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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’


John: Naming OurselvesMislabeling-the-Word-of-God

Monday, March 28, 2022

In beautiful prose, the writer of John’s Gospel gives us many portals to name Christ, to understand the person of Jesus, and to model ourselves after this Word of God Among Us.  As we move closer to Palm Sunday, as we prepare to enter the holiest of times in the liturgical calendar, let us take time to assess who Jesus is, how we convey to the world our own understanding of God in the person of Jesus, and how we intend to change in order that we become more like this saving servant.

Chapter 1: Word of God and Light of the World – What does it mean to be the Word of God? Do we enact God’s mercy and justice in our actions and words? How might we bring light to the world’s darkness? Do we look for hope, bring peace, and heal others?

Chapter 3: Spirit of God – God grants us eternal life. What do we store up for this eternity? Where does our treasure lie? Do we offer life or death to ourselves and others?

Chapters 4 – 9: Healer and Miracle Worker – How do we become the hands and feet of Christ? When do we allow God to work many small miracles for and through us? How often do we witness to injustice? When and why do we heal ourselves and others?

good shepherdChapter 10: The Good Shepherd – We have the prophets’ cry out against false shepherd and teachers. Do we number among them? Do we listen for the voice of Jesus the Shepherd? Do we put aside the world to follow the one true shepherd? When do we call others to follow in Christ’s Way?

Chapters 11-12: Restorer of Life – We cannot raise Lazarus from the dead but we can restore wounded hearts, ask and grant forgiveness, bridge gaps and mend fences. We are capable of bringing hope to the hopeless, mercy to the marginalized and love to the abandoned and brutalized. When and where do we grant these gifts we have been given by God?

Chapters 13 – 14: Advocate – It is easy to look away from problems and slip into denial. Who are our loved ones, associates, colleagues and friends? Do they call us to good or encourage us to hide in darkness?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChapters 15 – 17: Vine for our Branches – God gives us the choice to be life-takers or life-givers. What path do we choose and why? Are we willing to change course once we see that we need to change? Do we offer to God the apology saying that we are content in our comfort zone? Do we inflict discomfort on others or call them gently? What nourishment do we allow God to bring us and how do we pass this sacred sustenance along?

Chapters 18 – 20: Lamb of God – Humility is such a difficult quality to wear in our status and power-driven world and yet it is essential. Do we strive for the meekness that Jesus displays? Do we give more than we receive? What role does pride play in our lives? How do we handle our own sense of entitlement and that of others?

Chapter 21: Resurrection – There are no words to express the beauty of God’s desire to bring us to eternal happiness in the kingdom. What fidelity to do we show to the Gospel story in our actions and words? What narrative of resurrection do we live out? What promise of resurrection to we believe? And how do we witness to the miracles of resurrection we know God performs constantly in our own lives and in the lives of others?

empty tomb with sheet and lightWe are perhaps too accustomed to these images and if this is so, we must spend quiet time with them today. If we celebrate and enact these metaphors in our lives daily then let us rejoice in the Good News that is so familiar. In either case, let us spend time with these names and call ourselves followers of Christ as today we prepare for the Palm Sunday gift of Jesus as the very name of God.

Tomorrow, Christ in Us.


Images from: http://www.redletterchristians.org/mislabeling-the-word-of-god/, http://jnwheels.com/tag/jnwheels/, http://galleryhip.com/i-am-the-vine-you-are-the-branches-bible.html, and http://wallpaper-kid.com/empty-tomb-worship-backgrounds.htm

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Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

Wednesday, March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?


Image from: https://eraoftechnology.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/over-inflating-your-opinion/

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The Four Gospels: Theophilusbible-1

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

In the next days of our Lenten pilgrimage as we near the celebration of the Easter miracle, we will focus on the New Testament with its words of joy that call us to newness. Today we take time to compare varying versions of verses as we listen for the voice that speaks within. If possible, we will look for a quiet place and time in which we can look at the opening verses of each Gospel.  And we will listen for God’s wisdom, ask for God’s grace, and rest in God’s mercy.

Matthew 1 begins with: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. When we consider why Matthew was calling his largely Jewish audience to Jesus’ lineage, we may begin to understand the importance of our own heritage, the influence of our tribe and its traditions, and the opportunities for division that unity in Christ might bridge.

Mark 1 begins in this way. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thinking about this story that was written quite close to the resurrection event, we may begin to comprehend the fear and awe that gripped these first followers of Christ, the same fear and awe that take hold of us today, and the prospect that Christ heals all wounds when we open ourselves to his care.

Luke 1 begins in another manner: Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the vents that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word handed down to them to us, I too have decided after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Contemplating these words, we might also consider how our own story of our life in Christ might begin, how it might play out, and how it might conclude. We might also consider how we live out Christ’s message each day as we play and work and pray.

John 1 begins with its soaring, beautiful language that carries us on a journey we cannot forget or put aside: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Meditating on these concepts, we might allow ourselves to be called into newness, to be open to restoration and to forgive others as we are forgiven.

Today we think, we contemplate, we consider and we meditate on the story of Jesus. Let us also act in Christ’s name to heal a world that longs for peace and mercy. When we click on the scripture links we open a world of hope where before there was no possibility. We enter into a world of fidelity where before there was only betrayal. And we allow Christ to create goodness and light out of harm where before there was only darkness and evil. Let us, like Theophilus, enter into our relationship as a beloved friend of God. And let us allow God to bring us the Easter promise in a full and meaningful way so that we might realize the certainty of the teachings we have received, so that we might pass on the goodness that God has in store for each of us.


For more information on ideas for Luke’s use of the name Theophilus, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/t/theophilus.htm

Image from: https://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/

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Psalm 38: Afflictionrescue

Friday, March 18, 2022

These are beautiful words that we might pray when we feel overwhelmed . . . which for some of us is often.  It is a hymn of trust and hope to the God who knows all, who sees all. The St Joseph edition of the Psalter names this psalm, Prayer of a Sinner in Great Peril and the name is apt. When we pray this song, we can be honest and open with God. We can bring our most intense infliction to him . . . and be rewarded with a new sense of meaning, new hope in our petitions, and a new trust in God’s creation. In this Lenten season, we might enter into this prayer often as we make our pilgrimage to Easter and Restoration and as we do . . . we might keep in mind the difference between sometimes and always . . .

Lord, punish me no more . . .

Sometimes the craziness is too much to bear . . .

Your arrows have sunk deep in me . . .

Sometimes the rumors are too piercing to withstand . . .

My iniquities overwhelm me, a burden beyond my strength . . .

Sometimes I stray so far from my potential I cannot find my way back to you . . .

I am numb and utterly crushed . . .

Sometimes I do not know how I have gotten out of bed in the morning . . .

Friends and companions shun my pain . . .

Sometimes I have no place left to vent my anger or to express my fears . . .

Those who seek my life lay snares for me . . .

Sometimes I have no energy left to fight the good fight . . .

I am like the deaf, hearing nothing . . .

Sometimes I believe I am completely detached from my lifeline to you . . .

Lord, I wait for you . . .

Always I remember you, morning, noon and night . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord . . .

Always I will follow you, no matter how difficult the path . . .

My God, be not far from me . . .

Always I will turn to your presence, even when I cannot feel it . . .  

Come quickly to help me . . .

Always I will speak of the many times you have saved me before . . .

My Lord and my salvation . . .

Always I will recall that you who cares for even the tiniest sparrow, will not allow the waters to rise over me . . .

Lord, my deepest yearning is before you; my groaning is not hidden from you . . .

Always I will be honest with you . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord; I wait for you . . . Always.

Amen.


A Favorite first written on Monday, March 16, 2009.

Image from: http://imgkid.com/spiritual-restoration.shtml

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Judges 16: The Strength of Samson

Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Then Delilah said to Samson, “How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?”

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. Words of love can manipulate and destroy as well us build up and restore.

So he took her completely into his confidence and told her, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been consecrated to God from my mother’s womb”.

In this well-told Old Testament story we see how trust and betrayal both tug on the body, mind and soul.  Acts of deceit become preludes to acts of greatness when God is central to our lives.

Delilah had Samson sleep in her lap, and called for a man who shaved off his seven locks or hair. Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him.

In this familiar Old Testament story we see how intimacy and revenge are dichotomous sisters in our modern lives. But always, as in this story, malice is superseded by God’s love.

Samson cried out to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord God, remember me! Strengthen me, O God.

In any array of negative emotion we call on God for strength; and so our fear, anger, and desire for revenge become hope, mercy and love.

Jesus reminds us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

In this often-told Old Testament story we see how words can be used to deceive and conceal. In this often-told New Testament story we see how words of love can build up and restore. As we journey toward season of Lent and the Easter promise, let us reflect on the actions and words of Samson, Delilah and Jesus. Let us determine the source of our strength; and let us determine who we choose to follow and why.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samson_and_Delilah_by_Rubens,_1609.jpg

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Sunday, February 6, 2022heart

Jeremiah 3:12-16

Prayer for Return

Return, rebel, and I will not remain angry with you . . .

Thus says the Lord, and so might we also say to our enemies.

For I am merciful, I will not continue my wrath forever . . .

So says the Lord, and so might we also say to those who bring us anger.

Only know your guilt; how you rebelled against the Lord, your God . . .

Thus acts the Lord, and so might we also act with ourselves and others.

How you ran hither and yon to strangers and would not listen to my voice . . .

Just so does the Lord call us to forgive and listen.

Return . . . I will take you, one from the city, two from a clan . . .

Just so does the Lord gather us up, as we might gather up those who are scattered.

I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart who will shepherd you wisely and prudently . . .

The Lord our God has made plans to guide and protect us, plans that bring us into God’s heart.

When you multiply and become fruitful . . .

The Lord our God has made plans for all that will bring us joy.


Kailash Satyarthi: One of two Nobel Peace Prize 2014 Winners

Kailash Satyarthi: One of two Nobel Peace Prize 2014 Winners

Explore the Nobel site at: http://www.nobelprize.org/

Read about last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners and consider how they have brought Jeremiah’s prayer to life. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/

Explore Kailash Satyarthi’s profile on the BBC News at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29568634  

For a reflection on Jeremiah 3, insert the words Sincere and Insincere Conversion in the blog search bar and explore.

 

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Saturday, February 5, 2022roots and branches

Malachi 4 (Malachi 3:19-24)

Roots and Branches

Destruction is a familiar theme in the Old Testament; restoration is a theme in the New.  We seem always to be looking for the phoenix life – one in which our past is obliterated when we rise from the ashes of our former selves.  In today’s Noontime the wicked will be like ashes under the feet of the righteous.  This place which Malachi describes does not appear to offer resurrection; evidently there are actions from which there is no turning back.  The New Testament Jesus calls all of us – even those who seem to be lost in total perdition.  In today’s reading we hear that neither root nor branch will survive the coming fire.  There will be no source of renewal and no bearing of fruit for some.  We might wonder who these wicked are . . . and why they deserve this end.

This prophecy was written after the restoration and re-dedication of the Temple by Ezra and Nehemiah.  Evidently the people had not learned much from their suffering in exile.  These people sound a good deal like us.   “Unlike such early prophecies as Amos and Hosea, the late prophetic book of Malachi is not simply the voice of the observant masses against a corrupt priesthood, though it readily indicts the priesthood for its failures.  It identifies itself with Levitical priestly circles and believes deeply in the temple, true worship, and the payment of tithes as means for obtaining the blessing of the land”.  (Mays 1428-1429)  Malachi saw the corruption and witnessed truth to the power structure.  Clearly, he was ignored.  The Temple fell to final ruin in the Roman-Jewish conflict around the year 70 C.E.  We might wonder how history would have resulted differently if the temple hierarchy had acted positively in response to this prophecy.  We might wonder if we are like the temple priests whom Malachi describes to us today.

tree_vision1Psalm 119, sometimes entitled The Glories of God’s Law, is a long one but we cannot let it discourage us from exploring its verses.  One weekend several years ago I used it for a self-imposed three-day retreat on my porch at home.  Every few hours I went to the corner settee to sit awhile and look at the beauty of nature before me, and then I read and reflected on a portion of this Psalm.  I interspersed this with yoga, reflective music, and reading Thomas Merton, Teresa of Ávila, Catherine of Siena, and Henri Nouwen.  By the end of the weekend, after immersing myself in God’s Law, I had come to better understand an obstacle in my path.  By the end of that weekend I had learned how to rise from ashes so that I might not be trampled underfoot.  By the end of the weekend I had learned again how to put down roots . . . and how to lift up branches in order to bear fruit out of suffering.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1428-1429. Print.

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 9, 2011.  

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

Images from: https://thewordspeaks.wordpress.com/tag/hope/ 

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Christmas_BethlehemFriday, January 14, 2022

Joy and Micah

Outrage

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 we feel the outrage of the prophet Micah who challenges the rich, witnesses to the corruption and immorality of religious leaders . . . and offers hope and promise to the exploited.  

The second chapter of Micah begins: Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it is all he has); you take it by fraud and threats and violence. (2:1-2)

We do not have to wonder about the identity of Micah’s audience. A contemporary of Isaiah, little is known about him except that, “With burning eloquence he attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. Scholars note that although Micah delivers “reproach and the threat of punishment, [he also offers] a note of hope and promise”. (Senior 1140)

According to Micah, the Lord promises to deliver evil for evil (2:3). The Lord’s threats are for our good, the prophet tells us, to get us on the right path. (2:7) Exasperated, Micah speaks frankly: You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, who walk in peace. You have driven out the widows from their homes and stripped their children of every God-given right. Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it with sin, and it will vomit you out. I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink”—that is the kind of drunken, lying prophet that you like! (2:9-11)

Micah confronts evil with its own image, pointing out to those who find comfort at the expense of truth and integrity that they deceive no one by pretending that the joy they find in temporal pleasure can in any way equal the joy God offers.

Restoration is assured, Micah tells anyone who will listen. Humans will no longer train for war; each one of us might sit serenely beneath our own fig trees without fear. And who will bring this renewal? O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past! (5:2)

As we reflect on this Christmastide we have so recently shared, let us consider the gift of self that God brings us. And let us remember that despite his outrage . . . Micah brings us the good news of redemption, hope and promise.


For a reflection on finding Christmas in the Old Testament, click on the Bethlehem image above, or visit: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/ 

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1140. 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. 

Image from: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/

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assyriaFriday, January 13, 2022

Joy and Nahum

Warning

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 Nahum delivers a warning to the enemies of the faithful.

“Shortly before the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C., Nahum uttered his prophecy against the hated city. To understand the prophet’s exultant outburst of joy over the impending destruction it is necessary to recall the savage cruelty of Assyria . . . in the wake of their conquests, mounds of heads, impaled bodies, enslaved citizens, and avaricious looters testified to the ruthlessness of the Assyrians”. (Senior 1147)

Nahum 3:19: There is no healing for your wound—it is far too deep to cure. All who hear your fate will clap their hands for joy, for where can one be found who has not suffered from your cruelty?

God says: Revenge is never a source of happiness and it is – in fact – a source of continued pain. When you inflict punishment on those who oppose you that punishment comes back to haunt you. Nothing is gained. All is lost. As my servant Paul so ably reminds you, “love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth”. (1 Corinthians 13: 6) Keep this in mind when you see your enemies fall. Call on me when you feel the hand of vengeance grip you. When you hear a warning of impending doom . . . remember that I alone can mete out justice that brings new life. Explore the verses of my prophet Nahum and look for the words he uses to remind you that in your anger and fear you need only look to me . . . for I will keep my promises.

Look! On the mountains the feet of one
    who brings good tidings,
    who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, O Judah,
    fulfill your vows,
for never again shall the wicked invade you;
    they are utterly cut off.
(Nahum 1:15)

The prophecy of Nahum is a short one. Spend a bit of time with these verses this weekend and listen for God’s response to Nahum’s warning.


To learn more about Assyria, click on the image above or visit: http://www.ancient.eu/assyria/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1147. Print.

joyIf 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.

Image from: http://www.ancient.eu/assyria/

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