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Daniel 9:20-23Gabriel Comes to Daniel

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The Angel Gabriel

Written on February 3, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We know the story of Daniel so well . . . the boys in the furnace . . . Daniel with the lions in their den . . . the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream . . . the handwriting on the wall . . . this bright young man lives in captivity yet never leaves his God . . . and his God never leaves him.

Today’s reading is brief yet it calls us to reflect on the many stories in this book.  Who brings the wonderful visions to Daniel which he records?  Gabriel.  The Announcer The first angel in scripture to be described as arriving with wings . . . who comes to tell Daniel that their captivity will be even longer than they had anticipated.  Rather than the 70 years of waiting which Jeremiah described, God’s people must remain in exile 70 times 70 . . . 490 years.  And how are they to abide during such a long time?  How are they to know that God is with them?  Daniel demonstrates even as Gabriel arrives.  He prays, he examines his own conscience and the collective conscience of his people, he petitions God, he seeks the meaning of the things that Yahweh has revealed to him, and he awaits the wisdom of God with a patient and open heart.

It is difficult to wait for justice.  It is painful to ache for mercy and compassion.  Yet this so many times is the human condition.  If Gabriel were to appear before us this very minute to announce that some long-awaited intercession would indeed arrive . . . but in God’s time and plan rather than our own . . . would we react as Daniel does?  Are we truly good and loyal servants?

Patience is difficult when we see something floating just beyond our own reach.  Yet if we believe that God creates all, loves all, and wants justice for all, there is no other way to live.  We must be open vessels which the Holy Spirit fills.  We must be clean temples where Christ may act as high priest.  We must be like the five faithful virgins who wait outside the inn in the quiet darkness for the bridegroom, conserving their oil, preparing their lanterns and knowing that the day and hour of his coming are a mystery.

Titian: The Annunciation – Gabriel and Mary

If the angel of the Lord were to appear before us in rapid flight at the time of the evening sacrifice, would we be as open as Daniel?  Would we be as willing?  Would we be as patient?

When the evening hour approaches, as we go to God in humble yet joyful prayer and petition, let us ready our hearts, let us still our minds, and let us call on the wisdom of God.  And if the message which our God sends to us on swift angel wing is a message which tells us that we must wait beyond all waiting, then let us give joyful reply to God.  Let us answer him.  Amen.


A re-post from February 7, 2012.

Images from: http://www.crystalinks.com/angels.html and http://www.squidoo.com/heavenly-angels?utm_source=google&utm_medium=imgres&utm_campaign=framebuster

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2 Chronicles 1Our Requests

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Several days ago we reflected on David’s last words and what our own might be.  Today we look at what immediately follows.  Solomon’s request gives us hope for this people who have struggled against odds to be a nation of their own.  When we read the entire story we know how things end for Solomon; but rather than focus on hopes dashed by tragic defects, we might instead consider what we might ask of God if he were to say to us as he does to Solomon: Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you. 

God actually appears to Solomon and this we might envy, wishing that God would approach us in human form to speak with us directly.  Yet, have we considered that God does this daily by appearing through others?  And when God does appear, what is it that we ask of him?  Do we ask for comfort and ease?  Something that brings us and others justice?  Do we look for some wide and sweeping gift like world peace, or good leaders?  Or do we ask for something small for each of us: freedom from fear of any kind, respect for others and for the planet? 

God actually appears to us every minute of every day – although we may not feel his presence he is there all the same.  Jesus lived among humans for a brief time and the resurrected Christ appeared to the twelve, to the seventy and seventy-two and to hundreds and thousands.  Jesus continues to appear to us each day and each night always asking us – just as he did for the blind, the lame, the sick and the sorrowful: What is that you want?   Jesus is constantly saying to us in both little ways and big ways – just as he did for those who accompanied him in his ministry – Do not be afraid, you have nothing to fear, I am with you. 

God wants to grant our heart’s desire.  God has plans of joy for us.  God loves us beyond measure.  God wants us to be happy.  God wants to bring us justice.  God holds us and cares for us constantly.  God’s Spirit has chosen to dwell within us just as God chose to live among the Israelites in the tent we read about today.  God exists and abides with us; we just want proof that he is actually where we want him to be . . . looking like someone we want him to look like . . . acting like someone we want him to act like . . . saying what we want him to say.  But this is not how God works.  Still . . .

Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you. 

We constantly complain that we might be happier, more prosperous, better looking, and less cranky if only . . .   If only I had a better job, if only the church service were more interesting,  if only my family understood where I was coming from, if only the government would . . . if only.  Yet, when we honestly examine our lives we discover that we have most of what we have requested and often more besides – just like Solomon; but we have allowed ourselves to become so overwhelmed by what our culture demands of us – which often runs counter to what God asks of us – that we have not even noticed.  And so we add more if onlys” to our litany.

Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you. 

God grants Solomon the gifts of wisdom and knowledge and more besides; God also gives Solomon riches, treasures and glory.   It is Solomon who struggles to handle all of this.  It is Solomon who becomes influenced by the world and who turns away from God . . . it is not God who ignores or abandons Solomon.

Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you. 

We may want to spend some reflection time today pondering what it is exactly that we want from God . . . and what it is exactly that we will do with these gifts – for God will surely grant our request.

We may also want to spend some time pondering how it is exactly that we will share these gifts, how it is exactly that we plan to remain close to God, how it is exactly that we will bear fruit back to this marvelous God who loves us so much that he says to us daily . . . Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 21, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.thesunblog.com/gourmetgal/2009/01/ and http://www.thesunblog.com/gourmetgal/2009/01/

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.

For an insightful reflection on the Book of Job, click on the image above or visit: http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2011/03/a-different-look-at-the-man-from-uz.html

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

76d2ce62177a139a96b48d628d63c470[1]1 John 5:13-14

Simple Truths

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life . . . And we have this confidence in the Son of God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

This week we have highlighted several verses from the first letter of John and we have examined the words he records to remind us of how much and how well we are loved.  Today, if there is time in our busy schedules, we might spend time with the entire letter.

John experienced friendship with Jesus first hand.  He was present at the Transfiguration.  John is the Beloved Apostle to whom Jesus gave over care of his mother, Mary.  He is the faithful disciple who writes the beautifully soaring Gospel defining Jesus as the Word that has been from the beginning and will be to the end.  We do well to spend time with this letter written directly to each of us today.

“The purpose of this letter is to combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community . . . The author affirms that authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ . . . The author sets forth the striking contrasts between light and darkness, Christians and the world, and truth and error to illustrate the threats and responsibilities of Christian life.  The result is not one of theological argument but one of intense religious conviction expressed in simple truths”.  (Senior 387)

Why are we so reluctant to believe the good news that each of us has a personal invitation to be as close to Jesus as John is?  Do we cherish the idea that some of us are more special or less special to Christ?  In believing this we would be straying from the lesson Jesus teaches us.

When are we ever happy with the story of salvation?  When it is the version we have dreamed for ourselves?  In thinking this we would be missing the lesson Jesus taught us.

How will we come to grips with the fact that following Christ requires intense religious conviction?  Or are we hoping to write our own plan for salvation and telling God how we best fit into this plan for the world?  In this desire we illustrate that we have missed all that Jesus has taught us.

John reminds us in his first letter that we are Children of God, that we suffer threats and share responsibilities as Christ’s followers, and that we reap gifts beyond imagining when we allow ourselves to be one with the Mystical Christ.  These simple truths bring forth complex emotions and intense reactions.  They call us out of ourselves and into the world for others.  They carry the weight of the world yet raise us in freedom and salvation.  These simple truths are lived out for us by Christ each day . . . and they bring us the message of our rescue from darkness that we long to hear . . . that Christ hears our petitions . . . and holds them as dearly as he holds each of us.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387. Print.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013 – Psalm 91 – Clinging to God – Part II

boy%20clinging%20to%20mother[1]When we hear the thoughts and emotions shared by the participants in NPR’s Losing Our Religion discussions referenced in yesterday’s Noontime, we recognize that while not all humans cling to God, they cling to a search of some kind.  Perhaps we are genetically wired for this universal pilgrimage. If we take an honest look at the responses to the many petitions we have laid before God we will recognize certain truths.

God usually gives us options.  God always opens doors we do not see.  God cannot turn away or turn us down.   God always acts in love.  God wants to fulfill our dreams and plans.  God places hope in us and asks us to live up to that potential.  God instills faith in us according to some measure we cannot understand.  God is always moving toward us, calling us to intimacy, promising protection, assuring us of love.  God is always clinging to us.

Whoever clings to me I will deliver . . . The amazing story of God is that God wants to save even those of us who do not cling to him. 

Whoever knows my name I will set on high . . . We call on God for freedom from our fears and God replies in ways we may not fully comprehend.   

All who call upon me I will answer . . . God’s answer to us is more complex than the simple response we humans expect; we do not entirely understand the journey we are on. 

I will be with them in distress . . . We may choose to ignore God’s presence but we cannot completely barricade ourselves against God. 

I will deliver them and give them honor . . . We may negate God in all our thoughts and actions yet God somehow finds a way to abide with us. 

With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power . . .  Although we struggle with our doubts, anger, fears and anxiety, we cannot shut God out of our existence . . . for God is always present to us . . . clinging to us . . . abiding with us . . . loving us. 

As we spend some quiet time today . . . let us at least consider an initial, authentic response.

To hear the interviews conducted in the NPR Morning Edition broadcasts or to read the news stories, go to: http://www.npr.org/series/169065270/losing-our-religion

To find out how to help families who are clinging to life, click on the image above or go to: http://sosbabyhelp.org/Burma%20Disaster.html

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