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2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Call to Holiness

Monday, May 22, 2017

Yesterday we reflected on Christ’s call to us as Living Stones in the New Temple we find in the unity of Christ’s corporate body. Today we remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians – and to us – about the importance of our answering that call. Today’s Noontime is a Favorite from April 18, 2008 in which we considered how we might replace the old Temple of stone in Jerusalem, with the New Temple of Christ’s heart that we see and we become . . . when we come together in Christ with all of creation.

Paul wrote this message to the people in Corinth where this fledgling church was dealing with a series of crises.  This letter is a call to reflect on how we interact in community.  At first glance, today’s selection may appear to call us to a life of separation and apartness; but when we look further, we see that Paul was calling the readers of this letter away from paganism, idol worship, and self-serving behaviors that lead to temporary satisfaction and eventual destruction.  Footnotes point out that Paul speaks to the fact that God alone can lay claim to us.  We are created by God, we live in God through Christ, we come together in peace – even with our enemies – in the Spirit. And in so living, we return to God to find union with all of God’s creation. These verses assure us that God will always be among us, and that together we maintain a covenant with God as God’s faithful.

As we have reflected often in our Noontimes, Jesus wades among the unwashed, those afflicted with leprosy, the outcast and the marginalized.  As Christ’s apostles, we are called to continue this mission; we are called to become one in Christ so that we might follow Christ as we take this New Temple of our collective selves into the world.  We are called to bring Christ’s Hope to the World.  We are called to bring the Spirit’s Love to the World.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions.

God dwells among us in the Church.  Let us turn to him and pray: Remember your people, Lord.

You are in our midst; your name we bear: make us a fit dwelling-place for your love.  Remember your people, Lord.

You have made us temples of your Spirit: cleanse our hearts and make of them a house of prayer. Remember your people, Lord.

You have chosen us as your resting-place forever: grant us peace in your presence.  Remember your people, Lord.

God of Glory, you dwell in our midst through Jesus Christ, the new and eternal temple of your Presence.  Turn our hearts to worship you in the midst of our daily lives, that we may come one day to dwell with you in light, through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.5(2008). Print.  

 

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1 Peter 2:4-9: A Living Stone

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2017

Today Peter says to us,

Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable.

We reflect on the times we have rejected the Word that has come to us through the voices and actions of others; and we remember the times we are rejected when we struggle to bring light to darkness.

God says,

I chose a valuable stone,
    which I am placing as the cornerstone in Zion;
    and whoever believes in him will never be disappointed.

We examine the strength of our faith in Christ as the Living Stone, the foundation of the new temple in which each of us is invited to join Christ as living stones raising thanks to God.

Isaiah foretells and Peter repeats,

This is the stone that will make people stumble,
    the rock that will make them fall.

We explore the depth of our hope, the strength of our love, the authenticity of our trust and the clarity of our minds as we give our hearts over as Living Stones for Christ.

Peter reminds us,

They stumbled because they did not believe in the word; such was God’s will for them.

As we reflect, we open ourselves to the reality that our stumblings are tumbles into Christ’s arms. Our shortcomings are windows into the New Temple of Living Stones. And our failings are invitations to join Christ as the cornerstone in our new lives of peace.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore thee verses, we recognize the Word and we become more willing to tumble into Christ’s ample, healing and loving heart.

For  better understanding of the city of Zion and what it might represent, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zion.htm 

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1 Peter 4:1-11: A Prayer for Mutual Charity

Monday, May 8, 2017

St_Peter_Besenzi

Paolo Emilio Besenzi: Saint Peter

Peter exhorts the early Christians to regard their persecution as a blessing, and today’s Noontime reading describes how those in community bear with one another, how they celebrate their diverse gifts, and how they are to stand on God’s authority rather than their own.  Peter calls his flock to mutual understanding, forbearance, purity and love.  And he also calls us today.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we say that we are willing to serve your purposes, the purposes for which you have designed us.  Help us to keep faith with your hope in us.  We know that we are wonderfully made, and that you have plans for us . . . plans for our joy and not our woe.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we know that our fellow travelers are also wonderfully made.  We also know that when we walk together, you call on us to bring forth the best in one another.  Help us to be open to our fellow pilgrims as we journey toward you.  Help us to remember that in the life of the Spirit there is always an opportunity for a new beginning.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, bless us, hear our petitions, heal us, bind us together in you.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on July 31, 2007.

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John 20:11-18: Turning Again

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

James Tissot: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day three, Easter Tuesday, we heard John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we chose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.

When harsh realities challenge our beliefs and foundation, we mourn our loss, question all that we thought certain, and doubt the facts before us. Do we also look for the angels who move with us through our days? Do we offer our suffering as a sign of our trust in God? Do we fall back on the familiar or move forward in hope?

[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Anger and fear, confidence and mercy. In times of deep stress, the primal parts of our brain take over and we instinctively collapse into familiar patterns of flight and denial, aggression and accusation. Might we practice the art of relying on the positive influences in our lives? When we feel panic and worry taking over, might we remind ourselves to look for Jesus who stands before us . . . even when we do not recognize him?

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

James Tissot: The Women at Jesus’ Tomb

Our pastor last week, in his morning homily, asked a question we may have been asking ourselves when we look at the detail John provides us. If Mary has already turned away from the empty tomb to look at the man she thinks is the gardener, why does she turn again? And how? When we reflect on these verses, we begin to understand that the second turning is toward a newness in perspective. Mary allows herself to see that the gardener is, in fact, Jesus. Might we follow her example to open our eyes and ears in a new way? Might we have full confidence in the promise of the Christ?

Today we spend time with John’s story of the conversion of Mary at the tomb, and all that followed in the baffling commotion of distrust touched with intense conviction and enduring love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our anxieties for the world, with the joyful turning of Mary Magdalene.

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John 12:44-50: Re-Creation – Christ

the_good_shepherd_by_zaghami-d6rzo8x

ZaGHaMi: The Good Shepherd

Second Sunday of Easter, April 23, 2017

When we see the Bible as an entire story of God’s people, we know that Jesus is not God’s Plan B. Jesus is Plan A. God does not see that humanity has gone awry and then decide to send in the saving force of Jesus. God’s direct interaction with creation has no beginning or end. It is eternal, just as God is eternal.

Jesus says: Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.

God always has faith that God will find every lost sheep.

If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world.

God has outrageous hope that every lost sheep will return to the fold.

But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own.

God’s love knows no bounds. God has always loved us. God will always love us. God continues to love us each day.

The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.

As Richard Rohr, OFM, has said with a chuckle, “God is victorious. God doesn’t lose. That’s what it means to be God”.

Today as we settle into this second Sunday of Eastertide, let us hold these truths closely. Let us open our ears and open our eyes. And let us determine to be re-created in Christ so that we might live as Jesus lives . . . so that all may be one in this universal message of universal love.

Listen to a four-and-a-half minute chat with Fr. Richard Rohr on this topic at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZRS5WVJuM

jesus-icon-1000

The photograph above was taken “along the dusty roads of rural Punjab, Pakistan”. The icon is a traditional early image of Jesus.

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Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.  

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 

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Jeremiah 17:5-10: In Every Season

Thursday, March 23, 2017

We are blessed with a God-given identity and we take our concerns to God the Creator. With gratitude, we trust in God.

I will bless the person
who puts his trust in me.
He is like a tree growing near a stream
and sending out roots to the water.
It is not afraid when hot weather comes,
because its leaves stay green;
it has no worries when there is no rain;
it keeps on bearing fruit. (GNT)

We are accompanied by our brother Jesus and we follow the clearly marked Way our brother Christ sets out for us. In hope, we follow the signs of Christ’s love.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit. (NRSV)

We are consoled by the Spirit who lives within us and we allow the presence of God to mend all that is broken. With love, we rest in this Spirit.

Blessed is the man who trusts in Adonai;
Adonai will be his security.
He will be like a tree planted near water;
it spreads out its roots by the river;
it does not notice when heat comes;
and its foliage is luxuriant;
it is not anxious in a year of drought
but keeps on yielding fruit. (CJB)

Can we imagine a life when all that we say and all we do is measured in the loving ways of God? Can we envision a kingdom in which the poor take precedence and the marginalized rise up? Can we foresee the effects of God’s compassion, power and tenderness?

After a long drought, the desert blooms in Arizona, U.S.A.

Blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
    the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
    putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
    never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
    bearing fresh fruit every season. (MSG)

Can we believe that we are part of God’s great plan? Can we rely on God’s wisdom, grace and peace? Can we be certain that we are loved and behave as if we accept this truth?

When we compare various translations of these verses, we begin to discover that we are blessed, that we are loved, and that we are created to bear fruit in every season – even in the deserts of our lives.

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Mystery of Trusting Wisdom

The Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

school of Titian Rafael

The School of Titian: Tobias and the Archangel Rafael 

We recall the lessons we learned with these verses yesterday: God is good, we are good, life is brutal and unpredictable but also good because it brings us to God; the faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God.

There is nothing more important to hear, to learn or to repeat to others than the lessons Tobit teaches us today.  All human suffering can be quenched by these precepts.  All human understanding is capable of taking in these ideas; but not all humans have the will to enact what they hear.  That is why we cannot read this story too often.

Wisdom is sometimes defined as patience in the waiting to hear God’s voice.  One definition puts wisdom in its proper place  as coming from God over time – in God’s time and not in our time.  When we think of the wise people we know, we discover that they share a few characteristics in common.

  • Wise people do not often react instantly to an emotional moment; they pause to allow God to speak through them.
  • Wise people declare their thoughts with the wisdom of ages; they have spent a good portion of their lives with and in scripture.
  • Wise people display a certain amount of serenity; they know that all that surrounds them is not real, the justice of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people do not regularly become impatient; they understand that we are here to practice for that which is real, the love of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people display and embody empathy; they have suffered a great deal, and they have allowed themselves to be transformed by this suffering.
  • Wise people do not think first of saving themselves; they have made their suffering salvific, and freely give themselves as co-redeemers with Christ.

The wisdom of the book of Tobit is just this kind of wisdom.  In this story, wisdom maintains her mystery; she is seen as the ultimate act of stepping into the abyss with God. The ultimate act of suffering for and through God. The ultimate act of trust in God.

Wisdom rises from suffering, endures in fidelity, heals in love, restores in hope, and lives in trust.  We can never hear this story too often.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

 

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The New Testament: Simplicity

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on March 5, 2009.

If your Bible has an introduction to the New Testament, now is a perfect time to read it.  The season of Lent is calling us to forgiveness, newness and rescue; this is also the message of the New Testament.

From La Biblia de América.  Together, these writings animate, illustrate and consolidate a new faith.  They came to life through an oppressed people longing to be free from the constant need to worry about their everyday subsistence.  Wealthy landholders held most of the power and control.  There was no social safety net.  The little people were left to fend for themselves.  These are the people to whom Jesus ministered.  They are still his dearest ones.  We love Jesus best when we love the marginalized.  This is a theology of simplicity.

The thinking and theology presented by Christ brought not only a newness and a simpleness to old ways, but a challenge that required answers.  The people who heard the message and embraced it even in the face of death served as the tinder that ignited a movement that has not – and will not – be overcome by darkness.  This is what the followers of Jesus know: that we are created out of and for love, and that the creator desires nothing more than our love in return. There is no greater news than this.  The story of Jesus and his actions is unparalleled.  It has no equal; nothing can be more simple.

How do we communicate our love to God, our understanding of the simplicity to which Christ calls us?  Through prayer.  Catherine de Hueck Doherty, the foundress of Madonna House, is quoted in today’s Meditation in MAGNIFICAT:  Prayer is conversation with God.  It does not require a thousand books.  It requires a simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  I am beloved by God.  He created me.  This is the first idea.  And he wants to be loved by me.  We have to get that into our heads.  Then we proceed to tell him we love him. 

A simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  This what the people of the Palestine had and knew.  It is what we can come to know.  For this we pray . . . Amen.

For more reflections on the books of the New Testament, visit the New Testament link on “The Book of Your Life” page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.3 (2009). Print.  

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

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