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Pope Francis

Monday, January 10, 2022

Joy and Amos

The Bitter Day

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds. Today Amos brings the past into focus with the present as he foretells the joy we might find even in the bitterness of our own indictment.

Amos was a shepherd “who exercised his ministry during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). He prophesied in Israel at the great cult center of Bethel, from which he was finally expelled by the priest in charge of this royal sanctuary . . . In common with the other prophets Amos knew that divine punishment in never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men. The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God”. (Senior 1126)

Amos 8:10: And I will turn your parties into times of mourning, and your songs of joy will be turned to cries of despair. You will wear funeral clothes and shave your heads as signs of sorrow, as if your only son had died; bitter, bitter will be that day.

More than any other prophet, Amos “speaks directly to the issue of social justice, with a vigor unparalleled anywhere in the Bible . . . No prophet is more easily related to the modern world than Amos, for the social inequities that he denounced in the eighth-century B.C. Israel are still very much with us . . . The first lesson to be learned from Amos is that social justice is the business of religion. The test of piety is what happens in the marketplace rather than what happens in the church or temple”. (Senior RG 365-366)

Amos 5:18: You say, ‘If only the Day of the Lord were here, for then God would deliver us from all our foes.’ But you have no idea what you ask. For that day will not be light and prosperity, but darkness and doom! How terrible the darkness will be for you; not a ray of joy or hope will shine.

Amos witnesses to the corruption and hypocrisy he sees before him. He is expelled from the temple community and then returns to his orchards and flocks but before he goes back to his work, he warns his listeners of the bitter day they hope to avoid, knowing that ultimately – as is always true with God – the joy opportunity for salvation surprises us even as we hear our own bitter indictment.


joyRead about Pope Francis’ recent address to the Curia in which he describes the “spiritual Alzheimer’s” of church leaders; and let us consider our own behavior. Do we contribute to hypocrisy in our own circles by remaining silent when we are called to speak? What joy surprises us in the midst of our indictment? What does our daily living say about our image of God? http://www.religionnews.com/2014/12/22/pope-francis-curia-merry-christmas-power-hungry-hypocrites/ and http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/pope-francis-address-curia

To read Pope Francis’ June 5, 2014 brief address and consider how we might hear his words in the context of this prophecy, visit: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130605_udienza-generale.html  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1126, RG 365-366. Print.

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.

Image from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/the-pope/10342768/Pope-Francis-to-rip-up-and-rewrite-Vatican-constitution.html

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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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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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John 8:1-11: Contemplating God’s Mercy

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“God is a riverbed of mercy that underlies all the flotsam and jetsam that flows over it and soon passes away. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives and also releases all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgement), and awareness is not the same as ‘thinking’. It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs-of-war that form most of human life. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation”. (Rohr 187)

Richard Rohr, OFM, tells us that if there is one characteristic to assign to God, it is mercy. This life-giving quality of forgiveness, fidelity, and love is God’s signature characteristic. Rohr quotes St. Teresa of Ávila from her book THE INTERIOR CASTLE. “The soul is spacious, plentiful, and its amplitude is impossible to exaggerate . . . the sun her radiates to every part . . . and nothing can diminish its beauty”. Rohr continues, “This is your soul. It is God-in-you. This is your True Self”. (Rohr 187)

Pope Francis tells us that THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY in his signature work published in 2016.  He, like Rohr and St. Teresa, reminds us that in order to understand and experience mercy, we must first acknowledge that we are in need of mercy ourselves. Just as Jesus forgives the condemned woman in John 8, God wants to forgive each of us. Just as Jesus does not reproach the woman in John 8, God refuses to reproach each of us. Just as Jesus contemplates the possibility that God’s kingdom is now, God gives us the gift of mercy and insists that the kingdom is here.

“We live in a society that encourages us to discard the habit of recognizing and assuming our responsibilities: It is always others who make mistakes. It is always others who are immoral. It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own”. (Pope Francis, 2)

We live in a place and time when blame and fault are assigned, credit is taken, and deep divisions grow. We live in a place and time when mercy and love are needed, stories are believed, and bridges are built over deep chasms. St. Teresa, Rohr and Pope Francis tell us that God is a riverbed of mercy. They remind us that God’s generosity and love have no bounds. Once we begin to contemplate God as seen through the actions of Jesus, we know all of this to be true. Once we allow God’s Spirit to enter our lives, we allow ourselves to slide into the mighty flow of mercy that washes away all that separates us.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Pope Francis, THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli

 

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Genesis 1: Re-Creation – The Earth

Easter Monday, April 17, 2017

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Each time we plant flowers, weed vegetables, pick apples from a tree, we realize the bounty and goodness of God’s creation. Too often we are able to pretend that we do not offend Mother earth with our carelessness. In his encyclical, Laudato Sí or On Care of Our Common Home, Pope Francis makes a clear call to each of us to look to our interactions with our environment. In Chapter Two, The Gospel of Creation, Francis lays out a foundation of his premise, and then describes the mystery, the message, and the universal communion that is Mother Earth. We will be rewarded by new insights when we spend time with his words today.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Our modern world too often lives separately from Mother Earth. We do not see where our sewage goes; we do not see the landfills that pollute the earth that struggles to breath and thrive. We do not understand the demands our way of life make on the natural world. We are too easily lead into a life of separateness and alienation by the allure of technology and industry. Manufacture takes on more importance than the people who produce. Consumption becomes our focus. Relationships and connections languish.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

On this Easter Monday, let us reflect on how we interact with Mother Earth, let us celebrate all she brings to us, and let us determine to care for her so that she may continue to love and nourish us all.

For a summary of Laudato Sí, visit: https://focusoncampus.org/content/summary-of-laudato-si-pope-francis-encyclical-on-the-environment-4b1db7f5-fca5-478c-bc8c-464174d9a07e 

To learn about Bolivia’s “Mother Earth Law,” the first on the planet, click on the images above, or visit: https://newearth.media/bolivia-passes-law-of-mother-earth/ 

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Matthew 5:13-16: Salt and Light – A Reprise

pope-francis

Pope Francis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus tells us that we must be salt for the earth, adding flavor, bringing joy; and we are to share this salt of our faith with others.

Jesus tells us that we must be light for the world, slicing through the darkness, bringing hope; and we are to shine this light on the margins and into the corners.

To hear Pope Francis’ words on how we might be both salt and light, visit Vatican Radio at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/06/07/pope_on_how_to_be_salt_of_the_earth_and_light_of_the_world/1235417

 

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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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James 2:1-4: Segregation

Wednesday, October 7, 2015Web_handsopen

James describes us to ourselves today and asks this question . . . haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

As Christ moves and lives among the poor, he calls out to the influential and powerful to change the structures that force the innocent into cycles of lack and scarcity. We have an opportunity today to reflect on our own theology of poverty and when we listen to the words of Pope Francis on the 90 second audio clip from Vatican Radio, we have an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Gospel. Listen at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/06/16/pope_francis_the_theology_of_poverty/1151901

To read about options for the poor and vulnerable, click on the image above or visit: http://www.mncc.org/advocacy-areas/option-for-the-poor-and-vulnerable/

 

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James 2:1-13Partiality

Tuesday, October 6, 2015Screen-Shot-2013-08-20-at-11.07.57-AM

The Letter of James is based on Old Testament prophetic and sapiential books along with the teachings of Jesus Christ.  His doctrinal message is strong: it is not enough to hear and to believe the message of the Christ . . . one must live it fully as well.  Today’s citation calls us to think about the times when we have been partial in our fervor, partial in our love for Christ Jesus.

One of the easiest ways to measure ourselves in terms of Gospel passion is to look at how we interact with the poor. Not only the fiscally poor can use our support but the poor in spirit, the poor in energy, the poor in cognitive ability, the poor who enter the world and appear to cope with it but who are beaten down by the demands of life. James explains that our lives are meant to be lived as an intentional devotion to Christ and his work.  In James’ times – and in our own relativistic society in which we are encouraged to feel good rather than do good – James gives us much to ponder.

Today’s citation asks us to reflect on the ways in which we cajole one another to abandon God with statements like:  Get a grip, It’s time to get real, When are you going to grow up,  Just cope, What’s the matter with you, Everybody does this so what are you upset about.  The world around us lures into living lives which lack a purity of purpose.

We can assuage our conscience by giving of self to the poor, by working to improve unjust systems . . . when all the while forgetting to tend to the everyday relationships of family, friends and colleagues.  James encourages us to be whole in our worship of Christ, to be as intentional in our actions as we are in our thoughts and prayers. James calls us to the greatest part of ourselves . . . the Christ which is in each of us. James calls us to union in and through and with Christ.

This alone ought to be our mission.

Adapted from a favorite written on October 21, 2008.

Click on the image above to explore quotes from Pope Francis about the poor, or visit: http://www.confrontglobalpoverty.org/our-faith-global-poverty/church-teachings/quotes-poverty-pope-francis/ 

 

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