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Posts Tagged ‘loss’


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

John 7:40-53: The Crowd

Munkácsy Mihály: Ecce Homo

Munkácsy Mihály: Ecce Homo

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection: God takes an odd vengeance on Jesus’ human enemies: he offers them eternal life, if only they will hear and see the truth of the one they pursue with such anger. 

With the election of Francis as Roman Catholic Pope, God invites us to explore the Easter message; with Jorge Bergoglio’s elevation to a major public stage we have the opportunity to react to our human dichotomous past and present.  Traitor, saint, collaborator, kingdom-builder . . . we have no way of knowing what Bergoglio’s heart hides or holds.  We have no way of hearing the man’s dialogs with God.  We have no way of living the man’s hopes and fears.  What we do have is the message of Christ brought to us in yesterday’s readings for Mass.  We will want to spend time with them today.

Jeremiah 11:18-20 begins with: I knew their plot because the Lord informed me; at that time you, O Lord, showed me their doings.  We must not allow our fears and anxieties to frighten us away from loving as God loves – with full and open heart – with full and open forgiveness – with full and open return for us, his prodigal daughters and sons.

Psalm 7: O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me, lest I become like the lion’s prey, to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue me.  Our greatest dread is loss – of self, of reputation, of appearance, of control, of comfort, of relationships, of God.  Yet the only loss that is serious is loss of our relationship with God . . . which we forfeit when we turn away.  God never leaves us; God is always waiting for our return no matter the circumstances of our leaving.

John 7:40-53 begins: Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said. “This is truly the Prophet”.  Others said, “This is the Christ”.  But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? . . . So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 

This week we have spent time with the different people who were with Jesus in the last hours before his death and we have looked at the story of the Passion from various perspectives and angles.  Today we reflect on these readings to see where we might be standing in the final crowd that follows and hounds Jesus.  Are we for or against him?  Do we reject or adore?  Do we observe or act?

What circumstances chaff at us?  What situations chill us?  What surrounding conditions irritate us?  What people annoy or terrify or inspire us? What motivates us to stand or hide, to collaborate or sacrifice?  What fears and hopes drive us?  What hates or loves move us?

God takes an odd vengeance on Jesus’ human enemies: he offers them eternal life, if only they will hear and see the truth of the one they pursue with such anger. 

A new Holy Father steps forward to lead.  What was his past?  What is his present? What might be his future?  Only God knows.  And this God is such a generous God that any vengeance exacted will be the offer of eternal life.  May Jorge Bergoglio, and may we in the crowd, go to God with all our questions.  May the new Pope, and may we in the crowd, hear and act on The Word as Christ did as we move through each day.  And may the Holy Father, and we in the crowd, all live in The Spirit of mercy, compassion, justice and forgiveness on this, our Lenten journey.  May we love as God loves . . . for it is our only salvation.


A re-post from March 17, 2013.

Image from: http://www.mihalymunkacsy.org/search

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 16 March 2013: 239. Print.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_deny.html

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Job 3: Job’s Plaint

Saturday, October 26, 2019

If you have time over the week-end, spend some of it with this most important book of wisdom and a commentary.  These are words we may all write from time to time in our pilgrim journey home.

Job, innocent of wrong-doing, has all taken from him – family – friends – wealth – health.  There is nothing left and he is in turmoil because his friends advise him that all he need do to regain his former security and status is to repent of his wrong-doing.  They chide him, assuring him that once he confesses his suffering will cease.  In the OT, suffering is often sent as a form of punishment for straying from God, so even though Job might look for sins to confess in order to gain peace, he is helpless in his situation because . . .  Job has done nothing wrong.  He suffers because Satan plays a game with God.  There is no reparation he can make.  There is no problem to solve.  No forgiveness to ask or receive.  However, there is one thing which Job has – and perhaps his wife and friends do not – he has an enduring and persevering faith in his Maker.  And so this is where he turns.  And as he turns to this wondrous, awesome God, Job speaks from a broken heart.

Once when I was working through something deeply personal, I was lovingly haunted by a song by a Christian artist named Steven Curtis Chapman.  The words are below, as is a link for the music.  May they bring you peace when you find yourself writing your own plaint to God.  And may you rest in the certain knowledge that we are never alone, we are never abandoned.  We are constantly held, constantly loved.

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God

Be Still; Be speechless

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our Father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still . . .

You may also want to read Psalms 37 and 46 and . . . Be still . . .

Hoping you enjoy a long and peaceful week-end.


For the music that accompanies these words, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI&noredirect=1

First written on October 10, 2008. Edited and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on Being Still, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://angelaambroise.blogspot.com/2011/05/stillness-brings-forth-births.html

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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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2 Corinthians 4:1-6Scrupulous Honesty

Friday, December 21, 2018

Honesty: Robert E. Harney

We have renounced shameful, hidden things . . .  

Just recently in my workplace we have undergone a quality review by visitors from outside our community and we have been commended for our integrity.  This comes at no small cost.  It takes scrupulous honesty to peel away the sham and artifice in order to allow the gentle truth to emerge.  This kind of deep and searching honesty is frequently an unwelcome guest of the heart.  We shrink from repentance; we do not want to change.  We prefer the walls we have constructed that block out any fear that might cause us to change for the better.  We must move away from all hidden agendas and come into the light.

We have not acted deceitfully or falsified the word of God . . .

Just recently in my family we have suffered a soul-shattering loss and we continue to struggle with ourselves and with one another.  Truths must be pronounced but gently . . . kindly . . . mercifully.  The enormity of our grief might cause us to hide, or it may impel us to strike out at one another.  It is possible to nurse sad feelings or harbor grief; we may possibly ignore the growth that our suffering offers.  Or we might grow in wisdom as we allow the Spirit to open and heal us.  We might allow our divinity to teach us about our humanity.  In order to find union with God and mend our broken spirit, we must remove ourselves from deceit and we must allow God’s truth to guide us.  And we must do this lovingly . . . gratefully.

By the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God . . .

As humans we tend to think that we exist in isolation.  The skin that contains our organs prevents us from physically occupying the space someone else holds.  We live in the illusion that we can hide from one another.  We allow small lies to color our stories, our perspectives and our opinions.  We forget that all that we are and all that we do are of and from God.  We live in the illusion that we create ourselves when the scrupulous truth is that we are co-creators of life with God.   When we move away from sham and artifice we can see all of this more clearly.  And when we spend time with God to sort through our sorrows, we become less frightened, less egocentric.  We become more loving, more vulnerable.  We become the promise God has hoped for us.

We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord . . . and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.

When we spend time worrying about ourselves and not others we have the wrong end of the stick.  God creates us to serve one another rather than be served.  God wants us to tend to one another rather than to be tended.  We are created to advocate for others . . . not to hide from, lie to, deceive or trample others. When we become slaves for the sake of Christ Jesus we begin to fulfill our potential.  We prepare ourselves in the best way possible for our union with God.

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

We are created to make known God’s goodness to others, and it is our scrupulous honesty that opens us to God’s light.  It is in this way that we become a fearless, grateful, authentic revelation of God’s love.


A re-post from November 18, 2011.

Image from: http://www.robert-e-harney.com/picpages/Honesty.htm

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LamentationsSurviving Ruin

Friday, August 31, 2018

When we reflect on national, local and international news reports, we might believe that our world is falling apart. When we do, we might want to revisit this post from July 17, 2011. And for more reflections on the books of the Bible, visit the Book of Our Life page on this blog.

“The sixth century B.C. was an age of crisis, a turning point in the history of Israel.  With the destruction of the temple and the interruption of its ritual, the exile of the leaders and loss of national sovereignty, an era came to an end.  Not long after the fall of Jerusalem (587) an eyewitness of the national humiliation of Zion, submission to merited chastisement, and strong faith in the constancy of Yahweh’s love and power to restore.  The union of poignant grief and unquenchable hope reflects the constant prophetic vision of the weakness of man and the strength of God’s love; it also shows how Israel’s faith in Yahweh could survive the shattering experience of national ruin”.  (Senior 1017)

We might not want to reflect on a time of crisis in our personal lives when all we knew had been destroyed or lost, when a time of happiness and prosperity ended.  We may want to avoid thinking about any humiliation or chastisement we have experienced.  The memories of our personal shattering may be too difficult to handle, too painful to live with.  The Book of Lamentations written by Baruch, the prophet Jeremiah’s secretary, is a small one and may be easily overlooked; yet it holds so much that is vital to living happily.  In Lamentations we find the important lesson that while we do not want to center our lives on suffering, neither do we want to circumvent its message.  Focusing a life on the avoidance of pain only leads to more obstacles, more grief, more distress and, eventually, even more pain.  Learning how to pass through pain patiently, placing our trust in God as we navigate the grief also allows the transforming touch of God to bring us the serenity we yearn to experience . . . despite the sorrow we feel.  When we allow God to alter our attitude about the losses we suffer, we also consent to God’s transformation.  We enter into life’s shattering experiences, and then exit with a new view of the world, a renewed sense of compassion, and a serenity that cannot be shaken.  Lamentations gives us an opportunity to examine our attitude toward pain and God’s deep and abiding love for us.

Today’s Mass readings provide a road map for healing through pain: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, Psalm 86, Romans 8:26-27 and Matthew 13:24-43 all outline the same lesson: God has infinite patience, compassion, mercy and love . . . enough to heal any breach or restore any loss.  From today’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection: “God in his providence will use even the apparent evil that attends us in life to some perfecting purpose; out of our littleness, our emptiness, our nothingness Gods greatness will flower in an astonishing way”.  (Cameron, 251)  Rather than curse our loss as punishment or the end of an era, when we rely on God we learn to celebrate each shattering experience as the beginning of something new.  And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God,

For all the times we forget to call on you when we suffer and for those times we lose patience with ourselves and others . . . continue to be patient with us.

For all the times we show anger instead of compassion and for those times we commit acts of vengeance rather than love . . . continue to be merciful with us.

For all those times we are anxious about evil in the world and for those times we forget that you always pull goodness out of wickedness . . . continue to abide in us.

For all those times we grow weary of the daily struggles and for those times we waver in our trust . . . continue to be with us.  Amen. 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1017. Print. 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 17 July 2011: 251. Print.

Image from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/ancient/isis-hasnt-destroyed-ancient-palmyra-ruins-yet/

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Isaiah 13:11-22The Desolation of Babylon

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ruins of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Ruins of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

These are dreadful words and even more dreadful images yet the message is an important one.  We might do well to remember that the dreaded Babylonians who swept down from the north were later swept away by the Assyrians, who were taken over by the Persians, who were displaced by the Romans.  This is the message of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the story of Daniel.  A series of invaders will take political control over the land of the faithful . . . and the faithful must persevere despite the outward appearance that God is not among them.

We must remind ourselves as Resurrection people that God walks among us, lives among us, suffers with us and loves with us.  The outward appearance of loss and destruction cannot matter.  What appears to be desolation is in truth a path to restoration.

If we are truly a resurrection people, we must remember this.

We will want to read other versions of these verses as we consider this Old Testament God who appears to send destruction and ruin to those who have wandered too far from the shepherd’s loving care. As resurrection people . . .  How do we reconcile these verses with words from the prophet Hosea? Do these words reflect the kingdom Jesus describes and enacts? And what kind of response do these reflections engender in us? 

A Favorite from April 6, 2008. Click on the image above to learn more about the ruins of Babylon, or visit: http://www.biblebasics.co.uk/arch/arch12.htm

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Monday, February 17, 2014

desert in bloomJoel 2:18-27

Blessings for God’s People

I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten . . . you shall praise the name of the Lord because God has dealt wondrously with you . . .

When we experience loss we believe that our work has been in vain; yet God says: There is nothing lost that cannot be found.  Nothing spent that cannot be restored.  Nothing ruined that cannot be rebuilt.  I am the great restorer. It is not true that the work you have given to me as a kingdom-builder can really be destroyed. Nothing done by you in my name is ever erased, and I can call it to life in an instant so do not panic.  Do not be afraid.  I see a vast and complicated plan which you cannot perceive or understand.  When you are troubled about how this plan appears to be ineffective or ridiculous, remember to bring those fears and anxieties to me.  And when you find yourself feeling as though you are alone with nothing and no one to sustain you . . . remember that I am with you always.  Even in the most brutal and hostile of deserts.

After his baptism, the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

When we experience our own desert times we too feel surrounded by evil beasts; yet we are accompanied by angels who minister to us.  When we ask God to bring us patience, humility and serenity these gifts will arrive on angels’ wing.  Then will the desert begin to bloom in an extraordinary way; and then will we find that for long, dry days and dark, cold nights we have been sustained by the mystery and miracle of God’s love.

Tomorrow, Blessings In the Desert.

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