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Posts Tagged ‘perfection’


Easter Saturday, April 18, 2020Double-Rainbow-3[1]Genesis 9: The Example of Noah

Like so many stories in scripture, the tale of Noah is so familiar to us that we might easily pass over verses through which God speaks to us.  Once again we are shown a figure around whom an entire saga unfolds who is at once faithful and flawed.  There is always something to learn about ourselves as we read about others.

Into your power they are delivered . . . I give them all to you. 

God is so generous with the gifts God creates for us – the planet and all that is on it – that we too easily take God’s bigheartedness for granted.  God is generous so that we might learn to be generous as well.

I will demand an accounting . . .

Although God is lavish beyond imagining with the millions of species of animals and plants scattered about the earth, we must remember that there will be a reckoning.  Each feather on each sparrow is precious – just as we are precious.

I am establishing my covenant with you . . .

God is constantly seeking union and reunion with us.  God promises to protect and keep us.  To guide and rescue us.  For our part, we are asked to follow and abide.  It ought to be easy to find serenity within the embrace of this gentle yet strong God . . . and yet we resist.

This is the sign I give you  . . .

God is constantly working wonders in our lives in small and tremendous ways.  God persists with the signs we request, knowing that we will be too scattered, too anxious, too angry, too bored, too self-obsessed to see them.  God invites us to put away our yearning for these portents and to accept the gift of eternal life so willingly and eagerly given.

I set my bow in the heavens . . .

From childhood we are taught the greater meaning of the beautifully arching colors created by the prism of droplets in the air.  Science explains the mechanics of the arc but our hearts linger with the deeper significance in the phenomenon.

When he drank some of the wine he became drunk . . .

God continues to give us examples of imperfect humans so that we might bring our own imperfections forward to lay in sacrifice on the altar of our lives.  God does not ask for perfection in us – God knows us so well.  God asks that we persevere.  God asks that we trust.  God asks that we love.

This familiar childhood story deserves more time than we usually give to it.  Let us take that time today to look beyond our little horizon to see God as magnanimous protector, God as ardent lover, God as careful promise, God as loyal friend, and God as eternal truth.  It is this perfect God who calls our imperfection home.  It is this vigilant God who heals our aching flaws.  It is this tender and devoted God who creates for us the wonders of the planet . . . and allows her creatures the marvelous freedom to choose to return to the covenant.

In this Eastertide when we experience the full force of God’s promise to each of us, let us think about returning our own imperfections to God, and let us examine the example of Noah.


Image from: http://allwallsinfo.com/double-rainbow/

A re-post from April 18, 2013. 

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Psalm 19The Builder’s Craft

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If we get away from ambient light to look into the heavens on a clear night, we will see millions of stars . . . and it is all too breath-taking.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

On a clear day when we look into the skies, we see powder puffs or high horse tails of clouds; on other days the banks and streaks of clouds announce a coming storm . . . and it is all too awesome.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

If we look at the one who announces God among us, Jesus, we see that . . . he is all too splendid.  He too, proclaims the builder’s craft.  He is the Lord’s law, the new law that supersedes the old and fulfills the promises made to Abraham.  The psalmist describes this law, this Christ to us.  He is . . . perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, giving wisdom, right, clear, pure, true, desirable, and sweet.  He comes to save and restore.  He is among us to transform.  He is our rock and our redeemer.

We are also the builder’s craft for we are created in God’s image, adopted as Jesus’ sisters and brothers, consoled and protected by God’s Spirit.  When we allow ourselves to be cleansed of our faults – both known and unknown – then shall we be blameless and innocent of grave sin.

Then will the words or our mouths meet with the Lord’s favor.

Then will we keep our thoughts ever before God.

Then will we fully know that we are, like the skies, the handiwork of God’s loving hands.

Then will we declare with full voice the glory of God, and like the skies, then will we . . . proclaim the builder’s craft.


A re-post from November 8, 2011.

Image from: http://www.arizonatourismcenter.com/scottsdale/index-scottsdale.php/Stargazing-Tours-14/

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Wisdom 3: Duality in Fire

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As we continue to spend time reflecting on our duality, we revisit the theme of trial and endurance; we ask and we pray . . . from whence comes the strength, courage, and clarity we need to discern Jesus’ Way through the fires of life?

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 29, 2010.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality we may undervalue in our culture that relies heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self-esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism; and self-flagellation is not a healthy tool for us to use when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience resulting from contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show, or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered to us today so that we might examine our motivations. In this way we discern the origin of our actions to discover if they are worthy of God’s love for us. Do we sacrifice for self? Or do we sacrifice for God?

Remembering that God does not expect perfection in all we do, we lift up our lives as sparks that fly in the dark night. Remembering that God asks us to be perfect in our perseverance through trials in love, we raise up our hearts like sparks that fly through the stubble of the winnowed field. Remembering that God asks us to remain constant in our search for truth, we rise with the flame of God’s love in us.

In the duality of fire that destroys when it goes beyond reasonable limits yet sustains when it brings light and nourishment to cold darkness, we rest in the wisdom of God.


To reflect more on the duality of fire, enter the word Sparks in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.nhfaithfusion.com/2014/12/cultivating-warm-heart-creates-meaningful-life/ 

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John 14:27: The Gift of Duality

Monday, April 23, 2018

Jesus fully understands the difficulty we face as we struggle to live in two opposing worlds. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that great love can rise out of great hatred.

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. (GNT)

Jesus fully understands the pain we experience as we strive to live up to the example he sets. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that perfection can rise out of imperfection.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (NRSV)

Jesus fully understands the fog of our confusion as we work to make sense of the dichotomy of our existence. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that divinity can rise out of humanity.

What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives. Don’t let yourselves be upset or frightened. (CJB)

Jesus wants to heal our suffering, to bring us consolation, to animate hope and engender fidelity. As we reflected yesterday . . . We see that our unity with Christ comes through our willingness to accept the paradox of God’s enormous love for each of us. 

I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught. (MSG)

Jesus wants to give us the gift of  his peace, the gift that is everlasting, the gift that holds us together both personally and communally, the gift that rises from knowing and accepting our duality. Let us open our hearts and minds to this greatest of gifts.

Tomorrow, duality in fire.


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we discover the gift of exploring our duality. 

Images are from: https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/peace-i-leave-with-you/ and http://fscaston.org/events/sit-in-the-heart-of-god-and-listen/heart-of-god-2-2/

For another reflection on this citation, visit the He Is In You post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/08/22/he-is-in-you/

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part III

Tuesday, February 21, 2017be-perfect-like-god-matthew-5-verse-48-1

Today we hear Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. He asks us to live generously, he challenges us to love our enemies, and he reminds us that we are already members of his kingdom.

In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

We linger with the thought that God lives toward us, not only giving us breath but also nurturing and sustaining us, moving into our every bone and tissue.

You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (GNT)

We pause to reflect that God calls us to Christ’s presence in us, flourishing into the light of Christ, blooming into the healing presence of the Spirit.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NRSV)

james-1-4We react to God’s request that we grow up, that we mature in Christ, that we reconcile in the Spirit, and that we transform in the Creator. This is the perfection that God asks of us. Not that live a life free or error, but that we offer to God the flowering of the potential and trust placed in us at our conception.

The Apostle James tells us that when we persist in Christ, we begin to understand what God asks of us when he asks for our perfection.

Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:4 (GNT)

When we compare varying versions of Matthew 5:48, we begin to understand what it is that God asks of us, and how we might grow up, how we might be perfect in Christ.

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Micah 2:1-2: Confronting Dangerous Winds

Tuesday, June 14, 2015

François Gérar: St. Teresa of Ávila

François Gérar: St. Teresa of Ávila

A Favorite from October 17, 2010.

Teresa of Ávila and Catherine of Siena

I cannot understand what it is that makes people afraid of setting out on the road to perfection.  May the Lord, because of who he is, give us understanding of how wretched is the security that lies in such manifest dangers as following the crowd and how true security lies in striving to make progress on the road of God.  Let them turn their eyes to him and not fear the setting of this Sun of Justice, nor, if we don’t first abandon him, will he allow us to walk at night and go astray.  Teresa of Ávila, MAGNIFICAT Meditation for October 15, 2010. 

This past Friday was the feast day of Teresa of Ávila and on that day the readings focused on the fact that we are chosen by God, that God loves us more than we can imagine, and that nothing we think or say or do is secret from him.  Today’s readings are about how we are to be persistent in prayer, just as were Teresa of Ávila and Catherine of Siena, two women who have been named Doctors of the Church, two women who did not let their fear of anything earthly keep them from doing as God asked them – even when it involved great risk to themselves and to all they struggled to do in God’s name.

Here is an excerpt from today’s MAGNIFICAT Day by Day reflection taken from one of Catherine of Siena’s letters.  You know full well, most holy Father, that when you accepted holy Church as your bride you agreed also to work hard for her.  You expected all these contrary winds of pain and difficulty to confront you in battle over her.  So confront these dangerous winds like a brave man, with strength and patience and enduring perseverance.  Never turn back because of pain or discouragement or slavish fear, but persevere, and rejoice in the storms and struggles.  Let your heart rejoice, for in the many contrary things that have happened or will yet happen the deeds of God are surely being done, nor have they ever been done in any other way. 

Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena

Both of these women remind us that we are called to perfection and that perfection lies in our persistence to do God’s will despite the inconveniences and risks we meet along the way because God will never let God’s work go undone.  In today’s Noontime we read that woe befalls those who plot iniquity, those who lie on ivory couches to lay schemes and plots, those who covet what others have and are, those who cheat others out of what they are due.

Today’s readings (Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, and Luke 18:1-8) remind us that Moses and the Israelites, Paul, Timothy, the nameless Persistent Widow, and Jesus himself did not abandon the work given them by God – even in the face of great odds and overwhelming fear.   All of this reminds us that when we are doing the work of the Gospel we will encounter unforgiving and dangerous head winds.  We will experience great darkness and be tempted to undo our walk of perfection and persistence.  All of this reminds us that in the midst of the greatest suffering and distress we do not find agony alone . . .  there also do we find our God, and other who would do God’s will.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 15 & 17.10 (2010). Print.  

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Colossians 1: 24-29Christ in UsChrist-in-you

March 29, 2015

That we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

This is St Paul’s goal. And as modern apostles, it can be ours. We work on our own conversion, we rebuke sinners, we pray for our enemies, we hope for the impossible, and we abide in the faith that all will be well.

The letter to the people of Colossae was written before Paul had visited the town east of Ephesus. A small Jesus community had begun there but they had no clear disciple to follow. A man named Epaphras asked Paul’s help in instructing the people about the Christ . . . and so we have these words today.

Paul writes that suffering and persevering through the antics of pagans and heretics is precisely the work of a disciple of Christ. This letter is a mini-lecture on who the Christ is, the nature of our work done in his name, various warnings against false teachers, and what our mystical end ought to be. It is a snapshot of who and what we are, and who and what we hope to be. The letter is a perfect message for us when we find ourselves surrounded by ineptitude, corruption, deceit, envy, pride and vice.

When we reflect on some of the conversations we have had during these weeks of lent, we might use these verses.

When we think about our Noontime reflections this week, we might use these words.

When we consider the gift of Palm Sunday and this coming holiest of weeks, we might enact this message.

When we put ourselves in the first century in the place of those in Colossae, we might better understand that the perfection to which we are called is not a lock of error, but rather a perfection in perseverance. For it is in this way that we best find Christ in us.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 20, 2007.

Tomorrow, the poor in body and spirit.

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sparks risingThursday, October 2, 2014

Wisdom 3

Worthiness through Trials

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality that may be undervalued in our culture; we rely heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism.  And self flagellation is not a healthy tool when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience as a result of a contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

souls of the just

Wisdom 3:7

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered us today: that we examine our motivations for perfection, and that we cease judging the worthiness of ourselves and others. Once we put aside our mountains of criteria and our hierarchy of worth, we begin to understand the perfection God asks . . . not that we be perfect in all we do, but that we remain steadfast in Christ’s love through our trials and in our constant search for truth.

Adapted from a reflection written on Saturday, May 29, 2010.

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waiting-on-the-benchWednesday, July 23, 2014

Romans 8:26-28

The Waiting

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

We so often find ourselves thinking that God’s plan is not suitable, not adequate, not timely or – worse – non-existent. If we wonder what God thinks, we do not have to look far.

God says: I know that you can never hear these words too much: Do not be afraid; I am with you always. I know that when you are weary and your resources are low that you become frightened and even panicky. I know that your patience wears thin; I know that you doubt that my plan has intelligence or design. Read the words from my Book of Wisdom in Chapter 13 verses 13, 16-19 and know that your perfection arrives not in your lack of error . . . but in your perseverance with me, your clemency toward others and your generosity in the Spirit. Consider all of this . . . and know that I love you.

Look at the other Biblical versions of today’s readings and think about how we recognize God in the patience, clemency and generosity of others. Choose four different versions from the drop down menus and consider why and how we wait for God’s justice. Consider where and when we see God’s goodness.

 

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