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Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit

Monday, February 6, 2023

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

The second chapter of Acts contains the description of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the joy and enthusiasm of the apostles. This bursting forth from the Upper Room, this settling into communal life, this might be the description of the initiation of any intimate relationship that begins with fire and energy to settle into a constant, abiding love. Joy settling into constancy returning to joy again.  This is what we seek.  This is what God seeks.  Why do we so often forget this?

There is an image in today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection which describes how the tiny particles of smoke fog our vision.  It continues with the thought that as we seek God through the haze, we pray for one another, and in so doing we exhibit our faith and longing for God.  God sees and recognizes this. Father Men tells us that then all of us will ascend toward the Lord, as if holding onto that prayer. This is the main thing – the rest will follow – but this is essential to our lives. Then Jesus, seeing our faith, will say to all those for whom we have been praying: “My child, awake from your sleep and your sickness, from your palsy, your spiritual paralysis; arise, your sins are forgiven you”.

The image of the apostles who gathered in fear and spiritual paralysis in the Upper Room to pray as they consoled one another is strong as we read this chapter of Acts. These early disciples are rewarded for their faith, for turning to God. They receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that their ardor never flags. We, too, receive this Spirit. We, too, are loved. We, too, are lifted up in joy to our God. May our own desire and zeal for the Lord never falter.


A Favorite from March 3, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.3 (2008). Print.  

Image from: https://faithinourfamilies.com/2014/06/07/pentecost-year-a-the-coming-of-the-holy-spirit/

 

 

 

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1 John 1: God’s Yardstick – The Gospel Writers

The Infinite Life of Christ

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

We hear eye-witness accounts from those who were there, from those who walked and talked, ate and lived with Jesus. Scholars believe that Mark most likely writes his Gospel for early followers, gentiles who faced persecution after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He explains a number of Jewish customs to his audience and only once refers to the Old Testament. Matthew, on the other hand, writes to Jews who believed in Jesus as Messiah. Luke directly addresses Theophilus, someone of high position and wealth, and his message bolsters the story the early Christians told. John writes to non-Jewish believers, those who struggle with the conflict between philosophy and faith. And it is John who opens his first letter with words that ought to convince any who doubt the veracity of the Jesus story. (Zondervan 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. (1 John 1:1-2)

Not only do the Gospel writers give testimony to the truth they have lived, they ask that we pass this story along. They ask that we keep the Spirit in our hearts. They ask that we keep the Creator forever in our minds.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:3-4)

And Jesus says to his followers: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29)

1-john-3-17-does-gods-love-abide-in-him1Those who lived the Gospel story have something to pass along to us. Those who read this story today have something to pass along to those who follow. When we spend time today with Gospel verses of our choosing or with one of John’s letters, we open the door to a deeper understanding of the yardstick of love that God hands to each of us so we might better measure the wealth of our lives, the infinite life of Christ we share with others.

Tomorrow, yearning. 


ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718. Print.

Images from: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Christ-at-the-Sea-of-Galilee-Detail-from-Episodes-from-Christ-s-Passion-and-Resurrection-Posters_i12142445_.htm and 

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Luke 1:46-56: God’s Yardstick – Mary

The First Apostle

Saturday, December 31, 2015

Tanner: The Annunciation

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Annunciation

On this eve of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Who among us might dance and sing with joy when discovering that our circumstances endanger our lives? Who among us can see that up is down and down is up when everything around us tells us otherwise. Who among is willing to sacrifice our lives with such outrageous hope? Who among us is so open to the indwelling of the Spirit? Who among us can see the world with Mary’s yardstick rather than the one we have fashioned with our lives?


To read other versions of these verses like THE MESSAGE version above, click on this scripture link and explore. Use the drop-down menus to find versions of the Bible that may be new to you. Consider why this canticle is part of the Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. To learn more about Henry Ossawa Tanner, click on the image above or visit: http://www.artstudio.org/virgin-mary-and-electricity/ 

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Judges 17: As We Are – Part III

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2022

MAINO_Fray_Juan_Bautista_adoration_of_the_Shepherds

Fray Juan Bautista Maíno: Adoration of the Shepherds

In this time of Advent, as we expect the coming of light and truth, we reflect on the gift of life that comes to us in the innocence of a child.

As we are . . . We come to the crèche to adore as the lowly shepherds came. The poorest, the marginalized, the abandoned and neglected. We bring our worries and anxieties . . . just as we are.

As we are . . . We come to the stable as the Magi came. The wise, the enlightened, the privileged and comfortable. We bring our hopes and our fears . . . just as we are.

As we are . . . We come to the Christ child as people for millennia have come. The troubled, the peaceful, the miserable, the joyful. We bring our dreams and plans . . . just as we are.

MAINO_Fray_Juan_Bautista_Adoration_of_the_Kings

Fray Juan Bautista Maíno: Adoration of the Magi

As we are . . . We come to Christ as our families and colleagues, our friends and enemies come. We come to Christ’s beauty and innocence and we are either closed or open. We come to life in Christ, and Christ accepts us . . . just as we are. We give thanks for God’s great generosity today.


To listen to the Radiolab podcast on Normalcy today to consider how the norms we adopt open or close us to hear God’s voice, visit: http://www.radiolab.org/story/91693-new-normal/

To reflect on how we come to the Christ child this Advent, click on the images above and study Maíno’s paintings in detail The Adoration of the Shepherds and The Adoration of the Magior visit: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/adoration-of-the-shepherds/103e1807-2917-4906-87ce-71a3a027f37e?searchid=f9f31297-8ba6-6a71-c8f9-8e467d5eb988 and https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-adoration-of-the-magi/3f1f4d63-0476-4ac0-904f-776713defe78?searchid=9245f6a4-fab5-7ba0-23b9-1181d542b32c 

 

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Choir-Medieval-Ladies

Jan Van Eyck: Heavenly Choirs (detail)

Philippians 4:4-7: Celebrate!

Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2022

Gaudete Sunday

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

If only we might celebrate that the Light of the World is among us in this way. If only we might live our lives as a demonstration of our belief that the Healer of all walks with us. If only we might call others to rejoice that the Rescuer from fear, anxiety and desperation lives in us.

waitsDon’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.


Visit the links below and explore other renditions of this ancient celebration of the coming of Christ. Send the link of your favorite performance to family and friends and encourage them to celebrate with you!

Aúna: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbKWk6RzaiM

Choir of Clare College Cambridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1NgHonWNE0

Prima Luce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFtppysEl-k

The King’s Singers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KSxg9Ij5r8 

Libera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=447ZTXdDODQ 

To learn about Medieval Music, click on the musicians image or visit: http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-music/waits.htm 

vaneyck_lamgods_engelen

Jan Van Eyck: Heavenly Choirs

Images from: http://www.thecultureconcept.com/circle/sound-of-music-poets-celebrate-creation-psalms-to-polyphony and http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-music/waits.htm and http://novembrance.blogspot.com/2008/12/heavenly-choirs.html

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Isaiah 35:1-10: The Holy Road

Monday, December 5, 2022freephoto_feetwalking_pixabay

Daily headlines may lead us into thinking that we have no reason for hope in the future. Isaiah tells us that we would be mistaken. Isaiah gives us reason to enter into Advent hope, promise and joy.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower . . .

All peoples and places where terror and pain rule will celebrate Christ’s healing rescue.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!

All injury and harm that is meant to destroy will transform sorrow into joy with the Spirit’s comforting presence.

God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs.

All evil and darkness that whips up angry and anxiety will become tools for transformation with God’s renewing power.

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.

Jesus healed hundreds and fed thousands when he walked among us; Christ continues to restore and sustain.

desert-flowerSprings of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.

The Spirit brings about the impossible; the Creator fulfills all promise.

There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.

Jesus has shown us The Way in which we are to walk – with the marginalized rather than the powerful, with the abandoned rather than the famous and beautiful, with the abandoned rather than the familiar.

It’s impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals – nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.

temple_hera_roadThe Way is the Narrow Gate that stands before us. When we trust in God the door to this way opens to us. When we follow Christ the narrow gate opens wide. When we have faith in God the Holy Road opens at our feet . . . inviting us to move forward into a future full of hope, promise and joy.

The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home . . . welcomed with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.


Reflect on the idea of repairing what we have rather than buying new. For an interesting perspective, read about why Patagonia ™ wanted its customers to stay away from its stores on Black Friday in the USA, a day dedicated to in-store and online shopping. Visit: http://www.patagonia.com/us/home OR http://www.techinsider.io/patagonias-well-worn-campaign-2015-11 OR http://fortune.com/2015/09/14/rose-marcario-patagonia/

For information on ancient Roman roads, visit: http://www.biblewalks.com/info/RomanRoads.html#Introduction

To visit an interesting blog, click on the desert flower image or go to: http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html  

Images from: http://www.shalominthewilderness.com/2014_07_01_archive.html and http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html

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Matthew 14:22-33Stepping out of the Boat

Wednesday, November 30, 2022jesus_walks_on_water3

Yesterday we spent time with John 6:16-21 in which the Beloved Apostle describes the appearance of Jesus on the water; we focused on how our lives pull us into so much activity that we easily forget to ponder the mystery through and by which we live. At that time we spent some moments meditating on a painting by Henry Tanner and with the words: It is I, do not be afraid. We thought again about how time is not truly linear, about how we miss so much by not being open to possibility, by thinking that all the work that lies before must be done quickly and well. And we also thought about the fear through which we operate rather than love: fear that work may not be accomplished, children may not be fed, laundry and lunches will go undone, papers will not be tended to. God not tended to. Today we reflect on the surprise Jesus invites us to enjoy, just when we least expect it. And we reflect on how we spend our time: time in kindness offering hospitality, time in joy believing in hope, time with self and others pondering the goodness of God, time in thanksgiving for gifts already given and yet to give.

Advent is a time of waiting, hoping, renewing. Let us gather in Advent hope.

Advent is a time to put aside our cares in order to tend to the truly important. Let us gather in Advent love.

Advent is a time to have the courage to step out of the predictable order of our lives. Let us gather in Advent fidelity and prepare for Christ’s Advent of surprise.

Tomorrow, stepping into surprise . . . 


Adapted from a reflection written on December 6, 2008.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/meaning-and-significance-of-jesus-walking-on-water.html

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James 3:7-10: Curses and Blessings

Sunday, November 6, 2022A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!

We have a constant choice to tear down or lift up. This forked path is open to us each day. It is for us to determine whether we choose The Way that leads to light.

God says: I give you a tongue so that you might create speech that bolsters and praises, heals and lifts up. I also give you a free will that allows you to curse or bless my creation. You are meant as a blessing to others yet from time to time you will be their curse. The times when you feel so low that you lash out against others are proof to you that I am not trying to control your destiny. You are free to lift up or pull down. The times when you feel forgiveness are proof of my love for you. You are free to accept or reject me. The times you praise and thank me are proof that union with me is possible. You are free to come to me or leave me. When I offer you the choice of curses or blessings I also offer you hope, and peace and joy.

God touches each of us with a healing embrace. Jesus shows us how to convert our curses to blessings. The Spirit heals us in our struggle to choose life over death.

Enter the word speech in the blog search bar and reflect on the words we use, and the possibility of changing our curses to blessings. 


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

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James 1:2-3: Sheer Giftjoy-in-times-of-trial1

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Steadfastness is a gift freely given by God.

steadfastness-vs-instability-5-728God says: I know how difficult it is for you to remain in me when so many tribulations beset you. I also know how you struggle to remain faithful and persistent. Know that I see this in you and know that your determination to follow The Way gives me great delight. Rather than dwell on where you go wrong, reflect instead on all that you do well. For your works are abundant in the million little ways you honor me in your hectic lives. When you feel anxious, abandoned, worried or lost . . . remember that when tests and challenges plague you, in am also there in the trial. These times are my sheer gift to you as you grow and live in me with your well-earned steadfastness.

Steadfastness is a gift freely given by God . . . it is a gift already given and received. Let us rest in this gift and reflect on its power to bring us hope.

Enter the word steadfastness in the blog search bar and explore other posts that open this concept for us.


Images from: https://totaltruthblog.wordpress.com/ and http://www.slideshare.net/toprank414/steadfastness-vs-instability

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