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Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 30:20-21’


Colossians 1:15-20Christ is Reality

Friday, July 6, 2018

Paul had not visited the town of Colossae but was invited to write a letter by Epaphras, the man  who established this Christian community.  False teachers abounded in those days even as they do now; and we understand that many false teachers connected Christ more with the universe or cosmos than with God.  They taught about angels and demons, “principalities and powers”; they were often connected with cults.  Paul makes a central point in the anthem we read today and he restates this position throughout his letter to the Colossians: “Such teachings are but ‘shadows’; Christ is ‘reality’.” (Senior 318)

Commentary will tell us that Paul likely used an early Christian hymn that was already known to the Colossians as a basis for these poetic verses.  This is a technique used by many teachers to connect the audience with the message and Paul has used these few lines well to explain the true nature of Christ.  Looking at this citation as a liturgical song, we can understand its power to draw the listener in . . . and we may find ourselves drawn in as well to the person Paul describes . . . the very real and human Jesus Christ . . . made in the image of the invisible God.    

There is so much ambient light in our modern world that it has become difficult to see the night sky.  This may be dangerous for us as we can easily imagine that we are the immenseness and that the sky does not exist.  As we sat on the lawn several evenings ago to watch the 4th of July fireworks, a small creature crawled onto my ankle . . . and for some reason I began to think about the odd juxtaposition of the immense and booming displays above us with the little kingdoms that exist beneath the earth.  Any gardener will tell us that there are worlds teeming beneath the grass and stones.  Many of us may hire out the grass cutting and weeds pulling and so we have lost track of these many, under-foot worlds . . . and this too, may be dangerous.  With all the comfort and convenience we buy, it is no wonder that we have made ourselves the gods and have ignored the micro and macro worlds.  We have convinced ourselves that we can do as we like . . . and that no consequences will follow our actions.  We know this to be dangerous thinking . . . we know this to be false teaching . . . we know this to be a world of shadows.

Christ is our reality.  Yes, we say, we know this well.  Yet . . . what do our interactions with one another say about this belief?  How do we demonstrate our understanding of the universe beneath us that we have paved over and walk on daily?  How do we show our respect for the skies above us and all they contain when we send heavy metals into the atmosphere without worrying?  How do we show God and one another that we understand the importance of water, the essence of life as we know it, when we daily misuse and pollute this precious resource?  How do we demonstrate that we are fully aware and even joyful that Christ lives in each of us just as we live in him?  How do we show God that we understand our proper alignment with all the components of creation, and that we appreciate the gift of life he has freely given to each of us?

I have heard people complain that God no longer holds meaning for them.  They have decided that God does not exist.  I have heard people complain that life is too difficult.  They have decided that because they cannot see the stars at night they do not exist.  I have heard people complain that life has little or no meaning.  They have decided that there are no worlds other than the small and narrow space in which they are living.  They have forgotten that we must set out anew each day to find Christ . . . for there is our reality. When the student is ready, the teacher appears . . .

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or the left.  (Isaiah 30:20-21)

The world we touch and taste, see, hear and smell is a shadow of what truly is.  Christ is the reality.  He lives in us most lovingly . . . let us live in him as if we mean it.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.318. Print.


Image from: http://classjtobias.wikispaces.com/

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 6, 2011.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

6-6-hearing-web-gfx[1]Psalm 32:8

Hearing Instruction

I will instruct you, and teach you the way to go; I will watch over you and be your adviser.

We so often ask advice, and then we ignore it.  We frequently seek counsel and wisdom, and argue against it.  We regularly say that we seek wisdom and later reject it.  We humans are independent creatures, created by love, for love and out of love . . . and yet we go through our lives lamenting love lost, unrequited love, love betrayed and love abandoned.  Let us reflect today on hearing instruction.

God says: I know that I repeat myself constantly but I do not mind.  I answer your repeated questions; I reassure troubled souls; I affirm nervous hearts and calm distressed minds.  I see the pain and sorrow that you suffer and so I assure you that I will never abandon you; I repeat this reassurance as often as I must until my words sink into your consciousness.  I repeat what I have told you many times: Love me, love yourselves, love one another.  Hear my instruction and follow my voice.

Through Isaiah (30:19-21), God reminds us that when we are confused or troubled and know not which way to go, God always speaks so that . . . Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left”.  If we might settle ourselves even the smallest bit, we will begin to hear words of comfort and wisdom.

Enter the word voice into a Bible Concordance and see how often God speaks to us through scripture from the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation.

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Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012 – Micah 6:8 – Loving, Just and Wise

You have been told what is good . . .

Yet we endlessly seek the opinion of others about what we are to do and say. 

This is what the Lord requires of you . . .

There is no need to ever be in doubt about what we are to do or what we are to say if we can only place our head and heart into the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Do what is right . . .

When we look for excuses that pardon our actions and words, we know that we are moving in the wrong direction.

Love goodness . . .

When we find ourselves splitting hairs to win arguments, we know that we are loving the darkness.

Walk humbly with God . . .

When our feeling are hurt because we are not noticed enough for our accomplishments, we know that pride is ruling our words and actions.

We reflect with the Saturday MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer and remember that our strength is always in the Lord. 

My strength, make haste to help me!

When silence is more attractive than fidelity to the truth: My strength, make haste to help me!

When approval is more important than perseverance in good: My strength, make haste to help me!

When safety is more appealing that suffering for righteousness’ sake: My strength, make haste to help me!

As we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit in our lives this Pentecost Sunday, let us remember these words from Isaiah 30:20-21:  The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you will see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears; “This is the way; walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left”. 

As we celebrate the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts this Pentecost Sunday, let us remember these words from Matthew 10:16-20:  When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say for it will not be you speaking but the spirit of your Father speaking through you, Mark 13:11: When you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.

If when we ponder what is loving, what is just and what is wise, we come up with no answers, we have only to turn ourselves over and to open ourselves up to the Spirit, for it is in this Spirit that we find our God.  It is in this Spirit that we find ourselves. It is in this Spirit that we will know what to say and what to do. 

It is the same Spirit that comes to abide with us that we hear about today . . . on this Pentecost Sunday.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.23 (2010). Print.  

Written on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2012 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011 – Wisdom 15:1-6 – God’s Wrath

But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing with all mercy.

It is easy to believe that God is full of wrath when we read the Old Testament; the New Testament tells us that this is not so.   Yesterday’s Mass and MAGNIFICAT readings and prayers all tell us that we have much to be grateful for in God.  They tell us that we have much to be happy about with God.  They tell us that we have much to love through God.

God is our constant shepherd – even when we do not feel God’s presence, God is with us. 

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp, now moved and went around behind them. (Exodus 14:19)

The angel of the Lord . . . stood between the fleeing Israelites and their Egyptian pursuers during the exodus, and hid them from sight.  God goes with us, guards us and guides us today with the same protective love. 

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.  While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right and to the left.  (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Yesterday’s first reading was from Daniel 5 in which King Belshazzar asks advice of Daniel, the Jewish exile in whom the spirit of God rests.  Daniel interprets “the writing on the wall” and brings God’s wisdom to those who would worship idols rather than the living God. 

Yesterday’s Gospel from Luke 21:12-19: Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to refute.  You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  You will b heated because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

We may find all of this frightening . . . yet this is the work of Christ’s disciples.

We may find all of this exhausting . . . yet we draw strength from Christ.

We may find all of this overwhelming . . . yet we as disciples persist through Christ.

If we find all of this too confusing and too difficult, we will want to remember that Christ is God among us who comes to live as one of us . . . who brings us wisdom and strength. 

If we find all of this too baffling and too crushing, we will want to remember that our perfection lies in our persistence . . . and that this is all that God asks of us.

If we find that all of this causes anger to rise within, we will want to remember that what we see as God’s wrath is God’s love.

And so we pray . . .

Dear God, From time to time our sight is blurred and our hearing dimmed and we must retreat for a time to take a journey inward, to ask your counsel, and to seek your wisdom.  Bring us your comfort and strength.  Set us on the right path.  Teach us to put aside our anger and our ridiculous idols.  Teach us to listen for you.  Teach us to trust in you alone.  Call us home to you.  Amen.

If we come to this hectic Thanksgiving Weekend with too much anger, we may want to take a journey inward to examine who we are and how we behave.  To take a journey in which we examine our own use of anger go to the Journey of Transformation page on this blog. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.11 (2011): 317-318. Print.  

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Sunday, October 2, 2011 – Romans 11 – Broken Branches

Written on May 28 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew . . .

Paul puts the issue to us quite simply.  We cannot justify abandoning God by saying that God has first abandoned us.  Paul reminds the Romans – and us – that God is incapable of abandoning any part of creation, even when we turn away in separation.  God waits for us infinitely and perfectly because – as we know – God is love . . . and love does not abandon, love does not disappear. 

There may be times when we must separate ourselves from those we love for any number of reasons – I am thinking of addictions or other toxic behaviors – but in these cases we must always maintain an openness to the possibility that God’s love supersedes any dark force we humans can muster against the overpowering presence of God’s love.  Paul explains how even a wild shoot may be grafted onto the living vine to become one in unity with the goodness that God is.  Each of us is a broken branch of one sort or another.  And each of us is subject to “God’s irrevocable call”.   Even those – and we may say especially those – who disobey and misbehave are welcomed home always.  This is the lesson of the Lost Son in Luke 15; and it is remembering this lesson that may save us and call us back when we have wandered off into the wasteland of darkness.

Perhaps we think of abandoning God because God does not do as we like; yet this week we have been hearing the message that despite the pain, the change of our daily pruning is good for us.  This is how much God loves us – that he looks for the best in us and waits wisely and patiently while we thrash through our lives wondering all the while where God is . . . when God has been abiding all the time.

We are broken branches but God, the ever faithful gardener, goes about seeking, picking up small limbs from the ground where we have been trampled, cleaning, trimming . . . and grafting us back on to the vine to draw strength from the root . . . so that we might rise up in praise of this constant, loving God.

We may feel as though God has hidden himself when in fact . . . it is we who have hidden.  And it is we who are the remnant grafted back into place for our own good and for the good of the Kingdom where we are needed and awaited.  Each of us reaches a point of low resources when we feel as though we must give up . . . and so we might.  But God never gives up on us. 

Here is the bookmark that fell out of my Bible today.  I had written down these words some time ago from Isaiah 30:20-21: The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears, “This is the way; walk in it”, when you would turn to the right or to the left.  This Teacher is the Christ who shows us always which way to go when we are lost. 

From that same chapter, verse 18: The Lord is waiting to show you favor, and he rises to show you compassion; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all who wait for him!  This God is the God who walks behind us as a protector, beside us as a brother, before as a leader and with us as his Spirit; and this God is with us even when we have forgotten him.  This is how much we are loved. 

We are broken branches, fallen from the main vine with no recourse but to die.  This God who protects us, heals us, saves us and loves us, comes to us always.  Even when we do not know that we may need him.  Even when we may not have had the strength or will to call out to him.  Even when we have forgotten that he is always there . . . gathering us in as remnant . . . with the rest of the broken branches.

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