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Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit

Monday, February 6, 2023

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

The second chapter of Acts contains the description of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the joy and enthusiasm of the apostles. This bursting forth from the Upper Room, this settling into communal life, this might be the description of the initiation of any intimate relationship that begins with fire and energy to settle into a constant, abiding love. Joy settling into constancy returning to joy again.  This is what we seek.  This is what God seeks.  Why do we so often forget this?

There is an image in today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection which describes how the tiny particles of smoke fog our vision.  It continues with the thought that as we seek God through the haze, we pray for one another, and in so doing we exhibit our faith and longing for God.  God sees and recognizes this. Father Men tells us that then all of us will ascend toward the Lord, as if holding onto that prayer. This is the main thing – the rest will follow – but this is essential to our lives. Then Jesus, seeing our faith, will say to all those for whom we have been praying: “My child, awake from your sleep and your sickness, from your palsy, your spiritual paralysis; arise, your sins are forgiven you”.

The image of the apostles who gathered in fear and spiritual paralysis in the Upper Room to pray as they consoled one another is strong as we read this chapter of Acts. These early disciples are rewarded for their faith, for turning to God. They receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that their ardor never flags. We, too, receive this Spirit. We, too, are loved. We, too, are lifted up in joy to our God. May our own desire and zeal for the Lord never falter.


A Favorite from March 3, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.3 (2008). Print.  

Image from: https://faithinourfamilies.com/2014/06/07/pentecost-year-a-the-coming-of-the-holy-spirit/

 

 

 

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Philippians 4:4-14: God’s Yardstick – Paul

Whatever is Truetruth

Saturday, January 28, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

Paul writes his story of the good news in his letters to Christian communities he establishes, and in the acts of love recorded in Acts of the Apostles. What does he tell us about the measure with which God measures?

Paul urges the followers of Christ to celebrate always . . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 

Paul asks that we share Christ’s goodness with all we meet and in all we do and say . . .

Let your gentle spirit be known to all.

Paul urges the followers of Christ to rely on prayer . . .

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer.

Paul reminds us to put our petitions in the creator’s hands . . .

Let your requests be made known to God.

Paul advises us to focus only on Christ . . .

Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul gives a yardstick that is strong, concise, simple and elegant . . .

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

When we explore Paul’s letters we find a consistent, clear message. This is a yardstick we will want to use. It is a yardstick we will want to share with others.

Tomorrow, James.


Image from: http://www.viralnovelty.net/wake-know-truth/

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James 5:16-18: Our Common Practice

Thursday, November 10, 2022prayer

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

God says: Be honest with one another and you will find depths of rich love you have not taken in to account. Speak gently with one another and you will find strength in abundance. Make it your habit to set out each morning to do only what is good and holy and just. Pause at noon to check in with me as you day continues to unwind. Return home each evening and offer me all of your works – both the good and the not so good. If you have a restless night, spend time in prayer with me and I will bring you rest. Through your days and nights stay with me as your common practice and see what wonders I can perform in and through you.

When we make a list of all we wish to do, have many of the items involve God? When we make a list of our accomplishments, how many can we say embrace God? When we examine our relationships with others . . . how many show a loving and nurturing harvest for God?

Enter the words God Time in the blog search bar and as we explore other posts we might consider how much time we spend with our creator as our common practice.


Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238268636521604678/

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James 2: Faith and Wisdom – Part IV

Wednesday, October 12, 2022faithblocks

From the Book of Wisdom 7:7-11: I prayed and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepter and throne, and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire. Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, and I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep. Yet all good things came to me in her company, and countless riches to hand.

God’s wisdom is greater than silver or gold, more treasured than gems, beauty, or health. Prudence, prayer, and daily orientation to God’s ways bring us to God’s love.

Both Abraham and Rahab recognize that faith must be lived and not merely thought; they see that with care and practice we learn to act with God’s wisdom. They understand that through faith interwoven with works we receive God’s countless riches to hand.

Today we conclude the second chapter of James’ letter with a prayer as we reflect on how God’s wisdom becomes evident . . . through the interweaving of our offering of faith and works. And so we pray.

Faith-and-worksDear Lord, we will have to remember that our goal is not to be powerful or popular as the world so often tells us. Continue to remind us that our goal must be to act as you act, with mercy, humility and compassion. Continue to share your presence with us and keep us always close to you. Help us to integrate with you through our daily practice of prayer and works. And continue to shower on us your countless riches of love. Amen.


Images from: http://www.catholicbryan.org/blog/faith-and-works/ and http://bensternke.com/why-we-have-to-learn-faith-before-wisdom/

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Colossians 4:1-6The Apostolic Spiritcolossians-4-2-ipad-christian-wallpaper-prayer-pray-always-continuously-bible-lock-screens

Thursday, September 22, 2022

If we are ever in doubt as to how we are to behave or how we are to act in any situation, today’s brief reflection tells us all we need to know . . . the Apostolic Spirit resides in our prayer and speech.

An apostle is watchful, thankful, perseveres in prayer and remains open to hearing the Word.

An apostle remains open to speaking this Word to others, and will also make the most of [every] opportunity to speak to outsiders. 

Apostles live the mystery they are given. Apostles trust the creator in all circumstances. Apostles bring hope to hopeless situations. Apostles rebuke gently, love mercifully and always remain open to possibilities.

Apostles cannot carry this spirit in their hearts to hoard it for themselves. This spirit must be shared.

Apostles cannot remain silent when they are called speak.

Apostles cannot perform their mission alone; they must pray constantly and with others.

colossians_4_2--white-800x800And so we pray:

God in heaven, God on earth, we know that we are your instruments for justice among your people. Speak to us today.

Joyful Christ, burdened Jesus, we know that you carry us up mountains and down on our journey. Pray for us today.

Holy Spirit, Loving Spirit, we know that you abide with always when we cry and when we laugh. Renew in us your Apostolic Spirit today. 

May our lives enact the mercy and justice which we are shown. May we be the conveyors of Christ to the world.  Amen.

 


Images from: https://www.idisciple.org/post/verse-of-the-day-colossians-4-2

A Favorite from September 15, 2008.

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2 Corinthians 11:1-29: False Apostlesunmaskinghypocrite

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Paul contrasts apostles of the light with those of the dark in today’s reading.  As we have before in our Noontime journey, we know that evil is everywhere, present in the many small and big ways that we allow division to happen within ourselves and within our communities.  Wherever difference occurs, demons and their works flourish.  Using the most insidious of methods, false prophets take on the guise of protection and guidance but they deliver deception and manipulation.  We can feel Paul’s frustration in his words today.

For a detailed commentary we can look at notes; as an overview we might consider these words from yesterday’s Evening Prayer in MAGNIFICAT, and we might use them in a prayer offering to God this evening. The mini-reflection: We can use our treasured capacity for speech to offer prayer as fragrant as incense before God or to offer hurt to another.  Psalm 19:15: May the spoken words of my mouth, the thoughts of my heart, win favor in your sight, O Lord.  Psalm 141: I have called to you, Lord; hasten to help me!  Hear my voice when I cry to you.  Let my prayer arise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.  Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips!  Do not turn my heart to things that are wrong, to evil deeds with men who are sinners.  Never allow me to share in their feasting.  If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness; but let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head.  To you, Lord God, my eyes are turned: in you I take refuge.

Both the psalmist and Paul recognize the power of words, those which we say and those we hear.  They also recognize our human need to be in society, to share meals, time, problems and prayer.  They know that evil and goodness live side by side and that it is often difficult to discern the difference between the two.

As we struggle to determine if the apostles we follow are true or false, as we struggle to remain faithful apostles of Christ rather than the false apostles Paul describes for us today, we pray.

Loving and patient God, we lift our prayer to you like incense in the night. May our prayers be pleasing to you.

Knowing and persistent God, we struggle to discern the difference between false and true leaders. May our eyes see with your wisdom and love.

Faithful and just God, we abide with and in your Spirit. May our hearts be always open to you.

Strong and compassionate Christ, we look to you as a model of how we are to act in the world. May our hands and feet be willing followers of your Way.

We ask this today and all days. Amen. 


In different versions, Psalm 19 has a varying number of verses. Use the link above go to the last verse in this psalm for other translations.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.10(2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2009.

Image from: http://fortheloveofhistruth.com/category/false-teachers/

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Matthew 6:5-15: Living Stonesjerusalem-stones-ad-70_dsc03928lmauldin

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

We are to each be living stones in the living temple of the Christ’s risen body. We are here to work on whatever we need to tend to in order that we may become better stones. We are to speak with God each day through our clear and simple prayer life.

When you pray, do not be like hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in their house of worship or on the street corner so that others may see them.

Posing like actors does not bring us solace or reward.

Go to your inner room, close the door, pray to the creator in secret.

Avoiding prayer because we are too preoccupied or busy leaves us at the mercy of the world.

Do not babble like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words. The creator knows what is best for you before you ask.

Prattling before pagan desires will only bring us a hollow and shallow life.

Our Father, who art in heaven . . .

Jesus teaches us this most perfect of prayers.

Let us spend time with these verses today to look at differing versions and, after examining our own prayer life, let us determine to make whatever change is necessary so that we are living stones in the temple of God’s presence. Let us determine to draw ever closer to God’s dream and hope for us.

Click on the image above for a reflection on Jesus’ interaction with his church hierarchy. 

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching on fasting.


Image from: https://leonmauldin.blog/2011/08/22/not-one-stone-upon-another/

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Friday, October 8, 2021

colossians worthyColossians 1:9-12

Worthiness

We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please God in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and[ patience; joyously giving thanks to the Creator, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

It is a simple task to search a Bible Concordance to look for the verses that reference the quality of worth. Both Old and New Testaments give us insight; the letters of Paul alone serve as a springboard for understanding. We might search dictionaries or leaf through entries in a thesaurus to arrive at a better appreciation of what it means to be worthy of God; multiple connotations referencing financial, personal and social worth give us a great deal to ponder.

As we go through our busy days to rest weary heads on tired pillows, we may often wonder about the concept of worth. If we are stressed in our workplace or neighborhood we may feel undervalued or over-used. If we struggle with family difficulty we might speculate about the worth of demanding relationships. In all of this tussling and turmoil there is one sacred place in which we can find rest . . . and St. Paul reminds us of this today.

We have not ceased to pray for you . . . and so we pray for one another.

Be filled with the knowledge of God’s will . . . and so we rest in the knowledge that God sees and understands all that we experience.

Spiritual wisdom and understanding . . . and so we spend time each day asking God for guidance and protection.

Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God . . . and so we witness to the Gospel and look for clarity.

Strengthened with all power . . . and so we look to God for courage.

Attaining steadfastness and patience . . . and so we ask for fidelity and wisdom.

Joyously giving thanks to the Creator . . . and so we thank God for the love placed in us.

We who share in the inheritance of the saints in light . . . and so we thank God for the worthiness engendered in us.


Use the scripture link above to compare various versions of these verses, and ponder the value of worthiness

Image from: http://gracechurchin.org/sermon/colossians-47-18/

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jeremiah5Friday, September 24, 2021

Jeremiah 45

Anguish of the Heart

“Issues of messianic hope, centering on the Davidic dynasty and the Temple, were highlighted much more in the prophetic school of Isaiah. Other prophets like Amos and Micah felt more keenly about social justice. The touch of Jeremiah shows up rather in compassion and prayer as well as in fidelity to a covenant inscribed upon the heart”. (Senior RG 314-315)

Notes from The Catholic Study Bible focus on four themes found in this prophecy.

The New Covenant: “Jeremiah’s covenant was ‘new’ only to the extent that it newly emphasized what the people were neglecting. Jeremiah was not eliminating teachers and preachers . . . but it was rejecting authoritarian styles of leadership”. (Senior RG 315)

God says: In your homes and in your workplaces, take care to deal with one another in a collegial and open manner. Include all. Exclude none. Listen to the voices you may not want to hear. They bring you a “new” truth.

Sin and Atonement: “The prophet declares realistically that sin inevitably brings its own sorrow. If the people ‘went after empty idols, [then they] became empty themselves . . . In this movement from sin to suffering, Jeremiah was never far removed from the suffering of the people . . . Hope is always stirring with the barren earth”. (Senior RG 316)

God says: When you have erred, it is best to ask forgiveness. If you have not erred and still you suffer, it is best that you bring this pain to me. Joy is always a possible result of sorrow. Hope is always present for I am always with you. Particularly when your days are dark.  

Faith and Prayer: “Jeremiah is constantly laying bare the anguish of his heart . . . God never answers Jeremiah’s question but rather expects his faith to become even sturdier. Symbolically Jeremiah is admitting that things must get worse before they get better. He will still plunge ahead”. (Senior RG 316-317)

God says: Once you ask for my help I will deliver it. This is always my promise. The difficulty arises when circumstances worsen before they improve. It is impossible for you to see what I see, hear what I hear, and know what I know. My plan takes all peoples and all times into account. You must trust me when the night darkens before the dawn. Pray with me as I pray with you. Prayer is a gift we give to one another. 

heart-cloud-2True and False Prophecy: “Jeremiah defies all pat answers for determining the credentials of an authentic prophet . . . In calling the priests and temple prophets adulterers, Jeremiah is speaking metaphorically; in their ministry they have betrayed the supreme and intimate love of God. To justify their own halfhearted and wicked ways”. (Senior RG 317)

God says: Remember to test the Spirit to see from where it comes. Remember to rely on me when doubt visits you. Remember to remain constant to the covenant promise we have gifted to one another. Each obstacle you hurdle brings you closer to me. Each burden you hand over to me brings you my compassion. Each sorrow you willingly offer to me brings you hope. Listen to my prophet. And listen to your own prophetic voice that I have planted in you. Speak and share. Act and commit. You are mine and I love you still. Do not be afraid to live in me . . . for when you live in me, you give to me all the anguish of your heart.

Tomorrow . . . oracles against the nations.


For a Jeremiah study guide, click on the image above or go to: http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/prophets/process_activity3_group3.htm

 

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