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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Deuteronomy 4: Proofs

Teach them to your children, and to your children’s children . . .

Evidence%20Based%20Practice[1]Each time I read from the books of the law, the Torah, I again understand how difficult it was for Jewish leaders to take hold of and believe the words that Jesus spoke to them about the merciful love of God.  I also understand how difficult it was for these followers of the Mosaic Code to believe that anyone but God who lived in the temple and out of reach of the ordinary human could forgive sin.  These ideas were revolutionary for them, even blasphemous; yet, the man who delivered them was not only able to restore health, he was also able to calm the elements of nature.

What we read today tells us of a God who is faithful, a God who has shown his constancy, a God who continued to reveal himself to his people despite their errant ways.

Did anything so great ever happen before?  Was it heard of? 

Yahweh rescued his people, he brought them out of slavery, he nourished them and taught them who they were, how they were to be, and what their potential was.  Jesus arrived to walk the earth as God among his people.  Jesus fulfilled prophecy.  Jesus compressed the hundreds of Torah laws into one . . . the Law of Freedom, the Law of Love.  Nothing like this had ever been heard of.  Nothing like this has ever been heard of.

You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.

The focus in this reading is on the dichotomy between believing in God and believing in idols.  One of the rewards for following Yahweh is the gift of physical territory which God grants to his chosen people.  Other rewards are his fidelity to us, and his mercy when considering our actions.  These are all proofs of God’s love.  Further proofs of God’s goodness are that once Jesus is resurrected and returns to God, The Holy Spirit settles upon us to abide with us and to dwell in us, God’s people.  This is God’s promise and as we hear in today’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT: God is true: he has a long memory for his own promises and a short memory for our failures to keep ours.  In the gift of his promised Spirit, we find our daily joy.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us the Morning Prayer: Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love never shall leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.  (54:10)  

We look for assurances and guarantees; we sign contracts and agreements that we trust more than we trust God’s love for us.  He has given us proofs . . . and this is the story that we must pass down to our children and our children’s children . . . so that it may live with us and in us . . . beyond the end of time.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 May 2010:265. Print.

Image from: http://www.caresearch.com.au/caresearch/tabid/1590/Default.aspx

Written on May 19, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Joel 3: Pouring Out


Joel 3: Pouring Out

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Joel[1]

Sistine Chapel – Michelangelo: The Prophet Joel

We have seen this little book a number of times and Joel always has the same message for us: the end days will be arriving – Yahweh will be just and merciful – compassion will reign but he will also pass judgment.  Joel calls us to get our spiritual house in order so that we do not suffer, so that we are rescued, so that we might live with God and all of creation in joyful harmony.  In this Christmastide, as we begin anew, we might want to consider Joel’s call.

God loves the faithful remnant so dearly that God wants to pour out the spirit upon each one.  God loves God’s children so well that God rescues them from the darkest corner and farthest place.   God loves all of creation so intensely that God leaves no door closed, no word unsaid, no gesture undone in order to bring the children home.  Let us listen to the word of this loving God as given to us by the prophet Joel.

I will pour out my spirit upon all mankind . . . imagine what we might accomplish if  we allow God’s Spirit to pour into us.

I will work wonders in the heavens and upon the earth . . . imagine what wonders we might experience if we allow God to work in us.

Everyone shall be rescued who calls upon the name of the Lord . . . imagine how we might free ourselves from old worries and anxieties if we might allow God to lead us.

There shall be a remnant as the Lord has said . . . imagine what we might experience if we come together as God’s faithful remnant.

And so we pray . . .

Grant us fresh hope at the beginning of this day: that we may live it for your glory and our neighbor’s good.

Relieve us of the burden of old worries and stored grievances: that we may pass through the narrow gate that leads to the kingdom.

Protect us from recurring fears: that we may serve you in freedom and in peace.

Heal all those who labor under the pain of depression, scrupulosity, and anxiety: that all may know the joy of your love.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have brought us safely to this new day and this new liturgical year as you promised to bring us safely to dwell with you one day in your kingdom of light.  Defend us against all that would weigh us down and slow our steps, so that we may run with delight in the way of our Gospel.   Amen.


A re-post from December 5, 2012.

Image from: http://fathermarkcollins.blogspot.com/2012/11/between-fear-plenty-lies-gods.html

Cameron, Peter John. MAGNIFICAT. 4.9 (2007). Print.  

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Psalm 118:19-29: Open the Gates

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the Lord.

locked_gates[1]Today we are reminded that we labor in vain if the Lord himself does not build the house in which we shelter.  (Psalm 127:1) If our relationships – personal and professional – are based on fear rather than truth, all our efforts are futile. If our goals – individual and collective – aim at preservation of self rather than the common good, all of our secrets hide nothing.  If our strategies – emotional and spiritual – rely on anything but God, we are doomed.  We have failed to open the gates; we have failed to thank the Lord; our house is built in vain.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Catherine of Siena knows about the building of houses and the strength it takes to endure tribulation while we work.  She reminds us that as we allow God to build with us, we will be ridiculed and even scorned.  In today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day Catherine gives us a view of how the divine builder operates; she gives us a window to open that pierces our own darkness with the light of GodI give and permit everything out of love, and they are constantly scandalized in me.  Yet I patiently endure and put up with them because I loved them without their having loved me.  They are always harassing me with impatience, hatred, complaints, and with all sorts of infidelity.  They want to set themselves up to investigate with their own blind sight and opinion of my hidden judgments, which are all made justly and lovingly.  They don’t yet know themselves, and so they see falsely.  For those who do not know themselves cannot know me or my judgments in truth.  (Cameron 33)

We are often frustrated by the idiocy of ourselves and others. We do not understand why or how God allows falsehood and deception to take hold in our hearts.  We see God’s world as an imperfect place and we watch as cornerstones are rebuffed; doors and windows close tightly; hidden judgments and injustice overpower goodness and right.  We become discouraged when we believe that we have labored in vain and yet it is precisely when the obstacles are the greatest that we best see God at work.

142799-bigthumbnail[1]If we become disheartened by our tribulations we have forgotten what God has told us – that we die to be born, that the lowly are exalted, that the meek reign and the humble rise.  We become perfect in our efforts to love eternally as God loves.  We build strong houses when we build them through and in the Lord.  We let in God’s mercy and justice when we open the gates of our hearts.

Open the gates of victory; I will enter and thank the Lord.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 1.12 (2012): 33. Print. 

Images from http://nature.desktopnexus.com/wallpaper/142799/ and http://www.proactivesafetytraining.co.uk/Key-Holding-and-Alarm-Response(2006254).htm

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Genesis 33: Reunion


Genesis 33: Reunion

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hendrick Ter Bruggen: Esau Selling His Birthright

In the past we have reflected on the story of how Jacob found himself in hiatus from all he knew – and how we find ourselves in that same place from time to time in our lives.  Often we wander – guessing at our true destiny, seeing glimpses of it now and then, wanting the end of the endless waiting to arrive.  We have also reflected on how Jacob came to realize that his place of exile from home had become dangerous.  He plots to outwit Laban, his father-in-law, and he manages to escape the wrath of Laban’s sons – but where does he go?  He returns home.  Re reunites with his brother Esau– whom he had deceived.  The story of Jacob until this point is one of God’s pruning of a valuable vine.  So too are we the branches of this same vine.  So too does the master of the vineyard prune us – his faithful.

Today we reflect on Jacob’s reunion with the brother he had deceived.  We can learn much about ourselves in this meeting of two who once loved and have been in hiatus.

As I read through these verses today I am so struck by how this relationship has changed during the brothers’ time apart.  The attitude of deception that characterized Jacob in Chapter 27 is gone and in fact Jacob begs Esau to accept his presence and his gifts in verse 10.  And look at what he says.  “No, I beg you!” said Jacob.  “If you will do me the favor, please accept this gift from me, since to come into your presence is for me like coming into the presence of God, now that you have received me so kindly”.

Jacob – in receiving mercy from his brother rather than a wrath that would be justified – realizes and then admits aloud that he and Esau have a holy union.  They are meant to love one another and not deceive one another.  During their time apart, Jacob has come to understand that not only had he tried to deceive Esau when he sought to cheat him of his birthright . . . he had sought to deceive God himself.  He had sought to manipulate God’s plan.

Esau wants to accompany his brother home.  Jacob does not want to tax his family or his herds.  Esau offers guards to ensure the safety of his brother’s tribe.  Jacob declines.  The two bothers come to an agreement and eventually reunite.

Last year when we reflected on Jacob and the lessons he learned about being willing and faithful, this was the prayer that came to us that day.  I offer it again below.  May all of our waiting dreams and broken hearts find such sweet reunion as these two brothers with whom we reflect today.

Sweet and loving God, may I be ever-listening, ever-faithful, ever-willing to obey your plan.  I understand that you have something wonderful in mind for me and that from where I stand I cannot see as well as you and so sometimes I am a bit afraid of what will pop up next over my horizon.  May I refrain from manipulation and from being manipulated.  May I refrain from separating myself from you, may I return to you always when I am afraid, because I know that you are always with me.  Amen.   


Image from: http://www.pubhist.com/work/10288/hendrick-ter-brugghen/esau-selling-his-birthright

Written on October 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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2 Samuel 8 & 9: After Conflict . . . Mercy

Sunday, November 3, 2019

King David

This is such a straightforward story.  David is anointed king but must battle years against Saul while he waits for the crown to come to him in God’s time.  Jonathan, the son of Saul, is his boon companion in battle and in peace.  Theirs is a story worth reading.

Both Saul and Jonathan die during this conflict which leaves a vacuum for a time . . . and this is where we enter the story today.  When the dust settles, David is victorious and becomes king.  In his first days as king, he restores what was lost to the son of his friend Jonathan.  David embodies mercy.  This is why we regard him as great.  He loves.

Verses 15-18 of Chapter 8 remind me of Acts 2:42-47.  After tremendous strife there comes the lull, like the brilliant blue skies after a cloud-sweeping hurricane.  After violence and death, there is always the potent force of peace, of mercy; but there is also something always lurking – the trap door of forgetting God.  For David his sin is succumbing to the temptation of Bathsheba – the mother of Solomon.  He takes her willfully, joins with her, impregnates her, and lays a trap to murder her husband.  Then later – after his sin is cleverly pointed out by the prophet Nathan, he despairs of his actions and repents.  This is also why we regard him as great.  He atones.

“Bathsheba was capable, subtle, and gifted. She produced a son, Solomon, whose wisdom and intellectual brilliance would be known throughout history”.
Frank Dicksee: http://www.womeninthebible.net/women-bible-old-new-testaments/bathsheba/

In times of plenty we ought to rejoice, but we also must hold ourselves ready for the temptations which always follow when tensions ease.  Perhaps a little conflict is a good thing – it keeps us prepared for what is important.  It prevents us from thinking that we alone are sufficient.  It reminds us that God alone is enough.  This is the greatest lesson David brings to us.  He remembers . . . that even in cataclysmic times we must show mercy . . . for we will want mercy shown to us in like fashion.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive . . .

Amen.


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

To see two short video clips from NOVA about the unearthing of the walls of Jerusalem and its palace, click on the image of David above and go through the six slides, or go to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible/maza-01.html

To read more about Bathsheba, click on the image of “Leila” above or go to: http://www.womeninthebible.net/1.11.Bathsheba.htm

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1 Kings 2: Consolidation

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Ferdinand Bol: David’s Dying Charge to Solomon

Today’s reading is full of violence and intrigue – not unlike the political and social landscape in which we constantly find ourselves.  People do not hide out much in the tent of the Lord these days, nor do they order heads to be severed from bodies in retribution; but we do indeed destroy reputations, we intimidate and threaten, we use ever kind of subtle and not so subtle violence to get what we want.  We usually do this without counting the cost to others; and we also forget to measure the ultimate cost to ourselves.

In this forgetting of self and others . . . we show our forgetfulness of God.

David leaves a kingdom and a way of life to his son, Solomon because he knows how difficult it is to maintain fidelity and remain in God.  David also knows how much God loves his people and how willing God is to forgive us our faults.  The aging father tries to pass along his understanding of “the measure” to his young son and when we read this entire story we see how much Solomon is able to retain; we find out how and if he prospers from his father’s final words.

Jesus makes the rules of his kingdom clear to us: The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  There is only one true commandment – love God and love one another, even as I have loved you.  In this week’s scripture class we are asked to re-think the yardsticks we constantly use to make decisions about what we will say and what we will do.  Do we show partiality to a special group of people or to a special idea?  How do we perceive others?  How do we perceive ourselves?  How do our actions demonstrate our perception of God?

James calls us back to the realization that we do not see as God sees, and he reminds us that when we make judgments we so often are looking at the external and forgetting that Jesus lives in everyone we meet – even those people we do not like.  James tells us in 2:1-13 that when we show deference to those with money and power, we neglect those who are poor in worldly treasures and those who are poor in spirit.  We neglect those with whom Jesus chooses to reside, the physically, emotionally and spiritually marginalized.  Jesus calls the poor and the broken-hearted to himself in order that he might heal them.  These are the people for whom Jesus demonstrates compassion.  And so ought we.  Jesus calls the rich and powerful to an accounting.  He is moved to rebuke them for their lack of regard for his poor and broken-hearted.  And so ought we to be moved if we wish to bring about the kingdom.

Today we read of all the plotting and scheming that occur as the young King Solomon consolidates his kingdom.  He lives in treacherous times.  So do we.   And so we pray . . .

Dear Lord,

It is so very difficult to trust in you alone.  We so often forget that you are watching over us and accompanying us in our journey.  The world seems so very scary and in our human survival reaction to our fears, we forget to rely on you alone.  Help us to see as you see.  Help us to look past the external.  Help us to feel as you feel.  Move us with your compassion.  Grace us with the gift of your love.  Help us to free ourselves by acting in humility, mercy and forgiveness.  Help us to see that by freeing others we also free ourselves. And when we move to consolidate our forces from our feeble human weak places, remind us to come together with others in you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name as we give ourselves over to the power of the Holy Spirit who lives and moves in us, and who calls us to unity. 

Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection written on January 30, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on the story portrayed in the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://fourhandles.blogspot.com/2011/04/1-kings-23-davids-final-advise-to.html

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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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Matthew 17:1-8: Transfigured

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Raphael: The Transfiguration

I love this story because it is so indicative of how we humans behave.  When we see something beautiful we want to capture it.  When we feel something exhilarating we want it to possess it.  When we witness something powerful we want to hold it forever.  Peter, James and John see Jesus transformed, radiating brilliance.

In Mark’s version (9:2-8) and in Luke’s story (9:28-36) we hear again about the brilliance of the whiteness, the flashing of light, God’s voice booming out that he is pleased with Jesus.  We understand that Jesus holds a conversation with Elijah and Moses about his own exodus to come.  Mark tells us that the apostles were frightened.  The apostles suggest to Jesus that they erect tents; Lord, it is good that we are here.  If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.  Luke adds about Peter: He did not know what he was saying.  So many times when we witness a miracle we do not comprehend what is really happening.  Our perspective is too narrow, our view too limited.  We want to hold and keep the present beyond its purpose.  We fear the future and regret the past.  The present, we tell ourselves, is something we can control.  And so we try to hold on to a transfiguration that is meant to be a transition to something new.  We trust what we know . . . and we fear what we do not.

I am amazed that God continues to accompany us when we are so tiny beside his greatness, so stingy beside his mercy, and so self-centered beside his generosity.  I am thinking of a prayer I have just read in Phyllis Tickle’s THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SPRINGTIME (255): Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.  Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I might be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul”.  We want so much to draw out our happiness so that it might last forever.  We yearn to capture serenity and hold it fast.  We wish that sadness and loss were experiences we did not have to suffer; and when transfiguration comes we want to remain in it . . . not noticing that once we have been transformed we must go forth to transform the world.

As we approach Holy Week and the miracle of Easter when Jesus suffered, died and rose again to bring us the gift of eternal life, let us follow Jesus along with James and Peter and John to the top of our own high mountain to experience the vision of dazzling whiteness and the gift of transfiguration; and let us celebrate.  How glad and how grateful we must be that Jesus did not follow the suggestion of his friends and remain on the mountain forever in a state of bliss.  How blessed and how graced are we that Jesus abides with us each day calling us to our own transfiguration.  How good and how gracious is our God that he visits us – his little children – constantly and faithfully . . . to grant us miracles in our sorrow, light in our darkness, and peace in all our adversity.


A re-post from March 28, 2012. 

Image from: http://www.3pipe.net/2011/01/giovanni-bellini-st-francis-in-desert.html

Tickle, Phyllis.  THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SPRINGTIME. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.

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Sirach 45:1-5: The Old and the New

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Written on January 18 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Moses Pleading With Israel

“Moses manifested God’s power through miracles, God’s authority through the promulgation of the commandments and the law, and God’s mercy through the intimacy granted him by the Lord for his own faithfulness and meekness. The very personification of the old covenant, Moses was also a type of Christ, the Prophet and Legislator of the new.  God’s honor devolved upon him: Moses was actually God’s substitute in dealing with Pharaoh, hence God entrusted his own honor to Moses”. (Senior 867-868)

Power, authority, mercy, intimacy, faithfulness and meekness:

Here is a valuable lesson for us.

The sort of meekness that is the gracious humility shown by Christ is also the meekness that Moses demonstrated.  This meekness leads to faithfulness.

Jesus Teaching in the Temple

The sort of faithfulness that is constant and intentional is the fidelity shown by Christ to the father and to his flock.  This faithfulness leads to intimacy.

The sort of intimacy that shares and does not control is lived by Christ in every story we read about him.  This intimacy leads to mercy.

The sort of mercy that is compassion is personified by Christ.  This mercy leads to authority.

The sort of authority vested in Christ is the same authority we are granted when we follow Christ.  This authority leads to power.

This power is everlasting.  It comes from the father, is explained to us by the prophets, and is lived for us by Christ.

Moses is a personification of the Old Covenant, Jesus is the New.  God entrusts Christ’s honor to those who are meek, merciful and in intimate relationship with him.

Here is a valuable lesson for us.  Let us take it in today . . . and ponder it.


A re-post from November 1, 2011.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.867-868. Print.   

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