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Posts Tagged ‘remnant’


2 Kings 19:21-31Preparation

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago: The Sennacherib Prism

Written on April 19, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We have spent time reflecting on Hezekiah and his story of fidelity to God.  Today we make this story our own with prayer.  We make preparation to strengthen our faith; we prepare to trust in God.

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

Not only is God eternal, so are his plans.  This does mean to say that our lives are predetermined or predestined in any way.  What this does mean to say is this:  God in his infinite and merciful economy has devised a way . . . and this way turns all harm to good . . . for those who join his remnant in foreign lands and foreign times.  For those who return to the covenant promise, for those who remain in the Spirit of the Beatitudes, there is a certain reward: life in the light which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  This is the good news we have heard proclaimed all Easter Week.  It is the same good news we hear proclaimed today.  There is no greater story.  There is no happier word.  There is no other love that waits in this way . . . for all to turn and return.

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, or to others, Doubting Thomas Sunday in which we see one of Jesus’ own friends and disciples refuse to believe in the resurrected Christ until he is able to experience his visit with his own senses.  Out of overwhelming love and compassion, Christ returns to a locked room to comfort his remnant, to encourage his bride, the church.  As we have said before, there is no greater story.

In today’s reading, the king of Israel, Hezekiah, follows God’s advice and allows God to overcome the enemy king of Assyria, Sennacherib.  We have spent time reflecting on this incident before but today we focus on the isolated words of the Lord . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

And just as Yahweh turned harm to good in the story of Hezekiah and in the story of Jesus, so too does he move in our lives today.  We remember that the angel of the Lord struck down enemy troops.  We remember that the Lord himself came to save us on the cross.  And we also remember that even after his death he returned to the locked room where he friends hid in fear . . . to open hearts, to open minds, to open up the darkness to the light, to open up the stinginess of the world to his love.

As remnant, we do well to prepare to receive this deepest of hopes, this most powerful of forces, this irresistible love that cannot be quenched.

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your power among those who are poor in faith, and encourage them by our good example.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your love among those who do not know you, and be Christ’s ambassadors to those who seek with sincere hearts.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your glory among those who fear death, and show them the path to life.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

May God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 


Images from: http://bibleandarchaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ancient-record-of-biblical-king.html and http://concordpastor.blogspot.com/2011/04/variations-on-caravaggios-doubting.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Evening Prayer.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.4 (2009): 129-130. Print.  

For more information on the Sennacherib Prism, click on the image above or go to: http://bibleandarchaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ancient-record-of-biblical-king.html

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Jeremiah 31:7-14None Shall Stumble

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Marc Adamus: The Cold Journey

Jeremiah encourages the faithful to keep eyes fixed on God, to remember that God is both the source and goal of our being.  Our journey here on earth is one of working in the vineyards of the Kingdom, of witnessing to injustices committed against the marginalized, and of waiting on God’s plan in God’s time.  Jeremiah tells us that the faithful are guarded and led out of exile.  He reminds us that the remnant that was scattered is gathered up in hope and loved with passion.  The blind and the lame, mothers and those with child, those who departed in tears . . . all departed in sorrow will return in an immense throng . . . and none shall stumble.  This is the best kind of news we can hope to hear.

The daily drone of life wears down our defense against pain.  The monotony of waking each morning to hope endlessly in a better day saps our resources.  The aridity of the desert dries up the wells we frequent for refreshment. The oases are further apart; our rest stops do not sustain us as they once had.  We have difficulty celebrating the good news we know is upon us . . . and it is difficult for us to believe that none shall stumble.

When the life we have arranged for ourselves fails us we have two options: we can turn away from the pain of our suffering, or we can turn toward our grief where God waits to sweep us into waiting arms.

Richard Rohr has something to tell us about this in his book Job and the Mystery of Suffering: Spiritual Reflections (pages 54-55).

“We must go through the stages of feeling, not only in the last death of anything but also in all the earlier little deaths. If we abort these emotional stages by easy answers, all they do is take a deeper form of disguise and come out in another way. So many people learn that the hard way—by getting ulcers, by all kinds of psychosomatic diseases, depression, chronic irritability, and misdirected anger—because they refuse to let their emotions run their course, honor them consciously, or find some appropriate place to share them.

“Emotions are not right or wrong, good or bad. They are merely indicators of what is happening, and must be listened to, usually in the body. People who do not feel deeply finally do not know or love deeply either. It is the price we pay for loving. Like Job we must be willing to feel our emotions and come to grips with the mystery in our head, our heart, and our body. To be honest, that takes years”.

We live in a world of instant replay, quick solutions, smiling gurus, and impatience with suffering.  Jeremiah speaks to the faithful who understand that living well is not about covering over or covering up but of delving deep and allowing the fiery furnace of pain to refine us as we witness, work and wait.  Job understands the intensity of suffering innocently.  Rohr tells us that our pain is not a punishment but an acknowledgement of our eagerness to be one with God.  We know that the journey is long and steep . . . we know that our yearning for God means that we are remnant . . . and we know that with God . . . none of the faithful shall stumble.


A re-post from November 12, 2011.

Image from: http://www.marcadamus.com/photo.php?id=37&gallery=desert

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Isaiah 24 – 27Elusive Antagonists

Monday, October 8, 2018

Written on February 25 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Scripture persistently warns us about how to live, whom to follow, and what traps lie ahead to ensnare us.  All we have to do is to pay a bit of attention.

Each of us has our personal impediments to the progress of the soul.  All of us must come face to face with ourselves and the lives we have lived.  Our antagonists are sometimes in our faces, but more frequently they slip in among our friends and loved ones to betray us in our inmost heart.  Those who oppose us openly are easily identifiable; the more dangerous enemies, Isaiah warns, are those who come in the guise of goodness – and for this reason the Lord turns the world upside down . . . to see who shakes out, and who has learned the skills needed by the faithful.

If we have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, given shelter to the homeless and taken in the lost, we have been putting ourselves through our lessons well.

If we have mourned the dead, tended to the sick, ministered to the imprisoned and entered into the vineyard to do God’s work, we have becomes accustomed to living in mercy and compassion.

If we have witnessed to evil, rebuked our companions, atoned for our sins and made changes in our lives, we know how to live in God’s vineyard . . . and we will put our heads down, go indoors, and await the passing of the dreadful singing of the harvesting sword.

We ought not fear the obstacles we constantly stumble against for they are lesson plans that refine us.  If we have answered God’s call and accepted our work as remnant toiling in God’s vineyard, then we need not fear the coming of the day as we see it here . . . for with God all things are possible.  God will turn all that is evil to an end that is goodness, and we will know peace out of chaos, justice out of ruin, humility out of pride, love out of envy, and joy out of sorrow.  Our elusive antagonists who have hounded our heels and sent chills of fear through our bones will have honed our skills at kingdom building and as remnant . . . and we will find to our amazement, that we will have readied ourselves for the work of God’s eternal city.


A re-post from September 5, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.annerobertson.com/2009/04/naboths-vineyard.html

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part V

Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci: Last Supper

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . . Today we commemorate the last meal Jesus shared with his followers, the Last Supper that signals the initiation of the Eucharist, the gift of God’s presence among us. Today we spend time with the Gospels as we move closer to the fulfillment of the Easter promise that we are created in and for love.

Matthew 26:17-30 describes this last meal to his Jewish audience. The story told by Mark 14:12-26 is concise yet evocative. Luke 22:1-39 records the last conversations Jesus shares with his followers; we may find these inspiring as we prepare for the Easter Triduum. These accounts conclude with an accounting that Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Finally, with beautiful, soaring language, John 13-17 prepares us for the events that loom in the next few days. We spend our time wisely if we spend time with one, several, or even all of the accountings.

As we consider the gift and promise of de-creation, we have the opportunity to share the gift of God’s presence each day, and we consider . . . Do we celebrate our creation with joy? Do we willingly open our hearts to welcome God’s holy in-dwelling? Do we share the good news that we are free to choose a life in and with Christ? Do we bring the lamp of Christ’s promise of redemptive love into the darkest corners of our world?

This evening we see the arrest  of the Teacher. Tomorrow, his crucifixion. And on the third day . . . the lamps we carry into a darkened Jerusalem come together with the strength of the sun. On this Holy Thursday, let us spend time with the recounting of Jesus’ last supper with us as he opens the promise before our eyes. Let us determine to remain patient and watchful.

And let us resolve to be Remnant for God.

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part IV

Holy Wednesday, April 12, 2017

James Tissot: The Chaldees Destroy the Brazen Sea

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

So often we see Christ as the light of the world, forcing shadows back into corners, bringing corruption into the open, asking for transparency and clarity. The prophet Zephaniah shows us a world the has fallen in on itself, a holy city that has crumbled, a holy people that has scattered, a holy message that is lost in the winds of change.

We can see the de-creation that is taking place and we know how to identify the end of a people; but do we know how to identify the new beginning that God offers each of us each day? Does our pride inhibit us from accepting God’s gift of grace? Is our need to control an obstacle for growth? Does guilt or shame prohibit our stepping into the light Christ offers to the world? Does fear paralyze us? Do we retreat inwardly, using absolute logic and reason in a futile attempt to explore the mystery that is Christ? Do we see and accept the gifts of faith, hope and love that God proffers? Does a need for perfection force us back into darkness? Does a yearning for status and wealth overstep God’s call to love?

We fear the turmoil and chaos that looms when we see that we need to take ourselves apart before we can allow God to put ourselves back together in a new and refreshing way. Zephaniah shows us a city and a people in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to respond to God’s call to the light. As we wait in Easter hope and maintain hope in God’s promise, as we persist in moving forward in love, as we remain faithful to God who loves us much, we move toward the light that shatters the darkness. We move toward the lamp of God’s love and call.

On this Holy Wednesday, let us be Remnant for God.

 

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part III

Let us give God praise, and intercede for those who harm us, for it is easy to intercede for those we love.

Holy Tuesday, April 11, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

We cannot judge others.  We can only gauge ourselves based on our own daily rate of improvement.  My Dad always used to say: Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else.  You will always come up short.  You will be far better or far worse than everyone else, and you will have not learned anything about yourself.  He would continue:  Compare yourself to yourself.  Are you a better person today than you were yesterday?  If so, good.  Keep on going!  If not, you need to change; you better do something about it!

Today we read about God’s wish to de-create all that God has created.  Let us be like Abraham who pleaded for time to find a good man in Sodom.  Let us be like Moses who pointed out to Yahweh that it would not look so good if Yahweh saved people only to destroy them.  Let us be like Ruth who remains faithful against odds and all possibility. Let us be like Mary who said yes to God’s outrageous proposal to bring new life to a dead world through the promise of a child.

Let us ask intercession for all those who harm, those who hate, those who de-construct our world with their anger or indifference. Let us give thanks for creation; and let us give thanks for the de-creation that brings us to redemption. Let us praise God’s name.  Let us celebrate the goodness and mercy of God.  Let us intercede for one another.

Let us be co-creators and co-redeemers with God.  Let us ask to participate in miracles.  Let us believe in the fullness of God’s plan.  Let us love all those who have abandoned God.  Let us bring light in to the darkness. For this is the work of the remnant.

On this Holy Tuesday, let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part II

Holy Monday, April 10, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

Many times the early apostles shook the dust of an un-hearing town or people from their feet and their cloaks.  When they offered peace and that peace did not return to them, they moved on but remained open to the possibility of change, knowing that the work of conversion in these unbelievers was God’s work and not theirs.  If they were to play a part in a particular person’s transformation, they trusted the Holy Spirit to lead them to that spot in time and space, to that person into whose life they would enter . . . to be Christ at a moment of crisis or conversion.  This is how the Trinity functions in us.  This is the Mystery of Creation that works to transform the forces of de-creation into forces of restoration, healing and kingdom building.

God reveals the nature of God to each creature in a time known best only to God.  I like to think of the image of God searching through the tiniest streets of Jerusalem, holding a lamp high in search of the unbelievers who hide in dark places.  I also like to think of God’s modern apostles being the light that streams from this lantern.  We do nothing on our own.  We emanate from God . . . for God . . . in God . . . for the economy of salvation.  We can be a part of that salvation as co-redeemers, or we can be de-creators.  We have a choice to make.  Are we those who lurk in dark places, hiding from the light of truth, feeling comfort in the darkness?  Are we those who hunger for mercy and truth, feeling comfort only in the light?

On this Holy Monday, let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part I

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

For a week, we have traveled the road to Emmaus, Jesus at our side as we look for joy. Like the disciples, we may be immersed in our sorrow, and we may not know that joy walks with us. Today the prophet Zephaniah tells us that we must de-create before we can renew the image of God we bring to the world. In this holiest of weeks, we pledge to remain faithful to Christ who guides us. We persist in stepping into the world embodying the love the Spirit nurtures in us. And we promise to remain in Christ as the hope-filled remnant of God.

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

The prophet Zephaniah lived in a time when many Jews had returned to polytheism.  Here we have a description of how Yahweh will undo his beautiful creation which has been profaned.  He will even take a lamp and search the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem’s streets in order to find the last of the unfaithful.  Thank goodness we hear at the end of this prophecy that a remnant of the faithful will remain, but in this first chapter, there is nothing happy to hear.

How painful it must be for God to watch as we de-construct what is given to us in love.  Not only do we abuse the wondrous gift of Nature and Mother Earth, but we abuse one another and ourselves as well.  What do we do when we discover that we are in relationships that pollute our thinking and our hearts?

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

First, we turn to the one who created us and who knows us so well.  We turn and return to God.  Then, we pray and we act.  We pray for the personal strength to see us through the trials that lie in our path.  We pray for those who wreck damage on themselves and others.  We ask for forgiveness, both personal and communal.  We practice justice and compassion as best we can, wherever we can. And we ask for the gift of forgiveness and healing for the world.

On this Palm Sunday, let us follow the steps of the Master Teacher; and let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Micah: The Promise of the Shepherd

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

We have examined the construct of deception and how envy and hope show us divergent journeys through life. We have spent time with the prophet Micah who speaks to both fraudulent leaders and God’s vulnerable, faithful followers. With Micah, we have examined the true path to perfection and celebrated the promise of restoration offered us each day by the Creator.

“With burning eloquence [Micah] attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. (Senior 1140) The prophet’s testimony foreshadows Jesus’ words. Do we believe that God comes to live among us? And what does God’s presence look like? And how will we recognize this consoling presence?

Through Micah, God says: Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work our evil on their couches.” (2:1)

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

Through Micah, God says: I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown I to a panic by men. With a leader to break the path they will burst open the gate and go out through it; their king shall go through before them, and the Lord at their head”. (2:12-13)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good – a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. (John 10:1-6)

Those who were listening to Jesus’ voice: had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. ( John 10:7-10)

The Creator speaks to us through the prophet Micah. The Creator visits us in the person of Jesus. The Creator lives in us as the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us listen to the promise given us this day; let us share this gift of hope and redemption with others; and let us persist in listening for and following the voice of the genuine shepherd.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1140. Print.   

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