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Posts Tagged ‘persistence’


Saturday, August 1, 2020

questions%20-%20fotolia_38274417%20-%20web_417x313[1]Jeremiah 12:1-2

Why?

You would be in the right, O Lord, if I should dispute with you; even so, I must discuss the case with you.  Why does the way of the godless prosper, why live all the treacherous in contentment?  You planted them; they have taken root, they keep on growing and bearing fruit.  You are upon their lips, but far from their inmost thoughts.

Like most of God’s prophets, Jeremiah asks the Lord direct questions.  He brings his confusion, heartache and pain to the Creator who knows and sees all.  Like Jeremiah, we must bring all of our big and petty woes to God. For with God is the answer we seek.

God says: I am not bothered by the billions of questions that fly to me each day and night. I am not angered.  I am not threatened. There is nothing you can ask that will turn me away from you. So ask. How else will you find peace? I will always answer . . . even though you may not be prepared to hear the reply. Even then I will guide you to understanding. All you need do is remain open and ready for dialog. I long to listen and speak to you. Be not afraid to ask the questions that are in your heart. Persist and be open, and we will speak with one another.

“How is it that evil prospers?”  “Why do the wicked enjoy life while the faithful suffer?”  “When will God’s justice divide the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff?”  “Where is God when so much envy and hate destroy all that is good?”  “What is the point of seeing the weeds pollute the harvest?”

These are questions the faithful feel rise from within when they see injustice in the world.  These are the questions the faithful must bring to God . . . for with God lie the consolation and the replies.


Tomorrow, Job, another faithful servant, hears The Lord’s Speech . . .

Image from: https://www.123rf.com/photo_11983584_magnifying-glass-with-questions-words-on-white-background.html

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Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020

Sandro Botticelli: Judith Leaving the Tent of Holofernes

Judith 15:9-15

A Celebration of Deliverance

Today we reflect on joyful celebration after deliverance from disaster, and we pause to consider the sudden and surprising gifts of discipleship.

The book of Judith is a wonderful story about a woman who puts aside her widow’s weeds to save her nation. Her ability is doubted by the elders of her own community, and her enemy underestimates her by a wide margin. Judith succeeds in accomplishing the impossible. We watch her follow a dangerously treacherous and narrow path, listening for and then obeying God’s voice.  We see her unfold in beautiful discipleship.  During this Eastertide we have re-discovered the gifts of discipleship that bloom in our lives when we see our vulnerability to God as privilege; and we watch Judith as she trusts in God alone to deliver her people and herself from a deadly enemy.

Judith’s meekness brings her humility . . . an ability to listen for God’s word and to heed it.

Judith’s brokenheartedness brings her vulnerability . . . an ability to petition God for help.

Judith’s constancy brings her fidelity . . . an ability to rely on God alone.

Judith’s honesty brings her truth . . . an ability to see reality as God sees it.

Judith’s willingness brings her integrity . . . an ability to perceive and respond to God’s call authentically.

Judith’s steadfastness brings her persistence . . . an ability to follow God without flagging.

These are the gifts of discipleship with which God graced Judith . . . and these are the same gifts of discipleship that God gives to each of us today.

As we near Pentecost, let us consider these gifts that God freely gives.  And let us celebrate our own deliverance.


Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/sandro-botticelli/judith-leaving-the-tent-of-holofernes-1500

For more reflections about this amazing woman, type the word Judith in the blog search bar and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime reflection written on April 10, 2007.

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Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2020

2Thess3Proof[1]2 Thessalonians 3

Steadfastness

We continue to remain in the Risen Christ as we shelter in place to meet the threat of a pandemic virus. Some may feel that we live in”end times.” Others believe that the stress caused by a world-wide virus calls us to work with one another, persisting through strife rather than crumbling beneath it.

In waiting for “the end times”, some early Christians decide to abandon their work and devote themselves to keeping up with gossip; they do not make their own living but live from the toil of others.  Paul speaks directly to those who place the burden of living on their community, and he is clear in his thinking.  He urges personal responsibility, faith in God, and imitating the steadfastness of Christ.  It is this unswerving following that prepares us for the life we are called to live . . . a life in Christ.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, the founder of the Order of Preachers in France after their revolution: All holy souls – all souls, that is to say, which are enlightened by truth and guided by charity, are in communion.  Even here below, without knowing it, they are linked to one another, they are members of a society of which God is the center, the life, the light, the beauty, and the bliss.  They help one another by their prayers and good works; they suffer for one another’s sake; they are like the stones of which a church is built, which are hidden from one another, yet support one another from the foundation to the roof . . . Our meetings on earth are by comparison mere vain and fruitless advances.

God creates us and wants us to know that we are God’s children, connected to one another and to God by the bond of Christ.  We are to love one another, especially our enemies, as best we can . . . but we are to love.

Christ walks among us to show us that we are important to him and to one another, even though we may not hear, see or feel this importance.   We are to do for one another as best we can . . . but we are to act.

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and us – that we ought not take advantage of others in this bond that we share with one other.  We are to give as best we can, according to the blessings and gifts God bestows on us . . . but we are to give.

Fr. Lacordaire reminds us that there are invisible bonds that hold us together.  We are to remember these bonds and work with them rather than against them. We are to persist in our journey toward truth and light and even though we do not see the end of the journey, even though we do not care to be with some of our fellow travelers, we are to persist and remain steadfast . . . otherwise, our meetings on earth may be mere vain and fruitless advances.

Paul calls us to steadfastness and persistence in Christ.  Christ walks among us to reveal the Father’s promise and the Spirit’s abiding presence.  Through our diligence in following Christ, our fidelity to God’s vision, and our love in the Spirit, we hone our skill at being steadfast.  We increase our stamina and nurture our persistence.  All of these are gifts honestly earned and freely bestowed.  They are the blossoming fruit of discipleship.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 2.11 (2010). Print.  

Image from: http://s449.photobucket.com/user/conniecriqui/media/2Thess3Proof.jpg.html

Adapted from the November 2, 2010 Noontime.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Blessed Julian of Norwich

Van der Weyden: Portrait of a Young Woman Wearing a Coif

Psalm 73: The Trial of the Just

This psalm speaks to a state of mind that each of us has likely experienced once or even more than once, at a time when we lost our balance and our feet all but slipped.

As we have spent time this week reflecting on the traits of a disciple and the work that discipleship entails.  We have re-affirmed that following Christ requires not only love but also intense labor.  Disciples suffer.  They lose heart.  They become enmeshed in a world they do not welcome.   Yet they also experience great joy.

As we read this psalm today we find that each of us is Israel, wondering why the arrogant . . . suffer no pain; their bodies healthy and sleek . . . violence adorns them like a robe Some of us may say to ourselves, as the psalmist does: It is in vain that I have kept my heart clean . . . I was stupid and did not understand.   Discipleship calls for meekness.  Discipleship delivers heart-break.  The ancillary experience of discipleship is suffering . . . and yet great joy.

What is the solution to handling our angst and jealousy so that our mourning might become dancing?  We must dialog with the Lord and offer our questions along with our petitions for those who are far from [God] perish.  We must declare all [God’s] works, remembering that despite our feeling that we are lost and alone we always will be accompanied.

I have taken up again a little book of reflections on the writings of Julian of Norwich, a medieval English mystic and spiritual writer to whom God spoke in a series of revelations.  (Kirvan)  This woman lived a hermetic life in a worldly way, juxtaposing solitude and community in a manner that gives her words a universal resonance.  She speaks of the humility we learn when we bring God our sufferings and failings.  And it is through this humility, this meekness, that we find God.  She writes that we run the danger of carrying our faults so heavily that we consider ourselves “suited only to hell” and that this would be an egregious error for no matter what we do or where we go, God wants to “raise us high in grace”.  She also writes that when we allow our pain to bring compassion to ourselves and others, we will be better prepared to receive God.  This compassion heals any shame or brokenness and transforms all suffering into joy.  She tells us that our failure does not prevent God from loving us.  Peace and love are always present within us, living and laboring, but we unfortunately do not always abide in peace and love.

When we find ourselves deep into our work as disciples we are certain to be worn down and worn out; we will find that our hearts have been broken.  So rather than fight against our pain and suffering, let us offer our brokenness to God as we withstand the trial of the just.  Let us cease comparing ourselves with the wicked and instead open ourselves to God’s grace and compassion.   And let us no longer rail against our imperfections . . . for we must allow ourselves to remember that God is always close to the broken-hearted.

And so the psalmist writes:  How good God is to the upright, the Lord, to those who are clean of heart!

Tomorrow, with God . . . possibilities . . .

Although often attributed as a portrait of Julian of Norwich – the first woman to write and publish a book in the English language – there is no evidence that she sat for the artist, Roger Van der Weyden.  It is lovely, however, to imagine a meeting between the two.


Kirvan, John. All Will Be Well: Julian of Norwich. 2008. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2005. Print.

First written on August 9, 2009. Revised and posted today.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hosea 9Exile Without Worship

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Chapter 9 of Hosea is a picture of the Jewish people and in particular Ephraim, the largest tribe in Israel and one of the first to be taken into exile where they cannot offer sacrifices. Over a period of several hundred years, Ephraim is divided and carted off north to Babylon and south to Egypt. Hosea sees the corruption and nepotism in the structure and so he calls for reform and as a priest himself, he sees the importance of honest and sincere worship and he understands how the absence of worship will impact the people when they are carried into exile.  Yet, Hosea also knows the promise of God’s enduring love and that although the people will stray God will not.  Hosea enacts this belief through his enduring love for Gomer, and he persists in worshiping his God . . . even in exile.

If we continue our Lenten journey with Hosea we will rise from the despair to encounter beautiful words of covenant and union.  And so, like Hosea we remain in faith.

If we linger over the imagery of marriage as the model of God’s relationship with each of us we will discover the courage and joy of hope.  And so, like Hosea we arise in hope.

If we plod along our own Jerusalem Road to follow the words of Hosea we will find secure refuge in our own relationship with God.  And so, like Hosea we abide in love.

Through the allegory of his marriage to Gomer, Hosea lightens our load so that we find the strength to respond to this call to a special, intense, fruitful and honest bond.  Just as Hosea persists in calling out to Gomer he also persists in reminding us of this message no matter how much and how often we ignore him.  And so Hosea speaks to us today.

We have separated ourselves from God and from one another in big and little ways. Hosea says that God waits with open arms. All we need do is repent and turn to God . . . and offer up our open and honest worship.


For more information about the man Ephraim, go to: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p131.htm

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephraim

First written on March 26, 2007. Re-written and posted yesterday and today as a Favorite.

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2 Chronicles 10: Ignoring Advice

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes the advice we receive from others is worthless; sometimes it is pure gold.  The difficulty in life is to discern when to heed which words.  This can be resolved when we decide to draw on God’s wisdom  as our primary source of advice, and then allow the words of our family and friends to fill in the gaps of what we believe to be God’s message.

We may have difficulty hearing the Word within; if so, we may want to practice the art of listening a bit more until we have formed well-trodden spiritual pathways to God and back.

We may have difficulty feeling the Word of God resonate within; if so, we may want to practice feeling empathy for those unlike us a bit more until we have taught our hearts more of God’s language.

We may have difficulty expressing  the Word of God to others; if so, we may want to find a trusted friend who will serve as a sounding board for our thoughts.

We may have difficulty witnessing to the Word of God in a public way; if so, we may want to spend time with Scripture to see how others have done so through the ages.

Communication in any form does not come easily.  It takes practice.  Finding trustworthy sources of wisdom of any kind is a challenge.  It takes persistence.  Acting in a manner that matches our beliefs for any reason is difficult at best.  It takes authenticity.  Speaking in a way that calls others to Christ in any way is complicated.  It takes fidelity.  Listening in a way that leads us to good, solid decision-making is taxing.  It takes endurance.

All of this patience and compassion is too much for us humans, we say, and yet . . . we know what happens when we take the advice that suits us at the moment but does not challenge us.  We know what happens when we ignore God’s call and go our own way.  We know what happens when we are silent or when we do not act when and as we ought.

The choice before these young men in today’s Noontime is clear.  We see their example.  Do we follow it?  Or do we follow Christ?


Written on September 15, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To find a Daily Bible Reading Plan, visit: https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Or create a plan of your own by beginning with Acts . . . but read each day . . . and listen . . .

Image from: http://niagaranissan.com/ 

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Jeremiah 15: God’s Words

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Our lives seem full of words and in particular this recent election cycle seems to have the very air full of them. Words for, words against, words that describe, words that deceive, words that inflame, words that bring peace, empty words, words that fill . . . but so many words.  At this point in his prophecy Jeremiah has spouted many life-saving words and yet the prophet is being ignored. He will eventually disappear from the world stage but his words will remain . . . for they are God’s words. The words Jeremiah utters and writes down will prove him to be on target and in tune with God.  We might wish to be so in accord with our creator.  In the midst of so many words we stumble across this verse as we reflect on how we might make God’s words our very own.

Jeremiah 15:16: When your words came to me, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.

Jeremiah repeated the words the Lord gave him to say; we pray that we might be so ardent.

Jeremiah spoke faithfully in the name of God Almighty; we pray that we might be so persistent.

Jeremiah lived out the creator’s words; we pray that we might be so authentic.

Jeremiah sticks to the message the Lord gave him to deliver; he does not go off message nor does he incorporate his own agenda into the words he is given to speak.  Jeremiah complains to God that he is cursed by many; he says that he ought never to have been born.  He lives in pain as a consequence of his fidelity to God . . . yet Jeremiah does not give in.

Jeremiah delivers God’s words and in doing so he also delivers hope.  Jeremiah speaks difficult words and in doing so he makes them his heart’s delight.  Jeremiah makes God words his own . . . and in doing so he makes the invisible God visible.

Let us strive also to do so today.


A re-post from September 4, 2012.

Image from: http://benjaminunseth.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/martin-luther-gods-word/

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TitusSlaves for Christ

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today’s Noontime offering is a personal reflection on Paul’s Letter to Titus, a brief epistle in which we find valuable advice on bringing disparate voices together.  It was this letter that united many in the formation of churches for Christ in the first century.  If we savor the wisdom we find here, we may still find unity through this short letter two thousand years after its writing.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

Paul speaks of rebuking fellow Christians and I believe that when Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers (Matthew 21, Mark 11 and John 2) he was acting in this way of rebuking those who refuse to hear.  Jesus extends that advice to his apostles whom he sends like sheep among wolves in Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 9 when he says that when they enter a town where the people do not return the peace they are offered, these disciples are to shake the very dust of the town from their feet.  We also hear Jesus lament the fact that he is rejected by his hometown of Capernaum in Matthew 11 and in Luke 10 he laments the lack of faith displayed by the inhabitants Bethsaida and Chorazin, saying that the Sodomites will fare better than these people in God’s eye.  Scary stuff . . . and for this reason I am reluctant to separate myself from those who demonstrate a lack of faith . . . with me, hope dies slowly.

And so we pray that our acts of hope and our endless intercessory prayers for these reluctant travelers will reach God’s ears.  We must constantly communicate with God – and always with a smile – that a plan that does not allow for the conversion of sinners will be a plan with holes in it.  We must be as persistent as the widow in Luke 18 who rails against the unfair judge when it comes to those who distort God’s love in a perverse homage to self rather than to the will of God.  We understand that we must keep ourselves safe from this kind of corruption . . . but we do not give up . . . we continue to ask for transformation . . . our own as well as that of those who choose to do harm to us, ourselves and others.  We cannot abandon someone with whom we have spent a portion of our journey . . . even though that person demonstrates clearly that they wish to take a fork in the road that puts distance between us.  So these people we will continue to hold in prayer . . . in the expectation that God’s will – and not ours – be done.

The Persistent Widow

How do we maintain this kind of dichotomy?  We turn back to Paul who offers Titus . . . and us . . . the solution.  He says that we are to tell the people that . . . They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone.  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful of ourselves and hating one another.  Eventually we will all put aside this hateful world to choose the peaceable kingdom which God offers so patiently each day.

Like Paul, let us all be slaves to Christ, slaves to this Law of Love which keeps vigil, which hopes for good, and which sends endless petitions rising to God like incense for the transformation of the world, the transformation of others as well as for ourselves . . . that we all may one day find union with one another and with Christ.


Images from: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and http://www.free-stories.net/children-bible-stories/new-testament-stories/parable-of-the-persistent-widow.html

For more on Paul’s Letter to Titus, see the Titus – Church as Community page on this blog.

For a wonderful way to experience the cities Jesus and Paul knew, visit:  www.bibleplaces.com

A re-post from February 16, 2019. 

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Jeremiah 39:1-14Remaining Among the People

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Soord: Lost Sheep

We have read about Jeremiah in the dungeon (Chapter 37) and Jeremiah in the miry cistern (Chapter 38); now we read about his capture . . . and that he remained among the people.  Just yesterday I spoke with a friend about her reluctance to do something that would cause her great pain.  I said that rather than focus on the suffering that an experience was bound to bring her, she might just want to focus on tending to God’s lost sheep.  This was something she said she could do.  I had heard the Jeremiah in her anticipate the lack of understanding she was about to meet.  I heard her fear of her own unpredictable emotions rising.  We spoke about patience, persistence and witnessing.  And we spoke about how we cannot control people or events, of how we can barely sometimes control ourselves.  Life brings us these difficult lessons to learn.  Life also brings us unmeasurable reward . . . if we only learn to remain among the people.

Yesterday’s Gospel reminded us of something we may want to carry with us everywhere and it is this: When we are fearful of something we must do we are likely relying on ourselves too much.  And we are likely forgetting to rely on God.  Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:8-12 that we need not worry about our circumstances – even when they are dire – if we remain in him, in God.  When we allow the Spirit to direct us, we cannot fail.  When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at the moment what you should say.  Jesus may be remembering the words from Isaiah 30:21: From behind, a voice will sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.  Both the Old and New Testament remind us that when we live in the Spirit, we cannot falter.  When we remain with God’s people, we will not go wrong.  When we follow Christ, we may suffer but we will never be lost.

We are often reminded to witness, watch and wait on the Lord and so we pray from Psalm 5 in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: It is you whom I invoke, O Lord.  In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.  You are no God who loves evil; no sinner is your guest.  The boastful shall not stand their ground before your face.  But I through the greatness of your love have access to your house.  I bow down before your holy temple, filled with awe.  All those you protect shall be glad and ring out their joy.  You shelter them; in you they rejoice, those who knew your name.  It is you who bless the just one, Lord: you surround the just one as with a shield. 

I asked my friend to see herself as a shepherd who gathers lambs to bring them into the fold at night.  I asked that she put all her worry into prayer. And I asked that she rely on God to bring goodness out of harm.

In the end, Jesus reminds us, God is all there is.  In the end, we do not want to wait on anyone or anything else.  In the end, all that is asked of us is that we witness, watch and wait.  Rather than succumb to the familiar fears that govern us poorly and use us badly, we will want to remember to gather ourselves and to gather lost sheep even as we remain among God’s people.  For it is in, and of and through Christ that we are saved and brought back to God.  It is in, and of and through the Spirit that we are consoled.  And it is in, and of and through God that we are made whole.  And in the end – when we can manage to remain with God’s people – we remember well that . . . God is all there is.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.10 (2011): 239. Print. 

A re-post from October 16, 2011.

Image from: http://personalitydevelopmentbeyourbest.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-from-lost-sheepif-lost-sheep.html

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