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Posts Tagged ‘persistence’


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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John 6:41-42: Recognizing Jesus

Tuesday, April 26, 2016bread of life

Jesus has walked on the surface of the water to save those who love him from wilds winds and high seas. His followers were terrified and so he brings the boat immediately to the point on the shore where they had been aiming – despite the fact that the fishermen had rowed three or four miles from the coast. Just so are we terrified when tossed by life. Just so are we brought to our goal. Just so are we loved by Christ.

Jesus pauses to dialog with the enormous crowd that follows him – despite the fact that they do not believe him. Just so do we seek Jesus. Just so do we find him. Just so we doubt the very love that has rescued us.

Today we see how those who have struggled to follow and those who have argued still do not understand the beautiful gift Jesus hands them, the gift of bread that feeds eternally, the gift of bread from heaven. Just so do they take Jesus literally. Just so do they doubt the miracle before them. Just do we look past the evidence of healing and love that stands before us. Just so . . .

At this, because Jesus said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”

We have watched Jesus walking on water toward us. Do we still doubt?

We have raced after Jesus, doing all we can to capture this essence of peace and serenity. Do we still persist?

We have found Jesus in the most unsuspecting places – with the homeless, with the poor, among the refugees, the abandoned and alone. Do we still fail to recognize God among us?

Enter the words Bread of Life into the blog search bar and reflect on our own doubt and persistence, understanding and peace.

Tomorrow, bickering.

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2 Timothy 4: Sound Doctrine

Monday, April 18, 2016Carroll-PopeFrancisandHisImplicitRevolution-690

Recently Pope Francis shared thoughts on the family and the Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia); his thoughts drew both praise and scorn as we might imagine. Today as I read commentary, I am drawn back to a favorite reading from 2 Timothy. Thinking about sound doctrine, I found this reflection and post it today as a Favorite.

This reading has special meaning for me as it was the first reading at my Dad’s funeral, and my son Thomas was the lector. These verses embody, for me, the lessons I was taught by my parents – and it is my hope that my own children believe that I too, teach sound doctrine. I know that many times we have “itching ears,” that often we “heap up teachers according to our lusts,” and that we “turn away [our] hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables.” These are the struggles we have with the little messages that constantly bombard us in this world. But I hope and pray to “be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the gospel, fulfill [my] ministry.” Every day as my students pass before me, I try to keep these things in mind while I attempt to “fight the good fight.” In the end, the children are watching us as we watched our elders. I did not miss much as a child or as a student, neither do my children or the young scholars who come into my classroom each day. These children constantly call me to my vocation of listening, learning, teaching, watching, hoping, waiting, believing, seeking and loving.

Pope Francis calls us to sound doctrine not only in his letters but in his every action. I pray that my own life might be an example of such fidelity, authenticity, joy and love.

An interesting commentary on the Pope’s recent encyclical by James Carroll can be found at the NEW YORKER site at: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/new-morality-of-pope-francis-joy-of-love

To read the encyclical, go to: https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf

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