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Posts Tagged ‘power’


Genesis 45:1-8: Making Ourselves Known

Sunday, October 13, 2019

James Tissot: Joseph and his Brethren Welcomed by Pharaoh

Today we continue our reflection on the story of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery . . . on the story of Joseph who forgives and saves these brothers in return.

When we find ourselves in a place of power, do we react with anger or mercy?  Do we struggle to understand how to convert our dire circumstances into an opportunity to be close to God so that we might be able to see our grief as gift?  Do we look for ways to offer this gift back to the God to use as he sees best as he accompanies us in our travail ?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and to us in this story, and so may we reveal ourselves to others.  Rather than sink to the easy move of wielding the power we find in our hands, we are to seek God in our suffering and pain.  In so doing, we will discover that God has converted the harm to good, the evil to joy.  We will also discover new depths in ourselves; we will find our best selves – our deepest potential.  Can we imagine offering this re-made self back to one who rejected us earlier . . . particularly when we have the power to reject as we have been rejected?  What greater love can we demonstrate than to turn away from vengeance to turn toward peace?  What greater act might we perform than to follow Christ in an act of forgiveness of others . . . especially the others who have harmed us greatly?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers . . . and in so doing he bridges profound chasms of sorrow and loss . . . bringing joy and reunion.

God reveals himself to us and thus calls us to the possibilities dreamt for us at our inception.

When we reveal ourselves to others as Joseph did then we demonstrate that we understand the depth of our capacity to be God’s love in a world yearning for peace.

Reading this story we see that we have no choice . . . let us journey through loss to make ourselves known to the world.


First written on September 20, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/350858627214142649/

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2 Corinthians 4:7-10: The Potter’s Hands

Friday, August 30, 2019

2 Corinthians 4:7-10Brothers and Sisters: we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.  We are afflicted in every way but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.

It is so quick and easy – in the short term – to rely on ourselves and what we have managed to gather up from the world.  It is much better – in the long run – to rely on God who gives us all we will ever need.

God says: You begin as clay in my hands, an earthen vessel made of earth’s dust.  My son sacrifices himself to be with you for infinite time and in infinite space.  Giant obstacles become small hurdles over which my Spirit will lift you . . . if only you recognize me.   

When we depend on God we are mightier than all.  When we rely on Christ we are hope for the world.  When we love as the Spirit loves, we are eternal.  Let us give ourselves over as clay to the master potter’s hands . . . and enter fully into our promised transfiguration.


A re-post from August 9, 2012.

Image from: http://pottery.about.com/od/throwingonthewhee1/tp/finalizpot.htm

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Sirach 45:1-5: The Old and the New

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Written on January 18 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Moses Pleading With Israel

“Moses manifested God’s power through miracles, God’s authority through the promulgation of the commandments and the law, and God’s mercy through the intimacy granted him by the Lord for his own faithfulness and meekness. The very personification of the old covenant, Moses was also a type of Christ, the Prophet and Legislator of the new.  God’s honor devolved upon him: Moses was actually God’s substitute in dealing with Pharaoh, hence God entrusted his own honor to Moses”. (Senior 867-868)

Power, authority, mercy, intimacy, faithfulness and meekness:

Here is a valuable lesson for us.

The sort of meekness that is the gracious humility shown by Christ is also the meekness that Moses demonstrated.  This meekness leads to faithfulness.

Jesus Teaching in the Temple

The sort of faithfulness that is constant and intentional is the fidelity shown by Christ to the father and to his flock.  This faithfulness leads to intimacy.

The sort of intimacy that shares and does not control is lived by Christ in every story we read about him.  This intimacy leads to mercy.

The sort of mercy that is compassion is personified by Christ.  This mercy leads to authority.

The sort of authority vested in Christ is the same authority we are granted when we follow Christ.  This authority leads to power.

This power is everlasting.  It comes from the father, is explained to us by the prophets, and is lived for us by Christ.

Moses is a personification of the Old Covenant, Jesus is the New.  God entrusts Christ’s honor to those who are meek, merciful and in intimate relationship with him.

Here is a valuable lesson for us.  Let us take it in today . . . and ponder it.


A re-post from November 1, 2011.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.867-868. Print.   

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part III

The Sadducees

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do we fear . . . and why?

We reflect on the story of the early apostles (Acts 5) as they remain faithful to Christ while suffering and rejoicing with equal energy and passion. When we open ourselves to God’s generosity, we come away refreshed and encouraged with the news that when we respond to the call to do God’s work, we know that we quickly find God in the obstacles that surround us.  We know that we are Rocks in company with Peter; we know that we can serve as foundations of the living temple; we see that we are able confront corrupt authority; we can rejoice in our suffering to bringing truth and light to the world.

When we reflect on this story, we understand that a small group of the faithful, through the power and love of the risen Christ, successfully challenges the old guard. We realize that the Sadducees are afraid to order a sentence of death on these Jesus-followers because they fear the people will revolt. They fear the power of the Spirit.

There is irony in this story. Those who inflict fear on others eventually experience fear themselves. This we see the power of the Spirit unfold, rising from fear to bring us peace. This,we begin to understand, is the gift of salvific suffering.

And so today we ask ourselves, what do we fear, and why?

Tomorrow, how do we suffer with Christ?

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Luke 21:14-15: Remember

Wednesday, November 30, 2016getty_rm_photo_of_finger_with_string

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (NABRE)

This advice goes against the grain of modern society. Smartphones bring an Internet of knowledge to our fingertips; they also bring false reports and charlatans.

Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters. (MSG)

Our egos want to depend on data provided by polls and surveys; and these data may lead to inaccurate conclusions and foolish decisions.

Make up your minds ahead of time not to worry about how you will defend yourselves, because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say. (GNT)

Power and fame, accolades and wealth bring false confidence; and none of these protect us as does the wisdom of Jesus. None of these can save as does the Living God.

So make up your minds not to worry, rehearsing your defense beforehand; for I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no adversary will be able to resist or refute. (CJB)

Anxiety brings us false worry. Faith in the wisdom of the Spirit brings us hope. Anger affirms false power. Love brings us the eternal peace of Christ.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we find new reason to reason to remember the wisdom and promise of Christ.

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Matthew 9:32-34: The Mute

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tissot: Jesus heals a Mute Man Possessed by Demons

Tissot: Jesus heals a Mute Man Possessed by Demons

The crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.”

As always, when goodness happens, evil will be lurking nearby, looking for an opportunity to douse the light, hoping that the darkness will take over. When we have no moral compass night and day look the same to us. Truth and lies have no boundaries. Deceit and honesty are difficult to discern. The innocent suffer as the wily take over. But this describes the world in which we live. In the Kingdom, the Beatitudes hold sway . . . the broken-hearted, the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, those who mourn and suffer persecution, the merciful, the pure of heart, those reviled in the name of goodness . . . all of these have value.

When we are confused or frustrated by the events around us we might turn to Matthew 5 to the new Rules for the Road that Jesus gives us so clearly. The inversion of values will not make sense to the unscrupulous or greedy, but what do we do when we are up against those who cheat a system meant for good or who look out only for themselves? How do we address such darkness? And must we speak or act when confronted by violence that takes advantage of the innocent?

Today we read about Jesus bring speech to a man who could not speak and we see that the crowds were amazed for never before had they seen such authority used to heal someone afflicted and disadvantaged. Those in power, on the other hand, are alarmed. We know the end of this story as does Jesus; still, he moves forward with his acts of healing, opening eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear. Are we as willing as he is to step into the darkness, bearing the light of The Word?

We are not Jesus, we tell ourselves. We are not expected to interfere with those who hold so much authority and power, we say as we comfort one another, so we will let someone else speak up. But is this the case? Are we – who have the gift of speech and the ability to use it – expected to remain mute in fear and confusion when we have the Beatitudes to guide us? Or might we use the words the Spirit gives us to bring clarity to obfuscation? Might we use our strength in Christ to shed light in the darkness? Might we use the power of Christ’s love, in solidarity with others, to bring about kingdom moments in a world waiting for freedom and honesty?

We have this to ponder today as we compare the translation above with other versions using the scripture link and drop-down menus. 

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imam at Mass

Iman Sami Salem during Mass in Rome

Matthew 8:4: Tell No One

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Scholars speculate about Jesus’ request that those he cures tell no one about their healing. We find this request in a number of places in Matthew: 12:15-16, 16:20, 17:9 and we notice that neither Jesus nor Matthew rebuke the exuberance of those who receive Jesus’ gift. In the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY we find this statement: “[T]hough Jesus did not seek to attain ‘celebrity status’ for his miraculous powers, the effects of his works were simply too marvelous to be kept a secret”. (Meeks 881)

Perhaps we need to point this out to those who are our sports and entertainment icons. Celebrity is a gift to be treasured and used well.

monk and imam

Catholic monk welcomes Muslim worshipers in a church in Nice

Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. (Matthew 12:15-16) Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:20)

In the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary tells us that, “To this [Matthew] adds a full citation from the First Servant Song (Is 42, 1-4) . . . emphasizing the meekness of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, and foretelling the extension of his mission to the Gentiles”. (Senior 26)

Perhaps we need to point this out to those who would be our social or political leaders. Power is strongest when used in service to the poor and broken.  

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)

Others speculate that Jesus was waiting until a particular moment to reveal his true nature to the world. Again from the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary: “[O]nly in the light if Jesus’ resurrection can the meaning of his life and mission be truly understood; until then no testimony to the vision will lead people to faith”. (Senior 37)

Perhaps we need to point this out to our religious leaders. Influence is purest when used in the Spirit of the Living God.

And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. (Mark 8:27-30)

muslims catholics procession

Muslim faithful walk behind a religious man as they attend Mass in tribute to slain priest

Jesus asks his closest followers to refrain from announcing his presence to the world. From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE commentary: “Jesus acknowledges this identification [as messiah] but prohibits [the disciples] from making his messianic office known to avoid confusing it with ambiguous contemporary ideas on the nature of that office”. (Senior 81)

Perhaps we need to point this out to ourselves. Humility, sacrifice, and an authentic reverence for the Way that the Living God asks us to live. These are the marks of authentic leaders and followers. 

Our modern society and instant global communication have brought a new tension to our lives; but they have also brought a rapid means of connecting with others in a positive and healing way. We must look for constructive strategies to form solidarity with those who carry the good fruits of Christ’s story into the world. “Tell no one,” Jesus said in the beginning of the ministry. Now that his resurrection has begun the transformation of the world, we must not lose heart. Now we must tell everyone we know the Good News that Jesus is among us, calling each of us to a life of faith, hope, peace and love.

Reprepsentatives of the Muslim comunity go to Catholic Mass at Milan's Santa Maria

Representatives of the Muslim community go to Catholic Mass at Milan’s Santa Maria

Today, let us consider an act of solidarity we might make with others as we speak to our own entertainment, sports, political, social, and spiritual leaders and ask for lasting peace that transforms society.

After the shocking murder of an elderly Catholic priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, in France, the web brings us pictures and words of Muslims joining Christians in Catholic liturgies. For more on how these religious leaders work for solidarity in the name of peace, click on the images above or see: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36936658 or  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/muslims-pray-catholics-french-priest-murder-160731131924563.html 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.   

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Psalm 47: Applause!applause-stop-motion-w350x222

Saturday, July 16, 2016

This ancient hymn is replete with images of strength; God is mighty, subdues all, sets us at the head of the line! Who could not want to follow a God like this? There must be a catch, we say to ourselves. Perhaps there is.

What is the real cost of following God who subjects all to one will? And are we ready to pay the full price? Are we willing to applause this one at any cost to ourselves? In the New Testament Jesus more fully explains the living God.

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:5) Is this a rebuke we can celebrate in ourselves?

I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Matthew 19:24) Is this a thinking we can cheer?

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5:44) Is this a command we can follow?

The powerful, Old Testament Yahweh becomes the thoughtful, meek Jesus who speaks and heals with authority. When we say we want to follow God, what is our image? Whom do we obey? Which version of power do we choose to worship? And whom do we praise?

Tomorrow, spiritual maturity.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we being to understand their impact on our lives. We begin to see what it is we applaud . . . and why.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part II

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cornelis de Vos: KIng David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Cornelis de Vos: King David handing the Scepter to Solomon

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . . 

As we move from childhood to maturity, we take on commitments and we either fulfill or turn away from promises. As we seize control of as many facets of our lives as possible, we also strive for success as the world around us identifies it. And somewhere in the blur of activity and struggle, they is always the chance that we might move away from the core of who and what we are.

In the story of David and Solomon we find two men, and the women who surround them, scrabble to come out on top and in front, surrounded by security, relaxing into comfort. The details of David’s anointing and rise, his battles with both his enemies and King Saul he has pledged to serve, are all benchmarks in David’s life. So are his interactions with Michal and Bathsheba, and the prophet Nathan. David’s son Solomon must also struggle against heavy odds to survive into adulthood and to assume his father’s seat of power; but later he succumbs to the wishes of others and the lure of success and fame. Details of a temple are laid out and even include specifics about music, vessels and decorations. Life at court attracts both those who support and those who tear down what once was full of hope.

How do we arrive at the peak of power in our lives? What do we store up for the journey ahead and what do we jettison? What do we tend to and what do we ignore? Does our relationship with God grow or diminish? Have we found wisdom that nourishes and serenity that heals . . . and do these gifts from God even matter to us?

Today we take time to examine our lives to see how or if we have followed God’s lead in the living of our hours on earth, and to examine the kind of kingdom we have been building. We consider what we have set aside as having great value and what we have cast off as holding us down. And we discover, in the many relationships and encounters we have experienced, that both our storehouse and the debris we leave behind reveal a great deal about who and what we have become.

The two books of Chronicles have four major portions: a genealogy of our leaders beginning with Abraham (1 Chronicles 1-9), a description of the monarchy under David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 9 – 2 Chronicles 9), the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10-18), and the period from Hezekiah to the Babylonian exile (2 Chronicles 19-36). This story of divine promise interwoven with human commitment and infidelity tell a story that we might see reflected in our own personal sacred history. This story is worthy of our time over the next few days.

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