Posts Tagged ‘refuge’

John 10:31-42: Slipping Through Their Fingers

Jordan River

The Jordan River

Friday, March 17, 2023

Jesus saysI have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?

Family and friends help us or hinder us in our journey to our Easter home. Strangers and outsiders come and go, sometimes catching our attention, other times going unnoticed. Enemies litter our pathway with boulders of fear and hate. Worry and peace, anxiety and rejoicing accompany us as we move ever forward in our passage from Easter passion to joy. Today we examine how we act in the world and reflect on whether we hold Jesus in faithful hope or let him slip through our fingers. Do we follow him across the Jordan and believe?

They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and stayed there. A lot of people followed him over. They were saying, “John did no miracles, but everything he said about this man has come true.” Many believed in him then and there.

God says: The world may seem like a strange place yet I have created it just as I have created you. The noise of the world makes it difficult for you to hear my voice; yet you are never alone. The message of the world fights to drown out my words; yet I am with you always. When those you trust betray you, remember Jesus and Judas. When those close to you no longer believe in you, remember Jesus and Peter. When you are tossed by the world, remember Jesus and Mary. There is always a roadmap for you to follow . . . although you feel that you are falling over a sharp and dangerous edge. I am always with you to protect you . . . although it seems that I am slipping through your fingers. Trust in me. Rely on me. There is no firmer ground or safer refuge. Cross the Jordan with me and believe.

Before we allow Jesus to slip through our fingers, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, belief and unbelief. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_River

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2 Corinthians 11:1-29: False Apostlesunmaskinghypocrite

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Paul contrasts apostles of the light with those of the dark in today’s reading.  As we have before in our Noontime journey, we know that evil is everywhere, present in the many small and big ways that we allow division to happen within ourselves and within our communities.  Wherever difference occurs, demons and their works flourish.  Using the most insidious of methods, false prophets take on the guise of protection and guidance but they deliver deception and manipulation.  We can feel Paul’s frustration in his words today.

For a detailed commentary we can look at notes; as an overview we might consider these words from yesterday’s Evening Prayer in MAGNIFICAT, and we might use them in a prayer offering to God this evening. The mini-reflection: We can use our treasured capacity for speech to offer prayer as fragrant as incense before God or to offer hurt to another.  Psalm 19:15: May the spoken words of my mouth, the thoughts of my heart, win favor in your sight, O Lord.  Psalm 141: I have called to you, Lord; hasten to help me!  Hear my voice when I cry to you.  Let my prayer arise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.  Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips!  Do not turn my heart to things that are wrong, to evil deeds with men who are sinners.  Never allow me to share in their feasting.  If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness; but let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head.  To you, Lord God, my eyes are turned: in you I take refuge.

Both the psalmist and Paul recognize the power of words, those which we say and those we hear.  They also recognize our human need to be in society, to share meals, time, problems and prayer.  They know that evil and goodness live side by side and that it is often difficult to discern the difference between the two.

As we struggle to determine if the apostles we follow are true or false, as we struggle to remain faithful apostles of Christ rather than the false apostles Paul describes for us today, we pray.

Loving and patient God, we lift our prayer to you like incense in the night. May our prayers be pleasing to you.

Knowing and persistent God, we struggle to discern the difference between false and true leaders. May our eyes see with your wisdom and love.

Faithful and just God, we abide with and in your Spirit. May our hearts be always open to you.

Strong and compassionate Christ, we look to you as a model of how we are to act in the world. May our hands and feet be willing followers of your Way.

We ask this today and all days. Amen. 

In different versions, Psalm 19 has a varying number of verses. Use the link above go to the last verse in this psalm for other translations.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.10(2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2009.

Image from: http://fortheloveofhistruth.com/category/false-teachers/

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1 Kings 19God is in the Whisper of the Wind

Monday, February 11, 2019

Elijah’s Cave

Written on February 8, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Elijah has just served as God’s instrument in the destruction of the gods of Baal.  Jezebel and Ahab are furious with him and they seek revenge in the most ruthless of ways . . . and Elijah knows this.  As we read Jezebel’s words at the opening of the chapter we can see that she throws her entire existence into seeking the end of Elijah.  The prophet, exhausted, pleads to his God for his own end.  He is drained.  He has done as God has asked, and now he feels empty.  But even as he seeks escape, Elijah turns to God . . . and God sustains him with cakes and water.  Elijah rests and sleeps in the shade offered by a desert broom tree.  An angel of God abides with him.  The angel bids him to rise and go and so he walks for forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Mt. Horeb, Mt. Sinai where Yahweh spoke to Moses.  And there Elijah curls into a cave to await his end.  But the unexpected happens.  Yahweh does speak to this tired prophet . . . not in the fierce and thrusting wind, not in the powerful and destructive earthquake, not in the consuming and searing fire.  The Lord speaks in the tiny whispering wind, and he brings news of restoration and legacy.  His words bring hope.

We must still our over-active lives; find a space of quiet in our hyper-speed days.  We must each day seek out a broom tree in the desert whose roots sink deep into the earth to find the rivers that flow beneath the sun-baked and wind-blown dryness.  We must find daily sanctuary in a small cave on God’s holy mountain of our busy world.  That is where we are fed, that is where we will tune ourselves to the voice that speaks in the whisper of the wind, the voice that speaks within, the voice that calls us to unity with the creator and creation.

A re-post from February 11, 2012. 

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

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Psalm 17: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IX

Thursday, January 19, 2017seeking_refuge_pic

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 29, 2009.

Refuge in the Temple

If we go to an Internet search engine and type in the key words “seek refuge in a church,” we may be amazed to see how many articles pop up instantly from places around the globe.  Today is the feast day of Thomas Becket, an early British Archbishop murdered in the cathedral of Canterbury.  Through ages, humans seek physical, emotional and spiritual shelter in a structure built by human hands.  Today’s psalm, commentary informs us, is the lament of an individual unjustly attacked who has taken refuge in a temple.  “Confident of being found innocent, the psalmist cries out for God’s just judgment (1-5) and requests divine help against enemies (6-9a).  Those ravenous lions (9b-12) should be punished (13-14).  The psalm ends with a serene statement of praise (15)”.  (Senior 657)

I call upon you; answer me, O God.  Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer.

B. Child: Thomas becket

B. Child: Thomas Becket

We might seek refuge from our own terrors by looking inward to that place in which Christ dwells in each of us, by searching for and finding that quiet temple within, by being still so that we might hear the words of comfort that will settle our fears.

Turn your ear to me; hear my prayer. 


Jean Vanier

From yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation of the Day by Jean Vanier who sees Christ identify with the poor when he is born into the world to Mary and Joseph: How can God who is all powerful, all beautiful, and all glorious become so powerless, so little so weak?  The logic of love is different from the logic of reason and power.  When you love someone, you use her language to be close to her.  When you love a child, you speak and play with him as a child.  That is how God relates to us.  God becomes little so that we will not be frightened of him, so that we can enter into a heart-to-heart relationship of love and communion. 

The logic of the world tells us to fight, to beat others out, to be the first, the best, or the brightest.  Our culture rarely tells us to take a deep breath and think before we buy, speak, or accuse.

My ravenous enemies press upon me; they close their hearts, fill their mouths with proud roaring. 

The logic of love tells us to act for others who are marginalized, to witness, and to take refuge in the temple when we are persecuted.  Then we will be filled with God’s presence so that we might better face the challenges before us.

When I awake, let me be filled with your presence. 

When we are troubled, when we are accused, when we are anxious in any way, we might turn to the temple for refuge.  There we will find a child who embodies the inversion of all that assails us.  It will be this child who will show us the way to serenity amid turmoil.  It will be this one who will bind up our wounds.  It will be this one who fills us with a presence that is more powerful . . . and more loving . . . than any other we can ever know.

So let us begin the new year by packing up our woes, and taking refuge in the temple of God’s vulnerable love.

For more on Thomas Becket, visit the BBC link at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/becket_thomas.shtml

For more on Jean Vanier, visit: http://www.jean-vanier.org/en/home or listen to the interview with Krista Tippet of On Being at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234http://www.onbeing.org/program/wisdom-tenderness/234 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.12 (2009). Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 657. 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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December 15, 2012 – Isaiah 33:17-24 – A Quiet Abode

Yahoo News - AP Source posted by Pete Yost December 14, 2012

Yahoo News – AP Source posted by Pete Yost on
December 14, 2012

We humans look for a quiet place to bind up our wounds and gather strength.  We search for background that explains the inexplicable, details that relieve us of responsibility. We anguish over a world that seems lost to injustice and rampant evil. We feel as though there is nothing but turmoil and chaos and yet, there is a quiet abode.

We hear news that chills us to the bone that innocent young lives are cut short; we see proof that dedicated adults die in the flash of a semi-automatic weapon designed to kill swiftly and indiscriminately.  We cry out for change we suspect will never arrive.  It seems as though it is impossible to find a place of refuge and yet, there is a tent that will never be struck.

We lament the loss of young lives within our own borders but pay no attention to headlines from other places in the world that tell of children who are terrorized daily.  We know that entire families are slaughtered in the name of God.  We exchange commerce with governments that murder their own.  We prop up regimes that snuff out life with the coolness of a shooter who enters an elementary school with assault weapons and yet, there is a tent whose anchoring pegs will never be pulled up.

We struggle with difficult colleagues. Loved ones bicker and argue over who has control when no one in fact does.  We disconnect ourselves from others at precisely the moment when solidarity is needed.   We sever ties in an attempt to preserve whatever strength we have left and yet, there is a  sanctuary whose tethering ropes will never be severed.

The wicked cry out that there is no safety.  Iniquity delights in the sorrow it creates.  A desire for revenge takes hold and evil multiplies itself.  We gather up any vestige of strength that remains and we look for the light we know will pierce the darkness.  The desperate cry out that perhaps there is no God and yet, the Lord is here with us . . . creating for us a quiet abode within his protective arms.

As the world mourns the loss of life in Newtown, CT in the USA, let us also mourn the loss of so much life around the world.  Let us call others to join us as we mourn massacres everywhere.  Let us join in prayer for those who struggle with private demons and public scorn.  Let us enter the only refuge that never disappears and never betrays.  So let us pray . . .

In the storm of turmoil that whirls around us, call us to the tent that the winds of war will never un-tether.

In the maelstrom of emotion that savages any hope of serenity, bring us into the tent whose pegs will always remain anchored.

In the deluge of fear and the tempest of anger that boil up to sap our energy, hold us in the shelter of your compassionate heart.  Clasp us firmly in the arms of your justice.  Remain with us in the safe haven of your quiet abode.  For where you are is mercy.  Where you are is justice.  Where you are is peace.  Where you are . . . is our only safe and quiet abode.

Let us hold in prayer all those who are touched by brutality anywhere in the world.  We ask for your peace and consolation for all those who are traumatized by violence anywhere in the world.  In this Advent time we look to the light that pierces the darkness; we look for the solace of your quiet abode.   Amen.  

To read about the incident in Connecticut, click on the image above.

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