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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Philippians 4:10-14: Strength for Everything

Timothy and Epaphroditus

Timothy and Epaphroditus

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE footnotes: “Paul . . . here thanks the Philippians for their gift of money sent through Epaphroditus. Paul’s own policy was to be self-sufficient as a missionary, supporting himself by his own labor.  In spite of this reliance on self and on God to provide, Paul accepted gifts from the Philippians . . . as he does here now, in prison”.  (cf. Senior 317)

Paul sets out in his missionary zeal to earn his own wages as he travels through the Roman Empire telling the Good News to all. He suffers great deprivation and knows great bounty.  Where he had once thought only to support himself, he now – in his prison cell – fully realizes the secret to a life lived well: Not only do we depend on God the Creator, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient and All Knowing but we also depend on God present to us in and through others.  God of little surprises and sudden kindnesses.  God ever-present in the faithful who remain as remnant.  God providing power in our distress.  This is where we find strength for everything.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me.  Help us, Oh God of surprises, to be faithful to those with whom you have linked us.

You were, of course, concerned for me but lacked an opportunity.  Guide us, Oh God of small wonders and powerful miracles, to be watchful for any opportunity to do your work.

I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient.  Remind us, Oh God who comes to us in the small Bethlehem Babe, that you came to humanity as a vulnerable child.

I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live in abundance.  Show us, Oh God who was born in a stable, that the material goods we seek are dust in our hands.

In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  Call us, Oh God who dwells in each of us, to fully know and express the great secret you teach us through tribulation and joy.

I have strength for everything through him who empowers me.  Tell us once again, Oh God who never falters, that our limitations become power when we live in you.

It was kind of you to share in my distress.  Confirm for us, Oh God who never abandons the sheep of his kingdom, that you bring us liberation even in our deepest suffering.

And so we pray . . . Oh God of our dreaming and our waking, help us to balance the good and the bad, the sorrow and the joy, the pain and the elation.  Abide in us all days and all nights, through our comings and goings, during our encampments and our wanderings, as we experience need and revel in plenty.  Show us how to traverse the hills and valleys, how to endure the deserts and the wastelands, how to undergo deprivation and how to delight in bounty.  Remind us to rejoice greatly in you always for you are never far, you are forever constant, and you are eternally present to us . . . even though we see you but darkly.  We rely on you to bring us strength for everything both in our distress and in our gladness.  We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


A re-post from December 30, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.317. Print.

To reflect a bit more on Chapter 4 of Philippians, enter the words Cause for Joy into the blog search bar and explore.

To hear a sermon on Model Servants, go to http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/50-26/Model-Spiritual-Servants-Part-3-Epaphroditus

To spend time reflecting on how Timothy and Epaphroditus are Models of Faith, click on the image above or go to: http://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/week-29-timothy-and-epaphroditus/

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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Psalm 90: God’s Eternity, Our Frailty

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

As we close another year and look forward to the new, let us reflect on the promise of Christmas, and all that it holds for us. 

joy[1]Some of the images in this psalm may be ones we do not like to think about.  Who among us likes to be reminded of our shortcomings?  And who likes the imagery of such a wrath-filled God?  I heard a sermon once about God’s jealousy about us.  The speaker referred to this psalm and likened God to a lover who has just found out about the partner’s infidelity.

In the old Latin liturgical calendar, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, a time when joy leaps out of the readings in anticipation of the coming of Christ.  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10, Psalm 146, James 5:7-20 and Matthew 11:2-11, in each of these citations we find reason to rejoice.  The true king is arriving soon.  This king heals, protects, guides and secures.  This king loves in a way we do not see in the Old Testament.  This king fulfills the promises of old.  This king is devoted to his people, this king is Christ.

I am always amazed when I see human beings lust after immortality when they have this gift in their hands constantly yet do not see it.  I have watched people destroy others as they scramble to the top of an illusory mountain to grab earth-bound fame.  What matters a name on a concrete wall when our very being may instead be part of God’s own fabric?  What is it we miss about ourselves that lures away from the promise we already hold and that has already been fulfilled, to turn to the emptiness of a plaque, a statue, or a commemorative dinner?  What holds us so spellbound may be our belief in ourselves rather than a belief in God.  Only each of us can judge what makes us so frail in this way.

Matthew 11:11 may startle us.  We may not have understood just how much God really loves us unless we allow the full impact of these words rest in us.  Do we have the potential to be greater even than John the Baptist?  If our answer is no, then we may not have fully understood how much a gift each of us is to God’s creation and God’s plan.  We may not have fully understood just how much we are loved.  If our answer is yes, then we understand the passion expressed in today’s Noontime for when we read this psalm, we see how much God seethes with emotion when we turn away.  And we can also see just how much we are loved.   So let us make a conscious decision today, on this Sunday of Joy, to put aside our frailty and return this divine love.  Return it with full, unwavering and never-dying passion.

And we may be surprised to find what we receive in return; yet, if we have been watching we already know what this gift is.  It is the gift announced by John the Baptist. It is God’s full, passionate, unwavering and never-dying love . . . and with this comes the gift that wipes out our human frailty forever.  The gift to us is the gift of God’s eternity.


First written on December 12, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.npnaz.org/

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Thistledown

Wisdom 4:20 & 5: Hope

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

These verses – actually beginning with the last verse of Chapter 4 – give us reflections of the wicked concerning the fate of the faithful.  Here is an answer to all of the times the psalmist laments: Why do we suffer and the wicked get away with murder?  Today we have the answer to so much questioning.  The faithful will rest in peace after struggling so long in the temporal world.  This chapter is a balancing counterpoint to chapters three and four: The Hidden Counsels of God.

So much about God is mystery.  Perhaps this is why we like this time of year with lights twinkling in the darkness, carols piercing cold air, our breath forming vapor as we step into the early morning crispness.

Over the week end my grandchildren and I watched one of their favorite movies, Babe, about a pig that becomes a sheepdog.  The story takes place in New Zealand and so Christmas is celebrated in the dead of summer; yet the farmer places a Christmas tree atop his house and the family gathers in the warm weather to exchange presents.  The grandchildren and I had a lively conversation about what we would and would not like about having Christmas in July.  At first it was winter that seemed more appropriate because it is the time when we are hunkered in and hunkered down, waiting for life to begin.  On the other hand, the coming of Light and Truth into the world coincides with the full and open days of summer, jammed with activities that distract us.  When do we need Christ more?  The answer is likely: all of the time.

We also spent time – as we always do when we watch this film – reflecting on the faith and doubt of the farmer and his wife about the pig and themselves.  We spoke again about the relationships between generations.  And, of course, we spoke about the incredible idea that a pig might win a sheep herding tourney.  We have sat in the bleachers at the Harford County Farm Fair and watched these dogs work a flock of sheep.  We have also watched pig races, horse sled pulls and other animal trials.  The children – and I – are impressed by the competency of this Hollywood pig.  And we are all rewarded by the cheers of the crowd when Babe brings the final sheep configuration home.  These were the same people who had jeered moments before.  Yes, the hope of the wicked is like thistledown borne on the wind . . .

When we are confronted with sneering laughter we need only focus on the potential within and wear the Lord as our armor (verses 16-19).  For when we put on Christ as recommended by Paul in Ephesians 6, we have no need of any other thing for the just live forever, and in the Lord is their recompense. 

This is one of the times in the liturgical year when we hear the theme of the rejected cornerstone.  It gives us the opportunity to think about surprises . . . and about unusual possibilities like Christmas in July . . . pigs that can herd sheep . . . cornerstones that no one recognizes.  It is the time of year to think about arming ourselves with Light and Joy . . . Peace and Hope . . . about wearing the Lord as we set forth each day . . . about being Christ in a turbulent world.


Written on December 1, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2010/03/page/4/

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Genesis 45:1-8: Making Ourselves Known

Sunday, October 13, 2019

James Tissot: Joseph and his Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh

Today we continue our reflection on the story of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery . . . on the story of Joseph who forgives and saves these brothers in return.

When we find ourselves in a place of power, do we react with anger or mercy?  Do we struggle to understand how to convert our dire circumstances into an opportunity to be close to God so that we might be able to see our grief as gift?  Do we look for ways to offer this gift back to the God to use as he sees best as he accompanies us in our travail ?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and to us in this story, and so may we reveal ourselves to others.  Rather than sink to the easy move of wielding the power we find in our hands, we are to seek God in our suffering and pain.  In so doing, we will discover that God has converted the harm to good, the evil to joy.  We will also discover new depths in ourselves; we will find our best selves – our deepest potential.  Can we imagine offering this re-made self back to one who rejected us earlier . . . particularly when we have the power to reject as we have been rejected?  What greater love can we demonstrate than to turn away from vengeance to turn toward peace?  What greater act might we perform than to follow Christ in an act of forgiveness of others . . . especially the others who have harmed us greatly?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers . . . and in so doing he bridges profound chasms of sorrow and loss . . . bringing joy and reunion.

God reveals himself to us and thus calls us to the possibilities dreamt for us at our inception.

When we reveal ourselves to others as Joseph did then we demonstrate that we understand the depth of our capacity to be God’s love in a world yearning for peace.

Reading this story we see that we have no choice . . . let us journey through loss to make ourselves known to the world.


First written on September 20, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/350858627214142649/

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Ezekiel 27: Tyre

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Hot Springs and Arena in Ancient Tyre

Tyre is a city off the southern coast of present day Lebanon and it is linked to the mainland by a causeway, or siege ramp, built by Alexander the Great at the end of the fourth BCE.  It consists of both a mainland city and an island, has two harbors and most likely because of its vantage point, it was the leading city of Phoenicia in the millennium before Christ.  One can read about the early kings of Tyre in the works of the Jewish historian Josephus but it becomes important for scripture readers when Hiram, the king of Tyre, provides pine and the renowned tall cedars to David and Solomon for use in the construction of the Jerusalem palace and temple.  Tyre is eventually invaded and destroyed by the Babylonians.

Tyre is also famous as the hometown of Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, who convinced her husband to take over the vineyards of the peaceful man Naboth, who persecuted prophets, lured her husband into worshiping the gods of the Baals, and who came to an ugly death . . . just as had been predicted by prophets.  (1 Kings Chapters 16, 18, 19, 21 and 2 Kings 9)  Hers is a fascinating story of meteoric beauty, power and fame.  She was a princess of Tyre, rising and falling in a quick but dramatic arc across ancient history.

In today’s reading we read a lament for Tyre and a prediction of her downfall, with the wreck of the ship and all she carries as allegory.  The HARPER COLLINS COMMENTARY describes this oracle as beautifully crafted, and Ezekiel laments the anticipated destruction of Tyre at the hands of the Babylonians.   This perfect, proud and stately beauty is lost to the storm and settles forever at the bottom of the sea. Thou art brought to nothing, and thou shalt never be anymore.

So much pride lost, so much sorrow experienced, so much pain endured.  Yet in today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation we read: The heart of man, so deep for misery, is deeper far for happiness!  Misery comes to him from accident, happiness from his nature and his predestination.  Father Henri-Dominique Lacordaire

We are creatures meant for joy, not for sorrow.  We are children meant for resurrection, not for darkness.  We brothers and sisters of the same father meant for life, not for death.


Written on April 12, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite. 

To learn more about ancient Tyre click on the image above or go to: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/611914/Tyre

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1203. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.12 (2008): 129-130. Print.  

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Nehemiah 1: A Vocation for Building

Friday, September 13, 2019

Jerusalem: Stones at the Temple South Wall

We have visited with this book several times during our Noontime reflections and we know that it, along with the book of Ezra, describes the restoration time of the Jewish nation.  We know that Nehemiah was the administrator who is credited with the rebuilding of the temple and walls while his friend Ezra, the priest, rebuilt the religious traditions of the Jewish people.  Together these men led their community to recovery through work, prayer and a close connection with their God.  

The survivors of the captivity there in the province are in great distress and under reproach.

We constantly bump into people who are in great distress and under reproach.  There are times when we ourselves are the victim of abuse of one kind or another, times when we too, suffer greatly in that we are separated from some one, some thing or some tradition which used to comfort us and bring us peace.  When we find ourselves in exile . . . and we yearn for reconciliation . . . the best remedy for this affliction is to do as Nehemiah did: I prayed: O Lord, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you who preserve your covenant of mercy towards those who love you and keep your commandments, may your ear be attentive, may your eyes be open, to heed the prayer which I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins which we of Israel have committed against you, I and my father’s house included.

This was Nehemiah’s vocation, that he call together a buffeted and distracted people to bring them home to Yahweh where they might be healed and restored.  It is our vocation as well, for as Christians we too are called to help in the gathering, fishing and harvesting work of God’s kingdom.  To this we are called.  For this we are made.  Let us pray with Nehemiah . . .

O Lord, may your ear be attentive to my prayer and that of your willing servants who revere your name.  Grant success to your servant this day . . . and all days.

Our vocation is to build and rebuild, to restore, to bring unity out of chaos, to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope to the desperate.  And we are never alone in this work.  We are constantly accompanied by the one who is the light, the hope, the joy of the world.  We ask this in Jesus’, name.  Amen.


Written on September 12, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on Nehemiah and Ezra and the re-building of Jerusalem, go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/nehemiah%E2%80%93the-man-behind-the-wall/

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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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