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Posts Tagged ‘injustice’


Amos 5:18-20: Seek Impoverishment

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Being Open in Mourning

The prophet Amos left his sheep and fig trees to speak God’s word to the faithful and unfaithful alike.  These words came at a time of prosperity, when his prognostications were easily and readily jeered by those who enjoyed luxury at the expense of the poor.  From our 21st century perspective, we can see that his audience would have done well to listen better to this simple yet eloquent man.  His sober, ardent proclamation is concise, pointed and brief . . . but carrying a deeply important message for the part of the Gospel which is eagerly forgotten by many.  It is not enough to be kind, in the New Kingdom.  We are called to be just as well.

It is easy to look at foreign countries in civil war, at the poor in our own city streets and point to the places where justice cannot flourish or even get a foothold.  What is more difficult is to look to our own lives to find the pockets of impoverishment and injustice there.  When have we walked away from a situation in which we should have given voice to God’s word?  When have we reacted in an anger that stirs the pot rather than in patience which opens doors for communication?  When have we avoided?  When have we harassed?  When have we neglected?  When have we manipulated?

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.  Psalm 72 calls on God to make his justice clear to those who yearn for it.

Justice shall flower . . .

May God rule . . . 

God shall rescue the poor . . .

God shall have pity on the lowly . . .

The lives of the poor God shall save . . .

We ought not to shrink from God in our poverty of spirit, for it is the poor in spirit whom God touches quickly, heals surely, abides with eternally.  We ought not shrink from confessing our lacks, from asking for our needs, for expressing our heart’s desire.  Let us offer up our impoverishment daily.

May God remember your every offering, graciously accept your holocaust, grant what is in your heart, fulfill your every plan.  (Psalm 20:4-5)

Amos reminds us when he speaks of the woes that God knows the content of our hearts.  There is nowhere we can hide our secrets.  So when we mourn, let us open our hearts fully to the God who created us.  It is with this small action that we will be healed.  It is with this openness that we best love God.  It is through this honesty that we bring about the justice that the prophet Amos yearns to witness.  Let us take our offerings of our own accord, let us seek impoverishment, and let us place them on the altar of our life.

To learn more about the prophet and his prophecy, click on the image of the shepherd above or visit: http://www.catholiclane.com/amos-the-lion-of-gods-salvation/ 

Adapted from a reflection written on December 3, 2008.

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1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Monday, September 21, 2015

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21).  We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing.  We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new.  The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places.  We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom?  Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives?  Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives?  Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives?  Can we love those who harm us?  Can we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God?  Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons.  The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises.  Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3).  Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human wilfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, wilfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

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TempleSunday, October 19, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6

In a Manner Worthy

For a number of weeks we have spent our noontimes with the prophecy of Jeremiah examining the loss of the great temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the humbling experience of exile and deportation. We have also considered our own exile, we have reflected on the prophet’s foreshadowing of the Christ, and we have examined how we might be Jeremiah’s enemies or companions. Today we consider the final message from the prophet that holds so much importance for us. Despite accumulating deceits and betrayals, there is always hope . . . because God is always with us, moving us to live in a manner worthy of God’s call.

From Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Ephesus, and to each of us . . .

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received . . .

In an ever-quicker world we may not pause often enough to hear God’s voice.

With all humility and gentleness . . .

In an always-competitive world we may not make room for those on the margins.

With patience, bearing with one another through love . . .

In an increasingly self-centric world we may not feel the need to advocate for those who have no voice.

Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace . . .

In a world of crisis and emergency we may not restore the soul or rest in God.

One body and one Spirit . . .

In an always-dynamic world we may not see that we are one.

As you were also called to the one hope of your call . . .

In an always-problematic world we may not believe in a reason to hope.

humilityOne Lord, one faith, one baptism . . .

In an always-divergent world we may not want to listen to others.

One God and Father of all . . .

In a world that thinks there is no God we may not witness to injustice and corruption.

Who is over all and through all and in all . . .

In an always-vibrant world we must believe that we are worthy of the call that God has sent us.

Amen.

To learn more about Solomon’s Temple and the renovations made by Herod, visit The Archeology of the Bible site by clicking the temple image above or visiting: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/temple_of_jerusalem.htm 

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

1corinthians15_58notinvain1 Corinthians 15

Toiling

While kings and civil leaders deny problems that yawn before the nation, the remnant continue to move through their days. While priests set up and maintain hierarchies that God does not intend, the remnant live in fidelity with their Creator. While prophets are scorned and their words thrown back at them, the remnant toil in their smallness that is great in God’s eyes.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

Centuries after the fall of Israel and Judah the remnant still labor under corrupt leaders and priests, and the creator comes to walk among them . . . as one of them. Generations after their exile and return the remnant witness to the resurrection of Christ. Years after the restoration of a temple and city the remnant live out the promise of redemption.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

74249646.RrEVmmLE.QUEENSCUPCLINTONIAUNIFLORAP7120064In this year and in this hour the remnant still work in Christ to transform the reality in which they find themselves.

In this day and at this moment the remnant still labor in the Spirit to console a troubled world.

In this eternal time and in this infinite space the remnant still toil in God to bring forth the Kingdom.

This is a labor worth living for. This is work worth dying for. This is toiling that carries with it the gift of God’s grace. This is toiling that brings the immense and unimaginable gift of Christ’s love fully and truly given.

Spend some time today with 1 Corinthians 15 and reflect on its message for those who toil in unjust places under unjust leaders. If you want to spend time with a portion, consider: verses 1-11 The Gospel Teaching, verses 12-19 Results of Denial, verses 20-28 Christ the Firstfruits, verses 29-34 Practical Arguments, verses 35-58 The Resurrection Event. St Paul understand clearly both the frustration of living in world of turmoil, and the power of Christ’s love to mend, sustain and heal. He brings home to us today the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection for those who toil against injustice.

1 corinthians sunset

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Seventy Years 

Can we imagine a seventy-year exile from all that we know? Can we picture seven times seventy years, or a four-hundred-ninety year banishment from all that we have come to love?

Jeremiah reframes for the Israelites – and for us – the cautions laid out by Yahweh with Moses on the desert mountain.

Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds . . .

Then you shall remain in the land the Lord gave to you of old . . .

Do not follow strange gods to serve and adore them . . .

Jeremiah’s Yahweh speaks of punishment to be delivered in subsequent verses and this clashes with our understanding of the Lord as a forgiving parent who remains with us through every difficulty, even the difficulties we bring on ourselves.  We struggle to comprehend why the innocent suffer and why God does not intervene to eradicate every injustice.  And then we recall that we are created in love as God’s image in this world. We remember that we are part of God’s plan of salvation. We remember that our own hands and feet, our minds and lips are God’s in a world crying out for healing. We read these lines from thousands of years ago to recognize our role in God’s plan. When we discover injustice, we are called to act. When we see suffering, we are asked to intervene. When we find sickness, we are called to heal. Wherever we discern the crumbling walls of God’s kingdom, we are commissioned to love with, and for and in Christ.

Jesus tells us: Then the king will say . . . Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in;  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me”. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?  And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Individually and collectively we have the power in Christ to build the kingdom in this time and space. Alone and together we have the power in the Spirit to cure and heal. On our own and in solidarity we have the power through God to repair and build. Let us determine to give the years of our exile over to Christ . . . for in so doing we live in the Spirit . . . and we transform ourselves and the world as we call forth the kingdom with God.

Enter the word captivity into the blog search bar and explore where or how we create our own exile from God . . . and what we might do to allow our separation to transform us.

For another Noontime reflection on this passage with some historical information, visit the Captivity post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/12/captivity/

For Bible study outlines, click on the image above or go to: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/category/old-testament-bible-study/page/37/ 

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Appearances


phariseesHoly Tuesday, April 15, 2014

John 7:14-24

Appearances

We might picture ourselves in this story on the side of Jesus in this debate; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who are narrow-minded.

We might picture ourselves in this story as a member of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who are short-sighted.

We might picture ourselves in this story among Jesus’ disciples who follow him up to Jerusalem; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who focused on themselves.

You circumcise a man on the Sabbath . . . are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on the Sabbath?

We seek the “in crowd” while we forget to look for the principles of those who company we keep.

We long for comfort while we neglect the simple basics of life for the refugee, the homeless, the wisdom and the orphan.

We take pride in our country, our parish, our family, and ourselves while we feel no shame that our neighbors go without medical care, a diet that sustains or access to clean water.

Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.

We listen to and even pass on gossip. We remain silent when our co-workers ostracize a colleague. We believe that our pettiness can be hidden and that our transformation can wait for a more convenient day.

Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.

We gently yet firmly put an end to gossip in our lives. We speak carefully yet firmly about local and global injustice. We engage in acts of kindness that rescue and transform others and ourselves.

In this Holy Week that announces the Easter miracle, and in each day of our lives . . . our actions speak loudly about our relationships. Our actions say volumes about our image of self and God. Our actions declare how much we heed Christ’s words when he calls us to judge as we ought . . . with justice . . . rather than by appearances.

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paths 15Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Matthew 13:17-23

So Many Paths – Part IV

Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

The Parable of the Sower is a familiar one and yet . . . we resist changing so that our journey might be a little lighter. We refuse adjustment from our present position even though modification in our living might offer and opportunity for conversion. When we find ourselves traveling a road that seems immutable and absolute we need not fear, for we are graced with the Word that combats all Woe. How do we tune our ears so that we might honestly listen to God’s word? How do we un-muddy our eyes so that might rightly see God’s presence in our lives?

Life gives us surprising obstacles and we lose heart. We lament and complain. We recoil and mourn. Life treats us well and we take credit for all that we have and are. We act with hubris. We become pompous and self-righteous. Once we have set out on a path, do we have any recourse to change? Once we are well on our way, are we doomed to a single outcome?

paths 16The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

When we hear the Torah, the Prophets and the Gospel we are as free to heed God’s Word as we are to ignore it.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.

When we hear Jesus’ parables we are as free to search for meaning as we are to treat these stories as children’s tales that hold no meaning for adult lives.

The seed sown among thorns in the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.

paths 18When we witness injustice we also witness the presence of the Spirit in a hostile and frightening world. We are as free to respond to that Spirit to unit ourselves in God’s grace with Christ’s mystical body as we are to squelch it.

But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

When we find ourselves on a difficult path fraught with danger and friction . . . we are as free to ask for, to receive and to respond to God’s grace as we are to remain implacably set in our own rigid way. As we near the end of the Lenten season and prepare to open ourselves to Christ’s Easter joy, let us determine to receive Christ with gratitude, to celebrate God’s presence with delight, and to rest in the serenity of the Spirit.

Tomorrow, a prayer for the journey.

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