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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Biliverti: The Archangel Raphael Refusing Tobias' Gift

Giovanni Biliverti: The Archangel Raphael Refusing Tobias’ Gift

Tobit 12

Raphael Makes Himself Known

This beautiful story comes to us today to remind us that we need to make known the many small miracles we receive from God.  Each time God inverts a plot, we must share the story.  Each time God saves us from our own fears we must tell the good news.  Each time God heals a wounded heart we must make God’s goodness known.

We have read this story before but today we find something new.

Verse 6: Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: “Thank God! Give him the praise and glory.  Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song.  Honor and praise God’s deeds and do not be slack in praising him”.

The healing hand of God manifests itself frequently in our lives through strangers.  When Tobit and Tobias wish to give a monetary reward to Tobias’ traveling companion for all the healing he has done in their lives, the Archangel Raphael reveals himself . . . and rather than take payment, asks them to praise God who has answered their cry for help and has rescued them.

Verse 10: But those habitually guilty of sin are their own worst enemies.

We are reminded that when we sin, we are separating ourselves from God and hurting ourselves.  The first step toward healing is recognizing that we are human and imperfect . . . and acknowledging that God is all and that God alone is enough.

Verse 14: . . . and now the Lord has sent me to heal you.

We can heal one another and in so doing also heal ourselves . . . and act as co-redeemers of the human race with Christ.  For we are adopted daughters and sons of God.

Verses 17 and 18: And Raphael said to them: “No need to fear.  You are safe.  Thank God now and forever.  As for me, when I came to you it was not out of any favor on my part, but because it was God’s will.  So continue to thank him every day; praise him with song”. 

Fear not . . . these are the same healing words which Jesus speaks.

Verse 22: They kept thanking God and singing his praises; and they continued to acknowledge these marvelous deeds which he had done when the angel of God appeared to them.

Let us proclaim all God’s wonderful works for God has sent angels to minister to us even though we might not see them.  Let us tell everyone we know the stories of our own healing for these are miracles performed for us by a loving God.  And let us remember to thank God for all that God does to heal us of all that limits us.


For more about Raphael, Tobit or Tobias, enter their names in the blog search bar and reflect on the gift of this story.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2008.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Biliverti

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Thursday, June 13, 2020

Jeremiah 12

Plots of Darkness

The prophecy of Jeremiah is a strong one and in chapter 12 we see the prophet exchanging frank words with the creator.  He enters into a dialog in which he tells God that he is unhappy because while he obeys God and abides in faithfulness the wicked prosper.  Jeremiah – the innocent lamb – works hard at doing as God asks yet he is surrounded and attacked by those who lay plots of darkness to bring about his end.  Jeremiah’s enemies, the people of Anathoth, are his own family and friends (Meeks 1136-1137) and the reason for their persecution of Jeremiah is unclear.  The point is that the prophet suffers at the hands of those who ought to be living in concord with him, and who ought to be joining him in performing good works to live in and with God.  We might find ourselves in similar situations today when those closest to us betray us, seek our end, and seem to prosper all the while.

Thomson: Anathoth

John Thomson: Anathoth

God’s response is typical of the Old Testament in that it has words of violence and revenge yet the seeds of optimism.  The New Testament, as we often remind ourselves during our Noontime reflections, is one of forgiveness and hope.  The idea of resurrection does not occur in Jewish sacred scripture until the second century before Christ in the book of Daniel, but here with Jeremiah’s second lament (the first is in chapter 11) we see the beginnings of Jesus’ message of freedom and restoration.  In verses 14 through 17 God speaks of having pity and of bringing back those who repent.  This is a clear indication that God’s hope and God’s power to restore know no bounds.  And it is a message to us today that we might try to strive for the same level of union with all . . . even those who have sought our end.

As Saint Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:11: Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.  And we might add . . . and let God handle them.  As we have reflected often, the hardest work for any of us is this . . . to pray for those who have damaged us.  God expects us to ask for the impossible and we delight God when we seek intervention on behalf of those who do us harm because God knows that the dark depths of evil plots are beyond our skill level.  God wants to help us and so we pray . . .

Dearest God whose love knows no bounds, you are willing to seek, to call, to forgive and to heal.  You want to mend each of us in order that we might unite ourselves with you and with one another.  Bring us the gift of humility, the grace of peace, the steadfastness of faith, the passion of hope and the touch of your love.  Allow us to express our fears and doubts and anger with you.  Let us speak about the plots of darkness that frighten us and then . . . call us back . . . calm our hearts . . . restore our spirit . . . and carry us home with you.  Amen. 


Adapted from a Noontime written on September 1, 2009.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

restorejusticeimage[1]Philippians 1:27-30

Steadfastness in Faith

If ever we doubt that we are to be community and that we are called to find ways to bridge differences, we only need look as far as the Book of Acts and the Letters of the New Testament.

This is God’s doing.  I keep repeating these words to myself as I wend my way through the obstacles that present themselves to me each day. I have been planted in this time and place to bloom according to the gifts God sent with me. And so in accord with the covenant I share with God, I will continue to be steadfast, always hoping for the best outcome for all.

I share with you a quote which was sent to me several years ago.

Hope is all about the vision of what we believe our world can and should be . . . Hope enables us to believe that we can achieve some meaningful expression of justice, reconciliation and healing here and now even though the ultimate goal must always remain beyond our grasp.


John W. de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice

Hope, reconciliation, willingness, bridge-building, restoration, transformation.  These are only a few of the gifts we receive when we become disciples of Christ.

Tomorrow, steadfastness in love . . .


Image from: http://transitionalbany.org/

To learn more about restorative justice, go to: http://www.restorativejustice.org/articlesdb/articles/4385 and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime written on May 7, 2007.

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Saturday, April 11, 2020

John 21:15-19

PWmorningshorea1[1]Peter’s Return

A few brief weeks ago we spent time reflecting with Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ.  Today – putting this denial into the context of the Easter story – we spend time with Peter’s three-fold return.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

The disciples have returned to their boats and nets, looking for a bit of stability after the resurrection of Jesus.  He had told them to return to Galilee to await him there and this they have done.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Seven of the Christ’s disciples have just spent a fruitless night of labor hauling up nets devoid of fish;  they are exhausted and frustrated.  What, they wonder, awaits them next?

Feed my lambs.

Then that voice had called out across the water suggesting that they cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

Peter had nodded them into action.  They had done as the stranger suggested and now . . . the net was so full it nearly burst as they heaved it into the boat.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

It was John who keyed into it first.  “It is the Lord”, he had said quietly.

Tend my sheep.

Peter had jumped into the water while the rest of them pulled the laden boat onto the stony beach.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

And now they sat around the brazier while Jesus prepared a breakfast to restore their weakened bodies and spirit.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Peter allows Jesus’ eyes to lock with his; he does not flinch or look away.  His gaze holds the Christ’s – or Christ holds his – as they both remember that night not long ago when Peter sat beside another fire and denied that he knew the man called Jesus.  Both Peter and Jesus know that the disciple is being invited to undo his denials.  Now distressed yet resolute, Peter can do nothing but say what is in his heart and on his mind.

Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.

Peter, who denied knowing Jesus just as predicted now becomes the rock upon which the Lord has already begun to build his church.  Peter, who denied having traveled in the company of the Teacher has already learned that all things are possible in and through Christ.  Peter, who wept bitterly at his lack of courage, has learned that there is nothing to fear when we live in and with Christ.

Feed my sheep.

Each of us is given the opportunity to sit across from the Lord and connect with him above the fire of our denial.  Each of us is offered the opening of renewal in God.  Each of us is given the gift of rebirth and freedom from fear.

Follow me.

Each of us may tell anyone who will listen that we follow Jesus the Galilean. Each of us may remain silent when challenged by choices that are difficult to make. Each of us may turn and return to the Lord. Each of us may give our fear and anxiety over to the Christ. And each of us may decide to follow the Lord with open, contrite and eager hearts.


For another reflection on today’s Noontime reading, click on the image above or go to: http://villagegreendunwoody.com/day-40-saturday-feed-my-sheep

To visit the Noontime reflection about Peter’s denial, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/03/16/

To reflect again on this portion of in John’s Gospel that we have been visiting in recent days, we may want to return to some of the sites we explored earlier this week. 

For some interesting facts about the Sea of Galilee/Tiberias today, go to: http://www.this-is-galilee.com/sea-of-galilee.html or http://www.seetheholyland.net/sea-of-galilee-article-israeloutside-jerusalem/ or http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/sea_of_galilee.html or http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jesus-boat

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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Hosea 11: Destruction Not for All

dew[1]As we near the half-way point in our Lenten journey we hear Yahweh’s word that he persists in loving the child Israel just as Hosea loves the wayward Gomer . . . he recalls that he raised her from a child and so cannot destroy her as he might be justified in doing.  This is the promise of restoration we long to hear.

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

This is all so simple, really.  There is nothing complex in truly loving someone.  At least this is the case if we love as God asks: justly, wisely, authentically.

To love justly is to act with mercy rather than leniency.

To love wisely is to be vulnerable to God through one another.

To love well is to amplify rather than obliterate, to persevere rather than control, to speak to truth and listen for authenticity rather than to mollify or pacify.

To love with integrity is to be honest with ourselves and to look for solutions within rather than from some outside source.

To love well is to follow the example of Christ . . . and this we are all called to do.

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. 

We look for peace.  We look for serenity.  We look for healing and restoration.  In order to find these things, we must fasten our eyes, our ears, our voices, our hands and our feet to God and not let go.  We must watch, we must wait, we must listen, we must speak, we must witness.  God always abides.

For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.

Hosea is constant.  Gomer is fickle.  We run to the high places to worship a new idol when we grow bored.  We seek out some old addiction when we grow tired.

new_easter_lilies[1]The more I called them, the farther they went from me . . . yet it was I who taught [them] . . . to walk . . . though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. 

We do not have to go off to far or exotic places to find this God we seek.  We need only tum and return to one another.

How could I give you up . . . or deliver you up?

My heart is overwhelmed . . .

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

Restoration is upon us.  The end of our exile is as far away as our own fingertips, our own lips, our own feet.  We must turn and return.  How much are we willing to risk?  How much are we willing to love?


Images from: http://restministries.com/2011/02/21/devotion-seeking-saturation-at-the-lords-feet-in-our-pain-not-just-getting-by/ and http://www.mydesignideas.com/images/Garden%20File/garden_gallery_dupe.html

First written on January 22, 2008. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Hosea 3: Triumph of Love

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Hosea was instructed to take Gomer back, redeeming her from her paramours.  On condition of her amendment, she will be restored to her former position of wife.  This in turn signifies God’s enduring love for his people.  He will put the people through a period of trial – the dissolution of the kingdom – in order that they may return to him wholeheartedly”.  (Senior 1111)

So he bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and about ten and a half bushels of barley.  Then he said to her . . . “I in turn will wait for you”.

It is only a fully good and gracious God who can take back one who has sunk so low as to have given herself to swine.

It is only a faithful and patient God who can take back one who has scoffed and scorned a love fully and freely given.

It is only a hopeful and healing God who can redeem and restore one who has sinned so egregiously.

We shall come trembling to the Lord and to his bounty . . .

We shall be like grains of sand of the sea, which can neither be measured or counted . . .

We shall be called “Children of the Living God” . . .

We shall be gathered together . . .

We shall become Jezreel, or “God sows” . . .

We shall say to our sisters and brothers, Ammi,” or “my people” . . .

We shall say to our sisters, “Ruhama,” or “she is pitied” . . .

We shall experience the triumph of love . . . and we shall be restored. 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1111. Print.   

Written on October 27, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To read more about Gomer and her children – and her remarkable marriage to the prophet Hosea – click on the image above or go to: http://www.netplaces.com/women-of-the-bible/temptresses-harlots-and-sinful-women/gomer.htm

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Nehemiah 1: A Vocation for Building

Friday, September 13, 2019

Jerusalem: Stones at the Temple South Wall

We have visited with this book several times during our Noontime reflections and we know that it, along with the book of Ezra, describes the restoration time of the Jewish nation.  We know that Nehemiah was the administrator who is credited with the rebuilding of the temple and walls while his friend Ezra, the priest, rebuilt the religious traditions of the Jewish people.  Together these men led their community to recovery through work, prayer and a close connection with their God.  

The survivors of the captivity there in the province are in great distress and under reproach.

We constantly bump into people who are in great distress and under reproach.  There are times when we ourselves are the victim of abuse of one kind or another, times when we too, suffer greatly in that we are separated from some one, some thing or some tradition which used to comfort us and bring us peace.  When we find ourselves in exile . . . and we yearn for reconciliation . . . the best remedy for this affliction is to do as Nehemiah did: I prayed: O Lord, God of heaven, great and awesome God, you who preserve your covenant of mercy towards those who love you and keep your commandments, may your ear be attentive, may your eyes be open, to heed the prayer which I, your servant, now offer in your presence day and night for your servants the Israelites, confessing the sins which we of Israel have committed against you, I and my father’s house included.

This was Nehemiah’s vocation, that he call together a buffeted and distracted people to bring them home to Yahweh where they might be healed and restored.  It is our vocation as well, for as Christians we too are called to help in the gathering, fishing and harvesting work of God’s kingdom.  To this we are called.  For this we are made.  Let us pray with Nehemiah . . .

O Lord, may your ear be attentive to my prayer and that of your willing servants who revere your name.  Grant success to your servant this day . . . and all days.

Our vocation is to build and rebuild, to restore, to bring unity out of chaos, to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope to the desperate.  And we are never alone in this work.  We are constantly accompanied by the one who is the light, the hope, the joy of the world.  We ask this in Jesus’, name.  Amen.


Written on September 12, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on Nehemiah and Ezra and the re-building of Jerusalem, go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/nehemiah%E2%80%93the-man-behind-the-wall/

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Ezra 10:16-44: The Guilty

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tower of David Ruins: Jerusalem

At the time that the Jews were returning from their exile, Ezra condemns certain priests who intermarried with the Gentiles strayed from Yahweh.  Their solution?  To sever relationships with wives and children and make a guilt offering.  This is a course of action appropriate for their time but it is not the action that New Testament people will take.  If we are People of the Restoration, People of Resurrection and healing, we will build bridges where there is dissent and conflict.  We will look for compassionate yet just ways to maintain contact and to heal breaches in relationships.

Let us welcome the guilty . . . for we are among them.

Let us forgive . . . for we are forgiven

From the MAGNIFICAT morning intercessions.

You made all human beings in your image: fill us with reverence for one another.  Hear your children’s plea!

You restored us in your image through the work of the cross: teach us to work to restore the dignity of all those degraded by the works of evil.  Hear your children’s plea!

You raise us to newness of life in Jesus Christ: fill us always with Easter joy.  Hear your children’s plea!


Written on April 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.moderatotours.com/easter_abroad.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.16 (2008). Print.

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Luke 18:1-8The Persistent Widow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This has for a long time been one of my favorite stories.  Perhaps this is because it has to do with the importance of stamina, something I look for daily.   It is so easy to give up.  And it is so important to continue.

Yesterday I spent pilgrim time with friends renewing the soul and remembering what is accurately the most significant work of each day . . . breathing, living, and remaining in God.  The world so quickly distracts us, and we so easily are drawn away from the only path that can lead us to the tranquility we seek.  In the end, there is only God.

The persistent widow and the unjust judge . . . it is likely that this story has universal appeal because the figures represent archetypal images we see and hear each day.  We relish this story because on any given day we are either the judge or the widow and so we know these roles well.  When we are overwhelmed, cranky, and feeling our “underdog” status we lash out at others, trying to snatch what we perceive to be rightfully ours.  We are the unjust judge.  When we are tired but hopeful and we allow God to smooth away fatigue, we come to understand that we must become the persistent widow.  When we are wounded but determined, we come to know for certain that in the end, there is only God.

Elizabeth Seton

Yesterday’s pilgrimage was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmittsburg, Maryland, a memorial to a woman with a remarkable story.  http://www.setonshrine.org/  Mother Seton was a familiar friend of both sorrow and joy and the details of her biography illustrate that she fully understood her role as a persistent widow.  Her life is a model for those who are determined to remain close to God knowing that although there will be sadness they will fail at nothing and they will never be alone.  Through the turmoil, strife, happiness, and joy of her journey, Elizabeth Seton recognized that in the end, there is only God.

My granddaughter likes a particular saying and recently I gave her a mug with its words printed in blues and purples: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.  This granddaughter is wise beyond her years for one so young; she already knows how to be the persistent widow.  She understands the importance of doggedness, the need for perseverance, the sensibleness of diligence.   She – and her mother – believe that in the end, there is only God.  They believe, and try to act in the belief that, restoration and resurrection are God’s healing gift.  I thought of them a great deal on our pilgrimage yesterday.

I am convinced that fatigue is the devil’s companion and that our little demon doubts and anxieties weigh us down to exhaust us.  A cloud of anxiety descends and suddenly we find ourselves believing that there is nothing for us but sadness.  Our eyes become clouded and we act as if we are doomed to a life of sorrow when in reality we are creatures of joy.  Spiritual weariness will tell us that we are worth little and that we are alone.  It will take its toll and lead to inertia . . . and so we must keep moving forward in the journey, always seeking God, always asking for healing and rebirth.   We must ask for manna and feed ourselves, always thanking God.  We must “go away for a little while” as Jesus did, and find pilgrim companions who thirst as we thirst and who understand the importance of nourishing one another, always loving God.

I believe that in today’s parable the unjust judge recognizes God in the widow . . . and so he finds in her favor, hoping that no one will notice or remember what she has said.  I also believe that the persistent widow has nourished herself and bolstered her soul for the journey.  She has slacked her thirst and hunger with the manna of God’s goodness, she has rested awhile in the company of those who know and understand her plight.  In this way she has come to fully understand and to act in the belief . . .  that there is nothing but God.  She fully strengthens herself to once more go up against the enormous obstacle that blocks her path, not worrying about what others think of her, only knowing that . . . in the end, there is only God.


A re-post from August 20, 2011.

Images from: http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105 and http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105

Other links of interest about Elizabeth Seton: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/seton.html

http://www.setonshrine.com/ 

 http://www.srcharitycinti.org/about/who_is_elizabeth.htm

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