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Posts Tagged ‘persistence’


John 17: Two Worlds 

NASA: Spiral Galaxies in Collision

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 6, 2018

In September of 2017, Pope Francis reminded us: We are a people chosen for the truth, and our call has to be in truth. There can be no place for deceit, hypocrisy, or small-mindedness if we are . . . to bear fruit. (Cameron 422)

We have heard Christ’s message that the Creator calls each of us to live in both this world and the next. We have felt the Spirit’s urging to bear fruit in good season. Today, as we reflect on the challenge of living this dual life as if it were one, we explore words from Pope Francis as he unravels the mystery that is Christ, our human and divine brother.

“We all would like to count on a world with straightforward families and relationships, but we are part of this changing age, of this cultural crisis and, in the midst of it, in response to God’s continuing call . . . Even with [today’s] crisis, God still calls. It would be almost unrealistic to think that all of you heard the call of God in the midst of families sustained by a strong love and full of values such as generosity, compromise, fidelity, and patience; some, yes, but not all. Some families are like this, and I pray to God that there are many. But keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground means recognizing that our vocational experiences, the awakening of God’s call, brings us closer to what God’s Word already reveals”. (Cameron 422)

NASA: Space Hubble Telescope

Like Jesus, Francis asks us to cease making excuses for our unwillingness to sit at the banquet of life with those who hate or harm us. In the Spirit, Francis points out that few of us have perfect families, perfect circumstances or perfect relationships. Like the Creator, Francis calls us to something beyond our smallness, something greater than our fears. Francis urges us to maintain contact with God always so that the great vine of God’s love might sustain us through drought and nourish us through upheaval.

“Don’t think of an ideal situation, for this situation is the real one. God manifests his closeness and his election where he wills, in the land he wills, in whatever situation it is in, with its real contradictions, as he wills. He changes the course of events to call men and women in the frailty of their own personal and shared history”. (Cameron 422)

Rather than long for ideal circumstances that will likely never fall into place, Francis urges us to seize on the moment we now have. Rather than yearn for people to surround one another with a love they proscribe, Christ calls us to rest in the love of his ample arms. Rather than reason with us over the causes of contradictions that plague the world, the Spirit calls us to goodness despite our conditions. So rather than wait for the perfection of a world that does not exist, let us plant our feet firmly in our imperfect world, and ask God for the patience, courage, persistence, and clarity to live in the two worlds of our humanity and divinity.


When we use multiple translations of John 17 to study Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, we open our minds and hearts to better understanding what it means to live in two worlds.  

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.4 (2018): 421-423. Print. 

Explore the worlds of the universe with NASA and Hubble photographs by clicking on the images, or visiting: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140119.html and https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html

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Mark 10:46-52: Seek Consolation – Blindness

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

El Greco: Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus

Like Bartimaeus, we call out to Christ when we find ourselves in search of consolation. “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

We might be startled to hear the response from Jesus, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Jesus knows what Bartimaeus needs, but still he asks. Persistent in his petitioning, Bartimaeus was much like the persistent widow who constantly asks the corrupt judge for justice – which she ultimately receive. And like Bartimaeus, we too can receive new sight, fresh eyes, another lease on life.

God knows what we need and want, but we must ask. We are to be persistent. Asking puts us in proper relationship with God the Father who created us, with Christ who walks and lives in each of us, with the Holy Spirit who heals and comforts us. Our persistence is a sign of our act of faith – that we believe and will not waiver, our act of hope – that we know that with God all things are possible, and our act of love – that we understand and follow Jesus who prayed for his enemies. Because we are created in God’s image, we can forgive and heal our enemies with our intercessory prayer, just as Jesus did. We can abide with and inspire those who suffer as the Holy Spirit does. And we can be faithful to the covenant promises we have with God the Father, just as God the Father is.

Today we, like Bartimaeus, ask for clarity, fresh sight, new vision and understanding. Today we take consolation in our recovery from blindness.

When we compare varying versions of this story, we open ourselves to a new way of seeing all that we thought we knew. 

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Psalm 9: The Book of God’s Wonders

Monday, March 6, 2017psalms9_2-31

The MESSAGE version of this psalm speaks to us in our core. Anyone who has been wronged, anyone who has suffered injustice of any kind, anyone who looks for refuge in the storm of life will smile as they read these verses.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.

What are the miracles of our relationship with God will we want to enter into the Book of God’s Wonders?

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame.

We look for the patience to allow God’s plan to blossom and flourish.

God holds the high center, God sees and sets the world’s mess right. God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

We pray for the hope we will need to remember God’s promise of safety, and we pray for the courage to knock at heaven’s door as Jesus tells us we must.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God, tell God’s stories to everyone you meet: How God tracks down killers yet keeps an eye on us, registers every whimper and moan.

We pray for the fortitude to weather the storm, knowing that although the horizon is dark, God navigates our lives.

psalm-9_18Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

We pray for the courage to thank God in public and to share the stories we list in the Book of God’s Wonders.

They’re trapped, those godless, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

We remember to intercede for those who would harm us.

The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless—no more humiliation for the humble.

We ask for mercy for our enemies, and the grace to step away from the temptation to seek revenge.

Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, God! Show them how silly they look.

We ask God to steer us clear of all pretension. We ask that Christ lead us in the ways of the just. And we ask that the Holy Spirit abide in us forever, as we proclaim the wonders God has wrought for us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of this Psalm, we discover that we have a great deal to record in The Book of God’s Wonders, and to share with all the world. 

 

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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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1 Corinthians 2:1-3: Polished Speeches

Tuesday, February 14, 2017isaiah-30-21

I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.

In our present world we might well hesitate to speak or act for fear of abandonment or retribution. Paul and Isaiah give us words we need to hear.

God says: If you do not speak up for my little ones because you worry about finding the words for a polished speech, you go astray. When you live in me, my Holy Spirit will give you the words you will need. If you do not act in defense of the marginalized because you fear you do not have enough courage, you wander far from The Way. When you live in Christ, my Son will give you the strength and persistence to act as you know you must act. Rest in my Spirit and you are never without resource. Abide in Christ and you are never alone. Remain in me and you will never be without all that you need to see you through this day.

Isaiah says: If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” (30:21)

When we compare various translations of these verses, we find the strength to persevere in the face of obstacles, and graceful words for our simple but polished speeches.

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Mark 3:22-30: Sawing Off Branches

Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy and private collections

Jesus is very clear: A constantly squabbling family disintegrates.

We might use these words in our individual and collective lives.

Jesus tells us: Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. 

We might take this warning to heart.

Jesus reminds us: There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.”

God says: I love you so intensely that I will do all that I must in order to have you near me; but if you persist in turning away my Spirit, you are creating a separation that you will not be able to bridge. I am always waiting for you, guiding you, protecting and advising you. Remain in me so that I might remain in you. Allow my Spirit to rest in you and to create a home in your heart. In this way, we will never be so far apart that you lose sight of me. Listen to my son, remain in my Spirit, and have hope always in me.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we open our understanding of God’s generosity, persistence and love.

For more on the Maestà of Duccio, click on the image above for two Khan Academy video lessons.

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Galatians 6:1-10: Doing Good

Wednesday, August 3, 2016galatians_6.9_kjv_wallpaper.

If we are to pay our taxes and tithes as Jesus tells us, if we are to allow Christ to transform the stones we want to throw into stepping stones that save us from drowning, we may want again review the rules for the road we journey with Christ.

My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way . . . Keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too.

We listen to Jesus who brings us the fullness of the Law of Love.

Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

We live the meekness of Christ to guard against the lure of pride.

If you think you are something when you really are nothing, you are only deceiving yourself.

We remember that God is the ultimate and only judge of our hearts.

You should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done.

We share the Good News humbly, gently and persistently.

If you are being taught the Christian message, you should share all the good things you have with your teacher.

We remember that God is in charge.

Do not deceive yourselves; no one makes a fool of God. You will reap exactly what you plant.

We believe that we reap what we sow.

If you plant in the field of your natural desires, from it you will gather the harvest of death; if you plant in the field of the Spirit, from the Spirit you will gather the harvest of eternal life.

We understand that we become weary from our determined striving through Christ.

So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.

We honor our relationship with God by doing good for and to others.

So then, as often as we have the chance, we should do good to everyone.

We reflect today on these reminders of the Rules for the Road in our journey with 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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Micah 4: Deception – Part VImicah 4-1

We have witnessed the dishonesty of corrupt rulers; we have seen the fidelity of fearful but courageous prophets. If we wonder how or when the faithful might be rewarded, we do not have far to look.

Consolation Foreseen

A Favorite from July 26, 2010.

I will gather the lame, and I will assemble the outcasts, and those whom I have afflicted.  I will make of the lame a remnant, and of those driven far off a strong nation; and the Lord shall be king over them on Mount Zion, from now on forever.

We are reminded by the prophet Micah that we are to be restored through the Messiah who will gather up the broken and the broken-hearted.  When we become discouraged, when we believe that even God does not listen to our plight, when we become confused and forget that God’s call to perfection in us is about persistence and not about living a life without flaw, then we might turn to Micah who reminds us that the best and only true hope is the Messiah, the Christ.  Infinite restoration, abounding rejuvenation, eternal redemption and limitless salvation are the gift he brings us each day . . . if we might persist long enough to ask for the strength to rise to this timeless hope.

Fr. Bede Jarrett

Fr. Bede Jarrett

Most of the difficulties of life come because man is so prone to lose heart . . . His faltering attempts at perfection disconcert him from any very persistent or long-continued service . . . He has given up hope; he is disheartened; he is too discouraged to go on.  He is very human; oh yes, but he is very foolish also: for when hope is gone, all is over.  Failure counts for nothing; defeat, disappointment – these matter nothing at all, so long as only hope sits patiently, stirring the embers, watching and tending the fire, coaxing the flame, never despairing and never leaving the wind to work its will.  That the clouds should come up over the sky, or that darkness should encircle the earth, brings no real terrors, for we are sure that the dawn will come out again and that the sun will break through with its golden glory.

 Father Jarrett – a British Dominican known for his preaching

MAGNIFICAT, July 26, 2010, Meditation of the Day

We are reminded by the prophet Micah that we are to be restored through the Messiah who will gather up the broken and the broken-hearted.   If today we have lost courage and strength, let us call on this only One who will restore us . . . so that we might coax the flame of our lives rather than leave our work to the wind.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.7 (2010). Print.  

For more on Fr. Jarrett, visit: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=50481038 or http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/spiritual-life/god-s-love-unchanging.html 

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