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Posts Tagged ‘pride’


2 Chronicles 26: Pride and Fall

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

This chapter in 2 Chronicles tells us a great deal about Uzziah, a promising man who falls when he presumes that he can be God to himself and others in the way he chooses.  He might represent the perennial flaw in humankind.

But after he had become strong, he became proud to his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.

And how did this happen?

He entered the temple of the Lord to make an offering on the altar of incense.

Why was this incorrect?

But Azariah the priest, and with him eighty other priests of the Lord, courageous men, followed him . . . saying to him: “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests . . . who have been consecrated for this purpose”. 

Today, we each bring our offerings to the Lord.  Christian liturgies often provide a time when we can offer ourselves back to God both collectively and individually. These moments give us the opportunity to be priests ourselves. They bring us the opening to enter fully into relationship with God, in our personal service to God on the manner God shows us. The Old Testament Law asks us to remain in covenant with the Lord and to serve God with burnt offerings and sacrifice. The New Testament Law of Love asks us to live the Beatitudes in an intentional way. Both Testaments bring us a yardstick with which we might measure our adherence to this law, our fulfillment of old statutes, our flowering in Christ. The presence of Christ that we bring to our troubled world.

Today’s readings in MAGNIFICAT are God’s constancy and ours.  Our fidelity to God and to one another. God’s law is not a set of arbitrary rules but the concrete shape given to the lasting covenant that God has made with human beings – broken many times by faithless people, kept from generation to generation by our God.  God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind. Even when those who love us are inconstant, we must remain constant in our love of them for in this way we reflect God’s constancy to us.

Pride calls us to our false selves. Constancy in God helps us to remain faithful in God. The story of Uzziah is one in which we may see ourselves or others puffing up in self-importance, blinding our vision to the fall that inevitably follows. God’s Law of fidelity and gratitude never fails; it brings flourishing rather than destruction. God’s laws are the statutes we teach ourselves and our children. They are the laws that open us to possibility, and that bind our hearts forever to God.

On this last Sunday before Lent, let us consider the temptation to  ignore pride in our own lives. And let us determine to remain constant and faithful to God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.2 (2008). Print.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzziah

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James 3:13-4:10: Envy

Saturday, November 12, 2022envy

“Within this call to conversion, James develops the theme of envy as exemplifying the measure of the world . . . Why is envy so singled out? Because its underlying assumption is that your gain is my loss. This is the opposite of the Spirit of the community, where all gain by anyone’s growth and all rejoice in anyone’s good fortune. Envy causes me to sorrow when another has something I lack. And when life is measured simply in terms of what I possess – ‘I am what I have’ – then for another to have and me to lack is intolerable. Envy drives the acquisitive instinct . . . the step is a short one to conflict, war, and murder, not only between individuals but also between nations . . . It is remarkable that this passage, which alone in the New Testament analyzes the causes of human conflict, should play so little role in moral discussions of war and peace”. (RG 551-552)

God says: James is correct when he tells you that envy is often at the root of your violence and anger. He is also correct when he points out that life in the Spirit means that you feel joy when one of you rejoices and sadness when one of you is in pain. Your friendship with me brings much than consolation; it brings you the ability to see the world as I see it, full of potential for goodness. I resist those who are full of pride in themselves and I nurture those who look for life in me. When you agree to live in The Way you will no longer be envious of others and you will celebrate when any one of you does well because you will understand that all good things come from me. When you are envious of others I am saddened, for your envy tells me that you do not understand my generosity. When you make war against one another I grieve,  for I can see that you do not understand my love. James is bringing my message to you . . . take time with it today.

Enter the word envy into the blog search bar and explore.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 551-552. Print.

Image from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-couch/201307/why-women-fear-envy-and-why-we-dont-need

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James 5:19-20: Harvest of Hope

Tuesday, November 1, 2022HarvestLogo

My dear friends . . .

What are we to make of James’ letter to us? How does he frame his closing remarks?

If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth . . .

And surely we must know someone who is broken or abandoned. And just as surely we will know someone who is full of pride and over-confident.

Don’t write them off . . .

thorn heart bibleThis may be difficult. James has asked us to find a way to communicate with those whose anxiety or pride have put them out of our reach; yet James admonishes us.

Go after them . . .

We have no excuses. James wants to see our faith played out in our works.

Get them back . . .

James wants to see us as wounded healers, as a light in the darkness, as salt for the earth.

And you will have rescued precious lives from destruction . . .

James urges us to bring hope to and out of those who despair and those who shun God.

And you will have prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God . . .

James urges us to look for God’s image in others. He asks that we continue to commit our work and our prayer to God as we struggle to unlock the goodness waiting to rise from so many wounded souls. He asks us to participate fully in God’s outrageous and daring harvest of hope.

Tomorrow, a prayer for harvesting hope.

Use the scripture link to find other versions of these verses from THE MESSAGE. 


Images from: https://www.catholiccharities.net/Events/RegionalEvents/HarvestofHopeDinner.aspx and https://pastorrudytlc.com/2019/03/04/lent-and-love/

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1 Peter 5: At the Right Timetime-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-for-desktop-background-download-free

Monday, May 9, 2022

Yesterday we considered the ancient words of the timeless covenant we share with God. Today we consider the words of Peter, a pastor who knows both this covenant and God’s people well.

All of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people . . .

As we move through the coming hours, as we strive to be just plain, let us remove all judgment and anxiety from our thoughts.

Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; God will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; God is most careful with you . . .

As we move though the coming days, as we hope to put away airs and place ourselves in God’s strong hand, let us remove all recrimination and revenge from our actions.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up . . .

devil is a lionAs we move though the coming weeks, as we remember to keep a cool head when all around us seem to be losing theirs, let us work at remaining always in Christ.

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world . . .

As we move though the coming months, as we work to remain always one in the Spirit, let us remind one another that we are not alone.

So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. 

As we move though the coming year, as we struggle to put our suffering in its proper place and proportion, let us unite with neighbors and enemies and remember that God will move us forward . . . in God’s best and most promising time.


These verses are from THE MESSAGE version of Scripture. Use the scripture link above to compare these verses with other versions and discover God’s intimate message of continued Easter joy. 

Images from: http://homes-kid.com/clocks-wallpaper.html and http://biblia.com/bible/esv/1%20Peter%205.8

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lamp in darkTuesday, December 7, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Evil

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today joy surprises us in the midst of evil.

In this second week in Advent we continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts even in the most surprising of circumstances.

Verse 13:9: The light of the just gives joy, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

Verse 21:15: When justice is done it is a joy for the just, downfall for evildoers.

Verse 29:6: The sin of the wicked is a trap, but the just run along joyfully.

joyGod says: When you experience every kind of evil – greed, anger, pride, lust, envy, gluttony or sloth – you need not devise a plan to combat these forces of darkness. You need only rest in me. Christ shows you which way to walk. The Spirit gives you the words you are to use. And I, the Creator, give you strength and stamina beyond your imaginings. Only rest in me. In this way you find joy in the darkest of days and my joy in you is a lamp that pierces all darkness.

Tomorrow, God’s joy will surprise us even in bitterness.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://www.boazbaptist.com/alampinthedarkvideo.htm

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joyMonday, November 15, 2021

Job

Joy and the Storm

The Books of Wisdom call us to fidelity; they give us a reason to come together in outrageous hope; and they call us to love as God loves, with compassion, patience and understanding. This sapiential literature offers us the miracle and wonder of joy. If today’s exploration of the Book of Job calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of turmoil, travail and turbulence.

If the story of Job is unfamiliar to us, we will want to spend time with notes and commentary. If the story is a familiar one, we will know where to look for the verses that bring hope to the hopeless and joy to the joyless. In either case, the verses offered below give us a door to the miracle of joy found in the tempest of life.

Verse 5:11: Yes, it is God who raises the humble and gives joy to all who mourn.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Job and His Friends

Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Job and His Friends

God says: My son Jesus tells you that I am always with the broken-hearted, the down-trodden, the oppressed and forsaken. He brings this promise to you daily. Jesus also shows you how humility and patience bring not woe but joy. Open the story of my servant Job and you will see how he persists in loving me even when he has nothing. Open your heart to the authority of Christ within you and you will experience joy in the stormy days of your life.

Verse 8:19: Yes, that’s all the joy evil people have; others now come and take their places.

God says: My Spirit cannot be contained or owned; yet she inhabits all there is and was and will be. The Spirit abides, consoles, heals and mends. The Spirit engenders joy even in the midst of the storm and the swirl of deceit. The Spirit fashions joy out of cruelty and dishonesty. The Spirit creates joy in the face of pride and haughtiness. Open your heart to the power of the Spirit within you and will find joy in the dark nights of your journey.

Verse 22:26: Then you will always trust in God and find that he is the source of your joy.

job (1)God says: I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the beginning and the end. I am the source and summit. I am the impetus and the goal. I am. And I am within you. Open your heart to the power of my love within you and unleash the joy that conquers all evil. Open your heart to the miracles I create for you and discover the full power of my presence. Like my servant Job, you will experience joy in the most dire of circumstances and the most horrific of situations. Examine his story today and look for the dawn that always follows the deep darkness of overpowering storms. 

Verse 38:7: In the dawn of the day of creation the stars sang together, and the heavenly beings shouted for joy.

Blake: Job's Tormentors

William Blake: Job’s Tormentors

Job suffers every kind of humiliation and pain at the hands of Satan; yet he survives and is fully restored as God’s wondrous creation. We too, are God’s creation and so today we ask for the gift of fidelity to God’s call, for the grace of God’s hope that brings us patience, and the presence of God’s love that is the miracle of joy we seek.


Images from:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joyWednesday, November 10, 2021

Esther 8

Joy and Intrigue

Much like the Book of Judith, the story of Esther is another that is full of danger and violence but this time counterpointed by trust in God . . . and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite palace intrigue, envy and anger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of deceitful intrigue.

The opening chapters of Esther’s story describe how this young woman, despite her Jewish identity and fidelity to Yahweh, finds herself at the center of a major, political power struggle. Esther’s uncle Mordecai counsels her; and the courtier Haman – full of hatred, envy and pride – plots to kill all Jews in the kingdom. Resenting the power and influence Mordecai and Esther hold with the king, Haman hatches a devilish plot; and Esther finds that the only way for her to survive is to rely on God’s providence and care. In the end, the tables turn on Haman and he suffers the very punishment he had hoped to exact on the Jewish people, death on the gallows built at his own command.

Arent de Gelder: Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim

Arent de Gelder: Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim

Verses 8:15-17:  Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes of blue and white, a cloak of fine purple linen, and a magnificent gold crown. Then the streets of Susa rang with cheers and joyful shouts. For the Jews there was joy and relief, happiness and a sense of victory. In every city and province, wherever the king’s proclamation was read, the Jews held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness. In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.

The story of Esther is one we will want to remember when we find ourselves looking for power and revenge. The story of Esther is one we will want to remember when we find ourselves plotting to preserve power or damage another another’s reputation. The story of Esther is one we will want to recall when we find ourselves thrilling to schemes of undoing . . . rather than planning to work in the kingdom of God.


For more about the painting by Arent de Gelder, click on the image above or go to: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/174.html

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Esther into the blog search bar and explore.

Read this story from the beginning at, Esther 1-8. 

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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hard-heartFriday, August 6, 2021

Jeremiah 17:1-11

Obstinacy

Jeremiah speaks so much about the human heart, that place where God speaks, that place where God writes, that place that chooses to respond to the Call we know we hear. Today’s reading is about the stony heart, the hard heart that accompanies the stiff neck, the heart that turns away from Wisdom and so becomes cold and lifeless.

Jeremiah predicts that God will write a new covenant (31:31), a new message on our hearts of stone.  Just as the Israelites turned back to God after having worshiped false gods, so will we once we hear the message of the voice that speaks in that inner place – the only place we trust.

Jeremiah also tells us that the Lord has in mind wonderful plans for us, plans for our joy rather than tears, plans for a newness of heart (29:11).

What is it that hardens hearts and stiffens necks?  The writers of the MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection tell us that it is pride when we believe that we have all of the answers to all the world’s problems when in truth we have none.  The true answers to the deepest of mysteries are opened to us by Wisdom that comes to us when we trust only in God.

Pride sets subtle snares.  Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like Gods”.  Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross.  (Cameron 270-271)

We constantly forget that we are already divine. We repeatedly succumb to the subtle call of pride. We regularly forget that we learn best when we fail. Obstinacy in our own plans brings pain. Perseverance and faithfulness are gifts of the Spirit.  Pride in our possessions and accomplishments brings disappointment. Obedience and patience are joy. Hardness of heart brings narrowness. Softness of heart opens the mind, body and spirit. Once we agree to kneel in order to crawl though the Eye of the Needle, we will know Christ’s healing power. The power he gained through his own refusal to succumb to the siren call of pride. The life he gives when we put aside all obstinacy.


Adapted from a reflection written on August 19, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.8 (2012): 270-271. Print. 

Image from: https://therock.life/

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son - Artist unknown

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son – Artist unknown

Amos 9:8-15

Messianic Perspective

Amos brings us God’s Words; he shows us the world’s Woes; he paints for us his intense Visions. If we give in to despair we miss God’s message. If we walk away in pride we miss God’s promise. If we become impatient or irritable we miss God’s grace. If we practice greed we miss feeling God’s love. Today we have the opportunity to count ourselves among the pebbles God sifts from the debris of our selfishness. We are given another chance to rise up out of the ashes of our willfulness.  We are given another season to mend breaches and to rebuild foundations on the days of old.

Jesus tells us this story of the lost son who returns home to his father after having squandered all his father had given to him. So [the son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son”. But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he lost and now is found”.  So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)

Let us also return to the creator who is running toward us with open arms, who is waiting for our word to begin the celebration.


For an interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter in June 2011, on how theologians re-visit the famous parable of the forgiving father,, and how we may be called to forgive church structures, click on the image above or go to: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/theologians-revisit-prodigal-son 

For more on the image of God’s Sieve, go to the Mini-Noontime posted on September 26, 2013 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2020/09/23/the-sieve/ 

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