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Posts Tagged ‘justice’


Wednesday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Malachi 3:19-20 (4:1-2)

The Day is Here

Matthais Stom (Stomer): The Adoration of the Shepherds

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble . . . But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

A child born in quiet dignity.  A world waiting to be saved. God humbles the proud with the smallness of this child. God heals the wounded with the power of this child. God rescues all with the compassion of this child. The long-awaited day of wonder and promise is here. All of this we know, for we are Christmas people.

Enter the word justice in the blog search bar, or visit the pages about the prophet Malachi, and consider what we know and believe as Christmas people.


Differing translations of Scripture have differing numbering systems for this prophecy.  

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_Matthias_Stom_(Stomer)_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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Monday, December 28, 2020

The Fourth Day of Christmas

shoots from a stumpJeremiah 23:5

A Righteous Shoot

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.  

We have the justice that we long for. We have the wisdom we seek. The long-awaited day is here, for we are Christmas people.

Read Isaiah 11:1-10 and Revelation 22:16 .  Reflect on God’s promises kept.  Think about the times when disappointment and loss have resulted in transformation and celebration.

Enter the word justice into the blog search bar and consider how we are Christmas people.


Image from: http://pastorjonmarxy.wordpress.com/

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Planets_wallpapers_117[1]

Proverbs 8

Wisdom and Creation

We have ample opportunity to listen to wise words; yet we seem to go our own way – thinking that we know better. Wisdom has been with us since creation; yet we ignore her when we need her most.

Wisdom has much to offer: Straight words, prudence, knowledge and discretion, instruction that is more valuable than gold, silver, or jewels. Wisdom loves those who seek her. Wisdom is strength, righteousness and justice. Wisdom calls out to those who have ears to hear . . .

And now my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord; but those who miss me injure themselves; and all who hate me love death. 

In today’s Gospel (John 6:30-35) the people ask Jesus to give them a sign so that they may believe. I am astounded . . . and yet, do I not do they same? The people in today’s reading walk with Jesus, they shake the same dust from their clothes that also powders Jesus’ feet and face, they experience miracles at Jesus’ hands . . . and yet they ask for a sign that they might believe.

Wisdom offers her ample generosity . . . yet we ask for more. Or worse still, we decide that we know better.

Wisdom has been with God since the creation. She has dwelt with God from the beginning and she will be with God through the infinity of God’s time and through the enormity of God’s space. Why do we ask for a sign . . . when the sign lives within us? Why do we ask for wisdom . . . when wisdom has dwelt with us from our inception?


Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2011.

Image from: http://wakpaper.com/id164616/earth-from-space-wallpaper-1600×1200-pixel.html 

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

pathways[1]Proverbs 2:9-11

Wisdom’s Companions

Then you will understand rectitude and justice, honesty, every good path; for wisdom will enter your heart, knowledge will please your soul, discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you . . .

We somehow believe that Wisdom travels alone or that she resides in some remote, ivory tower when in fact she journeys with friends and lives with her companions. The names of those in her cohort will not surprise us: Rectitude . . . Honesty . . . Justice . . . Knowledge of the Lord . . . Discretion . . . and Understanding. Can we say that we have the came companions?

pathways-report_img_9[1]God says: There are many good paths you might follow that will bring you to me and while they vary, they all have something in common.These paths are best found when you first put on honesty, discretion, understanding, rectitude, justice, and knowledge of your God. The path that nurtures these qualities will also nourish Wisdom for she eats and drinks of these values. And where you find Wisdom, there also will you find me.

We somehow believe that there is one true path to God’s Wisdom or that there is only one way to know God and yet our experiences tell us that this is not so.  There are many varied passages we humans make as we journey with and to God.  Spend a bit of time today reflecting on the nature of your own journey.  Think about how and where and when you find these companions of Wisdom.  And if this image of your journey and the names of these Wisdom Companions elude you, consider how and where and when you might best encounter them.


The images above from: http://craigspoems.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/pathways/

For a variety of beautiful journey images, click on the image below or go to: http://blog.zeemp.com/wonders-of-nature-enchanted-pathways/  Also see the Journeys of Transformation tab on this blog.

etp15[1]

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Normand: Esther Denouncing Haman

Ernest Normand: Esther Denouncing Haman

Esther 9 – Reversal

Yesterday we reflected on how God foils perfect plots . . . today we examine the turning point in the story of Esther and look for clues about how we might expect the same reversal of evil when we place ourselves fully in God’s hands.

As humans we too often see or experience the hunting down and destroying of either an innocent or someone we believe “deserves what she gets”.  Regardless of guilt or blamelessness, the brutal pack mentality of an attack on another human being is something to be avoided and we must work at turning others away from this ugly thinking.  We may have been a peripheral or integral part of a plot to bring someone down and if this is the case then we must go to that victim to ask forgiveness.  Association with those whose goal it is to establish an us against them mentality is dangerous for it sets us on a path that descends into darkness.  Escape from these associations can be difficult and is always permeated with its own special fear; yet it is imperative that we escape because – as we see repeatedly in scripture and in life – God will always, later or sooner, reverse the plots that schemers have conjured in dark corners on their well-worn couches.

When the day arrived on which the order decreed by the king was to be carried out . . . on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to become masters of them, the situation was reversed: the Jews became masters of their enemies.

King Ahasuerus allows a great violence to erupt against Haman and his family and this is not the sort of outcome that the New Testament faithful will want to see.  What Christ-followers will ask for is that light penetrate the darkness, that hard hearts be softened, and that stiff necks begin to bend.  And so we pray . . .

Just yet merciful God, you give us the opportunity to ask for our enemies’ conversion, grant us also the charity to intercede on their behalf.

Gentle and beautiful God, you make each one of us in your loving image, make also in each of us the patience to wait for reversal at your hand. 

Strong yet gentle God, you bless us with the capacity to forgive, bless us always with your constant guidance and care for without you we are too easily led into the darkness.

Wonderful and awesome God, you surprise us constantly with your merciful justice, help us to see that in each of our calamities we might anticipate your sweet reversal.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Spend some time with these characters and the scripture citations and study the characters in this story.  What more do we see in this story that we might apply to our own lives?

Tomorrow, what ditches are we digging?


A re-post from June 10, 2013. 

To learn more about the feast of Purim, visit: https://www.jhi.pl/en/blog/2019-03-18-purim-the-festival-of-lots

For another reflection on this story, go to the Esther – From Calamity to Rejoicing page on this blog at:  https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-historical-books/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Psalm 64

The Perfect Plot

“The psalmist shows that the righteous are often defenseless before the cynicism of the machinations and calumnies to which they are prey.  Those who weave their intrigues act in shadows and believe they are hidden from view.  However, God sees everything, even secret human actions and designs.  His judgment overtakes those who evade justice . . . God will turn their evil against the wicked while publicly acquitting the righteous.  Each life will be brought before the judgment of God; the righteous will find their joy in the Lord”.  (The Psalms 161)

I suspect that every one of us has been the victim of a perfect plot at one time or another in our lives.  Perhaps it was an adolescent bullying that set us apart and taught us a lesson.  Maybe there is jealousy in our workplace and we have become the object of someone’s campaign to see that we find the office too ugly a place to stay.  Or it is possible that within the sanctity of our family or prayer circle – the very refuge where we take shelter from the storms of life – we have been the object of a perfect plot.  If this is so, we feel the angst and sorrow in this psalm.

We have visited this theme before. If we type the word couches or Susana, or plot into the blog search bar we will find other reflections in which we have struggled with the apparent immunity of those who lie on their dark couches and willfully plot to inflict harm on the faithful.  The psalmist today rails against this seeming imperviousness to consequences but he also reminds us that God is in charge . . . that this kind of suffering is part of our human condition . . . and that although we may not see the consequence exacted from these evil ones, still God holds them to an accounting.  It is best to let the matter lie there and avoid thoughts of revenge or payback of any kind.  It is best to allow God to tend to these perfect, secret plots as only God can . . . with deep wisdom, with unblemished justice, with transparent grace, and with a full and burgeoning love of humanity.

I was taught as a child to pray for my enemies and today, as I read this psalm, I come to understand that only God can handle real evil. Only God can create a plan that saves all. And only God has the wisdom, beauty, and power to convert into goodness our dark and devious conspiracies.

If only we might remember that Jesus died as a result of an evil intent that took hold of those who laid out their perfect plot against him.  If only we might follow Jesus’ example as he prays for his killers.  If only we too might intervene on behalf of those who construct perfect plots against us . . . and if only we might ask our compassionate and patient God for forgiveness and renewal for all.

Tomorrow, the mystery of God’s reversal . . .  


A re-post from June 9, 2013.

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 161. Print.

Image from: https://theencouragingword.co/2016/03/03/sheep-in-wolfs-clothing/

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Sirach 5: Presumption


Thursday, February 29, 2020

Sirach 5: Presumption

reality-check-road-sign[1]Rely not on your wealth; say not “I have the power”.  Rely not on your strength in following the desires of your heart . . . Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.

I am always moved by the simplicity yet gravity of the words of Ben Sirach and their ability to reach across the millennia to us.  The use of the delayed negative is effective here.  Ben Sirach gets our attention by reversing the word order in these negative commands, luring us in with the concepts we use to filter our thoughts and actions: self-reliance, belief in might making right, the power of fortune and fame.

As humans – and particularly as citizens of the free world – we are tempted to think that all we have and all we do are ours by our own merit.  Our soul must put aside this presumption.  This is the conversion to which we are called.  What are the results of our humility before God?

Sincerity in speech . . .  our words can both destroy and heal . . . ourselves and others.

Winnow not in every wind, and start off not in every direction.  Be consistent in your thoughts; steadfast to your words.  Be swift to hear, but slow to answer . . . Honor and dishonor through talking!  

In all problems, at all times, for all reasons, in all relationships . . . our presumption is the stumbling block to true and total conversion.  Humility in all things, with all people, in all times . . . humility before God . . . this is the way to finding the answers we seek.  Be swift to hear, but slow to answer . . . lest we presume much and know little.

Just last week I was listening to NPR when I heard about a recent study showing that today’s children in the elementary grades are suffering from an over large amount of self-esteem which leads to a sense of entitlement.  Jesus Ben Sirach speaks to those families in which this kind of narcissism is nurtured.  He tells us today that when we put presumption aside we are better able to see ourselves as God sees us. He also tells us that a life lived without presumption is fertile ground in which sincerity may grow and flourish.  And this sincerity brings forth justice . . . for ourselves . . . and for God’s kingdom.  Let us delay not our conversion to the Lord . . . let us put it not off even one day.

Once we submit to God’s love for us and agree to do away with all that presumes we are our own creation . . . then will we know the peace and serenity we seek.

Delay not your conversion to God. 


Image from: http://spiritualhealingsource.com/?p=2669

Written on January 8, 2009; revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Deuteronomy 7: Blessings of Obedience

Count_blessings6[1]This is one of those portions of the Old Testament that we humans can distort to fit our own agenda; we might take it to mean that God shows partiality, or that some of us are somehow above others of us.  I do not believe this to be so, and careful reading of good commentary tells us otherwise.   The message we might better take away from today’s Noontime is this: Israel has a special function to serve in God’s plan – that of bringing other nations out of the darkness of pagan worship and into the light of mercy, justice and hope which the Living God brings to all.  From the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (Mays 198-199): “God has chosen Israel, not because of any special worthiness on its part, but out of God’s personal attachment based on divine love and the promises made to the ancestors (vv. 7-8).  The Exodus experience reveals that God’s essential character promises covenant loyalty over uncountable generations (vv. 8-9).  However, the integrity of God’s character also threatens individual retribution for those who are apostate (v. 10).  A further motive for wiping out Canaanite religion is offered by the promise of fertility for family, field, and flock (vv. 13-14), an especially appropriate counter to Baal’s claims to bestow fertility.  Obedience also leads to good health.  The plagues of the Exodus tradition will be reserved for enemies (v. 15)”.

When we consider this, we understand that rather than giving his chosen people an exemption from acting in God’s name, God is expecting his faithful to behave as he himself does: with justice and compassion, bringing hope, and acting in love.  This is the thinking we hear from Jesus in Luke 12:48: From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 

Like Israel, the faithful are in a special covenant relationship with God.

Like Israel, the faithful are called to act in obedience to God’s call.

Like Israel, the faithful are graced with God’s countless blessing.

Like Israel, the faithful have not earned a “special worthiness” . . . yet are loved deeply and dearly by the Living God.


Image from: http://somewhereincraftland.blogspot.com/2011/01/count-your-blessing-subway-art.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 198-199. Print.

Written on October 31, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite. 

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Joel 3: Pouring Out


Joel 3: Pouring Out

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Joel[1]

Sistine Chapel – Michelangelo: The Prophet Joel

We have seen this little book a number of times and Joel always has the same message for us: the end days will be arriving – Yahweh will be just and merciful – compassion will reign but he will also pass judgment.  Joel calls us to get our spiritual house in order so that we do not suffer, so that we are rescued, so that we might live with God and all of creation in joyful harmony.  In this Christmastide, as we begin anew, we might want to consider Joel’s call.

God loves the faithful remnant so dearly that God wants to pour out the spirit upon each one.  God loves God’s children so well that God rescues them from the darkest corner and farthest place.   God loves all of creation so intensely that God leaves no door closed, no word unsaid, no gesture undone in order to bring the children home.  Let us listen to the word of this loving God as given to us by the prophet Joel.

I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind . . . imagine what we might accomplish if  we allow God’s Spirit to pour into us.

I will work wonders in the heavens and upon the earth . . . imagine what wonders we might experience if we allow God to work in us.

Everyone shall be rescued who calls upon the name of the Lord . . . imagine how we might free ourselves from old worries and anxieties if we might allow God to lead us.

There shall be a remnant as the Lord has said . . . imagine what we might experience if we come together as God’s faithful remnant.

And so we pray . . .

Grant us fresh hope at the beginning of this day: that we may live it for your glory and our neighbor’s good.

Relieve us of the burden of old worries and stored grievances: that we may pass through the narrow gate that leads to the kingdom.

Protect us from recurring fears: that we may serve you in freedom and in peace.

Heal all those who labor under the pain of depression, scrupulosity, and anxiety: that all may know the joy of your love.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have brought us safely to this new day and this new liturgical year as you promised to bring us safely to dwell with you one day in your kingdom of light.  Defend us against all that would weigh us down and slow our steps, so that we may run with delight in the way of our Gospel.   Amen.


A re-post from December 5, 2012.

Image from: http://fathermarkcollins.blogspot.com/2012/11/between-fear-plenty-lies-gods.html

Cameron, Peter John. MAGNIFICAT. 4.9 (2007). Print.  

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