Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘humility’


Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020

Sandro Botticelli: Judith Leaving the Tent of Holofernes

Judith 15:9-15

A Celebration of Deliverance

Today we reflect on joyful celebration after deliverance from disaster, and we pause to consider the sudden and surprising gifts of discipleship.

The book of Judith is a wonderful story about a woman who puts aside her widow’s weeds to save her nation. Her ability is doubted by the elders of her own community, and her enemy underestimates her by a wide margin. Judith succeeds in accomplishing the impossible. We watch her follow a dangerously treacherous and narrow path, listening for and then obeying God’s voice.  We see her unfold in beautiful discipleship.  During this Eastertide we have re-discovered the gifts of discipleship that bloom in our lives when we see our vulnerability to God as privilege; and we watch Judith as she trusts in God alone to deliver her people and herself from a deadly enemy.

Judith’s meekness brings her humility . . . an ability to listen for God’s word and to heed it.

Judith’s brokenheartedness brings her vulnerability . . . an ability to petition God for help.

Judith’s constancy brings her fidelity . . . an ability to rely on God alone.

Judith’s honesty brings her truth . . . an ability to see reality as God sees it.

Judith’s willingness brings her integrity . . . an ability to perceive and respond to God’s call authentically.

Judith’s steadfastness brings her persistence . . . an ability to follow God without flagging.

These are the gifts of discipleship with which God graced Judith . . . and these are the same gifts of discipleship that God gives to each of us today.

As we near Pentecost, let us consider these gifts that God freely gives.  And let us celebrate our own deliverance.


Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/sandro-botticelli/judith-leaving-the-tent-of-holofernes-1500

For more reflections about this amazing woman, type the word Judith in the blog search bar and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime reflection written on April 10, 2007.

Read Full Post »


Friday, May 15, 2020

SF_LOGO1[1]Sirach 21

A Prayer for Steadfastness

In our Easter journey we have been exploring the idea that discipleship brings hidden gifts along with its difficulties and suffering.  We have been examining figures in the Old and New Testaments to see what we can learn from well know stories.  And we have been praying together to discern how we might better see the cross of discipleship as gift rather than burden.  Today we pray for steadfastness.

When we ask for God’s wisdom in understanding how we have found ourselves in discomfort . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we open ourselves to hear what we may learn from our uneasiness . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we are humble enough to learn something about God and ourselves through our suffering . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we step forward to volunteer our lives in service of Christ in his kingdom-building . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we resolve to learn from the anxiety and pain we have experienced . . . we ask for steadfastness.

Jesus ben Sirach tells us that when we allow this steadfastness to permeate our lives, we will find ourselves among wise women and men rather than a troop of fools; and these wise ones will bolster us when we falter.  When we allow steadfastness to govern our lives, we will experience the joy of knowing that we are one with Christ.  This is the joy and gift of walking with Christ.  It is the gift of better knowing ourselves.  It is the gift of looking in a mirror openly and honestly without having to deceive ourselves about what we actually see.   It is the gift of our divinity in and through Christ.  And so for this gift of steadfastness we pray . . .

Dear Lord, you have planted in each of us our own gifts to share.  Help us to ready the soil of our lives, make us open to the life-giving rain of your wisdom.  Help us to be builders of your kingdom rather than hearers only of your Word.  Help us to listen, reflect and pray for your presence. Bring us the steadfastness and humility that we will need to nurture the growth of your Word in us so that we may offer these gifts back to you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, as we move toward Pentecost . . . Celebration in Assembly . . .


Image from: http://www.bgumc.net/?page_id=147

Read Full Post »


Thursday, May 14, 2020

wisdom2-300x198[1]Sirach 21

Wisdom and Foolhardiness

James is considered to be the Wisdom Book of the New Testament, and we find ourselves in a place today where God’s word comes to us from different directions to bring us a valuable lesson: Steadfastness and humility are needed if we wish to avoid foolishness, and if we wish to live in peace and wisdom.

Jesus ben Sirach, the recorder of these wonderful sayings, gives us the tenets on which the wisdom of the New Testament stands.  In this chapter Sirach gives us some wonderful sayings.  Each of us will have our favorites but here today are a few about the power of speech to hurt or heal.

Fools’ thoughts are in their mouths, wise men’s words are in their hearts . . . When an intelligent man hears words of wisdom, he approves them and adds to them; the wanton hears them with scorn and casts them behind his back . . . A fool’s chatter is like a load on a journey, but there is charm to be found upon the lips of the wise . . . The lips of the impious talk of what is not their concern, but the words of the imprudent are carefully weighed . . . When a man curses his adversary he really curses himself . . . A slanderer besmirches himself, and is hated by his neighbors.

We find these same beliefs in the opening of James’ letter to the universal church in which he reminds us in 3:1-12 that the tongue is a small member [of the body] but has great pretensions.  James further amplifies all of this wisdom and warns of the power of our own words to deceive our own selves about who we are and what we are doing.  He reminds us that humility before God and steadfastness in following God are needed if we wish to move through life adhering to the wisdom principles.  He writes: Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to wrath . . . Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in the mirror.  He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like.  The one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does. 

When we find ourselves in a quandary about what action to take, when we are uncomfortable but know not why, when we cannot understand the reason for our suffering, we have two roads always open to us:  The Wisdom Road, or the Road of Foolhardiness.  How do we discern which is which?  Both Sirach and James tell us.  We ask for clarity from God about his wisdom in our personal lives and while we wait for its coming, we prepare the ground to receive its holy presence in our hearts.  We prepare to hear and act on something we may not like.   We stop talking so much . . . and we listen more . . . and we do.

Tomorrow, a prayer for steadfastness . . .


Adapted from the January 23, 2010 Noontime.

Read Full Post »


Friday, May 8, 2020

willingness[1]Hosea 14

Conversion and Hope

God’s love is so immense that we are invited to conversion every moment of our lives – even when we have greatly sinned.  This is a message we have heard and seen on Easter Sunday.  It is a message the Spirit whispers to us constantly.  It is a message we need to examine again . . . for it is a message of hope.

Today we look again at the writings of Dom Augustin Guillerand, a French Carthusian monk who died in 1945.  He describes how we allow our will to take over our lives rather than allowing our willingness to teach us humility before God.  He writes: The will is a master that has, in theory, the ordering of everything but, in fact, the full control of nothing . . . When we give God our will fully, little by little he takes the rest, all of our faculties, the whole [person].  The conquest no longer rests with us, but with God; it becomes his affair.  As he wishes and when he wishes, he will take our memory, our senses, our passions, our imagination, our intellect, and heart, and he does this by various stages through which we have to pass, and by the trials he sends us”.

In the story of Hosea we see a man who has dedicated his will to God to such an extent that he marries a prostitute because God calls him to this vocation.  Through his suffering and because of his pain, Hosea is able to call his people back to God; and Hosea continues to call each of us today.  In his beautiful prophecy, Hosea shows us how his love for Gomer never fails . . . and thus he shows us how God’s love never fails.

God’s love, as seen through Hosea, is a love in action.  It is a love that sacrifices self will for God’s will.  Hosea tells us that love heals disloyalty, it loves freely, it turns away from anger, it is like the dew to new shoots, it gives off a sweet fragrance, it brings life.  Hosea tells us that our hope lies in our own desire for and will to enter into conversion.  A turning back to God is all that is required.  This is a huge request to make of us – yet it is the simplest of tasks if we can only begin by taking one small step each day.  And we can begin by refusing to turn back to old, corrupt ways.  It is an act of love by the creator to call his created to union.  It is an act of love by the created to reply and to go.

The greatest love calls for conversion.  The greatest love answers this call.  The greatest love brings hope.  The greatest love takes up this hope and never lets it go.

I read back over the meditation: Even if we have nothing to show for it . . .”   We cannot give up, even if there is nothing to show for our efforts because the will – our will – is formed by our constant and unwavering willingness to go to God with all trials This is the nature of a conversion that brings hope.

The greatest Love is God’s and we are called to live out this Love daily.  The greatest Love has never and will never be undone.  Let us embrace this Love willingly.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

Image from: http://www.developersolution.com/projects/design_wmm/BNF/Pilates.php

Adapted from a Noontime written on March 11, 2010. 

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

humility-word[1]The Importance of Meekness . . . Rejecting Idols

Paul warns that small, easy temptations lead to a great, cataclysmic fall.  What begins at first quietly and even innocently, will later lead to ruin.  We can never hear this lesson too much.

What helps us to maintain the meekness of Christ that we work so much to find and maintain?  It is the Eucharist of thanksgiving in the living Christ that is the antidote against the temptation to serve our personal idols.  It is this gift of self from Christ that redeems and transforms us.  We become too full of ourselves when we believe that we do not need Christ’s protection as we move through our days.  We lose our humility in God when we believe that we can handle our personal obstacles alone.  Pride is perhaps the first sign to ourselves that we are beginning to tread in dangerous territory.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection (335).  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 by our own power but by the power of the cross. 

From Sirach 10 in the Morning Prayer and intercessions today: Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate.  The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.  The roots of the proud God plucks up, to plant the humble in their place: he breaks down their stem to the level of the ground, then digs their roots from the earth. 

This from Matthew 23:12: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

Temptations come to us on little cat feet, becoming part of our daily self and routine without our noticing, disassembling our humble relationship with God.  St. Paul warns his listeners that the first little steps into our addictions are the beginning of idolatry.  Whatever we do to excess that excludes God from our living and from our decision-making . . . these minuscule openings into idolatry must be investigated and put away.  These little wooings, these seemingly insignificant acts that we believe have no effect upon us are . . . after all is considered . . . our first steps away from God, away from the Garden . . . and into the arms of one who delights in our fall.

Humility keeps us close by the creator. Meekness reminds us to reject our idols. Quiet obedience in the Spirit brings us home to Christ. Today we spend time reflecting on our meekness . . . and how this gift of discipleship binds us forever to God.

Tomorrow, discipleship and the gift of broken-heartedness . . .


Image from: http://www.understandfasting.com/the-answer-to-pride/

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 2.24 (2011): 335. Print. 

First written on February 24, 2011.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite. 

Read Full Post »


Monday, April 20, 2020

meek_earth_001[1]Psalm 37: Meekness

The meek shall inherit the earth.    

From the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:  “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  I always understood the quality of meekness to be sweetness and affability, not strength.  Here, however, the word is used to indicate a controlled strength.

To possess the meekness of Jesus is to be teachable.  Meek disciples have submitted their strength to God for God’s use.  They have no arrogance.  They do not seek status or fame.  They do not hoard goods or information.  They become fully open to God.  They demonstrate that they can be trusted with God’s authority since they allow God to work through them.  When we follow this thinking we begin to see a holy paradox unfold.

The story of Jesus and how we are to imitate him is a challenging one because it asks us to let go of our ego in order to allow God to take us over. It asks us to take our work as Easter people seriously.  It calls us to live in the Spirit rather than in the world.  All of this is difficult but when we find ourselves stumbling with this kind of attitude before God, we might explore Psalm 37 as a guide for discipleship.

The meekness of Christ is not mere submission.  Nor is it a cowering before overwhelming odds.  Rather, it is an emptying of self to allow God to enter and fill us.  It is a putting away of personal agendas and small plans to allow ourselves to become part of God’s universal agenda and God’s immense, all-encompassing plan.  The meekness of Christ is more powerful than any known force, and more enduring and dynamic than any known philosophy.  And it is this gift of meekness that once received, must be polished and honed through discipleship.  It is really that simple.

The MAGNIFICAT Meditation on March 7, 2009 is taken from the writings of Father Alfred Delp, S.J. who was condemned to death in Nazi Germany.  Even in that ugly little room filled with hatred where men were making a travesty of justice, [the word Father] never left me . . . All we do is remember faithfully that God does not call himself our Father, that we are bidden to call on him by that name and to know him as such – and that this pompous, self-important world in which we live is only the foreground to the center of reality which so many scarcely notice in the noise and tumult surrounding them . . .The person of faith is aware of the solicitude, the compassion, the deep-seated support of providence in innumerable silent ways even when he is attacked from all sides and the outlook seems hopeless.  God offers words full of wonderful comfort and encouragement; he has ways of dealing with the most desperate situations.  All things have a purpose and they help again and again to bring us back to our Father.

Delp reminds us that the father who created all of us provides for us, watches over us, suffers with us and is joyful with us.  It is this father who sends his son in human form to teach us how to be meek.  Let us join with one another in our own humble way to encounter this meek Jesus even when we find ourselves in desperate places.  Let us look for strength in one another and in Jesus even when we find ourselves in hopeless places.  And let us always seek to return to one another the comfort of the Spirit, the solicitude of the Christ, and the compassion of the Father.  For it is in this way that we find true meekness.  It is in this way that we encounter the Christ.  It is in this way that we become true disciples of God.

Tomorrow, what results when we practice meekness . . .


Image from: http://joyfulpapist.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/2384/

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.3 (2009). Print.    

A re-post from April 20, 2013.

Read Full Post »


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 »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: