Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘joy’


James 1:2-3: The Value of Obstacles – Brightly coloured council road signs and equipmentTuesday, September 27, 2015

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James opens his letter with advice that will catch anyone’s interest. In our modern cultures we do not consider trials as gifts to be examined; we too frequently dismiss or even ignore tribulations as inconveniences to be shunted into the darkness. We too rarely consider obstacles as doors of opportunity or growth; yet this is James’ invitation.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Perhaps this is why we pray for smooth days and comfortable nights. We do not believe that we are up to the test. Or we do not see ourselves learning good lessons from hard times. We are uncomfortable with being vulnerable and we fear having to rely on family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.

James asks us to suppress our natural tendency to avoid uncomfortable circumstances; we infer from his words that we might gain more from a constrained environment than from easy comfortable surroundings. Rather than skitter around stressful situations or difficult people, James begins, we might allow ourselves to grow in fortitude and wisdom if we rely on God’s guidance when we must maneuver hard times.

Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Certainly we do not want to look for stress in our lives; the world presents us with enough disquiet to fill our days. Clearly we do not want to be the cause of conflict in our personal and professional lives. Yet just as certainly and clearly we understand that once we open ourselves to the guidance of God’s hand when we navigate straitened days, we will remember our success in dark times and recognize a certain confidence growing within.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
blocksWe live in a world that values power, fame and wealth. We humans tend to look at one person’s loss as being another’s gain; yet when we live an inverted life with Christ where loss is gain and gain is loss, we begin to better understand James’ lesson. Stumbling blocks become building blocks. Trials become jubilation. When sorrow and pain are traversed in God’s grace we begin to experience the joy of perseverance. When we live by God’s measure rather than our own, and when we allow God to guide us through the road blocks of our lives, we finally learn the value and joy of learning new faith and new life as a result of persevering through our obstacles.

Tomorrow, right attitude.


Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Images from: http://stevesponseller.com/page/2/ and https://www.dadometer.com/types-of-building-blocks-for-toddlers/

Read Full Post »


Mark 15:16-20The Paradox of Mockery

François-Léon Benouville: The Mockery of Christ

François-Léon Benouville: The Mockery of Christ

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Paraphrasing from La Biblia de América (1538): The condemned man remains silent during this scene.  The soldiers convert Jesus into a symbol of mockery and Mark does not record a single word about Jesus’ comportment.  Jesus says and does nothing.  He does not react.  He is the defenseless victim of the soldiers who, in an attempt to mock Jesus, adore him as God.

This paradox is the paradox we are all asked to live each day.  We are asked to witness to the injustice we experience – or to the injustice we see others experience.  Living in this way, we begin to understand that the persecution we suffer is not the pain and punishment our accusers wish to inflict on us; rather it is the martyrdom Jesus asks us to bear when he says (Mark 5:11-12), Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

When we are mocked for Jesus’ sake, we step into God’s blessed gift of paradox . . . for the punishment our accusers wish to inflict upon us they suffer themselves.  And the joy they wish to remove from us . . . they pour on us abundantly.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

A favorite from Friday, April 15, 2011.

Image from: http://community.artauthority.net/work.asp?wid=116216&pos=7

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations. Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city. The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events. Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence. They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day. The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads. Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate. But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves. We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos. We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine. When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God. When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure. We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.


Images from: https://bible.fandom.com/wiki/Sennacherib and http://archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/01/wrecked_schooner_drifts_ashore_and_into_mystery/

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 40: Beyond Self

Michaelangelo: The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam – detail

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Isaiah again today, and it is the chapter which begins the second half of the prophecy – often referred to as the Book of Consolation. The words remind us also of chapters 38 through 42 of Job when God speaks to his loyal yet questioning servant.

Like Job, we also may have questions for the creator of the universe, questions about his plan for us, his plan for others, questions about how God expects so many diverse elements can possibly come together in peaceful union. Today’s citation tells us that we need not fret about how God’s plan will be accomplished. It tells us that if we place our hope in God, all that is inscrutable will be made plain to us.  Isaiah asks: Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Was it not foretold you form the beginning?  Have you not understood? 

Our spirit is captured in human vessels, struggling to break free, to soar above the ugly parts of this life; and yet in all of our struggle for release we forget that we have already been ransomed, as we spent time reflecting yesterday. Do you not know or have you not heard?  The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. Today’s words are a reminder that we are not meant to struggle alone.

When we present to God daily our list of petitions that beg for miracles . . . God does not faint or grow weary.

When we are confounded by the duplicity and complexity if darkness . . . God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny.

In all of our turmoil, all of our tears, all of our anxiety . . . God gives strength to the fainting.

In the darkest hours, in the deepest mourning, in the depths of despair . . . God makes vigor abound.

Wherever we are wrung out, exhausted, at wit’s end, beyond recovery and when we stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. 

There is always joy beyond our imaginings. There is always strength beyond our human power. This is what makes us divine . . . in that we acknowledge this divinity and allow ourselves to be drawn to it. Once we step out of self, empty self, and allow God in, then we too have knowledge beyond scrutiny, strength beyond fainting, and joy beyond tears.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam

A Favorite from July 3, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Ephesians 3:8-11: The Mystery of ChristJesus_07_MysteryFiles

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

With humility, Paul tells us that although he does not understand why he is chosen to pass along God’s word, he does understand that we can never fully understand the mystery of God’s love for us. Nor can we plumb the depths of Christ’s impassioned love for us as God’s children.

God says: I do not expect that you will comprehend all that I do for you each moment of your existence. I do not ask that you understand the breadth or depth of my plan, my mind or my heart. Nor do I ask that you fend off the “principalities and authorities” that my servant Paul names. But what I do ask of you is simply this: that you follow the Way laid out by Jesus, and that you prepare a place for my Spirit to dwell within you. Jesus comes to you as your brother to take your hand and lead you into the narrow path that leads to peace. My Spirit flutters about you with a desire to heal and transform. You need not grasp my intention for you with full knowledge; only trust that I have plans for your joy and not your woe. All that is required is that you remain open and willing to my Spirit, open and hopeful in Christ, open and determined in the Creator. All that is required is love, my love for you . . . and your love for me. This is the great mystery of Christ that you need not understand but from which you nonetheless benefit. I come to you as Christ your brother who willingly gives over a life so that you may live.

God knows that we cannot take in the height and depth and breadth of Jesus’ love for us, and God does not ask that we understand this mystery before we partake of its benefit. All that God asks is our dedication and fidelity.

jaw-dropping-views-from-the-hubbEnter the word Fidelity into the blog search bar and explore this quality. Consider how we might better show our understanding of the mystery we find in Jesus, and how we might return own faithful love for and to Christ.

Use a web browser to search for Hubble images and reflect on how they might represent the mystery of Christ as the incarnation of the God among us. 

Click on the image from Hubble above to visit: https://hubblesite.org/resource-gallery/images 

To explore National Geographic Mystery episodes, click on the image of Jesus above or go to: https://www.natgeotv.com/za/shows/natgeo/the-jesus-mysteries

Read Full Post »


Matthew 5:4 and Luke 6:21: Mourningmourning angel

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. (Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain)

God says: When you sink into deepest grief, remember me – for I am with you. When you believe you will never smile again, remain in me – for I live in you. When the darkness is so dense that the light of hope struggles to pierce it, call on me – for I am that light that no darkness can hold back. The prophets foretold and my son retells you that your mourning will become dancing. The psalmist reminds you that those who go out weeping as they carry seed to sow will also return with triumphant sheaves of joy.

As part of our Beatitudes thanksgiving, let us consider how we might bring the gift of presence to someone who mourns the loss of a person, employment, or a lifestyle.

nilmdts_logo1Find out more about the NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) organization, a group of photographers whose mission is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture. Visit: https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/

Tomorrow, hunger and thirst.


Image from: http://galleryhip.com/mourning.html

Read Full Post »


Habakkuk 2:3-4: The Delayimpatienceordivineanticipationb1

First Sunday in Lent, March 6, 2022

In this Lenten season, we witness to the presence of Christ in our daily routine. In this time of introspection, we welcome the Spirit into the temple of our hearts. In this time of healing and re-making, we thank God for the gifts of grace and mercy and patience. In this time of transformation, we come to understand the essence of our Lenten delay.

If it delays, wait for it . . .

Like small children, we want all our woes and anxieties resolved within seconds of their borning; like small children we must learn that waiting in joyful anticipation brings the gift of wisdom.

It will surely come . . .

Like energetic teenagers, we easily slip into the thinking that the multiverse holds us at its center; like energetic teenagers we reluctantly admit that our way is not always God’s way.

It will not be late . . .

Like impatient adults, we ask the world to move at our singular command; like impatient adults we come to see that the common good is more valuable in God’s eyes than our individual desire.

The rash one has no integrity . . .

In our Lenten journey we come to understand – if we are open – that God is present in misery just as in joy.

But the just one, because of faith, will live . . .

In our Lenten passage we come to know – if we are open – that God’s delay is part of God’s plan.

As we move through this second full week of Lent, let us take all of our impatience and anxiety, all of our anger and frustration to the one who mends and heals all wounds. And let us – like Jesus – make a willing sacrifice of our waiting as we anticipate in joyful hope God’s fulfillment of our great delay.


Image from: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/6328/impatience-or-divine-anticipation/

Enter the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar to explore other reflections on the wisdom brought to us through the words of this prophet.

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, March 1, 2022evergreen in snow

Psalm 147:12-20

Praise

Tomorrow we begin the season of Lent, a time when the earth shifts moods with the changing seasons. In the northern hemisphere the promise of spring and the Easter Passion hover amid the snow-covered trees while all of creation anticipates new burgeoning and promise. In the southern hemisphere autumn prepares us for winter as we gather harvests, snug in and burrow down, resting in the nurturing strength of the covenant promise. No matter our mood or circumstance, Lent offers us an opportunity to renew, re-touch, and re-encounter the risen Christ. Lent gives us a way to examine and re-define. Lent brings us a fresh wind and a new heart. Today we pray with Psalm 147 as we prepare for Lent, and look forward to the fulfillment of the Good News.

Glorify the Lord and offer praise to your God . . .

Today we give thanks for both our blessings and obstacles, realizing that grace arrives with our sufferings as well as our joys.

Who has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within you . . . ?

Today we give thanks for our progeny and our future, looking forward to the events that bring us into union with God.

Who has brought peace to your borders, and filled you with finest wheat . . . ?

Today we give thanks for all the harvests in our lives, for the opportunity to both give and receive God’s plenty that graces the earth.

The Lord sends a command to earth; God’s word runs swiftly! Snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash, hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze. Again the Lord sends God’s word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow . . .

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

And so, we pray,

Today we give thanks for all that we receive, knowing that we are asked to share these gifts from the Lord. Today we give thanks for all that we experience, knowing that we are called to love one another. Today we give thanks for all that is to come, knowing that The Lord has peace and joy in great store for us. Today, with all of creation, we give thanks and praise to God. Amen.

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.


For everyday words of encouragement, click on the evergreen tree above or visit: http://everydayencouragement.org/2014/02/23/god-bends-down-to-hear-your-prayers/

For more beautiful images from National Geographic, click on the image of the night sky in Patagonia, or visit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/tree-stars-patagonia/

Read Full Post »


Monday, January 24, 2022

Daniel 12

Dimensions

Daniel 12: 3: The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmamement, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

Daniel 12: 3: The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever and ever.

“Daniel’s apocalyptic view of history is most fully laid out in Chapters 10-12, which make up one long vision. There an angel explains to Daniel that there is an ongoing battle in heaven between the archangels Michael and Gabriel on the one hand and the angelic “princes” of Persia and Greece on the other. This battle is reflected on earth in the wars of the Hellenistic age, which are described at length in Chapter 11 . . . At the end Michael will arise in victory and the resurrection will follow”. (Senior RG 349)

Apocalyptic writing was popular in the centuries before and after Jesus’ birth and although it is characterized by symbolism and descriptions of cataclysmic events, it is rooted in the teachings of the prophets. Dire circumstances and extreme conditions experienced by the Jewish people provided fertile ground for early writers as they warned, predicted and called the remnant people to fidelity. Living in times of hopelessness and desperation, the faithful took heart as they heard the stories of rescue, redemption and salvation. These images laid the groundwork for the genesis of Christianity, and Jesus’ introduction of the work of discipleship.

Many shall be refined, purified, and tested, but the wicked shall be proven wicked, none of them shall have understanding, but the wise shall have it. (Daniel 12:10)

Jesus describes the life of a disciple clearly in his Sermon on the Mount:  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

Daniel 12:12: Blessed is the one who has patience and perseveres . . .

Jesus tells a parable of the persistent widow who patiently returns to a corrupt judge, asking endlessly for justice. Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart . . . (Luke 18:1-8)

Daniel 12:13: Go, take your rest, you shall rise for your reward . . .

Jesus asks us that to give him our worries and anxieties that are too great for us to bear. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

sleep in the dustThis portion of Daniel’s prophecy brings a new perspective of an old vision. Battle between good and evil are not new. But what Daniel brings us is the foreshadowing of a new and wonderful reason for hope and joy. Daniel opens up for us a new dimension. The world of joy born out of pain, of celebration rising from sorrow, and of new hope burgeoning from old wounds.

When we spend time with Daniel 12 today, we see new light leading us into a world of new dimension.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 149. Print.   

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Daniel into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: http://thewellsacramento.org/?p=689

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: