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Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’


Psalm 131: Humble Trust in God

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

This is one of the shortest psalms in the Bible – only 3 verses – and yet its message is one of the most important.  We must trust God.  And if we truly do, we will have less anxiety, less fear, more hope, and more serenity.  This is so simple, and yet so difficult.

Jesus demonstrates his own filial boldness when he tells us, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.  (Mark 11:24)  He abides by the Father just as the Father abides by him and he reminds us to knock, seek and ask.  (Matthew 7:7-14)  Jesus believes that the promises he has been given will be fulfilled . . . and they are . . . but not without suffering.

We need not look to Jesus for our only inspiration to trust.  We also have the marvelous examples of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman. (Matthew 8:10 and 15:28)   Jesus himself remarks on the depth of their faith, and we can see their persistence.  The Catechism in paragraph 2613 reminds us to pray always without ceasing and with the patience of faith (my italics).  And this many of us do, but perhaps we leave out one important step.  A true prayer of faith is not only the words and the intent, but the true disposition of one’s heart to do the will of the Father.  (My italics again)  Jesus calls his disciples to bring into their prayer this concern for cooperating with the divine plan.  (CCC 2611)

Why do we not trust God enough to let go of our little and big worries?  Why do we doubt that God will do anything but what is good for us?  God is goodness itself and truth itself, and so God is incapable of doing anything but the best for us.  Perhaps we mull over conversations we have had with God which have not brought us precisely what we thought we deserved.  Maybe be believe that we have a better plan in mind.

As I watch my life and that of others, as I observe the sun and the stars and the moon and the seas, as I watch a flock of birds lift in unison, or trees bend before the force of a hurricane, I am stunned by how little I trust.  The simplest and greatest of God’s creation trust that all will be well better than I.  Perhaps I do not humble myself enough.  Perhaps I think I understand more than the birds or the planets or the flowers because I am a creature who has the power of reason and problem solving.  If this is so, I must turn to this simplest of psalms which holds so much truth.  And I must humble myself to believe that God has a far better plan for my life and the lives of those around me than I could ever devise.

Lord, I am not proud; nor are my eyes haughty.  I do not busy myself with things that are too sublime for me.  Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.  Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.  Israel, hope in the Lord, now and forever.  Amen.


Written on October 5, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://www.mikepedersen.com/building-trust-online-to-maximize-your-business-growth/

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Obadiah 1:15-21: The Measure

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

THINK team commemoration design

A favorite from September 11, 2012. Let us consider again the measure of our lives . . .

The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  John the Evangelist speaks of the measure of God’s joy which we will know when we follow Jesus.  All three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38) remind us that we are measured by our own actions; this is the same message we hear from the prophet Obadiah today; yet . . . Do we truly listen to these words? 

Countless times in the Old Testament we hear stories of how people are done in by the plans they designed for their perceived enemies.  The story of Esther is a wonderful example which I always recall because it illustrates this point in the person of Haman who is executed on the gallows he ordered constructed for Mordecai, the man he envied and wanted to eliminate.

Do we truly listen to these words?

Each time we find ourselves plotting to “teach someone a lesson”:  Do we truly listen to these words?

When we worry about the schemes of others more than we place our petitions for change in God’s hands: Do we truly listen to these words?

If we engage in gossip or enable disrespectful or abusive behavior without saying a word: Do we truly listen to these words?

If there are times that we refuse to witness as God asks: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we have given up hope and cease asking God to intercede for those who harm us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we allow our doubts and fears about God’s love for us and the goodness of his creation to overcome his love for us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we examine the measure with which we measure others . . . will we want to be valued by this standard?  Will we want to have others’ opinions rammed into our minds?  Will we want others to lapse into mediocrity for fear of failure?  Will we want others to give up entirely?  Will we want others to speak in compassionate truth?  Will we want to be measured with the norm we use when looking at others?

Do we truly listen to these words?

Notes from La Biblia de América: Can patience run dry?  Does the capacity to lend support have a limit?  Our Christian faith teaches us that the answer is, no.  It is necessary to forgive seven times seven times – or infinitely.  Love cannot have limits.  Is this the only message Obadiah wants to communicate . . . is he merely acting to break a cycle of violence in his own day, or does he speak to us as well?  This briefest of prophecies has as a target the Edomites, a people in constant conflict with those in Judah, the descendents of Jacob’s brother, Esau.  The abrasive conflict reaches a height when Edom backs the invading Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and carry the Jewish people off into exile.  Obadiah speaks to the remnant left behind after the Assyrian holocaust.  Obadiah speaks to us now.

Who are the Edomites in our own lives today?  We know the land of Edom well.  It is the place where our constant adversaries live.  It is the hard heart which envies who we are and what we have.  It is the stiff-necked place from where schemes and lies and plots all spring . . . and these are the places we are asked to measure with the same measure we wish ourselves to be measured.  We are asked to measure in faith, with hope . . . and through love.  Let us go to Edom with a full measure of love in our hearts.


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

Adapted from a post written on May 11, 2009.  

For more information on the THINK team design, click on the image above or go to:

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Luke 16: Citizenship in the Kingdom

Good Friday, April 19, 2019

This a chapter in the story of Christ as told by Luke where we hear and see Jesus explaining mysteries; we also hear and see his followers trying to understand and to follow his instruction.  The chapter is book-ended by two parables: the Dishonest Servant – followed by an explication – and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus – which is so clear it needs no further comment.  It only must be believed.

Sandwiched between these stories, Jesus speaks to the sneering Pharisees who are ardent followers of the Mosaic Law and the Prophets yet do not understand the concept of Jesus’ New Kingdom which the Prophet Isaiah has so clearly predicted.  In the heart of the chapter is are brief verses regarding marriage and divorce which are often held against those who must – for one reason or another – seek civil and church sanction to annul a bond thought to have been made in reverence.  We read these two simple verses in the context of Paul’s instruction on marriage in his letter to the Ephesians 5:21-32.  These words follow Paul’s thinking on our duty to live in the light in God’s kingdom.  They speak of mutual respect, mutual holiness, and mutual love.  They give us a view on reciprocated union as read differently in Colossians 3:18-25 where Paul writes about The Christian Family and Slaves and Masters.Here he speaks about the significance of obedience to one’s vocation; and they reflect the thinking found in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-17 where he writes about holiness in sexual conduct, mutual charity, and hope for the Christian dead.  To the people of Colossae and of Thessalonica he speaks of the reciprocal character of all holy relationships, and the honor we bring to others, ourselves and our creator when we consider all relationships with the gravity they are due.  Jesus reiterates this idea.

When Moses gave permission for husbands to divorce their wives, he did so in order to prevent the murders which happened regularly when men grew tired of the women they had taken into homes and beds.  This sort of casual disregard for life and the lack of a mutually nurturing relationship is what Jesus addresses here in Luke and again in Matthew 5 and 19, and Mark 10.  He warns that flitting across the surface of our relationships will not prepare us properly for the life we are to live in this New Kingdom of which he speaks.

As we read this chapter, we might consider two thoughts here that will bring us to something new: perhaps the divorce which ends an abusive relationship is a saving moment of blessed grace, and perhaps each relationship into which we enter is as holy as a marriage in that it is meant to be nurtured in order to glorify God when the two parties strive to imitate God’s love rather than a superficial, self-serving demand on one another.

The lessons brought to us in this chapter of Luke remind us that kingdom work is constant; and it is present in every breath we take, every gesture we offer to one another.

During this time of introspection we might want to consider the times we have been called to be stewards of not only money but of our emotional and spiritual resources.  Have we allowed our physical, spiritual and psychological assets to drain dangerously low?

During this time of examination we might also want to consider the many divorces we have entered into in our lives.  Have we walked away from organizations, communities, families and friends without following every avenue open to us at the time for remediation in ourselves and others?

During this time of Lent, we might want to spend time reflecting on the Laws we obey, the Kingdoms for which we seek citizenship.  What do our gestures tell us about what we hold important?  What air do we long to breath?  What prophets do we read?  What master do we follow?

Are we people who are trustworthy in small things so that we might enter into great ones?  We will find the answers to these questions by examining the fruit we bear back to the one who created us.


A re-post from March 5, 2012.

Image from: http://www.lifemessenger.org/html/Ministries/

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Isaiah 66:18-24God Sets a Sign

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Witten on March 4 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

For I know their works and their thoughts . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God sees all; there are no secrets.  Just a few days ago we heard the words of Jesus as recorded by Luke telling us that what is whispered in the dark will come to light.  It is impossible to hide from God for God is omniscient and all-knowing.

And I am coming to gather all the nations and tongues . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God is all powerful; he can do all things.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Jesus tells us that what is impossible with men is possible for God.  (Luke 18:27, Mark 10:27, Matthew 19:26)  It is impossible to conquer God who is omnipotent and eternal.

And they shall come and shall see my glory . . .

Isaiah reminds us that God is awesome; in the Old Testament we are told to fear, or to stand in awe of God for this reason.  Jesus tells us that once we walk in God’s way, nothing will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20) that his glory is our glory. This is the measure of God’s might and love. It is impossible for God to be or do evil for our compassionate God is goodness itself.

And I will set a sign among them.

Isaiah reminds us that God knows the faithful just as the faithful know God.  Jesus tells the Father that he has come to gather in those faithful.  When we bear witness to evil, we also bear the sign of God on our foreheads.  It is impossible for God to forget or neglect us for God is love itself.

Isaiah lived at a time of deep and corrosive corruption and he understood the damage this kind of erosion has on people.  He warned against the decay and fire that envelops those who neglect God’s way.  His words continue to instruct us today.  Jesus too, teaches us the lessons we need to know in order to be numbered in those who know and recognize God with ease.

St. Paul writes to the people of Philippi (4:8) one of the simplest yet truest and most beautiful descriptions of Christian living.  Once we take these words in and own them, we have no need to fear the dire consequences we see in Isaiah today.  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  If we can say that we seek truth, purity, and beauty, if we act in honor and justice, if we live grace-filled days . . . we need not fear the harvester’s sword.

God has set a sign among us.  That sign is Christ.  We need not fear Isaiah’s predictions when we respond to God’s call as St. Paul urges.  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious . . . this is excellence . . . this is worthy of praise . . . this is worthy of our time . . . this is God among us . . . this is Christ.  Amen.


A re-post from August 18, 2011.

Image from: http://omgzi.blogspot.com/2010/10/ichthys-sign-of-fish.html

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The Gospels: Stories

The Book of Kells: The Four Gospels

The Fourth Day of Christmas, December 28, 2017

From snopes.com: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music. Some misinterpretations have crept into the English version over the years, though. For example, the fourth day’s gift is four “colly birds” (or “collie birds”), not four “calling birds.” (The word “colly” literally means “black as coal,” and thus “colly birds” would be blackbirds.)

No matter the color of the birds in these lyrics, most critics agree that the number four refers to the Four Gospels in The New Testament canon. The first Gospel, scholars generally agree, was written by Mark in the first century. Concise, quick-moving, written to a Roman audience, this book is described as: vivid and detailed, active and energetic, wondrous, and demonstrating power over devils. The Gospel of Matthew was also written in the first century but after Mark’s Gospel. A topical retelling of the Christ story, it holds less joy than other Gospels but shows itself as an official, didactic, story of rejection and even despondency. This Gospel is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Gospel. Along with the Book of Acts, Luke writes the third Gospel of prayer, and praise, women, the poor, and the outcast. This artistic Gospel is written before the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.) for gentiles and Greeks who were coming into the growing Christian community. The final Gospel was written after the fall of Jerusalem by John of Patmos; and he is also believed to be the writer of the Book of Revelation. This story is a celebration of feasts and testimony. Full of symbols, this highly spiritual Gospel brings God’s Incarnation into sharp reality.

Although these stories vary in detail, approach, style and focus, taken together they bring us a diverse and passionate accounting of Jesus as King (Mark), Jesus as Savior (Luke), Jesus as the Son of God (John), and of the Kingdom (Matthew) into which he invites each of us.

When we read the opening and closing verses of each Gospel, with an understanding of the writer’s audience, we begin to more fully realize God’s love for creation’s diversity, and the great variety in the stories that tell us of Emmanuel, God’s presence among us.

To learn more about each Gospel, click on the links or visit: www.biblehub.com

To learn more about what the Gospels are and are not, visit the PBS Frontline page on The Story of the Storyteller at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/gospels.html 

Snopes last updated December 23, 2015 https://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/12days.asp

 

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1 John 1: God’s Yardstick – The Gospel Writers

The Infinite Life of Christ

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We hear eye-witness accounts from those who were there, from those who walked and talked, ate and lived with Jesus. Scholars believe that Mark most likely writes his Gospel for early followers, gentiles who faced persecution after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He explains a number of Jewish customs to his audience and only once refers to the Old Testament. Matthew, on the other hand, writes to Jews who believed in Jesus as Messiah. Luke directly addresses Theophilus, someone of high position and wealth, and his message bolsters the story the early Christians told. John writes to non-Jewish believers, those who struggle with the conflict between philosophy and faith. And it is John who opens his first letter with words that ought to convince any who doubt the veracity of the Jesus story. (Zondervan 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. (1 John 1:1-2)

Not only do the Gospel writers give testimony to the truth they have lived, they ask that we pass this story along. They ask that we keep the Spirit in our hearts. They ask that we keep the Creator forever in our minds.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:3-4)

And Jesus says to his followers: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29)

1-john-3-17-does-gods-love-abide-in-him1Those who lived the Gospel story have something to pass along to us. Those who read this story today have something to pass along to those who follow. When we spend time today with Gospel verses of our choosing or with one of John’s letters, we open the door to a deeper understanding of the yardstick of love that God hands to each of us so we might better measure the wealth of our lives, the infinite life of Christ we share with others.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718. Print.

Tomorrow, yearning. 

 

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