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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom-building’


James 1-4: Good Works

Thursday, October 20, 2022

North Carolina, Belmont, Lectio divina, a reflective meditation on the Bible, is an essential aspect of monastic life. Several hours are devoted to its study each day.

Perhaps James spent time with Psalm 62 as he learned scripture. We can see clear connections between this hymn and his letter. James knows that when wars and quarrels break out our most effective and most sensible refuge is God alone.

God, the one and only. I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.

James knows that when we struggle with temptation and giving in to easy promises and quick bribes, we have no enduring strength.

How long will you gang up on me? How long will you run with the bullies? There’s nothing to you, any of you – rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters, anthills plotting to bring down mountains, far gone in make-believe. You talk a good line, but every “blessing” breathes a curse.

James knows that the world offers a foundation of shifting sand but that God offers us solid ground.

My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbor-God – so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. Man as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage. Put them together, they’re nothing; two times nothing is nothing.

James knows that with God we receive a just wage for our hard-earned works.

And a windfall, if it comes – don’t make too much of it. God said this once and for all; how many times have I heard it repeated? “Strength comes straight from God.” Love to you, Lord God! You pay a fair wage for a good day’s work!

James knows something that he wants to share with us. Today we reflect on his letter in light of Psalm 62 while considering the good works we offer up as we build the kingdom. We are grateful for God’s great generosity, tender compassion and healing love.

Compare varying versions of Psalm 62. Consider the good works we offer each day to God and consider our response.


Image from: http://ryandueck.com/sermons/

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Matthew 9:35-38: The Compassion of Jesus – A Reprise harvest

Saturday, May 28, 2022

We have spent time with Jesus as he heals leprosy, paralysis and blindness, stills an intense and dangerous storm and enables the mute to speak. We have followed him as he casts out demons, admonishes corrupt leaders and heals an older woman’s hemorrhaging on his way to raise a young woman from the dead. We listen to Jesus when he reminds us to use shrunken cloth to mend our old cloaks and to put our new wine into new skins. Jesus is well aware of the suffering that surrounds him yet he does not shrink from the painful challenge; rather, he brings joy and healing and transformation.

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

Let us imagine a world in which we all proclaim the good news, in which we all teach with our example of witness, in which we touch our enemies and friends alike with compassion.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Let us imagine a world in which we shepherd one another when our hearts are low and our spirits falter, in which we act in mercy rather than revenge, in which we look for union rather than separateness.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send the laborers for his harvest.

Let us imagine a world in which masters and laborers work together to bring compassion to work places across the globe, in which parents and children act in love and peace in their homes, in which leaders and followers find common ground for the common good.

As we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost and the close of Eastertide, let us imagine a world such as this . . . and let us step into the role that Jesus has in mind for us as we bring Christ’s compassion to the world.


Visit the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Movement site at www.catholicworker.org or another site of your choice, and be open to the harvesting work to which God may be calling you. Share your experience in a blog comment and invite others to join in Jesus call of compassion for the world.

Image from: http://www.outreach2day.org/our_story_vision.html

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Luke 12:22-34: Allfarming for hunger

Saturday, March 26, 2022

If we learn nothing more about ourselves in this Lenten journey, let us pray that we understand how much easier life when we learn the simple lesson Jesus teaches us daily: Where your treasure lies, there also will your heart be.

Where do we place our priorities each morning? Do we jump into our day or do we pause to spend time orienting ourselves to God’s agenda rather than our own?

Where do we place all our energies each afternoon? Do we make plans for vacations, parties, and reunions as frequently as we plan to spend time in prayer and fellowship with others?

Where do we place our petitions each evening as we tumble into sleep? Do we give thanks for the good we have received as much as we worry about all that did not go well?

Jesus is quite clear. Where we focus our attention and anxiety, this is the place we are storing up the essence of ourselves. Where we spend our time in kingdom building, this is the place we are calling our home for all eternity.

farming 4 hungerWhere do we choose to deposit all that we do and are? In our wealth and power? In our influence and possessions? How much better it is to place all we are and all we do in the ample heart of God.


Spend some time with Luke 12:22-34 today and compare biblical texts. How will we change our hearts as we move toward the closing days of Lent?

Visit http://www.farming4hunger.com/, or click on the image to the left, to see how one man’s determination to store up goodness has changed his life and his world. Consider sending some of your Lenten alms to a kingdom-building organization that gives its all to enact God’s goodness and mercy.

Special thanks to a Noontime friend for sharing the good news about Farming 4 Hunger. 

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

PovertyPsalms 9:15-20

The Hope of the Poor

Jeremiah has given us so much to process; he lays out before us a reason for righteous anger . . . and he also proposes that a new order is coming.

The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug, and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.

Our own life experience tells us that the innocent suffer and the ungodly hold the upper hand.

The Lord is known by acts of justice; the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.

And our spiritual life tells us that we must leave judging and condemnation to God.

The wicked shall be given over to the grave, and also all the peoples who forget God.

Rather than preoccupy ourselves with the sins of the ungodly, let us work together to bring all peoples to God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

God sees even the smallest of us and it is our great work to join God in solidarity with the poor.

Rise up, O Lord, let not the ungodly have the upper hand; let them be judged before you.

God sees even the smallest of our actions to remedy the plight of the poor.

Put fear upon them, O Lord; let the ungodly know they are but mortal.

Rather than pray for the end of our enemies, let us pray for their great conversion of heart.

God says: I realize that you live in a world of injustice. I understand that you want me to remedy even unbalance, each inequality, all corruption and lack of integrity. And that is the great work to which I call each of you. Join me in kingdom-building, in forgiveness and reconciliation. Join me in the greatest and most important work of your lives. Feed the physically poor. Tend to the spiritually poor. Aide the mentally poor. It is in so doing that you will come to see the beauty and worth of my kingdom. It is in so doing that you will put aside your anger and fear. It is in so doing that you will discover the serenity and peace of the kingdom. This is my new covenant with you. Reconcile yourself to me and begin anew, for in this is the hope of the poor. 

And the people reply . . . The Lord is known by acts of justice. Let us join the Lord in the great work of The Kingdom. Let us become, with the Lord, the hope of the poor.


Enter the word kingdom-building into the blog search bar and explore what kingdom-building work God might have in mind for each of us.

For information about poverty and health in the USA, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/poverty-public-health-united-states/

For a world rural poverty map, visit: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/region 

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Holy Wednesday, March 31, 2021

good and faithful servantAmos 7-9

A Prayer for Faithful Servants

The prophet Amos has accompanied us on our Lenten journey over these past several weeks to bring us the Words of God, to force us to look at the Woes of the world, and to show us stark warnings through his Visions for the future.

Amos is often described as the angry prophet with no tolerance for the corrupt rich who subjugate the poor. This will also be our impression of him if we do not linger with the last images of his prophecy. We will miss the gift Amos brings to us if we do not stay for a while with these ending verses in which we see the beauty of Amos unfold, for it is in these final chapters that we experience his Messianic perspective and promise. It is here in the last pages of Amos’ prophecy that we understand the stories in the New Testament, and fully come to terms with what it means to be faithful servants of God.

And so we pray.

When we feel unimportant and are dwarfed by the colossal forces around us, we petition God as we say with Amos: How can we stand? We are so small!

And God replies: What do you see?

We remember the many times God has rescued us from sure destruction, and we reply: Evil will not reach or overtake us.

And God replies: I will raise you up!

We recall the occasions when only God was able to pull us together after we have been so battered that we can not imagine how we will ever be whole again, and together we ask: Will you wall up our breaches?

And God replies: I will raise your ruins!

We feel frustration and fear when we see all the good that we have built begin to crumble, and so together we ask: Will you rebuild us as in days of old?

And God replies: I will bring about your restoration!

We remember all the work we have done to build your Kingdom. We look into the future and fear for the work yet to be completed, and so together we ask: Who will rebuild and inhabit our ruined cities? Who will plant vineyards and drink the wine? Who will set out gardens and eat the fruits?

And God replies: I will plant you upon your own ground; never again shall you be plucked from the land I have given you. This is my promise. I have spoken. I am the Lord, your God.

And we reply: We who struggle to be your faithful servants thank you. We who strive to follow in the steps of Jesus rely on you alone. We who long to always live in the Spirit look to you for guidance as we say, Amen!

And God replies: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  (Matthew 25:21)


To purchase the plaque above, click on the image.

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plumb bobSaturday, March 20, 2021

Amos 7:7-9

Vision of the Plummet

As a child I learned to use a plumb bob while helping my Dad lay the foundation for a new wing he was adding to our home. He taught us the importance of walls being plumb and angles being square.  he better the foundation, the better the building. Today, Amos describes the Lord, standing by a wall, holding up a plumb line. What does the Lord see?

God says: Each time you see that you are out of alignment, you need not panic. I hold up the plumb line that always accompanies you. It was established in the moment of your creation. You need not fear this simple measure for it measures you against your potential. When you listen for my voice, when you receive my message, you will find that you are as plumb and square as you need be. You will find that you are a good and sturdy foundation on which I can build my kingdom. When you become distant and turn away, the plumb line fades, and you waver. None of this is difficult to understand. The plummet is not really difficult to see. This measure is quite simple once you agree to look.

How and why are we to be measured? My Dad always assured us that when we measure ourselves against the potential God places in us, we need not worry. As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pause to reflect, to listen, and to open our eyes to the measure of the plummet.

Tomorrow, Amos and Amaziah . . . 


Enter the word Prudence into the blog search bar and explore. What does the virtue does Prudence dangle in her hand? 

For more on how to use a plumb line or a plumb bob, go to: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/495-the-plumb-bob/#.Ux93XF_D_IU

For more on interpreting this passage from Amos, go to: http://biblehub.com/amos/7-8.htm

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Saturday, March 6, 2021

ash-wednesday-usa[1]Amos 1

Receptive

Today we stand on the threshold of a great opportunity, an opportunity to shed all that we dislike about ourselves, an opportunity to return fully to the promise God sends to the world through us. We have taken up the prophecy of Amos as our first Lenten lesson plan and today we re-visit an old theme: we ask for the courage to open our hearts and minds and souls to the possibility of newness, we ask for the strength to be receptive to God’s announced gift of regeneration.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  nd what is the message we hear today? Where are we to go to do the work of self-conversion and kingdom building? Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say. Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat. We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility. They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  hey are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.


To learn more about the places named in Amos 1, click on the following words and consider . . . Do we live in these places?  If so, what do we do to change ourselves . . . so that the world might also change? Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom and Ammon.

mage from: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/ash-wednesday

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

circumcision-of-the-heart[1]Romans 2:25-29

Our Interior Law

Part III

True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.

In the early church argument erupted over whether or not the first non-Jewish Christians must first be circumcised in order to join the movement. Luke records much of this turmoil in Acts and we see a success convening of the first Church Council to sort out the problem the fledgling group faced. Peter puts an end to the petty bickering when he says: Who was I to be able to hinder God? God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too. (Acts 11:17-18)

Some of Jesus’ early followers wrap themselves in the safety of rules and regulations that are created to keep themselves and others in line. How do we turn away those who long to hear the Good News that kingdom-builders are meant to deliver?

Some of Jesus’ first adherents see the Mystical Body as a club or community organization to be tightly controlled. How do we allow the Spirit to move in and through us so that we might bring the freedom and joy of the kingdom to others?

Some of Jesus’ initial disciples worried over the details of God’s plan, believing themselves responsible for correcting all they believe is wrong with the world. How do we stifle the Spirit, misrepresent Jesus, and ignore God as we seek to be builders with Christ?

Who am I to be able to hinder God? 

As we reflect on our interior and outer laws, how and why we follow them, and how or if they match the Law of Love established by God through Jesus . . . let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit as we honestly answer the question Peter poses . . . Who are we to be able to hinder God?


For a deeper understanding of Circumcision of the Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v01-n06/circumcision

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