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Posts Tagged ‘redemption’


Isaiah 28 and 29: The Fate of Samaria – Part III

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Samarian Ruins

When we experience the bleakness Isaiah described, we will want to remember that light will follow this darkness. Isaiah tells us of the coming cornerstone that will lie in Zion, in Jerusalem, the city he describes as destroyed in Chapter 29.  This prophet cautions, warns, exhorts, and pleads with the people to avoid pacts with foreign, pagan tribes.  He cries out against overconfidence in human help – either the help of others or our own over-valued talents.  He foretells thunder, the whirlwind, the storm and the consuming flame.  He describes blindness and perversity, fear and terror. When our circumstances are the most dire, we must remember that our lives in Christ promise a redemption that always accompanies suffering.

And so, we pray with Isaiah.

But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard shall be regarded as a forest!

Make of us forests of your love, O Lord of hosts.

The deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of the gloom the eyes of the blind shall see.

Make of us light to shine in all the dark corners, O Lord of hosts.

Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Make of us your wisdom, O Lord of hosts.

For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off . . .

Make of us your justice, O Lord of hosts.

When [Jacob’s] . . . children see the work of my hands in his midst . . .

Make of us your Holy Ones, O Lord of hosts.

They shall keep my name holy . . .

Make of us your mystical body, O Lord of Hosts.

Amen.

A reflection written on January 30, 2008.

Getty image from: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/the-ruins-of-the-samaria-ancient-city-palestine-circa-1960-news-photo/545281899#/the-ruins-of-the-samaria-ancient-city-palestine-circa-1960-picture-id545281899 

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Esther: Sincere Repentance

Filippo Lippi: Esther at the Palace Gate

Friday, February 23, 2018

Before we leave the story of Esther, we re-visit a Favorite from May 29, 2007. Today we consider the nature of our repentance as we move further into the season of Lent; and we commit to enacting the fidelity, hope, and love we profess.  

From the introduction in the New American Bible, “The book was intended as a consolation for Israel, a reminder that God’s providence continually watches over sincere repentance.” We have been hearing about sincerity versus insincerity in recent weeks. And again we see it today.

Yesterday’s first reading is from Sirach 17:24: “But the Lord will allow those who repent to return to him. He always gives encouragement to those who are losing hope.” And yesterday’s morning Psalm was 130: “My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. . . Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity”.

There is hope for all; yet, how do we show our gratitude for redemption? By being doers of the word and not hearers or sayers only. We show our sincerity before the Lord by not deluding ourselves.

This morning’s reading is one of my favorites from James, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)

May we be hearers, sayers, and doers of the Word. May we persevere in our doing. And may we, like Esther, live up to our potential in order that we too may save nations.

The book of Esther, with all of its additions and amendments, is a wonderful story. We must read it when we can.

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Matthew 22:41-46: Messiah

Bartolomé Murillo: The Adoration of the Shepherds

Christmas Day, December 25, 2017

Being a teacher, Jesus asks his listeners a question to see if they have fully understood the enormity of his message; and when it is clear they have not . . . he calls forth the very principal on which they stand to show them where they err.  He truly is a master.  He uses what we say and do to mirror back to us the echo of what we declare.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT: From the beginning of time, God has acted to reverse the loneliness which represents the consummate curse to the human race – an experience analogous to hell.  Even this master defers to his creator, God, in all the important decisions of his life.  He responds to the call of love which washes away the fears of loneliness, anxiety, betrayal, failure and abandonment.  This master obeys the voice within that calls him to act in and for love.  If Christ does this, if this is what it means to be Messiah, then how can we believe that we know a better way to exist?  How do we dare to defy God?

From today’s MAGNIFICAT reflection by Mother Elvira Petrozzi:  If you are able to be an instrument in the hands of God, if you have trust, love, and the patience to accept His plans for you, He restores to you what you have given, one hundred times over . . . Those who trust in him will not remain imprisoned in their little plans.  I have seen young people who built a cage with their own hands and then fell into desperation because of it.

Christ built no cages; he opened doors and windows.  Christ did not succumb to the siren song of Satan to be like gods.  Christ obeyed the voice of his vocation.

I am reminded of a favorite verse from Jeremiah: For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for your woe! (29:11)

This is what it means to be Messiah.  Obeying God for love of God rather than out of fear or laziness.  Loving God for the passion we feel for God rather than from a sense of duty or response to a whim.  Committing ourselves to the Messiah even as the Messiah commits himself to God, this is what we believe.  This is what we follow.  Enormous plans for our joy, rather than little plans for woe.  Awesome plans for a serenity that comes from doing what is good and right and beautiful . . . even though there may be pain in the interim.  For . . .

It is in the doing that we redeem and are redeemed.

It is in the acting that we declare and are declared.

It is in the obeying that we love and are loved. 

This we know.  This we believe.

Let us rise up and follow the Messiah born to us this night. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 12.2 (2009). Print.  

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 12, 2009.

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Micah 4: Restoration of the People

Friday, June 17, 2016blindspot

Here again is the image of the shepherd brought to us by the prophet Micah. God gathers his scattered people and guides them to safety. Just as Yahweh sent Moses to shepherd the people from Egypt, through the desert, and eventually to the Promised Land, so too, does Jesus arrive in Bethlehem to shepherd us to our own promise. And this is what Micah predicts. He tells of the one who comes to rebuke nations yet to teach us his ways and paths. Micah warns of the coming persecution, but from that persecution and suffering come redemption and restoration. There will be universal peace.

These are comforting words. These are words we need to hear.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 1, 2007.

Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald have written BLINDSPOT: HIDDEN BIASES OF GOOD PEOPLE. As we consider how we follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, we might listen to an On Being interview with Banaji at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/mahzarin-banaji-the-mind-is-a-difference-seeking-machine/8719 

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James 5:13-15: Union in Prayer

Saturday, October 31, 2015Pray-Together

When we suffer, James tells us . . . we must pray.

When we celebrate . . . let us sing praise.

When we are ill . . . we are to ask for anointing.

When we are discordant . . . we must come together.

When we worry . . . there is nothing but to turn to God.

When we hope for the forgiveness of sins . . . we must also ask for redemption.

Suffering is our road to Christ . . . let us not avoid it.

red heart bibleJoy accompanies us along the way . . . although we may not at first feel it.

Paul reminds the Philippians and he reminds us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

So let us put aside our divisions and celebrate even as we suffer. Let us lay down our enmities and pardon even as we are pardoned. Let us dialog with our enemies and turn all anxiety over to Christ; and let us celebrate our union in the Spirit. Let us celebrate our union in prayer.

Use the scripture link to compare varying versions of these verses and let us find union in prayer and praise.

 

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John 15:18-27: Glory, Part VI – Hatred

Friday, July 24, 2015

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

Knowing that we find humility, emptiness, and service when we willingly become branches on the great vine of Christ, we look to understand how God’s glory arrives through the world’s hatred.

Today’s lesson on Glory: Even the hatred of the world cannot overcome the love of God. This may be difficult to believe until we remember that with God . . . all things are possible.  

We each have encountered animosity in our families and among our friends and colleagues. There is no question about the existence of these negative forces that threaten security. There is no doubt that we ourselves have been drawn into the darkness that loops itself in its negative quashing of peace; yet – as Christ has told us – we need not fear for before the power of hatred presented itself at our door, it has struggled with the redeeming power of Christ.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

We remember God’s words to Samuel: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king. (1 Samuel 8:7)

I have chosen you out of the world and so the world hates you.

We remember Jesus’ words to his followers: Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. (Luke 4:24)

When the Advocate comes who whom I will send to you from the Father, he will testify to me.

We remember the words of Psalm 118: I thank you for you have answered me; you have been my savior. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (Psalm 118:21-23)

And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

We remember the words of Jesus to his disciples: Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:41-43)

And so we pray,

Understanding and gentle God, you understand our pain and suffering at the hands of those we love. You know the suffering we experience when we are wrongly accused. We know that especially in the world’s anger you are present to heal, transform and restore. We rest in the knowledge that no force is greater than your love, no darkness can escape your redemption, no atrocity can overcome your glory. We ask your constant guidance and transformation through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Psalm 107: In DistressDistress-Christian-Stock-Photo

March 17, 2015

Lent is the perfect time of year to turn our distress over to God.  By doing this repeatedly, we become accustomed to turning to our creator before all else.  This brings a serenity to all we do . . . even when we find ourselves in distress.  This leads us to redemption.

With hearts humbled by hardship, the Lord’s redeemed give thanks to the Lord for his saving hand.

Ill and afflicted by evil ways, the distressed cry out for help to the Lord.

Led forth from darkness and gloom, those who have been snatched from the grave give thanks to the Lord for his kindness.

Reeling and staggering like drunkards, the sorrowing drink from clear waters the Lord provides in the desert.

Sowing and reaping the abundance of the Lord, the poor who have been oppressed now settle in the verdant valleys of the Lord.

God blessed them, they became very many, and their livestock did not decrease . . . Whoever is wise will take note of these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

We often find ourselves in various degrees of distress.  Today’s psalm speaks to those who find themselves in dire straits because they have turned away from God; but regardless of whether we suffer innocently or through our own fault, we need to ask this question: Where do we go and what do we do when we are in spiritual pain?  We might turn to an activity that hides the ache but does not deal with the cause.  We might also turn to God who is yearning to hold us close.  In either case – whether we are innocent or guilty – when horror strikes and we are in distress, we pray . . .

Heavenly Father, Divine Son, Comforting Spirit, we spend out Lenten journey in search of you.  Open our eyes to what we must see about what and who we are.  Open our ears to what you are telling us through others.  Open our mouths to tell the story of our salvation from the paralyzing hold of darkness.  Open our hearts to your ways of merciful justice and loving kindness.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 8, 2010.

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prophet_jonah__image_10_sjpg2463Wednesday

January 14, 2015

Joy and Jonah

Reluctance

The prophets 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 we may or may not identify with Jonah’s story. If we do, we understand that we are loved despite our reluctance to respond to God’s goodness. If we do not, we have all the more reason to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.

 “This book is a didactic story with an important theological message. It concerns a disobedient prophet who attempted to run away from his divine commission, was cast overboard and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and sent on his way to Nineveh, the traditional enemy of Israel . . . From this partly humorous story, a very sublime lesson may be drawn. Jonah stands for a narrow and vindictive mentality, all too common among the Jews of that period . . . [This prophecy] has prepared the way for the gospel with its message of redemption for all”. (Senior 1137)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of the netherworld I cried for help, and you heard my voice . . . In the maelstrom God is always present.

Jonah 2:6: The waters swirled around me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed hung about my heard. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; . . . but you brought up my life from the pit . . . In the storms of life God’s promise prevails.

Matthew 12:39-41: [Jesus] answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. j   For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.

joyJonah tells us that despite his reluctance and fear, he finds a reason to rejoice.

Jesus tells us that despite the storm that rages, he is always with us.

If can find the time to spend with this short prophecy, we will be well rewarded. And we may find the strength and joy to celebrate an end to our own reluctance.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1137. 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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

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

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

John 19:38-42

descent from the crossBurial

In this time of harvest when the northern hemisphere gives up her gifts of summer to prepare us for the cold darkness of winter, I cannot quite let go of the images and sounds of last week’s memorial Mass in which we celebrated the life of a young woman who died much too early. The gift of her life still rides with me as I journey back and forth to the school where she and I smiled at one another in the hallways and classroom. The wisdom of her youth still whispers to me as I greet and teach her grieving friends. The grace of her dying still accompanies me as I prepare lessons in the quiet evenings of the gathering autumn. Looking to meet the significance of this persistent presence, I go in search of a painting that soothes grief. As always, it reminds me of the wondrous sacrificial love that descends from the cross to offer itself when all else fails. And I come across this reflection written on September 25, 2008. I share it today with you.

Descent from the Cross

Detail frm Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

One of my favorite paintings is Van der Weyden’s “Descent from the Cross”.  It lives in the Prado museum in Madrid, and when I travel there I like to spend as much time with it as possible.  It hangs alone on a large, pale wall . . . where the downward movement from the cross moves through Jesus . . . through his fainting mother . . . past Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and John, the Beloved Apostle to whom Jesus commends his mother . . . lingering with the brokenhearted women . . . hesitating with the grieving men . . . off of the canvas . . . and out of the room. 

Detail from Roger Van Der Weyden: The Descent From the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

It is as if all of the sorrow of the world falls away from us and into the pale, dead body of the Christ.  We can sense his downward journey into hell for the redemption of souls.  We can anticipate his return. 

St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 6:16: What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: “I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they will be my people”. 

St. John reminds us in 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

Through this Descent from the Cross we feel an abiding compassion that persists through the most difficult of circumstances.  We see an enduring passion that remains beyond all imaginings.  We experience a love that knows only intimate union through mercy and justice.  We sense that something will swing back through the red and blue and white of the canvas to leap out into us . . . to bring us in . . . to sweep us up into the arms now outstretched in death.  We gaze upon the hope that tells us we are redeemable and worth fighting for.

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The descent from the Cross

Detail from Roger van der Weyden: The Descent from the Cross

And with faith . . . we know with certainty that this saver of souls lives.  We know that he acts in us and through us.  We know that he has returned to complete his mission of bringing fire and love to consume the world.  We only need open our hearts . . . and trust him to act in our lives. 

Amen.

For more information about this masterpiece, visit: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum/15-masterpieces/work-card/obra/descent-from-the-cross/ or http://hubpages.com/hub/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross or http://hubpages.com/hub/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross

 

To discover who is who in this painting and to learn about the symbolism used by the artist, visit: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/descent-from-the-cross-weyden.htm

To learn about the connection with Belgian crossbowmen, visit:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Descent_from_the_Cross_(van_der_Weyden) 

Tomorrow . . . Resurrection

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