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Posts Tagged ‘manna’


2 Corinthians 8:1-15: Equality in Generosity

Saturday, December 7, 2019

For in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  (Verse 2)

In the “feel good” society in which we live, we are conditioned to regard affliction as something to be avoided, something to move past and beyond quickly.  Somewhere on the Damascus Road St. Paul met Christ who brought him the message that one who follows the Messiah sees the inverse of this concept.  We find our wealth in our poverty, we find joy in pain, we find living water in the desert, we find life through death.

I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others.  (Verse 8)

We ought not to seek affliction.  This is not healthy.  Anyway, affliction has a way of landing on the doorstep of every human being.  We may choose to step over this affliction each morning as we set off for work and prayer and play.  We may choose to allow Christ’s compassion to move us in healing the afflictions of others – and in so doing, become healed.

For if your eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have; . . .  (Verse 12)

We ought not to meddle in the affairs of others or to be distraught about an affliction which only God can heal.  This is forgetting our proper place in our social and spiritual worlds.  The God who has made us knows our promise and potential.  Our God expects us to rise to this potential planted in us.  This is how we bloom

. . . not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.  (Verse 13)

The mystery of God is this . . . that in giving we receive . . . in sharing our wealth overflows . . . in putting aside anxiety for ourselves we are better able to share compassion with others.  Paul reminds us of how when the Hebrews gathered manna in the desert, all were fed.  None starved.

As it is written: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less”.  (Verse 15)

Our concern for the poor and marginalized in the world is easily handled by sending aid to those who have less.  Are we as quick to serve one who suffers from depression or anxiety?  Do we allow God to work through us when we meet those who have left the practice of prayer behind and are casting about looking for some firm place to stand?  Do we witness for Christ when we meet poverty in all its forms?  Do we step forward eagerly to give . . . so that others may have . . . so that all may increase in Jesus’ name?

As members of the Mystical Body we receive by giving, we live by dying.  Anxiety, fear, poverty of any kind does not exist . . . because we all know how to give . . . in fearless expectation of equality.


Written on October 26, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.bluewolf.com/blog/what-are-your-5-packets-generosity

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Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 

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John 6:25-58: Finding Jesus

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Last Supper Jesus breaks the bread.

We wonder what it would be like to have a conversation with Jesus the man. We imagine what we might ask and what he might answer. Today we have the opportunity to explore just such a dialog when we look at the words of those who were intent on finding Jesus.

We can use the scripture link to read the people’s dialog with Jesus; and we can reflect on our own responses. Jesus’ words are taken from THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible. We follow the links to read the peoples’ words, and then we insert our own . . .

They were seeking Jesus and caught up with him to ask questions.

Jesus said: Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food . . . Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.

They said (verse 28) . . . and we say . . . 

Jesus said: Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.

They waffled (verses 30-31) . . . and we doubt . . .

Jesus said: The real significance of that Scripture [of Moses feeding the people in the desert with manna] is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.

They jumped at that (verse 34) . . . and we exclaim . . . 

Jesus said: I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. 

They started arguing (verses 41-42) . . . and we also argue . . . 

Jesus said: Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here.

They started fighting among themselves (verse 52) . . . and we dispute . . . 

Then Jesus said . . . We discover how well we have found Jesus when we read verses 53-58 for his’ final words to those who question him, his words to us today.

Tomorrow, more complaint.

 

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Joshua 4: Memorial Stonesstanding stones

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We have reflected on the contents we will find when we open the ark of our lives before God.  Will we find stone tablets with God’s law written upon them, or will we see an open and softened heart converted by God’s love?  Will we find manna of God’s word that we have kept for ourselves but forgotten to share, or will that sustaining Word be present in our interactions with God’s people and all creation?  And will we find the staff of life, the rod of God’s miracles in our lives kept in darkness, or will we see that it blooms in all we think and say and do as a result of our intimate relationship with Jesus?  What will we have saved as treasures and tokens of God’s active presence in our lives?  Will we want to unpack and re-pack what we find?  Will we be content with the content of the ark of our life?

Today’s Noontime continues this story of God’s power and willingness to save.  The Israelites have for a second time crossed a rushing body of water that under normal conditions would have swept them away; and what we read about now is their eagerness to record the wonder of this event, how they respond to God’s request that memorial stones be set in place to commemorate the bond between God and this people. And they agree to make a kind of outward and long-lasting verification of their internal union.  The stones are there to this day.

When we mark the wondrous times of our lives, we must do so with reverence and joy; we must share the good news of our entering into holy relationship.  We must pass the commemorative stories on; and we must be willing to allow the marking stones of our story to remain forever as a sign of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day. 

We can choose to dwell in the sadness of our journey or we can decide to celebrate and recount the saving power of God.  We can curse the darkness in our lives or we can delight in the love we share with our Lord.  We can grumble that God has not answered our prayer exactly as we would have liked, or we can set up memorial stones in honor of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day.

stones-stack-940x360When we stand before our maker, what will we bring with us?  What symbols will mark the celebrations in our lives?  Will the stones we haul into the waters of the Jordan be meager and small, or will they take effort to move, symbolizing in their greatness the enormity of God’s justice and mercy?  Will the stones that we set on the hill for all to see be the ones that lie most convenient to our hands, or will they be ones that take great effort and cooperation with God’s plan to bring to the memorial site?  They are there to this day.

When we are called out of chaos into truth and integrity, how will we mark that day?  Where will we place our monument?  And how will we answer our God?  This is what we must decide today.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 12, 2009.

 

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Deuteronomy 30:11-14 & Luke 24:13-35: An Eternal Promise eucharist-5

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Eucharist: Thanksgiving represented in the gift of bread and wine we receive each time we share in Jesus’ liturgy. As Jesus gives thanks to the creator when he multiplies fish and loaves of barley, so too are we called to give thanks when we share in Christ’s presence in Eucharist.

For this command which I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. 

From the oldest stories of the Torah to the new life described in the Gospels, God has in mind a plan for our redemption. We are created in God’s image and we are given the freedom to choose a life of truth and light. At times we are able to follow Christ. At other times we betray his goodness and generosity. In his great love, Christ is patiently and repeatedly turning back for his lost sheep. The promise of the Old Covenant and the miracles of the Old and New Testament are continual reminders of this promise.

Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us? 

In Deuteronomy God asks the faithful to love with a whole heart, whole mind and whole body. In the last words of Luke’s Gospel we hear and see the testimony of the Emmaus disciples that the risen Christ continues to fulfill God’s promise of redemption through his body and blood. The bread in the desert becomes the multiplied fish and loaves . . . and then becomes Christ himself. For this reason we look on these signs and wonders as more than metaphor. Christ rescues us actually and not symbolically. The Spirit resides is us really and not figuratively. God continues to guide and protect us truly and not allegorically. Of this we can be certain. Of this we can be sure. And God’s gift of daily Eucharist is the vehicle of this eternal promise . . . the Old Testament stories from the Torah and Kings are a foreshadowing of the promise incarnate in the Gospel Jesus.

Eucharist definition from: http://www.united-catholic-church.org/FAITH/catholic/def-euch.htm

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Matthew 5:6 and Luke 6:21: Hunger and Thirstfood for the poor

Holy Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. (Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain)

ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIESGod says: Food and water are essential to sustain human life. It is for this reason that I sent manna to the desert and poured forth water from a rock in the dry and difficult journey my children made to the Promised Land. It is for this reason that I open human minds to possibility through scientific discoveries. It is for this reason that I call those of you who have plenty to be good stewards of my gifts and to share them. When have you seen me naked and alone, hungry and thirsty? When you have seen the least of my children you have seen me. When you satisfy these need, you discover my righteousness. When you share what you have . . . you receive far more that you give.

protectcleanwater_concernedcitizenforslideshowAs we continue our Beatitudes thanksgiving, we might consider giving alms to an organization whose mission is to secure clean water for God’s miraculous creation. We might sponsor a child or her family in a third-world culture to assure she has enough to eat. We might also join our voices in solidarity with others to raise public awareness of food and water shortages on our planet. We might sign a petition, write to a legislative representative, or begin a blog. We might pray for both those who live on the margins of human society and those who marginalize the powerless. In any case, we will want to do as the Gospel encourages us to do, stand as one with those who hunger and thirst.

11-March-2015-FAOClick on the images for local and global information and opportunities. For news about the United Nations Zero Hunger Challengeclick the image to the left or visit: http://www.un.org/en/zerohunger/#&panel1-1

Tomorrow, rejoice and be glad!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

cloud over the desertEzekiel 37

A Prayer from the Valley of Dry Bones

We remember that Yahweh led the Hebrews out of the desert, guiding them through the presence of a cloud, feeding them on manna, bringing them to a land and a legacy promised long ago.

Whether in an ocean, lake, river, stream or cloud, every drop of moisture is a treasure and just so are we, God’s children.  It is in the desert that we understand this most clearly and directly. It is on the plain of dry bones that we learn this lesson most fully and well.

The hand of the Lord came upon me . . .

Although we may not feel it, the Lord is with us always.

And led me out in the spirit of the Lord . . .

Although we may not see it, God is always guiding us.

And set me in the center of the plain . . .

Although we may not sense it, the Spirit is always consoling us.

Which was now filled with bones . . .

Although we may not trust it, the desert is where we find solace.

These flowers are called Scorpion Weed and bloom only once in several years . . . to bring new life to the desert.

These flowers are called Scorpion Weed and bloom only once in several years . . . to bring new life to the desert.

How dry they were!

Although we may not accept it, there is life where we see only death.

The Lord asks: “Can these bones come to life?

Although we may not believe it, serenity comes through suffering.

I answer: “You alone know that”.

Although we may not be certain of it, God brings good out of harm.

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.

Although we may not want to admit it . . . we must not run away from the desert . . . for it is the desert that we understand the miracle of dry bones rising to new life.  It is in the desert that we are surprised with new gifts.  It is in the desert that we experience the awesome power and love of God.

Come, let us go out to the desert so that we might meet the Lord.  Amen.

Reflect on your own Dry Bones experiences and the surprise God always has in store.  Think about how we might live in union with God’s creation and God’s plan while browsing more of the Most Amazing Photographs of 2011 at: http://tammymarierose.hubpages.com/hub/The-Most-Amazing-Photographs-of-the-World-Around-us-in-2011

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

the bread of lifeNumbers 11

A Prayer for the Discontented

The Hebrew people have escaped slavery and tyranny.  They have followed Moses out of bondage and moved toward freedom and promise.  When the journey becomes too long and too arduous they grumble and complain.  They who had been hopeful and even joyful at the prospect of change and newness are now disgruntled, unhappy and even resentful.  They complain to Moses who does what all faithful do . . . he takes his problem to God where all solutions lie.

We see a reprise of this story later in the New Testament.  As the kingdom work begins to build, Jesus assembles seventy-two disciples to go out into the world when the harvest is plenty but the workers few.  (Luke 10)  Still later when the fledgling Church begins to form, the disciples add to their ranks in order that they accomplish the work they see before them because it would not be right to neglect the ministry of the word of God. (Acts 6)  The work becomes arduous, even difficult, and so the apostles ask for help.

Jesus tells us that we are to knock at the door we wish might open to us.  He reminds us that we are to seek so that we might find.  (Luke 9 and Matthew 7)  We are never left alone to deal with our stumbling blocks and in fact these obstacles become doorways and windows onto our best potential as creatures of God.  They are reminders that God is always present, always abiding.  These “problems” in our lives are actually openings to a deeper relationship with God.

As we journey through life we often find ourselves needing more than manna; we discover that the taste of the daily quail has somehow soured and rather than sustain us these birds have now become the root of our discontentment.  We are tempted to ask for more than manna and quail and we do not see that this further complicates our problems.  We do not see that we must ask God to show us solutions to our problems that lead us to grow and mature in Christ.  So, rather than carry our burdens on our own, let us tell God that some of our load is too much to carry, and when we do we will find that from the depths of his descent into darkness Jesus returns to free us from all that enslaves us.  Jesus arrives to carry us forward.  Jesus abides with us always, just as has been promised, to bring us to our best selves. 

When find that we have begun to settle into our discontentment as a kind of familiar unhappiness, let us ask ourselves these questions.  What do we seek more than the manna we receive daily?  Are we willing to open ourselves so that our too-heavy load might actually be an answer to a prayer that is shared in God’s light?  Are we willing to give up the habit of our discontentment for the promise of freedom offered by God?

And let us pray . . .

Kind and loving God, you sustain us through all turmoil even though we may not see you.

Just and merciful God, you transform our suffering even though we may fail to call on you.

Patient and wonderful God, you allow us to grumble and complain even when we need to celebrate with you.

Loving and generous God, show us how our discontentment may lead us back to you.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 23, 2011.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

concordpastorNumbers 11

The Discontent of the People

Everyone is complaining in today’s Noontime, both prophet and people.

I cannot carry this all by myself . . .

Would that we might have what we used to have when we were slaves . . .

God hears these cries for help and he responds . . . but his response is tailored to the petitioner and the petition.  God hears that although the people are being sustained by the manna, they hunger for more.  God also hears the weariness and frustration in Moses’ voice.

What does God do?  As always, God acts.  And God acts in accordance with a plan that offers us more than we can actually see from where we stand.

First, God asks that Moses assemble 70 elders in order that some of the Spirit he has bestowed on Moses be transferred to his chosen helpers.  Second, God sends quail to add to the people’s diet.  This caring and compassionate God answers all petitions . . . but there are further lessons to be learned.

We see Moses intercede for his people and we see how he learns and benefits from his interactions with God.  This humble and open man is rewarded with the chance to share his burden.  In this way, the Spirit moves among many and lightens the heavy load.

On the other hand, the meat – which lured the people from the camp – becomes loathsome to the people.  They come to see this “gift” with which they have sated themselves for what it is: a symbol of their faithlessness and their rejection of God’s gift of grace.   We all know the saying: Be careful what you ask for.  In today’s story, the people at first are happy with the remedy they have sought . . . more meat has arrived.  Later they see their thinking as an example of how they have focused on the obstacle as a problem to be removed rather than as an opportunity to draw closer to God.  (Mays 173)

Sometimes we, like the Hebrews, also present our own solutions to God rather than petition for God’s help that will also best suit our personal growth.  Sometimes we, like the Hebrews, ask for more than the manna God sends us.  Sometimes we, like the Hebrews, forget that we grow best when we grow in God’s plan rather than in spite of God’s plan.  We, like the Hebrews, have become accustomed to being discontent . . . and forget to celebrate God’s providence that constantly sustains us.

Tomorrow, manna becomes the Bread of Life in Christ . . .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 173. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 23, 2011.

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