan which you cannot perceive or understand. When you are troubled about how this plan appears to be ineffective or ridiculous, remember to bring those fears and anxieties to me. And when you find yourself feeling as though you are alone with nothing and no one to sustain you . . . remember that I am with you always.  Even in the most brutal and hostile of deserts.

After his baptism, the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

When we experience our own desert times we too feel surrounded by evil beasts; yet we are accompanied by angels who minister to us. When we ask God to bring us patience, humility and serenity these gifts will arrive on angels’ wing.  hen will the desert begin to bloom in an extraordinary way; and then will we find that for long, dry days and dark, cold nights we have been sustained by the mystery and miracle of God’s love.

Tomorrow, Blessings In the Desert.


Image from: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2005/05/desert_flowers_.html

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

imagesCAZPBI3NPsalm 119:73-80

Yodh

Your hands made me and fashioned me . . .

“A small suspended point, reveals the spark of essential good hidden within the letter”. (Ginsburgh)

God says: I hide nothing from you and you need not hide anything from me. Hiding, after all, is quite impossible for all truths are eventually revealed. When you read my Word, both the old and the new scriptures tell you that in the end all truth is revealed and all that was thought hidden is exposed to the light. How much better it is then, to live in the open truth rather than in dark corners that will eventually be flooded by light.

How much better it is to spend our energy on sharing the good news of God’s unconditional love with others than plotting and planning in the dark. This letter is the smallest in the Hebrew alphabet and this tenth strophe that bears its name teaches us a lesson in humility.

Lord, you have probed me; you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar . . . Where can I hide from your spirit?  From your presence where can I flee? . . . You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139)


For more information on the letter Yodh, click on the image or go to: http://www.bje.org.au/learning/hebrew/alphabet/10yud.html or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/yud.htm

Ginsburgh, Harav Yitzchak . “Yud: The Infinite Point.” Hebrew Letters. “Introduction to the Hebrew Letters.” The Gal Enai Website. Gal Einai Institute, Inc., n.d. Web. 19 Jan 2014.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Malachi 3:19-20 (4:1-2)

The Day is Here

Matthais Stom (Stomer): The Adoration of the Shepherds

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble . . . But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

A child born in quiet dignity.  A world waiting to be saved. God humbles the proud with the smallness of this child. God heals the wounded with the power of this child. God rescues all with the compassion of this child. The long-awaited day of wonder and promise is here. All of this we know, for we are Christmas people.

Enter the word justice in the blog search bar, or visit the pages about the prophet Malachi, and consider what we know and believe as Christmas people.


Differing translations of Scripture have differing numbering systems for this prophecy.  

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_Matthias_Stom_(Stomer)_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer[1]Daniel 10:12

Visions

Fear not.  From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. 

The prophecy of Daniel is full of metaphor, symbolism and mystery and yet it is in this prophecy that we see the coming of the Son of Man predicted. (Daniel 7:13 and 8:17) Today we reprise the mysterious vision that presages so much fear and so much hope.

God says: I see that you are determined to follow me and this brings me joy.  I also see the pitfalls and obstacles in your way and this brings me sorrow.  I abide with you as always.  I accompany you through fire, pain and death.  I raise you up when you are fallen.  I restore you when are spent.  I rescue you when fire consumes you.  Did I not save my servant Daniel?  Are you not as important as he?  Read this story of Daniel and humble yourself as Daniel does.  Trust in me as this young man does.  Acquire knowledge of me as this young prophet does for you are destined to be as significant as any prophet of mine in the days of old.  Each of you is precious in my eyes.  Each of you has the potential to prophesy for me.  Each of you is welcome to take refuge in the limitless safety of my most sacred heart.  When you shelter with me your smallness expands to the boundless horizons of my mind.  When you remain in me your fears and anxieties become the sinews of my protective arms.  When you act in me your tears and sorrows dissolve into mists that nourish the dry nights of the soul.  Read about Daniel’s visions today, bring me requests, and give yourself hope for many tomorrows.  Know that I hear every prayer you utter in the turmoil of the day, in the shadows of night, in the company for friends or in the solitary stillness of your heart. 

To further explore the visions of Daniel, enter his name in the blog search bar and choose another reflection.


Image from: http://impactwithprayer.blogspot.com/2011/04/god-hears-our-prayers.html

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