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Mark 4:26-34: The Mystery of Kingdom – Part I

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

Tuesday June 21, 2022

Jesus says: This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.

With our high-tech science in which we manipulate the very substance of plant and human DNA; and we establish pros and cons explaining how we are helping or harming the planet. These are discussions that did not occur with Jesus’ contemporaries yet Jesus is with us still today, guiding us. If only we might make ourselves full citizens of the kingdom. If only we might awaken to the word of God and the movement of the Spirit. If only we might follow Christ.

Jesus says: Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come”.

Jesus uses this and other parables to bring home his thoughts to his audience. Two thousand years ago Jesus used the mystery of the grain in the harvest to call workers to the kingdom. Today, what parable does he use? Perhaps it is the story of genetically modified crops. We may not be aware that Jesus is present as we make decisions that affect the world for generations; yet Jesus’ word is as important to us today as it was to ancient peoples.

Harvest Reapers

Harvest Reapers

Jesus says: To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, is springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth branches, so that the birds of the ski can dwell in its blades.

Jesus uses parables with us today, but do we apply the lessons he is teaching? Do we explain away the kingdom with our scientific prowess which, when we pause to think of it, is a gift from God in itself? Are we open to the mystery of the kingdom and our world? Do we call others to partake of this mystery? And do we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ presence in every moment and every space of our lives?

The disciple Mark says: With many such parables he spoke to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Women_reaping

Women Reaping

As followers of Christ and readers of God’s word we have become his disciples. Jesus speaks to us in our hearts, explaining the mysteries that puzzle us and healing the wounds that cripple us. When we spend time with scripture we spend time with Christ. Read varying versions of today’s citation . . . and listen for the word of God. For Jesus speaks to each of us so that we might better understand the mysteries of our world, so that we might better comprehend the miracle and gift of this elusive gift of kingdom that we seek . . . but that we already possess and enjoy.

We have looked at the mystery of God, Jesus, he Spirit, power, rendering, resurrection and incarnation. This week we pause to spend time with scripture, looking for the kingdom that is already ours as explained by Jesus to his followers, and as found in the words of the Old and New Testaments. Today we begin our journey as we use the scripture link of this citation from Mark to compare texts . . . and to listen for the Word of God.


To learn more about agriculture and other topics in biblical times, visit: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/agriculture.htm 

Images from: http://womeninthebible.net/bible-archaeology/farming-agriculture/ and http://lambservant.hubpages.com/hub/Bible-Trivia-Quiz-Kings-of-the-Old-Testament and http://www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Parable-of-the-Sower-Posters_i3489188_.htm

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Ezekiel 33:14-16: We Shall Surely Live

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life". (John 6:68)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. (John 6:68)

Monday, February 28, 2022

Though I say to the wicked man that he shall surely die, if he turns away from his sin and does what is right and just, giving back pledges, restoring stolen goods, living by the statutes that bring life, and doing no wrong, he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of the sins committed shall be held against him; he has done what is right and just, he shall surely live.

Just when we believe that there is no redemption we read these verses. The wicked may also survive to live eternally once they repent. If there are enemies among, let us pray as Jesus asks us to pray.

From Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M.: “A prophet is one who keeps God free for people and who keeps people free for God. It is a two-sided task. He or she is committed to the covenant love between humanity and the Divine–at all costs–and keeping God totally free for people. That is a very hard thing to do, because at least in the Bible the priestly class invariably makes God less accessible instead of more so: ‘Neither entering yourselves nor letting others enter in’ as Jesus boldly puts it (Matthew 23:13). For our own job-security, the priestly mentality tends to say, ‘You can only come to God through us, by doing the right rituals and obeying the rules.’ Formal ministers are too often good at teaching people ‘learned helplessness.’ That’s why the prophets spend so much time destroying and dismissing these barriers to create ‘a straight highway to God’ (Matthew 3:3) as John the Baptist tries to do, and Jesus does with such determination and partial success. But now you know why they were both killed”.

Spend time with these verses from Ezekiel and Matthew today and reflect on their meaning along with the words from Richard Rohr and consider . . . as we go through our days, do we liberate more than we bind, do we heal more than we hurt, do we love more than we judge, do we live more than we die?


Richard Rohr citation in this post is from “Prophets as Liberators,” Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for Monday, February 20, 2015. http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Richard-Rohr-s-Meditation–Prophets-as-Liberators.html?soid=1103098668616&aid=O17vFLcGtV4  

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Moses TentMonday, September 20 , 2021

Psalm 15

Refusing Panic

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

Jeremiah has spoken to God’s people just as God has asked, and for his fidelity and suffering, he is abused and mocked.  The remnant remain and believe. The faithful know that sooner or later, Jeremiah will be silenced, but God’s word, spoken honestly and carefully, will never die. God’s truth lives forever and cannot be extinguished.

Jesus comes to live among us to heal and redeem, and for his compassion and mercy he is rejected and crucified. The remnant remain watchful and hopeful. The faithful know that here and now Christ continues to walk and live among us. God may be placed out of mind but God is present and cannot be denied. The Spirit is indwelling and cannot be extinguished.

A number of months ago we visited with Psalm 15 and we return today as we prepare for Jeremiah’s journey to Egypt – a place where the Hebrew people once sought refuge and became chained by slavery. A place from which the Twelve Tribes made their exodus with Moses to be delivered in their promised land. A place that served as refuge for the Christ family following Herod’s plot to murder the infant Jesus. Today we reflect on Psalm 15 and remind ourselves that when we stand steadfast in Christ, we must be prepared to reject anxiety. We must be ready to shun our fear. We must be willing to refuse any sense of panic.

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

God says: I am well aware of the sacrifices you make for me. I see that you put your desires and sometimes your needs to the side as you take up my cause and deliver my words. Like my prophet Jeremiah you even place yourself at risk when you speak and act as I have asked. Know that I see all of your big and small losses. Understand that I see how you suffer. Believe that I place my hope in you and that you may place all your hope in me. I am goodness and goodness never fails. I am compassion and compassion always heals. I am love and love never abandons. Love always accompanies, always saves, always redeems, always transforms, always brings home. If you must be carried off to Egypt, know that I go with you. And know that I will also bring you home.

Today, spend time with this short psalm, and consider not if we may dwell in the Lord’s tent or on God’s holy mountain, consider how we can dwell anywhere else.

Walk without blame, do what is right, speak truth from the heart, do not slander, defame, or harm your neighbor, disdain the wicked, honor those who love God, keep your promises at all cost, accept no bribe . . . for whoever acts like this shall never be shaken. 


For another reflection on Fearlessness, enter the word in tot he blog search bar and reflect on the importance of trusting God, of rejecting panic, and of remaining as remnant that is never shaken.

Image from: http://thepraiseandworshipconnection.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

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be strongSunday, June 13, 2021

1 Chronicles 28:9-10

Setting to Work

We have determined to praise God’s gifts to the ends of the earth. Let us consider how David sets an example for us to proclaim God’s goodness to future generations.

As for you, my children, know the God of your father and serve God with a perfect heart and a willing soul, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.

We know that David sets aside his plans to build a holy place for the Ark of the Covenant; but he sets these plans aside when he understands that God has greater plans than those that he has created. Let us also make certain that the plans of our hearts are mindful of the plans of God’s heart.

If you seek God, God will let himself be found by you. But if you abandon him, he will cast you off forever.

Jesus comes to tell us the story of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15:11-31) and the Lost Son. Let us consider this parable as a roadmap of God’s plan for each of us.

See then! The Lord has chosen you to build a house as his sanctuary.

Jesus comes to tell us that we need not build temples to extol God; rather, we need create a dwelling place for the in-dwelling of the Spirit. Let us consider how and what and why we prepare ourselves for God’s Spirit. (John 2:19)

Take courage and set to work.

David reminds us that we need not worry about the plans that we have made for ourselves but rather we must tend to the plans God has in mind.

David sets aside his own desires and wishes to do as God asks; and he encourages his progeny to also follow God.

Christ reminds us that the temples we construct to ourselves do not last, but rather we are to prepare our hearts as God’s own dwelling place.

Christ shows us how to abandon ourselves in order to prepare our hearts as God’s own temple, he reminds us that we are constantly and forever loved by God; and he encourages us set to work at once. (Matthew 15:13)

And so as we set to work each day in our perfect persistence as kingdom builders, let us also remind our children of God’s fidelity. As we offer our hopes each day as willing participants in God’s plan, let us also remind our children of God’s outrageous expectation for our serenity. And as we offer our love to others each day, let us also remind our children of the power of God the creator, the compassion of God the Rescuer, and the peace of God the In-dweller . . . this awesome God who searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.


Image from: http://www.mymothermode.com/2014/02/free-valentines-day-heart-printable/

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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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