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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’


Holy Wednesday, March 31, 2021

good and faithful servantAmos 7-9

A Prayer for Faithful Servants

The prophet Amos has accompanied us on our Lenten journey over these past several weeks to bring us the Words of God, to force us to look at the Woes of the world, and to show us stark warnings through his Visions for the future.

Amos is often described as the angry prophet with no tolerance for the corrupt rich who subjugate the poor. This will also be our impression of him if we do not linger with the last images of his prophecy. We will miss the gift Amos brings to us if we do not stay for a while with these ending verses in which we see the beauty of Amos unfold, for it is in these final chapters that we experience his Messianic perspective and promise. It is here in the last pages of Amos’ prophecy that we understand the stories in the New Testament, and fully come to terms with what it means to be faithful servants of God.

And so we pray.

When we feel unimportant and are dwarfed by the colossal forces around us, we petition God as we say with Amos: How can we stand? We are so small!

And God replies: What do you see?

We remember the many times God has rescued us from sure destruction, and we reply: Evil will not reach or overtake us.

And God replies: I will raise you up!

We recall the occasions when only God was able to pull us together after we have been so battered that we can not imagine how we will ever be whole again, and together we ask: Will you wall up our breaches?

And God replies: I will raise your ruins!

We feel frustration and fear when we see all the good that we have built begin to crumble, and so together we ask: Will you rebuild us as in days of old?

And God replies: I will bring about your restoration!

We remember all the work we have done to build your Kingdom. We look into the future and fear for the work yet to be completed, and so together we ask: Who will rebuild and inhabit our ruined cities? Who will plant vineyards and drink the wine? Who will set out gardens and eat the fruits?

And God replies: I will plant you upon your own ground; never again shall you be plucked from the land I have given you. This is my promise. I have spoken. I am the Lord, your God.

And we reply: We who struggle to be your faithful servants thank you. We who strive to follow in the steps of Jesus rely on you alone. We who long to always live in the Spirit look to you for guidance as we say, Amen!

And God replies: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  (Matthew 25:21)


To purchase the plaque above, click on the image.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

vineyardAmos 9:12-15

A Prayer for Perspective

All the nations shall bear my name . . .

So let me begin to praise God now . . .

I, the Lord, will do this . . .

For all that God has done for me . . .

The ploughman shall overtake the reaper . . .

Just as the seasons turn so does God turn to us, all of us the children of God . . .

I will bring about the restoration of my people . . .

Once we understand the importance of humility . . .

They shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities . . .

Once we understand the depth of God’s wisdom . . .

They shall plant vineyards and drink the wine . . .

Once we understand the breadth of God’s reach . . .

057peachesThey shall set out gardens and eat the fruits . . .

Once we understand the height of God’s hope . . .

I will plant them upon their own ground . . .

Once we act in accordance with God’s plan . . .

Never again shall they be plucked . . .

Once we love as God loves . . .

Say I, the Lord, your God . . .

Say I, this child of God . . .

Amen.


Images from: http://www.meadorchards.com/ and http://www.ventanawines.com/sustainability

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God. And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us? Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us. All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted. It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services:“The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer.” Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

ww_pada01[1]

Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned. When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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First Sunday in Lent, February 21, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Liwa Desert

The Liwa Desert

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part I

Today’s verses for reflection describe the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, a metaphor for the reunion of our own body and soul at our resurrection. Ezekiel brings us a panoply of images that help us to understand that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible. Ezekiel tells us that restoration after great downfall can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

A falaj in Qasr al Sarab, Liwa Oasis

In the desert there is a quiet but sudden blooming that takes place after a rain. Tiny, delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up over night after a scattering of dew but they disappear with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure reflects our own comings and goings with God. We receive the morning dew and rise hopeful. The heat of the day beats us down and we retreat in disappointment. Yet, through God’s loving care we return to bloom again with the next morning’s new scattering of condensation.  The cold night has brought sustenance that we did not expect.

And so it is with us.  Each day we are offered the gift of God’s loving, patient care. Each day, despite the dryness of our bones, we rise to respond. Each day we sink in weariness and yet . . . even in the most vast of deserts God provides oases to sustain us.

Tomorrow, we consider our own dry bones . . . and our own restoration.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396739048398927764/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liwa_Oasis

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Friday, February 19, 2021

 Judean desert in bloom


Judean desert in bloom

Joel 2:18-27

Blessings In the Desert

There has been a lot said about “the desert of love”. Love seeks the desert because the desert is where man is handed over to God, stripped bare of his country, his friends, his fields, his home. In the desert, a person neither possesses what he loves, nor is he possessed by those who love him; he is totally submitted to God in an immense and intimate encounter. That is why in every age the Holy Spirit has compelled all lovers to seek the desert.  (MAGNIFICAT Meditation, December 6, 2009 – Madeleine Delbrêl)

The desert is a place for us to confront our fears – knowing that we are alone and that no one but God is watching. It is difficult to see these many blessings until we have been in the desert. When catastrophe strikes, we are given the opportunity to reap bounty from the crisis.

The prophet Joel reminds us that we need not fear anything or anyone. He reminds us that there are mountains of blessings lifting us up daily, rivers of blessings cleansing us each day. The scourge of locusts is healed. Our storehouses overflow. Everything we were lacking has been fulfilled . . . and more. The Lord walks among us . . . as one of us.

When we go to the desert, we are alone with God and those God sends to minister to us. This is where God finally has our total attention. So rather than fear the arid places and times of dryness, let us listen for the messengers who harbinger good news. Let us allow ourselves to rest fully and totally in God’s great arms.  nd let us remember that it is in the desert that find our greatest, deepest and most abundant blessings.

May God’s peace and blessings be upon each of you.\


To learn more about Madeleine Delbrêl, often called the French Dorothy Day, go to: http://cjd.org/2001/04/01/madeleine-delbrel-a-french-dorothy-day-writes-we-the-ordinary-people-of-the-streets/

Image from: https://www.israel21c.org/top-10-places-to-see-israels-spring-flowers/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 8, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 6.12 (209). Print.

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Monday, December 21, 2020

6596191_orig[1]Zephaniah 3:20

Coming Home

At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; for I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.

We yearn to go back to a place and time of innocence. We miss the elders who peopled our childhood years. We look for comfort in old, familiar places. Zephaniah reminds us today that all of these dreams are already fulfilled.

God says: Rather than see the world around you as chaos, come to me so that I might give you rest. Rather than look at what is missing in your lives, consider all that you are and have. Rather than look for consolation, turn to others who need your consolation. This is the gathering Zephaniah describes to you.  This is the restoration he proclaims. It is the healing I bring to each of you when you decide to live and think and act in me. You do not have to wait for the death of your body to experience this coming home to me . . . you are already there. Put aside your chores and your worried for a little time . . . and come to me.  I have much I wish to give you.

coming-home[1]Time, people and places. We feel nostalgia as we recall good memories and ward off the bad. We re-create in our mind’s eye the faces of loved ones we can no longer see or touch. We close our eyes and conjure up the scents and aromas of those places we thought we had lost but that we now somehow find in an old reminiscence. God’s time is eternal; God brings all of us together in the Mystical Body of Christ; God is in all places at all times. When we join this great coming home . . . all of time, all the faithful, and all places come together in union with this God who loves us so much that he chooses to live among us.  Zephaniah tells us that when we come home to God we are already there in those times and places we miss, we are already there with all of our beloved.

In this last week of Advent when the day of Jesus’ birth nears, let us consider for a time the renown and praise that we are already given by God.  Let us consider the renewal this season brings to us. And let us go gladly to take part in this gathering up and this coming home.


For more reflections on the words of the prophet Zephaniah, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

Images from: http://www.thefellowshipsite.org/zephaniah-317.html 

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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Canticle of Zechariah

Zechariah and the Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:57-80, 2:29-32

Canticles

When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours we participate in the rhythmic repetition of the morning and evening canticles that we find here in Luke. They – along with the presentation of petition, glorification and thanksgiving through the psalms – give our days and nights a deep sense of tranquility. These times of meditation and contemplation create the pathways through which God speaks. The heart, in this way, willingly readies the soul in hospitality for the reception of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ. Prayer cleanses the mind, prepares the spirit and animates the heart for the reception of God’s revelation to us. Nothing can be more important for it is our intentional and incidental prayers that bring us sanity and serenity. These canticles of praise help us to travel through our days, our years, our lives.

No one experiences life without feeling distress and anxiety, and it is when we turn to God – the source of all that is good – that we are healed, lifted up, salvaged and restored. When we allow harm to transform us through our grieving and our trust in God, we find the joy expressed in the canticles we read today.  We also find reason to celebrate God’s salvific love.

Champaigne: Visitation The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

Champaigne: Visitation
The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

These canticles sung by Zechariah who finds his voice after the loss of speech, and by Mary, who anticipated greatest joy and greatest sorrow, are meant to carry us from sun up to sun down continually. The canticle of Simeon, which the Liturgy of the Hours designates as part of the Night Prayer, is an anthem of gratitude, and together these songs can bracket our goings and our comings, they can guide our days and nights, they can fill us with hope and trust in God.

When we sit with Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18, and John 10:31-42 we can see how we too might sing canticles of praise for God’s providence as we move from dread to joy.

I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side!  Denounce!  let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine . . . In my time of distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice . . . From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears . . . The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  Jesus answered them . . . “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”. Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

The Prophets Simeon and Anna with the Christ Child

The Prophets Simeon and Anna
with the Christ Child

And so we pray . . .

God is in his temple and he hears my voice, it reaches his ears . . . we are the temple in which God resides, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

They tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power . . . we have nothing to fear when we walk in the way which is lighted by the light of Christ.

Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one . . . we have everything to gain when we live in God.

As we begin our Advent journey, let us sing these canticles at dawn, at the setting of the sun, and when we lie down to rest. And as we escape from the power of terror’s grip and watch it melt away, let us turn to God in all things, in all ways, at all times . . . and let us sing our canticle of joy.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on April 3, 2009.

To explore these songs of praise and what they can mean to us, click on the images above or go to The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

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Friday, November 12, 2020

hyssop48-l[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part VI

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

I always wonder about Bathsheba.  e might see her as one dimensional, a figure standing for beauty and grace, a woman-object, a child-bearer. Yet she endures in David’s court. And while she shares in David’s act, no mention is made of her grief or guilt, most likely because she is a female, chattel in these ancient times. We can imagine how much she may have suffered. She continues to appear in Kings and in Chronicles and is revered as Solomon’s mother, yet she is a quiet back-figure in this long-running story of sin and parable.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

It is appropriate that this story come to us as we near the end of the Liturgical year and prepare for Advent.  The beautiful psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, was written when Nathan came to David after having committed adultery.

Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. 

When we sing this song of repentance we are repeating the words of one who has lusted, one who has slept with another’s beloved, one who has arranged murder. This is fitting, for in some way we all transgress on those around us when we covet, take or tear down something or someone. And there are many small ways in which we end a life beyond the physical act of murder. We might destroy someone emotionally, professionally, psychologically or spiritually.  et, there is always mercy to be sought . . . and granted.

giant_hyssop_large[1]Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.

There is much to be heard in this story. There is much to be lived, much to be sung. David takes something he wants. David destroys. Nathan speaks. Nathan restores.  Relationships cannot be put back as they had been, time cannot be reversed, and although Uriah cannot return, some quality, some relationship reappears. Bridges can be built. Pride can be put aside. Transgressions can be brought to light. Forgiveness can be sought and given. Restoration can happen.

Miracles can take place . . . souls can be saved.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 

What do we do when Nathan stands before us? How do we react? When confronted by big sin, we need a big spirit. We need constant relationships which help us to develop rather than comfortable friends who discourage us from growth or who encourage us to wallow. We need a steadfast spirit, a renewed heart, an eager soul. We need God. And these we have all been given. We need only take them up and commit ourselves to them.

Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Create in me an open willingness to listen. Renew in me a faithful heart that takes in the world. 

Amen.


To discover the medicinal uses of hyssop and how it was used in ancient times, click on the  botanical image above or go to: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyssop48.html

Second image from: http://mydaybook.wikidot.com/giant-hyssop

Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

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Monday, November 2, 2020

On the eve of a major election in the USA, we reflect on extremes and how living on the edge might be our greatest teacher. 

restoration_449x3181[1]Psalm 69:4-5

Extremes

I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause. Too many for my strength are my treacherous enemies. Must I now restore what I did not steal?

When life’s extremes weigh us down and wear us out there is only one place to go for restoration. When too many lies evil and too much denial tax us beyond our reserves there is only one path to take for transformation. When all roads close, when too much is asked of us there is only one person who understands our experience of extremes.

God says: I never intend for you to go beyond your limits; pushing you too far is a sure sentence of death. Your voice has disappeared from too much crying, your eyes are weary from so much looking. You are outnumbered and overdrawn. You are beyond weary; you are spent. When your body fails and your mental powers ebb, place your heart in my hands. I will not let you vanish into dust. I will champion you against your foes. I will restore even that which has been taken from you.


Also visit the Noontime reflection Without Cause by entering the words into the blog search bar.

Image from: http://bumponablog.com/2010/03/gentle-restoration/ 

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