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Hosea 2: Expectation

Charlie Mackesy: The Prodigal Daughter

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What does God expect of me?

Where is God?

How can God expect so much from me?

Why does God allow me to feel so alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

If we hear ourselves asking these questions frequently, we may need to think of them as inversions.

What do I expect of God?

Where have I put God in my life?

Why do I ask so little of God?

Why do I forget God or turn away from God’s love when I am alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

Today we re-read the prophecy of Hosea, the man who married an adulterous wife and we focus on Chapter 2 to find a description of Gomer, the unfaithful wife.  Metaphorically, Gomer is each of us when we reject the conditions in which we find ourselves.  As difficult as our problems may be, they are our stepping stones to self-discovery . . . and to serenity.  Once we learn to turn everything over to God, the sorrow and anger slip away.  And we are at peace with the circumstances surrounding us.

Today’s Gospel is John’s story of the feeding of thousands (6:1-15) and we might look at how Jesus asks the disciples how they want to feed so many – John writes: He said this to test them.  This does not mean that Jesus wants to throw his friends into turmoil; rather, he wants to see how they hope to solve the problem before them.  Do they resort to their own resources, or do they rely on God in any way?

We must remember to ask for miracles, because God wants to grant them.

We must remember to take our woes to God, because God welcomes them and erases them.

We must remember to leave our sadness in God’s hands, because God heals all mourning with deep and abiding love.

Hosea laments his unfaithful wife.  God misses us when we stray.  Why do we try to solve everything on our own?  And why do we expect so little from a generous, loving God?

A Favorite from May 6, 2011.

For a video lesson on Hosea and Gomer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerNMZNmKF0 

 

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Proverbs 7: Lady Wisdom

Titian: Wisdom

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Infidelity, A Reprise

Who or what is Lady Wisdom? When have we seen her? Where does she reside? Might she visit our hearts and homes for even the briefest of moments? Is she willing to take up residence with us?

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before and today we look at it again with fresh eyes as we consider . . . who are the seducers and co-dependents in our lives; what are our addictions? What is it we cannot resist? And why do the writers of these ancient, sacred texts take us back to examine our own infidelities and loyalties? Is it possible that we deceive ourselves too easily? Might we prefer the forgetfulness of denial and reject the discomfort of recognition? As always with God, the ogre we fear is nothing more than a tiny image of our worst anxiety blown out of proportion. So today we reprise our reflection on infidelity (https://thenoontimes.com/2012/10/16/infidelity/) as we consider again the mystery of God’s love for us.

Not that God created us in God’s image.  Not that God loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away, God remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing, always calling to life.  Always calling to true and lasting joy.

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Matthew 5:27-30: Teaching about AdulteryDishonesty

Third Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2015

These words spoken by Jesus may be difficult to understand and so we may want to read various versions in order to allow God’s teaching to settle into our consciousness.

God says: Adultery has many ways of seeping into your being. You may be deeply sad and looking for happiness in places and ways you will never find it. Infidelity has many forms of appearing in your lives. You may have arrived at performing ritual rather than actively engaging with me and with others. Deceit has many slippery slopes on which you may take the first perilous step. You may be seeking to deny a truth that stands before you; reality may be too difficult to take in or comprehend. No matter what form this betrayal takes, and whether you are the betrayer or the betrayed, remain close to me at all times so that you might recognize dishonesty when you see it at its inception. Remain in me so that you might have awareness of its strength. Remain for me so that you might overcome it at all times in all places.

Faithlessness is more that the sin of lust. It is even more than stepping into an act that we know is dishonest or unfaithful. It is the smallest turning away from what we know to be true. Let us consider Jesus’ teaching today and determine how we might bring Easter salt and light into the smallest part of each day.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about divorce.

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hosea and gomerSaturday

January 10, 2015

Joy and Hosea – Metaphor

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Hosea shows us his love for Gomer, his unfaithful wife. And he tells us that God’s joy will renew the darkest betrayal.

“A very sensitive, emotional man who could pass quickly from violent anger to the deepest tenderness. The prophecy pivots around his own unfortunate marriage to Gomer, a personal tragedy which profoundly influenced his teaching. In fact, his own prophetic vocation and message were immeasurably deepened by the painful experience he underwent in his married life”. (Senior 1108)

Hosea 2:15: There I will give back her vineyards to her and transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope. She will respond to me there, singing with joy as in days long ago in her youth after I had freed her from captivity in Egypt.

We might see this prophecy as a description of God’s infinite capacity for unrelenting compassion and restoration . . . and we might also experience it as a call to our own potential to forgive and heal.

I will give back her vineyards . . .

We might see this prophecy as Gomer’s inability to remain steadfast or faithful . . . and we might also experience it as our own opportunity to change.

She will respond to me there . . .

We might see this prophecy as Hosea’s journey from sorrow to joy . . . and we might also experience it as our own deepening joy in God’s presence in our lives.

She will sing with joy . . .

joySearch the verses of this prophecy and look for the metaphors that reflect your own valleys of troubles and doors of hope. In what relationships have you experienced betrayal by someone quite close to you? Where are the deserts and vineyards in your life? What idols and their priests have drawn you into their false promise? What doors of hope and joy have opened to you?

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1108. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to further explore scripture, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – Proverbs 7 – Infidelity

In the August 24, 2011 Noontime we spent time reflecting on the first nine chapters of Proverbs.  Today we focus on Chapter 7 – a warning against listening to false wisdom – a warning against adultery.

I now understand that infidelity is not a single turning away.  Much like the codependent relationship of an addict and his or her enabler, the one who strays must have his or her passive aggressor, someone who – with silence and deception – encourages the leaving.  Although there are many roads to infidelity, the result is always the same – as quickly as it is born, it leaves shattered lives in its wake.

When we think of infidelity, we most often think of a fractured marriage, and that is the image evoked in today’s citation – “Come let us drink our fill of love, until morning, let us feast on love!  For my husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey; a bag of money he took with him, not till the full moon will he return home.”  But infidelity may happen in any intimate relationship – between friends, between family members, between coworkers, between our God and our selves.  We are all susceptible to the siren call of control, self-importance, manipulation of discourse, narcissistic self-fulfillment, love of discord.  And some of us feel the ancient pull to submit, go along, deny, and maintain quiet at all costs.  This however, is not a peaceful life.  On the contrary, it is a life filled with risk, thrill-seeking, and even voyeurism.  “What if” takes the place of “This I believe”.  “If only” leaps forward to stand before “This is how it is”.  Insincerity and self-deception always precede infidelity.  Integrity and authenticity never accompany betrayal.

For many are those she has struck down dead, numerous, those she has slain.  Her house is made up of ways to the nether world, leading down into the chambers of death.

All of us – although striving to be open and loyal communicators ourselves – have an intimate knowledge of infidelity that at times has left us stunned and uncomprehending.  That is because there is nothing comprehensible about infidelity.  That is because infidelity is about indifference.  And indifference is the opponent of love. 

Love acts.  Love questions.  Love perseveres.  Love does not take pleasure in anyone’s woe.  Love actively abides.  We know Paul’s description of Love from 1 Corinthians 13.  It is patient, it is kind.  Love waits upon Wisdom – the perfect – and only – antidote to betrayal.  Wisdom converts to eventual joy the stunned silence and the blurred vision of the one who suffers at the hands of the betrayer.  Wisdom and her attendant companion Understanding bring a healing balm to counteract the sting which will otherwise embitter the betrayed. 

[So] my son, keep my words, and treasure my commands.  Keep my commands and live, my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Say to Wisdom, “You are my sister!”  Call Understanding, “Friend!”

This is the mystery of God’s love for us.  Not that he created us in his image.  Not that he loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away from and turning to him, he remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing.  Calling to life.  Calling to true and lasting joy.

First written on August 30, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

To read “12 Ways to Mend a Broken Heart,” click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/02/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart.html

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Thursday, May 31, 2009 – Proverbs 23:26-35 – Private and Public Transgression

Infidelity, prostitution and alcoholism.  It is easy to brush these three nouns aside to say that they have nothing to do with us; but we might want to ask ourselves:  Do we remain constant to principles that flow from the Gospel, are we willing to sell ourselves for something we know has little value, do we numb our senses in an attempt to live a life of denial rather than reality.

These words represent not only private or individual separations from God; they are transgressions against the whole, the entire Mystical Body.  We have reflected on this concept before during our Noontimes that we fool ourselves if we believe the often repeated sentence: I’m not hurting anybody but myself – so leave me alone and stop judging.

It is true that we ought not judge one another, for judging is left to God alone.  But it is also true that as members of Christ’s Body we are called to speak and to listen to one another.  We are called to rebuke.  We are called to show mercy.  We are called to forgive and to be forgiven.  We are called to unite in the hope that all will be whole, that all will be one.

Where do we find pleasure?  Where do we find joy?  In a conversation with a friend over the week end, this topic held us for fifteen minutes or so.  Pleasure is temporary, sense-numbing thrill-seeking.  Joy is eternal, magnifying, uniting with goodness.  St. Paul reminds us in Romans 14:17-19 from the morning prayer in  MAGNIFICAT: The kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others.  Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.

In today’s Gospel from John 17 we hear Jesus say in prayer to the Father: Father, the hour has come . . . I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything they gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.  I pray for them.

Paul speaks to us, and the Corinthians, and then he poses a question (1 Corinthians 6:12-20): The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body . . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been purchased at a price.  Therefore glorify God in your body.

We are not our own . . . when we hurt one, even ourselves, we hurt all.  We have been purchased at great sacrifice.  We are greatly loved.  When we hide in the shadows and seek temporal pleasure . . . we throw away a gift of great value . . . the gift of eternal life.  So let us call ourselves and let us call one another to joyful union that satisfies for an eternity.  Let us forgo pleasure and seek joy.  Let us give up that which satisfies today for that which will fill us for eternity. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.26 (2009). Print.  

Written on May 26, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Adultery


Thursday, March 8, 2012 – Proverbs 5 – Adultery

On Monday we reflected on the many kinds of divorce we experience in life: divorce from workplaces, divorce from communities, divorce from causes, family and friends.  Today’s chapter in Proverbs cautions us that there are also many ways to commit adultery. 

Unfaithfulness to ourselves can lure us into thinking that we do not need to care for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves.  We begin to believe that we do not need to attend to regular healthy exercise or diet, regular prayer and worship, regular play time balanced by regular play time.  This unfaithfulness to the care of what is holy in us lures us into believing the words of Satan in Paradise . . . that we can be our own gods.

Infidelity to a vow separates us from our principles and our integrity.  It shatters the authentic self.  Betrayal of an intimate relationship can happen physically or in our minds . . . and in either case it is the same because it causes damage to our relationship with God in both overt and subtle ways.  It separates us from all that is sacred.  Even when we think we “have all the bases covered”, when we tell ourselves and others that “it is for the best”, this unilateral removal of ourselves from something we know to be holy and true begins an almost imperceptible erosion of our relationship with God into relativism. 

How do we know we have stepped into adultery to self and others and God?

When we consider a familiar habit or our own comfort before all else.  When we relax into avoiding difficult tasks because there is no immediate self-benefit.  When we commiserate with those who support our own and others’ poor choices.  When we become slave to anything but God.  When we become numb to both suffering . . . and to true joy.  When we put aside praying for those who harm us.  When we become smug knowing that we have avoided the cross we are meant to bear.

Sooner or later we must come to an accounting of our actions – or lack of them – in this life.  These are the threads that are woven into our heavenly garment.  What will we be wearing in the next life?  Scanty rags or capacious robes?  We do not have far to look to find the answer.

Sensual adultery is the most obvious brand of betrayal to pinpoint and describe; and most of us have likely escaped this obvious indiscretion.  The more elusive forms of infidelity are harder to see and name; yet they are still the calling card of The Evil One.  The initial succumbing to the honeyed tongue is the entrée into a life where no one trusts anything, where self-sufficiency is worshiped, and value is measured in how safe we have kept ourselves from feeling the wounds we have inflicted on self and others. 

Oh, why did I hate instruction, and my heart spurn reproof!  And why did I not listen to the voice of my teachers, nor to my instruction incline my ear! 

No sin is private, no straying goes unnoticed by the one who matters in all of this. 

For each man’s ways are plain to the Lord’s sight; all their paths he surveys; by his own iniquities the wicked man will be caught, in the meshes of his own self he will be held fast;  he will die from lack of discipline, through the greatness of his folly he will be lost.

Lent brings us all into a time when we are offered a clear choice as in the parable we read Monday of Lazarus the Beggar and the Rich Man.  Now is the time to continue our examination of the sincerity of our words, the purity of our actions.  Now is the time to be attentive to Wisdom and her instruction.  Now is the time to make reparations, to bind wounds and heal ruptures.  Now is the time to return in fidelity to our vocation of living The Word as best we are able.

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