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Posts Tagged ‘inversion’


James 1:2-3: The Value of Obstacles – Brightly coloured council road signs and equipmentTuesday, September 27, 2015

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James opens his letter with advice that will catch anyone’s interest. In our modern cultures we do not consider trials as gifts to be examined; we too frequently dismiss or even ignore tribulations as inconveniences to be shunted into the darkness. We too rarely consider obstacles as doors of opportunity or growth; yet this is James’ invitation.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Perhaps this is why we pray for smooth days and comfortable nights. We do not believe that we are up to the test. Or we do not see ourselves learning good lessons from hard times. We are uncomfortable with being vulnerable and we fear having to rely on family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.

James asks us to suppress our natural tendency to avoid uncomfortable circumstances; we infer from his words that we might gain more from a constrained environment than from easy comfortable surroundings. Rather than skitter around stressful situations or difficult people, James begins, we might allow ourselves to grow in fortitude and wisdom if we rely on God’s guidance when we must maneuver hard times.

Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Certainly we do not want to look for stress in our lives; the world presents us with enough disquiet to fill our days. Clearly we do not want to be the cause of conflict in our personal and professional lives. Yet just as certainly and clearly we understand that once we open ourselves to the guidance of God’s hand when we navigate straitened days, we will remember our success in dark times and recognize a certain confidence growing within.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
blocksWe live in a world that values power, fame and wealth. We humans tend to look at one person’s loss as being another’s gain; yet when we live an inverted life with Christ where loss is gain and gain is loss, we begin to better understand James’ lesson. Stumbling blocks become building blocks. Trials become jubilation. When sorrow and pain are traversed in God’s grace we begin to experience the joy of perseverance. When we live by God’s measure rather than our own, and when we allow God to guide us through the road blocks of our lives, we finally learn the value and joy of learning new faith and new life as a result of persevering through our obstacles.

Tomorrow, right attitude.


Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Images from: http://stevesponseller.com/page/2/ and https://www.dadometer.com/types-of-building-blocks-for-toddlers/

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Proverbs 24: 1-22Morning, Noon and NightPsalm55_17

Saturday, August 13, 2022

We are much more than the finite beings we imagine ourselves to be. We are infinite.  When we allow ourselves to rely on God, when we imitate Christ as best we can and when we enter in the Spirit with other like-minded people . . . we open ourselves to the possibility that we might attain our divinity through Christ.  In today’s Noontime we hear words that echo through Jesus’ words and Paul’s letters: The Gospel story is about inversion.  We become our best selves not by struggling to become so, but by struggling to empty ourselves in order that Christ might take us over.  This surrender is at the core of our happiness.  It is the root of serenity.

We see the message again of the plaint against those who plot evil and yet seem to succeed.  We are to witness to all that is unjust, unholy, unhopeful and unloving, let God know of our grief, and wait in the Lord for God alone can handle the intricate plots of darkness.  Psalm 55 is the perfect prayer to intone when we wait for the darkness to lift and our Spirit to rise.

I will call upon God, and the Lord will save me.  At dusk, dawn, and noon I will grieve and complain, and my prayer will be heard.  God will give me freedom and peace from those who war against me, though there are many who oppose me.  

Of course we become inpatient with God when we do not hear the answer we want to hear at the time we were hoping to hear it.  When things are dark around us, it is so difficult to see God moving in our lives; yet if we are able to work in God’s way, we will see that there is a plan and that all things will turn to the good when we turn to God.  And so we might look at later verses in this psalm.

Cast your care upon the Lord, who will give you support.  God will never allow the righteous to stumble. 

In truth, we have nothing to fear when we are close to God.  Physical pain, mental anguish, spiritual sufferings are all supplanted by peace when we witness and wait in the Lord.  And God is always abiding even when we believe we do not feel God’s presence.  In the morning . . . at the noontime . . . and even in the night of our lives.


Adapted from a reflection written on September 2, 2009.  

Image from: http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/3007416/posts

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2 Corinthians 13: Weakness and Strengthsidewalkcrack-940x6263

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Following on the heels of yesterday’s Noontime we see the continuation of the theme of inversion which we always find when we seek Christ.

When we page through the Book of Sirach we come across many wise words about arrogance. In Sirach 10:7-16 we see that pride is a kind of domination over others: Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate.

We struggle for independence and compassion and too often create or find schism and haughtiness.

Let us spend time with Sirach today, and as we do we pray.

Mysterious and incarnate Christ, show us the power of humility and meekness.

Human and divine Jesus, guide us that we might see the corrupting influence of power and prestige.

Obedient and healing Christ, help us to understand that our cross is our pathway to you.

We strive for what we already have and this is the same lure that drew in Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. We want to be like gods and we do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we find our own divinity in Christ. We do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we are one with God in the Spirit. We do not realize, or do not know or remember, that we have no need of little gods for we are, through the grace and kindness of Christ, one in union with God.

Paul reminds us that our weakness makes us strong, our poverty makes us rich.  This is the wealth we will want to store up. This is the power we will want to wield. Let us remember this message today and all days.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 14, 2008. Click on the image above for posts on perseverance and growth, or visit: http://theoutsidewithin.com/tag/plants/ 

2 corinthians 13

To learn more about the Book of Sirach, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/s/sirach.htm

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Luke 21: The Mystery of Wisdom – Part IVwisdom1

Friday, July 8, 2022

We have examined the concept of wisdom not as a body of knowledge but as a way of living. We have explored the idea that wisdom blossoms from strong relationships both with God and with others. And we have reflected on the knowledge that wisdom can be found in God’s promises and grace. Today we spend time with words from Jesus himself so that we might discover how God’s wisdom might be manifested in us.

For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

In this portion of Luke’s story, Jesus has been sharing parables with his followers, describing the kingdom of God and the confusion we experience when we begin to understand its inverted nature. The mighty will be weak while the weak will be strong. The poor in spirit will rejoice and the humble will inherit the earth. The small offering of the widow is worth more than the wealth of kings and emperors. Jesus’ followers ask for clarity and Jesus assures them that the wisdom they will need to enter into and to participate in this kingdom, this wisdom that is eternal and all-encompassing, comes only from God.

When we spend time with this chapter of Luke’s story today and compare varying versions of these verses, we ourselves will grow in this mysterious wisdom that eludes definition – but which saves, redeems and transforms.

If we want to explore more of Jesus’ wisdom, we might read the parables he tells, consider the questions he asks, watch the actions he takes as he moves through adoring crowds and confronts scheming enemies. We may need a good commentary to help us unravel these words and these actions. We may need quiet time to meditate on this amazing life. We may need to read a different version of these verses. Or we may need a mentor or guide to help us in our own wisdom journey. No matter the tools we use, we must take up the invitation to move forward in our understanding of this mystery . . . for this mystery is the essence of life itself, Jesus the Christ. 

Tomorrow, the wisdom of the cross.


Image from: https://unsplash.com/images/religion/open-bible

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John 15:18-20: Slaves and Masters

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

When we try to reconcile this world with the kingdom, we often find more misunderstanding than peace. Jesus gives us important information about how we might handle this difficulty.

Jesus says: If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

God says: Spend time with these confusing words today until they begin to clarify. Spend time with me today until you better see how to be in the world and not of it. Spend time with me until you see that the world’s persecution is a quiet blessing. Spend time with me until you believe that you are made in my image and are called to enact my love in a world that cries out for compassion. Spend time with me until you understand that the slaves of this world are always masters in the next. Then go into the world that wants to enslave you and carry my Spirit within. You will find that you are master of far more than you had imagined. 

Scripture is always showing us the inversions of the kingdom and Jesus speaks to us directly today in the hope that we understand how our witness in his name will generally bring us scorn rather than praise. Enter the word inversion into the blog search bar and look for other ways that the kingdom turns the world on its head.


 Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dougga_cup-bearers_mosa%C3%AFc.jpg

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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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