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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


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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Friday, April 3, 2020

John 20:19-23

The Upper Room

The Upper Room

I send you . .  .

“Peace be with you,” Jesus said to them. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus?  What fears do we bow to?  How do we unravel ourselves from our emotions?

When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover?  How do we avoid seeking revenge?  What do we do to manage our desire to control others?

When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward?  What do we hide? What do we reveal?

Fearful and confused, the disciples have gathered in the upper room where they shared that last meal with Jesus.  We can only imagine their bewilderment when Jesus appears among them.  They quiz one another about who did or did not lock the door.  They quiz Jesus about how he comes to be with them.  Their mourning has turned into rejoicing.

They are startled by the Teacher’s actions and words.  Here he is – somehow whole and back with them yet bearing the crucifixion wounds – and he is behaving as if this were their normal Passover journey to Jerusalem.  And now he tells them that he expects them to go out into the world – the world that has just put him to death – and teach others as he has taught them.  Even more surprisingly, he tells them that whose sins they forgive are forgiven and whose sins they retain are retained.  They are beyond confused.  They are stunned.

There is no other experience in their varied lives that has prepared them for what stands before them.  How, they ask themselves, could they have been so blind to Jesus’ real mission?  How had the Teacher been so patient with them?  Why does he value them so much? Can it be that he truly loves them this deeply and this well?

We are often blind-sided by circumstances.  What have we learned from these experiences?  Have we really noticed that it is Jesus who breathes life into our wounded lives with his own, powerful breath?  Have we taken his gentle urging seriously that we go into the world to do as he has done?  Do we fully and enthusiastically believe that Christ’s peace will be with us as we unlock the door behind which we have buried ourselves to go out into a world that will be both loving and hostile?

Today we reach the half-way point in the Easter Octave and if we still stand frightened and locked away rather than thankful, open, amazed and engaged in the world we have missed entirely the Easter story.  We have missed the announcement of the end of fear.  We have missed the liberation of our bodies, minds and souls.  But – and this is the truly amazing point of the Easter story – despite the fact that we have hidden ourselves away, Jesus comes through all locked doors to retrieve us.  Jesus breathes life back into our exhausted lives.  Jesus will go to hell and back in order to set us free from our fears and anxieties.  It is in this way that we know the breadth and depth of God’s love.  Jesus sends us, just as he was sent.  And Jesus goes with us always so that we have nothing to fear.

Tomorrow, the doubt of Thomas . . .


Image from: http://www.biblepath.com/holyland3.html

A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

o reflect more on the Upper Room and descriptions of other places Jesus lived, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblepath.com/holyland3.html 

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

John 20:14-18

At the empty tomb: Why are you weeping?

Mary turned and saw Jesus there, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”  She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him”.

When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus?  What promises do we make; what vows do we forswear?

When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover?  To what lengths do we go?  What bridges do we build?

When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward?  What do we expect? What do we hope?

Mary Magdalene’s sorrow and love are evident in this brief exchange. So churned by emotion that she does not recognize the Teacher, she speaks to a man she takes for a stranger and asks for his help.  No matter the consequence, no matter the danger, she is more determined than ever to at least bring proper respect to Jesus’ body.  Tears cloud her eyes as she waits for an answer, and then . . .

“Mary!” Jesus says to her.  In that instant Mary hears the familiar call . . . and she feels, more than sees, the Christ standing before her.

“I have not yet ascended to the Father,” Jesus tells her, “But go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.

Ven der Weyden: Mary Magdalene

Ven der Weyden: Mary Magdalene

In this quick conversation Jesus and Mary have said all they need say to one another.  She is distressed.  He wants to calm her fear.  She is distraught.  He wants to sooth her too-jangled nerves.  She needs more strength than she can muster on her own.  He wants to give her his broad shoulders that carry the heaviest of yokes.  She is exhausted with grief and he has paused in this most important of journeys to stay a moment with her because he sees that she needs him.

She asks . . . he gives . . . generously.

What does Jesus tell us when we call on him in our Magdalene moments?

Jesus tells us that all is well. He explains that God has the situation in hand.  God his Father, God our Father.  Jesus also wants the word to go beyond just him and the Magdalene, beyond just you and me.  Jesus wants the world to know that he has not abandoned us.  He wants each of us to know that he is aware of what is happening at every moment in our lives.  Jesus wants to take each of us with him to the Father.

Why are you weeping? Jesus asks.  Let us be honest and tell Jesus all.

Tomorrow, the appearance to the disciples . . .


A re-post from Holy Week 2013.

Images from: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/rogier-van-der-weyden-the-magdalen-reading and https://stillblondeafteralltheseyears.com/the-empty-tomb-master-sculpture-of-mary-magdalene/

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Third Sunday of Lent, March 15, 2020

Luke 23:6-16: Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Andrea Schiavone: Christ with Herod

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We are so eager to know Christ; we bring our small and big worries to his feet.  We have heard so much about him.  We are hoping that he will cure our woes and still our anxiety.  We have some specific tasks for him to complete for us; we hold a short but good list of wrongs for him to right.

Herod questioned Jesus at length . . .

But Jesus gave him no answer . . .

Herod treated Jesus contemptuously and mocked him . . .

Herod and the guards clothed Jesus in resplendent garb and sent him back to Pilate . . .

We have a lot of questions for Jesus and we present our daily list of petitions faithfully; but – strangely – it seems that Jesus is not listening.  There are no answered requests for us to tick off our list.  We feel disappointed and even let down.  We wonder if the naysayers are correct . . . perhaps there is no resurrection.  Perhaps we believe in folly.

Herod decides to have Jesus flogged and released.  Pilate washes his hands of the man. 

We have passed the half-way mark in our Lenten journey and so we take an accounting.  We have given alms.  We have fasted.  We have attended morning and evening prayer.  We have participated in the sacrament of reconciliation.  We have checked off our chores like small children pleasing our parents and still our little lists of favors, pleas and signs appear to be left unanswered.  We wonder if Jesus is listening and we continue to look for a sign.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus . . .

He had been waiting to see him for a long time . . .

He had heard about him . . .

He had been hoping to see him perform some sign . . .

We arise each morning to fresh water, food and clothing for the day, transportation, information, friendships.  We travel through the day experiencing little miracles all along the way, little signs of God’s love.  And we somehow miss them.

Evening falls and we count our accomplishments and disappointments.  We enter them into a mental balance sheet and come up with a balance.  We take credit for all that goes well and we assign blame to ourselves or others for all that seems to fail.  And we again miss the miracle that we have wandered through another day in the company of a God who loves us so much that we are never left alone for an instant.

Herod sits and speaks with Jesus and does not understand the miracle of the gift of God’s love.  We too might speak with Jesus each day and open ourselves to the wonder of God’s care.

Herod looks for a momentous sign so that he might have full confidence in Jesus’ power to save and while he is scanning his surroundings he looks past the obvious sign that sits before him . . . the embodiment of God’s protection and promise in the person of Jesus.  We too might look past the obvious today . . . or we might choose to believe.

Herod wants a sign that he already has.  Let us take each small miracle as it comes to us.  And let us remember that the sign of God’s love is always with us.  Jesus never leaves our side.


Image from: http://www.kunst-fuer-alle.de/english/fine-art/artist/image/andrea-schiavone/8293/4/111915/christ-before-herod/index.htm

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Friday, January 24, 2020

2 Kings 4: Blindness

Leighton: Elisha Raises the Shunamite

Frederic Leighton: Elisha Raises the Shunamite

“How can I help?”  These words of the prophet Elisha are echoed by Jesus when he asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”  (Matthew 20:30-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43)   We might take some time today to think about what it is we want.  If Elisha visited us today, if we bumped into Jesus on our way home from work and were asked this question, what would we reply?  For what blindness of our own do we seek healing?  And once healed . . . do we wish to continue seeing Christ as the one who has done this healing?

We have many wishes hidden in our subconscious; or perhaps our secret desires are not hidden but rather have taken possession of our lives so that we think of nothing else.  In either case, if we are asked to synthesize all that we desire into one great wish . . . what will it be?  For whom will it be?

In today’s Noontime we read several stories: a widow with nothing whose children will be taken into slavery, a woman of influence whose child is brought back to life, a poisoned stew that becomes a healing meal, loaves of bread that multiply to feed many.  These stories have something in common: The saving power of a loving God wrought by a faithful servant who is not blind to the possibilities before him.

The prophet Elisha is faithful to Yahweh in every way.  He relies entirely on God’s providence for all that is necessary in living a mortal life: food, clothing, shelter.   He also relies on God for his vision of possibilities.  Most of us, when confronted by the widow, the wealthy woman, the poisoned stew and the too few barley loaves, want to turn to someone else to ask, “What am I supposed to do with this now in this moment?”  Elisha moves toward God as he allows God’s miraculous work to take place.  Elisha is not blind to the possibilities.

Jesus tells us about our own spiritual blindness (John 9:35-41) saying: If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim that you can see your guilt remains. 

What do we claim that we can see?  Is it the exasperation and desolation of life . . . or the goodness and gift of our existence?

What do we claim that we want?  Do we seek comfort and ease for ourselves . . . or the beauty of understanding how we fit into God’s plan?

Are we blind . . . or do we truly see?  When Jesus hears that the man he has cured of blindness has been thrown out of the temple precincts, he seeks the man out and asks: Do you believe in the Son of Man?  When this man asks who this Son of Man is that he may see him, Jesus replies: You have seen him and the one speaking to you is he . . . I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind. 

Jesus presents this man – and us – with an important question: Once we have seen the miracle before us, do we believe it, or do we choose to categorize it in a way that it can be explained away?   Jesus also asks us to think about this question: What is our own spiritual blindness?  What are the miracles lying just before us that we pass by because we cannot fathom their possibility?  And so we consider . . . if Elisha visited us today, if we bumped into Jesus on our way home from work, what would we reply?  For what blindness of our own do we seek healing?  And once healed . . . do we take these gifts for granted . . . do we explain them away . . . or do we give God the honor due . . . and do we see Christ as the one who has done this healing?


First written on January 21, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

To read commentary on 2 Kings 4, click on the image above or go to: http://deaconsmemorial.blogspot.com/2011/04/optional-mass-of-fifth-week-of-lent.html

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