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Posts Tagged ‘love’


Ezra 10:16-44: The Guilty

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tower of David Ruins: Jerusalem

At the time that the Jews were returning from their exile, Ezra condemns certain priests who intermarried with the Gentiles strayed from Yahweh.  Their solution?  To sever relationships with wives and children and make a guilt offering.  This is a course of action appropriate for their time but it is not the action that New Testament people will take.  If we are People of the Restoration, People of Resurrection and healing, we will build bridges where there is dissent and conflict.  We will look for compassionate yet just ways to maintain contact and to heal breaches in relationships.

Let us welcome the guilty . . . for we are among them.

Let us forgive . . . for we are forgiven

From the MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions.

You made all human beings in your image: fill us with reverence for one another.  Hear your children’s plea!

You restored us in your image through the work of the cross: teach us to work to restore the dignity of all those degraded by the works of evil.  Hear your children’s plea!

You raise us to newness of life in Jesus Christ: fill us always with Easter joy.  Hear your children’s plea!


Written on April 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.moderatotours.com/easter_abroad.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.16 (2008). Print.

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2 Corinthians 2:5-11: Seek Pardon

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The surest way to fend off the forces of darkness is to pardon one another.  This is how the world, God, and we ourselves will know that we truly love.

From La Biblia de América: Apostles must be compassionate and know how to pardon.  This is not discipline for the sake of discipline itself, nor is it a punishment leveled by the church, the community.  Nor is it acceptable to allow permissiveness or anarchy.  There are even tines when the church – we – must make decisions which may be painful for us.  But the last word will always be love, reunion and pardon.

We have said this before in our Noontime reflections: Permissiveness leads to a further lack of obedience before God.  A community of Christians is called to rebuke one another in mercy . . . first alone and if not heard, then with another member of the community and again if not heard . . . finally, before the assembly.  This kind of discipline is what brings unity out of diversity.

This is the time of year when we have recently celebrated the Feast of the Ascension and remember that Christ – when he rises to God – carries our humanity with himself.  He opens the door to the possibility that we too, may unite with God in the most intimate of ways.

This intimacy is what we all seek.  It is what we yearn for, what we crave.  It is what we feel lacking in our lives.  And it is a thirst that will only be quenched if we first find it within ourselves to seek pardon and to pardon . . . to love and be loved . . . to unite with all that is . . . even if it is different from what we know.  We are people who long for reunion.  Let us open the door of forgiveness and enter into love.


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

Images from: http://thrivingwithneurofibromatosis.blogspot.com/2012/05/forgiveness.html and http://youthspeaknews.org/2011/11/29/the-gift-of-forgiveness-this-advent-season/

A re-post from May 30, 2012.

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Song of Songs 8: Found

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

“The Song of Songs, meaning the greatest of songs (1,1), contains in exquisite poetic form the sublime portrayal and praise of the mutual love of the Lord and his people.  The Lord is the Lover and his people the beloved.  Describing this relationship in terms of human love, the author simply follows Israel’s tradition.  Isaiah (5, 1-7; 54, 4-8), Jeremiah (2, 2f.32, and Ezekiel (16; 23) all characterize the covenant between the Lord and Israel as a marriage.  Hosea the prophet sees the idolatry of Israel in the adultery of Gomer (1-3).  He also represents the Lord speaking to Israel’s heart (2, 16) and changing her into a new spiritual people, purified by the Babylonian captivity and betrothed anew to her divine Lover ‘in justice and uprightness, in love and mercy’ (2,21) . . . [The Song] is an allegory in which each remark, e.g., in the dialogue of the lovers, has a higher meaning.  It is a parable in which the true meaning of mutual love comes from the poem as a whole . . . In Christian tradition, the Song has been interpreted in terms of the union between Christ and the Church and, particularly by St. Bernard, of the union between Christ and the individual soul”.  (Senior 791-792)

In this last chapter, we see the young lovers walking toward home; and the seal in verse 6 is a reference to a ring or emblem with which one marked, signed or identified an object.  In this poem, love is seen as the force that conquers all else. “In human experience, death and the nether world are inevitable, unrelenting; in the end they always triumph.  Love, which is just as certain of its victory, matches its strength against the natural enemies of life; waters cannot extinguish it nor floods carry it away.  It is more priceless than all riches”.  (798)

The Bride, the Church, the soul, remains chaste.  Her rich dowry is kept under watchful eyes until the time when she has matured, until the time she will be given in marriage and the dowry handed over to the groom who waits.

We are this bride.  We are this beloved.

We – like this bride – have suffered, have wandered, have searched, and have found.  We have also been found by the one who treasures us, the one who knows that we are a pearl of great price . . . the one who values us.  A dowry has been set aside for us to assure our redemption.  We are the seal set upon the heart.  Knowing this, having endured much, we still thirst.

This evening, as we wander home through the garden with its intense and alluring aromas, we are accompanied by the one who waits for us as we grow and mature.  We continue our journey up from the desert, leaning upon the lover.  We awaken under the apple trees where we were once conceived.  And when we open our eyes, we know that we have been found once again.  And we look into the eyes of our creator . . . who calls us anew to rise with the new day.

 


A re-post from May 28, 2012.

Images from http://blog.tuscandream.com/tuscany-italian-garden-wedding-estate-304/italian-garden-bride-groom/ and http://www.rebeccaatthewell.org/youtube.html

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

For more on this beautiful poem, visit The Song of Songs – Tryst in the Spring page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/song-of-songs-tryst-in-the-spring/

Written on January 29, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Song of Songs 6:4-12: The Charms of the Beloved

Pentecost Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Tirzah Valley

Tirzah is a probable reference to the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel and most likely means pleasantThe following descriptions use pastoral allusions, creating images that would certainly be pleasant to the people in the first century before Christ.  The other marriage imagery is familiar to New Testament readers who are accustomed to hearing Christ describe his own union with us, his church, his bride, his beloved.  Footnotes send us to Matthew 9:15; 25:1-13; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32 and Revelation 19:7; 21:9.  The portion of the Song of Songs we focus on today is a description of the charming characteristics of the groom’s beloved – – – a description of us, the bride.

We see here that Christ is centered on wooing us, drawing us into his ways.  Do we consider Christ to be the center of our own lives?

We read here that Christ seeks us out no matter where we are.  Do we seek Christ in the same way?

We reflect on the fact that Christ sacrifices all he has – himself – for his beloved.  Do we sacrifice all that we are and have in the same way for Christ?

This is how we acquire the charming inner beauty of the Beloved we read about today: through our constancy, preparedness, fidelity, and trust.  This inner beauty radiates outward, calling to the groom, echoing his own faithful love.  Nothing else matters.  No other union is more real.  No other love is more secure.

This Song is accredited to Solomon yet was most likely written at the end of the Exile (around 538 B.C.E.).  It describes the intimacy of a conjugal relationship; the same relationship we are to have with Christ.  In such a close bond there in nothing hidden, there is no illusion, no deception.  We must put all of that aside if we are to find the happiness we seek.

In this sublime description of abiding, ardent and even passionate love, we find the meaning otherwise hidden from us by a material life full of itself with its alluring deceits, waywardness and trickery.  If we are to be both serene and passionate in our love for God, if we are to find peace that holds us faithful, we must put all worldly ways aside because . . . my lover belongs to me and I to him . . . Before I know it, my heart makes me the blessed one of my kinswoman.

Pomegranate Trees

The invitation to union with the beloved is open to each of us.  So let us go down to the garden to look at the fresh growth of the valley, to see if the vines are in bloom, if the pomegranates have blossomed . . . let us set a little time apart each day . . . for it is in this serene and peace-filled place that we encounter a love we have only otherwise imagined . . . the love of Christ.


A re-post from May 26, 2012. Originally written on April 21, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

For a Bible Walk through the Tirzah Valley click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/Makhruk.html

For some interesting history, and a few tips on how to eat a pomegranate, click on the fruit image or go to: http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2009/10/how-to_eat_a_pomegranate.html

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John 14: Being

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?

I am thinking that this is God’s reply to me when I show up every morning with my same list of thanksgivings and petitions.  Of course God knows that I am grateful for the miracles he has sent to me which keep my hope burning.  Of course God knows the desires of my heart for the people I love and know well, for the people I do not know so well but who come onto my horizon, and even for the people with whom I am in conflict.  Of course God knows all, and yet still I persist because this is my way of showing constancy.  It is my way of sustaining faith in the fact that we are already saved and have only to follow in order to enter into Christ.  It is my way of maintaining the hope that all sheep will enter into the sheepfold.  It is also my way of loving God in others – this perseverance in seeking intercession.

The Last Supper Discourses begin in this chapter of John and they are – for me – the most beautiful part of this story.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Any one of us who has worried, been anxious, angry or deeply sad will be able to turn to this verses and find consolation.  Any one of us who has mourned loss, who has celebrated joy, who has spent a lifetime searching for answers will find the portal to true understanding and experiencing God’s love.

I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I go you may also be.

Any one of us who has been abandoned, betrayed, cheated or cut off from something or someone we love will find peace in these words.  Any one of us who lied to another or who has intentionally deceived or hurt another, will also find forgiveness and assurance in these words.

Whoever has believed in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.

Any one of us who has drained themselves for the sake of others will find strength in these words.

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 

Any one of us who has trouble just being on any given day, just surviving any given day will find life in these words.

If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 

We ought not shrink from giving thanks to or from petitioning the one who created us.  Let us go with open eyes, open minds and open hearts to the one who gives life in abundance that we may live in him.  This is what God expects.  It is what God asks . . . that we be in him . . . as he is in us.

Have I been with you for so long a time and still you do not know me?


A re-post from May 10, 2012.

Images from: http://ipeace.us/profiles/blogs/about-gratitude and http://benison.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/the-creation-and-the-scripture-number-5/

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2 Chronicles 25: With A Whole Heart

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Commentary points out to us that king Amaziah is faithful to Yahweh and wins a campaign against Edom because of his fidelity; later he is the victim of assassination.  The Chronicler feels compelled to explain this good king’s reversal of fortune and explains it this way in verse two: He did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, though not wholeheartedly. 

We can never know the truth of the detail in the story of Amaziah; however, what we can do is to take to heart the warning of the writer that in all things we must be faithful . . . with a full and open heart.  Because God has created us and knows us so well, there is no point in trying to skirt issues or in attempting to hide parts of our history.  God knows all.

Psalm 139 is often cited as one in which the Psalmist expresses this idea of intimacy with God.

Lord, you have probed me, you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.

Nothing escapes God, not even our inmost thoughts.

My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.

Nothing escapes God, not even the experiences we try to keep secret.

Even when a word is on my tongue, Lord, you know it all.

Nothing escapes God, not even any hidden meaning behind our words.

If I ascend to the heavens you are there; if I lie down in Sheol you are there, too. 

Nothing escapes God, not even our dreams and fears.

If I fly with the wings of dawn and light beyond the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.

Nothing escapes God, not even our attempts to strike out on our own when we have planned our flight to the last detail.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.

Nothing escapes God, not the origin of our faults, not the origin of our gifts.

And perhaps this is why God loves us so.  God knows us as well as he  knows himself.  And we are created in God’s image to abide with him in eternity for eternity.   Is it possible to be so well loved?

A conspiracy forms against Amaziah; he flees but is pursued and hunted down.   How does his story speak to us today?   The Chronicler tells us that Amaziah’s heart is not true.  The Psalmist tells us that God reads our inmost being.  When we feel compelled to run, it is better to stay and remain in the Lord.  When we feel too ashamed to face a new day, we must rise and turn to the Lord.  When we feel too frightened to step into the world, we must take courage and trust the Lord.  When we feel too discouraged to open a new door, we must stay and hope in the Lord.  When we feel too angry to interact with those around us, we must stay and love the Lord . . . with a heart that is open, and honest, and full . . . and true.

Amen.


A re-post from May 8, 2012.

Images from: https://pastorcarolmora.wordpress.com/category/1/page/2/ and http://www.robstill.com/a-wholehearted-worshiping-community/

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Sirach 7: Public and Private Life

Friday, March 29, 2019

Several days ago we reflected on the meaning of our public image in the Book of Daniel; today with Sirach we might spend time with how this compares to our private life.  The Irish culture holds an image of a man who is a street angel but a house devil . . . pleasant and amiable – even lovable – to his neighbors . . . while beating his wife and children behind closed doors.  How many of us harbor devils inside that we do not show to the world?  How do these devils slip into our lives without our knowing?

We are advised by Jesus ben Sirach to bring our public and private lives into line with our covenant promise with Yahweh.

In this book of wisdom, we are cautioned that we must be humble in our dealings with one another; we ought not seek out the high places at the table.  We are warned to refrain from seeking work as a judge unless we have the strength to root out crime; otherwise we succumb to corruption and mar our integrity.  We ought not flaunt our wisdom, our power, our wealth, our specialness in any way . . . for our pride will be our undoing.  This is how humility arrives.

We are also advised to steer clear of situations the catechism refers to as near occasions of sin: those times when we ourselves do not sin but come dangerously close to slipping over the precipice into evil.  Standing by wordless as we watch malevolence occur without offering witness to injustice is not the way of the Lord. When we lack courage, we only need to look to God for strength.  This is how fortitude arrives.

We ought to pray in earnest and not hurry through prayer as this leaves room for a false sense of independence from God.  We humble ourselves appropriately when we come before the Lord and so we ought to enter into prayerfulness with deliberation and patience so that we might all the better hear the word of God.  This is how wisdom arrives.

In private and in our family life, we need to continue to live with thoughtfulness, with intention.  Treating servants well – or the people we meet in the mall, in the supermarket, in the gas station – leads us to treating all well.  Honoring elders, respecting the living, remembering the dead.  This is how piety arrives.

Refrain from bartering for friends.  Mourn with those who mourn.  Steer clear of those who do not.  Visit the sick.  This is how compassion arrives.

When we eliminate fear and pain from our lives by blocking them out and riding over these powerful emotions, we also eliminate important opportunities for learning the ways of God.  We erase the opportunities for God to guide and protect us.  When we petition God and thank him for his bounty, we indicate our understanding that we are his creatures.  This is how faith arrives.

When we balance our inner self with our outer self, we clear away the dark corners where house devils might lurk.  Integrity finds a comfortable dwelling place within . . . and chases away these devils to make room for angels.  This is how hope arrives.

When we bring into focus our whole mind, our whole heart, our whole body and our whole soul to celebrate our union with God, we enter into his divinity.  This is why the words of Jesus ben Sirach are so important to us today.  With all your strength, love your Creator . . . for this is how love arrives.


A re-post from March 29, 2012.

Image from: http://sandeshavahini.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-heart-in-the-bible/

To review the Noontime reflection on Public Life go to: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2012/3/23/

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Daniel 2: Public Life

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar

I am thinking of all the negative things that happen to Daniel which he calmly allows God to transform into good – his exile, his imprisonment, his gift as an interpreter of dreams which may be used against him . . . because of envy on the part of the king’s magicians.  He knows that the very prediction he is called to announce may bring about his execution.  Daniel withstands all of this – and even more when we read the entire story – by placing his trust, hope, faith and love in God . . . and by allowing God to work his wonderful will with those who are opposed to him, to the Jewish people and to their God.  I am reminded of Psalm 37: Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act, so that your justice break forth like the light, your cause like the noon-day sun.

Daniel does not let fear of failure or a reluctance to commit to God or to obey God to deter him from his path of fidelity.

Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the man who prospers; a man who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor. 

Daniel does not abandon God or allow the world and its worries to lure him away from following God.

Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil.  For those who do evil perish; the patient shall inherit the land.

Daniel abides with God just as God abides with him.  Daniel waits upon the wisdom of the Lord, knowing that for God time is eternal.

A little longer – and the wicked shall have gone. 

Daniel knows that the only true emotion, the only lasting force is God’s love for us.  It is greater than anything we can imagine.  It is bolder, more persistent and persevering than anyone we know.  It is the only energy that matters . . . this love and peace of God that comes to us in the form of the man, Christ.

Look at his place, he is not there.  But the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace.

Daniel makes a public statement when he expresses his love of God; and as we read his story we may join him to enter into our own public statement about our intensely personal relationship with God.

And so we might ask ourselves: Do we love God enough to make a public statement about our fidelity to him?

 For the humble shall own the land . . . and enjoy the fullness of peace.  Amen. 


A re-post from March 23, 2012. 

Image from: http://myyearofjubilee50.blogspot.com/2011/11/dan-man.html

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Mark 14:66-72A False and Dangerous Road

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Paraphrasing from the commentary in the BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA: Ssimultaneously, Master and disciple move through a process.  With an intentional gradation, the story presents us with Peter’s triple denial as he completes Jesus’ prediction to the letter (Mark 14:30).  Mark reminds us that when we rely on self alone we journey down a false and dangerous road.  (LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA 1537) I am wondering . . . why we insist on being so willful when God stands ready to help us at every turn.

This very night, before the cock crows three times, you will betray me. It still amazes me that Jesus is such a constant companion to us who do worse than ignore him, to us who contradict and even reject him.  I am still surprised at the enormity of Jesus’ patience that he abides with us beyond our disagreement with him; he remains to suffer the buffeting blows we deliver with our lack of faith, love and understanding.  It still startles me each time I read this passage to know that the patient and persevering Christ suffers intensely for us while all the while we cannot summon the courage to allow him to protect us and to take us in.

Even though I should have to die with you I would not deny you.

Tissot: Second Denial of St. Peter

Human fear is a powerful motivator.  Fear of starving keeps us working.  Fear of being alone keeps us seeking.  Fear of failure keeps us struggling.  Our hubris somehow blots out all reality; our envy blinds us to the outcomes that are easy predictions to others.  This is a dark and dangerous road on which to journey, this path we take when we deny, refute and reject salvation.

You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.

How many times in a day are we asked to stand on principle, to tell truth, to fill an omission that another intentionally commits?  How many times do we step up, come forward, stand in solidarity to witness in humility and love?

I neither know nor understand what you are talking about. 

Rembrandt: The Apostle Peter Denies Christ

This story should always be told in complement with the ending from John 21 when the resurrected Jesus thrice asks Peter if he loves him and Peter replies: You know all things.  You know that I do.  This joyful ending to a horrible story reminds us that the Master and disciple move in tandem toward an inevitable end.  This wonderful turning at the end of John’s Gospel shows what we yearn to know.  God brings goodness out of harm, God keeps promises, God always offers multiple opportunities of conversion, God wants to lead us away from the false and dangerous road of deceit, subterfuge, and lies.  God wants us to choose life over death, light over dark, goodness over evil, service over power, humility over fame, the marginalized over the in-crowd.

Do you love me more than these?

Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.

Feed my lambs.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.

Tend my sheep.

Do you love me?

Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

Feed my sheep . . . Follow me.


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

A re-post from December 2, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.fineartprintsondemand.com/artists/rembrandt/apostle_peter_denies_christ.htm and http://devotionalonjesus.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html and http://www.eons.com/photos/group/catholics-50-3/photo/709583-Peter-Denies-Jesus-three-times/jesus—lent-passion-easter

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