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Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’


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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Friday, February 21, 2020

Sirach 11:7-28: Moderation

moderation

Before investigating, find no fault; examine first, then criticize. Before hearing, answer not, and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech. Sirach 11:7-8

Today’s reading can be particularly meaningful in our Lenten journey.  Jesus ben Sirach gives us the advice which my own parents gave to me. Investigate first, pray first, reflect first, find no fault, do not interrupt, consider the other guy, don’t get involved in something that is not your business, stand up for yourself, measure yourself against yourself, listen to God . . . patience and perseverance moderate all things.

We succeed when we live in God . . . to the amazement of many.

When we run after our pleasures and whims, we . . . fall short all the more.

Good and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from the Lord.

As human beings we are so centered on surviving, on superseding, on exerting, on withdrawing, on hiding, on revealing . . . I cannot imagine what God must hear rising up from the earth on any given day when he listens to our petitions.

God’s blessing is the lot of the just man, and in due time his hopes bear fruit.

We need only have our eyes in one place . . . on God.

We need only have our ears tuned to one voice . . . the voice of God.

We need only look at the world around us, the people, the plants, the animals . . . to realize that God is all . . . and that God alone is enough.

Moderation. Asking not . . .  What do I need?  Saying not . . . I am independent.

Patience, perseverance, understanding our true relationship with God, knowing that we are loved. And responding to the call to love.

Moderation in all things. Jubilation in the Lord.


Image from: http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2012/08/28/an-experts-advice-on-how-to-balance-your-hormones/

First written on February 1, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

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James 3:13-18: Authentic Wisdom

Friday, December 6, 2019

I love this letter.  We do not visit it often enough.  Today’s reading is particularly interesting to me as I notice that in my Spanish Biblia verse 16 the Spanish is envidia (envy) rather than celos (jealousy).  Thus in the Spanish version of James, we are called to put aside our envy – our wanting others to suffer loss – rather than mere jealousy – our wanting what others have.  James is the patron saint of Spain – I wonder if they know him better than we English speakers do.

The reason I enjoy reading James is that he is so plain.  There is no wondering about his words.  He goes to the root causes of division and he makes strong suggestions for a positive change.  He sees our obstacles as: pride, presumption, loose tongues, ambition, material goods.  He recommends patience, forbearance, firmness of heart, perseverance, humility, confession, union with God.

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Jean Vanier: Many of us live in delusion about ourselves, unable to see ourselves as we really are.  The veil [that prevents our encounter with Jesus] has to be broken somewhere in our deep inner being . . . Jesus is the healer, the One who comes to bring me life and liberate me from myself.  He comes to heal me from my egoism, from aggressiveness.  He comes to heal me from my anguish . . . It is a beautiful thing to meet people in deep anguish, who are able to say . . . that they are beginning to find peace . . . They know what it is to find pass from death to life.  They know the quiet experience of the healing power of the Spirit. 

James brings us the opportunity to take a long, hard look at ourselves.  James lays out the parameters for living of life of Christ rather than a life outside of  Christ.  It is not difficult to discern our path once we take off our blinders.

It is the removal of the blinders that is difficult.

It is the taking down of the illusion that we resist.

It is the deconstructing all the ramparts of our fear that we have built up so earnestly that we reject.  It is the disassembling of our false god that we have woven so meticulously that we fear.

What brings us healing?  What brings us peace?

It is the coming to Christ with nothing but our actions.

It is the rising to the true challenge and purpose of our lives.

It is the revelation of ourselves unashamedly to our God.

It is the humbling of ourselves.

It is the asking of God for the strength to do his will.

This is what brings healing.  This is what brings peace.

This baring of naked self leads to authenticity . . . This authenticity invites wisdom.

This wisdom engenders a life into which Christ easily steps.


For more on Authenticity, click on the image above or go to: http://elementsofyourlife.blogspot.com/2012/05/live-your-life-with-authenticity.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4 November 2008. Print.

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

Written on November 4, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Acts 11: Step by Step

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

El Greco: The Apostles Peter and Paul – The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

I sometimes become discouraged when the world seems narrow, cruel and bleak.  I sometimes feel as if my hopes and prayers are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong solutions.  I sometimes cannot believe that I have understood what God has in mind.  So much in this world does not make sense.  And this is when I turn to Acts and the stories of the fledgling church for it is here that God’s will for us is so clear.  It is in these chapters and verses that we witness an incredible burgeoning of Spirit and an amazingly tenacious church.  A small band of ordinary people begin an extraordinary movement.  I wonder if they would succeed in the world we know today.

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s fledgling Church, his new and blushing bride.  Many new members are joining and the persecutor Saul has become the advocate Paul.  The first major breach has occurred and now step by step (verse 4) Peter gets to the heart of his message: The resurrection is not only meant for the Christ; it is a gift given to each of us by the Creator . . . and our first step toward this gift is our baptism in the Spirit.  Peter explains the message he received from God in a vision and wraps up his thinking with one on my favorite verses: Who was I to hinder God? 

The Church undergoes persecution in Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.  Stephen has been stoned and is the Church’s first martyr.  Barnabas continues as a loyal preacher of the Story, adding members to the Church.  Step by step, with patience, perseverance, and boldness, these early founders move gently but firmly as they form Christ’s Bride – the Church.  Prayers are answered.  Miracles happen.  Prayers are asked and answered, although not always understood.  The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.   I need to remember these lessons when I feel deserted, overwhelmed or lost.

Often we should not really be able to recognize an answer to prayer if it came.  Maybe the Holy Spirit was using our little prayer for some much larger purpose, of his own, and his prayer may be answered even if our little prayer seems to remain unnoticed.  It is in God’s hands from start to finish, and we must accept that and not try to wrest it from him.

  Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.  Dominican priest, author of books on theology and spirituality, member of Dominican, Historical Institute, MAGNIFICAT  Meditation, May 15, 2010

We are cogs on the wheels of Christ’s Church at work and we have the freedom to choose how we go about completing our daily rounds.  We can choose to churn in place and stubbornly hold up the works, or we might move as we are asked.  Who are we to hinder God? 

We are part of the great fire that Christ brought to earth and we may fling ourselves at our work, burning out like a spark that leaps out into the night sky to extinguish itself quickly on the damp ground.  Or we might choose to stay close to the heart of the flames when banked for the night to hunker down when fuel is low, hugging close to the origin, joining with the other faithful embers who lie together, glowing and waiting through the dark and cold . . . to spring to life again with new wood and the coming of the morning light and wind.  Who are we to hinder God? 

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s embattled and struggling Church, his faithful and hope-filled bride.  Who are we to hinder God? 


A re-post from May 7, 2012.

Image from: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_3_1_2a.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.15 (2010). Print.  

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Isaiah 39Peace and Truth

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

This chapter brings to a close the first portion of Isaiah’s prophecy and prepares us to hear what the prophet has to say in the rest of his prophecy.  We witness Hezekiah’s hospitality and hear the conversation he has with the prophet, Isaiah; and we want to know more about this man who becomes king at age 25, and who reforms his government and his people while reigning successfully for 29 years.  Today we also witness a harbinger of events to come . . . the invasion of Judah and the deportation of her people.  Hezekiah does not allow ominous omens to diminish his faith.  He does not waver from his belief that Yahweh saves.  And he makes certain to foster peace and truth in all that he proclaims and does.  To examine the story of Hezekiah more closely, we return to a reflection we shared on January 11, 2009 on 2 Kings 18 and 19 entitled Desperation. 

We have taken a look at Hezekiah, son of idolatrous Ahaz, a half-dozen times since we began our Noontime reflections; and each time we pause with him, I am always impressed by his fidelity and perseverance.  Having Ahaz as a father, Isaiah as a prophet, and Sennacherib as an adversary . . . Hezekiah seems doomed to a story of failure.  Yet he is not.  To read more about him, turn to Chronicles or go to these sites http://www.varchive.org/tac/hezekiah.htm http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p82.htm and http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_hezekiah.html. Discover how the people build an amazing tunnel under his guidance to bring water to the besieged city.  Read about how he consults with the prophet Isaiah who speaks plainly about their dire straits.  Read about the odds that confront this man and this nation . . . and be amazed.  Through many trials Hezekiah is accompanied by the God who accompanies us.

We may want to review Chapter 18 of 2 Kings to understand where we are in the story.

  • Verse 3: Thus says Hezekiah: “This is a day of distress, of rebuke and of disgrace”.
  • Verse 4: So send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.
  • Verse 5: Thus says the Lord: “Do not be frightened by the words you have heard”.
  • Verses 15 – 19: Hezekiah prays in the Lord’s presence: “O Lord . . . incline your ear . . . and listen!  Open your eyes, O Lord and see!  . . . Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God”. 

    Pool of Siloam and the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel

God hears the prayer and answers Hezekiah.  In Chapter 20, Hezekiah falls ill and God rescues him.  This ruler is destined to serve God and through perseverance he does so . . . and he does so quite well.  We can reflect on the life of this servant to compare it to our own.  When the Assyrians in our lives are at the gates, will we go immediately to the Lord God to ask him for help or will we rely on our own resources?  And when the Lord God has answered our prayers – no matter the response – do we give thanks and continue to trust in God?

We find ourselves in distress and disgrace . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We send up our prayer to God who accompanies Hezekiah and all the faithful . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We are desperate and tempted to turn to our own resources . . . but let us instead go up to the Temple of the Lord and enter the Holy of Holies . . . to lay our petition on the altar of the Lord our God . . . and let us say. . .

Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.  Amen. 


A re-post from January 16, 2012.

Images from: http://www.hellotravel.com/israel/walking-through-hezekiahs-tunnel and http://www.wildolive.co.uk/baptism.htm

For more information on the excavation of Hezekiah’s tunnel, see: http://www.bibleplaces.com/heztunnel.htm  and http://www.hellotravel.com/israel/walking-through-hezekiahs-tunnel

For other Noontime reflections on Hezekiah, see The Book of Micah: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/micah-doom-and-hope-constancy/  and False Idols: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/29/false-idols/

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