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James Tissot: The Ark Passes Over the Jordan

Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part III

As we continue to explore the historical appendix in Chapter 52 describing the fall of Jerusalem to the Chaldeans (Babylonians), we find details of what happens to the Jewish leadership.  The description is simple but in places horrific, reading like a newspaper report submitted by a correspondent for the evening edition.

Serve Babylon or perish . . . Leave her, my people, let each one save himself from the burning wrath of the Lord. 

I once heard a wise woman say that each time she reads about the wrath of the Lord or the admonition to fear the Lord in the Old Testament that she substitutes the word love. . . because with the New Testament and the coming of Jesus, the complications of the Mosaic Law are transformed into the one word of the New Law. The wrathful God who reigns terror and demands obedience becomes the loving God who calls us to perfect union in him, with him, and for him in the person of Christ and the Mystical Body. This wise woman said that as mighty as the wrath of God is in the early days of history, so passionate is his love for us in the Messianic Days in which we live . . . the days between the First and the Second Coming.  This gives us something to ponder.

I believe that we are constantly in Babylon, rendering unto her as Jesus said that we must render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.  We must serve Babylon or perish. This is where we have been planted.

I believe that a new wave of Persians is always at the gate, amassing forces as numerous as locusts. These are the things of this world, and they are always with us.

I believe that our forgiving and compassionate God regrets the evil he has done us, just as loving parents regret the discipline which they must administer.

Tomorrow, the power of God’s consoling love.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Jacques_Joseph_Tissot_-_The_Ark_Passes_Over_the_Jordan_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Visit a model of Solomon’s Temple at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, NY at: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/metkids/2020/solomons-temple-model-judaica 

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Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Monday, April 11, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part II

Today we continue our study of thoughts on empire and conquerors as we explore words from the prophet Jeremiah to the suffering people of a fallen kingdom. The conquering Babylonians now suffer in the way they had inflicted suffering on others.

51:30 – Babylon’s warriors have ceased to fight, they remain in their strongholds; dried up is their strength, they have become women. Burned are their homes and broken their bars. One runner meets another, herald meets herald, telling the King of Babylon that all his city is taken. 

These verses are followed by images of Daughter Babylon being trodden like a threshing floor, just as Israel had been trodden by the king, Nebuchadnezzar.  Now we read severe imagery of what a horror Babylon has become among nations. The prophecy continues, exhorting the people to flee: Leave her, my people, let each one save himself from the burning wrath of the Lord. 

Verses 59 to 64 complete the prophecy of Jeremiah.  These lines describe how Seraiah, the brother of Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, is to take these words to Babylon, proclaim them, and tie a stone around them and throw them into the Euphrates river as a demonstration of how Babylon will fall.

Tomorrow, a prayer for deliverance from empire.


Image from: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/map-of-the-babylonian-empire-under-king-nebukhadnetzar 

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The Golden Ark

Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022

Jeremiah 50 – 52

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part I

As we enter the holiest week of the liturgical calendar, and as we consider the state of war in Europe and other locations around the globe, let us reflect on the lessons of human history and what happens to imperialist thinkers and invading forces. 

Footnotes will tell us that the Greek translation of verse 1 of Chapter 50 of the Book of Jeremiah lacks the words “through the prophet Jeremiah” and it is believed that what we read here is a gathering of many prophecies against Babylon to be appended in this book.  Editors tell us that Chapter 50 and the first 58 verses of Chapter 51 were likely written by people other than Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. Babylon herself was to fall to the Persians in 538. The golden vessels of the Jerusalem temple were carried away in 586 to be returned in 538. We have often reflected on the idea that from time to time we must serve Babylon or perish. Today we see the fall of that empire to another.

Spend time with Jeremiah 50-52 today to see what words of wisdom this ancient prophecy offers us in our modern world. 

Tomorrow, exploring ancient words. 


To learn more about the Ark of the Covenant, click on the image or visit: https://www.livescience.com/64932-the-ark-of-the-covenant.html

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The world watches with a kaleidoscope of emotions as we witness political upheaval in Europe. False news is used to further manipulate our thinking. As imperialism clashes with openness and inclusion, Pope Francis calls us to a day of prayer and fasting in prayer for Ukraine. When we gather our small sacrifices to offer them in hope, may we witness a quick resolution to the conflict and a renewal of peace. 

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022

In a reflection last week Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. posited the thesis that all of scripture, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation,mirrors the development of human consciousness, with its usual pattern of progression and regression”. He explains that just as in the early books of the Torah and in the narratives that follow, we humans look for a foundation of rules and regulations that govern our lives and relationships. He writes that this is “helpful for developing our first egoic identity (the container), and for most of us this represents at least the first 25 years of our life; but that is not yet a full spiritual identity (the contents). The trouble is, an awful lot of people stay at that first stage of boundary-keeping that ‘law’ and group well provide, even though it traps us inside of a black or white, dualistic consciousness. But we have to start there or we have no ego container”.

Rohr further proposes that as we mature we begin to understand “why most people are hesitant to move further, toward places where they cannot uphold themselves, or prove they are right and good”. Rohr points out that Jesus himself says “the Law actually assures a kind of certain failure so all humans have to rely entirely on God’s grace and mercy and not their own worthiness or any kind of superiority. God is actually pretty clever”.

So where does that leave us as we learn and grow in God? How might these ideas serve us as we enter the season of Lent, this season of growing in Christ? What might we do to create a dwelling place for the Spirit?

In the opening weeks of Lent we will search the Torah and narratives as we explore the materials and process we have used to construct our temple dwelling place for the Spirit. We will later move into a time when we dare to say that the Law has failed us in some way. And we will – with God’s grace – arrive at the Easter miracle with a new and open heart. If these Lenten reflections do not serve us, we might turn to the Connecting at Noon page on this blog and consider a change in our prayer life that will create a fresh place for the Spirit and allow for renewal. Or we may simply rest in God’s hands and allow the Spirit to revive any inertia and to heal any wound.

beginner's mindAs we move from one season to another, as we approach the great gift of Eastertide, we might remember the words of Paul to the Corinthians: Brothers and sisters: Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the greater glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)


Read about Pope Francis’ call for prayer and fasting at: https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/pope-calls-day-prayer-fasting-peace-ukraine

Citations from Richard Rohr’s Meditation from February 12, 2015: Adapted from Scripture as Liberation: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations Click on the Beginner’s Mind image to explore videos that open us to renewal, or visit: http://rohr.franciscanmedia.org/user/?browse=Videos 

Image from: http://rohr.franciscanmedia.org/user/?browse=Videos

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jeremiah brown copyTuesday, December 21, 2021

Joy and Jeremiah

Passion

“The office of prophet was due to a direct call from God. It was not the result of heredity, just as it was not a permanent gift but a transient one, subject entirely to the divine will”. (Senior 877) Today joy surprises us from the depths of despair as a people lifts hope high . . . waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

The prophet Jeremiah responds to God’s call as a young man in the 13th year of King Josiah, approximately 612 B.C.E. He persists faithfully in conveying God’s word to a recalcitrant people “with enthusiasm and hope”. (Senior 949) He remains in the rubble of Jerusalem’s ruins but is forced into exile in Egypt by conspirators. Tradition tells us that he was murdered by these countrymen and that his prophecy was recorded shortly after his death. (Senior 949)

Jeremiah 15:16: When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear your name, Lord, God of hosts.

God’s word sustains and upholds us; it nurtures the joy within. Jeremiah’s enthusiasm for his God and God’s word sustain us today.

Jeremiah 31:13: Then young women shall make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will show them compassion and have them rejoice after their sorrows.

God’s love redeems and rescues us; it calls forth the joy within. Jeremiah’s fidelity to his God and God’s mercy liberates us today.

joyJeremiah 33:9: Judah will be to me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.

God’s goodness heals and transforms us; it celebrates the joy within. Jeremiah’s passion for his God and God’s power renews us today.

As we await the birth of the Christ who rescues, transforms, heals and makes new, let us reflect on God’s power to bring life out of ruin, healing out of destruction and hope out of death for a renewal of life.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urge you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 877 & 949. Print. 

Image from: http://tharderdesign.blogspot.com/2011/03/jeremiah-2911_30.html

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joyFriday, November 5, 2021

Tobit 8

Joy and Tears

We move further into the Old Testament looking for stories of joy that might surprise us. If today’s story calls you to search further, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. For the next few says, our story is taken from the Book of Tobit.

The story continues and we wonder what will become of the young couple – Tobias and Sarah – who live in fear. How will their parents, Tobit, Anna, Raguel and Edna, resolve the problems that plague their families? And how does the disguised Rafael bring about God’s renewal and transformation to convert tears of sorrow into tears of joy?

Steen: Wedding of Tobias and Sarah

Jan Steen: Wedding of Tobias and Sarah

Spend time with Chapters 6-10 of Tobit today and discover the surprise of God’s healing presence. As we watch Tobit and Anna, Raguel and Edna, Tobias and Sarah, let us look for connections with our own worries and problems. Observe Azarias, the Archangel Raphael in disguise, as he quietly, patiently calms and heals these worried people. Let us mark the times in our own journey when the healing of relationships has taken place when we least expect it. Let us watch for the surprising ways in which joy is always with us, even in the presence of demons. And finally, spend time with the prayers of Tobias, Sarah and Raguel in Chapter 8. With a bit of pondering, we might write our own petition for protection and  song of thanksgiving.  And as we journey with these characters who might be our neighbors or family members, we arrive at a better understanding of how tears of sorrow might become tears of joy.

For Noontimes based on this story, enter the word Tobit in the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/jan-steen/wedding-of-tobias-and-sarah-1668

For more information about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Jeremiah20.9Jeremiah 20

Interior Crisis

“Jeremiah accuses Yahweh of forcing him into a position where he is a laughingstock and an object of mockery (v.7); Yahweh is requiring him to deliver a message of doom that events of history have so far failed to confirm”. (Mays 561)

When we see doom arriving and announce its coming only to be laughed from the room, we know that we are prophesying. When we speak truth to friends or colleagues as God asks of us only to find those relationships severed, we know that we are prophets in our present world. When we caution loved ones about an impending disaster only to be mocked or ridiculed, we know that God is near. These experiences will easily give rise to an interior crisis in which we feel that we have been duped by God; and as the prophet Jeremiah says . . . I let myself be duped. It is when our hearts are broken that we are closest to God.  It is when our confidence is shaken that we have open ears for God’s word. And it is when we most feel like retreating from all that threatens us that we are asked to allow our interior crisis to bring new growth.

“The reaction of [Jeremiah’s] audience to [his] message of doom is stated somewhat more generally than in other complaints, but it fits the picture gained from earlier ones . . . they wish to eliminate him and his rival message from the nation’s future.” (Mays 561-562)

Our own circumstance may be dire as is Jeremiah’s – someone may or may not wish to eliminate us – but any time that we suffer rejection the sting is piercing. The pain of ridicule may last for years. The trauma of denunciation may endure for a lifetime. The effects of derision may color our world forever.  Yet, God accompanies us in our real or imagined isolation; Christ guides us as we navigate the road to new life; and the Spirit heals and consoles as we struggle for transformed wholeness.

You duped me, O Lord . . .

Rather than hear these words as a sign of failure, let us hear them as a signal of new life. Rather than struggle to keep ourselves from falling, let us decide to rise again in new life. Rather than turning away from our tormentors in anger or shame, let us step into our interior crisis with courage. And let us thank God for the gift of transformation.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 561. Print.

For a reflection and prayer on allowing ourselves to be duped by God, enter the words Being Duped by God and A Prayer for Those Willing to be Duped into the blog search bar.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

120578004.0sKwzibJ[1]Psalm 32:6-7

Songs of Deliverance

Each of your servants prays to you in time of trouble; even if floods come rushing down, they will never reach him. You are a hiding place for me, you guard me when in trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance.

The dry wadis flood when sudden rains come upon the unsuspecting traveler.  The psalmist uses an apt metaphor for the troubles that spring on us when we are living ordinary lives in ordinary ways. During these times God becomes a hiding place, a sanctuary, a refuge from sudden, overwhelming storms. God guards and protects, encourages and saves. God calls to us out of the storm, intoning the words of hymns of liberation. What are these words that are meant to calm crushed spirits, to sooth distraught minds and bring weary bones to new life?

God says: I hear you when you pray to me out of the maelstrom that strikes you – as the storms of life always do – and I long to save you from all that threatens you. Call out to me as the flood waters rise.  Sing out my name when you feel that you are lost. Ask me for help and I will make a way for you. When I rebuke the rushing waters that threaten to pull you down into darkness, they will settle at once into a refreshing oasis where you can rest and renew yourself. Do not fear the swirling waters of life, for I am with you always.  When you call, I will answer.

Jewish_National_Fund_trees_in_The_Negev[1]From Matthew 8:23-27: When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to him and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, oh you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When we are surprised by the sudden changes that spring on us, let us call on one whom even the winds and sea obey. And let us listen for the songs of deliverance that overcome the storm.

Enter the word maelstrom or storm into the blog search bar and reflect on how God saves and liberates us when we ask for help.


For more images of the Hatta Wadi Floods, click on the image above, or go to: http://www.pbase.com/bigrig/image/120578004

Oasis image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oasis

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Psalm 101: Integrity and Possibility

00387775[1]I sing of love and justice; to you, Lord, I sing praise.  I follow the way of integrity; when will you come to me?

This is one of my favorite psalms, written as a song of the Just Ruler.

I act with integrity of heart within my royal court.

My royal court . . . my family, my house, my workplace, my colleagues, the circle of my temple which accompanies everywhere at all times.

I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely.

This, of course, is the Old Testament, separatist way of dealing with deceit.  Yet even David and Solomon had their defects.  And Jesus said, Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone . . .  We are New Testament people and so we must not turn away from the struggle of humanity.  We must act to heal, to transform, to save.

Whoever acts shamefully I hate; no such person can be my friend.  I shun the devious of heart; the wicked I do not tolerate.

“Hate” is such a strong word.  And as New Testament Faithful, we are called to love our enemies into goodness.  Jesus waded among the sinners to bring them healing.  Today we, sinners all, wade among the craziness of the world to bring Jesus the Healer to all.  This is how we heal ourselves.

Whoever slanders another in secret I reduce to silence.

When the craziness is too much to handle, we retreat in Christ to look for answers.

Haughty eyes and arrogant hearts I cannot endure.

Hubris, indifference, greed, envy, fear . . . these all lead to arrogance.  We are to witness to Truth, Light, Humility.  We are to act these virtues.

I look to the faithful of the land; they alone can be my companions.  Those who follow the way of integrity, they alone can enter my service.

There are always faithful surrounding us . . . even though we often feel alone.  We must seek them out.  We must gather around us the faithful who want to share the journey home.

No one who practices deceit can hold a post in my court.

We must use prudence when we walk among those who live in the shadows and call them to the light . . . we must not despair that our work has no effect.

No one who speaks falsely can be among my advisors.  Each morning I clear the wicked from the land, and rid the Lord’s city of all evildoers.

We must not believe that there is no hope.  This was the sin of Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus.  He was “neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion”.  (Cameron 72)

“Judas and Peter both betrayed the One whose bread they had taken.  The difference between them was that Peter loved and repented; Judas despaired.  The Lord, risen, would have repaid them both with his forgiving love.  Judas could not even imagine the possibility”.  (Cameron 66)

And so we pray,

Let us not despair when we see a lack of integrity.  Let us, like Christ, be the Hope that all may be made anew.  Let us live in this Hope, in this Possibility that we all will be transformed by the healing presence of Christ . . . the Presence which we bring to the world through our own actions.  Let us believe that all sin is forgiven, no matter how grave.  Let us love those who languish, who plot, who live out indifferent lives.  Let us love them into transformed lives of integrity . . . of possibility . . . so that the words we say and the creeds we believe . . . match the actions of our hands . . . and the openness and fullness of our hearts.  Amen.


Cameron, Peter John. MAGNIFICAT. 19.3 (2008): 66 and 72. Print.  

First written on March 19, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/campaign-integrity

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