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Posts Tagged ‘rebuke’


Luke 9:51-56: Being Resolute

Friday, October 25, 2019

James Tissot: Jesus Goes Up to Jerusalem

Today’s citation is also the morning’s Gospel reading.  It gives us a great deal to think about beginning with the words he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.  Jesus knew what lay before him . . . and still he went.  So must we all.

We know that life of the body ends.  There is no avoiding it.  We cannot purchase immortality with our money or our wits.  We cannot out-fox death.  No amount of money can divert its advent.  We may delay or cheat death, but we cannot master it . . . except . . . unless we are willing to go to Jerusalem with Christ.

Another phrase strikes me: they would not welcome him because they knew his destination.  Being moved out of our comfort zones is a scary proposition.  Moving into an unknown land, into territory charted by only a few is a dangerous way in which to live.  Yet it is what Jesus did.  It is what he does each day when he knocks at the door of a stubborn heart.  We are all on our way to Jerusalem, but some of us are too fearful, or we do not understand what this means . . . and we do not welcome him.

A third idea moves me as I read.  Jesus rebukes his own disciples when they want to call down fire from heaven to consume [the Samaritans].  Anger is not the Christian way of life, but rebuking is.  We are to be merciful with one another but not lenient.  Honest but not strident.  Open rather than shrill.  We are to be just with one another and avoid insisting on our own agenda.  We are to discipline one another, but not at the expense of the Gospel.

We know our destination if we let ourselves believe and hope and love in Christ.

We must welcome Christ as he stops at our door each day in the guise of fellow travelers.

We discipline one another even as Christ disciplines us, this is the Way of Apostleship.

We must be resolute, we must welcome all who call, we must rebuke one another gently and mercifully as we move along the road of the way up to Jerusalem for that is our destination.  And it is in living in this way that we encounter our immortal selves.


Written on September 30, 2008. Edited and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://twoagespilgrims.com/pasigucrc/index.html/the-servant-sets-his-face-like-a-flint/

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TitusSlaves for Christ

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today’s Noontime offering is a personal reflection on Paul’s Letter to Titus, a brief epistle in which we find valuable advice on bringing disparate voices together.  It was this letter that united many in the formation of churches for Christ in the first century.  If we savor the wisdom we find here, we may still find unity through this short letter two thousand years after its writing.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

Paul speaks of rebuking fellow Christians and I believe that when Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers (Matthew 21, Mark 11 and John 2) he was acting in this way of rebuking those who refuse to hear.  Jesus extends that advice to his apostles whom he sends like sheep among wolves in Matthew 10, Mark 6 and Luke 9 when he says that when they enter a town where the people do not return the peace they are offered, these disciples are to shake the very dust of the town from their feet.  We also hear Jesus lament the fact that he is rejected by his hometown of Capernaum in Matthew 11 and in Luke 10 he laments the lack of faith displayed by the inhabitants Bethsaida and Chorazin, saying that the Sodomites will fare better than these people in God’s eye.  Scary stuff . . . and for this reason I am reluctant to separate myself from those who demonstrate a lack of faith . . . with me, hope dies slowly.

And so we pray that our acts of hope and our endless intercessory prayers for these reluctant travelers will reach God’s ears.  We must constantly communicate with God – and always with a smile – that a plan that does not allow for the conversion of sinners will be a plan with holes in it.  We must be as persistent as the widow in Luke 18 who rails against the unfair judge when it comes to those who distort God’s love in a perverse homage to self rather than to the will of God.  We understand that we must keep ourselves safe from this kind of corruption . . . but we do not give up . . . we continue to ask for transformation . . . our own as well as that of those who choose to do harm to us, ourselves and others.  We cannot abandon someone with whom we have spent a portion of our journey . . . even though that person demonstrates clearly that they wish to take a fork in the road that puts distance between us.  So these people we will continue to hold in prayer . . . in the expectation that God’s will – and not ours – be done.

The Persistent Widow

How do we maintain this kind of dichotomy?  We turn back to Paul who offers Titus . . . and us . . . the solution.  He says that we are to tell the people that . . . They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone.  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful of ourselves and hating one another.  Eventually we will all put aside this hateful world to choose the peaceable kingdom which God offers so patiently each day.

Like Paul, let us all be slaves to Christ, slaves to this Law of Love which keeps vigil, which hopes for good, and which sends endless petitions rising to God like incense for the transformation of the world, the transformation of others as well as for ourselves . . . that we all may one day find union with one another and with Christ.


Images from: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and http://www.free-stories.net/children-bible-stories/new-testament-stories/parable-of-the-persistent-widow.html

For more on Paul’s Letter to Titus, see the Titus – Church as Community page on this blog.

For a wonderful way to experience the cities Jesus and Paul knew, visit:  www.bibleplaces.com

A re-post from February 16, 2019. 

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Isaiah 49:1-6: The Servant’s Mission

Holy Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the role of the servant in God’s plan for creation. Today we reflect on the servant’s mission.

I will also make you a light to the nations—
    so that all the world may be saved. (GNT)

When we wonder if our thoughts are one with God’s, we examine the source of our motivations. Do we forgive our enemies? Do we pray for those who harm us? Do we reach out to those who are broken-hearted?

I will give you as a light to the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (NRSV)

When we wonder if our words reflect God’s plan, we examine the foundation of our beliefs. Do we speak up when we see injustice? Do we rebuke ourselves and our loved ones when we go astray? Do we shelter the homeless and feed the hungry?

I will also make you a light to the nations,
so my salvation can spread to the ends of the earth. (CJB)

When we wonder if our actions serve to build God’s kingdom, we examine the fruits born from our life’s work. Do we work to break down unjust structures? Do we work with others to ferret out corruption no matter where we find it? Do we work to create societies that give preference to the poor?

I’m setting you up as a light for the nations
    so that my salvation becomes global” (MSG)

When we wonder if we have the faith to persist in our mission, we ask God for strength. When we wonder if we have the hope to believe in God’s promises, we rely on Christ’s encouraging presence. When we wonder if we have the love to work for the transformation of the world, we rest in the Spirit who heals, counsels, and consoles. As we near the Easter Triduum, we move forward to continue the work of our mission as God’s servants.


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the strength, confidence and mercy to move forward in our mission as disciples of Christ. 

Images from: http://lutheran-church-regina.com/blogs/post/sermon-january-12th-2014-isaiah-42 and http://www.turnbacktogod.com/pray-for-gods-servants/ 

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Isaiah 22:15-25: Denunciation

Domenico Fetti: The Parable of the Mote and the Beam

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 11, 2009.

At times we are called to rebuke one another.  At times we are rebuked by our sisters and brothers.  Most of us steer clear of conflict when we can.  Some of us relish conflict; it gives us a place to hide from our own troubles.  Others do not like conflict but engage in it when they feel they must, answering God’s calls to a particular place or person.  Today we read about people being denounced for their dishonesty.  This is a familiar portion of Isaiah often referenced as Jesus gathers the lost sheep lead astray by corrupt leaders.

There is a huge difference between self-examination and seeking self.  In today’s Gospel Jesus makes this clear to us as he tells the parable of the blind leading the blind.  In this story he asks us to look at the splinter of wood in our neighbor’s eye after we remove the beam from our own (Luke 6:39-42).  He calls us to the difficult task of opening our hearts for healing, of making ourselves available for discipleship, of looking out for the common good before our own.

We always seem to forget that we need not fuss about all that is around us when we first make room in each day for Christ to enter into our thoughts and actions.  Some of us, because we put the world first, are like pegs fastened in secure places but still are cut down and perish.  We believe we have everything in place to ensure our happiness at the expense of others yet even as we close ourselves off to hoard our dreams, we set ourselves up for denunciation.  When we enter into or avoid conflict based on our own comfort levels, we set ourselves up for denunciation.  When we begin and end each day without Christ, we set ourselves up for denunciation.  When we make each day’s journey without dedicating all we do to Christ, we set ourselves up for denunciation

So rather than seek our own ease, rather than look at other people’s splinters, we must look to our perspectives, motivations and actions.  These beams we remove from our own eyes will tell us if we are setting ourselves up for denunciation.  And after reading Isaiah, this is an understanding we will want to gain. It is action we will want to take. It is love we will want to share.

Image from: https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2017/08/03/splinters-beams-and-clear-sight%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8/

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The Wisdom Tree

Proverbs 28Seek Prudence

Friday, November 17, 2017

So many wise thoughts.

The wicked are more frightened than the good.

Security happens through prudence rather than force.

Wealth is a deluge that wipes out everything rather than nourish as does a constant rain.

Happiness lies in true integrity; truth to self is a worthy companion and leads to wisdom.

Happiness lies in seeking justice through the law, rather than force.

Gluttony is an excess of nourishment and has outcomes other than physical obesity.

Take advantage of people if you like but in the end someone will distribute all that you have saved to those who have nothing.

When we pray outside of the God’s law of love, we actually pray to the darkness.

Those who seduce the innocent are constructing their own gibbet, while the innocent will be rescued.

Self-importance is false value; everyone else sees the self-conjurer behind the façade (or the wizard behind the curtain).

We all know when incompetent people are in charge . . . even the incompetents themselves.

We might as well admit our faults; they will be pointed out to us anyway.

Happiness lies in softening our hearts.

People know evil when they see it.

Being idle is a dangerous pastime.

Happiness lies in being worthy of trust; not in money or possessions.

Happiness lies in total commitment and fidelity to the law.

Greed is its own terrible all-consuming end.

Happiness lies in knowing when and how to rebuke a brother or sister with love rather than seeking a relationship through flattery.

Happiness lies in seeking and receiving wisdom.

Happiness lies in following the way of the just, even when evil reigns.

When we seek wisdom, we find it in all that is good.

Adapted from a Favorite written on November 4, 2007.

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Ezekiel 33:7-9: Warning to All

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We have read this message before. We have heard this call. Today we have the opportunity to respond to the warning, and to pass it along to others.

From last Sunday’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection in the Morning Prayer: The greatest demand love makes on us is that we help one another into the kingdom of God. Sometimes love requires us to speak a painful word of truth to awaken someone blinded by sin, recognizing that we ourselves are also sinners. Let us do for one another what we would have others do for us. (Cameron 130)

Of course, there are days when our ego wants to do precisely what we like without regard for anyone or anything. The child in us wants to have our way. There are other days when we want to take splinters our of our neighbors eyes without tending to the beams in our own. And there are days when we take credit for all that goes well while throwing blame on others for all that goes wrong. Ezekiel tells us that God warns the sentinels among us, and he tells us that we must listen for the word of warning from them and from God.

Yesterday we spent time reflecting on true wisdom – what it is and where it is found. Today we further explore that wisdom as we hear it when we listen to the sentinel warning, and when we experience it as we gather together in Jesus’ name.

Other readings from last Sunday that accompany Ezekiel’s warning bring us further wisdom when we spend time with them. Psalm 95 . . . If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts. Romans 13:8-10 . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. And in Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus gives us a tiered process to rebuke or warn another. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you . . . If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Giving voice to warnings, rebuking one another in love, these are hallmarks of a disciple and we need true wisdom from God in order to follow the process Jesus describes for us. And so we reflect today.

Do we listen for or listen to the warnings we hear? Do we rebuke one another with compassion? Do we listen when others rebuke us? Do we witness with kindness? Do we gossip about others because we cannot summon up the courage to go to another in mercy? How do we react to gossip spread about us? How do we rebuke gossip when we hear it? And what do we do when scandal hits our church, our group of loved ones who gather in Christ’s name?

We must heed the warnings we hear. We must interact with others with patience, care and wisdom. We must seek true sentinels rather than false prophets. And we must always be certain that our actions bear fruit that is goodness and that bring goodness out of harm.

We must take time to reflect today, for we never know at what hour God’s warnings arrive. And we must prepare ourselves, for we will need all the wisdom and love God gifts to disciples.

When we compare varying translation of these verses, we open ourselves to God’s warning, we better learn how to rebuke another, and we better learn how to receive a rebuke from another. 

For more reflections on false and true prophets, for sentinels who hear and pass along warnings, and for ways to rebuke and be rebuked, use the blog search bar and explore.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.9 (2017): 129-130. Print.

 

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Schumacher’s expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected.  His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God.  Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them.  Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them.  They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God.  The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power.  Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be.  Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting.  Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully.  “His style is blunt and even offensive”.  (Senior RG 362)  He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot.  “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”.   He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard.  Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion.  No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus.   Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed.  We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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