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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’


Jeremiah 16: Candor and Hope

Monday, November 25, 2019

We seek better things to come . . .

What are we to think of the words recorded here by the prophet Jeremiah?  A paraphrasing from the HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY, page 559, tells us:  This section contains reports of three symbolic actions, followed by an interpretation that puts them in the context of the Exile.  The prophet is to remain unmarried and childless since the upcoming warfare will be utterly destructive of families.  He is told not to participate in mourning rites because Yahweh intends to remove peace from the land that will undermine the normal mourning customs.  A third requirement of the prophet is that he not participate in festivities of any kind as all celebration will cease.  Following these admonitions is a justification for the punishment they are to receive, the cause is their apostasy.  So we see the domination of two concerns of the community in exile: to identify the cause of its present situation and to contemplate a more favorable future.

Suffering, as we know, is not necessarily castigation; sometimes the innocent suffer through no fault of their own because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control.  What we can take away from today’s reading is the underlined thought above.  When we feel ourselves suffering in exile, two exercises are useful: first, reflecting on our behavior prior to exile to investigate the need to change as appropriate and second, anticipating a better future in active hope.  These are hallmark characteristics of the Christian.  Candid self assessments, the search for improvement, and petitioning God for better things to come.  Even . . . and especially . . . when things seem darkest . . . and without hope of any kind.

When we find ourselves in pain or in exile, suffering either innocently or as a consequence of our own actions, we may choose to become bitter, angry, resentful, and intent on making others suffer.  This does not align with the Law of Love as described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 when he writes that love does not brood over injury or rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 

When we find ourselves in exile, it is best to regard the time as a period of retreat and reflection, going inward to hear the voice of truth, looking outward in expectation of the good news which will arrive.  As children of God, we benefit from knowing this good news even before it reaches us.  It is the news of our release.  The news of our freedom.  The news that we are created and held by one who loves us more than we can imagine.


Written on November 26, 2008, re-written and posted today.   To see how one community contemplates and moves toward a more favorable future, click on the image above or go to: http://www.hopeinspiredministries.org/

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 559. Print.

Image from: http://www.hopeinspiredministries.org/

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Psalm 43Peace of Heart

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In some versions of the Bible, we find this psalm as the final portion of psalm 42. It may begin in this manner: Grant me justice, O God; defend me from a faithless people . . . Or it may begin differently: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people . . .   

No matter the style, the psalmist here presents the universal plea humans have when they come to God: I see myself as wronged . . . and I want you to put things right. 

The Meditation in MAGNIFICAT today serves as a perfect solution for our very human desire to seek vindication; it speaks to our peace of heart.  This is an idea we investigated from time to time when we look at the troubles Job experienced.  Each of us lives a life of trial in one way or another and it is for those times that Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, writes: The easiest way to keep your peace of heart is to accept everything as coming from the hands of God who loves you.  If you do this, any pain or persecution, anything which is difficult to accept will be transformed into a source of joy, happiness, and peace . . . This does not mean to say that God sends disaster to trip us up.  Nor is this saying that God delights in punishing us.  The opposite is true.  God so loves us that when calamity occurs, God wishes most to transform all damage and harm into goodness and fruitfulness.  This is why it is imperative that we maintain constant, open contact with God . . . otherwise we will misinterpret all that happens to us and around us.

St. Paul continues: Silence and recollection are two very effective ways of bringing ourselves before the Lord and entering into the sanctuary of [God’s] love . . . When a person comes to terms with his feelings, when he lives in God and walks by the light of faith, he has attained that stillness of the night which God is waiting for.  It is then that the Word of God comes to birth in him in a way which is entirely of God.  Remain within your deepest self, in the interior kingdom of your spirit.  Remember that your soul is a temple of the living God.  “The kingdom of God is within you”. 

We may have difficulty in finding these quiet times to be still and so St. Paul continues with this counsel: Night and day let your aim be to remain in simplicity and gentleness, calmness and serenity, and in freedom from created things, so that you will find joy in the Lord Jesus.  Love silence and solitude, even when in the midst of a crowd or when caught up in your work. 

By living in the world but not of it, by keeping our line of communication with God open and clear at all times, we will understand better what we are to do when disaster strikes – as it always does.  We will be more prepared to see the goodness that can come from cataclysm – as it always can.  We will sink less into despair, we will rise more into joy.  We will find what St. Paul of the Cross calls a certain peace of heart.

When we suffer – as we do – when we are wronged – as we will be – when we wrong others – as we are bound to do . . . rather than seek vindication, let us seek peace of heart For when we maintain faith and seek joy, peace arrives . . . and all else will fall into its perfect place.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.10 (2009). Print.  

A Favorite from October 20, 2009.

For other translations of these verses, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus. 

For a reflection on this topic with verses from the wisdom Book of Job, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/23/peace-of-heart/ 

Image from: http://irjaberg.se/mediala%20tj%C3%A4nster/healing%20heart%20afton.html

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