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Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’


Sirach 49:11-13: Heroes after Exile

Monday, May 22, 2023lessons-nehemiah

Over the last several days, we reflected on the idea of taking a dare on the strength of the relationship between God and humanity. Today we return to a favorite as we reflect on Nehemiah, a man who led his people out of exile and created an environment in which they might become heroes. How might we live our own lives as new Nehemiahs?

Nehemiah was the administrator who brought his own money, sweat and tears to the reconstruction of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem.  He provided not only the structure, organization and the will, but the risk-taking attitude and perseverance to create the continuity between the pre and post exile worlds.  He created an environment for the Word of God to flourish in the post-captivity Jerusalem.  At various times over these several years as we have spent Noontime together, we have reflected on this man, this work, this wisdom, this patience, this persistence, this dedication and devotion to God.  These are all qualities necessary for discipleship.

As we go about our lives we are continually called to rebuild and to reconstitute ourselves and others.  We are called to Christ, the one who saves.

nehemiah's wall

Nehemiah’s Wall

True heroes are those who understand that the saving work they do – their amazing feats, their miracles – come from God.  They know that God is the source of all goodness and healing.  And they praise God unceasingly in the midst of turmoil and strife.  True heroes create structures and times and places in which God can dwell with the faithful.  True heroes find reward in the endless suffering that accompanies discipleship.  True heroes are rare.  When we find them, we best hold on to them, and follow.


Adapted from a favorite from May 9, 2008.

To reflect on the nature of optimism, watch Tari Shalot’s Ted Talk on The Optimism Bias. Enter the name Nehemiah into the blog search bar and explore this man’s determination and willingness to take a risk. Click on the image of Nehemiah’s wall above to learn about the archeological work at Nehemiah’s wall and gate. Or visit: http://www.biblicalarchaeologytruth.com/nehemiahs-wall.html

Images from: http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2009/03/09/lessons-from-nehemiah-1-humility/ and http://www.biblicalarchaeologytruth.com/nehemiahs-wall.html

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Mark 11:1-11: Jesus’ Entry into Our Lives

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Francisco de Zurbarán: The Adoration of the Shepherds

As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, we return to some Christmastide meditations from 2011 and we reflect on how the Passion and Easter stories begin in a stable in Bethlehem. 

In yesterday’s Noontime we considered how much we rush toward Christmas only to miss its deep promise and sure gift – the gift of Christ himself.  Today we continue our reflection . . .

The Noontime reading takes us to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem; the natural culmination of the Savior’s life lived in humble obedience to God, although we might not see it at first. We know that Jesus will be crucified and we shrink from that knowing, wondering how much or how little we have to do with Christ’s suffering. The people in today’s story follow Jesus into the town; Jesus goes to the Temple, enters and looks around. The gift has been given and now the promise is to be fulfilled. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . .

See, the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: say to daughter Zion, your savior comes!  Here is his reward with him.  They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and you shall be called “Frequented,” a city that is not forsaken.  (Isaiah 62:11-12) The prophet Isaiah proclaims with joy the arrival of the remnant’s reward. We look for the meaning in this Feast of the Nativity; we look for solutions to big and little problems. Suddenly, the event is over. Or is it?

The mystery of Christ’s entry into our world and into Jerusalem is too much to take in. Why does our God love us this way? The beauty of Jesus’ coming into the world and into our lives is too much to believe. Why does our God abide with us always? How can we abide with this gift and promise now that God has made this entry into our lives?

And so we pray . . .

Good and constant God, You have proclaimed to the ends of the earth that our Savior comes . . . and still we complain.  You have announced glad tidings, peace, good news and salvation . . . and still we forget.  You have told us that we who have who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . and still we doubt.  You have loves us and brought us abundant joy and cause for great rejoicing . . . and still we rush on. 

Good and persistent God, Hold us closely, remind us of you strength often, speak to us always of your compassion, tell us again that we have not been abandoned, remind us that we are not forsaken, ask us to linger with you . . . hold us from rushing on.

Good and loving God, You have entered the world as a babe.  You redeem the world as a savior.  You love each of us more than we can understand.  Continue to bring us the mystery of your story.  Continue to enter into our lives each day.  Catch us and hold us always in your arms so that we might not move past you.  Enter fully into all we say and do . . . so that we do not rush on.  Amen. 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francisco_de_Zurbar%C3%A1n_-_The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_WGA26058.jpg

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Matthew 23Denunciation

Saturday, November 19, 2022tassels

How many of us like to widen our phylacteries and lengthen our tassels? The footnotes for this chapter are extensive in the NAB and they are worth reading. This is the list of Christ’s woes as recorded by Matthew and these words have the feel of prophecy. Hypocrisy, lack of integrity when our words and actions do not match. This is what Jesus warns us about.

What do we do when the ugly green monster rears its head? When jealousy strikes, as it always does, what is our reflex? Do we allow ourselves to succumb to the temptation of taking credit even when it is due? Do we put the emotion which overtakes us in its proper place and convert it to humility?

Verses 37 to 39 are Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem, the city which ought to serve as a beacon to all, now drags her skirts in the mire as the prophets foretold. Jesus himself cannot sway these leaders. God’s own word cannot get their attention. The final woe defines Jesus’ audience as murderers of prophets, of the holy ones. This is scary stuff.  Chapter 24 follows with the foretelling of the destruction of the temple which actually occurred in 70 C.E. This event was on the horizon and yet they did not listen. Do we? How far do we have to go until God finally gets our attention? Are we this dense? We pray not.

And so we go to Jesus, hoping to learn how to avoid our own denunciation.

phylacteriesGenerous and faithful Jesus, may we narrow our phylacteries and shorten the tassels on our shawls. May we learn humility from your stories, and mercy from your actions. We ask this in your name. Amen.


To learn more about tassels and phylacteries, click on the lower image.

A favorite from January 28, 2008.

Images from: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tzitzit/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh6hLqP-QPY

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Gerard Van Honthorst: nativity

Gerard Van Honthorst: Adoration of the Shepherds

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Joy and Zechariah

Relying on Christmas

“The office of prophet was due to a direct call from God. It was not the result of heredity, just as it was not a permanent gift but a transient one, subject entirely to the divine will”. (Senior 877) Today joy comes upon us from the depths of fear as a people lifts hope high . . . waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

Full of symbols and imagery, this book of prophecy signals an impending change when a new Jerusalem will replace the vanquished one. Many of the ancients settled on the simple understanding that a new city would rise physically from the foundations of the old; and in so doing, they missed the greater portent of the Messiah’s coming. The apostle John (2:19) records Christ’s promise to raise up again the ruined temple in three days. And so does Jesus promise to return from the dead to rescue the faithful. This is an event to celebrate, even in the midst of despair and fear.

Verse 2:10: Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord.

joyToday we celebrate the arrival of the master healer and we remember that joy is most sweet when it fulfills the age-old promise to arrive in the hour of sorrow. Christ’s joy offers new life in the face of death, and dims the memory of all suffering. For Christ’s joy is found in God’s infinite mercy and the power of the Spirit to bring us God’s never-ending love. Let us rejoice with the shepherds and angels at this marvelous entrance God makes into our lives . . . in the sweet person of Mary’s child.


Click on the Nativity image above for a site that hosts famous paintings of this event and others in the life of Christ, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_birth_christ.htm

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urge you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 877. Print.

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KIng Zedekiah

King Zedekiah

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jeremiah 52:1-11

The End – Part I: Capture

Over the next days we will look closely at the end which came to Jerusalem, the end that Jeremiah predicted. We will examine the verses carefully, looking for a hint of lessons we might learn from this ancient people who would not heed a warning so clearly spelled out for them. We will explore our own temptation to deny the reality in which we live. And we will consider what lessons we might learn so that our own end becomes a new beginning rather than a final departure.

king-zedekiahZedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

God says: Watch for the times when you believe you have all answers to all problems. When you learn to rely on yourself alone you draw hour heart away from me . . . and this is an end that is difficult to overcome.

His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

God says: Your parents bring you into this world and they tend to you while you are young. I tend to you for now, in the past, and into the infinite future. This is a relationship you will not want to ignore.

He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Just as Jehoiakim had done.

God says: I do not ask much of you but I do ask is that you enact goodness in the world. In order to do this well it is essential that you listen for my word daily and that stay always close by and in me.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

God says: Be careful about the alliances you make and break. Use caution when you pledge yourself to another person or cause. These may be your undoing if you do not exercise great care.

In the tenth month of the tenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side.

Jerusalem: Zedekiah's Cave

Jerusalem: Zedekiah’s Cave

God says: When the enemy threatens, turn to me. When the earth rumbles with the steady onslaught of forces that will surely overcome you, stay with me.

The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

God says: When you feel you can no longer go on, turn your struggle over to me.

On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine gripped the city and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached.

God says: When you struggle to lift your head and raise your arm, place your burden on my broad shoulders.

Then all the soldiers took to flight and left the city by night through the gate between the two walls which was near the king’s garden.

God says: When everyone else abandons you, remain in me. You are never alone for I am always with you.

Destruction of JerusalemWith the Chaldeans surrounding the city they went in the direction of the Arabah.

God says: Do not think that you can avoid or outrun me. Do not be anxious that you may be unworthy. I am waiting to heal and transform you, and for me all things are possible.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the desert near Jericho, while his whole army fled him.

God says: Even when you have strayed far from my precepts and my truth I will still welcome you home and celebrate your return. This is how much I love you.

Tomorrow, Part II . . . Destruction


To learn more about King Zedekiah, click on his images above and find study outlines at: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/bible-study-outlines/bible-study-outline-on-king-zedekiah/

Find video at: http://bibleseriesguide.com/episode5.htm#.VDb_L_ldWSo 

To learn about the enormous cave under the city of Jerusalem, how it came to be there, and why the Freemasons gather there every year, click on the cave image above or visit www.aboutjerusalem.com at: http://allaboutjerusalem.com/article/zedekiahs-cave-secret-cave-jerusalem to watch a brief, interesting video clip.

 

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TIBERI~1

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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