Posts Tagged ‘miracles’

John 6:25-59: “I Am the Bread of Life”

Monday, June 11, 2018

At the Last Supper, Jesus breaks the bread.

Perhaps the most well-known appellation Jesus uses to describe himself is, the Bread of Life. After feeding thousands with several fish and a few loaves of bread, the people find Jesus on the other side of the lake, and say to him, “Teacher, when did you get here?”

Jesus replies: “You are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.”

Like these followers who have lived the miracle of sustenance with Jesus, we also may be surprised to find him by our side when we look for him to save us. We also may ask a simple question that misses the mark Jesus hopes to make with us – that Jesus never abandons us or leaves us behind, that Jesus wants nothing more than to sustain us through difficulty, to heal us in love, and to transform us in hope. For this reason, millennia after the recording of this story we still rely on these verses for wisdom, confidence, and peace.

We find other reflections on Jesus as The Bread of Life on this blog.

The New Exodus: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/03/the-bread-of-life-for-the-new-exodus/

Bread and Stone: https://thenoontimes.com/2016/06/30/matthew-41-11-bread-and-stone/

Body of Christ: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/06/18/john-651-58-body-of-christ/

Recognizing Jesus: https://thenoontimes.com/2016/04/26/john-641-42-recognizing-jesus/

The Some Left Over Parts I-X posts beginning at: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/08/02/2-kings-442-44-some-left-over-part-i/

Image from http://www.redeemerway.org/sermons/2018/2/23/i-am-the-bread-of-life 

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Isaiah 26:8-12: The Duality of Justice

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Like the Old Testament psalmists, we ask God to avenge the wrongs done to us. Like the New Testament followers of Christ, we ask God to forgive our enemies who know not what they do. This dichotomy of justice reflects God’s merciful nature. It is, at the same time, a challenge we hope to meet.

On the cross that serves as the mechanism of his human death, Jesus requests that God the Creator forgive those who kill him, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)

In his ghastly death by stoning, Stephen uses a last breath to intercede for his attackers saying, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. (Acts 7:60)

These are challenging actions to imitate; this state of mind asks of us an incredibly high level of persistence, patience and fidelity to God’s ways. We doubt that we can rise to this demanding witness to God’s great love, and so we ask . . . How do we bridge the gap between God’s way and our own?

Carlo Crivelli: Saint Stephen

When doubt rises within, we rely on the gift of faith planted in us at our inception. When we relax into God’s plan, this gift flourishes in such a way that we receive much more than we give.

When desperation erodes the sense of peace and good will we have nurtured, we trust the gift of hope in God’s promises to us. When we rest in the memories of God’s power to move in our lives, anxiety crumbles, worry dissolves.

When our circumstances point to all that is wrong with the world, we act in the gift of God’s love as demonstrated in the many small miracles that shower our lives like the gentle rain after a dry season. When we put aside our desire for revenge, our anger subsides. When we determine to address our enemies with mercy, our hope for destruction of those who oppose us ebbs away. When we make the decision to meet our enemies with prudent love and faith-filled awe of the Lord, we find that we are suddenly open to the possibility that the duality we see in God’s justice will bring about the transformation of the world.

To learn more about Saint Stephen, click on the image above or visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen and https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-stephen/

Images from: http://ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/mercy-without-justice-mother-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-cruelty and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Proclaiming God’s Name

Easter Saturday, April 7, 2018

Yesterday we began a reflection of Psalm 22 and its opening mournful words uttered by Jesus from the cross, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Today we arrive at the later portion of this hymn of praise.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you.

Large words on the wall of the student-dining hall where I teach remind us as we enter:  You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8There is no mystery in this.  The completion of God’s plan is predictable; and if we wish to survive spiritual battle, the requirement is simple as Micah tells us: We train ourselves in order to invite wisdom; we exercise compassion with justice in order to invite goodness.  All the rest follows naturally.  The outcome of good over evil is predictable and sure; but the timing and details are in God’s hands.

All the ends of the earth will worship the Lord; all the families of nations will bow down to you.

In this end that Micah sees but whose time we cannot foresee, God is all there is.  The war of life is waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil disappears.  The faithful remnant is rewarded. This we are promised.

I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you.  The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you brought.

When miracles of liberation happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intoned by the grand chorus of the thankful.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles – constant signs of God’s presence in our lives – are significant for those to whom they are granted.

Mathis Gothart Grünewald: The Crucifixion (detail) 

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we are told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.

Wordle from: http://footprintsfromthebible.blogspot.com/2017/06/lords-prayer-hallowed-be-thy-name.html  To view Grünewald’s entire altarpiece painting, visit, http://www.christianiconography.info/iconographySupplementalImages/crucifixion/grunewald1515.html

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Hosea 2: Expectation

Charlie Mackesy: The Prodigal Daughter

Thursday, January 11, 2018

What does God expect of me?

Where is God?

How can God expect so much from me?

Why does God allow me to feel so alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

If we hear ourselves asking these questions frequently, we may need to think of them as inversions.

What do I expect of God?

Where have I put God in my life?

Why do I ask so little of God?

Why do I forget God or turn away from God’s love when I am alone, exasperated, angry or sad?

Today we re-read the prophecy of Hosea, the man who married an adulterous wife and we focus on Chapter 2 to find a description of Gomer, the unfaithful wife.  Metaphorically, Gomer is each of us when we reject the conditions in which we find ourselves.  As difficult as our problems may be, they are our stepping stones to self-discovery . . . and to serenity.  Once we learn to turn everything over to God, the sorrow and anger slip away.  And we are at peace with the circumstances surrounding us.

Today’s Gospel is John’s story of the feeding of thousands (6:1-15) and we might look at how Jesus asks the disciples how they want to feed so many – John writes: He said this to test them.  This does not mean that Jesus wants to throw his friends into turmoil; rather, he wants to see how they hope to solve the problem before them.  Do they resort to their own resources, or do they rely on God in any way?

We must remember to ask for miracles, because God wants to grant them.

We must remember to take our woes to God, because God welcomes them and erases them.

We must remember to leave our sadness in God’s hands, because God heals all mourning with deep and abiding love.

Hosea laments his unfaithful wife.  God misses us when we stray.  Why do we try to solve everything on our own?  And why do we expect so little from a generous, loving God?

A Favorite from May 6, 2011.

For a video lesson on Hosea and Gomer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerNMZNmKF0 


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Wisdom 18:18-22: Seek Trust – Praise

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Favorite from January 6, 2010.

I have a friend who – whenever life gets a bit sticky for her or her children – is suddenly presented with hearts.  Heart-shaped leaves, heart-shaped clouds, even heart-shaped patterns of toothpaste left in the bathroom sink.  Today she told me that she was thinking: Who keeps leaving these for me?  She believes that she has the answer, someone she knows through family photographs and family stories, someone whom she has not met in this life but who knows her in any case.  She believes that it is her grandmother.  So do I.  Love knows no bounds.

In today’s Noontime we read about the love that God has for us, for his creation.  This love is so great that land creatures survive in the sea; sea creatures walk on land.  Fire in water maintains its strength; yet flames do not consume flesh.  With these powerful images, we understand how strong God is; we understand how much God loves us.

The Meditation in MAGNIFICAT today is from Father John Tauler, a Dominican priest, a popular preacher and mystical theologian who died in 1361.  This is what he has to say about God’s love.

Especially cherish firm trust in God’s love: if that weakens, your longing for God sinks away, and the hidden love is soon quenched within you . . . If one now questions whether or not he has true love, let him search deep in his soul and ever deeper, and light will be granted to him to know how he stands towards this degree of love.  All the harm that can befall you is in this: you cannot fathom your inmost soul, or perhaps you will not.  Once you enter there, God’s grace awaits you, admonishing you incessantly to keep up a courageous spirit about your standing with him.  But many a one resists his inner voice and keeps on going so until he at last becomes unworthy of it and it ceases to be heard, and that forever.  The cause of this misfortune is nothing else than self-trust.  But if only one be humbly submissive to the divine guidance, it will finally lead him into such a divine union, that he shall enjoy in this life something of the bliss proper only to life eternal.  May God grant that this shall happen to us all.

Our self-trust, rather than trust in God, is what often prohibits us from seeing the glory that is God each day.  Miracles happen around us and to us constantly, yet we worry so, and fly through life at such a rapid pace that we may miss these glorious hearts being left for us along the way.  We miss the times when breaches are bridged, when wounds are healed, when the dead rise . . . and so we do not praise God because we walk past the many ways in which he loves us each morning, each noon, each night.

For myself, I will make a special resolution to be on the look-out for the heart-shaped messages God is sending to me.  And then I will pause to praise God.  I will begin to cherish a firm trust in God’s love for me, I will search my soul even deeper, I will look for the ways in which I have been magnified and glorified by God . . . and I will look more carefully for that divine union in this life.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.1 (2010). Print.  

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Nehemiah 9:12-13: Wonders and Miracle-Signs

Monday, September 11, 2017

Nehemiah reminds us that God accompanies us in the deserts of our lives when we experience anguish and fear. Jesus also tells us that we need not be afraid.

Nehemiah repeats the well-known story.

By day you led them with a Pillar of Cloud,
    and by night with a Pillar of Fire
To show them the way
    they were to travel.

More than any other demand or request, Jesus reminds, “Do not be afraid”. In one Gospel alone, Jesus repeats this soothing entreaty.

“So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”. (Matthew 10:13)

At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid”. (Matthew 14:27)

Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid”. (Matthew 17:7)

Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me”.  (Matthew 28:10)

Nehemiah reminds us of the ancient link we have with the Living God.

You came down onto Mount Sinai,
    you spoke to them out of heaven;
You gave them instructions on how to live well,
    true teaching, sound rules and commands.

Nehemiah tells us again that the Living God will sustain us.

You gave bread from heaven for their hunger,
    you sent water from the rock for their thirst.
You told them to enter and take the land,
    which you promised to give them.

Nehemiah and Jesus, if we are able to listen carefully, describe the Living God’s fidelity. We might consider how we will respond today.

When we consider multiple translations of these verses, we begin to remember the many wonders and signs God has worked in and for us. 

For a reflection on Nehemiah 9, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/12/30/confession/


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Acts 12:1-19: No Small Commotion

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Mattia Preti: Saint Peter Freed

Spending time with Peter’s sermons, we find that, filled with the Spirit, he raises his voice. We find that step-by-step, and trusting God’s voice, he delivers the message of Good News. And as if to prove that God loves us with great power and fidelity, God releases the faithful servant from prison. We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often doubt that God can do great things for us?

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. 

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often doubt that God releases us from the chains that bind our lives?

The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often fear following the angels God sends to us?

Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often ascribe God’s intercession to coincidental circumstances?

After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him.

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often balk at moving through the doors and gates God opens for us?

When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 

We read the miracle of Peter’s escape from prison and ask ourselves . . . Why do we so often deny the commotion that takes place in our lives when God intercedes for us?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to consider the small and great commotions God makes in our lives. And we determine to share the Good News of our redemption with the world.

For another reflection on Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison, visit the Suddenly post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/01/07/suddenly/


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Acts 10:28-47: Hearing the Good News

Peter and Cornelius

Thursday, May 4, 2017

God is the creator of both space and time. God is in charge. God creates humans in God’s image. God loves all of creation. God creates us in, for and through love. God loves us very much. This is good news indeed.

Today we read about Peter’s meeting with Cornelius, a Roman centurion living in Caesarea, Palestine. Today we focus not on the fact that this well-positioned, powerful man turns away from paganism to live in Christ; rather, we reflect on God’s desire to break down walls between nations and philosophies. Today we watch Peter put aside his Jewish restrictions and prejudices in order to meet, speak with, and even seek union with a man who represents repression to the Jewish nation. And finally, we focus on God’s desire for union and community with each of us . . . with all of us . . . and not an elite few.

We meditate on Peter’s words in verse 28: God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.

Can we imagine a world in which our enemies become our close associates?

We spend time with Cornelius’ account of hearing God’s words in verse 31: Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 

Can we imagine a world in which we heed God’s message of healing and love?

We remember Peter’s understanding of God’s love in verses 34-35: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 

Can we imagine a world in which we are both recipients and vehicles of God’s miracles?

Like Peter and Cornelius, once we hear God’s words and understand their meaning, we also come to know these truths: We are witnesses to the loving action of God in our lives, we are called to minister to all of God’s people, and we are the vessels of God’s Holy Spirit in the world.

This is marvelous news indeed. These are wonderful truths undeniably. This is Good New we want to both receive and share.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to share the Good News that the Holy Spirit is with us. 

Tomorrow, Peter’s fifth sermon following Pentecost.


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Acts 4:5-12: Filled With the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Peter Before the Sanhedrin

Peter and John heal a crippled beggar (Acts 3) and when the crowd erupts with wonder, they explain that the miracle takes place only through them, and not because of them. It is the Messiah, crucified earlier, who brings about this marvelous cure. (See yesterday’s Noontime.) The commotion brings attention from the authorities who arrest the pair. Peter and John find themselves in prison, and finally they stand before the Sanhedrin. The authorities ask, By what power or by what name did you do this?” 

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, let it be known that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 

There is no doubt that these words shock his listeners, but Peter further explains, There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

If we read more of this story, we find that this series of events brings more followers to this small community. If we reflect on this story, we discover the marvel of God’s love and the power of Christ’s authority. If we pray with this story, we discover that we too, are filled with the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. What miracles might we bring to others when we allow ourselves to be conduits of God’s love?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  

Tomorrow, Peter’s fourth sermon following Pentecost.

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