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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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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prayer[1]Daniel 10:12

Visions

Fear not.  From the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. 

The prophecy of Daniel is full of metaphor, symbolism and mystery and yet it is in this prophecy that we see the coming of the Son of Man predicted. (Daniel 7:13 and 8:17) Today we reprise the mysterious vision that presages so much fear and so much hope.

God says: I see that you are determined to follow me and this brings me joy.  I also see the pitfalls and obstacles in your way and this brings me sorrow.  I abide with you as always.  I accompany you through fire, pain and death.  I raise you up when you are fallen.  I restore you when are spent.  I rescue you when fire consumes you.  Did I not save my servant Daniel?  Are you not as important as he?  Read this story of Daniel and humble yourself as Daniel does.  Trust in me as this young man does.  Acquire knowledge of me as this young prophet does for you are destined to be as significant as any prophet of mine in the days of old.  Each of you is precious in my eyes.  Each of you has the potential to prophesy for me.  Each of you is welcome to take refuge in the limitless safety of my most sacred heart.  When you shelter with me your smallness expands to the boundless horizons of my mind.  When you remain in me your fears and anxieties become the sinews of my protective arms.  When you act in me your tears and sorrows dissolve into mists that nourish the dry nights of the soul.  Read about Daniel’s visions today, bring me requests, and give yourself hope for many tomorrows.  Know that I hear every prayer you utter in the turmoil of the day, in the shadows of night, in the company for friends or in the solitary stillness of your heart. 

To further explore the visions of Daniel, enter his name in the blog search bar and choose another reflection.


Image from: http://impactwithprayer.blogspot.com/2011/04/god-hears-our-prayers.html

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020

3431916072_4ff4bd224e[1]Micah 2:12

Believing the Promise

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not insist on our own agendas.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not allow fear to rise in our throats.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more open to reconciliation.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more willing to intercede for our enemies.

I will gather you . . . We are sheep lost in the folds of the mountainside knowing that the scorching heat of summer and the freezing rains of winter will surely kill us off unless God the creator protects us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will eagerly follow the plans God has laid out.

Each and every one . . . We cannot judge our companions on life’s road because we are not in charge and we do not have the right to countermand Christ’s universal call.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will willingly be more accepting of those whose idiosyncrasies drive us wild.

I will assemble all the remnant . . . We need to practice the art of persevering patiently knowing that those who persist will reap the harvest with the Spirit.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will find the courage and strength to endure in love as we are asked to do.

Like a herd in the midst of the corral . . . We must see that we are not left out in the wild as we believe but rather we are always in the loving care of the Father who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who guides us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will put our fears to rest; our anxieties will not take hold of us and we will be led to a place of peace that knows no limits.

They shall not be thrown into panic . . . We must remember that terror is of human making and does not come from God; dread has no power over us unless we bow to its influence.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be less quick to criticize our own and one another’s weaknesses.

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be better able to live as Christ does . . . in patience . . . while persevering . . . with the Spirit . . . always trying to act in accord with God’s plan . . . in love.

Amen.


First written on June 9, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willingBut for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


Image from: https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/news/2020/04/supporting-vulnerable-residents-easter-weekend

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009. 

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Judith 13: Slaying Holofernes

Judith teaches us about courage, fidelity, and divine providence.  She shows us clearly the strength of women, the power of faithfulness through duress, the results of steady, enduring, immutability . . . and the gift of God’s abiding presence.  Judith instructs us on the results of constancy and the privilege of discipleship.

In this particular chapter, we see Judith carry out the final stages of her plan . . . and I am always intrigued by the fact that none of Holofernes’ soldiers see anything suspicious about two women leaving the camp and the reason for this is that from the first night of her stay Judith makes it clear that she and her maid will go out to pray each evening.  For this reason their escape route is made through their accustomed daily commitment to God (12:5-9).

It is also clear that Holofernes’ principle error is seeing women as sexual objects.  The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken.  He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.  (12:16) Neither this man – nor anyone in his inner circle – sees the true significance of the presence of this quiet, beautiful, spiritual woman in their midst.  And they pay for this blindness with the loss of life and the loss of the campaign they have planned against the people of Bethulia.

What can we learn from this today?  How can we take this lesson into our own lives and honor it?  What is it about Judith’s conduct that speaks of her so well?

This story – when read from beginning to end – is full of unexpected twists.  And so is life.  This story – when we take the time to examine it more fully – can startle us and even repel us with its stark reality and violence.  And so can life.  This story – when reflected upon in the context of the coming of Christ – brings us the expectation of restoration, justice and joy.  And so does life.  This story brings us the gift of constancy, a gift we receive through our own discipleship.

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

What do we do against life’s twists and turns and ironies?  We remain constant, we abide with God, we fear less and we pray endlessly.  We empty ourselves of ego and pride . . . and we allow God to complete and fill us.  We act – just as Judith did – from a custom of constantly walking and praying with God.

Good, merciful and just Creator, we place ourselves in your hands each day at our rising.  We carry you with us throughout each day.  We return to you each evening just as we return to family, home and hearth.  Abide with us this day and all days, just as you accompanied Judith and her maid into the enemy’s camp.  Abide with us each evening as we walk out to the ravine to pray with you, just as Judith and her maid were accustomed to doing.  We seek you, just as Judith sought you.  We bring to you our worries and fears, just as these women did.  May we too remain constant to you in our prayers and in our actions.  May we too know the triumph and the peace which comes from abiding with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


If you have time to read more about Judith’s story and reflect on her importance in our lives today, enter her name in the search box on this blog and spend time with her.  Or open your Bible to this book and begin her story in Judith 8.  For background, and to better understand the context, begin reading from Chapter 1.   For an online commentary, click on the model of ancient Jerusalem above.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/220px-cristofano_allori_0021.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/reconstruction_model_of_ancient_jerusalem_in_museum_of_david_castle1.jpg

First written on July 27, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Third Sunday of Easter. April 26, 2020

Sacred-Breath_Humanity-Healing[1]Matthew 9:27-34: Healing

In this passage Jesus cures three people.  This compassion brings him into confrontation with the authorities who question the source of his power to heal.  Despite the accusation from the Pharisees that his energy comes from the dark world of the prince of demons Jesus persists, knowing that his actions rise from the goodness of God within.  We also have the opportunity to enter into this goodness, into this God-ness, when we enter into Christ.

From ALL WILL BE WELL by Julian of Norwich: “Because of God’s great love for humanity, he does not make a distinction in love between Christ and the least creature.  It is easy enough to believe that the blessed spirit of Christ is high in the glorious Godhead; but, as I have seen, where the blessed spirit of Christ dwells, there dwell in him the spirits of all who will be saved.  So let us rejoice greatly that God dwells within us.  Let us rejoice even further that we dwell within God.  For our spirits are made to be God’s resting place, and our spirits’ rest is in God who is unmade.  Great it is to know in our hearts that God, who is our Maker, rests in our spirits.  But far greater is it to know in our hearts, our spirits, which are made, rest in God.  Buy that substance, we are who we are!  I beheld no difference between God and our substance.  All was God, as it were.  Yet, I knew that our substance is in God.  In other words, God is God, and we are creatures in God”.

Teilhard de Chardin, a 20th century French paleontologist, priest and philosopher wrote frequently that we human beings persist in thinking that we are bodies walking around with a spirit when really we are spirits moving around in bodies.  The physical world we see and move in is unreal, it is an illusion; it is the mysterious, intangible, spiritual world that is real and eternal.  Perhaps this is why we find the story of Christ so baffling and sometimes unbelievable.  We have things upside down.

Our spirit is made to be God’s resting place.  It is for this reason that Jesus has the power to dispose of any illness or affliction that assails us.  God is the creator of all.

Our spirit is made to be God’s resting place.  It is for this reason that God tends to us and calls us constantly to goodness.  We are made in God’s image.

Our spirit is made to be God’s resting place.  It is for this reason that the Holy Spirit abides within to comfort our anxious minds.  We are precious in the eyes of God.

Our spirit is made to be God’s resting place.  God makes no distinction between Christ and the least soul.  Imagine the good we might do, the sorrow we might heal, the transformation we might find, when we live with this mantra in mind.

Our spirit is made to be God’s resting place.  So let us open our thoughts, our hearts, and our souls to Christ . . . and to the work he has in mind for us today.  To whom might we restore sight?  To whom might we give voice?  When we find ourselves confronting the Pharisees of our day, let us remember our mantra so that we might step forward untroubled to pick up the work of God’s hands.


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

Written on August 18, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://humanityhealing.net/2011/09/sacred-breath/

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Saturday, April 25, 2020

cr_julianSirach 10:19-30: Possibilities

Again from Julian of Norwich: “God intends our prayer and trust to be magnanimous.  If we do not trust as much as we pray, we do not honor God fully, and we place obstacles in our path.  This happens because we do not realize that God himself is in the ground of our praying.  Our very ability to pray is a gift of his loving grace.  We cannot ask for mercy and grace unless they have first been extended to us.  Sometimes, it seems after praying a long time that we have received no answer.  We should not let this disturb us.  God simply wishes us to wait for a more suitable time, or for more grace, or for a better gift.  Furthermore, just as we experience God drawing us to him, so should we pray that we will be drawn toward him.  It is not sufficient to do one without the other.  If we pray, but do not see that God is at work, we become dejected and downcast and so do him no honor.  And if after we see him at work, but do not pray, we do less than our duty.  But to see that he works, and to pray that he works, gives God worship and benefits us.  When we pray thus, we will think we have done nothing.  But if we do what we can, seeking mercy and grace, we shall discover in him all that is deficient in us”.

Today’s Noontime calls us to think about how we honor and glorify God in our lives, and how we honor and glorify one another.  Julian of Norwich reminds us that all will be well when all rests in God and when we take everything to God in prayer; for it is out of this meditation and prayer that our actions rise.  Today’s reading and the words from Julian of Norwich above ask that we go a step beyond our normal comfortable zone of thinking and doing. They ask us to risk, to trust, to believe, to hope and to love as Jesus loves.  They ask us to dream and imagine all the possibilities which are open to us . . . because once we enter into union with God all things are possible. Once we become meek as Jesus is meek, all things are possible.  Once we bring our weariness and brokenness to God all things are possible . . . and all will be well.

Tomorrow, healing . . .


First written on August 10, 2009.  Revised and posted today. 

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

For more information about Julian of Norwich, click on the image above or go to the following links: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-constant-seeker-julian-of-norwich or http://aquariumofvulcan.blogspot.com/2012/05/julian-of-norwich.html or  http://campusministry.georgetown.edu/119652.html

To reflect on how God’s promises are always greater than our hopes, go to: http://www.discerninghearts.com/?p=1714

 

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Friday, January 17, 2013

Deuteronomy 5: Speaking with God

We have heard his voice from the midst of the fire and we have found out today that a man can still live after God has spoken with him.

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Moses acts as mediator for the Chosen People because they believe that anyone who sees the face of God and hears his voice must live no more. This thinking changes when Jesus acts and moves among his people to heal their wounds and cure their anxieties.  This thinking is altered with Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This new idea of a God among us transforms our human fear if we only allow it.  Christ becomes our new arbiter with God, interceding for us with our petitions before the Father.

Like the Hebrews, we also have the opportunity to hear the voice of God.  We might see his face in those who live as Christ asks; but perhaps like the Hebrews, we are a bit afraid to approach the Holy Presence to petition favor.  What we read today tells us that we need not dread God’s presence, and we need not hesitate to ask Jesus for his help . . . this is what he awaits – our realization that he loves us more than we can imagine.

Prayer is the best way to hear the voice of the Creator, Redeemer, and Consoler, and God has advice for us that is better than any offered by any human.   We may not have time for formal, liturgical prayer.  We may not feel comfortable in communal prayer.  We may find that individual prayer lacks direction and intensity.  However, whatever our condition or opinion regarding prayer, we must address all obstacles to it . . . for this is the only way to reach the serenity that God promises, the peace that Christ purchases, and the love that the Holy Spirit offers.

Today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation is taken from words of Teresa of Ávila regarding prayer.  The good that one who practices prayer possesses . . . is that in spite of any wrong they who practice prayer do, they must not abandon prayer since it is the means by which they remedy the situation; and to remedy it without prayer would be much more difficult.

This does not mean to say that those who pray each day have a magical entrée to God’s presence and favor; but what it does say to us is that people who pray daily have a place to take the stresses that come to bear on them as they maneuver their daily obstacle course . . . and that place is God.

We might wish that God would show us a physical smoking presence with a loud booming voice as the Lord does with the Hebrews in today’s reading . . . but would this be more helpful than that quiet voice which speaks to us from behind to which Isaiah refers in 30:21?

We might wish we had stone tablets on which are written God’s words clearly . . . but is this more loving than God’s writing on our hearts as Jeremiah predicts in 31:33?

Teresa of Ávila tells us that she trusts in God’s mercy and love; she perseveres in prayer through the dry times in order to maintain contact with this God of compassion and peace.  When we struggle with our own desire to know God intimately and to commune with him daily, we will know that we are not unique . . . for holy and saintly people have their doubts, their fears and their anxiety when they speak with God.  We can do no worse and no better than this then, to listen for the voice of God . . . a God who loves us in spite of any wrong we commit.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28.5(2010): 385-386. Print.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Written on May 28, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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