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Genesis 47Willingness

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Konstantin Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

In Genesis 45:5-8 we hear the beautiful words of forgiveness which Joseph speaks to his brothers who colluded to exterminate him . . . do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me ahead of you . . . for you are a remnant on earth and to save your lives is an extraordinary deliverance.  So it was not really you but God who had me come here . . . Joseph understands how God’s plan arrives at benefit for all through the suffering of some.  He believes – because he has witnessed it in his own life – that God turns harm to good, envy to love.  Today we reflect on his action of interceding with Pharaoh on behalf of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This is a message of willing obedience . . . open readiness . . . faith in goodness . . . hope in the outrageous . . . and love for the unlovable.  It is a story of fidelity in its truest sense.  Fidelity to God, to the remnant people, to self.  Joseph lives up to his true potential, to God’s best hope for and in him.

I love this story of a joy-filled child who invokes envy in his siblings, of a handsome youth who innocently stirs lust in his mistress, of a young man who continues to believe in his God despite his apparent ill luck.  I am moved by the willingness in which he lives.  I am encouraged by the honesty with which he treats not only others but himself.  I am inspired by the magnitude of his gestures, the purity of his thinking.  Joseph carries no rancor.  He is not bitter.  He refuses to be discouraged.  He rejects complicity and deception.  He is cautious and prudent; yet giving and tender.  Joseph is one of my favorite figures of Scripture.  His story is a good one; and it is one to which we ought to refer when we find ourselves in endless turmoil or deep grief.

Joseph knows how to mourn.  He knows that when he waits in God, goodness will follow on the heels of evil.  He knows how to sacrifice in honest willingness.

Joseph knows how to keep his word.  He knows how to abide in patient loving, just as God has abided with him.  He knows how to wait for fruition and fulfillment.

Joseph Bourgeois: Joseph Recognized by his Brothers

Joseph knows how to share.  He knows with a keen understanding that his success is sweetest when given back to God.  He knows that God is the source and summit of all that is good and that to hoard this goodness for himself is counter to the action of God’s mercy which he himself has experienced.

Joseph knows how to celebrate.  He knows that he cannot take credit for the goodness he experiences.  He knows that humility conquers pride and that littleness is greatness, for he sees this in the actions of God in his own life.

Joseph knows how to praise God.  He knows that even when success finally arrives, he must continue to follow God’s lead.  He knows that all that he has and all that he is belong to God alone.

Joseph waits, he witnesses, and then he acts out of his own salvation.  He allows his own conversion in God to convert others . . . and so in this way he allows his willingness to save more than himself.  He helps to save the very people who would have seen his destruction.

We might want to sit with the story of Joseph for a bit today to ponder our own willingness to enter into God’s plan . . . to examine our own willingness to intercede with Pharaoh for those who would have eliminated us, but who have begun their own conversion.


A re-post from February 14, 2012.

Images from: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm and http://www.biblical-art.com/biblicalsubject.asp?id_biblicalsubject=92&pagenum=1

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Esther 1The Race of the Just

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Like Mordecai, the faithful will have a sense of impending doom.  Like Mordecai, they will discover plots against power.  Like Mordecai, the just are rewarded for their fidelity and courage.  It will be this very reward that puts them in danger; yet they be saved from destruction, tribulation and distress.  And there will always be Haman lurking behind the curtain . . . hoping to destroy the just.  When we act in and for God, we must anticipate jealousy and envy.  And we must rely on God alone to save us from annihilation.

Mordecai receives information in a dream and although he trusts this information he does not understand its deeper meaning and its long-range implication.  And so he kept it mind, and tried in every way, until night, to understand its meaning.  I am wondering how much energy we put into understanding a message we receive darkly.  I am thinking that Mordecai shows us how to remain in and with God despite intense, justified fear.

Yesterday’s Gospel also has something to teach us about fear and the race of the just.  Jesus sends out seventy-two of his disciples and instructs them: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so . . . go on your way: behold, I am sending you like lambs among the wolves.  Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.  Into whatever house you enter, say first, ‘Peace to this household.’  If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you”.  (Luke 10:1-9)

Jesus also sends us into the fields as laborers.  We are also sheep among wolves as was Mordecai.  I believe that we cannot stop evil, but I also believe that when we remain in and with God, we are protected in his strength and guided out of harm’s way.  We are loved beyond measure and we must learn to trust this love.  We must learn to give over to God the clawing fear that grabs at us when we feel alone in a hostile world.  We must remember to lay our turmoil in God’s capable hands when there is tribulation and distress, evil and great confusion.  We must carry our burdens – whether they be light or heavy, small or great – to the one who knows all and to the only one who can confront and even annihilate evil.

The psalmist says in Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink?  When evil-doers draw near to devour my flesh, it is they, my enemies and foes, who stumble and fall.  Though an enemy encamp against me even then would I trust.  It is your face, O Lord, I seek; hide not your face . . .

God has shown us his face and it is the face of Jesus.

God has rescued his people and he abides among them.

God has brought us into his eternal Spirit and he dwells within us.

The race of the just will always be saved.  Let us gather ourselves – we the lambs among wolves – and go quickly and surely to the only sanctuary there is that can withstand the darkness of evil.  Let us run to greet the newness we are granted by the one who loves us so well.  Let us find refuge in the power and presence of the one who will always save the race of the just.


A re-post from October 19, 2011.

Image from: http://bibletodaykids.com/Esther.html

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Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty – Part III

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fresco from the Cathedral of the Annunciation depicting Job and his friends.

Ought we to argue with God?  Absolutely.  Will we receive unusual and even vague answers?  Precisely.  Is this the path to wisdom and eventual serenity?  Without a doubt.  And this brings us to the point of this reading:  when we assume a proper relationship with God, all else falls into place.  When we turn to God only, when we believe in God only, when we act through God only, then we find the peace promised to us.

In the scope of the universe, we are quite small; but even in our smallness, each of us is important to God.  We never once hear the Maker say to Job, “I will get back to you in a minute after I finish dealing with a world war, genocide in a number of places, two hurricanes and an earthquake, along with an outbreak of a dread disease and thirteen governments gone bad with corruption”.  God does not put us aside or put us on hold.  God is attentive and present all through this story.  And what we see is God’s constancy, fidelity, and willingness to listen to Job’s complaint.  We can be assured that, like Job, we send our petitions upward. Like Job, we discover that God will hear us because God is always abiding.

When the whirlwind surrounds us, we remember that this is where God speaks most clearly. When the tempest envelops us, we summon the courage and openness to hear what God has to say. When terrors overpower us, we learn how to forbear, hope, and remain faithful to the promise that God and we hold together, the promise of rescue, healing and restoration.

Tomorrow, the end of Job’s story.

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Isaiah 35:1-10: The Holy Road

Monday, December 7, 2015freephoto_feetwalking_pixabay

Daily headlines may lead us into thinking that we have no reason for hope in the future. Isaiah tells us that we would be mistaken. Isaiah gives us reason to enter into Advent hope, promise and joy.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower . . .

All peoples and places where terror and pain rule will celebrate Christ’s healing rescue.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!

All injury and harm that is meant to destroy will transform sorrow into joy with the Spirit’s comforting presence.

God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs.

All evil and darkness that whips up angry and anxiety will become tools for transformation with God’s renewing power.

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.

Jesus healed hundreds and fed thousands when he walked among us; Christ continues to restore and sustain.

desert-flowerSprings of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.

The Spirit brings about the impossible; the Creator fulfills all promise.

There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.

Jesus has shown us The Way in which we are to walk – with the marginalized rather than the powerful, with the abandoned rather than the famous and beautiful, with the abandoned rather than the familiar.

It’s impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals – nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.

temple_hera_roadThe Way is the Narrow Gate that stands before us. When we trust in God the door to this way opens to us. When we follow Christ the narrow gate opens wide. When we have faith in God the Holy Road opens at our feet . . . inviting us to move forward into a future full of hope, promise and joy.

The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home . . . welcomed with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Reflect on the idea of repairing what we have rather than buying new. For an interesting perspective, read about why Patagonia ™ wanted its customers to stay away from its stores on Black Friday in the USA, a day dedicated to in-store and online shopping. Visit: http://www.patagonia.com/us/home OR http://www.techinsider.io/patagonias-well-worn-campaign-2015-11 OR http://fortune.com/2015/09/14/rose-marcario-patagonia/

For information on ancient Roman roads, visit: http://www.biblewalks.com/info/RomanRoads.html#Introduction

To visit an interesting blog, click on the desert flower image or go to: http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html  

 

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Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations.  Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city.  The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events.  Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence.  They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day.  The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads.  Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate.  But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves.  We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos.  We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine.  When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God.  When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure.  We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Daniel 12

Dimensions

Daniel 12: 3: The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmamement, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

Daniel 12: 3: The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever and ever.

“Daniel’s apocalyptic view of history is most fully laid out in Chapters 10-12, which make up one long vision. There an angel explains to Daniel that there is an ongoing battle in heaven between the archangels Michael and Gabriel on the one hand and the angelic “princes” of Persia and Greece on the other. This battle is reflected on earth in the wars of the Hellenistic age, which are described at length in Chapter 11 . . . At the end Michael will arise in victory and the resurrection will follow”. (Senior RG 349)

Apocalyptic writing was popular in the centuries before and after Jesus’ birth and although it is characterized by symbolism and descriptions of cataclysmic events, it is rooted in the teachings of the prophets. Dire circumstances and extreme conditions experienced by the Jewish people provided fertile ground for early writers as they warned, predicted and called the remnant people to fidelity. Living in times of hopelessness and desperation, the faithful took heart as they heard the stories of rescue, redemption and salvation. These images laid the groundwork for the genesis of Christianity, and Jesus’ introduction of the work of discipleship.

Many shall be refined, purified, and tested, but the wicked shall be proven wicked, none of them shall have understanding, but the wise shall have it. (Daniel 12:10)

Jesus describes the life of a disciple clearly in his Sermon on the Mount:  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

Daniel 12:12: Blessed is the one who has patience and perseveres . . .

Jesus tells a parable of the persistent widow who patiently returns to a corrupt judge, asking endlessly for justice. Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart . . . (Luke 18:1-8)

Daniel 12:13: Go, take your rest, you shall rise for your reward . . .

Jesus asks us that to give him our worries and anxieties that are too great for us to bear. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

sleep in the dustThis portion of Daniel’s prophecy brings a new perspective of an old vision. Battle between good and evil are not new. But what Daniel brings us is the foreshadowing of a new and wonderful reason for hope and joy. Daniel opens up for us a new dimension. The world of joy born out of pain, of celebration rising from sorrow, and of new hope burgeoning from old wounds.

When we spend time with Daniel 12 today, we see new light leading us into a world of new dimension.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 149. Print.   

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Daniel into the blog search bar and explore. 

 

 

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ironworker4Tuesday

January 20, 2015

Joy and Malachi

Corruption

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds. Today Malachi uses the imagery of the smith who patiently and slowly smelts ore to let the dross run off. In this way we encounter joy even in the midst of deep and intense corruption.

“This work was composed by an anonymous writer shortly before Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem (455 B.C.). Because of the sharp reproaches he was leveling at the priests and rulers of the people, the author probably wished to conceal his identity . . . It is likely that the author’s trenchant criticism of abuses and religious indifference in the community prepared the way for those necessary reforms”. (Senior 1170)

Malachi 3:1: “Listen: I will send my messenger before me to prepare the way. And then the One you are looking for will come suddenly to his Temple—the Messenger of God’s promises, to bring you great joy. Yes, he is surely coming,” says the Lord Almighty.

We have just closed Christmastide when we have welcomed Emmanuel, The Lord among us. In the midst of poor leadership and corruption, and despite our own indifference, God still loves and rescues us.

Malachi 3:7: Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

We enter Ordinary Time and wait for the Easter promise to spring upon us once more. In the midst of reproaches and despite our vanity, God still heals and transforms us.

Malachi 4:1: For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them afire, leaving them neither root or branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who love my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

joyThe choice lies before us: To burn with fire in our passion for The Word . . . or to dissolve into ash in the fire of our own self-importance. God is the patient silversmith who devotedly sits at the furnace smelting the ore of our life’s offerings. God keeps a watchful eye on the fire of love that refines our work, assuring run off of dross and the pureness of the ore. And it is through this fire of God’s love that we are either consumed or brought to new life. It is from the pungent ash of our past corruption that God’s joy springs forth to surprise us again.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1170. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges 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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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formacion-solTuesday

January 13, 2015

Joy and Obadiah

Catastrophe

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Obadiah describes the catastrophe that comes upon the faithful, and he also describes the restoration that the Lord has in mind for each of us.

“The twenty one verses of this book contain the shortest and sternest prophecy in the Old Testament. Nothing is known of the author, although his oracle against Edom, a long-standing enemy of Israel, indicates a date of composition sometime in the fifth century B.C. During this period the Edomites had been forced to abandon their ancient home near the Gulf of Aqaba and had settled in southern Judah, where they appear among the adversaries of the Jews returning from exile. The prophecy is a bitter cry for vengeance against Edom for its heinous crimes”. (Senior 1135)

There is no mention of joy in this brief prophecy, but among the verses focused on revenge there is the promise of restoration.  There shall be a portion saved . . .

There is no celebration in these passionate verses, but among the words describing violence there is the promise of return. The mountain shall be holy . . .

There is no rejoicing in these fervent words, but among the images there is the promise of rescue. And the kingship shall be the Lord’s . . .

Obadiah delivers harsh news and disappears. We know little of him except that he held a deep belief that God always saves the faithful prevails and that God always prevails. We might find no joy in the face of national disaster in Obadiah’s words but what we do find is a call to steadfast fidelity, zealous love and outrageous hope. And this is a call we might celebrate with great joy.

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1135. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges 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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Bartolome Esteban Murillo: The Nativity

Bartolome Esteban Murillo: The Nativity

Saturday, December 27, 2015

Joy and the Tomb

Matthew

 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

In the Gospel of Matthew we hear the familiar story of three wise seekers following not only a singular star in the heavens but also a call of the heart. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the women who accompanied Jesus are astounded by joy when they arrive at his tomb to discover that he has risen as promised.

Matthew 2:9-10: And so the wise men left Herod, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

God says: You do not have to travel across continents or go to faraway shores to find me. I am here within you. And just as I live in you so also does my mercy. Just as I accompany you so also does my love. Just as I guide and carry you, so does my joy.

Matthew 28:8: So the women left the tomb in a hurry, afraid and yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

God says: Just as my first apostles ran to share the joy of Easter with the world, so might you share the joy of Christmas during this special time of year. Just as these women are open to the reality of my love for them, so might you be open to the good news that I have come to restore and heal. In this Christmastide, rest in the joy of this child’s birth and allow my joy to fully live in you.

joyWhen we hear the Christmas story we focus on the sweetness of the child and God’s provision and providence; we tend to stay away from the story of the cross . . . yet it provides us with a greater example God’s joy in us. Matthew links this joy in the vulnerable child with joy in the loving man.  We might spend time with this linkage today . . . and allow God’s joy to show us something wonderful and new.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges 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. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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