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Saturday, October 17, 2020Grace_wordle[1]Psalm 32

Overwhelmed by Grace

The second of the penitential psalms “is a joyous testimony of gratitude for God’s gift of forgiveness for those who confess their sins and follow the law of God. Instead of constantly pondering their sins, believers acknowledge their wretchedness before God and accept forgiveness and reconciliation. Their torment ceases, and a new person is born, overwhelmed by grace, confidence, and a sense of obedience.

“In praying the psalm, we can focus not only on the happiness resulting from the forgiveness of particular sin, but also on the more profound happiness obtained by the complete victory given us by God in Christ over sin in all forms”.  (Psalms 86)

We too often emphasize all that is wrong with the world, our community, our colleagues and even our friends, family and self. Today’s reading invites us to accept the knowledge that we are not perfect, to ask forgiveness for the times we have wronged self and others, to graciously accept the pardon we receive, and to allow God’s grace, joy and peace to bring us profound happiness. This deep and lasting contentment is the gift of complete victory we are free to reject or receive.

And so we pray . . .

Forgiving and unifying God, we lay all our imperfections in your hands.

Grant us this day the complete victory of your love as we come to you in truth.

Give us the confidence we need to believe that your love has the power to bring joy out of suffering.

Inspire in us such love for you that our obedience is a source of delight rather than a burden to shoulder.

Move in us a spirit of reconciliation that surmounts all fears, calms all anxieties, and heals all wounds.

Bring us your profound happiness that heals, binds, unifies and transforms.

Grant us your lasting gift of overwhelming grace that seeps into the bone, calms the heart, and warms the troubled soul. 

We ask this as we ask all things through  your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 86. Print.

For a sermon on Grace: The Verb, click on the image above or go to: http://ssje.org/ssje/2010/03/09/grace-the-verb-br-mark-brown/

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

prison2[1]Casting Away Chains

Psalm 2:1-3

Why do the nations rage and the peoples devise futile plots? The kings of the earth rise up, and the princes conspire together against the Lord and against his Anointed One: “Let us finally break their shackles and cast away their chains from us”.

Jesus came into the world to set us free from all the fears and anxieties that enslave us.  He lives and breathes with us that we might believe that we do not need to pay homage to any of the little gods the nations, the peoples and the princes have established.  Jesus is the Anointed One who comes to tells us that there is only one law to follow . . . The Law of Love.

God says: As I have said so many times, it is confusing to sort through all the little gods you have chained yourselves to: the god of time, the god of space, the god of power, the god of control, the god of fear, the god of fame, the god of glamour, the god of wealth, the god of status and so many more.  There is only one God and I Am that God.  There is only one law, The Law of Love.  There is only one dominion, the Kingdom I invite you to build with me.  I have broken your chains just as I broke the chains of Paul and Silas.  Trust in me and put aside your little plans.  Allow me to cast away the chains that are too heavy for you to lift.

We need no plots, no schemes, and no tricks to be one with God.  We need only surrender, obedience and love.  Let us trust the one who forgives endlessly.  Let us rely on the one who judges mercifully.  And let us follow the one who unlocks all chained and secret places.


Type the word plots or schemes in the blog search bar and examine how we separate ourselves from God . . . and how we might allow God to release us from our personal prison.

To read the story of Paul and Silas’ miraculous release, see Acts 16.

A re-post from June 28, 2013. 

Image from: http://glad-u-see.com/salvation.html 

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ezekiel 12: While they are looking on . . .

NaysayersBeatsMysapceHeader2[1]In today’s Noontime we are reminded that we do not have to fight against the obstacles in life’s journey that loom so large.  It tells us that when barriers to freedom are gigantic and overwhelming we cannot struggle against them.  It says to us that we must turn to God in trust and obedience.  We must do as Jesus does even while the naysayers are looking on. 

Going into exile was an embarrassment to the “chosen” people.  They who had always been miraculously protected by Yahweh now found themselves going into captivity at the hands of the very pagans whom they had previously conquered in battle.  The Israelites have discovered that while they fought against the barbarian outside of the city walls, it was the enemy within that doomed them.  Corruption and deceit in their own community had decayed their society to the foundation.  There is no other outcome to expect than the one they are living . . . they are to pack their baggage in full view of the enemy, and then they are to dig their way through the broken walls of the city to march into captivity.  And all of this while the unbelievers are looking on.

So many times we find ourselves living among rebellious people, and we sometimes cannot even tell if we have become one with the idol worshipers.  We feel as though the world has gone mad and we are one of the few sane ones who remain.  In our Noontime journey we have reflected on how to weather the whirlwind when we see and hear it approaching; today we reflect on how to journey faithfully into captivity . . . while the world is looking on.

There is a remnant left by Yahweh: Yet I will leave a few of them to escape the sword, famine and pestilence so that they may tell of all their abominations among the nations to which they will come; thus they shall know that I am the Lord.  This just yet merciful God is always willing, and indeed eager to give his people another door to salvation, another opportunity to return.  God will vindicate us even in the darkest and most painful of times even while those who deny us are looking on.

There are occasions when it seems as though we alone are able to see what others cannot.  Circumstances and events speak loudly to us while they only whisper to those around us or speak not at all. The prophecy we hear and see and then repeat for others falls on stubborn ears.  The world mocks those who live simply so that others may live.  Society denies truth so that deception might reign.  Many favor the apparent security of tangible comfort while few remain faithful to the Spirit who is willing to abide while those who wish us gone are looking on.

Ezekiel describes a vision today that seems a long way off and yet is present in the Spirit within.  Ezekiel says that in a distant time to come there shall no longer be any false visions or deceitful divinations and yet this word is fulfilled by Christ in us today.  Ezekiel tells us of a future in which none of God’s words will be delayed any longer and yet this future lives in us today because God loves us so . . . even while the naysayers are looking on.

Let us spend time with this prophecy today.  And let us see that, despite the naysayers, Ezekiel’s vision lives in us in this present moment through the promise, the rescue and the love of God.


To read more about weathering the storms on our journey, type the word whirlwind into the search box on this blog. 

The opening paragraphs of today’s Noontime were written on August 12, 2010.  Today’s post is an amplification of that reflection.  

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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Deuteronomy 7: Blessings of Obedience

Count_blessings6[1]This is one of those portions of the Old Testament that we humans can distort to fit our own agenda; we might take it to mean that God shows partiality, or that some of us are somehow above others of us.  I do not believe this to be so, and careful reading of good commentary tells us otherwise.   The message we might better take away from today’s Noontime is this: Israel has a special function to serve in God’s plan – that of bringing other nations out of the darkness of pagan worship and into the light of mercy, justice and hope which the Living God brings to all.  From the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (Mays 198-199): “God has chosen Israel, not because of any special worthiness on its part, but out of God’s personal attachment based on divine love and the promises made to the ancestors (vv. 7-8).  The Exodus experience reveals that God’s essential character promises covenant loyalty over uncountable generations (vv. 8-9).  However, the integrity of God’s character also threatens individual retribution for those who are apostate (v. 10).  A further motive for wiping out Canaanite religion is offered by the promise of fertility for family, field, and flock (vv. 13-14), an especially appropriate counter to Baal’s claims to bestow fertility.  Obedience also leads to good health.  The plagues of the Exodus tradition will be reserved for enemies (v. 15)”.

When we consider this, we understand that rather than giving his chosen people an exemption from acting in God’s name, God is expecting his faithful to behave as he himself does: with justice and compassion, bringing hope, and acting in love.  This is the thinking we hear from Jesus in Luke 12:48: From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 

Like Israel, the faithful are in a special covenant relationship with God.

Like Israel, the faithful are called to act in obedience to God’s call.

Like Israel, the faithful are graced with God’s countless blessing.

Like Israel, the faithful have not earned a “special worthiness” . . . yet are loved deeply and dearly by the Living God.


Image from: http://somewhereincraftland.blogspot.com/2011/01/count-your-blessing-subway-art.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 198-199. Print.

Written on October 31, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite. 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Deuteronomy 1: God’s Guidance

guide[1]In this last book of the Torah, we find a reiteration of the covenant relationship between God and his creatures as mediated by the man Moses.  His aim, as we read in commentary, is to enforce with the Israelites “the Lord’s claim to their obedience, loyalty and love”.  (Senior 187)  What we see here is God establishing a firm relationship with his people; much as a parent devotes care to strong enforcement of family values with a toddler . . . knowing that the teenage and young adult years – and even the years that carry us into maturity – will be difficult ones.  God wants to leave nothing to chance where his creatures are concerned.

In verse 10 we see reference to the fact that these tribes are so multiplied they are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  And we remember the promise made to Abraham that even in their advanced years he and Sarah would be the vehicles through which God would create a people dear to him.  This is followed with a plan laid out by God for gaining the territory promised to Abraham and his family.  Scouts are chosen to reconnoiter the land.   This is when they discover that the people are stronger and taller and they have become fainthearted.  They begin to lose courage.  Moses reminds them of the countless times God saved them from death in the hostile desert . . . and we begin to see the purpose of all their wanderings and suffering.

Of course, these people disobey – as do we – and in this Old Testament story we hear how God punishes them for their lack of faith.  Moses reminds them that they have disobeyed and struck out on their own.  As observed above, God disciplines the child nation, calling them to himself with reminders that he has been faithful to them despite their rebellion.

There is no doubt that we are sustained by God’s love and intervention as we muddle through our days.  God continues to provide resting places, to shepherd us with a pillar of smoke, to guard us with a column of fire.  It is easy to become lost, distracted, anxious or discouraged and so as we put our heads to pillows this evening we might reflect on the story we have read today and look at our lives through the filter on this exodus story of God’s people.  And we might ask ourselves how we react when we lose courage . . . how we see our wanderings through the hostile desert.

What is our relationship with God like?  Do we rely on God at all times or only when we need help?

How do we celebrate God’s goodness?  Do we rejoice with others and share the good news that we are well-loved?

What is our belief system?  Are we ready . . . and are we willing to give over to God our obedience, our loyalty and our love?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.187. Print.

Tomorrow, more on Deuteronomy.

Image from: http://restministries.com/2011/09/22/devotion-counting-on-gods-guidance-each-day/

First written on July 24, 2009. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Daniel 10: God’s Mission

Saturday, December 21, 2019

This is a portion of the story of the bright, young Jewish man, Daniel, who goes in to exile with the Jewish nation.  He continues to follow God’s will in the new and alien land; and God never lets him down.  Rather, God cares for Daniel – and his companions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Chapter 3) even the fires of a great furnace.  This prophecy is full of wonderful stories we heard as children.  It is full of mysterious visions that explain our future.  It is full of the promise of the present . . . and we have much we might learn about humble obedience when called . . .

Stand up, for my mission now is to you . . .

When we hear these words we, like Daniel, struggle to understand what God has in mind for us and how we might do God’s will.

From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard . . .

When we understand that God has chosen us for a mission, we will likely fear that is too difficult and too impossible for us.

Fear not beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong . . .

When we believe that God is with us, there is nothing we cannot do when God asks . . .


Written on November 18, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://bongodogblog.com/tag/shadrach-meshach-and-abednego/

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Philippians 2:1-11: Unity and Humility

Friday, December 13, 2019

Complete my joy by being of the same mind . . .

If Christ – who is God – can humble himself in order to bring about good, cannot we humble ourselves, and can we not obey God’s call to us?  And what miracles might we experience once we do?

In Chapter 14 of Acts we read an account of how Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for pagan gods when they are able to cure a crippled man.  When this gift of healing which God gives them is made known, “some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered round him, he got up and entered the city”.  Even a stoning and apparent death do not stop Paul.  He is of the same mind as Christ.

As we spend time reflecting on Paul’s words and his actions, we have the opportunity to gauge our own humility before God, and our own desire for unity with Christ no matter the cost.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Psalm 116:12 – How can I repay the Lord for God’s goodness to me? 

The attitude of thankfulness is central to Christian spirituality.  The debt of gratitude we owe for God’s faithful love can be repaid only in a two-sided coin: turning to God in thanksgiving and doing for others what has been done for us.  (Mini-reflection)

Be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (Colossians 3:15-17)

The Christology expressed here is paramount to our understanding of who Christ is and how we might expect ourselves to be in him as he is in us.  At the root of his divinity is his readiness to humble himself and to obey God . . . even to the point of death.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

Notes tell us that the hymn Paul cites in likely one that was sung by the early Christians; and we can understand how this song may have served to inspire the fledgling church as she struggled to survive.  We too, might use these words when we find ourselves floundering.  He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . . he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

When we are humble enough . . . and when we obey enough . . . then we can say we are in unity with Christ.  And when we can say this, we will be in that spot where serenity overcomes anxiety, and where love overcomes fear.


A re-post from USA Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.10 (2010). Print.  

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Ezekiel 2:5-7: Among Thorns and Scorpions

Monday, April 1, 2019

A number of months ago we looked at Ezekiel 2 and focused on the image of the scroll.  Today as we watch Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem we look at just a few of the verses.   From the Jerusalem Bible: The[y] are defiant and obstinate; I am sending them to you to say, “The Lord Yahweh says this”.  Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.  And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them, do not be afraid when they say, “There are thorns all around you scorpions under you”.  There is no need to be afraid either of their words or of their looks, for they are a set of rebels.  You must deliver my words to them whether they listen or not, for they are a set of rebels.  Jesus knows that he is about to settle into the thorns; he is aware that scorpions lie in wait; yet he goes willingly to do as the Father asks.

In today’s reading from Philippians (2:6-11) Paul describes for us Jesus’ manner before God.  Perhaps when we spend some time reflecting on these verses we will be better able to do as God asks.  We know that this obedience will lead us from time to time to sit among thorns and be surrounded by scorpions; yet we obey as Jesus obeys, knowing that we are led and loved by God.

And so we pray . . .

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped . . .

If Christ himself does not try to supersede the creator, why do we?

If Christ himself does as the Father asks, why cannot we?

He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness . . .

If Christ empties himself so that the Spirit may enter, why cannot we?

If Christ enslaves himself to the will of God, how might we?

Found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross . . .

If Christ humbles himself and bows to the creator, when can we?

If Christ obeys unto death, even death on a cross, when do we?

Because of this, God greatly exalted him.

If Christ settles into thorns to sit among the scorpions, why don’t we?

If Christ calls us to follow . . . even into the thorns and among the scorpions, why don’t we?

What do we fear . . . when we know that we are led and loved by God?

Let us place our cloaks on the ground to make a passage way for Christ.  Let us take up the fronds of palm to wave them in joy.  And let us follow the one who leads and loves so well . . . even knowing that we go among the thorns and the scorpions.  Amen.


A re-post from April 1, 2012.

Scorpion image from: http://bioveteria.com/antivenom/scorpion-antivenom/

For another way to look at scripture, click on the thorn image above or visit: http://thewordin365.wordpress.com/tag/thorns/

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Deuteronomy 28How Big is God?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Written on February 10, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

“So we go to our religious services and make sure we read the latest popular inspirational books and attend all kinds of psychological wellness retreats and conferences.  And we come away feeling good.  But without the willingness to be spiritually challenged, we cannot and will not change.  Without the will to give up whatever is asked of us in order to meet a bigger God, we find that our understanding and experience of the Divine cannot and will not grow.  Try taking that to your prayer and meditation time, and see what happens”.

This citation is from a book that I am reading by Paul Coutinho, S.J. entitled HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?  It is challenging and humorous at the same time and I highly recommend it.  I am smiling as often as I frown.

Today’s Noontime is about the black and white consequences of our obedience.  We may pretend that we follow God . . . or we may truly follow God.  The Old Testament view is that when we do what we are called to do we will prosper physically; when we fail to do what God asks, we suffer.  The Book of Job, however, tells us that this black and white view of the world does not fully serve us because our reality tells us that too frequently the innocent suffer through no fault of their own.  This is a challenge that Coutinho opens to us today: Is it not a very small God who punishes people for misdeeds?  Is it not a very large God who forgives, calls and is infinitely patient?

In the prologue of his book Coutinho writes: “I invite you now to ask yourself: Am I looking to meet a big God, a God without limits?  Do I have the will to experience the Divine – in all its wondrous and infinite possibilities?  He explains that we might begin where Ignatius Loyola began: “by questioning our lives, questioning the world around us, questioning our relationships, questioning our family life, questioning our work, and questioning our passions.  Let’s also question our relationship with God”. 

This is what the Hebrew people confront in today’s Noontime reading:  Everything they do, everything they are has been thrown into question.  At first reading we see this to be a bad thing – they suffer and question.  On second thought we might see this as a good thing . . . they have been given the opportunity to know their God better.  They have the chance to see . . . how big is their God?


A re-post from February 8, 2012.

Image from: http://storagenerve.com/2009/09/17/cloud-the-quest-for-standards/cloud-question-mark-cloud-computing/

Paul Coutinho, S.J., HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? Loyola Press.  Watch Paul Coutinho at: http://www.mycatholicvoice.com/media/i8icLh   and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozevDJf9q9U

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