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Posts Tagged ‘humility’


Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.  

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

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Romans 12:2-16: Into the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.

Today Paul gives us specific guidelines for how to live the Beatitudes, what we are to do with our concerns, how we are to handle our negative emotions, and where we might take our worries and fears. Our God-given identity calls us to reflect Christ in the world; but how are we to do this? Paul reminds us of God’s gracious gift of faith . . . and how we might carry it into a world that will likely be surprised by this message.

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 

Paul reminds us that humility and love serve us much more than revenge.

Love must be completely sincere. Hold on to what is good.

God turns all harm to goodness. We have proof of this and we can rely on this.

Love one another warmly, and be eager to show respect for one another.

Paul addresses Christians, but we might extend this openness and respect to all.

Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Fidelity and responsibility. Prudence and authenticity. These are our hallmarks of behavior.

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Hope and patience. Prayer and petition. These are foundations on which we stand.

Share your belongings with your needy fellows, and open your homes to strangers.

Community versus individuality. The common good versus the singular gain. These are values we must weigh.

Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.

This is perhaps the most difficult of all Jesus’ messages. Loving those who harm us is a challenge we want to ignore; but with Christ as our guide and refuge, we cannot lose.

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Our brother Jesus celebrates and mourns. We are invited to do the same.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

We are reminded that human wisdom cannot reach the heights of God’s wisdom. We remember that God does not abandon or betray us. We have before us a clear guideline for living as Jesus does, for living as we all might, for living as a builder in God’s kingdom. Today we have a striking description of our own God-given identity. Let us go into the world as if we believe.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions of these words, we discover the blessings and gifts of God.

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Psalm 118: God Saves Those in Distress

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Favorite from March 13, 2008.

We can never hear this too often, especially during the Lenten tide.  If you have the opportunity, make a space of time to pray this psalm today.  It will fill your empty spaces to overflowing. It will make sense of all hardship. It will remind us that life is good, that God is mercy, that God and we are one.

Whoever is wise will ponder these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

We wander the path of this life yearning for something that will move us, stir us, create a fire within us; yet not consume us. We can so often lose our way in this search for the fire that does not consume.

Some had lost their way in a barren desert . . .

We have wandered so far, looking for constancy, fidelity, healing. Our lives feel so like a desert. We hunger. We thirst. We feel as though we have lost ourselves, as though something is missing.

They were hungry and thirsty; their life was ebbing away . . .

We have longed for peace, for happiness, for calm, for serenity. Our lives can feel so useless when the search seems futile.

Some lived in darkness and gloom . . .

We hold so many secrets, think of our sins as private errors, separate ourselves from all that is holy. Our lives need compassion rather than anger and despair, love rather than indifference.

In their distress they cried to the Lord . . . who saved them in their peril . . .

We think that we can handle things so much better than you, God because we are here and so often we feel as though you are so distant . . . yet we are not alone. You are always with us. You save us in our distress. You humble us with hardship. You call us to turn and return to you.

Let them thank the Lord for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals.  Let them offer a sacrifice in thanks, declare his works with shouts of joy.

When we pause to breathe, when we still the frenzy. We feel you with us. We feel that fire that does not consume. We see the miracles you bring forth through us. We believe that you are mercy. We see the wonder of all you have created. We know that there is no greater God than you.

Whoever is wise will ponder these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

Amen.

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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1 Samuel 25: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VII

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Yesterday we spent time with David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail. Today we examine the life of Jesus and how or if it influences our own inverted lives.

Jesus comes to tell us that when we lose, we win, and when we win, we lose.  St. Paul reminds us that when we are weak, we are strong and when we are strong, we are weak.  Intellectually we might come to understand that when we die we live and we live we die, but it takes spiritual fortitude to live a life of inversion.  If we can stand back, let God operate, listen for God’s voice, we are able to cooperate with God.  As we pray, wait and communicate with God . . . we achieve God’s purpose in us.

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

We can take a lesson from Nabal, Abigail, David and Saul.  We see different courses of action open to us in the lives of these four people.  And if we are honest, we can see that we have the same options. We can choose to reject God for the sake of self, or to abandon self in order to do God’s will.  As we see today, each of us is free to opt in or out of God’s plan.

So this is all that God asks of us: to act only in God’s interest rather than our own, to do only God’s justice rather than take revenge or hold grudges, to bring hope to the hopeless rather than succumb to despair, and to love as God loves . . . with compassion in place of leniency, with mercy and understanding instead of possessive control and manipulation.

So what does God’s inverted kingdom offer and how do these stories show us God’s hope in us? God wants only our best, our purest, our humblest selves. God wants only to share hope with us. And God wants us to be completely free to choose this marvelous plan of inversion and love.

 

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Micah 1:3: Behold the Lord

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Michelangelo: The Prophet Micah

Michelangelo: The Prophet Micah

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The prophets tell us that the Lord is about to move among us.

For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. (NRSV)

The prophecy describes how God wants to be one of us.

The Lord is coming from his holy place; he will come down and walk on the tops of the mountains. (GNT)

These verses remind us that we receive the gift of holiness through God’s invitation of unity in our diversity.

For — look! —Adonai is coming out of his place, coming down to tread on the high places of the land. (CJB)

micah-6-8The prophets call us to rejoice in our gladness by acting in meekness and integrity, and by living in love.

Look, here he comes! God, from his place!
    He comes down and strides across mountains and hills.
Mountains sink under his feet,
    valleys split apart;
The rock mountains crumble into gravel,
    the river valleys leak like sieves. (MSG)

Behold, the Lord comes to walk among us with peace and joy. The Lord calls us to humility, justice and love.

When we explore other translations of this prophecy, we discover the gift of love we already hold.

 

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Luke 6:27-36: Loving Others – Part III

Thursday, November 24, 2016a-revolutionary-kind-of-love-luke-62736-1-638

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. (MSG)

This thinking is so different from: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  (MSG)

This thinking causes us to look at old hatreds with new insight.

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

For millennia God has protected us, Jesus has told shown us The Way, and the Spirit has healed and consoled us. Today all three speak to us through the words that Luke records.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (MSG)

For millennia Jesus has turned the world upside down, telling us that we live when we die, and we fill up when we empty ourselves. Today Jesus describes for us in detail how to live our lives as his disciples.

If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (MSG)

This thinking is the inversion of: “When someone hits me, I hit them ten times harder”. This thinking requires the building of bridges rather than walls. It asks for humility and understanding rather than ego and power.

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

This thinking is Kingdom thinking. This thinking is timeless and universal, applying to all occasions and to all persons. This thinking brings eternal redemption. And it lies open and ready for our own adoption.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

 

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Psalm 76: Defense


Psalm 76Defense

Monday, September 19, 2016psalm-76-4

A Favorite from September 3, 2009.

The faithful need not fight, they only need to witness, watch and wait, and to refuse to allow themselves to be separated from their God.

We see this truth with the patriarchs and the exodus.  We hear it in the prophets and read it in the books of wisdom.  We are called to it as the New Testament apostles of our age.

There is nothing else we need know.  There is nothing else we need do.  There is no other business at hand but this . . . to walk in humility with God.

God is awesome and terrible – in God’s love for us there are no restraints.

God roars – in God’s hope for us there are no limits.

God is renown – in God’s constancy with us there is no equal.

And so we pray . . .

May we make and keep our vows to the Lord our God.  May we present all gifts to him who deserves our love.  May we go to him in humility with our woe.  May we celebrate with in him in all our joy.  May we come to know God as the only defense we need.  Amen. 

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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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