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Posts Tagged ‘prophets’


Wednesday, May 19, 2020

In this time of pandemic, we welcome the Holy Spirit into our midst as we gather in families who shelter in place. In this time of pandemic, we remember that when we follow The Way Christ shows us, every day is Pentecost.

Jean Restout: Pentecost

Matthew 10:41-42

A Prayer in Celebration

Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person.  If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in all truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.

We think of prophets as people who hear God’s word easily and who are dedicated to speaking God’s word no matter how it threatens their lives or livelihood.  We see prophets as living in ancient times to lead God’s faithful through troubling times.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for prophets dwell and work and play among us today, sharing God’s word with us, urging us to stay close to God.  Yet how many prophets speak to us each day and we ignore them?  How many of us are prophets and fear speaking out the words God asks us to speak?

We think of upright people as those who have a strong moral compass, as those ethical, decent few who remain in God’s Way despite all the temptations and lures that might draw them away from following God closely.  We see upright people as that small percentage of somber and serious faithful who eschew fun because it threatens their serenity.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for the upright live and labor and enjoy human company as much as the divine.  Yet how many upright people do we avoid as too pious or too starry-eyed?  How many of us avoid showing our uprightness and fear sharing our thoughts about God because we do not want to be perceived as odd or strangely different?

We think of disciples as people who follow God so closely that they rely on God for every decision they make despite the tug of social, political or religious influences.  We see disciples as those marked with a special sign or those given special courage or graced with exceptional perseverance.  We somehow believe that they are scarce in any given group of people and that they were born with unique perception and power.  If this is our thinking we miss Matthew’s message to us today . . . for disciples walk and talk and co-mingle with us each day all day.  How many of us avoid God’s disciples because they seem a bit off and are not influenced by sports figures, by politicians or church leaders?  How many of us are clearly disciples but are leery of identifying ourselves as one who follows Christ?

Today Matthew tells us that the miracle of Pentecost is timeless, that its power is endless, and that its space is unlimited.  Today Matthew invites us to be those upright, prophetic disciples whom Christ has called.  Today Matthew urges us to be our best selves.  Today Matthew calls us to be one with Christ . . . to be divine.  And so we pray . . .

Dear God: We hear your voice and yet for some reason we falter; give us the courage and strength to look nowhere but at you. 

Dear Jesus: We know your command to put our feet in your footsteps and yet somehow we stumble; give us the fortitude and fidelity to never give up to any threat and never give in to any voice that calls us away from you. 

Dear Spirit: We gather ourselves to step forward in acceptance of your gift of discipleship. In this Eastertide, as we rejoice in your in-dwelling, remind us of the holy privilege we share with your upright prophets and disciples as we follow Christ, and shelter in your presence. 

Bless and keep us always as we celebrate with you and all your holy ones.  Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean_II_Restout_-_Pentecost_-_WGA19318.jpg

A re-post from May 19, 2013.

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Saturday, January 25, 2013

2 Kings 5: The Cure of Naaman

Pieter de Grebber: Elisha Refusing the Gifts of Naaman

Pieter de Grebber: Elisha Refusing the Gifts of Naaman

Naaman is cured of leprosy not by his faith alone but through the faith and encouragement of a small child who believes in Yahweh and the power of his prophets.  It is worth our while to read this story and examine commentary and footnotes because once we do – and this may seem unbelievable – we will find that we have a greater understanding of the modern world we live in today.

Through the child in this story we see that prophets are not the only ones among us who are called to heal, cure and serve as instruments for miracles. We see that we are also called to heal one another either with the direct laying on of hands, or by our intercessory prayers.

Jesus tells us in a very clear way that we must pray for our enemies: You have heard it said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy”.  But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  (Matthew 5: 43-47)

Christ constantly presents us with a world of inversion. We die in order to be born; we give in order to receive; we sit at the lowest seat in order to be called higher; we humble ourselves so that we might be exalted.  The examples Jesus gives us are endless.   Today we hear God’s urging to heal others, even those who harm us, so that we in turn are healed.

I believe that we are called to be healers, even when wounded ourselves, because the prayers of a victim rise ever so quickly to God’s altar. God, in all of his compassion and mercy and desire to love, will reward the prayer of one who is wounded who – like God – forgives and then petitions healing for the abuser.

We must be present in spirit to our fellow pilgrims, and when we wade into the river of forgiveness, just as Naaman enters the river Jordan, we will find that the our willingness to intercede for our enemies will wash away the things of this world.  Suddenly we find ourselves present to the Spirit. And just as suddenly we will know that we, like Naaman, will “know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”  This one God, this Yahweh, sent his son to heal us and ransom us from our dark place.   It is this God who calls us to heal one another . . . so that we in turn may be healed.


First written on May 31, 2007.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

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1 Maccabees 4:1-35: Living and Dying Nobly

Holy Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . .

Judas Maccabeus and his Jewish followers were steeped in the scripture and so the idea of placing one’s fear in God’s hands in order to live and die nobly was a familiar message to them.

God speaks to Abram in Genesis 15:1 saying: Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward. 

In Joel 2:21 the prophet exhorts all of creation to take heart.

Nearly a dozen times the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel we are told that we need not be afraid because God is with us.

Zechariah tells us: Do not be afraid but let your hands be strong. (8:13)

In Psalm 21 the psalmist asks why we fear when we have the Lord as our rock and protector.

In Psalms 56 and 118 the writer reminds all of us to trust in God when we become fearful.

In Proverbs 3:24 we are encouraged to rest in God alone so that we do not fear.

When we allow assurance in our relationship with God to become part of our fiber, fear oozes away in the warmth of God’s light.  The soldiers in today’s reading do this and their enemy is amazed when they see their courage.

Lysias saw how ready they were to either live or die nobly . . .

Judas Maccabeus

We too, might be ready to live or die nobly if we only allow the Spirit to saturate us.  Perhaps we can make this a Lenten pledge: When fear threatens to overtake us, we will turn to Christ who will remind us . . . Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . . I am with you. 


A re-post from March 2, 2012.

Images from: http://apoloblogology.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_archive.html and http://phillchida.blogspot.com/2011/06/love-letter-to-my-heavenly-father.html and 

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Daniel 9:1-12Ultimate Fulfillment

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Written on January 9 and posted today as a favorite . . .

Tilda Swinton as Gabriel in “Constantine”

What we see today is Daniel’s interaction with God’s messenger Gabriel who is mentioned here for the first time in scripture.  We know that scripture is not history – it is not an accurate telling of events in a sequential manner in order to set facts in place; rather, it is an inspired record of our interactions with God over thousands of years.  This is the gift of the Torah, prophets, and wisdom literature.  It is the gift of the accounts of Jesus, the Apostles and the Holy Spirit as a manifestation of God among us.

In today’s Noontime, footnotes tell us that the Darius the Mede whom we see in this prophecy is “unknown in profane history.  The Median kingdom had already been conquered by Cyrus the Persian, and it was Cyrus who captured Babylon.  Evidently the author of Daniel has deliberately adopted an apocalyptic view of history, derived from prophecy . . . according to which the Medes form the second of four world kingdoms preceding the messianic times . . . The character of Darius the Mede has probably been modeled on that of the Persian King Darius the Great (522-486 B.C.), the second successor of Cyrus”.   (Senior 1096)

Further commentary tells us that “the prophet Jeremiah (25,11; 29,10) prophesied a Babylonian captivity of seventy years, a round number signifying the complete passing away of the existing generation, Jeremiah’s prophesy was fulfilled in the capture of Babylon by Cyrus and the subsequent return of the Jews to Palestine.  However, the author of Daniel, living during the persecution of Antiochus, sees the conditions of the exile still existing; therefore in his mediation he extends Jeremiah’s number to seventy weeks of years (v 24), i.e., seven times seventy years, to characterize the Jewish victory over the Seleucids as the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy”.  (Senior 1100-1101)

What we see today is not a story about people or places we know in history.  Nor is it a story about a particular time in our human record that has little to do with us in 2011.  What we have before us is the story of how we – like Daniel – might interact with God’s messenger and with God himself.  It is the story about the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy.  It is the story of how God visits us constantly, how God interacts with us, and how God always keeps his promises.

When we flag or lose faith, when we are exhausted from the effort of our journey, when we are at the point of feeling that our exile will never end, we might – like Daniel – turn to God, acknowledge our humanity, and enter into a dialog with the divine.  For it is through our trials, when we drop our defenses against God’s presence in our lives, that we are most intimate with God.  And it is through our anguish and suffering that we encounter our divinity within.  This is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to us – to live freely and wholly in the Spirit.


A re-post from August 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2005/02/06/arts/06devr_CA0ready.html 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1096,1100-1101. Print.   

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Isaiah: Do Not Fear – Part IIIchrist-born-high-res-abstract-background-your-project-35831176

Christmas Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The prophet Isaiah tells us a number of times that we need not fear the circumstances of our lives.

God says, “O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did”. (Isaiah 10:24)

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me’.” (Isaiah 37:6)

God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. (Isaiah 41:10)

God says, “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none”. (Isaiah 44:8)

dec-26Millennia later God continues to be our rock and our refuge, our strength and our song. God sends us prophets whom we may heed or ignore. And God continues to breath and live among us.

Today we might ask, “Whom do we follow and why?” When we listen to the voice of Isaiah, we have a new opportunity to listen to God. We have a new opportunity to give thanks that the Messiah Isaiah foretold is here. The Lord is born. And this Lord is one with us.

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to explore the number of ways God says to us, “Do not fear. I am with you always”.

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Psalm 105:15: God’s Anointed

Monday, October 31, 2016prophets

Yesterday we spent time with this psalm.  Today we take a deeper look.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we define faithfulness?  Do we admire our ability to hang on no matter what?  Are we stubborn to a fault in our persistence to see something through?  Do we waver and zigzag in order to gain ground?  Or do we model ourselves after Yahweh who is eternally faithful to his sheep?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Do we duplicate as much as possible God’s fidelity in our own relationships?  Are we dedicated to truth and openness?  Are we predictable?  Do our relationships create a safe harbor?

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What is it that stands in stark contrast with God’s fidelity?  The pursuit of petty agendas?  Egocentrism?  Meanness of spirit?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What do we need to jettison in our lives in order to create serenity and peace in our relationships?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we imitate God’s bringing forth of unity out of schism?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Can we see ourselves as prophets and anointed ones? If not, what do we want to change?  How do we become one with such a one who loves so well?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

For God all things are possible.  In Christ all wounds are healed.  Together with the Holy Spirit we are become one.  We are invited to enter into holy communion with one another.  We are invited to prophesy the Word of God.  We are anointed in God.  We are one in God.  We are blessed in God.  We are saved in God.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Adapted from a reflection written on October 9, 2009.

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Luke 11:47-54: A Prayer for This Generation

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered.

Knowing that all generations falter in their hope to follow Christ, we pray for ourselves and for all who are willing to ask for hope in hopeless situations.

You yourselves admit, then, that you approve of what your ancestors did; they murdered the prophets, and you build their tombs.

Knowing that all generation murder prophets and bury them in white-washed tombs, we pray for ourselves and for all who honor life that comes from God.

How terrible for you teachers of the Law! You have kept the key that opens the door to the house of knowledge; you yourselves will not go in, and you stop those who are trying to go in!

Knowing that all generations hold the key of knowledge and use it for good and for ill, we pray for ourselves and all who continue to prophesize in the face of corruption.

So the people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world.

Knowing that all generations both bless and condemn the Spirit, we pray for ourselves and all who are willing to unravel plots and reveal those who freely deceive others.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong.

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

Knowing that all generations lay plots and lie in waiting to put an end to goodness, we pray for ourselves and all who dare to bring light to the world.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things.

Knowing that God’s enormous love is capable of healing all wounds, bridging all abysses, and restoring all peace, we pray for ourselves and for all who persist in carrying God’s love into the world.

Amen.

For more images of Jesus driving the money-lenders from the Temple, click on the image above or visit: http://www.artble.com/artists/el_greco/paintings/the_purification_of_the_temple

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Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part II

Friday, October 21, 2016key-of-knowledge

We are spending time with Jesus’ words, reflecting on his audience to determine if we are the hopeless scholars or the marginalized flock.

Jesus says: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled from the time earth began until now, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was struck down between altar and sanctuary, is on your heads. Yes, it’s on the bill of this generation and this generation will pay.

What is the bill Jesus tells us is coming due? Who are the prophets whose blood we willingly shed? What is the price we told we will pay?

God says: This bill my son speaks of rises from the lack of action when my sheep are lost and hungry, naked and without shelter. These sheep are the gentle prophets whose presence and truth are too often ignored. The price to be paid is a heavy one. This is why I awake you each morning with a gentle touch to ask you to follow my son. This is why I rock you to sleep each night wrapped in the arms of my Spirit.

Jesus says: You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.

What is the key of knowledge that Jesus points out to us here? What door have we shut and why have we shut it? Who are the others whose entry we refuse?

God says: The key of knowledge is my invitation to enter the Kingdom I create for you. The key is my loving presence that longs to love more than you can imagine. I am saddened when you cast off my presence as coincidence or karma. When you discourage others from believing in me you shut the door to t his kingdom. When you call others as I call you, you open windows and doors.  

Today we consider the bill. Tomorrow, the bill comes due.

For more on the key of knowledge, visit: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/11-52.htm

 

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2 Kings 9: Deception – Part V

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel (detail)

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel (detail)

Death

“Here the death of Ahab is not grounded only in the Naboth’s vineyard incident (1 Kings 21:21-24) but is related to retribution against Jezebel for killing God’s prophets (1 Kings 18:4; 19:10, 14).  (Meeks 573-574)

These are very scary stories indeed.  Scarier still because this violence is a result of people’s individual and collective actions.  Ahab and Jezebel took God’s people in an ugly direction, and today we see their ugly end at the hands of God’s warrior, Jehu.  We do not like to have these images before us because they remind us of the darkest part of ourselves, and they demand that we make an accounting of our own actions before God.  Many of us use the strategy of denial when we are asked to look in the mirror. We put away what we wish did not exist. But this does not result in anything good.  Many of us wish to re-write reality without making any change in ourselves, but of course this only delays the inevitable.  And this is what we see today . . . the inevitable finally takes place.  In the earlier parts of this story, the wicked Ahab and Jezebel have things all their way.  Today that ends, and they are fully rewarded for their actions.

Williy Pogany - ''Ahab and Jezebel'' (300)

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel

We have come through Lent to rejoice in Easter light and the gift of eternal life as God’s promise against the clutches of eternal death. Today we have an invitation to avoid a fate like the one we read here.  Rather than hiding and hoping to have our own way, we will want to open ourselves to the healing light of Christ and ask for change. A change in our hearts. A change in our way of being. A change from death to life.

During the time of the prophets, Christ walked among his people through the hands and feet of his prophets as they carried out Yahweh’s promises. The sweet promise of eternal life in Christ is announced even during the dark days when Ahab and Jezebel hunted down those who spoke and healed in God’s name.  Through the prophets, Christ dwelt among us even before his birth in the stable, and Christ will continue to dwell among us.  When those who worship our modern Baals beset us, let us turn to Christ. Let us ask for God’s guidance and rescue in any darkness or sadness of the present time when the prophets among us are being murdered.  Let us turn to Christ who is the only hope of the world, the only antidote to death, the only life that is eternal. And let us make good on our Lenten promise to open ourselves to transformation. Let us receive the healing light that is the Easter promise. Let us receive the healing indwelling of the Spirit.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  (Meeks)

Adapted from a reflection written on April 5, 2011.

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