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Posts Tagged ‘peace’


Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

questions%20-%20fotolia_38274417%20-%20web_417x313[1]Jeremiah 12:1-2

Why?

You would be in the right, O Lord, if I should dispute with you; even so, I must discuss the case with you.  Why does the way of the godless prosper, why live all the treacherous in contentment?  You planted them; they have taken root, they keep on growing and bearing fruit.  You are upon their lips, but far from their inmost thoughts.

Like most of God’s prophets, Jeremiah asks the Lord direct questions.  He brings his confusion, heartache and pain to the Creator who knows and sees all.  Like Jeremiah, we must bring all of our big and petty woes to God. For with God is the answer we seek.

God says: I am not bothered by the billions of questions that fly to me each day and night. I am not angered.  I am not threatened. There is nothing you can ask that will turn me away from you. So ask. How else will you find peace? I will always answer . . . even though you may not be prepared to hear the reply. Even then I will guide you to understanding. All you need do is remain open and ready for dialog. I long to listen and speak to you. Be not afraid to ask the questions that are in your heart. Persist and be open, and we will speak with one another.

“How is it that evil prospers?”  “Why do the wicked enjoy life while the faithful suffer?”  “When will God’s justice divide the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff?”  “Where is God when so much envy and hate destroy all that is good?”  “What is the point of seeing the weeds pollute the harvest?”

These are questions the faithful feel rise from within when they see injustice in the world.  These are the questions the faithful must bring to God . . . for with God lie the consolation and the replies.


Tomorrow, Job, another faithful servant, hears The Lord’s Speech . . .

Image from: https://www.123rf.com/photo_11983584_magnifying-glass-with-questions-words-on-white-background.html

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

James Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

Luke 5:16

Come Apart With Me Awhile

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  (Luke 5:16)

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15)

And after leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46)

The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.  (Matthew 12:14-15)

Jesus withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village named Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. (John 11:54)

When Jesus heard what had happened [to John the Baptist], he withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place.  (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. (Mark 3:7)

Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

James Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

Recently in our Noontime journey we have examined how to best survive the ups and downs of a life lived in discipleship.  We have reflected on how to best withstand the plots and schemes devised by the discontented.  We have focused on how to best respond to God’s call. And through all of this we may find ourselves exhausted.  If this is so, we must do as Jesus and his companions did . . . we must go apart for a time.

If you are able, make the intentional effort of leaving one day a week to re-connect with the treasure of yourself.  If you have spent much time with chores and tasks, put them aside and go out into the world to experience the gift of connecting with others.  If you need time on your own, set yourself apart for a time either alone or with someone with whom you need to re-connect.  Put away anything that takes you away from restoring your soul and re-filling your well.  Our world draws us into or out of ourselves in such alluring ways that before we notice, we have either detached ourselves from human community or we have thrown ourselves entirely into it without listening to our hearts.  What we seek today is a bit of balance for with balance comes wisdom and peace.

To help us reflect, let us look at some of the images created by James Tissot, and let us remind ourselves that we are in each of these scenes.  Let us thank Christ for walking with us each day even when we forget his presence.  And let us carry Christ to others as we have been asked to do.

Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

James Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

If you have a favorite citation from scripture in which Jesus withdraws for a time either alone or with his disciples, insert it in the comment box below.  If you are more visual, search the net for another of Tissot’s scenes from The Life of Christ and share that link in the comment box.

May each of us come away with Christ for a time, may each of us restore the soul and settle the heart, and may each of us enjoy a day of peace and balance.


James Tissot (1833-1902) was “a nineteenth-century French painter who for the first part of his career had a reputation as a ‘French society painter [whose subjects were] the costumes and manners, occupations and pleasures of the French capital’s elegantes.’ This all changed in the early 1890s when Tissot renewed his ties to the Catholicism of his youth after experiencing a vision during a Mass when the priest raised the host. For the rest of his life, he devoted himself to the series of religious paintings numbering in the hundreds given here. Tissot’s lasting reputation rests on this series The Life of Christ on all periods of Jesus Christ’s life from the Annunciation to the Resurrection”.   (Berry)

For more of Berry’s review and others, go to: www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961

Berry, Henry. “James Tissot: The Life of Christ.” Amazon Reviews. 9 Dec 2009: n. page. Web. 21 Jun. 2013. <http://www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961&gt;.

Images from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/tags/tissot

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020

3431916072_4ff4bd224e[1]Micah 2:12

Believing the Promise

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not insist on our own agendas.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not allow fear to rise in our throats.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more open to reconciliation.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more willing to intercede for our enemies.

I will gather you . . . We are sheep lost in the folds of the mountainside knowing that the scorching heat of summer and the freezing rains of winter will surely kill us off unless God the creator protects us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will eagerly follow the plans God has laid out.

Each and every one . . . We cannot judge our companions on life’s road because we are not in charge and we do not have the right to countermand Christ’s universal call.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will willingly be more accepting of those whose idiosyncrasies drive us wild.

I will assemble all the remnant . . . We need to practice the art of persevering patiently knowing that those who persist will reap the harvest with the Spirit.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will find the courage and strength to endure in love as we are asked to do.

Like a herd in the midst of the corral . . . We must see that we are not left out in the wild as we believe but rather we are always in the loving care of the Father who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who guides us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will put our fears to rest; our anxieties will not take hold of us and we will be led to a place of peace that knows no limits.

They shall not be thrown into panic . . . We must remember that terror is of human making and does not come from God; dread has no power over us unless we bow to its influence.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be less quick to criticize our own and one another’s weaknesses.

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be better able to live as Christ does . . . in patience . . . while persevering . . . with the Spirit . . . always trying to act in accord with God’s plan . . . in love.

Amen.


First written on June 9, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

tr-trinity-symbol1[1]Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Calamities – Part III

We do not like to think of the calamities that happen to us, or of the ones yet to come; yet we realize that the human condition is precisely this: the learning to survive in a healthy way when disaster strikes – as it always will.

This week we have reflected on how we handle calamity when we live in discipleship.  Today we reflect on calamity as seen from the center of the loving Trinity that embraces us.

The evil time is not known . . . but the time of goodness is – it is now, and we make it so by our words and deeds.

The evil time falls suddenly upon them . . . but the goodness is always with us – and we live out this goodness to others by our words and deeds.

A time of calamity comes to all alike . . . and a time of redemption through the goodness of God, the deeds and words of Christ, and the gifts of the Spirit.

Pole or North Star

The Pole or North Star guides those who watch and witness . . .

The race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the valiant, nor a livelihood by the wise, nor riches by the shrewd, nor favor by the experts . . . yet we are given all of this and more when we live in Christ rather than in the world.

Amid all of the uncertainties of life, this we know for certain: calamity does arrive.  And when it does, we will want to be wearing Christ as our armor, following God as our polestar, and living in the eternal peace of the Spirit.


Images from: http://thinkingthoughtful.wordpress.com/2012/05/ and https://www.farmersalmanac.com/north-star-brightest-star-19822

Adapted from a reflection written on September 28, 2010.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Judith 13: Slaying Holofernes

Judith teaches us about courage, fidelity, and divine providence.  She shows us clearly the strength of women, the power of faithfulness through duress, the results of steady, enduring, immutability . . . and the gift of God’s abiding presence.  Judith instructs us on the results of constancy and the privilege of discipleship.

In this particular chapter, we see Judith carry out the final stages of her plan . . . and I am always intrigued by the fact that none of Holofernes’ soldiers see anything suspicious about two women leaving the camp and the reason for this is that from the first night of her stay Judith makes it clear that she and her maid will go out to pray each evening.  For this reason their escape route is made through their accustomed daily commitment to God (12:5-9).

It is also clear that Holofernes’ principle error is seeing women as sexual objects.  The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken.  He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.  (12:16) Neither this man – nor anyone in his inner circle – sees the true significance of the presence of this quiet, beautiful, spiritual woman in their midst.  And they pay for this blindness with the loss of life and the loss of the campaign they have planned against the people of Bethulia.

What can we learn from this today?  How can we take this lesson into our own lives and honor it?  What is it about Judith’s conduct that speaks of her so well?

This story – when read from beginning to end – is full of unexpected twists.  And so is life.  This story – when we take the time to examine it more fully – can startle us and even repel us with its stark reality and violence.  And so can life.  This story – when reflected upon in the context of the coming of Christ – brings us the expectation of restoration, justice and joy.  And so does life.  This story brings us the gift of constancy, a gift we receive through our own discipleship.

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

What do we do against life’s twists and turns and ironies?  We remain constant, we abide with God, we fear less and we pray endlessly.  We empty ourselves of ego and pride . . . and we allow God to complete and fill us.  We act – just as Judith did – from a custom of constantly walking and praying with God.

Good, merciful and just Creator, we place ourselves in your hands each day at our rising.  We carry you with us throughout each day.  We return to you each evening just as we return to family, home and hearth.  Abide with us this day and all days, just as you accompanied Judith and her maid into the enemy’s camp.  Abide with us each evening as we walk out to the ravine to pray with you, just as Judith and her maid were accustomed to doing.  We seek you, just as Judith sought you.  We bring to you our worries and fears, just as these women did.  May we too remain constant to you in our prayers and in our actions.  May we too know the triumph and the peace which comes from abiding with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


If you have time to read more about Judith’s story and reflect on her importance in our lives today, enter her name in the search box on this blog and spend time with her.  Or open your Bible to this book and begin her story in Judith 8.  For background, and to better understand the context, begin reading from Chapter 1.   For an online commentary, click on the model of ancient Jerusalem above.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/220px-cristofano_allori_0021.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/reconstruction_model_of_ancient_jerusalem_in_museum_of_david_castle1.jpg

First written on July 27, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Friday, April 3, 2020

John 20:19-23

The Upper Room

The Upper Room

I send you . .  .

“Peace be with you,” Jesus said to them. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

When life presents us with circumstances that confuse our senses, how do we bring reality into focus?  What fears do we bow to?  How do we unravel ourselves from our emotions?

When family or friends hurt or disappoint us, how do we recover?  How do we avoid seeking revenge?  What do we do to manage our desire to control others?

When we suffer a loss that is too great to handle, how do we move forward?  What do we hide? What do we reveal?

Fearful and confused, the disciples have gathered in the upper room where they shared that last meal with Jesus.  We can only imagine their bewilderment when Jesus appears among them.  They quiz one another about who did or did not lock the door.  They quiz Jesus about how he comes to be with them.  Their mourning has turned into rejoicing.

They are startled by the Teacher’s actions and words.  Here he is – somehow whole and back with them yet bearing the crucifixion wounds – and he is behaving as if this were their normal Passover journey to Jerusalem.  And now he tells them that he expects them to go out into the world – the world that has just put him to death – and teach others as he has taught them.  Even more surprisingly, he tells them that whose sins they forgive are forgiven and whose sins they retain are retained.  They are beyond confused.  They are stunned.

There is no other experience in their varied lives that has prepared them for what stands before them.  How, they ask themselves, could they have been so blind to Jesus’ real mission?  How had the Teacher been so patient with them?  Why does he value them so much? Can it be that he truly loves them this deeply and this well?

We are often blind-sided by circumstances.  What have we learned from these experiences?  Have we really noticed that it is Jesus who breathes life into our wounded lives with his own, powerful breath?  Have we taken his gentle urging seriously that we go into the world to do as he has done?  Do we fully and enthusiastically believe that Christ’s peace will be with us as we unlock the door behind which we have buried ourselves to go out into a world that will be both loving and hostile?

Today we reach the half-way point in the Easter Octave and if we still stand frightened and locked away rather than thankful, open, amazed and engaged in the world we have missed entirely the Easter story.  We have missed the announcement of the end of fear.  We have missed the liberation of our bodies, minds and souls.  But – and this is the truly amazing point of the Easter story – despite the fact that we have hidden ourselves away, Jesus comes through all locked doors to retrieve us.  Jesus breathes life back into our exhausted lives.  Jesus will go to hell and back in order to set us free from our fears and anxieties.  It is in this way that we know the breadth and depth of God’s love.  Jesus sends us, just as he was sent.  And Jesus goes with us always so that we have nothing to fear.

Tomorrow, the doubt of Thomas . . .


Image from: http://www.biblepath.com/holyland3.html

A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

o reflect more on the Upper Room and descriptions of other places Jesus lived, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblepath.com/holyland3.html 

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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Thistledown

Wisdom 4:20 & 5: Hope

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

These verses – actually beginning with the last verse of Chapter 4 – give us reflections of the wicked concerning the fate of the faithful.  Here is an answer to all of the times the psalmist laments: Why do we suffer and the wicked get away with murder?  Today we have the answer to so much questioning.  The faithful will rest in peace after struggling so long in the temporal world.  This chapter is a balancing counterpoint to chapters three and four: The Hidden Counsels of God.

So much about God is mystery.  Perhaps this is why we like this time of year with lights twinkling in the darkness, carols piercing cold air, our breath forming vapor as we step into the early morning crispness.

Over the week end my grandchildren and I watched one of their favorite movies, Babe, about a pig that becomes a sheepdog.  The story takes place in New Zealand and so Christmas is celebrated in the dead of summer; yet the farmer places a Christmas tree atop his house and the family gathers in the warm weather to exchange presents.  The grandchildren and I had a lively conversation about what we would and would not like about having Christmas in July.  At first it was winter that seemed more appropriate because it is the time when we are hunkered in and hunkered down, waiting for life to begin.  On the other hand, the coming of Light and Truth into the world coincides with the full and open days of summer, jammed with activities that distract us.  When do we need Christ more?  The answer is likely: all of the time.

We also spent time – as we always do when we watch this film – reflecting on the faith and doubt of the farmer and his wife about the pig and themselves.  We spoke again about the relationships between generations.  And, of course, we spoke about the incredible idea that a pig might win a sheep herding tourney.  We have sat in the bleachers at the Harford County Farm Fair and watched these dogs work a flock of sheep.  We have also watched pig races, horse sled pulls and other animal trials.  The children – and I – are impressed by the competency of this Hollywood pig.  And we are all rewarded by the cheers of the crowd when Babe brings the final sheep configuration home.  These were the same people who had jeered moments before.  Yes, the hope of the wicked is like thistledown borne on the wind . . .

When we are confronted with sneering laughter we need only focus on the potential within and wear the Lord as our armor (verses 16-19).  For when we put on Christ as recommended by Paul in Ephesians 6, we have no need of any other thing for the just live forever, and in the Lord is their recompense. 

This is one of the times in the liturgical year when we hear the theme of the rejected cornerstone.  It gives us the opportunity to think about surprises . . . and about unusual possibilities like Christmas in July . . . pigs that can herd sheep . . . cornerstones that no one recognizes.  It is the time of year to think about arming ourselves with Light and Joy . . . Peace and Hope . . . about wearing the Lord as we set forth each day . . . about being Christ in a turbulent world.


Written on December 1, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2010/03/page/4/

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