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Posts Tagged ‘remnant’


Jeremiah 29:1-15: Letter to the Exiles in Babylon

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A page from The Book of Jeremiah: St. Catherine Monastery Bible, Egypt

We have spent a good deal of time lately thinking about exile and captivity.  Here is a Favorite from August 12, 2007 which we post it today as a letter to all those in captivity of any kind.  It is a reminder that God is constantly sending us love letters . . . we must be willing to open them.

Many believe that our existence here on earth is a Babylon.

We love God, we worship him, we are in a covenant relationship with him, yet we are brought here to live a life physically apart from God, a life which does its best to distract us from God and from the promises we have made to him and him to us.  If we are so loved, why does God not snatch us up immediately and take us to him?  Because he created us to be like him, and we are given the choice to try to behave as he does or to go off on our own.  This Babylon is our classroom, and we are to bloom where we have been planted.  How do we know this?  God has written us a letter, through Jeremiah, to tell us so.

Look at verses 5 through 7: Build houses to dwell in; plant gardens and eat their fruits.  Take wives and beget sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters.  There you must increase in number, not decrease.  Promote the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the Lord, for upon its welfare depends your own. 

And my favorite in this chapter is verse 11:  For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. 

But continue with verses 12 to 15: When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you.

I remind myself of another Jeremiah citation by which I live: 42:10-22.  When I am most thinking that I need to pull up stakes and move off to begin a whole new life, I remember the words that the Lord God spoke to the remnant:  If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; for I regret the evil I have done you . . . If you are determined to go to Egypt [another place – to make a new beginning]; the hunger you dread shall cling to you no less in Egypt, and there you shall die.

And so we pray: Compassionate God, remind me daily that “this vale of tears” is only a pathway to you.  As I build my house and settle into this land, remain near.  As I promote the welfare of my exile city, be my hands and feet.  My only wish is that you increase and not decrease.  Abide with me, your remnant.  Hold me ever close to you.  Amen.


A re-post from April 24, 2012.

For more on the story of the St. Catherine Monastery Bible, or the Monasteryitself, go to: http://theratzingerforum.yuku.com/topic/1092/St-Catherine-s-Bible-2pp-Der-Spiegel-Exclusive and http://www.sinaimonastery.com/en/index.php?lid=3

For more on the prophet Jeremiah go to the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog.

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Jeremiah 50 & 51: Against Babylon

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A re-post from the Third Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2012

Eastertide is the traditional time in the liturgical year when we rejoice that we are loved and rescued by God, that we are redeemed and saved by Jesus, that we are consoled and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.  We celebrate our new life; we give thanks that we are not forgotten.  Our Noontime Easter journey has taken us, however, in a different direction: we have re-visited the Tales of the Diaspora; we have gone into exile and remained remnant; and we have heard the news that even when we feel abandoned and defeated.  We hear that especially at these times God abides with us in our sorrow and pain.  Rather than be downcast when we are held captive, we have every reason to experience Easter joy because we know that Christ’s love for us pierces the darkness of addiction and obsession.

Babylon appears to be the winner as she conquers little Israel; but as always we see that God abides with the little and the oppressed, the sorrowing and the broken-hearted.  We have been swept away into captivity and exile; but God has remained with us.  The tiny remnant becomes the messenger of good news.  The rejected lover becomes the cornerstone of the new kingdom.  Let us join our voices with Jeremiah’s as we watch mighty Babylon fall . . . as we come to understand that God resides with the homeless; God heals the grieving and wounded; God loves us infinitely . . . and calls us to witness to this amazing love.  Jeremiah predicts the fall of the empire that has deported and held captive the people of Israel.  He also predicts the coming of the one who will release all nations on earth.

In today’s Gospel Luke (24:35-48) tells the story of Jesus’ appearance on Easter Sunday night when the two disciples who had met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus joined the apostles to describe their experience with the risen Christ that day.  While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”.  But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? 

We too often tremble in hidden places hoping to escape the notice of oppressors.  Jesus comes to us to ask us as he asked the disciples, Why do questions arise in your hearts? 

We too suddenly accept gloom and refuse to find hope when all is dark.  Jesus comes to us to show us his wounds as he showed them to the disciples as he says, Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have. 

We too quickly accept the last words of a bully or tyrant as the ultimate outcome in a conflict or as a final decision that will last forever. Jesus comes to us as he came to his apostles and he says, It is written that Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations . . . You are witnesses of these things

And so we pray with the words of Jeremiah as we retell the story of the risen Jesus.

Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord with covenant everlasting, never to be forgotten . . .  and let us turn to Christ who comes to us through the locked doors of our hearts.

Lost sheep were my people, their shepherds mislead them, straggling on the mountains . . . let us follow Christ who gathers us up to lead us to our peaceful home with him.

For Israel and Judah are not widowed of their God, the Lord of hosts . . . we have not been left behind by Christ.

You are my hammer, my weapon for war . . . you are Christ’s faithful ones, you are witnesses to the goodness he has done . . . go and tell what you have seen.  Amen.


Image from: http://rosemaryl.blogspot.com/2010/09/light-in-darkness-blog-carnival-round-2.html

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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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