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Posts Tagged ‘Luke 6:38’


Esther 5:9-14: Retribution

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Esther

I love this story for its crystalline message: The measure that we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38).  We need to hear this story today because lately we have been reflecting on convolutions and betrayals big and small, on expiatory sacrifices, on our complaints, on making a proper response to the call we hear from God, and on forming the alliances we will need to see us through our journey in this life.  All of these themes are present in the story of Esther . . . and they can weigh heavily on us in this season when we want to participate in Easter joy.

Often we are exhausted from the many lessons of discipleship which we must learn.  Often we grow weary of hearing the message that only God can pass judgment and exact retribution.  Often we spend ourselves down to the bottom of our resources keeping up with both listening for the call and by managing our human desire to ask for revenge.  Often our personal well runs dry after we drink from it more times than we replenish it.

Today offers us an opportunity to fill the well, to re-stock the granary, to rest a bit and to recoup.  There are many psalms and stories in scripture in which humans petition retribution and violent revenge on their enemies who appear to skate through life unscathed by the wreckage they leave in their wake.  What today’s story tells us is this:  These enemies drown in their own wake. 

Yes, we reply, we hear this . . . but when will we see it . . . and why does it happen . . . and how do we survive?

We can never visit this story often enough.  We help ourselves if we read it several times a year because it has so much to offer and speaks to the basic human desire to judge and to enact our own retribution.  Various Bibles order the inserts differently and the introductory commentary and the accompanying footnotes will explain the reasons for the jumbled structure of this book which ought to be important to each of.  It is through this story that we are reminded of how our enemies fall.  It is through this story that we remember that we doom ourselves by not answering the call we hear.  It is through this story that we can assure ourselves that our reward will be certain, definite . . . and will flow from our own hands.  It is also from this story we learn that our own actions wash back on us if we enter into the world of envy, fear, obsession and hate.

Rembrandt: Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

Today we read about how Haman is content and happy with the plot he is weaving.  We see how he flatters himself and gets lost in his own distorted view of life.  We cannot miss how Haman’s friends and wife misdirect him.  These are such important lessons for us to read.  We cannot hear them enough.  These are lessons we must see and live because . . . in the living of these events, we become more like God.  We respond to the call of our potential.  We enter Christ’s Mystical Body.  This is how we survive.

And so we pray:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are weary from learning the lessons of life: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we tire from seeking and waiting and searching: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we become lost in the webs we and others weave: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are exhausted from living on the edge:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

Amen. 


A re-post from May 21, 2012 .

Images from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/haman-begging-esther-for-mercy and http://christianrep.com/blog/2010/08/08/let-your-life-speak/

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Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A reprise from October 28, 2013.

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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The Moabite Stone or the Mesha Stele

The Moabite Stone or the Mesha Stele

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jeremiah 48

Our Works and Treasures

Because you trusted in your works and treasures you shall be captured and sent into exile . . .

Jeremiah warns the people of Moab about the danger of placing all their hopes in their own hands rather than in the hands of God. Despite their efforts to create safety and comfort for themselves, a litany of towns and peoples are, instead, crafting their own destruction. Much like Jacob Marley in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Jeremiah warns that we forge in life of our own free will the chains that hold us down, link by link, and yard by yard. As Marley warns Scrooge, the common welfare was the business in life that he disregarded; his spirit never roamed beyond the limits of his money-changing as he ignored the common welfare of mankind. Forsaking charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence, Marley chose to harvest exile, destruction and eternal misery. And this is what Marley has in common with the peoples of Nebo, Kiriathiam, Zoar, Luhith, Horonaim, Holon, Jahzah and Mephaath.

Jeremiah cannot speak more plainly: Joy and jubilation are at an end . . . the wealth acquired has perished . . . cursed be the one who does the Lord’s work remissly. 

Neither can Jesus as the writers of the Synoptic Gospels tell us. Our treasure is where our heart is. (Matthew 6:21, 13:44 and 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33-34, 18:22) The measure that we measure with is measured out to us. (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38)

We may well want to consider the fate of Moab and place our hopes and hearts in God’s Words and treasures rather than our own.

A clip from the 1984 version of Dicken’s novel with Frank Finlay & George C. Scott in the roles of the deceased Jacob Marley returning from the dead to warn Ebeneezer Scrooge, his friend in life, can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh_fUMgFomk

For more information on the Mesha Stele, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bible-history.com/resource/ff_mesha.htm

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

habakkuk2[1]Habakkuk 2

Self-Knowledge

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.

Habakkuk is a prophet who “questions the ways of God . . . and calls him to account for his government of the world”. (Senior 1150)  We too, might have reason to argue with God about his ways of governing; we too, might engage God in conversation and then await his reply.  Especially in this day at this time.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk describes for us the evil which will accompany greed, and excessive wealth and power.  Despoilers will eventually suffer the consequences they have inflicted on others.  Those who live by violence will be victims of violence themselves.  These words sound much like those of Christ . . . The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  (Luke 6:38)

Bishop Robert F. Morneau tells us that we are identified by how we interact with others and with God; our very identity comes through our interactions which in turn bring clarity or self-knowledge.  He reminds us that “we are a mystery made in the image and likeness of God,” that “our identity comes in relationships,” and that “lack of self knowledge is fundamentally tragic” in that we miss a precious opportunity to know God and to know self when we refuse to ask tough questions of ourselves and when we neglect prayer and scripture for quick comfort and superficial connections.

Habakkuk did not have this problem.  He asked the creator the universal human question: Why do the evil flourish while the just suffer?  And then he stands at his guard post, stations himself on the rampart, and keeps watch.  In Chapter two of this prophecy we hear the answer Habakkuk receives: Woe to those who neglect themselves and the relationships they have with others.  Hearing this, Habakkuk calls us to seek God, and he calls us to search ourselves.

What is it that stops us from looking deep inside?  Perhaps we are afraid we might discover that we are the evil one from time to time.  Maybe we fear that we cannot meet our own expectations.  Yet all of this insecurity and all of this trembling are smoothed away in the mystery of God’s plan for there is one who walks among us to lay a restorative hand upon our shaky spirit.  This one, God’s Word, is an expression in human form of God’s love.  This one, the risen Christ, forgives, heals, blesses, and opens all the windows and doors we have carefully shut.  It is through this one, Jesus, that we realize our best and truest identity as the adopted children of God.

We can be certain that once we enter into an open relationship with God that, despite our inability to understand God’s plan, we will better understand who we are and what part we are to play in this mystery that unfolds before us daily.  If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

When we seek God, we also seek ourselves. 

When we question God, we also question ourselves. 

When we find God . . . we also find ourselves.

So let us stand upon the rampart with Habakkuk; let us raise our questions to the creator; and let us welcome the gift of self-knowledge that comes from this intimacy with God.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1150. Print.

Morneau, Robert F.  REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope. January 2, 2010. Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2009. 88-89. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2010.

For more words of wisdom from this prophet, type the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar.

For an online study in giving thanks through troubled times, click on the image above or go to: http://deebrestin.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-in-troubled-times-two-week-study/

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Second Sunday of Lent, February 24, 2013 – Sirach 8 & 9 – Part II

The Measure of Friends

af-grain-pouring-mali[1]Today’s Gospel is Luke’s description of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28b-36) and each time we come across these verses we are given the opportunity to again think about the concept of friendship: what it means to us, how we live out friendship with others, and what qualities we hope to find in friends.  So often in the New Testament stories we watch Jesus interact with those closest to him and we always find Jesus giving more than words or gestures to his friends; he brings more than The Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). He brings himself; he gives his full and total self.  And the marvel of Jesus is that he continues to be present to each of us today . . . even when we do not number him as one of our friends.  In his love for us, Jesus reminds us of the important of giving even when we anticipate receiving nothing in return for the measure with which we measure will be measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38, Mark 4:24, Matthew 7:2).  Jesus spares nothing in his great love for his friends.  We must spare nothing as well.  Sirach has words that help us to nurture friendship, and to gain the wisdom that helps us to be a good friend to others.

Sirach cautions us to stay away from the powerful.

Know that you are stepping among snares and walking over a net.

Sirach tells us that we ought not to worry about a “sinner’s fame” or a “proud man’s success”.

You know not what disaster awaits him . . . he will not reach death unpunished.

Sirach suggests that we measure our neighbors in order to associate with the wise and learned.

Let your conversations be about the law of the Lord.

Sirach reminds us of the intimacy of a shared meal.

Have the just for your table companions.

Sirach says to us what we know to be true about new friendship.

A new friend is like new wine which you drink with pleasure only when it has aged.

And Sirach tells us that time and patience are important between friends if the relationship is to have value.

Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him.

When we feel ourselves caught by the allure of control, when we feel trapped by the deception of an associate, when we realize that a colleague has been manipulative . . . we know that it is time to take measure.  Not of the other, but of ourselves.  Are we willing to witness to truth?  Are we willing to break silence about a long-held lie?  Where do we find comfort . . . in the solace of associates who stroke my wounded self . . . or in the integrity of a relationship where we are lovingly corrected?  And in turn, are we willing to become a wounded healer?  Are we willing to be a true friend?

Tomorrow, a prayer for Friends and Friendship.

The other Transfiguration stories appear in Matthew 17:1-8 and Mark 9:2-8.

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