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Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’


James 1:2-3: The Value of Obstacles – Brightly coloured council road signs and equipmentTuesday, September 27, 2015

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James opens his letter with advice that will catch anyone’s interest. In our modern cultures we do not consider trials as gifts to be examined; we too frequently dismiss or even ignore tribulations as inconveniences to be shunted into the darkness. We too rarely consider obstacles as doors of opportunity or growth; yet this is James’ invitation.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Perhaps this is why we pray for smooth days and comfortable nights. We do not believe that we are up to the test. Or we do not see ourselves learning good lessons from hard times. We are uncomfortable with being vulnerable and we fear having to rely on family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.

James asks us to suppress our natural tendency to avoid uncomfortable circumstances; we infer from his words that we might gain more from a constrained environment than from easy comfortable surroundings. Rather than skitter around stressful situations or difficult people, James begins, we might allow ourselves to grow in fortitude and wisdom if we rely on God’s guidance when we must maneuver hard times.

Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Certainly we do not want to look for stress in our lives; the world presents us with enough disquiet to fill our days. Clearly we do not want to be the cause of conflict in our personal and professional lives. Yet just as certainly and clearly we understand that once we open ourselves to the guidance of God’s hand when we navigate straitened days, we will remember our success in dark times and recognize a certain confidence growing within.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
blocksWe live in a world that values power, fame and wealth. We humans tend to look at one person’s loss as being another’s gain; yet when we live an inverted life with Christ where loss is gain and gain is loss, we begin to better understand James’ lesson. Stumbling blocks become building blocks. Trials become jubilation. When sorrow and pain are traversed in God’s grace we begin to experience the joy of perseverance. When we live by God’s measure rather than our own, and when we allow God to guide us through the road blocks of our lives, we finally learn the value and joy of learning new faith and new life as a result of persevering through our obstacles.

Tomorrow, right attitude.


Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Images from: http://stevesponseller.com/page/2/ and https://www.dadometer.com/types-of-building-blocks-for-toddlers/

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Sirach 17:20-24: The Penitent

Monday, June 6, 2022

To the penitent God provides a way back . . .

This is good news for us indeed. When we want to confront our enemies with outrage and violence, we will want to look at how God always provides a way back to unity and wholeness.

God encourages those who are losing hope . . .

This is certainly good news for us since we so easily and so frequently lose confidence. God always has hope in abundance for us and sends us a multitude of small and enormous signs. We must be open to the little miracles God sends us each day.

God chooses for them the lot of truth . . .

This is absolutely good news for us. Like a loving parent whose child has chosen dessert rather than a substantial meal, God is always steering us in the direction of nurturing relationships, nourishing habits and loving communities. Sometimes we are disappointed when we discover that the people, places and customs in our lives shows signs of weakness or even corruption. This is when we must remember that God’s love can achieve all impossibilities.

Jesus says: For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God. (Mark 10:27)

Further on in this reading, Ben Sirach describes God as hating and loathing the unjust and ungodly. Use the scripture link to read other versions of these verses and contemplate the idea that what Ben Sirach describes as “hatred” is an intense and impassioned perseverance in calling one who has left the sheepfold. Let us contemplate the idea that God’s “loathing” is an intense and relentless persistence to love our enemies into goodness. When we view God’s word in this way, we discover that the yawning gaps and deep sorrows in our lives suddenly have new life in kingdom justice.

And so we pray to the loving Trinity that we will celebrate this coming Sunday . . .

God provides a way back . . . and so must we provide a bridge to those who have wounded us. Loving God, help us to allow you to convert all harm to good. 

God encourages the hopeless with outrageous hope . . . and so must we bring confidence to those in despair. Hopeful God, fill us with your Spirit of peace and serenity. 

God chooses for us the path of truth when we have strayed . . . and so must we bring Christ’s light to a world hungering for justice and compassion. Saving God, bring us Jesus’ understanding, courage and wisdom. 

We know that for us much of this impossible . . . but for you all things are possible. Shelter us in your truth, nourish us in your hope, and transform us in your loving care.

Amen.


Image from: https://www.passionforpaintings.com/gb/painters/matthias-stom/the-penitent-saint-peter 

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Matthew 8:23-27: Stilling the Storm

James Seward: Peace, be Still

James Seward: Peace! Be Still!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

We say: Lord, we are perishing!

Jesus says: Why are you afraid?

God says: You and I have spoken about the storms of life so frequently – nearly every day – yet still I am willing to hear you again cry out for my help. And I am willing to give my help to you. I know that the circumstances of the world frighten you; yet I ask for your patience and courage. I know that the troubles of the world alarm you; yet I ask for your perseverance and fidelity. I know that the anxieties of the world panic you; yet I ask for your mercy and kindness. I know that the injustices of the world anger you; yet I ask for your confidence and love. When I calm the storm I calm you. When I ask for stillness I ask for your open heart. When I ask for love I ask for your full and abiding presence in me. Practice this when you are not distressed and you will see how natural this becomes in the way you interact with others. And you will find that a new peace and tranquility abide within. You will find that the approaching storm will roll over you to leave you unscathed. And you will have stilled the storm within.


For a musical reflection on Peace! Be Stillby Seward, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DSYtYdjsbA

Find your former self in Seward’s painting . . . look for your new self in Christ.

For a reflection on fear, click on the image above or visit: http://www.shellyduffer.com/tag/jesus-calms-the-storm/

Enter the word storm into the blog search bar, think about how we react to crisis or strife, and decide to hand over the storm within to the one who calms all storms.

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Matthew 5:7: The Mercifulmercy

Easter Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Perhaps endurance is the quality we most need if we are to be merciful servants. Endurance indicates our fidelity and perseverance. Endurance reinforces our strength and courage. Endurance in Christ, remaining in the Spirit, commitment to God  . . . all of this endurance in God brings us the gift of mercy.

We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:11)

It is so difficult to wait for mercy when we need it. It is so difficult to show compassion when we are betrayed; yet Jesus tells us so often that we are forgiven as we forgive. In Psalm 55, the psalmist tells us that when we are betrayed by one near to us – our own intimate friend – we must continue in mercy, even when this seems impossible, by enduring through and with and in God. On this Easter Tuesday let us reflect on the mercy we have granted those who wrong us. Let us remember the mercy we seek in our daily lives. And let us determine to cast our burden upon the broad shoulders of the Lord, for they are wide and broad and ready to take on all that we have to offer.

Tomorrow, the clean of heart.


Image from: https://hrh413.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/merciful-giver-or-doormat/

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Da Vinci: St James

Leonardo Da Vinci: St James

Saturday, January 1, 2021

New Year’s Day

Joy and Our Choices

James 1:2-3

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given.

With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow. Today James reminds us that strength appears when we consider our trials with joy.

On this day when we celebrate new beginnings, let us consider . . .

The author of this letter is a relative of Jesus and is generally described as the brother of the Lord. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3) We know that he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and that Paul described him as one of the pillars of the early church (Galatians 2:9) “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sins, and expectation of judgment”. James lived out his beliefs until his death in 62 CE when, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was stoned to death under the high priest Ananus (Senior 368-369).

James 1:2-3: Consider it all joy, my [sisters and] brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

If we have the time to read James’ entire letter, we find that he “advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior . . . [and his] target is the Christian who is ‘double-minded’ . . . who lives by two standards at once; that of God and that of the world. James demands a choice. Not only speech, but also the use of possessions and the practice of fairness within the community . . . He especially attacks envy, which perfectly illustrates the morals of ‘the world’ as opposed to God”. (Senior RG 547-548)

joyJames calls us out of our egocentric selves but rather than scold he calls us to an alternative option to the sorrow and fear the world offers. James tells us with his words and shows us with his life that we find strength and power in the choosing of joy in all we think and say and do. During this Christmastide and in the early days of this new year, how do we choose to respond to this invitation?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369 & RG 547-548. Print.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/leonardo-da-vinci/head-of-st-james-the-less

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waiting-on-the-benchSaturday, July 10, 2021

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.


Image from: https://rickezell.com/2018/02/07/4-reflections-while-you-wait/ 

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Guido Ren: St. Peter Penitent

Guido Reni: St. Peter Penitent

Sunday, January 2, 2021

Joy and Persecution

1 Peter 1:8-9

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given.

With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow. Today Peter encourages us to move beyond the pain of our suffering to rely on the Risen Christ who constantly surprises us with joy.

Peter’s words “both inspire and admonish these ‘chosen sojourners’ who, in seeking to live as God’s people, feel an alienation from their previous religious roots and the society around them. Appeal is made to Christ’s resurrection and the future hope it provides and to the experience of baptism as new birth. The suffering and death of Christ serve as both a source of salvation and example. What Christians are in Christ, as a people who have received mercy and are to proclaim and live according to God’s call, is repeatedly spelled out for all sorts of situations in society, work, the home, and general conduct. But over all hangs the possibility of suffering as a Christian”. (Senior 375) Peter is acutely aware of the joy that surprises us in anguish as he describes how we might find God’s comfort when we suffer great pain. He reminds us that our salvation always arrives in the person of Jesus . . . whom he knows so well. Peter gives us the opportunity to find Christ’s friendship through the subtle and overt persecutions that plague our lives.

1 Peter 1:8-9: Although you have not seen [Jesus Christ] you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

joySpend time with the letters of Peter today and decide for yourselves how and why they speak to you.

Whether this first Petrine letter is written by Peter himself, penned by the secretary Silvanus or by a later follower, Peter’s encouragement to await the risen Christ through suffering is both read and felt. And if we doubt Peter’s witness, we have only to look to the accounts of his life by his contemporaries and later scholars to understand the authenticity – and importance – of today’s message. After reflecting on Peter’s promise of salvation through Christ, let us determine how and when we see Christ. And let us decide how and why we might witness to Christ’s presence in our own lives.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Read the “Market Assumptions” article published on November 3, 2014 in AMERICA magazine and consider  if or how or when we might witness to this call with the joy of the risen Christ. Go to: http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/market-assumptions

For more on the origin of this letter, visit: http://www.catholic.com/blog/jimmy-akin/who-wrote-1-peter For more about the life and death of Peter, go to: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.375. Print.   

Image from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/guido-reni/st-peter-penitent

 

 

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Monday, November 16, 2020

pearl-in-clam[1]Matthew 7:6

Pearls of Great Price

Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Swine and dogs were words used by Jews to express contempt for Gentiles. Commentary tells us that they may also be used by Christians to describe those obstinate, impenitent Christians. In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer records the teachings of Jesus in which we are asked to pray for one another rather than judge one another. A true disciple is one who is willing to go to his knees and pass through the narrow gate onto The Way which Jesus walks. A true disciple is wary of false prophets, looks to build his life on a sturdy, strong foundation, and understands that he need not fight God’s fight. A true disciple knows that if we want to tap into our divinity, we must first humble ourselves as Christ does. A true Christian depends on God for all things, and witnesses this loyalty by praying for the swine and the dogs in his life.

This saying can be a harsh one. This teaching can be difficult to take on and live out. It calls for the courage to remain on our own with God rather than be in the company of a crowd. It calls for perseverance in traveling a long road with many turnings that hide the future from our eyes. But we are pearls of great price, worth more than any amount we might imagine. And these pearls have been bought at great cost by Jesus’ redemptive suffering, death and resurrection. These pearls will not be left alone to be snatched up by a thief. These pearls are worn by God with great love. They are tended with great care.

We are pearls of great price, as Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), bought with sacrifice and love. So rather than step casually into a life we have been given as gift, let us live each day with the care and devotion God gives to our creation. Let us value the breath we have been given even as wet us pray for those who do not. And rather than give what is holy to dogs or allow ourselves to be trampled by swine, let us celebrate with joy each new dawn that brings us the mystery and of God’s love.


Image from: http://connectathens.blogspot.com/2009/08/pearl-of-great-price-032509.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 9, 2010.

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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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