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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’


Map of Israel and Judah

Map of Israel and Judah

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Jeremiah 42

The Journey to Egypt . . .

If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down . . .

Repeatedly in Scripture we are urged to move out of our comfort zones, and to put Christ into action. From the first words of Genesis (In the beginning when God created the heavens and earth . . .) to the last words of Revelation (Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.), we are encouraged to take steps into wide and dark abysses, to take leaps of faith. We are inspired to commit acts of hope and to bring union with enemies through love. Today’s reading is one of those quiet times when we hear the Lord our God tell us that it is time to remain planted, to listen, to persevere through the trouble, to be still, to be calm . . . for the Lord our God is with us.

I will plant you, not uproot you . . .

But so often in our lives we are tempted to sort out problems by changing our location rather than changing ourselves, we have likely packed our bags for Egypt where we will see no more of war, hear the trumpet alarm no longer, nor hunger for bread. We convince ourselves that it makes a great deal of sense to pull up stakes and begin anew elsewhere when relationships or covenants have gone terribly, and seemingly irreparably, amiss. Frequently we believe it is time to move out or away from a place or a person and there are certainly situations in which our personal safety depends on our stepping away from danger; but in today’s reading we are challenged to make a spiritual change in our hearts rather than a physical change with our bodies. The prophet’s words rise to us and ask us how quickly we back away from God when our lives become difficult. When we consider the choice before Jeremiah to remain or stay, we see that much of who we are and what we do identifies us as remnant.  

For I regret the evil I have done you . . .

Jeremiah the prophet suffers greatly and deeply.  From 628 to 520 B.C.E. he speaks chiefly to the people of Judah and her capital Jerusalem.  Much like today, these are turbulent times.  The superpowers of the day, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, are carving up the Middle East putting small states like Judah in constant danger.  The old Israel Kingdom divided in 930 B.C.E. and its northern portions were invaded, her people disappeared into exile.  The people of the southern kingdom of Judah constantly ask Jeremiah’s opinion, he speaks, and then they disagreed with him.  At turns, they ignore him, persecute him, they even imprison him.  Yet Jeremiah continues to speak when the people ask and when God calls.  His story may seem pointless and depressingly familiar; but through all of the abuse this prophet receives, he remains faithful to his own covenant with his creator.  And the message de delivers is a constant reminder that the change God asks us to make is a change in our hearts. Jeremiah also reminds us of three important concepts: God unfailingly calls us to repentance, we will suffer consequences when we break our covenant promises, and restoration is ours when we respond to God’s call.  Jeremiah reminds his people – and us today – that we are a faithful remnant to be gathered up by God.

Then listen to the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah.

Tomorrow . . . be still and know that you are Remnant.


Adapted from a reflection written on October 7, 2007.

Image from: http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/feast-of-jeremiah-june-26/

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

1 Chronicles 28

5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber

Pieter de Grebber: King David in Prayer

Service for the House of the Lord

In today’s reading we are witnesses to a moment in human history that is difficult to match. David forfeits the building of a temple that would surely bring him worldly fame. He does this in order that he might obey God above all others, even above his own desires.

Yes, David hands all of his plans over to his son Solomon and this son will carry out those plans in a grand scale; but David steps back from his own desire.

Yes, David’s plans are meticulous in nature and we may consider that he wants to control his son from the distance; but David conveys the desires of God rather than self.

Yes, David sins and fails as he moves through his life and we may believe ourselves better than he; but David repents and returns to God, keeping in mind who is Lord of all.

What I like most in this reading is the ending of the chapter with the verses David speaks to his son. We might all offer these words to the generations who follow us and, indeed, to one another: Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

And the people reply . . . Amen!


Adapted from a reflection written on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

To read about King David’s palace uncovered in 2013, visit: https://news.yahoo.com/king-david-era-palace-found-israel-archaeologists-141207932.html or https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna52529132

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber.jpg

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

david repent[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part IV

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 

The separation from society when murder is arranged and enacted is evident. Yet what we often fail to see is the damage which occurs to the murderer, the arranger. This man or woman who either commits the act, causes or arranges the act is in such a place of darkness and of self-importance that the light does not penetrate. And the fact that lust, adultery and murder are here so closely entwined is an important one. Lust which is acted upon is a kind of murder, both of self and of the other.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

David serves as a wonderful model of how those who are blessed with amazing gifts are not immune from suffering.  David ennobles himself through his pain by admitting guilt and repenting.  David turns back to Yahweh. David and is forgiven and loved by Yahweh . . . eternally.

We might allow our pain to transform us into wounded healers. We might return to ask forgiveness. We might ennoble ourselves through the admission of guilt.  e might turn back and repent for we, like David, are always and forever loved by God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

For a blog posting on David’s faith, click on the image above or go to: http://dreamsalongtheway.blogspot.com/p/sermon-series-man-who-would-be-king.html

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Judith 1A Lesson Worth Learning

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant: Judith

Just this morning I was speaking with a friend about Nebuchadnezzar and when I opened the Bible for the Noontime reflection I saw his name in the middle of the page.  I thought back to the conversation and remembered that my friend was saying how the extravagance at the Oscar awards celebration made her think of this man who demands that his subjects worship him.  We might take a lesson from this.  The beginning of the book of Judith is about how Nebuchadnezzar demands much of his vassal nations and of how he exacts his demands by making war.  This is the backdrop for the story of Judith which we have visited often.  It is an environment of violence and survival, a dangerous setting with various groups of people: the Assyrians, Persians, Medes, and Chaldeans.  Rivers familiar to us from our school studies mark borders: the Tigris and Euphrates, the Jordan.  We recognize the names of countries: Egypt and Ethiopia.  The name of King Arphaxad is new and even exotic.  The opening of this drama brings with it the known and unknown with destruction immediately announced.  Frontiers are breached, limits are exceeded.  We know that this will not be a gentle story.This dovetails, in a surprising way, with the first reading for Mass today from Sirach (17:20-24) about how one who is penitent is guided to God by God.  I am wondering if these leaders in the opening chapter of Judith would heed this kind of advice if offered to them.  I am wondering about people who believe they know the best way to do everything.  I am hoping that I have better ears and a bigger heart than the leaders we read about today.

To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth.  Return to him and give up sin, pray to the Lord and make your offenses few. 

This is good advice to follow when we find ourselves baffled, lost or alone; but it is impossible to follow if we are actively involved in anger.  Strong, negative emotions are easy to use against others; they are difficult to put aside once they have become comfortable tools.

Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High in place of the living who offer their praise?  Dwell o longer in the error of the ungodly, but offer your praise before death.

This is good advice to follow when we are embroiled in conflict or swamped with fear.  If we can do nothing else . . . we can begin to praise God, even if we can only begin half-heartedly.

How great the mercy of the Lord, his forgiveness of those who return to him!

There is a good ending that comes to the faithful in today’s story if we want to read ahead; and this story teaches us a lesson worth learning.  “There can be no doubt that Judith was meant as didactic fiction, not factual history . . . Part 1 narrates a military and religious struggle that begins in Persia and makes its way across the western nations to the little Israelite town Bethulia . . . Part 2 tells how the God-fearing woman Judith destroys the enemies of Israel.  This ‘beautiful’ widow of Manasseh (8.7) lays aside the sackcloth of her widowhood in order to make herself ‘very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see here’ . . . Together Parts 1 and 2 show what it means to serve only one God, to turn to this God for an easing of life’s plights, and to trust God without reserve.  The book teaches that by vocation and God’s design, the covenant people are free if they fear only God and rely wholeheartedly on the covenant”.   (Mays 1460-1461)

Repent, return and celebrate . . . This is a lesson worth learning.  It is a lesson worth enacting in our lives.


A re-post from November 9, 2011.

Image from: http://bible-women.blogspot.com/2009/07/proud-judith.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1460-1461. Print.

Written on February 28 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

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Matthew 3:1-12: Hope in the Desert

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Favorite from September 5, 2007.

We hear more today about winnowing time and the importance of repentance.

It is interesting to look at this citation beside today’s Gospel of Luke 4:38-44.  There is a similar theme – Jesus tells us that he comes to proclaim to as many as possible the Good News that redemption is now available to anyone who has faith and is willing to feel sorrow.

Jesus retires to “a deserted place”.  John the Baptist “appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea”.

We tend to shy away from the many desert places in our lives, but it is in these deserts that we encounter God most intensely.  We ought not fear the emptiness or dryness because the nurturing goodness of God never leaves us alone or without hope.  We are never fully in the darkness for there is always a the light of Christ that cannot be held back.  From this morning’s prayer in MAGNIFICAT: The bright light of the risen, Jesus Christ, shines to all parts of the earth.  Let us walk in his light and follow in his way, that, reflecting his brightness, we may enlighten the eyes of the blind with faith and hope.

As People of Hope, let us intone this prayer together today.

Amen.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 5,9 (2007). Print.  

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Judges 6: Gideon’s Call

James Tissot: The Angel Puts Fire on the Altar of Gideon

Thursday, June 29, 2017

We have spent several days with this Old Testament Book in which we watch the Israelites enter into a cycle: neglect of their covenant with God, the worship of idols, repentance, a petition to God for help, God’s generous response, silence as God waits for the people to respond. God always sends a hero to save the faithful – and this particular hero is Gideon.

We find the following when we read commentary.

  • God asks Joshua, in the book preceding Judges, to lead the people into the Promised Land and he does.
  • God asks the people to wipe out those who worship pagan idols but they do not; and this sows the seed of future problems.
  • Prior to God’s intercession in the life of the faithful, the people are forced to run away from invading armies and literally “head for the hills” when these invaders arrived with chariots.
  • Once the people share a loving relationship with God, they have a rock of refuge, a bulwark of safety.
  • When the people neglect their relationship with God, the cycle of idol worship begins anew.
  • God always has a hero in mind.
  • God’s silence is the space we are given to respond to God’s deep and abiding love.

God calls Gideon while he is in the middle of his work, and Gideon, like many of those called, has many questions. He wants to understand why and how should go about the work God has in mind. God answers, as God always does, “I will be with you, do not worry.” Gideon praises and worships God when he realizes what is happening, that he will be an instrument of redemption in the people’s cycle of sin and repentance.

Like Gideon, we are likewise fearful in our response to God. We know what we are asked to do; yet frequently we are too frightened to step out of our comfort zone. In the end, however, no find that no other course of action is worth taking.

The story of Gideon also demonstrates for us that silence can be entirely appropriate when it is patient, loving, merciful, and just. A silence that waits, that whispers to the beloved, that calls the beloved back to the covenant, is a silence that heals.

So like Gideon, let us sit beneath our terebinth and call on God. For God will surely answer.

Adapted from a Noontime written on January 31, 2007.

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2 Peter 3: One Day With The Lord

James Tissot: First Denial of Peter

Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 7, 2017

We have spent the week with Peter, recalling his turnings and re-turnings to the Lord. Watching as he examines his true self to bring a transformed heart to Christ. We see how Peter allows his suffering and trust in the Spirit to set him free. Today we reflect on his words to see how he handles scoffers, naysayers, and rumors that the world as we know it is coming to an end. Today we spend one day with the Lord, remembering God’s goodness, Christ’s redemption and the Spirit’s healing consolation.

For one day with the Lord is like as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

Better is one day in your courts [O Lord] than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  (Psalm 84:10)

James Tissot: Second Denial of Peter

The Lord does not delay in God’s promises, but for your sake is long-suffering, not wishing that you should perish but that all should return to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

For God so loved the world that God gave God’s one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:16-17)

The day of the Lord will come as a thief.  (2 Peter 3:10)

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? (Matthew 24:43-45)

James Tissot: Third Denial of Peter

Therefore, beloved, while you look for these things, endeavor to be found by him without spot and blameless in peace . . . Therefore, since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your own steadfastness.  (2 Peter 3:17)

In this Eastertide, let us listen to the words very likely written by a follower of Peter.  Let us sit with the words of the psalmist, and of the apostles Matthew and John.  Let us take them into our fiber and being and vow to live each day in Christ as if it were the one and only day given to us to be lived with the Lord.  Let us consider these words for what they are – an Easter gift that warms the hardened heart, and turns all harm to good.

And so beloved, grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

James Tissot: Feed My Lambs
The Risen Christ and Peter

On this fourth Sunday after the miracle of Easter, we thank Peter for his honesty and courage. And we determine to follow in his way.

Adapted from a Favorite written during Advent 2010 as we considered Jesus as a Christmas miracle and gift. Today we reflect on how Peter’s words brings to us the resurrected Christ as God’s promise of salvation fulfilled.

We frequently spend time with Peter’s letters at The Noontimes. For more reflections, enter Peter’s name in to the blog search bar and explore.

To re-visit For the story of Jesus’ Passion, Death and resurrection by James Tissot, click on the images or visit: http://www.joyfulheart.com/holy-week/ 

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Hebrews 12:14-17Peace and Holiness

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hendrick ter Brugghen: Esau Selling his Birthright

Hendrick ter Brugghen: Esau Selling his Birthright

As we continue to consider the quality of peace in our lives, we reflect on this Favorite written on August 23, 2007. How do we find peace in our families? How do peace and holiness abide in times of deception and deceit? 

Strive for peace and holiness by avoiding bitterness, and by seeking reconciliation and unity through repentance and reparation.  Seeking blessing through tears does not work unless it is accompanied by true repentance and a true desire for intimacy and union.  The example of Esau is clear.  He deserved his inheritance yet he was cheated out of it by his own mother and brother.  We go back to rethink the story and we find something new.

In a homily more than a year ago, the homilist pointed out the following in regards to the stealing of Esau’s birthright by his brother Jacob: When we look at Jacob’s life, we see that he manipulated God’s plan in order to receive something which he thought he deserved.  He angled for his brother’s inheritance by clear and overt deception and betrayal. Yet in the end, his life was one of a series of losses of family members and of separation from loved ones.  The homilist pointed out that no matter how we try, we humans cannot out-maneuver God.

We reflect on how Esau was so often absent from the family, doing what he pleased while hunting and fishing.  He was a member of his family but had moved himself away from the intimacy of the precious circle of love.  Perhaps if he had been more engaged, more interactive, more truly present, less passive resistant or even passive aggressive, his brother would not have thought it possible to steal an inheritance.  Esau neglected something important that had been given to him: the gifts of his intimate family members.  He was cavalier in his attitude about them and in Chapter 25 of Genesis he sells his right for a single bowl of stew.  Later when he cries, he does not repent.  So Esau goes off to join the Ishmaelites and to begin his own tribe which thrives in opposition to the tribes of his brother Jacob.

And so as we reflect, we pray.

God in Heaven, keep us from neglecting those whom we love so dearly.  Do not let us stray so far that my loved ones believe me gone.  For those whom we love who stand away from us, let us always be open to the newness of the Spirit, always present to the impossible possibility that a new beginning is waiting to bloom.  For those to whom we have an aversion, for those we hold at arm’s length, keep us aware that you work wonders – even in the lives and plans of those who mean to do harm.  Keep us prudent but open to the possibility that hearts may be softened, walls taken down.  Keep us from being part of the wall.  Allow us to trust you to be our shield and protection.  Keep us holy and in peace.  We pray this in Jesus’ name as we abide with you in the same Spirit who guided Jacob and Esau. 

Amen.

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Isaiah 57:14-21: The Restless Sea

Monday, August 22, 2016restless seas

In days when political and civic leaders grapple with the realities of our common world, Isaiah reminds us that the wicked are always with us, obscuring truth, engendering deceit.

The wicked are storm-battered seas that can’t quiet down. The waves stir up garbage and mud. (THE MESSAGE)

In times when religious and community leaders struggle to bring light to a present darkness, Isaiah reminds us that evil relies on chaotic upheaval and unpredictable alliances.

Evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

In the hour of darkness when friends and family clash over how to move forward for the good of all, Isaiah tells us that God’s promise of healing and restoration is authentic.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud. (NRSV)

In the moment of fear and division when anxiety and confusion threaten our relationship with God, Isaiah tells us that there is one person, one person, one bond that calms all fear and quiets all anxiety. Isaiah reminds us that there is a voice that persists as it calls out: Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road and make it ready!

Help and healing, humility and repentance, confidence and hope, eternal promise and love. Isaiah comforts us as he has done for millennia. Isaiah reminds us that God waits eternally for those who look to move from mourning to joy.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore various translations of these verses, we discover how we might all survive the restless seas.

Visit http://www.spiritualwarbiblestudies.com/index.php?topic=112.0 for a post exploring Isaiah 57:14-21. 

 

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