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Posts Tagged ‘love’


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Luke 2:29-32

Compline

My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations.

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Canticle of Simeon is sung as part of Compline or Night Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.  For the story of Simeon, read Luke 2:22-35.

God says: Simeon is a faithful servant who waited patiently for the fulfillment of my promise that he would see the messiah before death came to him.  Just as Mary and Joseph were presenting the child, Jesus, in the Temple, this loyal servant saw in this family what I see, a trinity of hope, love and faith, promise, mercy and constancy.  Simeon also saw that the lives of these three people would be full of deep sorrow and great joy.  Simeon spoke words that I hear in waves from the faithful as they prepare to retire for the night.  Join yourself with them as you prepare for bed.  It is such a short prayer that it will not tax you.  Turn away from the cares of the world for a brief time and pray these verses.  You sleep ever so much better for having joined Simeon to visit with me.

Another faithful servant waited patiently for the appearance of God Among Us.  Tomorrow, the story of Anna . . .


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aert_de_Gelder_-_Het_loflied_van_Simeon.jpg

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Monday, July 20, 2020

mary-and-elizabeth[1]Luke 1

The Encounter

In the first chapter of Luke we witness a series of encounters: the immaculate as she encounters the one who is in the presence of God, two cousins carrying new life, two cousins as yet unborn, and the quiet drama of God’s word coming to live among God’s people.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

We plan to meet friends for lunch.  We arrange our lives to gather for an important occasion.  We enter dates on calendars and electronic schedulers.  We commit to union with others.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We are surprised when we meet a friend from days lived long past.  We chance upon a relative we have not seen since a funeral years ago. We find ourselves waiting in queue with a former colleague we have not thought of in the years since we shared a workplace.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We bump into strangers in our daily interactions. We exchange currency and salutations with people we barely perceive. We pump gas and load purchases next to people we may never see again. We rent vacation apartments and share cups and plates with hundreds whom we will never meet. We travel in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis and brush against thousands or even millions.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We might imagine a life in which we anticipate joy as we meet new people and encounter new ways of thinking.  We might picture a life in which conflicts are expressed openly with respect rather than obliquely with silent aggression.  We might read Luke 1 and see a girl who steps into danger, fully knowing and fully accepting the challenge that lies before her . . . saying with full and open heart, My soul magnifies the Lord.

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

Prophet and Redeemer meet before the world is aware of their existence.

Two women clasp one another as they kiss cheeks.

A harbinger arrives, announcing good news that we often choose to disbelieve.

God comes to earth to walk among his people.

Trust in God.  Hope with God.  Love for God.

Believing that the impossible might be made possible.

All of these encounters are revealed to us today.

All of these options stand before the people we read about today.

All of these possibilities lie beneath the encounters presented to us today.

Let us imagine a life in which each time we look up, we greet the other with warm trust, exuberant hope, and authentic love.  Let us picture a world in which we greet and listen to one another with genuine respect.  Let us see ourselves stepping forward honestly with hand extended in faithful friendship.  Let us imagine the possibilities that lie beneath our encounters, and let us pray . . .

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might believe them so.


Image from: http://www.retreatinabag.net/category/retreat-event-planning/ministry-at-the-retreat/

Adapted from a reflection written on January 22, 2009.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

boat[1]Matthew 4:20

Following

When Jesus called, the disciples left their nets and followed him.

If we look for pat answers in scripture we are not seeking God in both the divine and human.  If we hope for a “black and white” world we are not growing.  If we believe that God loves some to the exclusion of others . . . we have not yet begun our journey.

God says: There in only one commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.  All the finagling and deception you believe shows me your power is like a child who struggles against the loving arms of a parent.  All that I ask is that you follow; I will protect you.  All that I ask is that you do my Word; Jesus will show the Way.  All that I ask is that you abide in love; the Spirit abides in you . . . and I ask that you abide in me.

We spent many hours seeking answers to questions we need not ask when all we need is God alone.  All of the earthly plots and schemes are useless in God’s eternity.  The only tool we need is God’s Language of Love.  And this we learn as we follow Jesus.  This we put into action as we yield to the Spirit.

When Jesus calls, let us leave behind our nets that have been so important to us . . . and let us follow . . .


For more thoughts on discipleship, enter the word follow in the blog search bar and explore.

A re-post from July 16, 2013.

To read a homily on the miracle of leaving our nets behind, click on the image above or go to: http://revjoezarro.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/dropping-your-nets-and-the-miracle-of-the-fishermen/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100Nehemiah 9:12

Column of Cloud, Pillar of Fire

With a column of cloud you led [your people] by day, and by night with a column of fire to light the way of their journey, the way in which they must travel.

This ancient image of God leading and protecting, guiding and guarding, is one we modern humans can keep close and cherish.  It relieves us of the burden that comes with thinking that we are in charge.  It soothes us with the knowing that God is present, attentive and alert each morning as we rise into the day and each evening as we retreat into the night.

God says: I love to watch over you as you sleep.  I love to nudge you into my way each day of your journey.  I love to protect you.  I love to travel with you.  There is no danger that I fear.  There is no obstacle I cannot overcome.  There is no challenge too great.  There is no prayer too small.  It is my greatest desire to bring you into union with my Word.  It is my delight to see you treading with prayer on the Way I have set before you.  You are the dearest child of my heart.  Do not fear this day.  Sleep well this night.  I am as gentle as the vapor of the clouds and as fierce as the flames of the fire tornado.  And I am with you always . . . even to the end of time.

hiEio[1]Our God appears to us as a vulnerable child who needs protection and guidance from his earthly parents; and yet it is the grown and matured man who heals, protects and guides us, his adopted sisters and brothers.  Jesus lives a life that is both kind and just, and his actions are a clear demonstration of God’s love for each of us.  We must learn to trust this marvelous, mysterious love.

Enter the word trust in the blog search bar and examine how, and who, and what, and why we trust.


For a reflection on Nehemiah 9, enter the word Confession into the blog search bar and explore.

A re-post from July 15, 2012.

For more thoughts on being led by the Holy Spirit, click on the cloud image above or go to the Pinch of Grace blog at: http://pinchofgrace.net/2013/02/23/being-led-by-the-holy-sprirt-of-god/

For a BBC video of a rare fire tornado in Brazil in August of 2010, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11086299

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

wealth-and-poverty-logo[1]2 Corinthians 8:8-15

Wealth and Poverty

Footnotes tell us a great deal about Paul’s words here: “The dialectic of Jesus’ experience, expressed earlier in terms of life and death (5, 15), sin and righteousness (5, 21) is now rephrased in terms of poverty and wealth.  Many scholars think that this is a reference to Jesus’ preexistence with God (his ‘wealth’) and to his incarnation and death (his ‘poverty’) and they point to the similarity between this verse and Phil 2, 6-8.  Others interpret the wealth and poverty as succeeding phases of Jesus’ earthly existence, e.g. his sense of intimacy with God and then the desolation and the feeling of abandonment by God in his death (Mark 15, 34)”.

Once after Mass, a friend and I were discussing the homily and my friend offered his thinking on eternity.  He said that he never has a problem imagining that time goes on into infinity before us, but that he stumbles when he tries to think of how time yawns back into our past.  We concluded that this is one of the many mysteries we will never understand.

Today when we read these words of Paul, when we puzzle through the footnotes, when we think of how Christ always speaks to us through inversion, we believe that we are all looking for the intimacy with God we know exists.  We all are looking for that comfort which is total union with God, with one another.  We all are looking for the one person in whom we can place our total trust, the one person who always has our best interests in mind and heart.

That person is God whom we meet in Christ – the Christ we see in one another and the Christ we encounter in Scripture.  We are comforted in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is a mystery which we cannot unlock, yet it hovers always in our consciousness, tantalizes us with its fleeting clarity and its constant, enduring, encompassing emotion of love.

We so long to love.  We so long to be loved.  We so often forget . . . that we are love.

This is our wealth.  This is what we ought to hold dear.  For it is in forgetting this that we suffer poverty.  It is in remembering this, and thanking God for this gift of love and of self, that we know we are rich.  It is this marvelous God we are called to trust.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 13, 2008.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. cf 285. Print.   

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Normand: Esther Denouncing Haman

Ernest Normand: Esther Denouncing Haman

Esther 9 – Reversal

Yesterday we reflected on how God foils perfect plots . . . today we examine the turning point in the story of Esther and look for clues about how we might expect the same reversal of evil when we place ourselves fully in God’s hands.

As humans we too often see or experience the hunting down and destroying of either an innocent or someone we believe “deserves what she gets”.  Regardless of guilt or blamelessness, the brutal pack mentality of an attack on another human being is something to be avoided and we must work at turning others away from this ugly thinking.  We may have been a peripheral or integral part of a plot to bring someone down and if this is the case then we must go to that victim to ask forgiveness.  Association with those whose goal it is to establish an us against them mentality is dangerous for it sets us on a path that descends into darkness.  Escape from these associations can be difficult and is always permeated with its own special fear; yet it is imperative that we escape because – as we see repeatedly in scripture and in life – God will always, later or sooner, reverse the plots that schemers have conjured in dark corners on their well-worn couches.

When the day arrived on which the order decreed by the king was to be carried out . . . on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to become masters of them, the situation was reversed: the Jews became masters of their enemies.

King Ahasuerus allows a great violence to erupt against Haman and his family and this is not the sort of outcome that the New Testament faithful will want to see.  What Christ-followers will ask for is that light penetrate the darkness, that hard hearts be softened, and that stiff necks begin to bend.  And so we pray . . .

Just yet merciful God, you give us the opportunity to ask for our enemies’ conversion, grant us also the charity to intercede on their behalf.

Gentle and beautiful God, you make each one of us in your loving image, make also in each of us the patience to wait for reversal at your hand. 

Strong yet gentle God, you bless us with the capacity to forgive, bless us always with your constant guidance and care for without you we are too easily led into the darkness.

Wonderful and awesome God, you surprise us constantly with your merciful justice, help us to see that in each of our calamities we might anticipate your sweet reversal.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Spend some time with these characters and the scripture citations and study the characters in this story.  What more do we see in this story that we might apply to our own lives?

Tomorrow, what ditches are we digging?


A re-post from June 10, 2013. 

To learn more about the feast of Purim, visit: https://www.jhi.pl/en/blog/2019-03-18-purim-the-festival-of-lots

For another reflection on this story, go to the Esther – From Calamity to Rejoicing page on this blog at:  https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-historical-books/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020

3431916072_4ff4bd224e[1]Micah 2:12

Believing the Promise

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not insist on our own agendas.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not allow fear to rise in our throats.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more open to reconciliation.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more willing to intercede for our enemies.

I will gather you . . . We are sheep lost in the folds of the mountainside knowing that the scorching heat of summer and the freezing rains of winter will surely kill us off unless God the creator protects us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will eagerly follow the plans God has laid out.

Each and every one . . . We cannot judge our companions on life’s road because we are not in charge and we do not have the right to countermand Christ’s universal call.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will willingly be more accepting of those whose idiosyncrasies drive us wild.

I will assemble all the remnant . . . We need to practice the art of persevering patiently knowing that those who persist will reap the harvest with the Spirit.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will find the courage and strength to endure in love as we are asked to do.

Like a herd in the midst of the corral . . . We must see that we are not left out in the wild as we believe but rather we are always in the loving care of the Father who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who guides us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will put our fears to rest; our anxieties will not take hold of us and we will be led to a place of peace that knows no limits.

They shall not be thrown into panic . . . We must remember that terror is of human making and does not come from God; dread has no power over us unless we bow to its influence.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be less quick to criticize our own and one another’s weaknesses.

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be better able to live as Christ does . . . in patience . . . while persevering . . . with the Spirit . . . always trying to act in accord with God’s plan . . . in love.

Amen.


First written on June 9, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

trinity-sunday[1]1 Thessalonians 5

Time Unknown

The message that God’s time is God’s time and that God alone is enough is important for us to experience.  And it is here in this letter that Paul helps us to better understand God who heals and abides, God of Time Unknown.  A good study Bible with commentary and footnotes will be an effective tool for us to use.

The reference in verse 5 to children of the light, which is who we are, refers to those who are called out of darkness to be light to the world, to be God’s expression of love to the world just as Christ is God’s light and message of love to the world.  Each of us is called to perfect intimate union of light and goodness with God . . . so that we might go forth to tell others this good news.

Commentary and footnotes also make a connection for us with Romans 5:1-10 in which Paul urges us to recognize our indestructible personal union in Christ’s own life.  This sense of our union with God’s timelessness makes our mission to the world all the easier once we realize that as Christ’s disciples we must operate from God’s love rather than our fears.  (Senior 236)

Toward the end of Thessalonians chapter 5, there is a beautiful exhortation to form community in Christ Jesus.  Paul is telling us that the suffering we undergo allows us to unite with Christ.  From the essay on page 324: “The superabundant love for which Paul has just prayed [3: 12-13] is to be shown practically by living out the norms of conduct that he has communicated to them.  Specific ‘imperatives’ of Christian life, principles for acting morally, stem from the ‘indicative’ of  one’s relationship to God through Christ by the sending of the holy Spirit.  Thus, moral conduct is the practical, personal expression of one’s Christian faith, love and hope.” [my underlining]

In the life of the Spirit there is always the opportunity to make a new beginning.  There is always the hope for the impossible.  There is always the call to love most the ones who harm us.  This is the Way of Christ.  It is justice tempered with compassion, righteous action moderated with mercy; it is not leniency which forgives and forgets, but rather it is an active, humble and infinite love which transforms.  And we are called to behave in this manner in this life, otherwise how will we have the skill to behave this way in the next?

Paul is telling us that the way we live each day, the way we interact with others in this world, the way we express our faith in God, our hope that Jesus returns, our love in the Spirit . . . all of this is also our expression of our relationship with the timeless Triune God.

As we fuss and worry about our little timelines, our past and our future, Paul gives us the image of the Trinity with its timeless, infinite goodness.  And Paul tells us that we are one with this indestructible timelessness.

This is something worth thinking about . . . and acting on.

Tomorrow, waiting in God’s time . . .


Image from: http://www.trinitycranford.org/?page_id=8106

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.324-328. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on July 23, 2007.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

tumblr_m82nssecoa1rsdmtxo1_5001.jpgJohn 16:12-15

Trinity of Love

A re-post from Trinity Sunday 2013.

Throughout Eastertide we explored the gifts we receive when we open ourselves to the privilege of serving as Christ’s disciples: meekness, broken-heartedness, constancy, honesty, truth revealed, willingness, steadfastness and celebration.  Today as we celebrate the mystery and gift of the Trinity, we might well wonder how and where and when we will find the stamina to endure.  We might ask . . . how are we to endure?

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

It is true that if we were to see the fullness of our lives rolled out before us we might fall into despair.  How wise it is that in God’s plan we live only a day at a time.

When the Spirit of truth comes she will guide you all to truth.

It is best that we learn to live in truth alone.  It is the very essence of God’s plan and so we must set aside all thought of deception, subterfuge and deceit.  How good it is in God’s plan that we look forward in hope.

She will not speak on her own but she will speak what she hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. 

It is correct that once we use our suffering to tune ourselves to hear God’s word we find the work of discipleship less painful.  How wonderful it is that God is so constant and loving.

She will glorify me, because she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is amazing that God continues to love us despite our smallness and reluctance to follow the difficult Way.  How astonishing is God to show us this intense and passionate fidelity.

Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is humbling to discover that God and Christ and the Spirit live together in lovely harmony.  How marvelous it is that God shares the mystery of this union even though we understand it so poorly.

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

Let us cease our grumbling, let us banish our doubt, and let us come to God willingly, honestly and steadfastly.  Let us bring our brokenness.  Let us surrender our willfulness.  And let us rejoice in celebration that this Trinity of Love counts us at her center.


Image from: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/trinity%20knot

For other reflections on Creator, Redeemer and Spirit, type the word Trinity in the blog search bar and explore.   Tomorrow, the Trinity and time unknown . . .

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