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Monday, February 10, 2013

Ezekiel: Necessary Conditions

Michaelangelo: Ezekiel

Michelangelo: Ezekiel

“Ezekiel became a prophet in Babylon – the first prophet to receive the call to prophecy outside the Holy Land.  As one of the prophets deported by Nebuchadnezzar in 597, his first task was to prepare his fellow countrymen to be inviolable.  Accordingly, the first part of his book consists of reproaches for Israel’s past and present sins and the confident prediction of yet a further devastation of the land of promise and a more general exile.  In 587, when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, Ezekiel was vindicated before his unbelieving compatriots.  After this time, Ezekiel’s message changes.  From now on his prophecy is characterized by the promise of salvation in a new covenant, and he is anxious to lay down the conditions necessary to obtain it.  Even as Jeremiah had believed, Ezekiel thought that the exiles were the hope of Israel’s restoration, once God’s allotted time for the exiles had been accomplished”.  (Senior 1034)

Believing that we have a better way to learn what God is teaching us, we often balk at accepting the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We set up pre and post conditions.  We lay out parameters and guidelines for how we will or will not accept God’s teaching.  We want to control how and when and why and even if we will accept God’s necessary conditions for us, often refusing to comprehend that the obstacles before us are our lesson plans from God.  Ezekiel explains to us that even when we believe we have suffered beyond our limits we will often find that there is “further destruction” yet to come.  For those of us who rely on our own power as supreme and reject God’s compassion and guidance, this is difficult to take in.  And we ignore the opportunity God offers to us to experience God fully beyond the devastation.  We miss knowing that we are inviolable.

In our fear of failure we too often refuse to succeed.

In our fear of loss we too often avoid gaining the eternal.

In our fear of rejection we too often reject love that is openly offered.

In our fear of further devastation we too often throw away the lesson plan that brings us transformation.

In our fear of necessary conditions . . . we too often refuse to become God’s inviolate people.

Ezekiel wants to bring us a message of newness despite any defeat we suffer.  Ezekiel warns us that when we think we have hit bottom there may be further devastation to come.  Ezekiel wants to tell us that beyond that ruin and loss there is a new covenant and a new promise.  There is our relationship with God which is unbreakable, unchangeable, and inviolate. And this relationship is love.

When we live in the shelter of God’s protective care we cannot fail.  When we follow the example of Christ’s call to love and be loved we will rise with him to become one with all of humankind.  When we relax into the compassion of the Spirit we also allow ourselves to become God’s precious, God’s beloved, God’s inviolate people.


A re-post from February 10, 2013.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezekiel

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1034. Print.   

This week we will reflect more closely on portions of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

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Monday, January 20, 2013

Psalm 91: Clinging to God – Part II

boy%20clinging%20to%20mother[1]When we hear the thoughts and emotions shared by the participants in NPR’s Losing Our Religion discussions referenced in yesterday’s Noontime, we recognize that while not all humans cling to God, they cling to a search of some kind.  Perhaps we are genetically wired for this universal pilgrimage. If we take an honest look at the responses to the many petitions we have laid before God we will recognize certain truths.

God usually gives us options.  God always opens doors we do not see.  God cannot turn away or turn us down.   God always acts in love.  God wants to fulfill our dreams and plans.  God places hope in us and asks us to live up to that potential.  God instills faith in us according to some measure we cannot understand.  God is always moving toward us, calling us to intimacy, promising protection, assuring us of love.  God is always clinging to us.

Whoever clings to me I will deliver . . . The amazing story of God is that God wants to save even those of us who do not cling to him.

Whoever knows my name I will set on high . . . We call on God for freedom from our fears and God replies in ways we may not fully comprehend.

All who call upon me I will answer . . . God’s answer to us is more complex than the simple response we humans expect; we do not entirely understand the journey we are on. 

I will be with them in distress . . . We may choose to ignore God’s presence but we cannot completely barricade ourselves against God.

I will deliver them and give them honor . . . We may negate God in all our thoughts and actions yet God somehow finds a way to abide with us.

With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power . . .  Although we struggle with our doubts, anger, fears and anxiety, we cannot shut God out of our existence . . . for God is always present to us . . . clinging to us . . . abiding with us . . . loving us.

As we spend some quiet time today . . . let us at least consider an initial, authentic response.


To hear the interviews conducted in the NPR Morning Edition broadcasts or to read the news stories, go to: http://www.npr.org/series/169065270/losing-our-religion

To find out how to help families who are clinging to life, click on the image above or go to: http://sosbabyhelp.org/Burma%20Disaster.html

A re-post from January 20, 2013.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Deuteronomy 4: Proofs

Teach them to your children, and to your children’s children . . .

Evidence%20Based%20Practice[1]Each time I read from the books of the law, the Torah, I again understand how difficult it was for Jewish leaders to take hold of and believe the words that Jesus spoke to them about the merciful love of God.  I also understand how difficult it was for these followers of the Mosaic Code to believe that anyone but God who lived in the temple and out of reach of the ordinary human could forgive sin.  These ideas were revolutionary for them, even blasphemous; yet, the man who delivered them was not only able to restore health, he was also able to calm the elements of nature.

What we read today tells us of a God who is faithful, a God who has shown his constancy, a God who continued to reveal himself to his people despite their errant ways.

Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it heard of? 

Yahweh rescued his people, he brought them out of slavery, he nourished them and taught them who they were, how they were to be, and what their potential was.  Jesus arrived to walk the earth as God among his people.  Jesus fulfilled prophecy.  Jesus compressed the hundreds of Torah laws into one . . . the Law of Freedom, the Law of Love.  Nothing like this had ever been heard of.  Nothing like this has ever been heard of.

You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.

The focus in this reading is on the dichotomy between believing in God and believing in idols.  One of the rewards for following Yahweh is the gift of physical territory which God grants to his chosen people.  Other rewards are his fidelity to us, and his mercy when considering our actions.  These are all proofs of God’s love.  Further proofs of God’s goodness are that once Jesus is resurrected and returns to God, The Holy Spirit settles upon us to abide with us and to dwell in us, God’s people.  This is God’s promise and as we hear in today’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT: God is true: he has a long memory for his own promises and a short memory for our failures to keep ours.  In the gift of his promised Spirit, we find our daily joy.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us the Morning Prayer: Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love never shall leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.  (54:10)  

We look for assurances and guarantees; we sign contracts and agreements that we trust more than we trust God’s love for us.  He has given us proofs . . . and this is the story that we must pass down to our children and our children’s children . . . so that it may live with us and in us . . . beyond the end of time.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 May 2010:265. Print.

Image from: http://www.caresearch.com.au/caresearch/tabid/1590/Default.aspx

Written on May 19, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Deuteronomy 3: Teaching the Children

parent-child[1]Whether we ourselves have children or not, it is beneficial to universal society for those of us who have survived cataclysm to teach those who follow us how to endure well rather than to endure at all costs.  If we hope to improve both collectively and individually we must be willing to take an honest look at how we operate, what we value, and how we enact our values.  This is what Moses calls us to today.  We are not asked to pass along stories of how others have carried on through crisis; we are asked to be earnestly on our guard not to forget the things which our own eyes have seen, not let them slip from our memory as long as we live, but teach them to our children and to our children’s children.  This is a noble vocation: to pass along a manual for how to persist through pain, fear and antagonism.

Keeping in mind that each time we read or hear the phrase “fear” in reference to the Lord in the New Testament that we might replace it with the word “love,” we can see how the arrival of Jesus is the completion of all God’s promises to the people.  God, with his expression of concern and empathy embodied in Jesus, tells us how much he loves us and wants to be with us.  God warns us often about the dangers of idolatry and encourages us to consider the advantages of fidelity.  God’s own fidelity with us is guaranteed.  God’s love proved repeatedly through the stories we can tell about his power to save and restore.   God’s hope for us and in us is spelled out clearly as he establishes – here through Moses – cities of refuge in which his people might find a second opportunity for recovery.  God never gives up on us.

Deuteronomy, perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, asks its readers to remember and to pass along our own story of how the goodness of the Lord has changed us forever.  It asks that we consider God’s goodness, and that we pass along the story of how we came through a wilderness with no road map other than our fidelity to a God who loves us so much he cannot bear to be apart from us for even the smallest of moments.  We are loved by a God who does not ever want to be without us.

And so we pray . . .

Father Creator, Jesus Saver, Holy Spirit Abider and Comforter, we see by your actions that you will never forsake the work of your own hands.  We realize that the only firm ground on which we stand is the rock of your own steadfastness in your commitment to us.  We know that you are incapable of deception, trickery or betrayal.  Give us the fortitude and courage to follow you, even when we are fearful, even when we are in pain.  We rely on your patience and mercy as always.  And we await our own restoration and peace that comes with the joy of knowing and serving you.  We thank you for your bountiful love, and we hope to return that love to you always . . . even when we are fearful or in pain.

Help us to pass along to the children and to the children of those children not only the story of your love . . . but the essence of your love as well.  Guide us in loving our enemies, in praying for the impossible, and in remaining always with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Image from: http://veronicaplace.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/our-children-are-on-loan-to-us/

Written on August 11, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Monday, January 13, 2013

Deuteronomy 9: Unmerited Success

God's_Grace_2[1]In today’s Noontime we examine when and where we see God.  We take time to reflect on how and why we praise God.  We consider our perception of who and what God is.  We have the opportunity to thank God for our unmerited success.

If we take these verses in a literal, one-dimensional way God comes off as a sometimes petulant, occasionally petty and sulking God.  If we put them in the context of the New Testament – and if we can refrain from the temptation to moralize – we allow ourselves to accept God’s gifts of faith, hope, and unconditional love.  We will find ourselves rooted and flourishing in God’s grace.

An excerpt from Richard Rohr’s Saturday meditation gives us a compass to use on our pilgrimage.  He writes:

God always entices us through love.

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself. This is the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves you when you change (moralism). It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being “saved.” Moralism leads you back to “navel-gazing,” and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a total gift.

Adapted from Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate
. . . Seeing God in All Things
(CD, DVD, MP3)

If we read the Noontime selection today and complement ourselves for having behaved well, for having turned our eyes away from the golden calf, if we love the chant three times over, It is because of my merits that the Lord has brought me to possess the land, then we have lost our way.   If we delight in believing that these verses show us a strict set of rules to follow so that we will never suffer, we have misunderstood all of scripture.  If we believe that God loves only those who obey his rules and join his club, we do not know God at all.

Picture1God abides with us when we follow and when we stray.  It is when we lose our way that God comes after us persistently to bring us back to the fold.

God protects us when we take risks in Kingdom-building.  It is when we teeter on the edge of safety that God patiently strengthens the bonds we have forged in relationship with God.

God guides us as we wade into the world to engage fully in discipleship.  It is when we are most lured and confused by the material world that God speaks steadily to us.

And so we pray:

Generous and loving God, Remind us that you are so immense that your love encompasses all, even those of us who stray.

Giving and powerful God, Tell us again that you will never abandon us, never reject us, always love us.   Tell us that we have nothing to fear as we follow you.

Great and gentle God, Clarify for us each day your message of inclusion, universality, and transformation.  Remind us that we must not exclude anyone from your message.

Gracious and singular God, Continue to send us your amazing, incalculable, and precious gift of unmerited success.  And help us to remember to thank you.  Amen.


This week . . . more on Deuteronomy

Image from: http://prayitoff.blogspot.com/2011/03/pray-it-off-31711-actual-grace-just-ask.html

For more information on this fourth book of the Torah, see the Deuteronomy – Laws page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/deuteronomy-laws/

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Romans 16:17-20: Troublemakers

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them . . . such people serve their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent . . . Be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 

We are not built to handle evil – we are built for receiving and giving God’s love.

We are not meant to isolate ourselves in cliques and posses – we are meant to build bridges and seek union.

We are not created to isolate ourselves behind thick defense mechanisms – we are created to be open to those who are vulnerable just as Jesus our brother is.

We are not troublemakers, nor are we expected to mend what makes others so contentious – we are to model a way of living that does not rely on division and revenge.

We are kingdom builders, peace sharers . . . we are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them . . . such people serve their own appetites , and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent . . . Be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.  Amen. 


Written on November 27, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Hosea 3: Triumph of Love

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Hosea was instructed to take Gomer back, redeeming her from her paramours.  On condition of her amendment, she will be restored to her former position of wife.  This in turn signifies God’s enduring love for his people.  He will put the people through a period of trial – the dissolution of the kingdom – in order that they may return to him wholeheartedly”.  (Senior 1111)

So he bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and about ten and a half bushels of barley.  Then he said to her . . . “I in turn will wait for you”.

It is only a fully good and gracious God who can take back one who has sunk so low as to have given herself to swine.

It is only a faithful and patient God who can take back one who has scoffed and scorned a love fully and freely given.

It is only a hopeful and healing God who can redeem and restore one who has sinned so egregiously.

We shall come trembling to the Lord and to his bounty . . .

We shall be like grains of sand of the sea, which can neither be measured or counted . . .

We shall be called “Children of the Living God” . . .

We shall be gathered together . . .

We shall become Jezreel, or “God sows” . . .

We shall say to our sisters and brothers, Ammi,” or “my people” . . .

We shall say to our sisters, “Ruhama,” or “she is pitied” . . .

We shall experience the triumph of love . . . and we shall be restored. 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1111. Print.   

Written on October 27, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To read more about Gomer and her children – and her remarkable marriage to the prophet Hosea – click on the image above or go to: http://www.netplaces.com/women-of-the-bible/temptresses-harlots-and-sinful-women/gomer.htm

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Philippians 2:1-11: Unity and Humility

Friday, December 13, 2019

Complete my joy by being of the same mind . . .

If Christ – who is God – can humble himself in order to bring about good, cannot we humble ourselves, and can we not obey God’s call to us?  And what miracles might we experience once we do?

In Chapter 14 of Acts we read an account of how Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for pagan gods when they are able to cure a crippled man.  When this gift of healing which God gives them is made known, “some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered round him, he got up and entered the city”.  Even a stoning and apparent death do not stop Paul.  He is of the same mind as Christ.

As we spend time reflecting on Paul’s words and his actions, we have the opportunity to gauge our own humility before God, and our own desire for unity with Christ no matter the cost.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Psalm 116:12 – How can I repay the Lord for God’s goodness to me? 

The attitude of thankfulness is central to Christian spirituality.  The debt of gratitude we owe for God’s faithful love can be repaid only in a two-sided coin: turning to God in thanksgiving and doing for others what has been done for us.  (Mini-reflection)

Be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (Colossians 3:15-17)

The Christology expressed here is paramount to our understanding of who Christ is and how we might expect ourselves to be in him as he is in us.  At the root of his divinity is his readiness to humble himself and to obey God . . . even to the point of death.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

Notes tell us that the hymn Paul cites in likely one that was sung by the early Christians; and we can understand how this song may have served to inspire the fledgling church as she struggled to survive.  We too, might use these words when we find ourselves floundering.  He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . . he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

When we are humble enough . . . and when we obey enough . . . then we can say we are in unity with Christ.  And when we can say this, we will be in that spot where serenity overcomes anxiety, and where love overcomes fear.


A re-post from USA Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.10 (2010). Print.  

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Luke 24:1-12: Nonsense

Friday, November 15, 2019

Anthony Frederick Sandys: Mary Magdalene

[The women’s resurrection] story seemed like nonsense and [the eleven and all the others] did not believe them.

We must remember this when others scoff at the perseverance of faith.

He is not here, but he has been raised. 

We must remember this when we are about to give up hope.

Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee. 

We must remember this when we are betrayed or abandoned.

And they remembered his words. 

We must remember this . . .

Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James . . .

We must remember that these followers of Christ persisted . . .

even when their words were labeled as . . .

nonsense . . .


Written on October 17, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://omegafoundation.siriuscomputing.net/Spirit/MaryMagdalen.htm

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