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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’


1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21). We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing. We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new. The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places. We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom? Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives? Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives? Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives? Can we love those who harm us?  an we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God? Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons. The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises. Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3). Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human willfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, willfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.


Image from: http://findfruit.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

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2 Corinthians 10: God’s ToolsMicah6_8

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Explore THE MESSAGE version of these verses at the scripture link and compare it to other versions to allow Paul’s message to open in us more fully.

Can we apply Paul’s words to our lives today? Do they describe our world of social media and connectivity?

I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. 

Can we see our world in Paul’s words today? What do we consider to be the tools of our trade and how do we use them?

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. 

Do Paul’s assertions call us to God or send us away? Do we affirm or deny their truth?

What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.

God says: When my servant Paul speaks of an unprincipled world, he does not mean to frighten you into obedience to me. No. He knows that the faithful respond best to love rather than fear. Yet, I understand that his words may seem harsh, strident or bitter to you. I do not hear them this way. No. What I hear is his deep devotion to living life in and through Christ. And I hear his earnest desire that all experience the warm and loving bond with me that he shares. So this is what I ask of you today and all days, and these are the tools I ask you to use. Walk with me humbly and willingly. If you do not want to be by my side, go apart for a while. I am always here when you are ready to be with me. I also that you love others gently and mercifully. It is my hope that you will live in me as I live in you, and that you will show this love to the world. And finally, I ask that you act justly. Rather than simper or berate, intercede for those who need my help. Ask forgiveness, pardon others, and act prudently and compassionately so that my justice will roll from your hands and hearts. Turn away from what you see is corrupt. Use the modern tools you have at your hands, but use my ancient ones as well for all else is meaningless. All else holds empty promise and false hope. All else is useless. Remain in my mercy, enact my justice, and live in my humble love. Become my tools in the world you experience in and around you today. 

Spend time with Micah 6:8. Consider how the prophet’s words are pertinent to our modern world, and consider how we might better become mercy, wisdom, humility, justice and love as we go through our days.


 Image from: http://www.4catholiceducators.com/Micah_6-8-poster.htm

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Genesis 1:9-31: The Mystery of IncarnationNativity_450x259

Monday, June 13, 2015

Richard Rohr, OFM in his June 5, 2015 tells us: “If incarnation is the big thing, then Christmas is bigger than Easter (which it actually is in most Western Christian countries). If God became a human being, then it’s good to be human and incarnation is already redemption. Francis and the Franciscans were the first to popularize Christmas. For the first 1,000 years of the church, there was greater celebration and emphasis on Easter. For Francis, if the Incarnation was true, then Easter took care of itself. Resurrection is simply incarnation coming to its logical conclusion: we are returning to our original union with God. If God is already in everything, then everything is unto glory! Much of the early church did not have trouble with what many would now call universal salvation (apocatastasis, as in Acts 3:21). We are all saved by infinite love and mercy anyway. ‘God alone is good’ (Mark 10:18), so there’s no point in distinguishing degrees of worthiness. Everything in creation merely participates in God’s infinite goodness, and our job is to trust and allow that as much as possible.

“As Matthew Fox said, we made a terrible mistake by starting with ‘original sin’ (a phrase not in the Bible); we absolutely must begin with original blessing. ‘God created it, and it was good’ is stated six times in a row in our Creation story (Genesis 1:9-31), ending with ‘indeed it was very good!’ But, up to the present time, most of Christianity concentrated on what went wrong with our original goodness . . .

“The Franciscan starting point is not sin; our starting point is Divine Incarnation itself. So our ending point is inevitable and predictable: resurrection. God will lead all things to their glorious conclusion, despite the crucifixions in between. Jesus is the standing icon of the entire spiritual journey from start to finish: divine conception, ordinary life, moments of enlightenment (such as his baptism, Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ transfiguration), works of love and healing, rejection, death, resurrection, and ascension. That is not just Jesus; it is true for all of us.”

Richard Rohr, OFM, Adapted from an unpublished talk and posted on June 5, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Christ is present in all of creation. Christ is present in each of us. This is the mystery of incarnation. We know that God creates the universe and the microverse out of great love and deep compassion. We know that Christ comes to walk among us as salvation and redemption. We know that the Spirit abides with us to console and heal. This we know and yet it is mystery when we wonder . . . how is it that God loves us this deeply and this well? And how is it that we fail to trust this great love?

To read a commentary about the mystery of the incarnation, click on the image above or visit: http://www.catholica.com.au/ianstake/023_it_print.php 

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Matthew 9:1-8: Taking Up Our Bedtake up your bed

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 22, 2021

They brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed . . .

Jesus says: Take courage . . . Get up . . . pick up your bed and go home . . .

God says: Each little incident that paralyzes you with fear is not from me. I only bring you love. Each enormous obstacle that looms before you is not from me. I only bring you hope. When you are paralyzed with fear, reach for me. When you are knocked off your feet, take up the bed of sorrow onto which you have fallen, and come home.

When we give ourselves over to fear we let go of God’s hand. When we languish in our sorrow and remain on our paralytic bed we reject the offer of newness God brings. If depression or anxiety overwhelm us we must seek professional guidance and help. God wants to convert the paralysis in our lives to loving acts of kindness, mercy and justice.

 


Image from: https://www.wordonfire.org/articles/fellows/pick-up-your-mat/

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James 3:17-18: A Holy Life
burning-bush1

Monday, May 16, 2022

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor”. THE MESSAGE

Jesus has told us about the nature of true discipleship. God has created us in the image of goodness and light and truth. The Spirit lives within, waking us each day to new possibilities of hope and peace and mercy. In celebration of the continuing gift of Easter life, let us spend time today in God’s intimate company, and let us thank God for the gift of a holy life by striving to live on true discipleship.

Using the scripture link above, compare other versions of these versions from James’ letter


Image from: http://providenceswfl.com/blog/brought-near-a-holy-god/

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Matthew 7:1-5: The Splinter and the Beam

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in scripture . . . and the most ignored.

What is it we must do to remove our blinders, to open our ears, to unclutter our hearts?

God says: I know that you cannot help but see the shortcomings of those around you. I also know that you have great difficulty observing your own need to change; but you need not worry. Rather than punish yourself, imagine that you are the very people you accuse. Rather than punish others, treat them with kindness and acceptance. When you have been wronged, protect yourself as best you can and then rely on me. Allow me to judge. Allow me to operate. Allow me to abide. The injustices of the world are well within my view . . . and well within my capacity to manage. When you believe that I have abandoned you, it is you have abandoned me. So when splinters and beams clutter your lives, manage what you can and rely on me. Abide in me as I abide in you. Live in kindness and mercy rather that anger and vengeance. Live in hope and fidelity rather than worry and anxiety. Live in me rather than in the woes of the world.

pointing-fingersEnter the word judging into the blog search bar and explore the possibilities of trust in God, forgiveness of our enemies, and mercy toward all. Click on the image of Matthew above to access a series of reflections on Matthew’s Gospel.


Enter the words Stop Judging in the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeo_Batoni_(1708-1787)_-_Saint_Matthew_-_266907_-_National_Trust.jpg and http://www.patentpracticeliability.com/2012/03/26/the-perils-of-patent-prosecution-delegation-a-cautionary-tale/

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Matthew 5:21-26: Teaching on Anger

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Sermon on the Mount

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Sermon on the Mount

Second Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2022

A Favorite from August 10, 2009. 

Anger is a universal, human emotion which each of us handles in our particular way.  In today’s citation we hear Jesus tell us how important it is that we learn to identify our anger, to name its origin and to manage its effects immediately and completely. Verse 24 tells us that nothing engendering anger may be allowed to take root and live in us; nothing can be allowed to separate us from God.

From Julian of Norwich in ALL WILL BE WELL: “In his merciful way, our good Lord always leads us as long as we inhabit this impermanent life.  I saw no anger other than humanity’s, and God forgives us that, for anger is no more than perverse opposition to peace and love. It arises from a lack of strength, or wisdom, or goodness.  And this failure lies in ourselves rather than in God. Our sin and desperation generate in us a wrath and a continual opposition to peace and love”.

The best antidote to anger is mercy, Julian tells us, for “the ground of mercy is love, and the ministry of mercy is to preserve us in love.  For mercy works in love, with generosity, compassion, and sweetness. And mercy labors within us, preserving us, and conveying everything to the good”.

In his sermon on the mount, Christ tells us: Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Jesus understands well how the entry of a third party into a conflict can either quell or stir the flames of anger. A quiet mediator who empowers those in conflict to listen to one another is invaluable. Any person outside the conflict who delights in adding to that roiling emotions that often accompany a rift nearly always spell death for the relationship. It is for this reason that Jesus urges us to seek settlement before appearing before a judge. Not all third parties have the best interests of those in conflict in their hearts.

Julian concludes her comments with a thought about the effects of anger and a possible sure: “Our failure is frightful, our falling inglorious, our dying wretched. Yet never does love’s compassionate eye turn from us, nor does the operation of mercy cease”.

Mercy and goodness when applied to anger bring about change that transforms. When carrying our gift of self back to God, we must first put anger away. We must first seek and give mercy. We must remember that our travels here are temporary and that the next world, where there is no place for anger to fester and take over, is permanent and eternal. This anger we experience here must be left behind. We must convert it to compassion . . . for in so doing, we enter into Christ’s love and body.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching about adultery.


Julian of Norwich. ALL WILL BE WELL. Ave Maria Press, 1995, 2008. Print. 

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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Saturday, February 12, 2022stumblingbnr

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Loving our Stumbling Blocks

As we study our stumbling blocks we hear the call to be prophets in the Messianic Age. We are asked to call others to kingdom work just as we have been called.

Once we spend time with our stumbling blocks we begin to understand the important role they play in our lives, the vital function they perform. We are asked to demonstrate our comprehension by willingly taking on our responsibility as Sentinel People. We are asked to call out to others the message of the Word Among Us.

Rather than walk around or away from our stumbling blocks we freely and even cheerfully go in search of a ladder that will allow us to climb atop our obstacle. We see the world and ourselves from a different angle, perhaps an angle that God the Creator might use. We are asked to bring this gift of insight to our Kingdom building.

Once we begin to act in and through Christ we receive abundant grace, courage, fortitude, and mercy. Love grows out of our suffering. Sudden and inexplicable joy takes hold and in a moment of irreversible transformation we move into the life God has planned for us since our inception.

And once we have run the arc from grief to joy, we give thanks for the great suffering we have endured.

As Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. points out in his February 10, 2015 Meditation, it is not so much that we are so chosen or so suddenly more greatly loved by God in our moment of fear and turmoil; rather, it is that we have listened, waited, and pruned ourselves for the reception of this enormous and endless love. As we consider the grace and peace and blessing of the Stumbling Block, let us give thanks to the one who abides, and heals and loves.


Richard Rohr: Adapted fromThe Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament, pp. 1-5 (published by Franciscan Media); and Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download

Image from: http://www.lebtahor.com/StumblingBlocks/stumblingblocks.htm

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