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Posts Tagged ‘rejection’


Luke 4:16-30: The Brow of the Hill

Friday, March 8. 2019

Jesus

Today we remind ourselves that Jesus was rejected in his hometown and this ought to help us feel better about our failures both perceived and real.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  I am reading this and thinking that Jesus lives most of his life on the brow of the hill, at danger of being hurled down headlong.  We know how Jesus died and so we understand that finally the jealousy, anger and fear took over enough people to drown out the voices of the faithful followers.  We also know, because we have read the story and heard it told to us each Eastertide, that death did not put an end to Jesus and his kingdom; rather, it birthed a movement and a way of being that swept the world and changed human history forever.  We need to remember all of this when we find ourselves on the brow of the hill outside our own hometown or any place else.  We need to remember that what we first perceive as an end will become a beginning through Christ.  We need to remember that what we fear becomes our joy through Christ.  We need to remember that nothing can obliterate us and God restores and saves.  We need to remember that God turns all harm to good.  We need to remind ourselves that when we live and move in the Spirit we are infinite and eternal.  We need to remind ourselves that when we pray and act in the Spirit, nothing is impossible.  He passed through the midst of them and went away.

What did Jesus do or say that angered those who had known him from birth?  A few days ago we heard the Isaiah 61:1-2a reading that Jesus found and read from the scroll.  The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . there are those who resent good things happening to other people.  He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners, and a day of vindication by our God . . . there are those who want to be the only giver of goodness, the only advocate for peace.  There are those who want to control even the goodness of God.

The Isaiah reading continues: I rejoice heartily in the Lord . . . and so must we even in the face of disappointment.  My God is the joy of my soul . . . and so we turn to him when we are rejected and scorned.  He has clothed me with a robe of salvation . . . God will leave the ninety-nine safe and secure to seek for and save the one lost sheep.  He has wrapped me in a mantel of justice . . . God will right wrongs and mend brokenness in God’s time and place.

The people in the synagogue were all filled with fury . . . we have the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ Advent into our lives with impatience and resentment.  At the same time we have the opportunity to welcome him into our lives even when we know that following Jesus is difficult work.

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing . . . we do not have to wait for some distant and unknown day to celebrate God’s saving power; rather we can proclaim our joy today and every day.  We can willing follow Christ even to the brow of the hill secure in the knowledge that although we fear being hurled headlong down the precipice Jesus stands with us to lead us through the midst of them . . . to lead us to eternal safety and joy.


For an insightful blog posting on the Luke reading in today’s Noontime, click the Jesus image above and follow the link.  For a site that has information about films about Jesus, click on the image below.

1977 film: Jesus of Nazareth

A re-post from December 13, 2011.

Images from: http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html and http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/2010/11/comparison-jesus-gospel-manifesto.html

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Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 

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Judges 14 and 15: Marrying the Philistine

Sunday, June 25, 2017

José Echenagusía: Samson and Delilah

The Philistines were a war-like tribe of people who came out of the Aegean area as part of the movement of Sea Peoples to end the Hittite rule and to settle along the Mediterranean in the area of Gaza today.  In the Book of Joshua and early in the Book of Judges, we read that Yahweh allows this people to survive so that they might test the Israelites.  Through time, the nation of Israel will have to learn how to co-exist; rather than convert or kill off, this strong-willed pagan people. Some say that the modern Middle Eastern conflict dates back to these early skirmishes, and we can never know this for certain; but here is what we can and do know. This conflict and this story about a man dedicated to God from birth has many surprising twists and turns that all lead to one lesson: We must rely on God alone, no matter the circumstance, no matter the condition. 

From the notes in La Biblia de América we learn the following. Believing that they will obtain the power to decipher Samson’s riddle and somehow control his strength, the Philistines plot to bring him down. But when we examine this story closely, we see that sometimes we too, must marry the Philistine because we never know if this has been brought about by the Lord, who is providing an opportunity against the unholy in our lives who have dominion over our sacred places. 

We might learn something about our fear of failure and rejection when we listen to Jia Jiang’s Ted Talk: What I learned from 100 Days of Rejection at: https://www.ted.com/talks/jia_jiang_what_i_learned_from_100_days_of_rejection

We might also explore Jia Jiang’s book: REJECTION PROOF: HOW I BEAT FEAR AND BECAME INVINCIBLE THROUGH 100 DAYS OF REJECTION: Harmony Books, N.Y.  

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

For more about the Philistine people, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-philistines 

Adapted from a reflection written on May 8, 2009. 

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Matthew 21:33-46: Cornerstone – Part III

Friday, March 3, 2017workers-vineyard

The Old Testament foreshadows the promise of redemption and the fulfillment of hope. The New Testament Jesus explains how loss is gain to his disciples and to us when he tells us the Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard. When we spend time with this story, we see how God turns all hate into goodness, all harm into rejoicing, and all injustice to love.

God says: Sit with me and this story today. Read the words slowly and let them sink into your heart and mind. Repeat the verses until they become one with your sinew and bone. Share your reflection with me and ask me your questions. Share your doubts and fears, your anxieties and anger, your joy and thanksgiving. I am prepared to hear all you have to say about loss and gain, about rejection and praise. When you experience loss, remember this, the very foundation of my love for you stands on my understanding that you will reject me. But my love is greater than any negative thought or action directed at me. I have made you from my, for my love. When you are rejected, remember that I have been rejected too. When you believe yourself lost, you only need extend your hand to me to find all that you believe has vanished for it is in your emptiness that I fill you. It is in your loneliness that you feel my companionship most keenly. And it is in your dejection that you feel the strength of my cornerstone.

To read other translations of this parable, use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions.

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Luke 4:24-30: The Brow of the Hill, A Reprise

Monday, February 29, 2016Jesus-Icon1

How do we rise again once we have failed? How do we handle jealousy and envy, our own and that of others? Where do we find our escape route on the brow of the hill and how do we get to it when the world crowds around us? Today’s Gospel calls us to re-visit the December 2011 post on how Jesus reacts to the rejection he experiences in his own home town. When we realize that those closest to us seem like strangers, we read these verses and consider how Jesus is rejected in his own hometown. We reflect on how he escapes the anger of those he wants to save. And we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/12/13/the-brow-of-the-hill/ 

Tomorrow, seventy-seven times.

 

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Mark 1:35-39: Jesus Leaves Capernaum

Vasily Alexandrovich Kotarbinsky: The Sermon at Capernaum

Vasily Alexandrovich Kotarbinsky: The Sermon at Capernaum

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The healing presence of Jesus is rejected when he walks among those who knew him from childhood; and so . . . rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. We might take comfort that even Jesus is turned away by those closest to him. Simon Peter says to Jesus when he searches for and finally finds him: Everyone is looking for you. But are they? Are we?

We seek Christ in the quiet of a stolen moment only to find him in the chaos of the world. Everyone is looking for you.

We enact Jesus in the ordered giving of our surplus only to be asked to give him from that which we were keeping to sustain us. Everyone is looking for you.

We promise Christ that we will follow when all is settled and once we have time to think and prepare only to discover that we follow Jesus most closely in the spur-of-the-moment acts that come through us from Christ’s universal heart. Everyone is looking for you.

Mark’s Gospel is brief and lightning quick, much like Jesus’ physical time on earth with humanity. Mark’s story is powerful and concise, much like the trajectory of Jesus public ministry. Mark’s good news is embracing in its scope and mysterious in its stark detail, much like the presence of the risen Christ among us.

Over the coming days we will also leave the known world that we have created for ourselves to examine more closely a number of aspects of Mark’s story . . . as we too search for Christ . . . as we too create our own evocative and significant story of leaving Capernaum.

Today, we use the scripture link above to compare different versions of these verses , and to open our comfort zone to the possibilities of our own public ministry.  

Tomorrow, Jesus calls his followers.

For more on the town of Capernaum, visit: http://bibleatlas.org/capernaum.htm 

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Tissot: The False Witness

Tissot: False Witness before Caiaphas

Luke 22 – The Plot to Kill Jesus

Over and over again we read frightening lines like this one: The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.   The leaders see that they will lose influence and power because to Jesus offers compassion and healing to those who suffer.  The leaders also worry that Jesus’ actions might attract the attention of the overlord Romans, and they do not want to encourage another Jewish rebellion.  They search for a way to do away with this troublesome rabbi who asks piercing questions.  Jesus – who presents a way of finding timeless peace and healing restoration – is eliminated by those who offer far less.  The paradox is that this cornerstone that is rejected becomes a salvific force which redeems not only friends but enemies – if only these adversaries might put down their weapons and return to the goodness to which they are called.

Today we continue with our theme of dark schemes and wicked conspirators, and we look at how events around Jesus’ last hours unwind . . .

While Jesus and his followers prepare for Passover, the shadowy plot of murder unwinds; these two activities coil around one another in a twisting dance of darkness and light.  This serves to remind us that in this world goodness and evil often walk side by side unremarked . . . almost accepted.  We fool ourselves into believing that all around us must be perfect.  Who is the reaper who knows to sort the grain from the chaff?

A foreshadowing of Peter’s denial sends a frisson of consciousness through us . . . we too have denied Christ when we are under pressure.  Jesus reminds us that we need nothing for our journey save his protection and guidance.  We fool ourselves into believing that we make our own way and earn our own bread. Who is the source of our talents?

Jesus prays.  Judas betrays.  The faithful scatter.  The powerful take over.  The odd dance of inversion continues as those with arms believe themselves to be the strongest.  We fool ourselves into believing that we can exert pressure to win arguments by overwhelming knowledge when overwhelming goodness is the true strength.  Who allows himself to be made weak so that he might be strong in the creator?

Arrest, denial, rejection.  Jesus stands innocent before Pilate and Herod.  He is beaten and sentenced to death.  He carries his cross, he is crucified and dies . . . and he awaits the resurrection he has been promised by the Father.  We fool ourselves into believing that this story was lived once by a man two thousand years ago.  Who suffers each day with each of his billions of sisters and brother?

There is no plot Jesus does not comprehend.  There is no darkness he has not experienced.  There is no pain he has not suffered.  There is no mockery, no betrayal, no rebuffing, no murder he has not survived.  Jesus experiences all, and Jesus wants to save and restore all . . . if we only rely on him.

When the situation is bleakest, when the plot is thickest, when the hour is darkest . . . this is where Christ stands.  This is where he waits . . . for he knows that we will need him because we take nothing else with us on this journey – no purse, no bag, no sword.  We take only Christ, for he is all we need against any evil, against any plot . . . against even murder.

Adapted from a Noontime written on November 18, 2009.

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