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Posts Tagged ‘Pentecost’


Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – 2 Corinthians

file[1]Chapter 12, verses 7 to 10 and Chapter 13, verses 5 to 13

“By a barrage of questions, by challenges both serious and ironic, by paradox heaped upon paradox, even by insults hurled at his opponents, [Paul] strives to awaken in his hearers a true sense of values and an appropriate response.” (Senior 275). Sometimes in community we need to do the same. We need to challenge, and we also need to use uncomfortable means to save souls. Yet we do this from a stance of weakness, as Paul says, and not from a position which overpowers. We call, we do not force. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. . . For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong.

Paul and the Jesus community of Corinth struggled within a long, faithful, combative covenant, the one never giving up on the other. Scholars believe that this letter may be a cobbling together of several smaller letters and for that reason may seem disjointed; but it is evident that the people in the community of Corinth kept these missives and read them aloud at their gatherings, even though there are passages that are critical of the Corinthians themselves. These people are a solid example of those who are willing to remain in relationship with one another through trial, beyond criticism, straining toward unity and the formation of community.  Paul says in these verses that his own amazing strength comes from his weakness, and that he relies on this mystery of strength through weakness as it was taught by the risen Jesus.  And it is Jesus who continues to teach this lesson to us each day.

We have been celebrating Eastertide and we have examined the gifts we receive through discipleship.  We move toward the Pentecost event when the Spirit comes to live in intimacy with us.  As we witness the mystery of Christ’s passion and resurrection, and our own redemption and restoration, it is good to look at the closing words of this letter. We recognize some of them as the prayer we hear at Mass just before the kiss of peace.

Rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

And may the peace of Christ be with each of you. Amen.


Image from: http://strengththroughweakness.forumer.com/index.php

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.275. Print.

Adapted from a Noontime written on April 5, 2007

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Wednesday, May 19, 2020

In this time of pandemic, we welcome the Holy Spirit into our midst as we gather in families who shelter in place. In this time of pandemic, we remember that when we follow The Way Christ shows us, every day is Pentecost.

Jean Restout: Pentecost

Matthew 10:41-42

A Prayer in Celebration

Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person.  If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in all truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.

We think of prophets as people who hear God’s word easily and who are dedicated to speaking God’s word no matter how it threatens their lives or livelihood.  We see prophets as living in ancient times to lead God’s faithful through troubling times.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for prophets dwell and work and play among us today, sharing God’s word with us, urging us to stay close to God.  Yet how many prophets speak to us each day and we ignore them?  How many of us are prophets and fear speaking out the words God asks us to speak?

We think of upright people as those who have a strong moral compass, as those ethical, decent few who remain in God’s Way despite all the temptations and lures that might draw them away from following God closely.  We see upright people as that small percentage of somber and serious faithful who eschew fun because it threatens their serenity.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for the upright live and labor and enjoy human company as much as the divine.  Yet how many upright people do we avoid as too pious or too starry-eyed?  How many of us avoid showing our uprightness and fear sharing our thoughts about God because we do not want to be perceived as odd or strangely different?

We think of disciples as people who follow God so closely that they rely on God for every decision they make despite the tug of social, political or religious influences.  We see disciples as those marked with a special sign or those given special courage or graced with exceptional perseverance.  We somehow believe that they are scarce in any given group of people and that they were born with unique perception and power.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for disciples walk and talk and co-mingle with us each day all day.  How many of us avoid God’s disciples because they seem a bit off and are not influenced by sports figures, by politicians or church leaders?  How many of us are clearly disciples but are leery of identifying ourselves as one who follows Christ?

Today Matthew tells us that the miracle of Pentecost is timeless, that its power is endless, and that its space is unlimited.  Today Matthew invites us to be those upright, prophetic disciples whom Christ has called.  Today Matthew urges us to be our best selves.  Today Matthew calls us to be one with Christ . . . to be divine.  And so we pray . . .

Dear God: We hear your voice and yet for some reason we falter; give us the courage and strength to look nowhere but at you. 

Dear Jesus: We know your command to put our feet in your footsteps and yet somehow we stumble; give us the fortitude and fidelity to never give up to any threat and never give in to any voice that calls us away from you. 

Dear Spirit: We gather ourselves to step forward in acceptance of your gift of discipleship. In this Eastertide, as we rejoice in your in-dwelling, remind us of the holy privilege we share with your upright prophets and disciples as we follow Christ, and shelter in your presence. 

Bless and keep us always as we celebrate with you and all your holy ones.  Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean_II_Restout_-_Pentecost_-_WGA19318.jpg

A re-post from May 19, 2013.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Sandys: Judith

Frederick Sandys: Judith

Judith 16

Praise in Celebration

During the shelter-in-place practiced in much of the world during the Covid 19 pandemic, we know that domestic abuse, and abuse against women in particular, will rise sharply. Let us remember that although we “turn the other cheek” to offense, we never promote the idea that anyone remain with an abuser. Wherever we are, whenever we find violence in the home, we look for help for ourselves or others. A helpful resource and hotline in the U.S. can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 

Imagine the consternation that would stir in hard hearts if instead of subjugating women we celebrated them as this canticle does: The Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female!

Imagine the change that might take place in the world if we allowed our love of God to shine from our eyes and go forth from our mouths: Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her face brought him down.

Imagine the world as a place where we helped those who have few or no resources rather than took advantage of the vulnerable: When my lowly ones shouted, and my weak ones cried out the enemy was terrified, screamed and took to flight.

Imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us when we have died: During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

The Canticle of Judith holds dreadful, vengeful, Old Testament imagery that celebrates retaliation against our enemies.  It also reveals the coming of the New Testament when Christ tells us that a new Way has come to dwell in us.  We are to turn the other cheek and pray for those who brutalize others; we are to heal the wounded with soft words and gentle gestures; we must take risks with Christ and trust in the guidance of the Spirit; and we are called to witness to the coming of this newness. We are called to be one of the powerless, one of the vulnerable, one of the abused disciples of this New Way.  And we are called to witness and celebrate God’s gift of discipleship to us.

Judith 16 is a famous canticle of praise for the woman who dares to do God’s will against all advice, against all odds. Her tools are not power and influence that she has gleaned for herself; rather, they are her beauty and her fidelity to God, both gifts from her creator.

Let us pause today to thank God for all we are given.  Let us sing a canticle of praise, and let us imagine how the world would be if we all believed that we can do the impossible by following God’s voice . . . just as Judith does. And let us imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us: During her lifetime, and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer in celebration . . . Pentecost . . .


Image from: http://preraphaelitepaintings.blogspot.com/2009/06/frederick-sandys-judith.html

A re-post from May 18, 2013.

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Sirach 11:29-34: Guests and Strangers – Care in Choosing Friends

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Biblia de América which I have been using as a resource lately, names this citation differently from our NAB as we can see from the title above.  In addition, it has references to Proverbs 1:10-16, 5:10 and 6:1 for this citation which, if you have time to look at them, will add some depth to today’s reading.  The footnotes in this same Biblia remind us that sowers of discord are to be avoided at all cost, as their deceits create structures of illusion – they are the people of the darkness, people of deception and lies . . . with a spark he sets many coals afire.

I am thinking of a counterpoint to this image.  I am remembering the description of the souls of the just from this past Sunday’s first reading.  These souls are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace.  For if before men they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.  As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.  In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge the nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their king forever.  Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.  (Wisdom 3:1-9)  [My bold font.]

This is not a call to exclusivity; rather, it is a call to universality.  It is a universal invitation to openness, to mercy, to fidelity, to love.  We are each invited to lead lives worthy of the creator – honest and compassionate lives, faithful and constant lives, forgiving and loving lives.  Ardent lives which burn with the fire of Christ’s love.

It is also a call which carries with it a degree of heat – the fire of the gold smith’s forge – but we ought not fear this furnace.  It is the crucible of life with which God prunes and disciplines us . . . for when we are tried and tested, so then are we proved.  And when we are proved we are graced.  When we are graced we are holy.

There is a clear choice before us:  we may become like the sparks which set many tongues wagging and many hearts gossiping.  Or we may be the spark which sets souls ablaze with the fire and love of Christ.

We must take care in choosing our associates and friends for they are either strangers, sowers of discord who are to be avoided; or they are guests who are soul mates to be welcomed into our hearts.

St. Paul tells us (Romans 12:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:1, Galatians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 13:5) that we are to test the spirit for this is how we will find if travelers are either the tinder of deceit . . . or the kindling of the Pentecost.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Written on November 6, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Acts 1:1-3: The Promise

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Promise of Peace: Isaiah 40 – 48

It seems that a half-dozen times or so each year we look at the book of Acts to see how the formation of the church began in those very early days.  At first, the risen Jesus meets with his followers and holds them together with his physical presence.  After his ascension, Jesus holds his church together with the promise of the Father about which they had heard him speak in Luke 24:49, the gift of the Holy Spirit was to come to them on the Feast of the Pentecost.

In the Jewish tradition, Pentecost also called the Feast of Weeks and it is the second of three holy celebrations: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  Passover, of course, celebrates the Hebrew exodus from slavery to a promised land with Moses as their leader and Yahweh providing providential care.  Tabernacles – also called the Feast of Booths – is a joyful celebration in the fall of the year for the harvest gifts of the threshing floor and the wine press at the end of the season.  Celebrants are required to “dwell in booths,” or tents as a commemoration of their desert pilgrimage and God’s protection during their years of wandering.  (Achetemeier 1088)  Pentecost was a celebration of early or first fruits, the yield from the first harvest of the season.  It is fitting, when we think of this, that the Holy Spirit arrives as a first yielding of many gifts to be received by the followers of Christ.  It is fitting that we reflect on all of this today, the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, two men whose lives were poured out for the formation of Christ’s church.

Paul writes to a disciple, Timothy:  I . . . am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  (2 Timothy 4)  He writes to the Philippians:  Hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.  In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.  (Philippians 2)

When Jesus asks Peter: Who do you say that I am?  Peter replies: You are the Christ, the son of the living God.  (Matthew 16)  Peter writes: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2)

The early apostles were present for the first harvest of the church and the work of this reaping is not complete; we continue to labor in this same promise.  Any trials we endure today become tools of our own discipline when we turn our work over to God.  Evidence of fruits from our labor in this vineyard are little miracles that call us to keep faith, that urge us to become one of the living stones in the living temple of Christ.  When we feel ourselves poured out as libations on the altars of our lives, we also know that we are making our exodus to the Promised Land; we too, are precious and chosen children of God; we too, are held by the promise of the Father. 


Image from: http://kenmorealliance.com/617915.ihtml

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1088. Print.

Written on June 29, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on The Promise of Peace in Isaiah, click on the image above or go to: http://kenmorealliance.com/617915.ihtml

For more on the Feast of Booths go to: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14185-tabernacles-feast-ofor http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday5.htm

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Pentecost

Micah 6:8: Loving, Just and Wise

Monday, June 10, 2019

A re-post of thoughts from Pentecost Sunday 2012.

You have been told what is good . . .

Yet we endlessly seek the opinion of others about what we are to do and say.

This is what the Lord requires of you . . .

There is no need to ever be in doubt about what we are to do or what we are to say if we can only place our head and heart into the hands of the Holy Spirit.

Do what is right . . .

When we look for excuses that pardon our actions and words, we know that we are moving in the wrong direction.

Love goodness . . .

When we find ourselves splitting hairs to win arguments, we know that we are loving the darkness.

Walk humbly with God . . .

When our feeling are hurt because we are not noticed enough for our accomplishments, we know that pride is ruling our words and actions.

As we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit in our lives this Pentecost Sunday, let us remember these words from Isaiah 30:20-21The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you will see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears; “This is the way; walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left”. 

As we celebrate the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts this Pentecost Sunday, let us remember these words from Matthew 10:16-20When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say for it will not be you speaking but the spirit of your Father speaking through you, Mark 13:11: When you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit.

If when we ponder what is loving, what is just and what is wise, we come up with no answers, we have only to turn ourselves over and to open ourselves up to the Spirit, for it is in this Spirit that we find our God.  It is in this Spirit that we find ourselves. It is in this Spirit that we will know what to say and what to do.

It is the same Spirit that comes to abide with us that we hear about today . . . on this day after Pentecost Sunday.


Written on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2012 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://orderofcenturions.org/documents/whitsunday.html

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Easter Prayer


Rubens: Christ Risen

Easter Prayer

Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

Wishing each of you, your family and friends a blessed Easter.

May each of us be renewed in Christ,

Blessed by the Father,

and

Graced by the Holy Spirit. 

May we keep in mind that we are Easter people.

May we acknowledge and share the gifts with which we have been blessed.

And may we hold the story of Christ’s coming ever in our minds and hearts.

Amen.

The celebration of Easter last s for eight days, from Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter. The Easter season lasts for 50 days, ending with the celebration of Pentecost.  For special reflections that take us on a deeper journey, click on the image or visit: http://www.dualravens.com/spirituality/stations/oftheresurrection/introduction/


A re-post from April 8, 2012. 

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Psalm 111: Hallelujah

Monday, June 5, 2017

These verses remind us that the beauty surrounding us does not occur through coincidence.

I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got – wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study – endless enjoyment! Splendor and beauty mark God’s craft; God’s generosity never gives out. God’s miracles are God’s memorial – this God of Grace, this God of Love.

These words remind us that God’s miracles are gifts from a loving creator.

God gave food to those who love the LORD, God remembered to keep God’s ancient promise. God proved to the people that God could do what God said. God manufactures truth and justice; all God’s products are guaranteed to last – never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof. All that God makes and does is honest and true.

These verses remind us that God’s authority and works are authentic and sustaining, and last forever.

God is so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.

These verses remind us that God’s love is intimate and transforming, bringing with it the healing of our woes, the blessings for a lifetime.

The good life begins in the love of God – do that and you’ll know the blessing of God. God’s Hallelujah lasts forever!

These words remind us that we might join in with God’s great Hallelujah.

The ten Hallelujah Psalms are numbers 106, 111-113, 135, and 146-150. When we spend time with these songs and compare differing translations, we find renewal in the Spirit of Pentecost.

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Acts 2: Raising His Voice

Monday, May 1, 2017

peter-preaching-masolino

Tommaso Masolino da Panicale: Peter Preaching

If we want to have more context around Peter’s first sermon, we will want to begin our Noontime reading at verse 1 of Chapter 2, Acts. With the opening words of this story, the miracle of Pentecost opens before us like the beginning scene of a film. A rushing, violent wind. Startled disciples speaking languages they cannot comprehend. We might at first doubt the truth of this scene but then while some bystanders marvel, others proclaim, “They are filled with new wine”.

We register our own viewpoint as we take this story in. Are these disciples of Jesus actually filled by the Spirit, or are we watching drunken men stagger into the street? We wonder how we would have viewed this scene had we been present so today we take the opportunity to reflect on Peter’s words and courage. And we imagine that we are truly there.

Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd.

We hear Peter’s crisp words describe the story of Jesus’ life, passion, and death. We hear the miracle of resurrection and the coming of the Messiah as predicted by David. How does the crowd respond?

Luke describes their response simply: They were cut to the heart . . . Those who welcomed Peter’s message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

As we reflect on this story, we also consider our own reaction to Peter’s first sermon, and we ask ourselves: Do we remain faithful to The Way that Christ teaches us? How do we witness to this story of hope and love? And do we raise our own voices with Peter so that a world waiting for salvation might hear this good news?

The verses cited above are from THE NRSV. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to witness Peter’s courage as he raises his voice to deliver his message of a Living Hope.

Tomorrow, Peter’s second sermon following Pentecost.

 

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