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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


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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Ezra 5 & 6: Hesitation

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Favorite from Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

We have looked at the opening chapters of this book to reflect on the idea of restoration after captivity.  We have seen the Israelites number themselves in a new census to best prepare themselves for the work ahead when they return to their ruined city and temple.  We listened as a great shout went up from the people who rejoiced to have their sacred places returned to them.  And we also spent time looking at how opposition entered into their individual and collective lives almost immediately.  I am not certain why we are back here again unless it is to remind us of something.  And then I find the nugget we look for today: Hesitation is as much a part of God’s plan as forging onward.

When we read this story from the opening of the book we see that the work was halted (4:24) even after it had been initially approved.  When we go to the end of chapter 6, this is what we read: They joyfully kept the feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, for the Lord had filled them with joy by making the king of Assyria favorable to them, so that he gave them help in their work on the house of God, the God of Israel. 

The Lord had filled them with joy . . . he gave them help in their work . . .

We know that true and lasting joy comes only from God yet we humans still look for it elsewhere.  Then we are disappointed when it disappears.  We also tend to forget that we cannot accomplish all things.  We forget that God has a better perspective than we do – even of our own lives.  We do not like to relinquish control of any of this – our joy, our work, our lives.  We cannot see that sometimes doing nothing is actually doing something – especially when this hesitation is part of the divine plan.

I frequently read from a small book of reflections (LIVING FAITH: DAILY CATHOLIC DEVOTIONS) and today’s is written by Rebecca Sande.  Its title is Wholehearted Prayer, and I am thinking that this is how we must conduct the hesitating portions of our lives.  She prays: Dear Lord, I will devote quality time to my prayer today.  Let it be loving, fervent, intimate contact that you desire to have with me.  With this kind of praying we cannot go wrong even in the middle of a prolonged and painful hesitation.

The Lord had filled them with joy . . . he gave them help in their work . . .

For my part, when I begin to think about shaving time from God in order to give it to my work or play, I am always amazed at how much better my work and play go when I have given God his full due.

The Lord had filled them with joy . . . he gave them help in their work . . . Dear Lord, I will devote quality time to my prayer today . . . and it will be my wholehearted prayer . . . for it is the only way I will survive this present hesitation. 

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Psalm 13:3: Singing to God

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When we know that we are safe in the refuge of God’s power, do we praise God enough?

I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
    and find myself safe and saved. (GNT)

When we know that we have a healing shelter in God’s hope, do we acclaim God enough?

Adonai is my Rock, my fortress and deliverer,
my God, my Rock, in whom I find shelter,
my shield, the power that saves me,
my stronghold. (CJB)

When we know that God pardons our errors, do we celebrate God enough?

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    so I shall be saved from my enemies. (NRSV)

When we know that God looks for the abandoned and lost, do we tell the world of God’s goodness enough?

I call to the Lord,
    and he saves me from my enemies.
Praise the Lord! (GNT)

When we know that God loves us beyond all imaginings, do we rejoice God’s presence enough?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we have the opportunity to sing joyfully in God’s presence, power and love.

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part V

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How are we baptized in Christ’s love?

The rite of Baptism signifies our immersion into Christ’s death so that we might rise again with him. Peter writes that this baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to God.

As we reflect on salvific suffering, we come to understand that suffering with and through and in Christ is not a punishment; rather, it is a gift to be lived out, a gift undergone not alone but with Christ – who accompanies us on every step of our daily journey toward him.  In this light, we can share joyfully with Peter when he writes: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Always be ready to give an explanation of your joy, always reply to your accusers with gentleness and a clear conscience, for it is better to suffer for doing good than to do evil.

Be joyfully filled with hope . . . for you suffer not alone . . .

Take up your personal cross and follow . . .

For by doing so . . . you add your little particle of redemption . . .

To the redemption of the world . . .

There can be no greater calling . . . no greater work . . .

No greater God than our God . . .

Who is an awesome God . . .

Who cradles us each day and all through the night . . .

And shares this gift of treasure with us . . .

Watching . . . waiting . . . smiling . . . abiding . . .

Calling us constantly home.

Amen.

Baptism is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1214 at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

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John 21:1-14: Throwing Our Nets Yet Again

Friday, April 28, 2017jesus-beach

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day six, Easter Friday, we hear John’s familiar story of Jesus appearing at the Sea of Galilee. The details in the story open doors of Easter joy and hope for us.

First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, we see again that the disciples do not recognize Jesus when they first see him. Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has stood before us, and our eyes have not seen. The unwanted visitor. The neighbor who challenges us. The colleague who asks a question we do not want to answer.

Jesus asks the disciples to expect something new when he asks them to do something they have been doing for hours. Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has asked us to once more open ourselves to optimism when we have already given up on hope. The task we have already completed. The cause we believe to be dead. The optimism we see as pointless.

Jesus prepares a meal for his friends, and then he says, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has waited on us, served us, healed us and loved us. We recall the worries and anxieties that too often govern us. We remember the doubts and fears that too frequently control us. We remember the Easter promise of healing and transformation. And we look toward the end of John’s Gospel when he tells us, There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books. (John 21:25)

And we ask ourselves . . . can we recognize the Christ moments in our lives? Are we willing to muster the courage to throw our nets another time where we have already thrown them endlessly? Are we prepared to welcome the joy and peace of Easter? And are we willing to witness to these life-giving encounters with Christ so that others might live and believe?

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Galatians 3:26-29: Re-Creation – God’s People

Easter Friday, April 21, 2017

If we wonder how God sees the children God lovingly created to bring light to the darkness, we might consider Paul’s words to the Galatians.

It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

Through God’s grace, we receive the gift of faith and we read the testimony left by others.

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. 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)

Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we receive the gift of life eternal. On this Easter Friday, as we gather ourselves for Easter re-creation, we benefit from spending time with John’s first letter of testimony. He tells us that all he recounts is real. He reminds us that all he recounts to us has taken place. And he states very clearly that all he reports to us continues to occur today.

To explore varying versions of the verses cited in today’s Noontime, use the scripture links and the drop-down menus.

 

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part V

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Helge Boe: On the Road to Emmaus

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

We journey toward our Easter resurrection, carrying our doubts and fears, measuring, and even judging, ourselves and those who walk with us. We hope to avoid obstacles, not realizing that they provide us with opportunities for transformation. We see ourselves in a race against time, not understanding that God’s time is eternal. We perceive ourselves as small entities in competition with the billions of earth’s citizens, not comprehending that we are all the living stones of the temple that is God’s kingdom.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

A humble yet confident, vulnerable yet strong young man joins us on our journey. He speaks words that both comfort and challenge. He listens well. Asks thoughtful questions. We can feel the compassion and empathy coming from his eyes; his whole body exudes an essence we want to capture so that we might carry it along with us. Yet we need not. We try to possess what we already own. We try to control what we are already promised.

This man’s words are wisdom. His actions are mercy. He embodies hope, he enacts fidelity, he is love. Do we invite him to linger with us, or are we too busy tending to our pains and worries, monitoring our timelines and space?

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

Hendrick Terbrugghen: Supper at Emmaus

Christ walks with us today as surely as he walked with these disciples in the journey to Emmaus. He breaks bread with us today just as he did at the supper table in Emmaus. Let us set aside the time and space to share our uncertainties with him. Let us dedicate the time and place to share our joy. And let us allow The Teacher to open our hearts to the enormity of God’s love and promise as we journey toward the Easter promise.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

For more on the Emmaus experience, click on the image of the Boe painting, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part IV

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We might imagine ourselves discovering Christ just as we break bread with him. We might imagine his disappearance as a disappointment or as an opportunity to share the joy of Good News with others. Our reaction to Christ’s presence brings us great fear, great sorrow, great joy, or a mixture of many emotions. How do we write our own story?

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus. Mosaic (6th Century mosaic)

They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

God says: You may find this story difficult to believe. You will want assurance that you would not miss my presence among you; yet you need not be afraid. I am not angered that you overlook me, gaze past me, and cringe away from me when I appear as the homeless, the hungry, the refugee, and the poor. When you suffer embarrassment, all you need do is turn to me with a vulnerable heart. When you are uncomfortable each time I come to you as the marginalized, all you need do is open your arms to me. When you are angry with circumstances you cannot control, ask for my guidance and protection. I have the strength and persistence, the love and fidelity, the hope and energy to be with you through every moment of your suffering. Give me your anxiety and fear. Come away and break bread with me. All the rest is nothing. I am all. And I am enough in this day and in all days.

Diego Velázquez: The Supper at Emmaus

When we spend time reflecting on this story, and when we admit the number of times our anger or discomfort have gotten the best of us, we realize that we, like the Emmaus disciples, have the opportunity to break bread with Christ himself.

 

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Matthew 5:13-16: Salt and Light – A Reprise

pope-francis

Pope Francis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus tells us that we must be salt for the earth, adding flavor, bringing joy; and we are to share this salt of our faith with others.

Jesus tells us that we must be light for the world, slicing through the darkness, bringing hope; and we are to shine this light on the margins and into the corners.

To hear Pope Francis’ words on how we might be both salt and light, visit Vatican Radio at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/06/07/pope_on_how_to_be_salt_of_the_earth_and_light_of_the_world/1235417

 

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