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Posts Tagged ‘intimacy with God’


John 14: Trinity as Relationship

Monday, June 12, 2017

Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Why, then, do you say, “Show us the Father”? I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. This is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. 

In THE DIVINE DANCE, Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell tell us, “We’re not of independent substance; we exist only in relationship. How countercultural! To the Western mind, relationship always looked like second or third best: “Who wants to be in a relationship? I want to be a self-made man”. (Rohr and Morell 45)

Taking in these words, we begin to understand why so many of us struggle to believe, to hope and to love in Christ. Our external world consistently tells us that we must excel, beat out, create, be first, be on alert, be strong, and beware of all that connects us to one another.

Taking in these words, we begin to see the clash that an intimate relationship with the Trinity will bring to us. This triad of strength through interdependence goes against the culture that surrounds us. Our internal communication with God reminds us that nothing we have and are comes from ourselves. All is a gift from God.

And so we ask, can we possibly believe this? Can we possibly hope in this? Can we possibly live this?

Today we examine Chapter 14 of John’s Gospel to look for signs of the relationship Jesus has with the Creator and the Spirit. Throughout the week, we continue to look at the divine dance Rohr describes.

When we explore varying versions of these words, we open ourselves to our special relationship with God.

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print. 

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Acts 2:42-47: Community II – Words and Gestures

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Over a year ago, we looked at this citation during Advent and at that time we remembered that our own actions in community represent our relationship with God.  I always try to remember that my actions incarnate my belief in God.  My words and gestures toward my fellow humans are my expression, my composition, my painting, my metaphor of God. 

God wishes to live in community with us.  God desires intimate union with us.  God wishes to give us the goodness our hearts desire.  Today’s citation describes people living in the way God wishes for us, living as we all might in the here and now and as we all will in the next life: in true community, providing a shelter from life’s storms, coming together in a common belief, sharing goods, worshiping God, healing one another, bringing other believers into the fold through the telling of the good news of redemption.

If this is so . . . then we might look around us at the oasis we create with our own living.  Do we provide shelter to others?  Do we bring comfort where we can?  Do we share what we have?  Do we worship God together?  Do we heal one another’s wounds?  Do we tell the good news of our rescue to others?

Do we bring the hope of Christ to the world?  Do we live our faith in the Father?  Do we provide a sheltering place where the Holy Spirit might rest with us to heal our broken-hearted and our wounded?

Oasis in Libya

What sort of oasis do we prepare together?  Do we put aside all that divides?  Do we ask forgiveness where needed?  Do we forgive fully?  Do we remain in Christ in all of our actions?  Do we love justly?  Do we hope outrageously?  Do we unclog the stagnant spring in the heart of the oasis to allow the fresh, new Easter water to flow?

Where do we pitch our tents this Easter season?  Do we choose to remain in the stale backwater of old haunts and addictive habits, or do we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ’s redemptive suffering in order to bring a newness to our own community . . . our own oasis?

And once we experience this gift of Easter life, what do we do with it?  Do we open our heart’s doors to the others whom God sends our way?

And every day the Lord added to our number those who were being saved.  Amen.

Tomorrow, the Trinity as oasis.

Adapted from a reflection on written on April 9, 2009.

 

 

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part II

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pieter Coecke van Aelst: Christ and His Disciples on Their Way to Emmaus

Yesterday we spent time with the story of the disciples who encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Today we imagine the possibilities in our lives if every time we come up against an obstacle we might recognize Christ’s presence and invite him to linger.

In an intense flash, at the breaking of the bread, we suddenly become fully aware of the identity of our companion.  We abruptly comprehend why we have felt so light and happy as we journey to Emmaus.  We realize that the hopes we have put away may be taken back out.  The faith we have placed in God’s plan is still valid.  The love we wish to share is still viable.  The Teacher has not lied to us in some silly attempt to ease the pain of our days.  The Teacher has offered – still offers – an opportunity of intimacy with him previously unknown to humankind.  And we disciples who have left Jerusalem in fear and sadness . . . now retrace our steps to return to the crucible of conflict which our Way of living brings us.  We are transformed.  We no longer allow fear overcome courage.  We do what Paul urges all of us to do – and we heard this yesterday – we put on Christ, the only protection we need.

We notice that Jesus leaves when the disciples recognize him, but his Spirit remains. And Jesus expects that now we will be his hands, his feet, his teaching.  We are Emmaus People . . .

A Favorite from March 31, 2009.

 

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Ezekiel 46Offerings

Saturday, February 4, 2017balt9f

I am struck by several things as I read this chapter in isolation from the rest of the text: in Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem, the faithful make offerings each morning, the princes are to provide for their sons from their own resources rather than the resources of the people, and the temple offerings are cooked in the temple kitchens to prevent the risk of transmitting holiness to the people

Commentaries give us important information that puts the writing of this priest-in-exile in context for us.  Ezekiel, as we can see by his calling the secular celebrant prince rather than king, is clear about the importance of cultic authority over the secular.  (Barton and Mulliman 562)  The downside of this is, of course, that priests – be they Levites, Zadokites or princes – serve as intermediaries for the people . . . keeping God’s holiness apart and reserved for the specially anointed.

We live in the Messianic Age, a time at which our high priest has come to walk among us as one of us.  This priest, Christ, has torn down the temple to rebuild it in three days.  He grants access to all who seek authentic intimacy with God.  He comes to break down the barriers between God and man . . . and to transmit holiness to the people. 

As we rise each morning, we – like the Levites, the Zadokites and the princes before us – run the risk of allowing the demands of everyday life to erode this intimacy with God.  As we attend to our needs and wants, we run the risk of entering into a mechanical relationship with God – one in which we fulfill a requirement but leave our hearts and minds elsewhere.  Meeting deadlines, replenishing resources, tending to a million little tasks each day are activities which are necessary but which must be kept in proper perspective.  For there is no joy that lasts but for the joy we know in loving God with body, mind and soul.

When we commit to praying at regular times each day, as we might if we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we find that we have opportunities to offer both our anxieties and gifts of the previous day back to God. If we able to lay to rest all our worries and anxieties of that present day, we need not carry them into the next.  Children, grandchildren, friends, family, house chores, car chores, appointments, work . . . all of these we are better able to see as gifts from God, as this is what they truly are.  And all of our anxieties and worries about these gifts, we offer back along with our best attempts to do the best we are able in each circumstance.

Offerings . . . burnt sacrifices from our lives . . . these we offer to God each day.  Yet what our gracious and loving God truly desires is our clear and open hearts, hearts that are broken and dispirited and are ready to know true and lasting joy, hearts ready to take him in, ready to make a home for the Spirit.

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts and sin offering you do not require; so I said: “Here I am”; your commands for me are written in the scroll.  Psalm 40:7-8.

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23.

For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.  My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.  Psalm 51:18-19.

For God remembers your every offering, graciously accepts your holocaust, grants what is in your heart, fulfills your every plan.  Psalm 20:5-5.  Amen.

Blessings on all today.    

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 562. Print.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 29, 2009.

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John 14:15-31: Glory, Part IV – The Advocate

Wednesday, July 22, 2015advocate

We have explored the mystery of Christ’s power that is found in humility, emptiness, and service. We have examined Jesus’ words as recorded by John, The Beloved Apostle. And we have carried God’s glory with us in our pockets, as our bookmarks, and as our bedtime reminders that Jesus is with us constantly. Knowing all of this, we look to find God’s glory in the Advocate that Jesus assures us is with us always.

Today’s lesson on Glory: There is no reason for us to look for glory in awards, in accolades, or in any external place in our lives. God’s glory – the glory that is eternal – comes to us and resides in us through the Advocate.

Jesus says: I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.

God says: Read Psalm 139 to remind yourself of how intimately I know you. Remember that I made you out of love to be loved.

Jesus says: In a while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.

God says: I have made you to be with me forever.

Jesus says: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.

God says: I have made plans for your joy, not your woe. Read the words of my prophet Jeremiah if you doubt me.

Jesus says: Not as the world gives do I give it to you.

God says: Do not expect to find my glory in the awards and power that the world can give you. Look for me in your humility. Look for me when you serve others. Look for me in the empty times in your life.

Jesus says: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

God says: Look for me in your fears and disappointment. Know that my Advocate lives within you.

Jesus says: Get up, let us go.

God says: Once you have discovered that I have taken up residence in your heart . . . move out into the world to take me with you as you encounter others. Share this good news with all who have ears to hear. 

In today’s Noontime we hear words from Jesus that must be held and treasured. Keep them with you in writing. Carry them as mantras that will sustain you. Share them others who also look to find God’s glory.

And let us pray,

Holy and omniscient God, you have told us that you reside in us and this we struggle to believe. You have told us that we find our glory in unexpected places. You have told us that we need not fear anyone or anything. Help us with our fears and disappointments. Guide us in our search to know you intimately. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.  

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Friday, October 11, 2013

grow-in-grace-2-peter-3-18[1]2 Peter 3:17-18

The Error of the Unprincipled

Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability.  But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.

In our effort to find and remain in a comfortable spot, we accommodate the unprincipled; we drift form those habits and people that help us maintain equanimity.  We can reverse all of this by rooting ourselves more deeply in God’s grace, and by growing in our knowledge of God.

God says: You may be puzzled by the words of my servant Peter but he is really quite clear.  The faithful grow in their knowledge of me through prayer and worship.  When you try to do all things on your own life becomes too stressful, too sad, too terrifying.  When you trust in me, when you speak to me each day, when you worship me, when you pray with others who also believe in me you will feel yourselves growing in strength and balance.  You do not have to fight against the unprincipled.  All you need do is to witness . . . to watch . . . to pray . . . and to wait.

The single most important antidote to anxiety and fear is intimacy with God.  We gain this understanding and closeness by seeking God each day in specific ways: by reading and studying scripture, by finding others who also seek to know God more fully, by praying unceasingly, and by uniting in solidarity with others who also believe.   We gain balance and serenity by anchoring ourselves in God’s gift of grace.  There is no force, no person and no evil that cannot be overcome or undone by the patient, persistent and joyful prayer of those who seek to know God intimately or of those who plant themselves firmly in God’s grace.  The error of the unprincipled is that they root themselves in comfort, they scoff at the idea that grace has the power to bring balance into their lives, and they believe in themselves . . . more than they believe in God.

Enter the words witness watch and pray, or the faithful need not fight into the blog search box and reflect on Peter’s advice to us.

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Cherubim


Monday, February 11, 2013 – Ezekiel 1 – Cherubim

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant

We have frequently looked at the Cherubim in our Noontimes in connection with the opening nine chapters of the Book of Wisdom and we have reflected that these Cherubim are Wisdom, living close by God but calling to us to sit in praise of God . . . for this is where Wisdom finds her most comfortable nest.

When we look at this opening chapter of Ezekiel, we see that God sits on a throne carried by winged Cherubim.  To read more about the mythological and physical origin of these creatures we can go to: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/cherubim.html  or to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03646c.htm .

Creatures that live this close to God must be special indeed; yet these beings are no more important to God than each of us.  If we might think about being as close to God as the Cherubim, if we might create an image of the power needed to pull any chariot large enough to encompass our God, if we can imagine the magnitude of wisdom that these creatures symbolize . . . we are well on our way to comprehending the love that God has for us.

As the NEW ADVENT website points out, to Catholics these creatures are more than symbolic.  They are ministers who have an intimate and intense understanding of who God is and how he moves in our lives.  In the fullness of this knowledge they have become “sublime hosts” to God’s presence.

We see these creatures again in Revelation and still they have their fantastic and unique place in God’s kingdom, they are the wheels of God, the wisdom with which and through which God operates.  They are in constant praise of God, and they continually glory in his being and presence.

We might put ourselves in the place of these creatures for a few moments today and we might contemplate our own imagery of wisdom.  What is it exactly?  How does it operate?  Where does it take us?  To what does it call us?  Why do we seek it?

And then we might sit with these verses for a while to meditate on them and on what drives our own lives: Wherever the spirit wished to go, there the wheels went . . . such was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. 

For written on March 4, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Enter the word “Cherubim” in the blog search box to read more about these amazing creatures and Wisdom.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013 – Ezekiel 5 – Considering Our Image of God – Part I

Cunieform tablet mentioing Jehoiachin in Babylon

Berlin: Cunieform tablet mentioning Jehoiachin in Babylon

It is no mystery why so many scripture readers see God as an angry deity to be placated or even avoided.  We must admit that if the supreme being of Ezekiel 5 were the only God we knew . . . we might not seek an intimate relationship with our creator.  This castigating image is one in which God stands in severe judgment, metes out dreadful and complete consequences, and uses his overwhelming strength against nearly powerless creatures who have broken his laws.  We can see why so many cringe at the thought of knowing God intimately . . . or of God knowing us at all. 

I will inflict punishments in your midst . . . These verses might terrify anyone looking for consolation for the only solace here comes through a neurotic obedience to an enormous number of laws that are sometimes contradictory.   We can see why these words might panic an already fragile soul into flight; and yet we remember . . . Jesus read this prophecy.  And Jesus lived his life as a practicing Jew, adhering to the Mosaic Law.  If we allow ourselves to pause, we also remember . . . Jesus tells us that he comes to supersede and to fulfill the old law rather than negate it.  Jesus comes to us to let us know that in the end there is only one law, The Law of Love.  But how do we juxtapose this thinking with the verses we read today? 

This week we have spent time reflecting with 2 Kings; we have witnessed the unfolding of events which Ezekiel rails against.  These events lead to the destruction of the kingdom, the exportation of God’s people, and the scattering of the Jewish faithful.  What do we learn from our reading?

When we explore who Ezekiel is and to whom he writes, we find some skepticism about the identity of the author.  This frequently happens with ancient texts but when we search commentary we discover that most scholars believe the writer to be of a priestly family taken into exile with King Jehoiachin in 597 B.C.E.  He was married and is believed to have had a degree of freedom while in exile, even having his own house in a village called Tel Abib on the river Chebar.  He lived well, benefited from the structure yet saw its corruption.  As we read his prophecy we understand that he writes at God’s insistence and this fact enables us “to appreciate better how he could be objective and distant and yet intensely present with his audience”.  (Senior RG 337)  Ezekiel writes these words that come from God, rather than his own initiation, in order to transform and save. We sense his urgency in wanting to make an impression on his readers . . . and this he unquestionably does.

If we allow ourselves to spend time with Ezekiel in the context of the New Testament and if we are honest . . . we suddenly see that in viewing life as a race to be won, we hurry to placate a god who is extreme and unreasonable.  We panic, we look away, we scrabble against one another in our rush to show God how good and obedient we are, how much better we are than others.  And we forget to look at the Spirit within each of our neighbors whom we so anxiously judge.  Sadly, we fail to experience God in others.  We frighten ourselves and we cannot see God as the constant, merciful, just, forgiving and adoring lover.   We miss God’s capacity and willingness to absolve.  We mistake God’s passionate embrace for the chains of doom and damnation.  We miss entirely God’s warmth, safety and goodness . . . until we remember Jesus.

Tomorrow . . . some of Jesus’ words to live by when we consider our image of God.

For more on Ezekiel, visit the Ezekiel – Dry Bones Come to Life page on this blog, or go to: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/ezekiel-dry-bones-come-to-life/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 337. Print.  

 

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Saturday, January 5, 2013 – Acts 4:23-31 – Spiritual Realities

Deep Space as seen from Hubble

Deep Space as seen from Hubble

Many of us think of reality as a quality in opposition to spirituality.  Today Paul tells us that this is not so and earlier this week a friend and I shared our thoughts on our own spirituality: who we are, why we exist, what our purpose is, and where we are going . . . spiritually. 

I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling . . . The human condition is one in which we easily confuse our physical and spiritual states.  Our surrounding world and prevailing pressures push us always away from God’s wisdom; they lure us into trusting the world’s wisdom. 

The Spirit scrutinizes everything . . . We rely on word of mouth, on the Internet, and TVs talking heads, on anything other than God.  We hesitate to examine our thoughts and actions too closely; we have drawn veils across the truths we do not wish to see.

We speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden . . . When we allow ourselves to make a journey of the cross, God’s wisdom begins to make more sense to us; the world’s wisdom begins to fade.

We speak about [the things freely given us by God] not by words taught by human wisdom but by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.  We need to learn and use the vocabulary, syntax and linguistics of spirituality if we hope to engage in conversation with God closely; intimacy with God grows only when we devote time and energy to our own spiritual reality.

Who are we?  Why are we?  What are we doing?  Where are we going? 

These questions all have answers.  These answers are not found in the world but in God.  We find God in our own spiritual reality.  We find our spiritual reality when we spend time with God.  

As we approach the last day of the Christmas season and we commemorate the Magi who wisely bring gifts to the Messiah, let us find time and let us expend energy in the examination of our spiritual reality.  And let us prepare to bring the gift of our spiritual selves to the one who created all, for it is in this open vulnerability to God and that we discover God’s wisdom.  And it is in this willingness to know our spiritual reality . . . that we find the answers to these questions that define us.

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