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Posts Tagged ‘promise of restoration’


formacion-solTuesday, January 11, 2022

Joy and Obadiah

Catastrophe

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Obadiah describes the catastrophe that comes upon the faithful, and he also describes the restoration that the Lord has in mind for each of us.

“The twenty one verses of this book contain the shortest and sternest prophecy in the Old Testament. Nothing is known of the author, although his oracle against Edom, a long-standing enemy of Israel, indicates a date of composition sometime in the fifth century B.C. During this period the Edomites had been forced to abandon their ancient home near the Gulf of Aqaba and had settled in southern Judah, where they appear among the adversaries of the Jews returning from exile. The prophecy is a bitter cry for vengeance against Edom for its heinous crimes”. (Senior 1135)

There is no mention of joy in this brief prophecy, but among the verses focused on revenge there is the promise of restoration.  There shall be a portion saved . . .

There is no celebration in these passionate verses, but among the words describing violence there is the promise of return. The mountain shall be holy . . .

There is no rejoicing in these fervent words, but among the images there is the promise of rescue. And the kingship shall be the Lord’s . . .

Obadiah delivers harsh news and disappears. We know little of him except that he held a deep belief that God always saves the faithful prevails and that God always prevails. We might find no joy in the face of national disaster in Obadiah’s words but what we do find is a call to steadfast fidelity, zealous love and outrageous hope. And this is a call we might celebrate with great joy.


joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1135. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: https://hidrosfera.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/antes-un-poco-de-historia/

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Monday, August 23, 2021

Nebuchadnezzar Cylinder

Nebuchadnezzar Cylinder

Jeremiah 27

Obeying Babylon

In Jeremiah 27 we find an odd command from God: obey Babylon or perish. This may puzzle us until we look more closely for deeper meaning.

Now I have given all of these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant; even the beasts of the field I have given him for his use.

This may seem odd to us. The Lord speaks through Jeremiah, telling the faithful that a foreign king will now have control of the kingdom they struggled so mightily to pull together. Corruption had allowed it to split in two, Israel to the North and Judah to the south, and now was the hour of the conqueror. The people of David’s Kingdom have strayed too far from the Sinai Covenant.

You must not listen to your prophets, to your diviners and dreamers, to your soothsayers and sorcerers, who say to you, “You need not serve the king of Babylon”. They prophesy lies to you in order to drive you far from your land.

This may also seem an unusual message from the Living God until we consider the considerable exploitation that the priests had used in their sacred work. These elect had taken advantage of those with no recourse and now they have lost credibility with God.

To Zedekiah, king of Judah, I spoke the same words: Submit your necks to the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, so that you may live.

Even to the King, Yahweh has spoken. Even the king will be forced to submit to circumstances of the ruling class’s making. This too, may seem odd, until we reflect on the deterioration in leadership that had taken place in recent centuries.

To Babylon they shall be brought, and there they shall remain, until the day I look for them, says the Lord; then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.

Despite the deception and deceit, Yahweh remains. Through exile and captivity, Yahweh abides. During turmoil and frustration, Yahweh continues to shepherd the remnant. For now . . . during exile . . . the faithful must do the unthinkable . . . and obey Babylon.


Enter the word Babylon into the blog search bar and spend time reflecting on her role in our Judeo-Christian history.

Image from: http://www.greatcommission.com/index.html

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Psalm 56: Do Not Fear – Part XII

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jacob Wet: Adoration of the Magi

Jacob Wet: Adoration of the Magi

Today is the traditional close of the Twelve Days of Christmas, a day when many cultures celebrate the arrival of the three magi in Bethlehem. In some countries, children place hay-filled shoes outside their front doors to feed the camels of the kings as they pass by on their journey to the Messiah. In the morning, children find that the camels have eaten the hay and the kings have left presents behind in thanks.

The official name of this celebration is Epiphany, a word coming from the Greek word meaning “to reveal”. Our Merriman Webster English definitions are: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking, an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, a revealing scene or moment, an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being. Today, on this traditional close of Christmas – a day when God surprises us with the revelation of Jesus’ divinity – we might put aside our fears to understand the full impact of this gift.

Sandro Botticelli: The Adoration of the Magi

Sandro Botticelli: The Adoration of the Magi

In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 56 is one we might keep close to hand in 2017 as our personal and public lives unfold. The psalmist speaks to God – just as we might – to tell God that foes trample and oppress him; enemies lie in wait while the mighty and proud dominate his world. The psalmist’s words are distorted; adversaries lurk; opponents plot to end his life. Wickedness, anger, tears, and wanderings. The psalmist records the offenses of a lifetime but rather than despair, he gives his worries to God. Like the psalmist we might place our own woes in our shoes beyond the door as if they were stalks of hay or straw, trusting that the king of kings will exchange them for the promise of restoration.

Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For you have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Today, as we reflect on the psalmist’s words, we ask ourselves, “How do we best prepare to enter the land of the living?”

Quentin Metsys: The Adoration of the Magi

Quentin Metsys: The Adoration of the Magi

Throughout Christmastide, we have reflected on the many times and the many ways the Living God assures us that we need not be afraid. Let us keep God’s wisdom always in our hearts and minds as our refuge and rock. Let us keep the centering presence of Christ always as our beginning and our end. And let us keep the healing indwelling of the Spirit as our homing guide.

When we explore other versions of these verses, we begin to understand how we might practice placing our fears in the restorative hands of the eternal, Living God.

Definition from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany 

For more on the Feast of the Epiphany, visit:  http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Epiphany.htm 

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behemoth

A depiction of the mythical Behemoth

Job 40: Fear

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chapter 40 of Job is sandwiched between the threat of Satan and the promise of restoration, bringing home to us the marvel of God’s immense love for us.

When we focus on 40:15 we see the Behemoth who sneezes, sending forth light flashes. Sparks fly from his mouth, his breath lights fires, his heart is hard as stone, the mighty fear him, nothing frightens him.  This monster – who later appears in Revelation – is drawn so vividly that we tremble before him.  What does he represent?  Perhaps he signifies all the fear we have ever felt about all things, both little and large.

We know that we must fight back the fear but the task is daunting.  When we spend time with Job we understand that when we allow God to be God, we enter into God’s love.

The Gospels tell us that when the Sea of Galilee is whipped by a storm, endangering the apostles in their tiny boat, we find Jesus walking on the water to calm both the turbulent waves and his followers.  Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! (Matthew 14:22-36Mark 6:45-56John 6:16-24) Just as the apostles follow Christ, so must we.

In the New Testament letters, John writes eloquently in his soaring verses to tell of the awesome enormity of the love God brings to us, the same love to which God calls us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:1-4) Just as John encourages us to believe, so must we encourage one another.

When the behemoth of fear stalks us, waits at the next corner, rides home with us in the back seat of the car, springs from under the bed . . . we must turn to Christ and to his colossal, freely-given love.

So let us perfect this love which God plants in each of us.  Let us revel in it.  Let us share it, speak of it, spend time with it.

And let us pray: Let us put fear aside.

When loved ones betray or disappoint us . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find the day too arduous and the night too long . . . Let us put fear aside.

When the behemoth springs from nowhere to instill us with foreboding . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we are anxious and tired and do not have the strength to summons the courage we so desperately seek . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find ourselves separate from you . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we seek punishment instead of love . . . Let us put fear aside.

Amen. 

I there is time today, spend time with John’s letters, and let God’s awesome love chase away the behemoth of fear.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 7, 2009.

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