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Posts Tagged ‘miracles’


Acts 7:54-60: Martyrdom

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Andre de Giusto (Manzini): Stoning of Saint Stephen

It is difficult to connect the idea with God as a Good Shepherd to accounts like today’s NoontimeIn this famous scene of Stephen’s martyring, we have much to observe, much to absorb.   On this Sunday when we celebrate good shepherding, let us pause to examine the story and ourselves; and let us reflect.

When the crowd heard Stephen name them as stiff-necked and in opposition to the holy Spirit, they were infuriated and they ground their teeth at him.

How often do we gnash our own teeth and plot our arguments when we hear others make statements we do not believe?

But Stephen, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

How often are we able to put aside our rising anger and look for God and Jesus in the ugliness we see before us?

The crowd covered their ears, cried out against Stephen and rushed toward him.

How often do we rush against witnessing when we hear words that call us to something greater than we are willing to be?

They threw him out of the city and, and began to stone him.

How often are we more intent on silencing someone than listening to their inspiring and heart-felt words?

The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the foot of a young man named Saul.

How often do we gloat in silence while others suffer?

As Stephen fell beneath the stones he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit”.

How often do we stand by and watch as injustice takes place?

Stephen said with his last breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.

How often are we able to forgive those who transgress against us?  How often do we intercede for our enemies before our forgiving and loving God?

When we are in turmoil and pain and we look for the Good Shepherd to lead us to safety, where do we look?  We find good shepherds amidst the mayhem of life, in the fury of human battles, and in the chaos of darkness that seeks to overtake the light.  We find good shepherds tending to the shunned and the belittled, living with the marginalized and forgotten, healing the lonely and broken-hearted.  And once we find our Good Shepherd, this best of all shepherds, we must follow where he leads.  This following may take us along dangerous paths and through storm-tossed seas.  We may want to cover our ears and gnash our teeth as do the witnesses we hear about today.  We may, like Stephen, feel ourselves falling beneath the weight of too many stones thrown in rage against us; and we may see too late the martyrdom that overtakes us.

When we find ourselves backed up against a howling, angry pack . . . we, like Stephen, must also look to God and to Jesus.  And we must give ourselves over to the Spirit.  We will likely be surprised by the miracle in store for us.

This week we will read more stories about the man Saul at whose feet Stephen’s attacked tossed their cloaks.  We will see the miracle of this man’s conversion as he witnessed the martyring of Stephen.  And we will remember that God always pulls goodness out of evil acts; God always calls forth miracles from martyrdom.  For this reason alone . . . we must not be afraid.


A re-post from April 29, 2012.

Image from: http://all-art.org/DICTIONARY_of_Art/a/Andrea_Giusto1.htm

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Tobit 11Homeward Journey

Friday, November 16, 2018

I love this story and I can never read it enough for it is the tale of healing, fidelity, and joy.  It is a story with an ending we all wish for ourselves and our loved ones.  It is even a story we might wish for our enemies.

Commentary tells us that this story harbingers the miracles of the New Testament and even prepares us for miracles in our own lives.  In this homeward journey, everyone is happy with their new in-laws, cataracts are removed, a family rejoices.  The reader senses that all the characters will live happily ever after, and so pushes on toward the end of the tale in delicious anticipation of the revelation of the angel Raphael’s identity.  This is the ideal ending to a perfect bed-time story.  The loyal but harried young couple meets, overcomes odds, weds and returns home.  Goodness comes out of evil and illness – even in exile.  Our journey home has its reward.

Today’s first reading at Mass is from Hebrews 13:1-8 and it reminds us that we never know when the stranger beside us may be an angel: Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.  Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you are also in the body.  Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled . . . Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake or abandon you’.  Thus we may say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?’  Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

When we feel as though the journey behind us has been too arduous, or the journey before us will be too difficult . . . let us remember how Tobias and Sarah overcame fear to journey home.

When it seems that the present leg of our journey offers no hope and little comfort . . . let us remember that healing angels accompany us in the guise of fellow travelers.

When we find ourselves distracted in our journey by the many tempting way stations . . . let us remember that Holy Spirit accompanies us, the Father calls us, and Jesus Christ heals us.

Let us remember . . . and let us rejoice as we join one another in the journey homeward.


A re-post from October 14, 2011.

Image from: http://namakparay.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

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Luke 7:11-17Do Not Cry

Friday, October 26, 2018

Mario Minniti: Miracle at Nain (Detail)

A series of miracles unfolds for us when we read this portion of Luke’s Gospel.  It is also an unfolding of God’s hand, a hand that calls us.  It is an opening of God’s presence among us, a presence that settles into us.  We need to expect miracles in our lives.  We need open ourselves to their possibility.  We need to ask God for them.  We need to believe that they can and do happen every hour of every day.  Miracles are not mere stories we read or wishes we hope for when we see a shooting star or blow out the dancing flames of birthday candles.  Miracles are the hand of God wiping away tears.  Miracles are the voice of God saying to us, Do not cry . . . And they take place every hour of every day.

In God’s hand is the soul of every living thing . . .  Job 12:10

God does not leave us to wonder about his existence, he comes to walk among us in the person of Christ.

God does not visit with us when he is bored or forget us entirely when another interest calls him away.

God does not play with us to see how we react; he does not find joy in our sorrow.

The Lord takes delight in his people . . .  Psalm 149:4

God is constantly with us, never leaving our side.

God suffers with us and feels our torment.

God celebrates with us when we find joy.

Each of us has been the Widow of Nain at some time in our lives; we have each suffered deep and damaging sorrow.  We may also have been the deceased son, dead to everything that formerly had meaning in our lives.  Seeing that the Widow of Nain would be destitute without the protection and support of her son, Jesus does not hesitate to call the young man back to life.  In doing this, he saves not only this small family but he also converts hundreds more who witness the miracle.  He calls the people of Nain– and us – to his message of love, telling all who will listen that we are free to act as God acts, free to love as God loves.

Do not cry . . . God is constantly whispering to us in little ways each day.  God calls us back to life and restores what we have lost.

Do not cry . . . God is constantly shouting to us in big ways each day.  God shepherds us past catastrophes and saves us from our worst choices.

Do not cry . . . God is constantly putting up warning signs.  God runs after us when we are too blind to see or hear his message.

Do not cry . . . God is constantly forgiving and loving us.  God runs out to greet us when we return to him.

Do not cry . . . Jesus says to the Widow of Nain . . . and to us.

Come back to me . . . God says to the Widow’s son . . . and to us.

We are all children of Nain.  Let us rejoice in the miracles we are granted.

Mario Minniti: Miracle at Nain (1620)


A re-post from September 23, 2011.

To learn more about the town of Nain in today’s Noontime, visit: https://www.seetheholyland.net/nain/

Images from: https://364sicilianrolemodels.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/mario-minniti/ 

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Matthew 9:18-26The Tassels on our Cloaks

Saturday, October 13, 2018

In this reading we have a clear sense of the kind of excitement Jesus creates and the energy that moves through him.  We see this healing power as something beyond our own selves, something we see or watch  and even thrill in but never expect to experience much less wield on our own.  Too many times we regard miracles as myth or fantasy, stories that people pass along to one another like little worry dolls that lessen anxiety.  And too often we close our eyes to the miracles that happen before us or worse, we declaim them as the result of science or coincidence.  We miss the powerful and life-changing truth brought home to us in today’s Noontime: Miracles happen to and for and in us every day . . . and they have the power to heal others – not only ourselves – as they pass through us.

In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel we see Jesus immersed in a throng of people.  Some of them are merely curious about this Jewish teacher; others distrust him and look for tidbits of information to sell to his enemies.  And still others are desperate for Jesus’ healing touch like the woman suffering hemorrhages or the synagogue official.  They believe so honestly and deeply that they dare to approach him with their request.  Mark’s version of this same story elucidates for us (5:21-43).  The woman suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all she had searching for a cure.  She reaches to touch only the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, and Jesus is aware that the power has gone out of him.  A miracle has taken place.  When she is called forth, the woman approaches in fear and trembling, and Jesus explains: Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.  Commentary tells us that Mosaic Law prescribed tassels to be worn on the corners of cloaks as reminders of fidelity to that law and we might wonder: Is it possible that a single touch of the tassel dangling from Jesus’ cloak is enough to heal this woman?  Can it be that her belief in the possibility of a miracle opens her to receive the power emanating from Christ?  Might we be as open to this possibility . . . or are we more doubting than believing?

The official Jairus also puts aside his fear to ask Jesus’ help.  He dares to approach the man condemned by many in his community on the chance that his daughter might be brought back to him.  Do not be afraid, Jesus says when word arrives that the child has died.  Just have faith.  Do we dare to go against the pressures of society to believe that there is more to healing than science?  Do we have the courage to publicly ask help of the one who is so powerful that even the tassel on his cloak transmits this incredible curing gift?  Might we be as bold in our belief . . . or are we more fearful than fearless?

The intertwined stories of this high official and the Canaanite woman speak to us clearly . . . but we must be as open and as bold as these two believers.  From the highest to the humblest . . . we are all so valued by Jesus that he will heal us.  From the strongest to the weakest . . . we are all so precious to Jesus that the simple touch of his cloak will heal us.  From the prominent to the insignificant . . . we are all so loved by Jesus that he wants to bring us back from the death of disbelief to a life in faith with him.  And how marvelous it might be if rather than hoard up these special favors . . . we might share them with others as signs of our belief . . . as tassels on our cloaks.

And so we pray . . .

Powerful yet tender Jesus, we know that our lives are intertwined with yours like the warp and weft of the interlocking threads in your miraculous cloak.  We ask boldly yet humbly for the marvelous, life-giving and sustaining gift of your miracles.  Help us to knit these miracles so powerfully into our lives that our own cloaks emanate your healing touch.  Remind us to wear these miracles you grant us like tassels on our cloaks so that we might share the good news that each of us is free to reach out to you each day, and that you are eager to come into our homes and hearts.   

Keep us ever open . . . keep us constantly bold . . . and remain with us always as we struggle to believe in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from September 10, 2011.

Images from: http://pastorfergus.wordpress.com/

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John 12: This is Why

Sunday, September 23, 2018

That was why the crowd met him—because they heard that he had performed this miracle. 

What do we do when we hear of God’s goodness? Do we dismiss it as coincidence or synchronicity? Do we praise God and give thanks for God’s goodness? Our world discounts the mystical and marvelous when a scientific basis cannot be found for the miracles with which God blesses us every day. If we are in the crowd, do we follow Jesus or turn away to continue with the work and play we have already planned for the day?

Jesus says: A grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. 

What do we do when we hear these words? Do we shrink from the understanding that each of us must die so that we are born for eternity? Do we welcome the unknown and follow Jesus in faith and deed? Our contemporary societies struggle with creating unity as we focus on our differences rather than our common substance and goal. If we are in the crowd, are we willing to follow Jesus when we know that our world we control must become the world God envisions for us?

Then a voice spoke from heaven, “I have brought glory to it, and I will do so again.” The crowd standing there heard the voice, and some of them said it was thunder, while others said, “An angel spoke to him!”

What do we do when we witness God’s presence in our lives? Do we hold this wondrous gift to ourselves? Do we share this good news for all the world to hear? Do we maintain our spirituality in esoteric, cerebral rites full of rules and limitations? Do we allow Christ’s passion for the poor, suffering, and marginalized to possess us fully and open us to amazing possibility? If we are in the crowd, can we say why we follow Christ? Can we say why we ask for transformation? Can we say why we turn to God in both crisis and joy? If we cannot, let us spend time with this reading today.

When we compare varying translations of John 12, we open the door to God’s voice, and heart to God’s creation.


Image from: http://www.gregorydickowonline.com/the-promises-of-god/

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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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