Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Job’


Job 28: The Hope of God’s Wisdom

Monday, August 20, 2018

God says: You have asked me this question many times and I delight in your curiosity. It gladdens my heart when I hear you ask for clarity. I praise you for your persistence, courage, and desire for authenticity. Hear now the voice of my servant Job.

Job says: But where, oh where, will [mortals] find Wisdom?
    Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue,
    haven’t the slightest idea where to look.

God says: Job knows that the search for wisdom tempts some to lose hope, others to argue over meaning, and still others to divide the faithful. When your search finds you creating sides and assigning blame, think about the origin of your emotions. Do they come from fear or from compassion? A willfulness to control or a willingness to collaborate?

Job says: So where does Wisdom come from?
    And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter
    how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead,
    they say, ‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.

God says: Listen to the words of Job. He suffered great physical pain yet remained in me. His friends and family offered well-meaning advice based on confusion, still he relied on me. Job’s search for understanding and wisdom bring him directly to me.

Job says: God alone knows the way to Wisdom,
    God knows the exact place to find it.

God asks: Are you willing to listen to the knowledge Job gains about the path to wisdom?

Job says: Here it is!
    Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom,
    and Insight means shunning evil.

God says: Come to me when burdens weigh you down. Rely on me when anger and anxiety take hold of you. Remain in me when revenge and fear push and pull you in the way of foolishness. Always rely on me.

Job’s search is long and arduous. The wisdom he finds is precious and pure. The lesson he teaches us may be difficult to take in, but it is reliable, full, and positive. Let us step into the hope of God’s wisdom today.


Tomorrow, thirsting for wisdom. 

Image from: https://chartcons.com/100-deep-philosophical-questions-may-just-never-answer/ 

Read Full Post »


Psalm 102: Falling to Pieces

Thursday, August 2, 2018

As we navigate the turmoil of life, and as we work to love our enemies, we might feel as though we are falling apart. THE MESSAGE translation of this psalm gives the prayer this title: A Prayer of One Whose Life Is Falling to Pieces, and Who Lets God Know Just How Bad It Is. Today we might want to spend time with these verses.

God, listen! Listen to my prayer,
    listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
    just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
    And hurry—this can’t wait!

The words continue, their meaning clear. There are days when life wears us down. Nights when we see no clear path. In our divided world, we set groups against one another while we find refuge with those who agree with our own points of view. This puts obstacles on the path to compromises that might lead to consensus. Although the psalmist wrote these words millennia ago, they pertain today.

My jaws ache from gritting my teeth.

Insomniac, I twitter away,
    mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.

All day long my enemies taunt me,
    while others just curse.

As in the story of Job, the psalmist replies with an understanding of God’s presence, providence, and justice.

You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
    and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
    threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
    but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
    and their children will be at home with you.

As we reflect on these words, we respond with our own song of praise as we pray.

Strong yet tender God, we go to you for refuge and safety. Steadfast and hopeful God, we rest in the power of your mercy and justice. Healing and transforming God, we know that the conflict we endure asks us to take part in creation’s great turning to goodness. We know that you forgive us even as you forgive our enemies, and for this we give praise. We know that your love overcomes all evil, and for this we rejoice. We know that your compassion restores all damage, and for this we celebrate. We know that even as we fall into pieces . . . we tumble into your loving, healing, and powerful hand. Keeping all of this in mind, and remaining close to you in all circumstance, we rely on you . . . even as we find that we are falling into pieces. Amen.


When we compare other translations of these verses, we better understand that God gathers us in even as we fall apart. 

Image from: https://innolectinc.com/our-vision-and-mission/puzzle-puzzle-pieces-falling-from-sky/

Read Full Post »


Mark 4:21-25Seed Grows of Itself

Saturday, January 28, 2017lwsm__r4d8578_3814

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 9, 2008.

This is something we need to hear a great deal, and if we were to read this more often we would find ourselves worrying less.

There is much imagery in scripture referring to seed, sowing, reaping, harvesting.  And this makes perfect sense since agriculture was such an integral part of life during Old and New Testament times.  Usually we think of these images as we imagine God’s word or work being planted . . . to be harvested later.  Today however, we might think of Job, and others like him, who plant by giving something up, who sow . . . and later reap . . . because they relinquish self, they witness patiently and persistently, they speak to God from the heart, and they become willing sowers and reapers.

And so we pray.

english-garden-blue-flowersDear God,

Help us to see that all we need do when we are weary is to give over to you our aches and pains . . . you will know how to make a flowerbed from our struggles.

Help us to understand that all we need do when we are anxious is to hand over to you our worries and anxieties . . . you will know which seed grows best in the dark.

Help us believe that all we  need do when we feel too alone is call for you and tell you of our sorrow . . . you will know when to bring the warmth of the sun.

Help us to hope that all we need do when we are at our most fragile is look for you in the arid desert . . . you will know when to send the rain. 

vegetablesHelp us to know the cycle of harvest . . . for you already know when we are ready to go into the field.

Amen.

Read Full Post »


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.

For an insightful reflection on the Book of Job, click on the image above or visit: http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2011/03/a-different-look-at-the-man-from-uz.html

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

Read Full Post »


Holy Tuesday, April 3, 2012 – 1 Chronicles 23 – The Levitical Classes

Written on April 19, 2011 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Aaron

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore recently received a letter from the Archbishop letting us know that the clergy were aware of the shortage of priests and they understood that the laity would be taking more authority in their parishes.  It seems that the Levitical classes of this church have so isolated themselves as a group that this fact is just dawning on them.  Those of us in the pews have seen this coming for quite some time.  Priests can barely genuflect, seminarians are scant, and more of the daily running of the parish is overseen by lay people. 

There is an interesting article in the NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER (April 15, 2011) describing the “hidden exodus of Catholics from their faith”.  Thomas Reese writes: “Any other institution that lost one-third of its members would want to know why.  But the U.S. bishops have never devoted any time at their national meetings to discussing the exodus.  Nor have they spent a dime trying to find out why it is happening.  Thankfully, although the U.S. bishops have not supported research on people who have let the church, the Pew Center has”.  Then Reese describes the report results.  They are fascinating.  http://ncronline.org/news/hidden-exodus-catholics-becoming-protestants What do the people want?  They ask that liturgy be more pertinent.  They ask for more opportunities for Bible study.  I cannot find a reason that these requests go unanswered. 

As I pray, I juxtapose David’s acknowledgement of his own mortality and his good shepherding of the people with the apparent benign neglect of present day Catholic Church leaders.  And I do what I always do when I am perplexed . . . I go to God.

In today’s Gospel we read about Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  This seems significant to me.  In a perfect world, spiritual leaders actually tend to peoples’ souls rather than to their own needs.  In our world, the closest to us are often those who betray us most quickly . . . and always this kind of unfaithfulness cuts deeply.

The MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer is full of guideposts for those who are betrayed by those closest to them.  This also seems significant.  We cannot suppose that just because people wear the trappings of office that they perfectly fulfill the duties they are bound to perform.   In a perfect world, our spiritual leaders concern themselves with real people in real time . . . and they are aware that they lead by serving. 

Psalm 55: My heart is stricken within me . . . and so I must trust God with my fears.

John 13:21: Jesus was deeply troubled . . . so I cannot be upset with my own turmoil.

Jeremiah 20:10: Yes, I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! . . .  Yet God is with us always.

Job 19:19: All my intimate friends hold me in horror . . . Still I remain faithful to God. 

We know the story of Peter’s denial of Christ and his later confession of faith when the Resurrected Jesus asks, Do you love me? (John 21)   We know that Christ offers Peter this opportunity for conversion and opens the door to newness, honesty, and a deeper fidelity than had before been possible. 

Our question on this Holy Tuesday is this . . . Does our love in Christ and for Christ call us to forgive all those who have harmed us in big ways and in small ways . . . even as Christ has forgiven us? 

For more information on Aaron, and the Levites, go to: http://eastonsbibledictionary.com/a/aaron.htm and http://eastonsbibledictionary.com/l/levite.htm

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.19 (2011). Print.  

Read Full Post »


Monday, March 12, 2012 – Job 12 – The Undisturbed

The undisturbed esteem my downfall a disgrace . . . yet the tents of robbers are prosperous, and those who provoke God are secure.  I imagine that each of us has wondered at one or another how it is that the sleek and flourishing experience success while the downtrodden suffer endlessly. 

Job tells us that the beasts of the earth and sea and sky understand that God is in charge.  They do not credit themselves with victory in life but rather understand that the world is ordered from a point outside their control.  In his journey of sorrow and pain Job will learn that the trust he has placed in God is warranted; and he suggests that we take a lesson from these creatures: But now ask the beasts to teach you, and the birds of the air to tell you; or the reptiles on earth to instruct you, and the fish of the sea to inform you.  Which of these does not know that the hand of God has done this?  In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mankind.  Job continues to delineate God’s power in clear terms.  There is no power greater than God’s; there is no understanding more deep, no prudence more sensible.  As followers of Christ we especially know that there is no love more forgiving and more enduring than God’s. 

In his reply to Zophar, Job attempts to describe the enormity and omnipotence of God.  And in speaking to his friend Job assure himself – and us – that even though he suffers innocently he is not forgotten by his all-knowing and all-powerful creator.  Job knows that with patience and an open heart, he will gain the insight of a life lived well: So with old age comes wisdom, and with length of days understanding.  These are gifts from God that we receive through suffering . . . and this is something that those who live undisturbed lives will never learn.

Job is not the only one in scripture to warn us about the opposing worlds of the troubled and the undisturbed.  Paul writes to Timothy: Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.  (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

The prophet Jeremiah also understands the irony of justice in the world. He recounts the Lord’s words: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season . .  . [The wicked] grow powerful and rich, fat and sleek.  They go their wicked way; justice they do not defend by advancing the claim of the fatherless or judging the cause of the poor.  (Jeremiah 17:5-6 and 5:27)

In the book of Wisdom it is the wicked who say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.  He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord.  To us he is a censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us.  (Wisdom 2:12-14)

Scripture is full of advice about how to behave and how to align our lives; but the story of Job is one we will want to hold close, especially when we undergo trials while the successful and cozened lead seemingly charmed lives.  Job’s story – and in particular this response to Zophar – tell us that the dichotomy between the just and the unjust is real.  It is a trial to be borne.  It is a misery to be endured.  Yet through this suffering we receive a gift that the undisturbed will never have.  It is the gift of fully knowing and experiencing God’s great and abiding love.

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, February 8, 2012 – Deuteronomy 28 – How Big is God?

Written on February 10, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

“So we go to our religious services and make sure we read the latest popular inspirational books and attend all kinds of psychological wellness retreats and conferences.  And we come away feeling good.  But without the willingness to be spiritually challenged, we cannot and will not change.  Without the will to give up whatever is asked of us in order to meet a bigger God, we find that our understanding and experience of the Divine cannot and will not grow.  Try taking that to your prayer and meditation time, and see what happens”. 

This citation is from a book that I am reading by Paul Coutinho, S.J. entitled HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?  It is challenging and humorous at the same time and I highly recommend it.  I am smiling as often as I frown. 

Today’s Noontime is about the black and white consequences of our obedience.  We may pretend that we follow God . . . or we may truly follow God.  The Old Testament view is that when we do what we are called to do we will prosper physically; when we fail to do what God asks, we suffer.  The Book of Job, however, tells us that this black and white view of the world does not fully serve us because our reality tells us that too frequently the innocent suffer through no fault of their own.  This is a challenge that Coutinho opens to us today: Is it not a very small God who punishes people for misdeeds?  Is it not a very large God who forgives, calls and is infinitely patient? 

In the prologue of his book Coutinho writes: “I invite you now to ask yourself: Am I looking to meet a big God, a God without limits?  Do I have the will to experience the Divine – in all its wondrous and infinite possibilities?  He explains that we might begin where Ignatius Loyola began: “by questioning our lives, questioning the world around us, questioning our relationships, questioning our family life, questioning our work, and questioning our passions.  Let’s also question our relationship with God”. 

This is what the Hebrew people confront in today’s Noontime reading:  Everything they do, everything they are has been thrown into question.  At first reading we see this to be a bad thing – they suffer and question.  On second thought we might see this as a good thing . . . they have been given the opportunity to know their God better.  They have the chance to see . . . how big is their God?

Paul Coutinho, S.J., HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? Loyola Press.  Watch Paul Coutinho at: http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/i8icLh   and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozevDJf9q9U

Read Full Post »


Saturday, November 12, 2011 – Jeremiah 31:7-14 – None Shall Stumble

Marc Adamus: The Cold Journey

Jeremiah encourages the faithful to keep eyes fixed on God, to remember that God is both the source and goal of our being.  Our journey here on earth is one of working in the vineyards of the Kingdom, of witnessing to injustices committed against the marginalized, and of waiting on God’s plan in God’s time.  Jeremiah tells us that the faithful are guarded and led out of exile.  He reminds us that the remnant that was scattered is gathered up in hope and loved with passion.  The blind and the lame, mothers and those with child, those who departed in tears . . . all departed in sorrow will return in an immense throng . . . and none shall stumble.  This is the best kind of news we can hope to hear.

The daily drone of life wears down our defense against pain.  The monotony of waking each morning to hope endlessly in a better day saps our resources.  The aridity of the desert dries up the wells we frequent for refreshment. The oases are further apart; our rest stops do not sustain us as they once had.  We have difficulty celebrating the good news we know is upon us . . . and it is difficult for us to believe that none shall stumble.

 When the life we have arranged for ourselves fails us we have two options: we can turn away from the pain of our suffering, or we can turn toward our grief where God waits to sweep us into waiting arms.  

Richard Rohr has something to tell us about this in his book Job and the Mystery of Suffering: Spiritual Reflections (pages 54-55).

“We must go through the stages of feeling, not only in the last death of anything but also in all the earlier little deaths. If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger—because they refuse to let their emotions run their course, honor them consciously, or find some appropriate place to share them.

“Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They are merely indicators of what is happening, and must be listened to, usually in the body. People who do not feel deeply finally do not know or love deeply either. It is the price we pay for loving. Like Job we must be willing to feel our emotions and come to grips with the mystery in our head, our heart, and our body. To be honest, that takes years”.

We live in a world of instant replay, quick solutions, smiling gurus, and impatience with suffering.  Jeremiah speaks to the faithful who understand that living well is not about covering over or covering up but of delving deep and allowing the fiery furnace of pain to refine us as we witness, work and wait.  Job understands the intensity of suffering innocently.  Rohr tells us that our pain is not a punishment but an acknowledgement of our eagerness to be one with God.  We know that the journey is long and steep . . . we know that our yearning for God means that we are remnant . . . and we know that with God . . . none of the faithful shall stumble.

Read Full Post »


Sunday, October 30, 2011 – Psalm 26 – Prayer of Innocence

Artemisia Gentilesche: Susana

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about how Psalm 73 always pops up when I am troubled about how to live in the world and not be of it.  As Paul tells the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:3): For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. In Psalm 73, The Trial of the Just, the psalmist expresses what happens to our thinking when we come close to losing faith that God is goodness and mercy and justice.  In today’s Noontime reading we find a kind of companion psalm, a prayer of innocence, a statement of faith and an affirmation of our covenant promise with God. 

Just a few days ago we examined the first book of Esther in which the story of Mordecai begins to unfold.  He is wrongly accused and knows that he must rely on God and no other for salvation.  Like Job in his conversations with his three friends Bildad, Eliphaz and Elihu, he knows that only in a conversation with God will he find the answers he seeks.  And like Susana in the Book of Daniel he also knows that always our help arrives in God’s time and way rather than our own.   https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/the-race-of-the-just/

When we find ourselves in a quagmire not of our making, we might pray this psalm . . . I have walked without blame.  In the Lord I have trusted.

When we find ourselves in a nest of confusing lies and deceptions, we might pray this psalm . . . I do not sit with deceivers, nor with hypocrites do I mingle.

When we find ourselves embroiled in a plot we did not devise, we might pray this psalm . . . I hate the company of evildoers; with the wicked I do not sit.

And when we find ourselves rescued by God – as we always are – we might pray this psalm . . . My foot stands on level ground; in assemblies I will bless the Lord.

Once someone said to me that Psalm 26 cannot rightly be prayed by anyone except Christ since none of us is as perfect as the person who speaks here.  I replied that God does not expect perfection in our actions, only persistence in our attempt to be loving and just; that Christ is a tender brother who models how we might live yet forgives all our faults; that the Holy Spirit abides in each of us urging us to keep ever close to God.  When we listen to the words Christ speaks to us as God manifested among us, we know that forgiveness and openness to renewal are important in our development.  We know that the perfection God asks is our persistence in following Christ through any and all obstacles in our lives.  We know that the first step we must take toward God is a genuine repentance for any way we have offended God.  We know that God is eager to forgive our transgressions.  And we know that we are given infinite opportunities to amend and renew ourselves. 

And so we take up this psalm to examine it and ourselves.  Are there times when we are not completely innocent of wrongdoing?  Yes, and the times are many.  Are there times when we have been wrongly accused and maligned.  Yes, and these times are many as well.  Does God always forgive, is God always present, and does God consistently welcome us home when we have offended him?  Yes, and yes, and yes.  So today, if we find ourselves wanting, we have the opportunity to put ourselves back onto the path of persisting in our journey of perfection.  And also today, if we find that we have been unjustly accused, we have the opportunity to petition God with all the other innocents who suffer at the hands of those who disdain patience and kindness and justice. 

Too often the innocent messenger is blamed for the harsh but true and necessary message.  We may have been the receiver of such a communication and behaved badly . . . and we may also have been the deliverer and suffered through no cause of our own.  In either case, let us together begin our singing . . . My foot stands on level ground; in assemblies I will bless the Lord. 

To read more about innocents who suffer follow the painting hyperlink on today’s post or click this link:

http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/2011/04/susanna-falsely-accused.html

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: