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Posts Tagged ‘justice’


James 4Puffs of Smoke

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Throughout his letter, James reminds us that we must be doers of the word and not sayers only.  In Chapter 4 he focuses us on the habits we have nurtured that contribute to our divisions, habits of the heart and mind that create division, habits of the soul that separate us from God.

Where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? . . . Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? 

God wishes happiness for all his creatures; God does not wish that some of us do well while others starve.  James points out that it is our own selfishness and greed that cause us to build the barriers that separate us.  Humility, he says, is the only remedy.  We must submit our will to God’s and resist the demon world that whispers in our ear to tell us that we are more special than others.

Do not speak evil of one another.  Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges a brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  If you judge the law you are not a doer of the law but a judge . . . Who are you to judge your neighbor?

When we gossip with one another and slander others we become incapable judges; and the only true and gifted judge is God.  James does not speak here of a judicial system that oversees criminal cases and administers appropriate consequences; rather, James speaks of a world in which humble servants acknowledge God’s power and generosity.  James knows – and once we put away our ego we will also come to know – that God’s plan for justice is far too complicated for humans to fully comprehend.  God’s plan converts sinners, it waits on the last of the sheep, it allows the weeds to grow up with the harvest, it calls the high and powerful to serve the low and powerless, it turns all harm into goodness.  This is a plan that we cannot out-maneuver.  It is a plan that we cannot ignore.  It is a plan that will be in force forever – even until the end of time.

You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. 

I spoke with a friend this morning who is recovering from brain surgery – he and his family are hopeful.  I spoke to another just before Mass whose husband has lung cancer.  “Three weeks ago our lives were normal,” she said.  “Now we spend every day at the hospital.  They know our first names”.  I met a complete stranger as I came out of the store after Mass.  He noticed I was carrying milk.  I noticed that he was driving an historic car.  When I complemented him on its beautiful restoration he said, “Yeah, I spent three years of my life on this and then my wife got sick.  A few months later she was gone.  Just like that.  I don’t know what I’m gonna do”.  We smiled and spoke kind words to one another before parting ways.

We have no idea what our life will be like tomorrow.  We are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. 

James urges us to cease our bickering; he asks that we put an end to petty divisions.  He recommends that we put aside gossip and false speech; he advises that we go to God in humility.

James reminds us that we are mere wisps of vapor and that without God we are less than nothing.  He tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 

James tells us that all we need do is live our lives as doers of the word and not sayers only.  James asks us to cease judging and gossiping; he asks that we humble ourselves to take the last seat at the table rather than the first.  James reminds us that as tiny wisps of ash rising on the drifting wind we do not have the capacity to judge as God does.

So rather than throw our lives away on pointless living and selfish habits, let us rise like incense from the altar of our lives to be taken into the arms of a God who loves us relentlessly.  For once we humble ourselves to join others who rise in like unison, we will find that we have been gathered together in God’s loving arms . . . to become far more than mere puffs of smoke.


Images from: http://www.ursulinesjesus.org/prayer.htm 

A re-post from September 18, 2011.

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Psalm 89Steadfast Love

Friday, October 12, 2018

Written on March 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Righteousness, justice, faithfulness and steadfast love – these are the tenets of God’s covenant with David and we see steadfast love repeated in this song.  This puts me in mind of Paul’s beautiful anthem to love in 1 CorinthiansLove is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know it in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears.  When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Mosaic Law has many parts and multiple nuances.  The Law that Christ brings, the Law of Love, is but one that supersedes all others; this one law is the perfection of love as we see it lived by Jesus.

In today’s Psalm we see the “creative work of God as a defeat of the powers of chaos”.  The references to the north and south signify the entire whole universe.  The great height of mounts Tabor and Hermon imply God’s might and omniscience.  Steadfast love and faithfulness are “personified here as companions or servants who lead the way of the Lord”.  Festal shouts describe the joy of the people.  We may be taunted from time to time that God has abandoned us as is the king in this psalm, but we know that it is impossible for God to abandon his creatures.  This hymn of praise to the creator himself helps to put us in proper relationship to God; and it reminds us of God’s most salient characteristic . . . God is steadfast love.  (Mays 883-885)

In today’s Gospel from Mark (12:1-12) Jesus reminds us that although he is the cornerstone rejected by builders he will remain faithful and constant.  He tells the parable of the farmer who erects a vineyard and wine press and leaves it with tenants to go on a journey.  When the master wishes to collect what is due him, his servants and even his son are rejected and even put to death.  So too are those who follow Christ; but we are to remain steadfast just as God is steadfast.  We are to remain in love, just as Christ remains in love.  And we are to sing of God’s steadfast love and proclaim God’s faithfulness to the generations.  For this faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.  There is no other cornerstone that holds up the heavens and stands firm on the earth.  There is no other cornerstone on which to build our faith. 


A re-post from September 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/245315/relaxation-candles-heart-light.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 883-885. Print.

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The Wisdom Tree

Proverbs 28Seek Prudence

Friday, November 17, 2017

So many wise thoughts.

The wicked are more frightened than the good.

Security happens through prudence rather than force.

Wealth is a deluge that wipes out everything rather than nourish as does a constant rain.

Happiness lies in true integrity; truth to self is a worthy companion and leads to wisdom.

Happiness lies in seeking justice through the law, rather than force.

Gluttony is an excess of nourishment and has outcomes other than physical obesity.

Take advantage of people if you like but in the end someone will distribute all that you have saved to those who have nothing.

When we pray outside of the God’s law of love, we actually pray to the darkness.

Those who seduce the innocent are constructing their own gibbet, while the innocent will be rescued.

Self-importance is false value; everyone else sees the self-conjurer behind the façade (or the wizard behind the curtain).

We all know when incompetent people are in charge . . . even the incompetents themselves.

We might as well admit our faults; they will be pointed out to us anyway.

Happiness lies in softening our hearts.

People know evil when they see it.

Being idle is a dangerous pastime.

Happiness lies in being worthy of trust; not in money or possessions.

Happiness lies in total commitment and fidelity to the law.

Greed is its own terrible all-consuming end.

Happiness lies in knowing when and how to rebuke a brother or sister with love rather than seeking a relationship through flattery.

Happiness lies in seeking and receiving wisdom.

Happiness lies in following the way of the just, even when evil reigns.

When we seek wisdom, we find it in all that is good.

Adapted from a Favorite written on November 4, 2007.

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Proverbs 31: Speak Out for Justice

Friday, August 25, 2017

As we close the Book of Proverbs, we remember the practical advice we hear that has the power to guide us in living a fruitful, God-like life. We know that we have the help of Lady Wisdom and God the Creator whenever we are confused, frightened or anxious. And we know that this wisdom lies within each of us, waiting to burgeon into good works that support the common good, nurture goodness in society, and bring about the serenity we seek. The formula is simple. We go to the margins rather than the powerful of society. We remember to include the diverse rather than the few or elite. We keep in mind that God sees all, hears all, and holds all in the heart of Christ. And we rest in the Spirit that not only consoles and heals, but also sustains, guides, and transforms.

Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!

Before the writers of Proverbs close their book of advice, they include a last ode to the virtues of the ideal woman. Although these words describe a world in which each woman saw her worth through the men in her life, they also describe God’s intention to include women’s quiet compassion as an important influence in a world that looks for peace.

Tomorrow we look at the writers of Proverbs to examine the timelessness of their words.

When we compare THE MESSAGE translation of these verses with other versions, we realize the importance of speaking out for justice.

For an additional post on the Ideal Wife, visit Sirach 25-27 on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/03/27/the-ideal-wife/

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Proverbs 28: Virtues

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As we begin to close our journey through Proverbs, we reprise this Favorite from October 2009. We have explored our relationships with fools and friends, we have walked with the wise and accompanied fools who are whacked on the head. Watching Lady Wisdom build her house, we have learned that God’s heart asks for union with each of us. Exploring wise sayings of Solomon and others, we have understood that God allows us to lose and find our way. Knowing that God misses nothing and that each morning we are offered armloads of life, we continue to ask for the cure of God’s love and listen for Spirit that speaks to us within. 

Surety, Prudence, Integrity, Wisdom, Generosity, Truth, Justice

The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself.

When we create monsters out of nothing we give in to our human fears.

If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many; but with a prudent man it knows security. 

Our rashness can divide us more than it unites us.

Better a poor man who walks in integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.

Power and treasure appear to be safe havens; yet they crumble to corruption and cannot withstand the simplicity of truth and honesty.

He who rebukes a man gets more thanks in the end than one with a flattering tongue.

The truth always comes out in the end . . . and is precious.

Happy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Prudence is necessary; hardness is our downfall.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Generosity is a sign of a trusting heart.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is safe.

Patience and stillness bring their just rewards.

When the wicked gain pre-eminence, other men hide; but at their fall the just flourish. 

In the end, God alone is enough . . .

Words to live by; virtues to cherish; axioms to settle the mind; maxims to sooth the troubled heart.

When we compare translations of these verses, we allow God’s wisdom to enter our hearts. 

 

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1 Timothy: Community

Friday, July 14, 2017

We share these reflections from Holy Week of 2007 while I am away from electronics. Keeping all of you in prayer each day at noon.

Use those words [of prophecy] as weapons in order to fight well, and keep your faith and a clear conscience. (Verses 18-19)

Once we have examined ourselves and become vulnerable to God, we will allow ourselves to form a true community, one with the hallmarks of Humility, Purity, Family, Justice and Mercy.

Paul’s advice to Timothy – and to us – reminds us that we rest in the Old Testament as we enact the New.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this letter, we find words that bring new energy to old worries, new healing to old wounds, and new life to old communities. 

 

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part I

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

For a week, we have traveled the road to Emmaus, Jesus at our side as we look for joy. Like the disciples, we may be immersed in our sorrow, and we may not know that joy walks with us. Today the prophet Zephaniah tells us that we must de-create before we can renew the image of God we bring to the world. In this holiest of weeks, we pledge to remain faithful to Christ who guides us. We persist in stepping into the world embodying the love the Spirit nurtures in us. And we promise to remain in Christ as the hope-filled remnant of God.

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

The prophet Zephaniah lived in a time when many Jews had returned to polytheism.  Here we have a description of how Yahweh will undo his beautiful creation which has been profaned.  He will even take a lamp and search the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem’s streets in order to find the last of the unfaithful.  Thank goodness we hear at the end of this prophecy that a remnant of the faithful will remain, but in this first chapter, there is nothing happy to hear.

How painful it must be for God to watch as we de-construct what is given to us in love.  Not only do we abuse the wondrous gift of Nature and Mother Earth, but we abuse one another and ourselves as well.  What do we do when we discover that we are in relationships that pollute our thinking and our hearts?

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

First, we turn to the one who created us and who knows us so well.  We turn and return to God.  Then, we pray and we act.  We pray for the personal strength to see us through the trials that lie in our path.  We pray for those who wreck damage on themselves and others.  We ask for forgiveness, both personal and communal.  We practice justice and compassion as best we can, wherever we can. And we ask for the gift of forgiveness and healing for the world.

On this Palm Sunday, let us follow the steps of the Master Teacher; and let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Isaiah 30:18-36: The Lord’s Favor

Friday, March 10, 2017iching_graphic

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

During Lent we so often beat ourselves up, tossing around guilt in an effort to expiate our activity or inactivity in God’s plan.  In a Bible Concordance, the word favor is cited too often to analyze quickly but the enormity of the number of times we see its use tells us something about our creator.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Those who give are so often wrapped in giving to others, they forget to be the recipient of gifts from others.

Those who advocate are so frequently caught up in the work of justice, they become accustomed to life always being a struggle.

Those who are frequent recipients of favor from God and others, they may take it as a given, as a requisite to measure the worth of a day, as an entitlement.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Perhaps the favors we seek are before us at all times, and the miracle occurs when we truly open our eyes to see them.

Perhaps the words we long to hear are being said but are lost in the cacophony of life.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . . He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you . . . No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears: ‘This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or left.

There is a tag hanging on the doorknob of the workroom in my classroom that reads: When the student is ready, the master appears.  I first read this a number of years ago in the I Ching and was happy to find this tag in a shop while vacationing with my children and grandchildren at the ocean.  I love to put my hand on that door – the door behind which we store tests, make coffee, have quiet chats.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Perhaps all we need to do during this Lenten season is to store away our tests, make coffee . . . and rest in the friendship of God and one another.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

A Favorite from February 26, 2009.

For more on the I Ching, visit: http://www.iging.com/intro/introduc.htm 

 

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Romans 14:17-19: Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Thursday, March 9, 2017

gavel

We worry about what we are to wear, where we are to go, how we are to act. Jesus reminds us that these are not the concerns of one who rests beside the cornerstone. Righteousness, peace and joy. These are the concerns of those who unite in kingdom building.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

The cares of the world are not the cares of God’s kingdom. Those on the margin, the abandoned, the abused, and the neglected, these are the citizens who populate Christ’s kingdom.

The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. (NRSV)

Healing, consolation, solace and generosity. These are the transformative gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit.

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (NRSV)

joyRighteousness, peace and joy. Harmony, reconciliation and delight. How do we serve God’s justice in our world? How do we follow Christ in reunion? How do we share gladness in the Spirit of the LORD?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we take the opportunity to examine our own lives.

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