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Posts Tagged ‘love’


Joel 2:25-27Love Born of Freedom 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A repost from July 31, 2011. 

In today’s Gospel from Mark 6:53-56 we hear the message that we recognize Jesus’ goodness immediately when we are suffering or in need.  [P]eople immediately recognized him.  They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever he was.  Jesus, moved by compassion, acts out of his love for humanity; he turns no one away.   We must remember to invite Jesus to heal our wounds each day.  We must ask God to guide us as we try to solve our small and big problems.  And we must turn over our fears and anxieties to the Holy Spirit constantly.

Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, a Cistercian monk, writes in today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation (108-109): We have to invite Jesus continually to become Lord of our life.  He never imposes himself by force because, being Love, he wants to be loved in return, and love is born only from freedom and never from force or obligation.  What is true of the natural level is also true of the supernatural.  God cannot force us to love him.  Yet instead of loving God unconditionally, we spend most of our time piously trying to manipulate his power to suit our own desires: we want to have God at our beck and call . . . we have to place ourselves, voluntarily and gratefully, in the hands of the Physician of the bodies and souls, confidently manifesting to him our every illness and complaint. 

In this portion of Joel’s prophecy we are reminded just how much God wants to care for us that even after we have turned away and have done things that would erase any human relationship, God is still waiting patiently to heal.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer Mini-Reflection (102): God in his power is refuge and strength; God in his mercy is the river that refreshes the soul; God in his beauty stills all our useless struggles and gather us into his peace. 

The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.  (Exodus 14:14)

We already have all that we need . . . we may not feel it.

We already have all that we want . . . we may be blind to it.

We already have all the love we require . . . God is allowing us to come to this understanding.

He never imposes himself by force because, being Love, he wants to be loved in return, and love is born only from freedom and never from force or obligation.

Let us live our lives in total trust of the saving power of God’s love for us.

Let us free ourselves of all doubt, all coercion, and all lusting after control for all of these are alien to God’s love.

Let us instead allow ourselves to be born of God’s endless compassion and love.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 21 July 2011. Print.

Image from: https://www.maxpixel.net/Sky-Stars-Night-Constellation-Nature-Galaxy-2609647

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Job 12:7-10: Wisdom of Earth, Sky, and Sea

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why has the state of Hawaii banned the use of some sunscreens?

Even birds and animals have much they could teach you.

We are surrounded with wisdom . . . if only we might see.

Ask the creatures of earth and sea for their wisdom.

We are immersed in knowledge . . . if only we might hear.

All of the creatures know that the Lord‘s hand made them.

We are one with all of creation . . . if only we might learn.

It is God who directs the lives of the creatures.

How might we protect endangered species while nurturing human life?

We are made in the image and likeness of the one who creates all goodness . . . if only we might unite with all, even those with who we differ greatly.

Everyone’s life is in God’s power.

We are called in the divinity of Christ . . . if only we might heal.

Birds and animals have much they could teach us.

How might we make it possible for millions of creatures to co-exist?

We are complete in the confidence of the Spirit . . . if only we might love.

We must ask the creatures of earth, sky, and sea for their wisdom.


When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare other translations with these GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION, we learn much from the creatures of the earth, sea and sky. 

Images from: https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/nature/hawaii-just-banned-some-types-sunscreen-protect-coral-reefs and https://greentumble.com/poaching-endangered-species/ and http://www.takepart.com/photos/endangered-species-then-now/bald-eagle-delisted-recovered

 

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1 Timothy 3: 16: The Mystery of Devotion

Monday, August 6, 2018

The GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION of this verse proclaims,

No one can deny how great is the secret of our religion:

He appeared in human form,
    was shown to be right by the Spirit,
    and was seen by angels.
He was preached among the nations,
    was believed in throughout the world,
    and was taken up to heaven.

This secret is one we are called to share with those who have ears to hear, and hands and hearts to act.

The NEW REVISED STANDARD translation announces,

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,
    vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
    believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

This mystery is one we will want to proclaim to those who have lost hope, who feel abandoned, or have gone astray.

THE MESSAGE translation of Timothy’s words declares,

This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough:

He appeared in a human body,
    was proved right by the invisible Spirit,
was seen by angels.
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
    believed in all over the world,
taken up into heavenly glory.

This gift is one we will want to affirm to all – especially our enemies – for it is God’s gift of life that inspires devotion, asserts Christ’s love, and confirms the Spirit’s transforming mercy.


When we compare varying translations of this verse, we begin to experience the mystery, secret, and promise of this great gift. 

Images from: https://isha.sadhguru.org/in/en/wisdom/article/krishna-jesus-and-the-path-of-devotion and http://www.chrisrochephotographer.co.uk/project/devotion/

 

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3 JohnCo-Workers in the Truth

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The author of this brief letter is believed to be the Apostle John and it gives us a window on the world of the early church with its factions and arguments.  We see the interwoven themes of hospitality, truth, and love . . . three concepts we might spend time with today.

In the jumble of names we might finally work out that the leader Diotrephes has stepped outside of the Johannine tradition by refusing hospitality to some of John’s disciples.  This action would be counter to the kind of behavior Jesus nurtured among his own apostles, and counter to the traditions of the early church.  “Itinerant Christian preachers were dependent upon the hospitality of Christians among whom they ministered.  This built up networks between the scattered churches and fostered a sense of solidarity.  The local churches saw themselves as belonging to the one church, united around the foundational truth of the Gospel”. (ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 2035) In this ancient culture, hospitality was essential.  Travel by foot through arid and sometimes hostile regions required open homes and welcoming brothers and sisters at journey’s end.  Generosity with one’s goods and time was essential for survival in this environment.  Fear of false teachers was and is a legitimate concern, but we know from this short letter that the rejected missionaries had been sent by John himself so certainly there was no reason for alarm.  As John writes: We ought to support such persons, so that we might be co-workers in the truth.  John appeals to those who want to withdraw into a purist sect and he points out that separatism is counter to Jesus’ universal call to unity.  Jesus’ truth-followers seek union with others – not separation or elitism.  John urges his fellow Christians to support his faithful ministers so that they might be seen as messengers of Christ’s word rather than ordinary pagan beggars who lived off the goodness of others with little or no contribution to society.

In today’s Noontime we hear an echo of John’s assertion in his first letter that what the apostles have seen with their eyes, heard with their ears and touched with their hands can be believed.  Jesus was among them . . . he died . . . he rose again and is with them still.  This is a truth that cannot be denied and it is an absolute demonstration of Jesus’ love for humanity.  John tells us that we in turn must demonstrate our belief in this reality by offering open arms and welcoming hearts to fellow co-workers in this truth.

When we read this letter carefully, we see the elements of a prudent and wise method of confronting the obstinate, self-centered rejection of goodness: Send an opening greeting with an offer of dialog, recommend continued conversation, delineate the points of argument, and center all decisions on Gospel thinking of unity through variety.  In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul expresses clearly how Christ creates the union of diverse parts: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  We are reminded by both John and Paul that not one of us has sole possession of truth . . . yet Christ’s truth lives in the gathering up of all who believe and act in him.

When we open our hearts and homes for Christ to act through us, we become the co-workers John speaks of today, we become seekers of Christ’s truth rather than our own.  We become co-workers in the only truth that matters.   This we can believe.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 2035. Print.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 23, 2011.

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John 15:1-5: Branches

Thursday, June 14, 2018

We have examined scripture to reflect on the ways in which the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love in our identity in Christ exemplify our relationship with God in the Spirit. Jesus tells us who he is, reflecting Yahweh’s promise of “I Am Who I Am”. Today we continue to reflect on who we are, and on how we respond to God’s call for merciful justice in all of creation.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples”. (THE MESSAGE)

Rather than giving in to our fear that we might fall away from the Vine of Christ, we consider the beauty of union with all of creation.

Rather than seeking revenge for the injustices we suffer, we reflect on the wisdom of grafting ourselves to the healing truth of the abiding Spirit.

Rather than lamenting the evil that stalks societies, we contemplate the truth of pruning away all that separates us from the courage and patience of God.

Today we have the opportunity to produce fruit on the great vine of life. Today we rejoice in the gift of Christ’s vineyard. Today we come together in the Spirit of beauty, wisdom, truth, and love.

We pray Psalm 80and we consider God’s gifts of healing, restoration, and transformation while we repeat verses 8-10 as the antiphon, 

You brought a grapevine out of Egypt;
    you drove out other nations and planted it in their land.
You cleared a place for it to grow;
    its roots went deep, and it spread out over the whole land.
It covered the hills with its shade;
    its branches overshadowed the giant cedars.

 


To find more Vine and Branches posts on this blog, use these links.

The Vine and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2018/05/19/john-15-the-vine-and-branches/

Sawing Off Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/01/30/mark-322-30-sawing-off-branches/

Roots and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/02/07/roots-and-branches/

Grafting to the Vine: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/05/26/psalm-106-grafting-to-the-vine/

Enter the words, Vine or Branch into the blog search bar to explore other reflections.

When we compare other versions of these verses, we discover the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love of our relationship of Vine and Branches.

Image from: https://www.stpeterschurchchicago.org/cm/articles/vine-and-branches

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Tobit 5Rafael 

Jacopo Vignali: Tobias and the Arcangel Raphael

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Favorite from May 12, 2010.

I have always loved this story of synchronicity, healing and steadfastness and each time I read it I reflect upon – and marvel at – the number of times that the angel Rafael has been present in my life.  Sometimes I know he is present in the healing hands of physicians, ministers and friends.  Other times it is only until well after an event that I realize I have been visited by an angel.  God constantly sends us his guides; we may or may not be aware of their presence.

We are created to experience joy rather than sorrow, reunion rather than separation, salvation rather than abandonment.  We are meant to be free from bondage, free to enter into relationship with the force that created us, free to enter fully into our divinity.  In yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Maurice Zundel we read:  We are called into a heart-to-heart relationship with the Lord in which our whole being must enter . . . The only way to enter into the mystery of the universe is through the divine presence.  When we are hidden in the presence of God . . . we are at the heart of the true universe.

Fr. Maurice Zundel

Humans have a yearning to belong, an ache to be part of something significant, and I believe that this is what makes human love so alluring to us.  We want to be the center, the axis point, the object of someone’s love . . . and yet we already are.  Rafael walks with us and guides us more times than we even know; and he arrives as the healing messenger of God.  Let us give thanks and be glad.  Let us rejoice and praise God.  Let us keep a sharp look out for the Rafaels in our lives . . . and let us repeat our stories of God’s power to save, of God’s infinite and compassionate love, for we are creatures of joy and not woe.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

To learn more about Fr. Maurice Zundel, a Swiss theologian, visit: https://amishcatholic.com/2018/02/28/maurice-zundel-on-prayer/ 

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Job 2: Satan

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We cannot leave this book of wisdom without pausing to confront the evil that sets this story into motion. If we have time today, we will want to listen to an On Being conversation hosted by Krista Tippet with Rabbi Sarah Bassin, and Imam Abdullah Antepli. The discussion is entitled Holy Envy, and it opens a method for confronting evil in our world.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

The image of evil hiding among faithful servants is an unsettling thought.  We go about our work or we rest in fallow time, trusting that all will be well, hoping to be children of light rather than the dark. The image of Satan lurking among the holy ones might unnerve us enough to re-examine the opening chapters of this story so that we might see a few details we have previously ignored. Satan reports that he has been patrolling his domain – – – the earth; yet God expresses confidence in the faithful, patient Job.

We do not like to think about evil, and we too often turn away when it enters the comfort zone we have carefully set up for ourselves.  Usually we believe that we must avoid evil at all costs, or we believe it is a force that only God can handle.  Because we feel powerless, we may not spend much time thinking about what evil is or where it comes from.  Yet we must take it seriously while at the same time not allowing it to paralyze us.

Several summers ago, I read a fascinating novel about how the devil takes up residence in our hearts almost without our noticing.  The Angels’ Game is a remarkable story and well worth reading.  The author, Carlos Luis Zafón, deftly weaves a tale that at once terrifies and holds us in dreadful yet delicious anticipation of what we know the end to be when we align with malignancy.  The story is terrifying in that the reader does not feel God’s presence specifically; rather the reader finds goodness in individual people and from literature itself.  In Zafón’s tale, God is found in books and stories, and there is a spell-binding quality to the plot.  As I closed the last page, I gave thanks for being in a well-loved vacation place with well-loved and loving people. The force of goodness and God-ness through them put my mind at ease. And it is this goodness and God-ness that Job brings to us today. Job’s fidelity and faith not only make him a target of the envious devil, they also save him. And so we are left to reflect . . .

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

God is so good that God does not banish Satan from his presence.

God is so good that God does not allow Satan to have the last word.

God is so good that God rescues, saves, heals and restores.

Job puts all of his trust in this God.

Job refuses to bow to social pressure and to pretend that he is guilty of something he has not done.

Job speaks directly to God, and argues with God, asking for answers.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

We must not fret about evil, yet we must not forget its presence.  When we find ourselves up against one who is a fallen angel, we cannot think that we, on our own, can win against the overwhelming power of Satan.  We must place all of our faith, all of our hope, and all of our trust in the Lord.  Only this one has the power to convert the aftermath of evil into the goodness of love. Only this one has the compassion to love us beyond the arguing.

Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2009.

See a review of The Angel’s Game at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/books/review/Rafferty-t.html 

For more on Zafón and his work, visit: https://frandi.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/the-angels-game-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon-a-book-review/ 

 

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Ecclesiastes 1: Seek Trust

Blaise Nicolas Le Sueur: Solomon Before the Ark of the Covenant

Second Sunday of Advent, December 10, 2017

Vanity

This book was written not by Solomon as claimed, but by a writer who actually identifies himself “as a subject (4:13, 8:2, 9:14-16, 10:16-17 and 20), noting conditions of oppression (4:13), injustice (4:8, 5:8), and social upheaval (10:6-7).  The language . . . is a late form of biblical Hebrew, coming closest of any Old Testament book to post-biblical Mishnaic Hebrew.  The presence of Persian loan-words requires a date well after Israel’s release from exile in 539 B.C.E.  Fragments of the book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Qumran community date to the mid-second century B.C.E.  Most scholars date the book’s composition between 300 and 200 B.C.E.”  (Meeks 986)  The Mishnah is a collection of oral literature of the early Hebrew people who appear to us as the first portion of the Torah.

We find the theme of this book laid out clearly in the first chapter: All is vanity that does not come from God.  It does not take any time at all for us to put this reading into the context of our own lives.  What does take some time is to determine what to do with this self-knowledge.

We have entered the season of Advent – an exciting, mysterious time in the liturgical calendar that we associate with a feeling of expectation – a time of promises and fulfillment.  We in the northern hemisphere also associate this time of year with the coming on of darkness and cold; while in the southern hemisphere, Advent is experienced as a time of lengthening days and rising temperatures.  I often think that the later is more apt.  Warmth, light, ease of days, promise . . . Christ.  The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that all else besides a life that acts in this promise is futile.  As followers of Christ, our example of living in hope is paramount for ourselves, for our community, and for the greater world.  We enact Christ when we put aside the vanity that we are all, and take on the understanding that The Promise is all.

As we move through this day and begin this week after spending a day or days of Thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth, we will want to pause to examine our spiritual bounty as well.  Just as we examine our relationships with family and friends, we will also want to examine our relationship with the Creator, the Redeemer and the Comforter.  We will want to unfold the miracle of this love so great that it overcomes all trials and injustices.  We will want to allow ourselves to step into that which is not in vain.  We will want to remember, we will want to trust, we will want to believe, we will want to hope.

We already know that there is nothing new under the sun . . . and so what we hope to experience is that which is new . . . that which is not in vain . . . and that which is worthy of every ounce of strength we have in body, mind and soul.

Like the audience of Ecclesiastes, we who have returned from exile will want to reunite in intimacy with our God and so we might try to spend more time this season with this book of wisdom, parsing out its verses to complement our days.  In this way, we might hope to be full of God’s wisdom rather than our own, we might hope to live in God’s love rather than our own, and we might hope to be Christ rather than an empty vanity of vanities.

To celebrate this Second Sunday of Advent, we join voices with this traditional hymn, O Come, O come, Emmanuel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-4 

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  

A Favorite from November 30, 2009.

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Nehemiah 9:12: Pillar and Cloud – A Reprise

Saturday, October 21, 2017

In this chapter of the Nehemiah story, the people returning from exile have seen the great light of God’s persistent love for them. They recall the promise of this love, and they vow to act for and through it.

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.

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, visit the  Confession  post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/12/30/confession/

The cloud image above is from the Pinch of Grace blog that is no longer active. 

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

A Favorite from July 15, 2013.

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