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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Gerard Seghers: Christ and the Penitents

Ephesians 2:13

Quite Near

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

In yesterday’s Noontime we gathered our prayers and petitions to carry them to the one who holds all the answers. Today we gather ourselves to listen to the Word of God.

Ephesians 2:13: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near.

Paul answers our question of how long we must wait for God to appear when he reminds us that Christ answers our plea with unquestioning patience, indomitable mercy and limitless love. Jesus replies swiftly with his own presence, and with his invitation to join him in his union with the creator. Today we gather ourselves to hear the Word of God.

Luke 10:1-9: The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers few . . . Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way”.

God answers our petition for help by asking us to trust in the plan laid out for our rescue. Today we gather to accept God’s invitation to join in the vital work of the harvest.

Psalm 94:3: How long shall the wicked, O Lord, how long shall the wicked exult?

We have asked how long our suffering will endure . . . and the response to this question is not a pat answer that tells us how many days or weeks or years or eons we must wait for God’s justice to prevail. A close reading of the Gospels tells us what we already know. In the person of Jesus we have all the answer we might need. In our finite world we look for finite solutions and well-defined answers that content us for today, but that have no place in God’s infinite world. In our apocalyptic view of the world we seek a justice that will measure out punishment and reward as if we were all small children, but God asks us to step into something much bigger than the little window we have on the God’s justice.

Psalm 13:1: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

God does not hide from us. God is with us constantly and everywhere in the person of the rescuing Jesus. God does not forget us. God is within and around us in the person of the healing Spirit. God does not lose hope in us. God protects and guides, cajoles and upholds, saves and teaches, heals and loves us more than we can understand. Despite our faults and infidelities, God persists in waiting, calling, blessing, forgiving and loving.

Psalm 74:9: We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, nor is there any among us who knows how long.

There is no need to ask how long; there is no need to despair for we already have God’s response . . . the surety that God dwells within us, asking for our trust and fidelity, forgiving our missteps and misgivings, calling us to great love and great mercy. In our darkest moment and in our deepest grief . . . God has not been distant or hiding. God has been quite near.

Let us move into the world around us . . . and act in a way that confirms our trust in God.


Wealthy80_WEB190115In 2015, Oxfam produced a study indicating that next year one percent of the world’s population will hold more than half of the world’s wealth. The hungry, the impoverished, the homeless may well ask How Long of God as they manage their daily survival. Read the two views at the links below, and reflect on how each of us might be the presence of God to the marginalized.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/19/global-wealth-oxfam-inequality-davos-economic-summit-switzerland

For information about the 10 most wealthy families in 2021, visit: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/insights/052416/top-10-wealthiest-families-world.asp

Or read more about the global wealth pyramid at: https://www.statista.com/chart/11857/the-global-pyramid-of-wealth/#:~:text=Global%20Wealth&text=According%20to%20a%20new%20Credit,seen%20on%20the%20following%20pyramid.

Seghers image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Seghers

There are voices that oppose the view expressed above. Read this about the thoughts of Sir Martin Sorrell in a 2015 article from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/23/davos-wpp-martin-sorrell-equality-prosperity

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je suis charlieSaturday, January 15, 2022

Joy and Habakkuk

Questions

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Habakkuk reminds us that too often our ways are not God’s ways.

“For what may be the first time in Israelite literature, a man questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls him to account for his government of the world”. God replies that he will send “a chastising rod, Babylon”. And God also replies with divine assurance the faithful will not perish. (Senior 1150)

God says: I know that my plan seems slow to you and I understand your impatience for my ways are not always your ways. My prophets deliver your anger, exasperation, and sorrow to me; and I hear your plaint. My prophets also deliver My Word to you. I walk among you as the man Jesus and although you may not see him he is with you all the same. The anger of Habakkuk has not dissolved . . . and nor has my love. Each time you throw your anger at me I return it to you transformed in and by and through love. I return it to you as the gift of love. Read the words of Habakkuk . . . and bring me your fears and desperation. Bring me your sorrow, your worries and your questions. In return, you have my answer . . . the gifts of my presence, mercy, rescue and love.

In this prophecy, it is difficult to find the joy we hope to experience.  How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you “Violence!” but you do not intervene. (1:2)

In this prophecy, we hear the words that speak to human fear, suffering and frustration with the divine plan. I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint”. (2:1)

In this prophecy, we hear the Lord’s reply that we will want to hold close when pain and anxiety set in, when we wonder about the promise of God’s rescue and redemption. The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. (2:3-4)

In this prophecy, we pray with Habakkuk: God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights. (3:19)

In this prophecy . . . we have the eternal answers to our unrelenting questions.

Several years ago, after the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices, the nation of France prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to celebrate with joy in the face of enormous anger and grief. To learn more, click on the image above or go to: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

Or you want to visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Charlie-Hebdo-shooting

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1150. Print.

joyIf this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0cc3eca-9943-11e4-be30-00144feabdc0.html#slide0

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A papyrus of John 1:1-14

A papyrus of John 1:1-14

Monday, January 3, 2022

Joy and Completion

John’s Letters

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given. With them, we remember that there is always hope when we are overcome by doubt, always light that will pierce the darkness, and always joy, even in days of deep and unrelenting grief. Today John reminds us that without Christ, not only is there no opportunity for lasting joy, but what joy we have will always be incomplete.

John’s first letter was written toward the end of the first century and its purpose was to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community. (Senior 387) Today we reflect on John’s words as we near the end of this present year.

1 John 1: 4: We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

God says: I will never abandon you, never leave you without a guide, never allow you to fall into the darkness that you fear. I have great joy in mind for you.

John’s second letter is quite brief and scholars believe that its length was restricted to what might be contained on one piece of papyrus; yet, its brevity expands rather than restricts the possibilities for great joy. Today we reflect on John’s words as we prepare to enter into the new year. (Senior 393)

2 John 1:12: Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete.

God says: I am with you every instant of every day. I never leave your side although you sometimes believe that I am far away and uncaring. When you call on me, I bring you great joy and completion. Did I not come to live as one of you millennia ago in the town of Bethlehem? I am with you still. Did I not rescue you on Calvary in order that you might live in eternal joy? I rescue you each day. Did I not enter fully into the apostles in Jerusalem so that they might carry my word and my joy to those who had no means of knowing it? I dwell within you still. 

John’s third letter is addressed to Gaius and is less theological in content and purpose. Although we know little about the details in the lives of these early Christians, we understand from this letter that there was much division and turmoil in the early church. John writes to Gaius and he writes to us to remind us that we ought not fear conflict. He reminds us that despite the divisions we create, God brings us together in an authentic, relentless and all-forgiving unity. Today we reflect on John’s words as we enter into a newness of life, love and joy. (Senior 394-395)

3 John 1:4: Nothing gives me greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

joyGod says: My Spirit is in the tiniest fiber of your being. It is also in the immensity of creation. This creation is one with you and you are one with my creation. All of my works – and these include each of you – demonstrate my great love and my great joy. Open you mind and ears and heart to this joy today. Choose to live and walk, work, play and pray in and with me. In this way, you bring great joy to yourself and to others. In this way your everlasting joy is made complete.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387 & 393-395. Print.   

To learn about the earliest Bible papyri, click on the word Papyrus or go to: http://earlybible.com/ Click on the links to the left of the copy to view bits of the New Testament. To enlarge the writing, move the computer’s cursor over the sample.  Click on the papyrus image above to read John 1:14.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://earlybible.com/manuscripts/p66.html

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Da Vinci: St James

Leonardo Da Vinci: St James

Saturday, January 1, 2021

New Year’s Day

Joy and Our Choices

James 1:2-3

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given.

With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow. Today James reminds us that strength appears when we consider our trials with joy.

On this day when we celebrate new beginnings, let us consider . . .

The author of this letter is a relative of Jesus and is generally described as the brother of the Lord. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3) We know that he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and that Paul described him as one of the pillars of the early church (Galatians 2:9) “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sins, and expectation of judgment”. James lived out his beliefs until his death in 62 CE when, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was stoned to death under the high priest Ananus (Senior 368-369).

James 1:2-3: Consider it all joy, my [sisters and] brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

If we have the time to read James’ entire letter, we find that he “advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior . . . [and his] target is the Christian who is ‘double-minded’ . . . who lives by two standards at once; that of God and that of the world. James demands a choice. Not only speech, but also the use of possessions and the practice of fairness within the community . . . He especially attacks envy, which perfectly illustrates the morals of ‘the world’ as opposed to God”. (Senior RG 547-548)

joyJames calls us out of our egocentric selves but rather than scold he calls us to an alternative option to the sorrow and fear the world offers. James tells us with his words and shows us with his life that we find strength and power in the choosing of joy in all we think and say and do. During this Christmastide and in the early days of this new year, how do we choose to respond to this invitation?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369 & RG 547-548. Print.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/leonardo-da-vinci/head-of-st-james-the-less

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Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius Loyola

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

Joy and Exile

Baruch 5

“The office of prophet was due to a direct call from God. It was not the result of heredity, just as it was not a permanent gift but a transient one, subject entirely to the divine will”. (Senior 877) Today joy comes upon us from the depths of fear experienced by a people lost and roaming . . . as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

Baruch, the well-known secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, records beautiful verses in both poetry and prose that present a prayer for displaced people. Viewed in this way, the words help those who are lost or misplaced, those who suffer during this time of year when so many others celebrate. When contemplated in the silence of personal exile, these ancient words might set lost feet down on ground once thought unstable; they might give a new horizon and a clear path to those living abandoned or in pain. On this day awaiting the arrival of God in our midst, we take time with these words and rhymes . . . as we listen for God’s message of hope, healing and joy.

Take off your robe of mourning and misery . . .

God says: Your days of loss and suffering have come to an end.

Bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name . . .

God says: Decide to stand in the joy I shower on you . . .

God will show all the earth your splendor . . .

God says: I know that you believe I have abandoned you . . .

You will be named for God forever . . .

God says: Yet I have never left your side, I have never left your heart . . .

Look to the east and the west and see your children gathered at the word of the Holy One . . .

God says: Do not despair that all of your energy and work have been lost for in this you are incorrect . . .

Led away on foot by their enemies they left you . . .

God says: You have been apart and separate for a time but you have not been alone . . .

God will bring them back to you . . .

God says: All of your lost hopes are not, in fact, lost. They live on in all those whom you have touched as you have traveled your road of exile and sadness. Do you not see how many ripples you have sent out upon the waters?

For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age old depths and gorges be filled to level ground . . .

God says: Have I not just done the impossible . . . arrived as God yet as a human babe?

joyFor God is leading you in joy, by the light of holy glory, with mercy and justice for company.

God says: Remember that I have done all of this and more. I continue to hold you in my own heart and plans. You continue to be more important to me than you imagine. Each time you show mercy despite your painful circumstances you tell the world about my love for you. Each time you stand for justice despite your littleness you show the world the great love I have placed in you. Each time you live in me, my heart bursts with happiness in you. Remember all of this and know that I love you . . . and know that I always will.

Today we give thanks for God’s constant attendance on us . . . even in those times when we have felt alone. If the holiday season is a time of trial, spend time with Baruch today.


Listen to an interview with Fr. James Martin, S.J., conducted by Krista Tippett and posted at www.onbeing.org Allow all feeling of separation and abandonment to become joy in “Finding God in All Things”. Listen at: http://onbeing.org/program/james-martin-finding-god-in-all-things/7121/audio?embed=1

For more about the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, click on the image above, or visit: http://sacred-texts.com/chr/seil/

Also visit: https://thejesuitpost.org/2012/03/the-exercises-the-ignatian-adventure/?gclid=CjwKEAiA_NmkBRCe3ubC1aWAtEcSJACxkkbq2_vDdXCBma8StGvC_eeJP2AQRzAgPHbsU0oHgiQDExoCPrXw_wcB

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 323. Print.

Image from: http://sacred-texts.com/chr/seil/

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Isaiah 35

Joy and Imagination

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he will save you. 

Perhaps we do not use our imagination enough when we pray and plan with God.  Perhaps our dreams of vindication and recompense and kingdom building are not bright enough.

From the writings of Katherine Drexel (MAGINIFCAT Meditation for March 3, 2010):  I looked up in wonder at God’s wonderful ways and thought how little we imagine what may be the result of listening and acting on desire he puts in the heart.  If he puts it into the heart, he will bless it, if we try to act upon it, and great will be the effect before God.  It will be success before God even if it be not so to our weak understanding.  For God means that which he breathes into the soul should bring forth fruit to eternal life. 

Perhaps we do not give free rein to our hope when we petition God for the desires of our broken hearts.  Perhaps we see our situation as a kind of purgatory rather than as a vineyard where we are workers in the kingdom.

Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.  Streams burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.

Perhaps we do not share our faith enough with others, encouraging fellow pilgrims to remain steadfast and to persevere.  Perhaps we see joy as something that other people experience but do not picture it in ourselves.

Katherine Drexel: These are the desire God has placed in your hearts and great will be the effort if you continue as you do, to nourish these desires and act upon them.  He will fulfill your desires with good things far beyond your expectations. 

Perhaps we do not act in love as we might, thinking that others do not need our concern or prayers.  Perhaps we do not realize how great a price God has paid and continues to pay for us each day.

Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

Perhaps we do not fully comprehend that we are remnant.

Perhaps we might begin today to sing in praise and joy.


Image from: https://keepitmagical.net/the-power-of-imagination/

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joyTuesday, October 26, 2021

1 Samuel 18

Joy and Suspicion

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Samuel.

Too often the high points in our lives are followed by turmoil and darkness brought on by jealousy. My dad always warned us that as we move up the ladder of life to become more proficient in the workplace we may also become targets for office gossip and suspicion. But, he added, we cannot allow this to affect either our work or our relationships. Rather than frighten us, Dad meant to arm us with the knowledge that joy is accompanied by suspicion, and we see truth play out with David today when he returns from slaying the giant Goliath to be greeted with both great joy and deep suspicion. If we spend time with these verses, we see that success may breed its own kind of darkness. It is up to us to decide how we will react. It is in our power to look for joy hidden in the dark recesses of suspicion.

Verses 6-9: It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

Steen: David's Triumphant Return

Jan Havicksz, Steen: David’s Triumphant Return

Suspicion, gossip, jealousy, envy. These are the slippery steps that David navigates with God’s help. Later in his story, David succumbs to temptation that ruins the lives of many, but his actions bring us hope when we understand that even God’s anointed will err.

Fidelity, trust, hope, love. These are the footholds we look for in the face of the mountain we climb. We find joy even in the darkest of places when we rely on God’s providence, God’s wisdom and God’s love.

Visit 1 and 2 Samuel if you have time over the next few hours to put today’s Noontime into context.


Enter the words, Saul, David, envy or jealousy into the blog search bar and explore. Discover ways in which God’s quiet joy is always with us, even when we lest expect to feel its presence.  

Click on the Steen image above for more information about this story of triumph, suspicion and ultimately joy. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/724.html 

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joySunday, October 24, 2021

Deuteronomy 16

Joy and Feasts

From time to time we will visit scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a number of ways. If you wish to explore other stories in which joy astonishes us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Deuteronomy.

God of forgiveness, God of love, you teach us to celebrate with you; and yet, we forget your teaching.

God of hope, God of faith, you instill us with a model of your love; and yet, we put aside your inspiration.

God of promise, God of hope, you ask us to reverence you; and yet, we overlook your many miracles that grace our lives.

God of mercy, God of wisdom, you inspire us to worship you; and yet, we create vast deserts of days without thanking you.

God of feasts, God of joy, you offer us your merciful justice; and yet we hoard your compassion and neglect to share this gift so lovingly given by you.

Deuteronomy 16:15: Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

Let us remember to thank God for the gift of our health, our gifts, our hearth, our goods, our home, family and friends by sharing joy gladly, by celebrating freely, and by thanking God often for the great gift of Feasts.


To read about the feasts of Passover, Weeks and Booths, read Deuteronomy 16. Also visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/passover.htm, http://biblehub.com/dictionary/w/weeks.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/b/booths.htm 

To learn about the importance of Feasts in the Old and New Testaments, click on the image of Solomon’s Jerusalem below, or visit: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2012/20121001.htm 

solomon's jerusalemFor more about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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christ heals crippled womanWednesday, October 20, 2021

Luke 13:10-17

Set Free

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said . . .

Jesus heals in the moment he sees suffering. Let us also heal one another with kind words and acts of mercy.

“You are set free . . .”

Jesus speaks in the simplest of terms the words we long to hear, “You are set free!” Let us also keep our hearts simple and our minds open for possibility.

He laid his hands on her . . .

Jesus does not fear interaction with the stranger. Let us also extend ourselves to those we meet in our daily journey, especially the broken-hearted and the down-trodden.

At once she stood erect . . .

Jesus brings healing to those who suffer. Let us also offer hope and love and faith to those who are troubled or oppressed.

But the leader, indignant, said . . .

Jesus is condemned by those who want to regulate or limit God’s infinite love. Let us also remember that discipleship is a difficult road.

“Why heal today when there are six days to heal . . . ?”

Jesus is challenged by stiff necks and narrow minds. Let us also offer Christ’s goodness and power against the stinginess and cruelty we meet in these words.

And Jesus said . . .

TwoBrothers_BentWoman_710Jesus so often answers a challenge with a question. Let us also offer up a question rather than argument to those who would bend the world to their will.

“Does not each of you untie an ox on the Sabbath . . . ?”

Jesus is so sensible and concise in his replies to those who wish to silence him. Let us also remember to keep our dialogs simple, our prayers intense, and our eyes always on the Lord.

It is in this way that we set one another and ourselves free of terror, oppression and fear.

Amen.


Click on the image above to see a video clip from the Jesus Film Project posted on YouTube, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_80Xpyqibr0

For commentary on these verses, click on the carving above or visit: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1753

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