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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


Romans 12:9-13: A Recipe

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Romans 12:9-13: Let love be without any pretense.  Avoid what is evil; stick to what is good.  In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself.  In the service of the Lord, work not half-heartedly, but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit.  Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardship; keep praying regularly; share with any of God’s holy people who are in need; look for opportunities to be hospitable.

If we are looking for a formula for happiness . . . here it is.

If we are wondering what yardsticks we might use to measure ourselves . . . here we have them.

If we are asking ourselves how we might experience peace . . . here is the answer.

Focus on what is good, seek wisdom, be persistent, pray in all circumstances, welcome others, share God’s mercy, live a life of authentic love.  Paul gives us a recipe for joy that may seem difficult; yet it is simple.

Serve God by serving others . . . love God by loving others.  We have been granted the ingredients . . . now we must use them well.

For some quotes that will give us food for thought about Happiness, click on the image above or go to: http://thoughtsandlife-tanya.blogspot.com/2011/05/happiness-quotes.html?showComment=1342547093116#c3590733024654491761

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Matthew 11:25-30: Gentleness

Friday, June 7, 2019

Come to me, all you who labor and are weary . . .

We can use these words of encouragement as we approach at any number of times in our lives for we are frequently wearied by life’s turmoil.  We have seen the Easter story play out and we have full knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We also know that Christ’s story is also our story.  We know that the dead rise, the weary rejoice, and the impossible becomes possible; yet despite this knowing we need support in order to move forward.  We dread the suffering we know is part of our existence . . . and we anticipate eagerly the happiness in store for us.  The Eastertide always presents us with both the terrible and wonderful as we remember Christ’s pain and joy.

In the paradox which is Christ, we see strength come from his gentleness, compassion from his understanding, empathy from his justice, love from his constancy.  In turn, we draw upon his storehouse of strength and wisdom.

When we continue to grapple with the obstacles in our lives, Jesus calls us to him to ask us if we want to be healed.  We have the choice to go to him or remain stuck in our illness.

When we are so burdened that we struggle to lift our eyes to look to the light, Jesus is there in his gentle understanding.  We have the choice to enter into a conversation with him or not.

When we are lost in the fog of turnings and wanderings that characterize our lives, Jesus offers to cure and heal.  We have the choice to continue to mourn our losses or to rejoice in our gains.

In today’s reading, gentleness has become the weapon against unchecked power; and the child-like are rewarded, for to them does God reveal himself.  Those who are “no account”, who are marginalized and who suffer know God far more intimately than do those who live in comfort and ease.  The invitation God extends through his son to the weary and to the burden-laden is an open invitation to all, but especially to those who are broken in body, spirit and heart.

Today’s message is an invitation and it is written out to us in the name of Gentleness.  Love is meek rather than submissive, peace-seeking rather than manipulative, kind rather than self-serving.  Love is gentle, just as St Paul reminds us 1 Corinthians.

When we reach the limit of our resources yet look up to see that we have miles still to go, we might lean on the gentle Jesus . . . for his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.


For more thoughts on Gentleness and for a resource of encouraging verses, click on the image above or go to: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-gentleness-10-encouraging-scriptures/

A re-post from May 24, 2012.

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Psalm 15: Fearlessness

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Whoever acts like this will not be shaken.

Again today we hear the theme of standing firm in faith and refusing to succumb to panic.  Most of the errors we commit we commit in fear – fear of discovery, fear of not surviving, fear of loss, fear of pain.  If we wish to live as Jesus does, we must learn to place all of our terrors in his capable hands.  This frees us to do the work we are called to do as we build the kingdom.

This psalm is brief yet it contains an easy litany we might repeat when our vision is fogged.

Walk without blame . . .

Do what is right . . .

Speak truth from the heart . . .

Do not slander another . . .

Do no harm . . .

Do not defame . . .

Stay away from the wicked . . .

Remain with those who stand in awe of the Lord . . .

Keep all promises despite the cost . . .

Lend no money at interest . . .

Accept no bribes against the innocent . . .

This is a short but demanding list, and it requires that we place all of our trust and hope in God.  It asks us to be fearless in Christ.  When we feel our energy ebbing, when our resources are low, we might turn back to Paul’s words to the Thessalonians to pray them as we read Psalm 15 . . .

Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Test everything.  Hold onto what is good.

Do not be shaken out of your minds or alarmed.  Let no one deceive you in any way.  Stand firm and hold fast to the true traditions that you were taught.

And may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. 

Amen. 


A re-post from May 18, 2012.

For more on 2 Thessalonians see the Lawlessness page on this blog.

Image from: http://www.aliveinthefire.com/2010/11/focus-forward-friday-be-fearless.html

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Luke 4:16-30: The Brow of the Hill

Friday, March 8. 2019

Jesus

Today we remind ourselves that Jesus was rejected in his hometown and this ought to help us feel better about our failures both perceived and real.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  I am reading this and thinking that Jesus lives most of his life on the brow of the hill, at danger of being hurled down headlong.  We know how Jesus died and so we understand that finally the jealousy, anger and fear took over enough people to drown out the voices of the faithful followers.  We also know, because we have read the story and heard it told to us each Eastertide, that death did not put an end to Jesus and his kingdom; rather, it birthed a movement and a way of being that swept the world and changed human history forever.  We need to remember all of this when we find ourselves on the brow of the hill outside our own hometown or any place else.  We need to remember that what we first perceive as an end will become a beginning through Christ.  We need to remember that what we fear becomes our joy through Christ.  We need to remember that nothing can obliterate us and God restores and saves.  We need to remember that God turns all harm to good.  We need to remind ourselves that when we live and move in the Spirit we are infinite and eternal.  We need to remind ourselves that when we pray and act in the Spirit, nothing is impossible.  He passed through the midst of them and went away.

What did Jesus do or say that angered those who had known him from birth?  A few days ago we heard the Isaiah 61:1-2a reading that Jesus found and read from the scroll.  The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . there are those who resent good things happening to other people.  He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners, and a day of vindication by our God . . . there are those who want to be the only giver of goodness, the only advocate for peace.  There are those who want to control even the goodness of God.

The Isaiah reading continues: I rejoice heartily in the Lord . . . and so must we even in the face of disappointment.  My God is the joy of my soul . . . and so we turn to him when we are rejected and scorned.  He has clothed me with a robe of salvation . . . God will leave the ninety-nine safe and secure to seek for and save the one lost sheep.  He has wrapped me in a mantel of justice . . . God will right wrongs and mend brokenness in God’s time and place.

The people in the synagogue were all filled with fury . . . we have the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ Advent into our lives with impatience and resentment.  At the same time we have the opportunity to welcome him into our lives even when we know that following Jesus is difficult work.

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing . . . we do not have to wait for some distant and unknown day to celebrate God’s saving power; rather we can proclaim our joy today and every day.  We can willing follow Christ even to the brow of the hill secure in the knowledge that although we fear being hurled headlong down the precipice Jesus stands with us to lead us through the midst of them . . . to lead us to eternal safety and joy.


For an insightful blog posting on the Luke reading in today’s Noontime, click the Jesus image above and follow the link.  For a site that has information about films about Jesus, click on the image below.

1977 film: Jesus of Nazareth

A re-post from December 13, 2011.

Images from: http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html and http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/2010/11/comparison-jesus-gospel-manifesto.html

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Ezekiel 29Surprise

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The stela of Pharaoh Hophra: open air museum of Memphis, Egypt

A sea monster lives in the Nile, is subdued and caught by God, and is then thrown back into the river as food for scavengers.  Bible commentary will help us to sort out the prophet’s imagery that we see in chapters 29 through 32 but as we focus on this opening portion we may learn something useful.  In this chapter dated to January of 587 B.C.E. Ezekiel was likely responding to events which took place surrounding Pharaoh Hophra’s unsuccessful attempt to capture Jerusalem from the Babylonians. (Mays 616)  Tiny Israel finds herself between two warring giants . . . and an enemy leader becomes the vehicle of unexpected good fortune.  This dilemma is one that may sound familiar to us.

See!  I am coming at you . . .

In all ways and in all times we must be prepared for God’s voice to come to us from unexpected quarters.  Life has a way of springing the unanticipated upon us in both negative and positive ways.  Family members fuss with one another; trusted colleagues become adversaries.  Sworn enemies turn out to be partners in a common cause.  Betrayal comes from the place we least expect it . . . as does hope. God uses whatever means he must to reach us . . . and God seems to love surprises.

See!  I will bring the sword against you . . .

During a very sad time for our family recently, I heard myself repeating to loved ones: God does not want us to suffer.  God does not plan disaster. God loves us so dearly that he suffers with us.  We are not alone.  God is in charge.  When we are in deep anxiety or deep sorrow we cannot see what stands before us.  And sometimes the well-known faces and familiar phrases cannot penetrate our grief.  It is then that God will surprise us . . . when we least expect it.

The Niles are mine; it is I who made them, therefore see! I am coming at you . . .  

Apries/Hophra Obelisk: Rome

The prophet Isaiah reminds us . . . Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  (Isaiah 35:10God comes at us with all he has in his arsenal to reclaim and redeem us.  God uses surprise, inversion, and paradox to reach us.  God is persistent; God does not give up or give in.  We cannot out-wait or out-maneuver God.  In the end, God is all, does all, sees all and knows all.  God loves us intensely and well.  God wants us to experience joy.  And God loves us enough to use even our enemies to speak to us when we are determined to ignore the message we are meant to hear.

See!  I am coming at you . . . I will use anything or anyone to penetrate your sorrow in order to bring you joy . . . I will do whatever it takes to get your attention . . . I love you that well . . .


A re-post from November 16, 2011.

Images from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apries and http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/utp/the-glory-departs

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 616. Print.

For more information on the Pharaoh Hophra, follow the link on the images or see this link: http://www.formerthings.com/hophra.htm

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Tobit 11Homeward Journey

Friday, November 16, 2018

I love this story and I can never read it enough for it is the tale of healing, fidelity, and joy.  It is a story with an ending we all wish for ourselves and our loved ones.  It is even a story we might wish for our enemies.

Commentary tells us that this story harbingers the miracles of the New Testament and even prepares us for miracles in our own lives.  In this homeward journey, everyone is happy with their new in-laws, cataracts are removed, a family rejoices.  The reader senses that all the characters will live happily ever after, and so pushes on toward the end of the tale in delicious anticipation of the revelation of the angel Raphael’s identity.  This is the ideal ending to a perfect bed-time story.  The loyal but harried young couple meets, overcomes odds, weds and returns home.  Goodness comes out of evil and illness – even in exile.  Our journey home has its reward.

Today’s first reading at Mass is from Hebrews 13:1-8 and it reminds us that we never know when the stranger beside us may be an angel: Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you are also in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled . . . Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake or abandon you’.  Thus we may say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?’  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When we feel as though the journey behind us has been too arduous, or the journey before us will be too difficult . . . let us remember how Tobias and Sarah overcame fear to journey home.

When it seems that the present leg of our journey offers no hope and little comfort . . . let us remember that healing angels accompany us in the guise of fellow travelers.

When we find ourselves distracted in our journey by the many tempting way stations . . . let us remember that Holy Spirit accompanies us, the Father calls us, and Jesus Christ heals us.

Let us remember . . . and let us rejoice as we join one another in the journey homeward.


A re-post from October 14, 2011.

Image from: http://namakparay.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Pray Without Ceasing

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

I have come from my son’s house after spending the afternoon with their four-year old while he and his wife visit funeral homes to make plans for a service that will honor the life of their infant daughter.  Sophie died too quickly a few days ago.  And in all of the wrenching grief, there is prayer.

We sit at a meal together as night closes in.  A friend visits bearing fresh fruit and vegetables.  We laugh over small things, finding comfort in one another’s presence.  The deep sadness is just out of sight but still with us.  And in all of this quiet pain, there is prayer.

It is not the will of God that we suffer.  It is the will of God that we rejoice in spite of the pain, knowing that life here is only temporary.

It is not the will of God that we sink into darkness.  It is the will of God that we rise with him into the light, knowing that life in Christ is never-ending.

Pain cannot be erased, but with patient prayer and unswerving reliance on God it blooms into a rejoicing beyond any happiness we can imagine.  It brings firmness out of the smelting fire.  It brings purity out of the crucible.  It brings a holy presence into a place where only sadness was previously felt.  It brings a knowing that we are eternal and that we will meet again in newness despite any separation this earth can visit on us.

It is through pain that we find our true selves.  It is in pain that we kneel before God in petition.  It is after pain that we rise again in the crystalline newness of our life in Christ.

For all of these reasons . . . we must pray without ceasing.


A re-post from September 30, 2011.

Image from: http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/prayer.html

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Acts 14Tenacity

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Iconium, Lystra, Antioch.  Jews, Gentiles.  Healings, beatings, curses, cures.  Zeus, Hermes, the Living God.  Hardships, celebrations.  Mythology, mysticism, illusion, reality.  In all of these places, with all of these people, in all of these philosophies and approaches, Paul and Barnabas journey together to deliver the good news that we are loved by the Living God.  I am exhausted just reading about their missionary journey as we watch these two faithful disciples of Christ persuade and teach, heal and call.  Despite the fact that they see much of their work undone, they continue to rejoice in the work they do as God’s servants asks of them.  They are an amazing – and successful – pair.  They bring many into the church.

Paul and Barnabas have much to teach us who are discouraged when small details of the day become looming obstacles.  They might show us that when we growl and complain about interrupted plans and schedules that we add to our own burden.  We see that they do not fall into the trap of thinking that the world is an unjust, corrupt and unfair place.  Rather than focus on the problems they navigate, they remain centered on doing God’s will.  These two friends have discovered that tenacity and companionship are antidotes for anger and dejection.  And they have learned that success comes most often and stays longest when they defer to God’s plan rather than their own.

Paul is a familiar figure to us but perhaps we can learn something more about Barnabas as he and Paul model how to best react when we see others dismantle the work we have lovingly delivered to God.  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02300a.htm

Misunderstood by many, these two place their faith in God.  Rejected by the tradition in which they had been raised, they place their hope in Christ.  Quickly forgotten by the fledgling churches they have founded, they allow the forgiveness and healing of the Spirit to work through them.  Barnabas and Paul refuse to allow any failure to deter them.  They follow Christ . . . and they hold on.

And so we pray . . .

Faithful and abiding God,

We remember that you were the cornerstone that the builders rejected.

We believe that you walk with us in our journey just as you walked with the apostles in theirs.

We ask that you abide with us when the night grows darkest.

We know that you rejoice with us as we celebrate our little successes.

Lead us so that we remain faithful to you.

Guide us so that we remain hopeful in you.

Help us so that we react in love and not in anger when we see our work taken apart by others.

Grant us the gift of tenacity that you gave to Paul and Barnabas, on the days when we find our journey long, and our resources low. 

We ask all of this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   


A re-post from September 20, 2011.

Image from: http://100reasonswhyilovemylord.blogspot.com/2011/05/reason-8-he-walks-with-me.html 

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Sirach 33:16-19: Gleaning

Monday, September 17, 2018

Written on March 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Francois Millet: The Gleaners

We keep our sorrows to ourselves, thinking that no one wants to hear what has gone wrong for us.  This is a mistake.  We are called to share sorrow and to accompany one another in this journey of discerning how to best word in God’s vineyard.  It does not matter how or when we come to this realization.  It only matters that we eventually arrive there.

Now I was last to keep vigil; I was like a gleaner following the grape-pickers; by the blessing of the Lord I arrived first, and like grape-pickers I filled my wine press.

By dwelling on our sorrows or by thinking that our lives are more pain-filled than anyone else’s we rob ourselves – and our companions in life’s journey – of the opportunity to experience Christ’s healing presence.  It does not matter if we feel we have little to offer, it only matters that we offer who we are to others in need.

Consider that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction. Hear me, you who are great among the people, and you leaders of the congregation, pay heed!

Patience, fidelity, generosity, trust in God . . . when I think of those who have taught me to climb out of sorrow and into joy, these are the qualities that make these teachers greater than any titled leader with power.  If we turn to the beginning of Sirach (2:1-6), we find more instruction.

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.  Accept what befalls you, and in times of humiliations be patient.  For gold is tested in fire, and those found acceptable in the furnace of humiliation.  Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. 

We have frequently reflected in our Noontimes that the silversmith’s fire is essential to smelt out the detritus that makes us less bright and pure.  The prophet Malachi (3:1-3) reminds us that the refiner must remain constantly by the fire in order that it burn just hot enough to do its work without destroying the ore.  The life of those who choose to respond to God’s call is laden with many burdens . . . but these burdens convert to sweet justice when we lay all our complaints and pains before God.   We who come to God’s fields to glean what is left after the harvester passes by, engage in holy work for we lift up lost souls to God.  When we enter fully into this work to place the world’s sorrows in God’s capable hands, we – like the sadness we bear to God – are transformed by the smelter’s fire into bright, lovely and holy offerings . . .  and we become the delight we imagine.  So as we glean, let us imagine God’s joy well.


A re-post from August 17, 2011.

Image from: http://www.smithinet.com/Louvre/Louvre_art.html#gleaners 

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