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Posts Tagged ‘inversion’


Cana-Wedding-Village-ancient-Holy-Land-pictureSaturday, July 17, 2021

Ruth 1:19-22

Return to Bethlehem

As we have mentioned earlier this week, the people in this story are part of Jesus’ family tree, and as always with Scripture, we see God in the daily living of these ordinary lives lived in an extraordinary way. The message is clear if we might only look and listen: if something is bound to happen, no one can intervene, and if something is not going to take place, no one can cause it to take place . . . except God. God is in charge.

I like this story because it shows the proper covenant relationship between God the creator and us, God’s creatures. God is always present; it is we who struggle to perceive this presence. When we pause to reflect and to look more closely, we might watch God take action through people who respond to God’s call. In this way then, we can say that we mediate God’s actions.

This story shows how tragedy can be transformed by allowing God’s love to move through us, and allowing God’s love to be actualized through us. Are we not constantly surprised by the inverted way in which God works in our lives?

Jeff Cavins writes, “The story of Ruth is almost a story of Judges in reverse: she is a woman from a pagan nation whose people were hostile to Israel (it was Moabite women who seduced Israel to worship Baal at Peor, and Moab’s king Balak who summoned Baalam to curse Israel back in Numbers 22-25). But Ruth forsakes the gods of Moab to faithfully serve Yahweh. That chapter 4 recognizes Ruth as an ancestress of David, and that Matthew includes her in the genealogy of Jesus helps us remember that God’s ultimate plan was to include all nations in His family. Ruth is in many ways what Israel was called to be.”

Today’s citation is early in Ruth’s story and follows the famous “Whither thou goest” line in verses 16 and 17. The women return to Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest, a harvest which plays an important part in the story that is unfolding. The town celebrates this return as do we.

Recalling that women without men held little value in these ancient times, we can only stand in awe of Ruth and Naomi’s courage in the face of tragedy. We can only hope to see these ordinary lives as extraordinary models for us to follow. We can only believe that God works with us through our own tragedies and joys . . . so let us be open to God’s word in us today.


Jeff Cavins, Sarah Christmeyer and Tim Gray, THE GREAT ADVENTURE: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE. Ascension Press, 2007.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 14, 2007.

Image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/ancient-holyland-photos/cana-wedding-village-ancient-holy-land-picture-2

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Psalm 119

A Prayer to Rejoice in Our Portion

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God.

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God. This is Our Portion.

God brings us connection to others and to nature.  Let us extend our own invitation to those who long for this same union. We rejoice in God’s desire to be connected with each of us. Amen.

We expect to find valor in obvious places. Let us prepare to discover bravery where we least expect it. We celebrate the courage God bestows on us. Amen.

God breaths in us a life force of inversion. Let us ask for deliverance from all that oppresses us knowing that with God all things are possible. We delight in the beauty God has in mind for all. Amen.

In countless stories from Old Testament and New, we learn to look for the good concealed in astonishing places. Let us seek the wonder of God’s goodness in ourselves and in others. We celebrate the splendor God shows us in impossible circumstances. Amen.

God is nothing but infinite goodness. Let us rejoice with God in our portion, God’s gift of life. Let us rejoice in our portion of God’s infinite love. Amen.


For more on the connection, valor, inversion, concealed and infinite goodness that is our portion in God’s plan, explore the second five stanzas of Psalm 119 in last week’s Noontimes.

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Psalm 119

Our Portion

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God.

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God. This is Our Portion.

Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope . . . My portion is the Lord; I promise to keep your words.

Last week we reflected on how Mary treasured the Word of God in her heart and body. We know that we are created in God’s image; we understand that we are dearly loved by God; and we believe that God constantly accompanies us through life even though we do not always sense God’s presence. This is our portion in life.

As we explore God’s word in Psalm 119 strophes four through eight, let us also examine what our portion is. And let us consider the lessons and promises that unfold.

Daleth: Selflessness – God invites us to take part in creation by living out the Law of Love. Do we accept this door that invites us to love?

He: Thought, Speech and Action – We see how me might answer God’s call: first in our thoughts, then in our words and finally in our deeds. Do we accept this challenge to believe in God’s promise?

Waw: Connection – Even if we try to deny our connection with God it exists; even if we turn our back on God, God continues to dwell within. Do we recognize the portion God gives to us?

Zayin: Woman of Valor – God enters the human race in the person of Jesus, relying on a woman of valor, Mary. Are we equally willing to accept God’s presence in our lives?

Heth: The Life Value of Run and Return – We sometimes fail to recognize God in the marginalized who live at the edges of society. Are we willing to run toward the poor, the sick and the outcast in our return to God?

Tomorrow, A Prayer to Rejoice in Our Portion.  

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mark 8:34-37

life of christ, the_t_nv[1]Fullness of Life

Deny Self, Take up the Cross, and Follow: These are very simple words but oh, so challenging to live. Bible commentary tells us how difficult it is to fully and absolutely follow Jesus.

This utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself . . . [This is] an expression of the ambivalence of life and its contrasting destiny.  Life seen as mere self-centered earthly experience and lived in denial of Christ ends in destruction, but when lived in loyalty to Christ, despite earthly death, it arrives at fullness of life.  (Senior 81)

An authentic life is rich indeed even, and perhaps especially, when it is lived in poverty and want.

A challenging life is one in which we are called to something that asks us to stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zone even, and perhaps especially, when we are called to confront our biggest fear.

A life of self-renunciation is not tragic and sad. It is a life lived fully because in this way we go beyond our humanity to experience our divinity.

A life spent in cross carrying brings us the tools we will need to fully and wholly enter into union with God.  It prepares us for the eternal.

Jesus is always about inversion and with these words today, recorded simply and faithfully by Mark, Jesus describes the straightforwardness of his life. If we wish to follow we must allow Christ to act with, in and through us. And when we do we will fully understand the words we read today.

To be human, we must allow the divinity planted in us by God to open us up to possibility. To be divine, we must allow our humanity made holy by Christ to transform us. To be both human and divine, we must allow ourselves to accept the gift offered by God, the opportunity to experience life in the fullest, the gift and opportunity we receive from the creator as God’s Christmas people.

We may regard the price of this gift as being too high for the human reach and yet . . . it is the true path to eternal life.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.81. Print.

Image from: http://covdevotions2010.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-95-philippians-23-4.html

Adapted from a reflection written on October 4, 2010.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

Philippians 2:7-9

imagesCAXVU6SCFullness

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

Paul speaks frequently of emptying himself so that Christ may be every more present. Paul often refers to himself as a slave in Christ. Yesterday we celebrated the baptism of Jesus and marked the end of the Christmas season. Today let us spend time with the idea that this small child is both human and divine. Let us examine what Paul might mean when he uses the imagery of slavery. And let us reflect on just how much we are willing to empty ourselves so that we might too receive God’s fullness.

“This is my beloved Son,” we hear in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 3:13-17), “with whom I am well pleased.”  Humans look for affirmation from their elders; we strive to please those who brought us life. We can imagine that Jesus is no different in that the affirmation he receives on the bank of the Jordan brings him both satisfaction and a certain amount of fear. Yes, he has done well and the creator has confidence that Jesus will complete his exodus from our world. And yes, he knows that struggles lie ahead.

Today we remember that God’s world is always inverted as Paul reminds us so that when we are empty we are truly full. Knowing this, we might allow our own sadness or desolation to bring us God’s fullness. We might seek affirmation from the one who created us. We might call on Christ and ask that he carry us through life’s turmoil when we are overwhelmed.

We need not fear what we do not know. We need not shrink from the hollowing out of ourselves. We only need call on the one who is all, for it is in this calling we will find that all emptiness is filled, and it is in this calling that we come to understand what it means to be Christmas people.

Tomorrow, the Fullness of Life.


Image from: http://bentohwestloop.blogspot.com/2012/03/humility-humiliation-and-humanity-of.html

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

1 Peter 1:17-19

Lamb_of_God_smReverence

Now if you invoke as father him who judges partially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the tome of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.

The Jewish symbol of life is the blood of the spotless lamb.  This symbol becomes reality when Christ dies so that each of us might live.

God says: I can see why you do not understand the world of inversion in which I operate. You are often confused when Jesus tells you that you must die in order that you might live. But look at the world around you. As Jesus says: a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and split open. It must die from its present state in order that it produce many more grains. In this way the grain of wheat you see as perishing is, in fact, becoming immortal. It never dies because for generations its offspring live. Just so is it with each of you. Like the grain of wheat that gives over to the potential I have placed within, so too do you live forever when you follow your call and enter into the potential state for which I created you. When this becomes your reality . . . suddenly the world of inversion is the only world that makes sense. This is why Jesus tells you: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”.  John 12:24

It is not necessary for us to bear physical children in order to enter into this world that Jesus describes; rather, each small and tender act we offer up to God is a small child of love to which we give birth. Just so does Christ offer himself to us each day as the innocent lamb. Just so do we realize our true inheritance in Christ rather than in gold and silver that perishes. Just so do we revere our God by offering reverence to God and to one another in our small and big acts of inversion.

Tomorrow, mutual love . . .


Image from: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/427/jesus___lamb_of_god_.html

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Luke 18:31-34

Comprehension

“Luke understands the events of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but, as is usually the case in Luke-Acts, the author does not specify which Old Testament prophets he has in mind”.   (Senior 133 cf.)

Many of us live much of our lives in this way: we do as God asks with the understanding that that we are fulfilling some needed action . . . without fully comprehending how our small part fits in with God’s great plan. Discipleship is characteristically vague in this way, asking us to rely in faith on God, asking us to rest in hope with God, asking us to act in love for God.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . .

Each time we feel God’s desire move through us we know that we are going up to Jerusalem.

The Son of Man will be handed over . . .

Each time we follow Christ we understand that we run the risk of being handed over to the scoffers, the naysayers, the plotters and the complacent.

He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon . . .

Each time we lament that disciple work is difficult we put aside the memory of Jesus’s last days.

After they have scourged him they will kill him . . .

Each time we die another small death we believe we have no more energy to move forward.

But on the third day he will rise . . .

Each time we think we are extinguished forever we rise in restoration and healing.

But they understood nothing of this . . .

Each time we try to explain the reasons for our outrageous hope we meet expressionless faces.

And the word remained hidden from them . . .

Each time we come up against the wall of incomprehension we must remember that even those who followed Jesus day to day did not fully understand . . . until Christ returned to them following the events of his Passion and death.

And they failed to comprehend what he said . . .

Each time we believe that we are lost we must remember that God always acts through inversion and so the lost will be found.

Each time we fall Christ is there – even though we do not comprehend.

Each time we suffer Christ is there – even though we do not understand.

Each time we die one of those many small deaths that mark our passing, Christ is there – even though we do not fully see.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.133. Print.   

Enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem – A Prayer into the blog search bar and explore another reflection. To better understand the expression, enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem and visit the three-part post.

To read about Jerusalem Day and the crowds who pray at the southern wall of the Temple, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.friendlyplanet.com/2013/03/the-top-10-places-and-sites-to-visit-in-israel.html

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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

sun on hoizon of planet

John 12:44-46

The One

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me.  I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness”.

We often hear the question: Where was God when this tragedy happened?  Today we hear an answer.

God says: I hear you when you ask, “Where are you, God?” And when I hear this I hear it I know that you are frightened. I walk among you every day and most of the time I am invisible to you. Perhaps you are looking for a powerful leader, a doctor, a wise one who has all the answers to your questions. If this is the one you seek, you seek me. But I do not look powerful. My healing of your wounds and ills is often taken for granted. And my advice to you is regularly ignored. But this does not anger me for I am patient and my love for you is wider, deeper and more intense than you have imagined. I walk with you each day in the darkest of places to bring you light. I carry you through the night to set you in the sunshine. I bind up your injuries and restore your body, mind and soul. I am The One who created you and I am The One who tends to you. Even when you cry out against me I am there.

We seek God and look past his presence because God often comes to us as the battered, the homeless and the bereft. God speaks to us through inversion and hears our cries. Rather than shun the light of truth, we must be open to it. Rather than close the door to uncomfortable information, we must welcome it. Rather than deny growth and transformation, we must embrace it. For this is how God comes to us each hour of each day.


Image from: http://catechesis-a-journey.blogspot.com/2012/10/creation.html

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Saturday, August 8, 2020

two-edged-sword[1]Revelation 1:16

Cleaving God’s Word

In his right hand [the son of man] held seven stars. A sharp, two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. 

Commentary tells us that the seven stars represent the pagan authority over the world in which the writer, John of Patmos, lived.  The sword refers to the Word of God.  The shining face represents the divine mystery of Christ. (Senior cf. 401)

God says: Like the vineyard owner who sends his son to gather the rent, I have sent my own son among you for your acceptance of rejection. This son is My Word to you. His actions are mine. His love is mine.  All that he is and all that he does speak My Word and in this he is constant and faithful. Sometimes he brings you fire. Sometimes he brings you tranquility. Always he brings you justice tempered with mercy, mercy enacted through justice yet it is not always easy to hear this word. My son always brings you healing. Always brings you transformation. Always brings prudence and persistence. This double edge may be difficult for some to understand yet it describes my son’s nature and thus my nature.  t both divides and unites. It harvests where it can. Live by the word brought to you on this double edge. Imitate this two-edged sword as best you can for it is in this fusion of two worlds that you find me. It is in the inversion of your world that you best feel my presence.

In Ephesians 6:17 Paul writes of this sword of the spirit, the word of God, that sings as it completes the armor of the steadfast servant. As we arm ourselves today and all days to go into the world, let us remember that God’s word cleaves the faithful – it both divides and unites.  Let us spend time with God today to determine how we react to the fire and restoration brought to us by the two-edged sword of God’s Word.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 401. Print.   

The Parable of the Tenants: Matthew 21:33-46

Image from: https://www.bing.com

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