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Posts Tagged ‘reconciliation’


Friday, January 10, 2020

Jeremiah 20: Being Duped by God

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

46564700-1246927298[1]Jeremiah is a frequent companion on our Noontime journey and today’s theme is one we have visited often: Sometimes our great fall comes as a direct result of doing precisely what God has asked us to do.  Sometimes we are duped by God.

The interior crisis – the situation in which he hope to never find ourselves – is something we all work diligently to avoid . . . and we ought not.  It is, in fact, the very reason we are here on earth.  It is our personal work.  It is the way we arrive at our highest potential.

The places within – the ones we avoid – are the places we must approach with candor and even eagerness.  They are our “working edge”.  They are our labs, our quizzes, our tests.  They are our final exam.

The interior self whom we avoid – the part of ourselves that we shun – is the very place where God dwells.  He is there waiting for us with open joy, celebrating with us that we have had the courage to take the scales from our eyes, the mask from our face, the blinders from our perspective.

God is always anticipating our arrival; God is always on the other side of the door we refuse to approach.  God is calling out to us to knock and enter.  God is waiting there patiently, always abiding.  God is our goal in all things and at all times.  There is nothing else that matters.  No other work.  No other cause.  No other person.  This is what Jesus means when he says that the dead will bury the dead.  (Matthew 8:22)  There is no thing and no one who ought to stand between us and God.  And we will surely find God when we open the dark part of ourselves to allow God’s light into the dim corners.

Each of us has “a shadow self”, the person whom we fasten away, hoping to keep shut in from ourselves and from the world.  Much like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, each of us has a lunatic spouse we keep locked in the north tower . . . and if the metaphor holds we can see the destruction that will arrive if we try to keep that door bolted.

Suffering follows once we open the lock . . . but so does restoration.  This is the message of the prophet Jeremiah.  It is the message of St. Paul.  If we avoid the work we are called to do with and for ourselves, we avoid our personal mission.

Does God dupe us?  Yes, God does.  Why?  Because God loves us, wants us to face our fears while relying on Christ, and God wants us to trust the saving newness of the resurrection that Jesus brings to us without our even asking.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

When we lock ourselves away with our fears, we have no other recourse but to listen. If we open ourselves to listening to God’s voice, we have the opportunity to respond.  And once we respond, we take our first steps toward reconciliation, conversion, and salvation.

God is in charge.  There is an Economy of Salvation.  There are no mistakes in God’s plan . . . only opportunities for God’s love to triumph.

Tomorrow . . . a Prayer for those who are willing to be duped . . .


Image from: https://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/223193

First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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2 Samuel 19:2-15Dreams Unrealized 

Monday, June 25, 2018

David evidently was in denial about his son Absalom.  All we need do to read about this young man’s abuse of the status and power given to him is leaf back a few pages to Chapters 13 through 18 to read the details of his story.  It is not positive.  Yet, David mourns the loss of this child, ignoring the horror that Absalom played out even against his own father.  We watch David struggle with the reality he does not want to see and now in this reading we watch David give over to his grief completely.  We wonder . . . does he mourn the loss of what actually was?  Or does he mourn the loss of what might have been?  We have no way of knowing.

Joab approaches David with words that eventually bring about a reconciliation between king and people.  His words are harsh and to the point; David comprehends quickly.  The greater offense here seems to be not so much that David mourns the loss of a child but that he appears to be oblivious to the harm this child’s behavior has brought about.   Many of us can identify with this.  We have likely gone to a family member or friend to try to being clarity to a murky situation only to be accused of speaking ill or of causing problems.   When delivering bad news, we must always be prepared to be blamed; and if we are not, we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank God.

In today’s story, David’s fragile state becomes apparent despite Joab’s recalling him to the realities of his role as leader and king.  We may not be as fortunate as Joab; but whether we are believed or rejected, we must consider the difficulty we bring someone when we bring bad news about a loved one; and we must deliver our words carefully.  If we are the ones who receive this bad news . . . we must be prepared to see another’s reality or else . . .  Not a single man will remain with you overnight, and this will be a far greater disaster for you than any that has afflicted you from your youth until now.

Whether we be Joab or David, we do well to remember that dreams fulfilled are welcome allies while dreams not realized are formidable enemies.  If we hope to step out to sit at the gate as David does, if we hope to bring the dreadful truth to someone so that it is heard as Joab does . . . we do well to enter the interaction carefully, and always include God in the exchange.   Only then can we hope for reconciliation.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 25, 2011.

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flame RwandaPalm Sunday, April 13, 2014

Romans 8:11

Genocide

Last week the country of Rwanda commemorated the 20th anniversary of horrific genocide not with more invective speech but with forgiveness and reconciliation . . . and with a flame of remembrance.  As St. Paul reminds us, with God all impossibilities become possible. In Christ all hope becomes reality. In the Spirit all that was once dead comes to new life . . . in Christ.

The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

And so we pray.

As we begin Holy Week, let us determine to change ourselves, to bring the light of change to the world, and to live always in the peace of the Living God who raises all death to new life.

As we enter Holy Week, let us consider how one million dead in Rwanda now rise in the reconciliation of enemies, now live in the acts of forgiveness offered by victims, and in the repentance felt by murderers.

As we move forward into Holy Week, let us pray that we always hear the voice of God. Let us pray that we always see Christ’s light in the darkness. And let us pray that we allow the Spirit to move us as we put the woes and words of the prophet Amos to work for the Gospel of the Christ. Amen.

Rwanda hopes to rise from the ashes of their brutal history to be the light of remembrance, the light of life for Africa and for the world. Now the cleanest and least corrupt country in Africa, Rwanda is hoping to become the Silicone Valley of their continent. Listen here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/299708652/20-years-later-rwanda-hopes-to-be-a-light-for-the-world

rwanda victimFor more on finding grace and relying on faith after genocide, listen to an interview with the Reverend Celestin Musekura from National Public Radio. Let at: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/04/299054435/finding-peace-after-genocide

For a video story from Euronews describing Rwanda’s reconciliation village, go to: http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/05/rwanda-s-reconciliation-village-a-symbol-of-hope-20-years-after-the-genocide/

Or click on the image above to read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Daniel Flitton, and The Malay Mail Online.

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

imagesCA8I90271 Kings 14-16

Lessons of History

Following King Solomon’s death, the territory of Israel was split into two, the northern (10 tribes renamed as Israel) and southern (the tribes of Benjamin and Judah renamed Judah) kingdoms.  (1 Kings 12)  The rest of these annals labeled Kings continues the story of these two kingdoms.  James Mays in HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (Mays 290) characterizes chapters 14 to 16 in the following way:  They summarize the last fifty years or so of the reigns of Jeroboam’s transgression and Rehoboam’s folly.  “Judah’s transgression involved illicit sacrifice outside of Jerusalem at high places and is said to have been the fault of both the people and their kings”.  This culpability and apostasy were counterbalanced by king Asa’s attempts to reform his people.  Yahweh remained faithful to the covenant.  By contrast, Israel’s kings led the people astray; King Ahab and his queen Jezebel supported state-sponsored worship of idols and in particular the god Baal.  Yahweh, despite the repeated cycles of abuse, continues to maintain his part of the bargain with these stiff-necked, hard-hearted peoples.  What are the lessons these people or we today have learned from our God?

Reading these historical narratives is a bit like reading the tiny abstracts of soap operas or evening drama.  We watch the endless returning to past misdeeds.  It seems as though no one is listening, no one is paying attention . . . yet Yahweh remains faithful.

Jesus, when asked by his disciples the question How often are we to forgive others their transgressions? answers seven time seven . . . in other words, endlessly. Both the Father and the Son demonstrate goodness, and mercy . . . but tempered with justice.

So today we might unravel these stories toward the end of 1 Kings and we might investigate what went on before and after these difficult times of the Divided Kingdom.  Putting these chapters into context we might understand the circumstances in which these people found themselves.  We might better see our enemies as reluctant learners . . . and we might also see ourselves as these same reluctant learners.

Why does God continue to love us when we refuse or are unable to learn the lessons of history?  Why is it that God forgives us endlessly when we have ignored and even laughed at the lessons history has to offer?

Because God is love . . . and he loves us fiercely.  We know this because we have read the first letter of John, chapter 4 verses 7 to 16.  It was Tuesday’s first Mass reading.  We know this because countless times we have asked for forgiveness and have received healing and pardon.  We know this because we have been graced to witness countless reconciliations of bitter enemies.  We know this because we can feel the arms of Christ the Comforter stretched between ourselves and those with whom we are in conflict.  We know this because once we begin down the path of peacemaking . . . the world begins to look like the beautiful Eden we thought we had abandoned . . . because from that moment onward . . . we are never the same.

First written on July 30, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 520. Print.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

restorejusticeimage[1]Philippians 1:27-30

Steadfastness in Faith

If ever we doubt that we are to be community and that we are called to find ways to bridge differences, we only need look as far as the Book of Acts and the Letters of the New Testament.

This is God’s doing.  I keep repeating these words to myself as I wend my way through the obstacles that present themselves to me each day. I have been planted in this time and place to bloom according to the gifts God sent with me. And so in accord with the covenant I share with God, I will continue to be steadfast, always hoping for the best outcome for all.

I share with you a quote which was sent to me several years ago.

Hope is all about the vision of what we believe our world can and should be . . . Hope enables us to believe that we can achieve some meaningful expression of justice, reconciliation and healing here and now even though the ultimate goal must always remain beyond our grasp.


John W. de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice

Hope, reconciliation, willingness, bridge-building, restoration, transformation.  These are only a few of the gifts we receive when we become disciples of Christ.

To learn more about restorative justice, go to: http://www.restorativejustice.org/articlesdb/articles/4385 and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime written on May 7, 2007.

Tomorrow, steadfastness in love . .  .

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sirach 22 – Fool or Friend

friends[1]This book of wisdom is full of wonderful, universal sayings that last though the ages; and Chapter 22 is no exception.  As we near the end of another year, we often spend time thinking about our relationships, from our most intimate to our most casual.  Yesterday we considered how and why we forge and maintain relationships.  Today we continue that introspection and we examine the friendships and the value-structure we build.

When we interact with others . . .

Do we take the time, do we practice diligence in reviewing what we say before we say it?  Can we look at ourselves through the filter of today’s reading which describes both the foolish and the true friend to place ourselves somewhere along this continuum?  Do we find ourselves among those who let friendship come and go like dry leaves before a wind or like small stones lying on an open height [that] will not remain when the wind blows?  Or can we say that we work at being a true and constant friend, demanding much of ourselves as we struggle to walk that fine line between openness to reconciliation and refusal to enable abuse?

Fools and friends . . . we are surrounded by all kinds of people and we are engulfed in all sorts of circumstances.  We ourselves behave sometimes like the fool . . . sometimes like the friend.  In the spirit of this Christmas season, when we celebrate the arrival of the one true, universal and authentic Friend, let us resolve to always look for reconciliation where there are rifts and to draw healthy boundaries that discourage abuse.  If we are to walk in the way shown to us by Jesus, we must leave behind the habits of a fool; and we must take up the mantle of a true friend. 

And so we pray . . .

God creator, when you formed us out of the universe, you had in mind that we would look to you for wisdom and that we would commit to the work of befriending not only the faithful who walk with you but those who linger on the margins as well.  Teach us to move away from the tempting life of doing nothing in order that we avoid error.  Guard us from the impulsive life of speaking and acting before we think.  Grant us the strength to risk even a bit of ourselves just as you have risked all you have in your relationship with us.  Move us out of any spiritual sluggishness, and energize us with your Spirit.  For our part, we will put aside our willingness to suffer fools lightly or to behave as fools ourselves.  We will observe the careful lines between these worlds of fools and friends as we remain open to the reconciliation you ask all of us to seek.  As we prepare to enter into a new year and a new cycle of our lives, we pledge this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

First written on December 28, 2010; re-written and posted today as  a Favorite.

For another reflection about Friendship: The Space Between, click on the image above or go to: http://camryndarkstone.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/real-friends/

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Sirach 22 – Fool or Friend

220px-RWS_Tarot_00_Fool[1]This chapter opens with some marvelous images of those who are lazy: The sluggard is like a stone in the mud; everyone hisses at his disgrace.  The sluggard is like a lump of dung; whoever touches him wipes his hand.  Images of people I have known through my life move before me in a motion picture of stories I had forgotten.  They are awakened today as I read about unruly children, a hussy, fools – teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot, or like disturbing a man in the depths of sleep.  Still further on we are admonished to steer clear of brutes and stupid men, people with timid resolve.

Then we arrive at a wonderful didactic piece on friendship in which we are asked to remember that a contemptuous insult, a confidence broken, or a treacherous attack will drive away any friend.  And before flames burst forth an oven smokes; so does abuse come before bloodshed.  A final warning about the importance of friendship closes this song: From him who brings harm to his friend all will stand aloof who hear of it.  But this anthem to friendship seems to me to hinge upon verse 21: Should you draw a sword against a friend, fear not, you can be reconciled. 

Finally we read a simple prayer: Who will set a guard over my mouth and upon my lips an effective seal, that I may not fall through them, that my tongue might not destroy me?  This last verse of Sirach 22 is an effective morning prayer that any one of us might want to intone as we rise.  Who among us has not regretted words that were said in haste or without having undergone serious thought before leaving our lips? 

As we consider Fools and Friends, we remind ourselves that the links we create with others and the manner in which we interact with others tell the world about our relationship with God.  We pause in our reflection to consider our relationships with others . . .  including God.  We take some time over the next twenty-four hours to discover something old and something new about ourselves.  We consider what kind of fool we have been . . .  what sort of friendship we nurture . . . and how much room we make for God in the bonds we forge in life. 

To investigate how and why others forge relationships, go to the Blogroll in the column to the right on this blog and choose a link.  As we explore, we have the opportunity to discern something new and something old about ourselves; we are offered the opportunity to define the fools and friends in our lives . . . and what they have to tell us about ourselves. Tomorrow, Part II of Fool or Friend.

First written on December 28, 2008; re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

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