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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’


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Sea of Galilee

Thursday, April 15, 2021

John 7:1-9

Within Galilee

Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel to Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

We have begun our ascent to Jerusalem and so we gird ourselves for the arduous journey with its dreadful yet glorious end. We have heard the words and woes of Amos and so we understand that change must and will come upon us. We set our feet on the path we have chosen and we step forward with both dread and hope. What do we discover about ourselves and our world that we must change? We believe that we are well aware of the pitfalls we will meet.  We know that there are barriers that will stymie and frustrate us. We realize that if we hope to be made new we leave the refuge we have created for ourselves if we hope to travel up to Jerusalem. We recognize the hostile nature of the world we traverse and yet somehow we feel strangely safer once we commit to moving forward. Still, for a while we determine to remain where we feel safest while we prepare for our moment of boldness when we will allow ourselves to be open to rescue from our old way of living. And so for a time we remain in Galilee . . . while we prepare for our own conversion, change and resurrection. 


 

the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss

Aryeh Weiss: The Second Temple Jerusalem 

For another reflection about resting before our journey to Jerusalem, visit the Resting in Bethany post by entering the words into the blog search bar to explore. 

For more information about the location and nature of Galilee and Judea, go to: Galilee http://bibleatlas.org/galilee.htm and Judea http://bibleatlas.org/judea.htm

The Temple image from: https://pixels.com/featured/the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss.html

Sea of Galilee image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/sea-of-galilee-tour-maps-facts-and-pictures.html

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Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021

Luke 19:41-44

Ercole de" Roberti: Destruction of Jerusalem

Ercole de’ Roberti: Destruction of Jerusalem

Recognizing the Messiah

We lament the world’s injustice. We search for wisdom in the prophets. We struggle to live the Word of the Gospel. We await a Messiah.

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes”.

Jerusalem is the celebrated site of God’s presence among the Jewish people – yet Jesus laments her blindness.

“For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides”. 

The holy Temple contains the Ark of the Covenant – yet Jesus predicts the day when all will be lost.

“They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation”.

The people of God cried out for a king. God answered their prayer. Yet they did not recognize that God already lived among them.

Let us decide to address the world’s injustice. Let us listen to the wisdom in the prophets. Let us determine to live out the truths of the Gospel. And let us choose to recognize the Messiah who dwells within.

On this Easter Sunday that holds so much promise after a year of pandemic fear and social unease, we acknowledge that although the Temple of Jerusalem fell, it rose again in the body of Christ. We recognize the wisdom of the prophecy of Amos. We celebrate the limitless mercy of the Messiah.


For a homily on this reading, click on the image above or go to: http://sothl.com/2011/08/28/sermon-luke-1941-44/

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Christmas Eve – December 24, 2020

4112920[1]Luke 2:39-40

Filled With Wisdom and Light

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Last week we spent time with Luke’s telling of the Nativity Story and in our reflections we explored four Lucan themes: the rearing of Jesus in the Mosaic Law and traditions, the importance of Jerusalem and the Temple in Jesus’ family life, the presence of God’s Spirit in the Jesus story, and Jesus as the presence of truth and light that will effect decision and judgment. (Mays 932)

God says: When you experience my son in this story you too will be filled with wisdom and light. When you live in my Spirit you too will find your decisions come to you more easily for they will be made in and through me. I do not want to control you and that is why I have given you full free will. I want to love you, and I want you to love me. Jesus lives by the old law in order to bring about the new. This is not easy and it involves misery and disappointment; yet this sadness is transformed just as a butterfly arises from the cocoon spun by a caterpillar; new life springs from the decaying seeds of the old tree, and eternal life arrives through the fidelity and integrity of your relationships. Remain in me as I remain in you. Allow yourself to be filled with my wisdom and light. And allow my favor to bring you out of all suffering and pain. 

As the child grows strong and becomes filled with wisdom, so too do we grow in strength and understanding when we grow in God. As God’s favor rests upon the Child of Wisdom and Light, so too does God’s favor rest on each of us when we live and work in the Spirit. As we move through this holiest of weeks, let us open our hearts and minds to the gift of endless light and life.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

Image from: http://wallpaper4god.com/en/background_christian-graphic-light-of-the-world/

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Luke 2:25-35

Rembrandt: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Rembrandt van Rijn: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Simeon

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.               

Righteous, devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel . . . Simeon focuses all of his spiritual, mental and physical energy on God. We imagine what sort of award awaits us when we determine to live as Simeon lives.

He came in the Spirit into the temple . . . Not only does Simeon live in the Spirit but he carries this Spirit with him wherever he goes. We imagine what effect we might have on the world if we are as faithful as Simeon.

“A second Lucan theme lies in the setting: Jerusalem and the Temple. For Luke the ministry of Jesus moves toward Jerusalem and the mission of the church moves out from Jerusalem. As for the Temple, Luke is alone among NT writers in is favorable view. His Gospel begins with Zechariah in the Temple and it will close with Jesus’ disciples in the Temple”. (Mays 932)

In this Advent time of year when all the world awaits  relief from a pandemic, and when we await Christ’s coming into the world, let us consider the many directions in which we feel ourselves pulled, the many losses we feel, and let us determine to await Christ in the temple of our hearts. Let us decide to take the story of our salvation to the world.

Tomorrow . . . a third Lucan theme.


To read and understand more about the importance of Simeon’s words, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/2_21-38.htm 

Or enter the word Simeon into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://www.canvasreplicas.com/Presentation-of-Jesus-in-the-Temple-Rembrandt-van-Rijn-Painting-Reproductions.htm

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Jeremiah_33_3[1]Jeremiah 33

Promise

We visit the book of Jeremiah often in our Noontime reflections; it is a rich and complex prophecy. Jeremiah is so frank, honest, and open about his suffering. Chapter 33 is particularly lovely and holds much promise about healing after punishment.

This prophecy might prove difficult for those among us who are addicted to turmoil and conflict or to the control of others and our surroundings. Jeremiah speaks of reliance on God who loves dearly and intensely, tenderly and passionately. Through Jeremiah, God announces a desire for our own personal freedom so that we might freely choose to be in relationship with God. Whether we suffer or celebrate, God wants to dance in intimacy with us.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. This quiet instruction from God speaks of the closeness and confidence of our relationship. We have only to ask. God will answer. Like the faithful spouse.

Verse 9: Then Jerusalem shall be my joy, my praise, my glory, before all the nations of the earth, as they hear of all the good I will do among them.  They shall be in fear and trembling over all the peaceful benefits I will give her. The prophecy of Jeremiah is not only a faithful prediction of what will happen to King Zedekiah, to the city of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Israel, it is a foretelling of the Christ story and it is the story of our own ransom and redemption.

God wants only freedom for us so that we might have the option to choose to love and follow. Christ arrives to bring us this freedom from slavery and darkness. The Holy Spirit abides with us constantly, whispering this promise to us repeatedly.

When we seek freedom from all that haunts us, we only need turn to a forgiving and loving God. This is where real and lasting love lies. This is where eternal sustenance and strength lie. And this is where the undying and sure promise of God’s presence and movement in our lives will always lie. This is the freedom God willingly gives. God’s promise to us is this great. God’s love for us is this persistent and ever-lasting.


Adapted from reflections written on January 1, 2007 and April 28, 2010.

Image from: http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?m=201208

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1 Kings 14: Death of Abijah

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The nameless woman returns to her city and as her foot touches the threshold . . .

This is a story which tells of the two kings of the split kingdom of David – Israel with her king Jeroboam in the north and Judah with her king Rehoboam in the south.  Notes, websites and histories can give us a visual of the lineages and a few are listed below.

What we miss when we read history without scripture is the detail, and we have it in abundance in this short chapter.  There is the child, Abijah, the two kings, the wife who is not named and Naamah, the mother who is.  There are other ancillary characters.  http://bible.cc/1_kings/14-1.htm

There are place names: Shiloh, Tirzah, Jerusalem.  Maps can help us find these places to see how they relate in space. http://bibleatlas.org/

We can put ourselves in the timeline and in the space to try to see, hear, smell and hear these sights and these people . . . but what strikes me is this . . . this is a story which might happen to any one of us.  And who am I?

Am I the nameless wife and mother who fears the death of her child?  Am I married to the son of Solomon who finds his kingdom split?  Am I the besieged king or the aggressor, the shield maker, the guard, the prophet, the chronicler?  Do I have a loyalty to the north or south?  Do I believe Jeroboam to be maligned or do I know him to worship idols?  Do I follow Rehoboam blindly or do I question?  In this vivid picture . . . Where am I?  Who am I?  What am I doing?

We know that Jeroboam feared re-unification of these split kingdoms because he would no longer collect the temple worship taxes which he now did since setting up his own capital.  We know that Rehoboam, son of Solomon, scrambled to keep these two territories united, fearing invasion from Assyria, Persia, Egypt and others.  We know that one king was buried with honor and the other was not.  And we know why.

I have such empathy for the nameless woman in this story.  She dies as she is bidden yet she is powerless before these men and apparently before her God.  She moves like a shadow.

I also have empathy for the woman Naamah whose son leads Judah to do evil in the sight of the Lord.  What does she think of the cult prostitutes the leadership has encouraged?  Does she agree that they are a means to worshiping God?  Does she dare to speak if she disagrees?

What do these women think?  What do they say?  What do they hold dear?

Today’s story calls us to think of our journey . . . do we travel light . . . do we travel alone . . . where do we stop along the way . . . what waters and feeds us?

The nameless woman in today’s story is told that her child will pass away as she returns home . . . so in that moment she knows that she will not see him again.  What does she feel?

The nameless woman in today’s story returns to her city and as her foot touches the threshold . . . her child dies.  What does she say?

The nameless woman in today’s story sees her child buried . . . with all of Israel mourning.  What does she pray?

Oh, Father in heaven, spare us from the tragedies which are too hard to bear.  Save us from the people from whom we might suffer irreparable damage.  Keep us always close to you.  Protect the ones we love.  Save us from harm.  Feed us.  Nourish us.  Be our column of smoke and fire and protect us on our way as you did the Israelites who journeyed out of slavery and into freedom with you always guiding.  Alert us to the dangers.  The noise of this world is sometimes so overwhelming.  Sound the alarm when we stray.  Hold us closely.  You are our rock and our refuge.  We give thanks to you, our awesome God.  Amen.


Written on January 13, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.womeninthebible.net/women-bible-old-new-testaments/naamah/

Other resources are: http://www.kchanson.com/CHRON/isrkings.html and http://www.bible-history.com/map_israel_judah/ and http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/files/OT_history/unit1/Unit1a_geography.htm and http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/directory/A/1 and http://bibleatlas.org/ and http://bibledictionaries.com/ and http://www.womeninthebible.net/

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Daniel 9: Gabriel and the Seventy Weeks

Sunday, November 17, 2019

“I was still occupied with this prayer when Gabriel came to me in rapid flight”.

“A pressing theological question asserts itself.  Does the writer of Daniel think God’s purpose in bringing history to its end can be changed merely by uttering human prayers?” (Mays 631-632) Commentary will enlighten this passage for us further but if time is brief today we might reflect on this one question: How do we react when we discover that a period of trial will last longer than we had first believed?  How do we manage pain that endures not seventy years but seven times that number?  Do we reject God in anger or do we go to God in faith?  Do we sink into private despair or do we turn to God in universal hope?  Do we lash out against those who bring us truth or do we react in love . . . even toward our enemies?  What do we do when we find out that our seventy years of pain are seven times that number?   How do we endure?

Daniel provides us with a model, a plan, a pattern we can follow when we receive the news that life is a string of trials interspersed with little triumphs.  Chapter 9 lays out a simple map.

I turned to the Lord, pleading an earnest prayer . . . We turn to God and pour our fears into God’s ear.  We tell him our worries with honesty.  We do not hide any of the details for God already knows them.

With fasting, sackcloth, and ashes . . . We make an outward sign to our inward selves that we have given over all control to God.  We put aside all pride.  We place ourselves fully into God’s hands for God already holds us firmly.

I prayed to the Lord my God, and confessed . . . We enter into an open and straightforward dialog with God.  We say all that is on our minds, all that weighs down our hearts.  We admit that we have erred and have sometimes adored false idols.

And we can turn to God because God is good.  We can be truthful with God because God is forgiving.  We can put away our fears, our defenses and our weapons because God is love.

Know and understand this . . . Jerusalem was to be rebuilt . . .

When we discover that our suffering will not be ending when we first believed it would . . . we can follow Daniel’s model and remember that God always loves, God is always present, God always forgives and welcomes his tired ones home.  God does, indeed, respond to human prayer . . . and he sends his messenger to bring us the news that God is with us.


More notes on Daniel 9: “The prophet Jeremiah (25,11; 29,10) prophesied a Babylonian captivity of seventy years, a round number signifying the complete passing away of the existing generation.  Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus and the subsequent return of the Jews to Palestine.  However, the author of Daniel, living during the persecution of Antiochus, sees the conditions of the exile still existing; therefore in his mediation, he extends Jeremiah’s number to seventy weeks of years (v 24); i.e., seven times seventy years, to characterize the Jewish victory over the Seleucids as the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy”. (Senior cf. 2, 1100-1101)

To re-visit our reflections on other portions of Daniel 9: We begin with Daniel seeking Ultimate Fulfillment in God; Daniel intones a Prayer in the Desert; then suddenly Gabriel Comes to Daniel in rapid flight.  A vision ensues through which Daniel understands that an end will come to the anguish he and his exiled nation suffer . . . but this end is further off than anticipated. 

To read more about this prophecy, go to the Daniel – God Calls the Faithful and Faithless page on this blog. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 631-632. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1100-1101. Print.   

A re-post from October 27, 2012.

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Luke 9:51-56: Being Resolute

Friday, October 25, 2019

James Tissot: Jesus Goes Up to Jerusalem

Today’s citation is also the morning’s Gospel reading.  It gives us a great deal to think about beginning with the words he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.  Jesus knew what lay before him . . . and still he went.  So must we all.

We know that life of the body ends.  There is no avoiding it.  We cannot purchase immortality with our money or our wits.  We cannot out-fox death.  No amount of money can divert its advent.  We may delay or cheat death, but we cannot master it . . . except . . . unless we are willing to go to Jerusalem with Christ.

Another phrase strikes me: they would not welcome him because they knew his destination.  Being moved out of our comfort zones is a scary proposition.  Moving into an unknown land, into territory charted by only a few is a dangerous way in which to live.  Yet it is what Jesus did.  It is what he does each day when he knocks at the door of a stubborn heart.  We are all on our way to Jerusalem, but some of us are too fearful, or we do not understand what this means . . . and we do not welcome him.

A third idea moves me as I read.  Jesus rebukes his own disciples when they want to call down fire from heaven to consume [the Samaritans].  Anger is not the Christian way of life, but rebuking is.  We are to be merciful with one another but not lenient.  Honest but not strident.  Open rather than shrill.  We are to be just with one another and avoid insisting on our own agenda.  We are to discipline one another, but not at the expense of the Gospel.

We know our destination if we let ourselves believe and hope and love in Christ.

We must welcome Christ as he stops at our door each day in the guise of fellow travelers.

We discipline one another even as Christ disciplines us, this is the Way of Apostleship.

We must be resolute, we must welcome all who call, we must rebuke one another gently and mercifully as we move along the road of the way up to Jerusalem for that is our destination.  And it is in living in this way that we encounter our immortal selves.


Written on September 30, 2008. Edited and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://twoagespilgrims.com/pasigucrc/index.html/the-servant-sets-his-face-like-a-flint/

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1 Maccabees 11Alliance and War

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Jonathan Maccabeus

Ptolemy VI, Demetrius, Alexander and Trypho – we watch these rulers exchange lies as easily as they shake hands.  Nothing and no one stand for what they say they do; the world into which we step with this Noontime is one of deceit and triple-speak.  It is a world that may seem familiar to us.

In this portion of the Maccabees story, Jonathan knows that his tiny kingdom is a simple pawn in the chessboard of the region yet he persists in his struggle to retain and hold secure the sacred city of Jerusalem and some districts of the former kingdom.  He seems to achieve and hold his goal . . . at least for a while.

Alliance and war, promise and conflict, peace and confrontation – these larger battles are reflections of the personal battles we wage each day.  The Euro-zone struggles, personal freedom is or is not guaranteed in Egypt, the debt crisis in the U.S. causes financial markets to totter; corruption in political and financial arenas is blamed for personal, national and global failure and depression.  News headlines today read much like this Maccabees accounting.  What has changed?

We like to think that humanity makes progress and our inventions might give us the impression that we do.  We communicate with one another across the globe in an instant; but do we hear one another any better?  We cure diseases that previously devastated entire nations; but do we cure the disease of greed and alienation?  We have world-wide conferences that give the appearance of ecumenism and openness; but do we tend to the soul any better than we did two thousand years ago?

Amid the hurley burley of human activity there is only one place to go when headlines distress us or when family and friends become prickly or insensitive.  The last verse of the chapter tells us where to go and what to do . . . Then Jonathan returned to Jerusalem. High Priest-Warrior who follows in the footsteps of his slain brother Judas, Jonathan makes it clear where his center lies . . . he returns to Jerusalem.  Steadfast diplomat who manages to maneuver the tricks and fall backs of his opponents, Jonathan refuses shady deals and shaky terms to make clear where he focuses his energy . . . he returns to Jerusalem Through alliance and war, despite political setback and personal failure, Jonathan Maccabeus shoots like an arrow straight and true.  He homes toward the epicenter of his faith and hope . . . he returns to Jerusalem. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and faithful God, abide with us as we worry our way through our days.  Keep us true to you as we avoid the temptation to give in to a false and passing alliance that brings nothing but death.  Teach us how to remain in touch with you when the clamor of the day and the fear of the night dull our senses and attacks our resolve.  Speak to us loudly and clearly when the road signs that point toward you have been washed away by slick talk and deceitful hands.  Pull us to you and hold us close when our inner turmoil and fear erode our confidence and hope. Keep us ever mindful of your care and love . . . and remind us that when the stricture of alliance clouds our vision or when the fog of war numbs our good judgment . . . we have only to cry out to you and ask that you return us to the safety of Jerusalem.  For it is there that we find eternal rest and boundless peace in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from November 23, 2011.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Apphus

For more information on Jonathan Maccabeus you might try these sites:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/353845/Jonathan-Maccabeus

 http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-hasmoneans/

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