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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


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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Ezra 6Rebuilding

Friday, September 14, 2018

Written on January 8 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The house is to be rebuilt . . .  

We are so often exhausted by life’s demands that we cannot experience joy when we hear good news . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

In today’s Noontime, King Darius reiterates the original command given by King Cyrus . . . the house is to be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, the administrator, and Ezra, the priest, set about restoring the city and temple in Jerusalem.  They travel through dangerous territory and carry with them a letter of safe-passage from their former enemy.  They arrive in Jerusalem to find a pile of rubble so dense that horses cannot find a pathway – they must pick their way on foot through toppled stone.  They return from exile most likely drained of energy . . . but there is hope and even joy because . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am struck by the concordance of the instructions in the decree we read today with the original description of the temple that Solomon built which we read in 1 Kings 7.  God does not forget his promise to the Jewish nation that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Nor does God forget all that he has promised us, his daughters and his sons.  Just like the destroyed temple, we too will be rebuilt and in fact are being rebuilt each day.  We are the temple in which the Spirit dwells, and as the cares of the world tear at its pillars and nibble at is foundation, Jesus becomes the master planner who constantly offers to help us reconstruct.  His constant attention and love remind us that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am thinking of Psalms 126 and 127.  Those who go out weeping return singing . . . we labor in vain unless the Lord is the master builder of our house.

Whatever our flaws, whatever our sorrows, all will be converted to joy for we are promised that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Whatever our obstacles, whatever our fears, they become our stepping stones to serenity once we remember that . . . the house is to be rebuilt. 


A re-post from August 14, 2011.

Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-House-Laurie-Graham/dp/0140123385/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313344601&sr=8-2 

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Job 38-42: Dialog with God

Job with his friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar

Sunday, August 5, 2018

We have visited with this portion of Job before during our Noontime reflections and we have spent time thinking about the presence and work of Satan, about arguing with the Almighty, Restoration brought about when living a life of impossible hopes.  Today we might pause to think about how blessings arrive in our lives . . . sometimes with people or events which bring us unexpected problems . . . and how these experiences often bring us unexpected outcomes.

In looking for something more, I turned to THE ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE and find that, of course, the Babylonians had their own culture and literature dealing with suffering.  One Akkadian text from approximately 1000 B.C.E. called The Babylonian Theodicy is a dialog between a sufferer and his friend who present questions much like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar do with Job.  Much of the dialog has to do with the mysterious ways of the gods (page 776).  Another text entitled A Man and His God, is found on a broken tablet and is a lament of a young man suffering from a terrible disease.  This man recognizes and concedes his guilt, unlike Job who is an innocent sufferer.  There is much here to indicate that these ancient cultures spent time thinking and reflecting on the causes of suffering (770).

Ancient Hittite texts often depict their gods as weak and impotent in the face of natural disasters.  And they are sometimes seen as dependent as, for example, in a story about the storm god Telepinu who fell asleep under a tree and forgot to make it rain!  The other gods could not locate him until at last a tiny bee awakened him with a sting, and then a goddess of magic and a local priest intervened on behalf of those who were starving because of the drought (page 784).  All of this is fun and interesting . . . but lacking the depth and theology of the story of Job.

And so we might ask: What does Job tell us today in our modern and fast moving world when we struggle to dialog with God?

Many advances in technology have been made; much information has been stored in databases, and yet we are not much nearer to understanding the beauty and mystery of God.  I asked my granddaughter today what God is if God is not magic.  She answered immediately and without wavering – and with much conviction for one so little – God is miracle.

This is what Job knows.  This is what Job understands.  This is what Job trusts.  This is where Job finds power.  And this is what makes Job important for us today because when we are in the depths of misery and pain, there is nothing more we need than God’s power, joy and life that we experience in our suffering. Moving through the past, and moving beyond our present ordeal, we find solace in our pain, courage in our fear, comfort in our anxiety, hope in our desperation, and newness in our life.  When we most seek relief and restoration we might pray with these chapters from Job today.

We cannot expect a life free of suffering.  Indeed, life so often is suffering.  But what we can expect, and what we can receive is God’s grace, Christ’s touch, the Holy Spirit’s comfort.  And we can expect that joy will rise from our pain when we struggle to dialog with God.


Adapted from a Favorite written on July 29, 2008.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 770. 776 & 784. Print.

Image from: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/jw-meeting-workbook/april-2016-mwb/meeting-schedule-apr4-10/job-bible-false-accusations/

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Isaiah 9:1-6: People of Light

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Jesus tells us, I am the light. (John 8:12)

John tells us, In [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Jesus tells us, You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  (Matthew 5:14-15)

How do we bring light to a world that seems determined to live in darkness? We remember this Favorite written on October 19, 2007.

Isaiah tells us, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light!

We sing these words in the advent season when Christmas nears.  Handel set them to music and surrounded them with soaring strands of notes to lift us up.

You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing . . .

We believe that Christ’s presence among us is a joy.  We believe that he has come to release us from bondage, to set us free from our exile of anxieties, addictions, and damaging behavior.

For a child is born to us, a son is given us . . .

We know these words in the marrow of our bones.  Jesus resides in each of us.  We are his adopted brothers and sisters.  He has come to redeem, to restore, to heal, to transform.

They call him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

We hear these words and somehow know them to be true, know them to be meant as a consolation, yet we fear that the reality we live in is more true than the one these words describe.

His dominion is vast and forever peaceful . . . both now and forever . . . 

Good and gracious God, you know that we walk in darkness and so you reach out your hands to us.  You know that we see the light but are often afraid of its fierce honesty.  Help us to meet the intensity of this light with our own courageous response to your Call.  Abide with us now and forever.  May your zeal and passion for us bring us fully into your light and bring us fully to life.  Bring us to your celebration. Amen.

Today as we pray Psalm 18, we repeat verse 29 as an antiphon: For you, Lord, give light to my lamp; my God brightens my darkness. 

Tomorrow, we are leaven for the world. 


Image from: https://www.democraciaejustica.org/galery/a-candle-loses-nothing-by-lighting-another-candle.html

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John 2:23-25The Interior Life

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

This reflection is adapted from thoughts written on February 23, 2009; and it reminds us that Christ is The Life we seek to live. It calls us to find our lives in Christ through prayer. 

Saints and scholars have written much about the life of the soul.  We have been told through Scripture, and through the Creator’s revelation to us, what we can expect when we enter into honest and authentic relationship with Christ.  The Holy Spirit settles into the temple nest that we prepare to abide with us with her compassionate healing.  The Creator guides us to the potential molded with us at our inception.

What more can we say about our interior life?  How do we connect with Christ to better life the life that is our hope? What can we do to improve this life, to bring ourselves to fruition so that our inner life might blossom in our exterior life of thanksgiving and joy . . . even in the face of misery?

Today’s Meditation in MAGNIFICAT is from Philoxenus, a fifth/sixth century Syriac writer and theologian.  It is about prayer and how we come to God through prayer.

Theodorus Philoxenus Sotericus

One should be secretly swallowed up in the spirit in God, and one should clothe oneself in God at the time of prayer both outwardly and inwardly, set on fire with ardent love for him, and entirely engulfed in all of him, entirely commingled in all of him, with the movements of one’s thoughts suffused with wondrous recollection of God, while the soul has gone out in love to seek him whom she loves, just as David said, “My soul has gone out to you”.

The soul goes out in wondrous recollection of God.

God enters into the soul.

The interior life becomes a dialog with God in which all worries, woes and fears can be opened in trust.

The interior blooms.

This blossoming becomes evident through the exterior.

Our actions demonstrate our wondrous recollection of God. 

This afternoon, let us raise our voices together in a communal prayer . . . that we might illuminate the world with our wondrous recollection of God. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.2 (2009). Print.

Images from: https://www.desiringgod.org/topics/prayer and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Theodorus_Philoxenus_Sotericus_A_01a.JPG 

For more information on Theodorus Philoxenus Sotericus, visit https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philoxenus-of-Mabbug 

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Tobit 5Rafael 

Jacopo Vignali: Tobias and the Arcangel Raphael

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Favorite from May 12, 2010.

I have always loved this story of synchronicity, healing and steadfastness and each time I read it I reflect upon – and marvel at – the number of times that the angel Rafael has been present in my life.  Sometimes I know he is present in the healing hands of physicians, ministers and friends.  Other times it is only until well after an event that I realize I have been visited by an angel.  God constantly sends us his guides; we may or may not be aware of their presence.

We are created to experience joy rather than sorrow, reunion rather than separation, salvation rather than abandonment.  We are meant to be free from bondage, free to enter into relationship with the force that created us, free to enter fully into our divinity.  In yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Maurice Zundel we read:  We are called into a heart-to-heart relationship with the Lord in which our whole being must enter . . . The only way to enter into the mystery of the universe is through the divine presence.  When we are hidden in the presence of God . . . we are at the heart of the true universe.

Fr. Maurice Zundel

Humans have a yearning to belong, an ache to be part of something significant, and I believe that this is what makes human love so alluring to us.  We want to be the center, the axis point, the object of someone’s love . . . and yet we already are.  Rafael walks with us and guides us more times than we even know; and he arrives as the healing messenger of God.  Let us give thanks and be glad.  Let us rejoice and praise God.  Let us keep a sharp look out for the Rafaels in our lives . . . and let us repeat our stories of God’s power to save, of God’s infinite and compassionate love, for we are creatures of joy and not woe.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

To learn more about Fr. Maurice Zundel, a Swiss theologian, visit: https://amishcatholic.com/2018/02/28/maurice-zundel-on-prayer/ 

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John 20:19-31: Beyond Locked Doors

Third Sunday of Easter, April 15, 2018

It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid.

How can we doubt the love of God when Christ moves through locked doors to console his followers?

Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you.”

How can we turn away from the hope God brings to us to conquer our fear?

The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord.

How can we refuse to unlock our hearts when Christ offers love so astounding that it overcomes all obstacles?

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

How can we close ourselves off from Christ’s compassion?

Jesus said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

How can we reject God’s gift of self in the person of Christ, in the presence of the Spirit?

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.”

On this third Sunday of Easter, let us willingly take up this gift, and let us share the good news of Christ’s fidelity, hope, love and joy with others.


When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we invite Christ to open the locks with which we have closed our hearts. 

Images from: https://demetriusrogers.com/2014/09/06/closed-doors/ and https://www.adventure-journal.com/2012/02/25-more-awesome-hearts-found-in-nature/ 

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Exodus 12:1-28: The Servant’s Exodus

Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018

James Tissot: The Waters are Divided

We are familiar with the elements of this story: the birth of Moses, the call from the burning bush, the killing plagues, crossing the Red Sea, wandering in the desert, and finally a glimpse of the Promised Land. This is Moses’ story, it is Jesus’ story, it is the story of the faithful servant, and it is our own.

From DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR LENT: NOT BY BREAD ALONE 2018 written by Michelle Francl-Donnay. Exodus reminds us we are not to settle into our pews, to watch events unfold like an epic movie in which the hero rises in the very last scene, only to pour back out into the lobby at intermission, tossing our crumpled worship aids into the recycling bins. No, sit on the edge of your seats, and be ready to fly forth with only what you have in hand”. (Francl-Donnay 92-93)

Francl-Donnay reminds us that as faithful servants, we must be ready for flight.

The Eucharist is fast food, trail food. This is not a private feast, a family dinner to be lingered over, however reverent, and beautiful the liturgy is. This is a public meal, food for those in flight, food for those about to be dispatched on a mission. (Francl-Donnay 92-93)

James Tissot: The Last Supper

Francl-Donnay reminds us that as faithful servants, we must be prepared to receive God’s promise in the person of Jesus.

Tonight we will do as Jesus commanded at the Last Supper. We will wash each other’s feet, to show each other in the presence of the faithful what we have vowed to do. (Francl-Donnay 92-93)

Francl-Donnay reminds us that as faithful servants, we must go into the world with words and acts of peace.

So now we wrap Christ around us, and kneel before the hungry child, the homeless mother, the refugee whose shoes are worn through, to care tenderly for what the world would trample underfoot. (Francl-Donnay 92-93)

Francl-Donnay reminds us that as faithful servants – and no matter the sorrow or pain we suffer – we must make our exodus into the world with words and acts of joy.

Wishing each of you Christ’s peace on Maundy Thursday 2018.

Tomorrow, the goodness of Good Friday.

For a reflection on the Exodus story, visit the Exodus page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/exodus-the-story/ 


Francl-Donnay, Michelle. DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR LENT: NOT BY BREAD ALONE. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2017. 92-93. Print.

Images are from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/moses/3_passover.htm  and https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-last-supper-tissot.html 

To better understand the word “maudy,” visit: https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/what-is-maundy-thursday-11628350.html

 

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Nehemiah 8: Promulgation 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Today’s reflection is a Favorite written during Christmastide on December 30, 2010.

Ezra, the priest, brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand . . .

I am wondering how our lives might be different if when we gather in our places of worship, like Ezra, Nehemiah and the Jewish people, we might make resolutions to enact what we say we believe.

Ezra opened the scroll so that all the people might see it . . .

I am wondering how our lives might be different if when we make decisions we base them on what it is we see Jesus doing in the Gospels.

Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of the Lord, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read . . .

I am wondering how our lives might be different if when we act in the Spirit of the law as well as the letter.

Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy . . .

I am wondering how our lives might be different if we celebrate the Spirit by acting in the Spirit humbly yet with passion . . . being unafraid of what society might say or think about us.

. . . for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

I am wondering how our lives might be different if we promulgate the story of how God has saved us . . . and how much God loves us.

I am wondering . . .

The great celebration described in today’s Noontime is the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles or Booths and more information may be found at http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/feasts/tabernacles.htm

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