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Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2021

1 John 2

holy spirit doveIdeal and Real – Part III: Hostile Camps

The early Christian community struggled to survive the various arguments declaring Jesus more human than divine or more divine than human. “They were the community of true prophecy. But now, the community itself is divided into two hostile camps. And the cause of the division is precisely what should have been the centerpiece of this unity: the proper understanding of the nature and role of Jesus”. (Senior RG 563)

Rather than reprimand us or remind us that we are not in control, John repeats what he has written so often that from the beginning Christ has been and that through eternity Christ will be. Knowing that we struggle with the double mystery of eternity and infinity, Christ remains with us so that we might not panic when trials arrive at our door. Knowing that we struggle with the dichotomy between the visible and invisible, the real and ideal, Christ brings himself to us in the Scripture we hold in our hands, the Word that we can open as frequently as we need in order that we remain connected to this divine-human mystery. Knowing that we are terrified at the thought of being left alone, Christ invites us constantly to come to him joyfully. Today we might read the words of one who lived and still lives beside him.

My children . . . we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world . . . Do not love the things of the world . . . for the world and its enticements are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever . . . Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you . . . And now, children, remain in him . . .

And so we pray . . . Creator Father, Rescuer Christ, Abider Spirit . . . save us from the hostility of the world . . . help us as we struggle with the opposing camps of our lives . . . bring our reality into focus with the ideal which you have dreamt for us . . . and keep us ever close to you in joy. Amen.

Tomorrow – Part IV: The New Commandment


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 563. Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on Sunday, January 10, 2010.

Image from: https://www.biblword.net/why-is-pentecost-important/

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Friday, May 14, 2021

figsMark 13:28-31

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

Caution. Patience. Readiness. Being watchful and diligent.

The fig tree blooms late and is unaffected by frost. It is patient and waits for the right weather until it flowers.

Many speculate about the meaning of these verses and many scholars simply say: Read Jesus’ words and take them in. They tell you all you need to know.

When we click on the biblical citation above we read four different versions of this story that are pre-selected. Choose another version of the Bible that is new to you and read the story through new eyes. Read it aloud to allow your ears to hear some new innuendo.  Jot down one lesson that the fig tree might teach us personally. And let us remember that God says: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Spend some time today with the story of the fig tree . . . and decide how it speaks its lesson to you.


To learn more about the fig tree in today’s Noontime, go to: http://wesley.nnu.edu/fileadmin/imported_site/biblical_studies/parables/Mo-Mk13_28-31.htm

For more information about the life of a fig tree and how to prune it for maximum harvestclick on the image above or go to: http://www.gardenality.com/Articles/360/How-To-Info/Pruning/How-To-Prune-A-Fig-Tree/default.html 

fig-tree1For a thoughtful reflection on the size and importance of the fig tree, and Jesus’ call to Nathanael who waited beneath a fig tree, click on the image to the left or go to: http://miningthesacredpage.com/2013/04/02/behold-an-israelite-indeed-in-whom-there-is-no-deceit/

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Easter Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Matthew 13:1-9

So Many Paths – Part I

Amos has called us to consider what path we take as we live and work and play and pray throughout our life journey. As we reflect on our celebration of Easter resurrection and joy, let us consider the parable Jesus tells those who follow him. But let us begin with an examination of the journey we ourselves are making.

paths 1Some journeys offer too many choices. We become confused and anxious. We make excuses for never stepping into the world. We shrink from taking responsibility for ourselves. We refuse to see that we have a purpose, or we decide that we do not want to use the gift planted in us. When this happens, let us consider the number of times we have been saved by an unknown force in an extraordinary way. Let us take into account the fact that God knows every detail about us – even details we have not discovered ourselves. And let us determine to trust the force that loves us more than any other that has ever – or will ever – exist.

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. 

paths 2Some journeys terrify us and we shrink from leaving our comfortable place in which have insured that we will never run any risk that endangers anything we stand for. When this happens, let us consider that Amos calls us to step away from a life in which we cling to power and wealth. Jesus shows us that we are not always shunned when we live a life that is out of the ordinary.

Such crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.

paths 3Some paths are familiar and famous.  They look pleasant and easy. They lure us into a false sense of safety and sometimes pride. When this happens we are tempted to forget who made us and why we are here in this time and space. Jesus tells us that he comes from the Father who created us to unite us with him as precious Children of Light.

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow”.

paths 4Some journeys are undulating and seem as though they never end. They look penned-in and boring. We think of them as predictable and un-exciting. When this happens, we must consider that we have no way of understanding the plan God has in mind for us. We forget that God has placed a potential and a hope in each of us that will heal the woes of the world. We do not remember that we carry God’s word and that no matter the path, God is with us to guide and protect us. What looks like a long and uneventful road may become instead an unforgettable journey.

“As he sowed, some seed fell on the path and birds came and ate it up”.


Tomorrow, So Many Paths – Part II

Images from: https://www.joe-ks.com/2012/amazing-paths

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Amos 3-6

Words and Woes

Amos conveys the words of God in his prophecy. Put away black-and-white thinking. Step away from corruption and nepotism. Be open to transformation and redemption. Jesus arrives as the teacher who leads us away from dualism. He points out exploitation and favoritism.  He rescues and changes.

Amos shares the woes he sees. The ease with which violence creeps into our lives. The mourning that threatens to drag us into darkness. The worship of little gods and the turning away from the Living God. The Spirit comes to abide with us, easing the pain of loss, comforting those who are crushed, gathering the remnant into the Body of Christ.

Amos tells us that there is much more to life than ease and comfort, power and fame. Amos reminds us that our real life lies in how we treat one another and not in the accumulation of wealth or titles. Amos asks us to move out of the darkness and into the light.

Christ comes to teach us how to live The Way. Christ steps out to lead us, taking on corrupt structures and power bases. Christ lives in each of us, renewing, recalling, and patiently ministering to our fears, wants and anxieties.

These are the Words of God conveyed by Amos. Jesus lives as the Word of God, walking and healing as he moves among us.

These are the Woes of the world as seen by Amos. Jesus comes to live among us and to remind us that trust in God alone prevails over the deepest and worst violence.

As we continue to move through Lent, let us pause to consider if or how we trust the healing hands of Christ.

Tomorrow, a Lenten prayer for understanding.


For a fresh view of Amos’ prophecy visit: http://jasonsoroski.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/unqualifed-the-story-of-amos/

Image from: http://www.artnet.com/artists/james-smetham/the-call-of-the-prophet-amos-o79LEkNxDOXiMmVWrrBNCQ2 

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Daniel 9:13-19

Prayer of Penitence – In the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

Eugene Alexis Girardet: Prayer in the Desert

In today’s Noontime we ponder Daniels’s famous penitential prayer on behalf of the community. On the Eve of the first Sunday in Lent, we might reflect on three passages that complement today’s from Daniel. Ezra 9:6-15 and Nehemiah 1:5-11 and 9:6-37.  In this story, both priest and administrator rebuild the Jerusalem temple after Cyrus allows the Jewish people to return from exile. They have been told that their exile will last not 70 weeks or 70 years as was foretold by the prophet Jeremiah. No, they receive word that their captivity will end in seven times seventy or in 490 years. This is gloomy news until we begin to understand that this is precisely the amount of time until the arrival of Jesus.

The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY tells us that this prayer we read today is not seen so much as a petition from the people which God obeys but rather as an appropriate act of piety from a people who have erred and disobeyed. It is for this reason that it is best to find others who will pray this together with us as an admission of our collective willfulness, waywardness and disobedience. (Mays 631)

And let us pray Daniel’s prayer much as the Jewish community prayed with Ezra and Nehemiah when they returned to their ruined city.

woman-kneeling[1]God of Heaven, God of Earth, Spirit Dwelling Among Us,

Guide us . . . and grant us the faith to follow,

Be glad in us . . . and grant us the hope to rejoice in you,

Love us . . . and grant us the grace to grow in you.

We wish to turn . . . we wish to return to you.

For you are the beginning, the end, the all.

We are your servants.

May we serve you well.

Amen. 


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

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tent-in-the-desert-the-prayer-detail-eugene-alexis-girardet.html and http://annebender.blogspot.com/2013/07/three-things-i-love-about-catholicism.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

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Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Projectjanetsuecarole 008[1]Sirach 39:13-16

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for All of God’s Works

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Lord, for bringing me the strength to re-think my words before I said something foolish.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, God, for sending me wisdom to avoid offending someone with my opinion.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Jesus, for encouraging me when I received terrible news the other day.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Holy Spirit, for pulling me up when I was at the end of my resources.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Mary, Mother of God, for your gentle, nurturing presence in my life.

The works of God are all of them good.

imagesCAU5R5A8Let me thank you, Lord, for world in which I find myself, for the people in my life, and for the many times you have protected and lead me on my journey.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you for your gifts of salvation and redemption, for your Word of promise that I treasure and share.

Let me put down roots, let me open up my petals, let me praise you, let me bless you . . . let me thank you, Lord.  


Images from: http://carolesegalsartblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/passion-for-painting-in-garden.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/ukgardenphotos/5431771702/

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Monday, December 14, 2020

jesus-lamb-of-god[1]Luke 2:21

The Naming

When the eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Parents devote much time and thought to the naming of a child but history does not record any conversation Mary and Joseph may have had on the naming of Jesus. As we see with the relatives, friends and neighbors of Elizabeth and Zechariah, many opinions may come to bear on the naming of an infant, but scripture merely records the fact that Mary and Joseph did as Gabriel requested. And the child’s name continues to resonate through millennia.

God says: When you come to a crossroad or feel pressured by others and you are at a loss for how to proceed, step away from the confusion and center yourself on your purpose. Call on me in times when others crowd you so that chaos will simply fall away. Place your focus on how your actions reflect the goodness for which I created you. Concentrate not on the opinions of others but on the integrity your actions will – or will not – have. When in doubt, call on the name of this one who is all for all eternity.  Call on the name of Jesus.


For more reflections, enter the words The Name of Jesusinto the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.awordforyou.org/Encourage/?p=488

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Friday, December 11, 2020nativity-story-gathering[1]Luke 2:15-20

Reflections of the Heart

And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

Pain and happiness. Amazement and worry. Wonder and joy. A gamut of emotions in such a short few days.

Joseph and the child. Shepherds and angels. Innkeepers and oxen. Extraordinary companions for such a new mother.

God says: Mary is wise to ponder all things in the heart. It is from this pondering that she gains wisdom and fortitude. It is in this abiding with me that she discovers courage and patience. It is from her love of me that she finds persistence and hope. When Mary keeps these things in her heart she hides from no one; rather, she gathers a new strength for the journey before her, a fresh perspective of the past that lies behind, and a deep reverence for the holy present. Each moment of each life is as precious as the moment you read about today. Each moment of your lives holds more love from me than you can imagine. Ponder these things in your heart. Reflect on these things in your heart. And remember me.

Mary knows that the road she travels with this special child will be as fraught with problems as her journey to Bethlehem has been. She also knows that the shepherds who arrive in the quiet darkness have sought and found her small family by knocking on many doors in their determined search. Faith, persistence, endurance and courage. As Mary greets her son’s first visitors, she ponders these things in her heart.


To view a clip of the 2006 film Nativity Story:The Birth of Christ depicting the arrival of the shepherds and wise men, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lpv77EdxF4 

Image From: http://www.williedeutsch.com/the-hobbit-a-beautiful-story-for-christmas/

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Good Friday, April 10, 2020

John 21:1-14

sea-of-galilee-2[1]A Prayer by the Sea of Tiberias

We have taken apart the story of the disciples and the transformation of their lives on the shore of the sea they fished so well and so long.  We have witnessed their first, uncertain steps as they learn to become fishers of God’s children rather than fishers of God’s creatures in the sea.  Just as these early followers return to what felt familiar and found it lacking, so too might we find our old habits and old haunts when we look for peace. The disciples teach us a valuable lesson across the millennia that Jesus is always present to us.  Even when we do not recognize him.  Even when we choose to ignore him.  When we look for what we thought is lost, the apostles tell us, we need not look far.  We need only call on God.

With this story from John, we see the gentle way in which Jesus brings his followers back to the work of kingdom-building.  When we place ourselves in their place and time, we also witness the risen Christ for he is always with us quietly to materialize just when we are most in need.  He allows us to make our own decisions; yet he willingly suggests where we might best cast our nets.  He sustains us when we are hungry and frightened, he carries us when we are beaten and spent, he loves us willingly, always and without restraint.

Like these humble apostles who find their hopes dashed and their faith shaken, we too might return to our former, familiar ways only to find them less comfortable and less successful than we remembered.

Like these weary apostles who are frightened and disoriented by their incomprehensible Easter experience, we too might be slow to recognize Jesus when he steps quietly into our lives.

Like these flawed but loving apostles who are tossed by the social, political and religious pressures that surround them, we too will see Christ in the most casual of places and find him at the most dire of times.

Jesus calls, Jesus suggests, Jesus invites, Jesus feeds, Jesus shares.  Jesus asks us to follow, always leaving the choice open to us.  Jesus asks us to listen, always leaving us the option to turn away.  Jesus asks us to share, always leaving us the opportunity to accept or reject his offer.

And so we pray.

Good and constant Lord, we have witnessed the Easter story and still we have our doubts.  Pull us back to you and hold us closely.

Good and patient Lord, we have seen the empty tomb and still we worry.  Hold us in your arms to keep us from falling away.

Good and loving Lord, we have eaten with you in an old, familiar place in a new, transforming way.  Keep us ever with you and never let us forget our encounter with you by the Sea of Tiberias.

We ask this in Jesus name.  Amen. 


A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

To read a blog journal of a visit to The Sea of Galilee/Tiberias, click on the image above and toggle through the entries, or begin the sea-line journey at: http://pauseforthought.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/a-simple-home-of-love-teaching-and-healing/  You may also be interested in other Holy Land entries on the Mountain Tops and Monday Mornings blog.

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