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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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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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