Posts Tagged ‘innocent victims’

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

psalm 32Psalm 32

Time of Need

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.

I groaned all the day long for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.

Indeed my strength was dried up by the summer’s heat.

We do not know but we can imagine that the prophet Jeremiah prayed the psalms from his prison cell or from the bottom of the miry cistern. Chains alone did not stop him from speaking. Scorn and mockery could not hold back the words he knew he must deliver and the actions he knew he must take. If he intoned Psalm 32 it may have been bitterly for he could not put an end to his punishment by acknowledging his sin or by recanting an evil act; or it may have been joyfully for he also knew that God was his only place of safety. Jeremiah, the innocent, bemoaned his reality as he suffered at the hands of corrupt and unjust leaders; but Jeremiah, the prophet, understood the message of hope in this prayer.

So let every good man pray to you in the time of need.

The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach.

You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress.

You surround me with cries of deliverance.

In our moment of stress, God replies through the voice of the psalmist.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

In our time of need, God speaks to us today.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult all you upright of heart.

When the weight of the world is too much to balance, let us give our burden of despair to God, and be glad in the hope, and grace and love of the Lord.

Visit the Overwhelmed By Grace post on this blog by entering the words in the search bar.

Image from: http://loopyloo305.com/2012/12/16/psalm-32/

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

cisternJeremiah 37

Jeremiah in the Dungeon

We have spent several weeks with Jeremiah as he exhorts, complains, and calls. He warns of the danger in presuming that the enemy has been conquered. And for his words of prediction, he is punished. Jeremiah brings truth to ears that know their own guilt. As we move through this chapter, let us pause at verse 9.

Do not deceive yourselves . . .

Jeremiah is on his way to tend to family business but he is detained and accused of deception. Jeremiah, the innocent, suffers; his accusers know that his words point out their own corruption, and they wish to silence him. Perhaps they believe that the prophet’s imprisonment will prove their innocence and his guilt. Let us reflect on verse 14.

Without listening . . .

King Zedekiah refuses to hear Jeremiah and when we read further into this prophecy, we will see what happens to each of these men. For now, let us spend a bit of time with verses 19 and 20.

Where are your own prophets now who prophesied to you that the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land?

From our own life experience, we know that liars perceive their lies – and the lies of their compatriots – as fact. For speaking truth to the structure, Jeremiah will soon be thrown into the cistern. The truth-sayer will be punished severely for speaking the words God sends to him. But lest we think that this prophet brings us only sadness, let us remember some of his earlier words: There will be a new covenant . . . one written on your hearts, not on stone . . . I have plans for your joy, not your woe . . .

The story of Jeremiah may be seen as a dreary one but perhaps it ought to be one of our favorites, for despite the pain and ruin his prophecy brings, Jeremiah does as God asks. And despite the suffering God’s words visit upon him, Jeremiah is ever faithful to his task, ever hopeful in the Lord, and ever loving of his people . . . even those who punish, exile and eventually murder him.

As we pause with Jeremiah today, we pray . . . May we never undergo such torture . . . but may we always be as true as this prophet is to his God.

Adapted from a reflection written on October 22, 2007.

Compare different versions of today’s Noontime by following the scripture link above. Choose other versions of the Bible by using the drop down menus. Sit with Jeremiah for a time today . . . and listen for God’s word.

Enter the name Zedekiah into the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on the relationship between prophet and king.

To read an interesting post on Jeremiah 37-39 as the prophet journeys from prison to palace, click on the image above or visit: http://www.journeythroughthestory.com/2014/08/jeremiah-37-39.html

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Jeremiah 25:15-38

The Coming StormThe Storm Unleashed

As children we might see the Old Testament as a land of dichotomy where God speaks lovingly to the faithful and spews anger at those who fall away. As children we thrive in an atmosphere of absolute rules and clear boundaries. As adults, reality tells us another story in which we humans are rarely entirely honest and open as we struggle to balance our individual needs and hope with those of our broader society and even the world.  As adults we know that sometimes good people do bad things; too frequently the innocent suffer.

The fire and brimstone God we see today is far from the forgiving father in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) . . . or perhaps we are seeing with our human eyes and feeling with our human heart rather than allowing our divinity to govern us. What if we were to allow the Spirit within to sing the song we read today?

God calls to each of us, urging us home to live a life of generosity and kindness.

phoenix haboobThe Lord roars from on high, from his holy dwelling he raises his voice; mightily he roars over the range, a shout like that of vintagers over the grapes.

God urges all of us to work in solidarity for those on the margins, asking us to include all rather than to exclude many.

To all who inhabit the earth to its very ends the uproar spreads; for the Lord has an indictment against the nations.

God warns us of the surety of our actions; we sow our own reaping, we gather as we sow.

God passes judgment upon all mankind: the godless shall be given to the sword, says the Lord.

God reminds us that as we forgive so are we forgiven and that the storm that appears to hover on the horizon is surely coming our way; our own actions cannot be denied in God’s reality.

Coming_Storm_by_SheriffMercury99A great storm is unleashed from the ends of the earth.

False shepherds find themselves in the barren desert of their own hearts that they have fed with the souls of the innocent.

Howl, you shepherds, and wail! Roll in the dust, leaders of the flock!

The goodness of God welcomes home those who fall away . . . if only they will turn to God. Those who determine to remain in their fallen way will understand that they bring about their own destruction.

The lion leaves his lair, and their land is made desolate by the sweeping sword . . . as a great storm is unleashed from the ends of the earth.

Murillo: The Return of the Prodigal Son

Esteban Murillo: The Return of the Prodigal Son

As children we are frightened by these images and we determine to be among the faithful who escape the storm. As adults we see that no one escapes and yet all escape. As adults we see that the great storm is already upon us . . . and yet quietly and persistently and lovingly . . . the forgiving father works among us, sheltering us from the lion, the sword and the storm.

Storm images from: http://thecomingcrisis.blogspot.com/2012/07/phoenix-haboob-enormous-dust-storm-2000.html and http://thecomingcrisis.blogspot.com/2012/07/phoenix-haboob-enormous-dust-storm-2000.html

Murillo image from: http://www.intofineart.com/htmlimg/image-62609.html

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Monday, October 12, 2020barbed wire -love your enemiesPsalm 35

Without Cause

Without cause they set their snare for me; without cause they dug a pit for me.

At one time or another each of us will have suffered injustice at the hands of others.

Malicious witnesses come forward, accuse me of things I do not know.

At one time or another each of us will have been the victim of a pack mentality.

They slandered me without ceasing; without respect they mocked me, gnashed their teeth against me.

At one time or another each of us will have been the fodder for gossip.

They pay me evil for good and I am all alone.

At one time or another each of us will have been the innocent led to slaughter.

When I stumbled they gathered with glee, they gathered against me like strangers.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the innocent.

Let those who favor mu just cause shout for joy and be glad.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the blameless.

Awake, be vigilant in my defense, in my cause, my God and my Lord.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the broken-hearted.

Then I will thank you in the great assembly; I will praise you before the mighty throng.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the marginalized.

My tongue shall recount your justice, declare your praise, all the day long.


God calls us to love the unlovely.  Rather than seek revenge . . . let us love our enemies into goodness . . . even when we suffer without cause.

For more about loving the unlovely, click on the image above or go to: http://psalmslife.com/2012/08/27/loving-the-unlovely-psalm-3514-16/

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Ezekiel 9: The Mark of Thau

hebrewtav[1]The letter “thau” in the Hebrew alphabet is the last and is written as an “x” . . . like a cross. Today we take time to consider its symbolism.

Bishop Newman in his homily today touched on the topic of “spiritual blindness,” since we have been exploring the story of Tobit this week in Mass readings which the main character is cured of his blindness from cataracts by his son Tobiah and the archangel Raphael. The Bishop said that we all suffer from spiritual blindness whenever we slip into familiar, comfortable, or destructive habits. These habits may be easily identified as unhealthy like alcoholism, drug or pornography addiction, excessive gambling or shopping. Or they may be less visible: obsessive control of our children or others, addiction to the feeling of arousal when having an affair, the thrill of vindication when exacting revenge. Brain scans have shown that the same part of the brain is activated when engaging in some of these addictive behaviors as we see light up during an alcoholic’s binge. As humans, we frequently seek a “high” through different kinds of destructive behaviors, and this search, of course, causes spiritual blindness. As we elevate our participation levels, we need a bigger shot to boost us into a new cycle. Bishop Newman reminded us that we “glide into” these patterns without thinking, perhaps because we are afraid, or perhaps because we are just not paying attention to what we are doing. The result is the same, it is impossible for us to see God.

In the portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy we see today, we are again reminded that a toll will be taken, a measurement will be made. And as people who have received The Word as brought to us by Christ, when we wear the cross on our foreheads as we do, for example, on Ash Wednesday, we are to act as Christ and we are to put feet and hands to the Gospel. We are to enact God’s justice as we walk through life. We are to love one another, including our enemies, and we are to advocate for those on the sidelines as Jesus did.

In our afternoon prayer time, we may want to ask that the mark of “thau” be placed on the foreheads of our loved ones . . . and even our enemies. We are called to intimate union with God. We do this best by finding ways to unite ourselves with everyone with whom we come into contact, even those who cause us pain. Tobiah and Raphael interceded for Tobit and cured him of his blindness. These good and faithful servants of God trusted the word they heard, and they did God’s bidding. This is what the New Testament story asks of us. We are to refrain from succumbing to pagan behavior.  We are to ask intercession for those who are blind to their own destructive ways.  We are asked to intercede for those who harm themselves and others.

On this Valentine’s Day when we celebrate the presence of love in our lives, let us reflect on our willingness to open our eyes, to open our hearts, and to love as Jesus does.

Image from: http://www.templestudy.com/2008/08/16/jobs-covenant-hebrew-tav-and-behold-my-sign-in-job-31/

First written on June 8, 2007.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on the letter thau, click on the image above or go to: http://www.templestudy.com/2008/08/16/jobs-covenant-hebrew-tav-and-behold-my-sign-in-job-31/

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