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Posts Tagged ‘Mystical Body’


2 Corinthians 8:1-15: Equality in Generosity

Saturday, December 7, 2019

For in a severe test of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.  (Verse 2)

In the “feel good” society in which we live, we are conditioned to regard affliction as something to be avoided, something to move past and beyond quickly.  Somewhere on the Damascus Road St. Paul met Christ who brought him the message that one who follows the Messiah sees the inverse of this concept.  We find our wealth in our poverty, we find joy in pain, we find living water in the desert, we find life through death.

I say this not by way of command, but to test the genuineness of your love by your concern for others.  (Verse 8)

We ought not to seek affliction.  This is not healthy.  Anyway, affliction has a way of landing on the doorstep of every human being.  We may choose to step over this affliction each morning as we set off for work and prayer and play.  We may choose to allow Christ’s compassion to move us in healing the afflictions of others – and in so doing, become healed.

For if your eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have; . . .  (Verse 12)

We ought not to meddle in the affairs of others or to be distraught about an affliction which only God can heal.  This is forgetting our proper place in our social and spiritual worlds.  The God who has made us knows our promise and potential.  Our God expects us to rise to this potential planted in us.  This is how we bloom

. . . not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.  (Verse 13)

The mystery of God is this . . . that in giving we receive . . . in sharing our wealth overflows . . . in putting aside anxiety for ourselves we are better able to share compassion with others.  Paul reminds us of how when the Hebrews gathered manna in the desert, all were fed.  None starved.

As it is written: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less”.  (Verse 15)

Our concern for the poor and marginalized in the world is easily handled by sending aid to those who have less.  Are we as quick to serve one who suffers from depression or anxiety?  Do we allow God to work through us when we meet those who have left the practice of prayer behind and are casting about looking for some firm place to stand?  Do we witness for Christ when we meet poverty in all its forms?  Do we step forward eagerly to give . . . so that others may have . . . so that all may increase in Jesus’ name?

As members of the Mystical Body we receive by giving, we live by dying.  Anxiety, fear, poverty of any kind does not exist . . . because we all know how to give . . . in fearless expectation of equality.


Written on October 26, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.bluewolf.com/blog/what-are-your-5-packets-generosity

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Leviticus 10:1-3: Closing the Distance

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

When I read the Book of Leviticus I marvel at how closely these early people monitored their physical, moral and spiritual lives.  I try to imagine living at a time when there was no FDA, no FDIC, no AMA, no Magisterium, and I begin to feel the need to formulate rules for everything.  Of course, once the rules are set we will want to enforce them.  And once we enforce them we will need to judge them.  This thinking, in spite of the fact that it seems liberating, has the effect of closing us down.  In today’s reading we see what happens when two people get too close to Yahweh in an unauthorized rite.  This is not the God of the New Testament who invites us in, who yearns to live in the temple of our souls.

Jesus arrived in the world to set us free.  He loosens the bonds of captives.  He releases us from addictions, ailments, anxieties and fears.  He invites us to open ourselves and to be as vulnerable to the world as he is himself.  He invites us to incorporate with him as Light to the world, Hope to the world, Love to the world.

In the chapters following today’s citation we might read about the early Hebrew thinking regarding childbirth, leprosy, personal un-cleanliness, atonement and scapegoating.  In the chapters previous we can find all we need to know about what foods to eat and not to eat.  Out of necessity for survival, this early Hebrew nation was regulated to the smallest detail – inviting narrowness and judgment.  Today, we who live in the Messianic times are free to explore God and to join in the constant renewal of creation.  We cannot forget that we have been freed from all that frightens us, and we must act as if we believe the Jesus who stood in Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah saying:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

Because he has anointed me

To bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To let the oppressed go free,

And to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. 

(Luke 4:18-19)

As twenty-first century Christians, we might proclaim the same to one another in Christ’s name.  Let us bring glad tidings to the poor, including those among us who are poor in spirit.  Let us abide with one another as we free those among us who are held captive by our fears.  Let us be light so that others who are blinded might have sight.  Let us witness to all kinds of oppression, whatever and wherever it may be.  And let us proclaim a time acceptable to the Lord.  Amen.


Written on October 7, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://www.danielharrell.com

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Esther 5:9-14: Retribution

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Esther

I love this story for its crystalline message: The measure that we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38).  We need to hear this story today because lately we have been reflecting on convolutions and betrayals big and small, on expiatory sacrifices, on our complaints, on making a proper response to the call we hear from God, and on forming the alliances we will need to see us through our journey in this life.  All of these themes are present in the story of Esther . . . and they can weigh heavily on us in this season when we want to participate in Easter joy.

Often we are exhausted from the many lessons of discipleship which we must learn.  Often we grow weary of hearing the message that only God can pass judgment and exact retribution.  Often we spend ourselves down to the bottom of our resources keeping up with both listening for the call and by managing our human desire to ask for revenge.  Often our personal well runs dry after we drink from it more times than we replenish it.

Today offers us an opportunity to fill the well, to re-stock the granary, to rest a bit and to recoup.  There are many psalms and stories in scripture in which humans petition retribution and violent revenge on their enemies who appear to skate through life unscathed by the wreckage they leave in their wake.  What today’s story tells us is this:  These enemies drown in their own wake. 

Yes, we reply, we hear this . . . but when will we see it . . . and why does it happen . . . and how do we survive?

We can never visit this story often enough.  We help ourselves if we read it several times a year because it has so much to offer and speaks to the basic human desire to judge and to enact our own retribution.  Various Bibles order the inserts differently and the introductory commentary and the accompanying footnotes will explain the reasons for the jumbled structure of this book which ought to be important to each of.  It is through this story that we are reminded of how our enemies fall.  It is through this story that we remember that we doom ourselves by not answering the call we hear.  It is through this story that we can assure ourselves that our reward will be certain, definite . . . and will flow from our own hands.  It is also from this story we learn that our own actions wash back on us if we enter into the world of envy, fear, obsession and hate.

Rembrandt: Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

Today we read about how Haman is content and happy with the plot he is weaving.  We see how he flatters himself and gets lost in his own distorted view of life.  We cannot miss how Haman’s friends and wife misdirect him.  These are such important lessons for us to read.  We cannot hear them enough.  These are lessons we must see and live because . . . in the living of these events, we become more like God.  We respond to the call of our potential.  We enter Christ’s Mystical Body.  This is how we survive.

And so we pray:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are weary from learning the lessons of life: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we tire from seeking and waiting and searching: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we become lost in the webs we and others weave: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are exhausted from living on the edge:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

Amen. 


A re-post from May 21, 2012 .

Images from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/haman-begging-esther-for-mercy and http://christianrep.com/blog/2010/08/08/let-your-life-speak/

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Acts 26:1-23: Agrippa Hears Paul

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 19, 2019

Nikolai Bodarevsky: Paul’s Trial before King Agrippa

One of the things we notice about Paul is that he is so intelligent he customizes his words for his particular audience.  We see him in Greek cities where there are few Jews but where the people are open to new thoughts and new ideas.  He appeals to their affinity to mythology by relating to their willingness to have a shrine to an unknown God.  He tells these people that there is such a god, and his name is Jesus.  He captures many in his apostolic net.  When he travels to towns populated by people accustomed to reading scripture (towns more heavily populated with Jews) he bases his oratory on Hebrew Scripture.  Both Paul and the Holy Spirit work mightily to bring all into the church, into Christ’s mystical body.

Last year when we read about the reaction to Paul’s speech we reflected and concluded the following: Having people believe that we are crazy is often the cost of discipleship.

We read his words today and see that he has given them a layman’s version of the Creed, this is what Paul believes, it is what we believe.  And like Paul, when we speak truth and light to power, corruption and darkness . . . we can rest in the understanding that people will think we are crazy!

There are so many places in our lives when this happens.  My parents would always say that you know you are doing God’s work when the establishment gets a bit uncomfortable . . . when the status quo resists change . . . not just any change . . . change that comes from the Spirit.  They would emphasis, as we hear so many times in scripture, if God speaks to you . . . and you do not speak, you do not move, you will have to answer for your omission of action and voice.

This labeling of disciples as crazy numbers us among the brokenhearted, so let us pray the morning intercessions from MAGNIFICAT.

You sent your Son to bring glad tidings to the lowly: may the lowly in our midst read the Gospel in your peoples’ acts of love.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

You sent your Son to heal the brokenhearted: may the brokenhearted of our world find relief in your peoples’ compassion.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

You sent your Son to proclaim liberty to captives: may those imprisoned in addiction, loneliness, and despair find hope in your peoples’ active concern.

            Make your Church a living sign of your love.

We are Church.  We are Jesus’ Mystical Body.  We are adopted sisters and brothers of the Christ.  We are disciples.  Let us read the words which Paul spoke to power.  Let us take them in.  Let us be The Word that moves into the world.  Let us remember and hold close . . . the knowledge that we are the brokenhearted, but we are not alone.  Amen.


A re-post from May 4, 2012.

Tomorrow we will see how Paul gives a succinct accounting of his work as a disciple to Agrippa.

For more on Paul’s speech before Agrippa including a video clip, click on the image above or go to: http://tyotb.blogspot.com/2012/03/pauls-trial-before-king-agrippa-acts-26.html

Written on March 11, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2008). Print.  

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Wisdom 18:20-25: Intercession

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The faithful will always have a priest willing to intercede for them.  Today we read about Aaron who intercedes as a spiritual leader for the Israelites; every day we have Jesus who intercedes for us in all that we petition.

Bridge-building is important to a Christian community for without the lifelines that we toss out to connect ourselves to one another, we run the risk of sinking into oblivion.  Just as camel caravans link the living water and sheltering palms of desert oases, we reach out to one another so that we do not become stranded in the lonely desert parts of life.  We must celebrate life where we find it . . . and build bridges to call together the limbs of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Forgiveness – both the asking and the granting – is the essential construction material that we will need for these Jesus bridges.  There is no one among us who has not needed to ask and to give forgiveness and so we pray.

The world is rent asunder by our refusal to forgive, we pray:  Bring us, Lord, your perspective of hope. 

For the hardness of heart we have shown toward those we have hurt, we pray: Bring us, Lord, your openness of heart. 

For the breaches in relationships we have allowed to live and grow, we pray: Bring us, Lord, your depth of wisdom. 

For the resentments we have accumulated, we pray: Bring us, Lord, your counsel and courage. 

If the Lord rescues me from the snare of my faults, should I not extend the same hand of rescue to my neighbor?  Resentment, grudges, retaliation do not help the one who offends me.  They merely confirm the breach between us.  Bridge-building is costly, as the cross demonstrates, but the people stranded on both banks are all freed by the bridge.

These prayers and thoughts are adapted from yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT, and as always, when I think about bridge-building, I am aware that there is a difference – although small – between pardoning behavior and allowing abuse to continue.  There is a reality that exists in bridge-building that comes into being when we empower people – they are freed from a former unhealthy behavior that has stunted growth and dried up life.  When we enable people to continue in an unhealthy behavior, we become part of the problem.  When we gently confront people, we set into place the pillars of the bridge.

When we allow Christ to show us what tool to use next, what material to bring out of storage for use as the struts and cables of the bridge, we begin to make links, we will see that we are building a bride that will last for all time.  We will also see that it is a bridge of and to salvation.

This work does not happen without physical and spiritual exertion; but when we have the Master as our project planner, the work becomes less arduous and less frightening.

When we find ourselves stranded in a small, backwater oases, looking through the burning sun in the day and the cold darkness of night . . . waiting for something to appear on the horizon . . . we will know that it is time for bridge-building.  Let as ask the Master Planner to intercede for us . . . now . . . today . . . and all days.


Adapted from a Favorite written on March 18, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.17 (2009). Print.

Image from: http://www.cepolina.com/photos.asp?V=Rotorua_bridge_mist_water&S=Rotorua&A=all and http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g147290-d149576-r125773547-Mount_Isabel_de_Torres-Puerto_Plata_Dominican_Republic.html

For more thoughts on intercession for our enemies see The Jesus Bridge page on this blog: https://thenoontimes.com/the-jesus-bridge/

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Exodus 36-38The Altar of Our Lives

Friday, December 28, 2018

At this harvest time of year when we gather to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, let us consider our thoughts, words,and deeds in light of the Hebrews’ desert experience and in gratitude for the fulfillment of God’s best hope in us.

Written on November 16, 2008 and posted today as Favorite . . .

The Israelites were faithful to Yahweh in constructing a residence for their one true God, and this one God Yahweh – who tolerated no other gods before him – was faithful in accompanying his people to guide and protect them.  Today’s reading describes the detail the Israelites followed in order to provide the appropriate altars, veil, table, ark and lampstand.  The chapters preceding these describe the collection of materials and artisans.  The chapters following these describe the vestments, and dwelling . . . and how Yahweh settles into his home on earth among the human race.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

In the New Testament story, Jesus comes to earth to be the new high priest . . . and to construct a new temple in place of the former one.  He also calls his artisans and gathers his materials . . . his original apostles and disciples . . . and all those apostles and disciples who have heard his story . . . and who have acted in faith to join this story.  He also settles into his home on earth . . . in the hearts, bodies and minds of all those who follow him today and all days.

In Acts we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit settling upon the original apostles in flames of fire.  The Spirit still settles upon and in those who join with Christ in his mystical body to become living stones in the new living temple of Yahweh.

The Hermitage of San Girolamo, Italy

We are creatures seeking the God who created us, the God who walks with us, the God who abides with us.  We are formed for worship and for joy.  Each day at our rising, each noon at our pausing, each night at our entering into the world of dreams and sleep we have a new opportunity to refurbish our temple . . . to keep it always a pleasing place of adoration . . . a place where our souls sing in communion with others who wish to walk and live in this liminal space of love and peace, mystery and serenity.

What does our God require of us?  This is no mystery.  He does not require holocausts or sacrifice.  He does not require incense morning, noon and night.  But this is what he requires: that we do what is right, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God.  (Micah 6:8

Let us offer our sacrifices of fear, anxiety, pain and anger on the altar of our lives.  Let us do what is right; let us love goodness; and let us walk humbly as we work at the building of God’s temple with the surrender of our lives.

John Pettie (1884):Fixing the Site of an Early Christian Altar


A re-post from November 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/73395/fixingthesiteofanearlychristianaltar1884 and http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html and http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cucco711.jpg

A good website for information concerning the Hebrew temple furnishings.  http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html

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Monday, June 2, 2014

1 John 4:1-6madonna and child and lamb

Belonging – A Reprise

We have studied the opening verses of this chapter before to take a look at how and why and when we belong. We have reflected on true and false teachers and have spent time thinking of how and why and when we acknowledge Christ. Today we consider what it means to fully and wholly belong to Christ.

We have no way of predicting how our belonging to a particular group will change our lives or affect our emotions, but we know for certain that when we belong to Christ our lives are changed irreparably and eternally and always for the better.

We have no way of knowing how our acknowledgement of our membership in a specific organization will change our environment or heal our wounds. But we know for certain that when we acknowledge our union in Christ’s Mystical Body that we are never alone and we are never lost.

We have no way of understanding the effects of Christ’s friendship on our lives . . . but we understand deeply that without Christ we belong to nothing of any account.

Spend some time today with these verses and compare several versions by clicking on the scripture link above and pondering . . . how and why and when we admit to belonging to Christ.

Visit the Belonging post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/07/04/belonging/

 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

circumcision-of-the-heart[1]Romans 2:25-29

Our Interior Law

Part III

True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh.  Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.

In the early church argument erupted over whether or not the first non-Jewish Christians must first be circumcised in order to join the movement. Luke records much of this turmoil in Acts and we see a success convening of the first Church Council to sort out the problem the fledgling group faced. Peter puts an end to the petty bickering when he says: Who was I to be able to hinder God? God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too. (Acts 11:17-18)

Some of Jesus’ early followers wrap themselves in the safety of rules and regulations that are created to keep themselves and others in line.  How do we turn away those who long to hear the Good News that kingdom-builders are meant to deliver?

Some of Jesus’ first adherents see the Mystical Body as a club or community organization to be tightly controlled.  How do we allow the Spirit to move in and through us so that we might bring the freedom and joy of the kingdom to others?

Some of Jesus’ initial disciples worried over the details of God’s plan, believing themselves responsible for correcting all they believe is wrong with the world.  How do we stifle the Spirit, misrepresent Jesus, and ignore God as we seek to builders with Christ?

Who am I to be able to hinder God? 

As we reflect on our interior and outer laws, how and why we follow them, and how or if they match the Law of Love established by God through Jesus . . . let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit as we honestly answer the question Peter poses . . . Who are we to be able to hinder God?

For a deeper understanding of Circumcision of the Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v01-n06/circumcision

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Monday, December 23, 2013

6596191_orig[1]Zephaniah 3:20

Coming Home

At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; for I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.

We yearn to go back to a place and time of innocence.  We miss the elders who peopled our childhood years.  We look for comfort in old, familiar places.  Zephaniah reminds us today that all of these dreams are already fulfilled.

God says: Rather than see the world around you as chaos come to me so that I might give you rest.  Rather than look at what is missing in your lives consider all that you are and have.  Rather than look for consolation turn to others who need your consolation. This is the gathering Zephaniah describes to you.  This is the restoration he proclaims.  It is the healing I bring to each of you when you decide to live and think and act in me.  You do not have to wait for the death of your body to experience this coming home to me . . . you are already there.  Put aside your chores and your worried for a little time . . . and come to me.  I have much I wish to give you.

coming-home[1]Time, people and places. We feel nostalgia as we recall good memories and ward off the bad.  We re-create in our mind’s eye the faces of loved ones we can no longer see or touch.  We close our eyes and conjure up the scents and aromas of those places we thought we had lost but that we now somehow find in an old reminiscence.  God’s time is eternal; God brings all of us together in the Mystical Body of Christ; God is in all places at all times.  When we join this great coming home . . . all of time, all the faithful, and all places come together in union with this God who loves us so much that he chooses to live among us.   Zephaniah tells us that when we come home to God we are already there in those times and places we miss, we are already there with all of our beloved.

In this last week of Advent when the day of Jesus’ birth nears, let us consider for a time the renown and praise that we are already given by God.  Let us consider the renewal this season brings to us.  And let us go gladly to take part in this gathering up and this coming home.

For more reflections on the words of the prophet Zephaniah, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

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