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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’


Isaiah 61-63: The Mission of the Afflicted . . . Restoration

Saturday, May 27, 2017CLF - Olmstead Parks

Oaks of Justice

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication from our God, to comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem of ashes, to give them oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.  They will be called oaks of justice, planted by the Lord to show his glory.

These are the words Jesus reads out in the synagogue in Capernaum to initiate the Kingdom of God on earth; and for delivering this message of hope and freedom, he was accused of heresy and nearly killed by his audience.

Those who suffer well, who offer their pain for the salvation of others, suffer with Christ, in Christ, and through Christ.  They make their pain salvific and in this way, together with Christ, they offer to save the world.  These sufferers become co-redeemers.

In the old days, we wore white and red robes and caps when we were confirmed as a sign that we were willing to step into the ranks of those who suffered for Christ and for the world.  We became “soldiers” for Christ. Today we see the confirmandi as disciples who work for and in Christ, followers who build the Kingdom of God in order to bring transformation to the world, aid to the afflicted, and restoration to the Kingdom.

They shall rebuild the ancient ruins, the former wastes they shall raise up and restore the ruined cities, desolate now for generations.  Strangers shall stand by ready to pasture your flocks, foreigners shall be your farmers and vinedressers.  You yourselves shall be named priests of the Lord, ministers of our God you shall be called.  You shall eat the wealth of the nations and boast of riches from them.  Since their shame was double and disgrace and spittle were their portion, they shall have a double inheritance in their land, everlasting joy shall be theirs. 

The faithful who suffer are well rewarded for the work they do in Christ’s name, because Jesus knows how difficult it is to walk The Way. The faithful who suffer are transformed when pain brings them closer to God. The faithful who suffer must not remain silent and thus indicate their assent with all that causes their suffering.

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch . . . No more shall men call you “Forsaken”, or your land “Desolate”, but you shall be called “My Delight”, and your land “Espoused”.  For the Lord delights in you, and makes your land his spouse.  As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder will marry you; as a Bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

God will not let these faithful, suffering servants come to harm when they speak out to witness to what is unjust and unloving. God cares for these Oaks of Justice constantly, tending to the littlest of details in their lives even when the earth trembles beneath them and the skies darken above them. God sheds favor upon the faithful, urges them to set down deep roots into the richness of The Word, and persistently calls them to stay focused on the light so that they might bear God’s light into the world.

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer for the return of God’s favor.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 24, 2008.

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Ezra 6:18-22: Marvels – Part II

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Model of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem

Model of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem

We are living through another of those cycles in which some of us believe that not only are they beyond any human measure, they are beyond the need of divine marvels as well.  We might look at these modern-day versions of corruption and believe ourselves removed.  We may look at the Israelites of Ezra’s day who return to their burned out city to work for its restoration and think that we would not have erred as they did.  We watch as they promise that never again will they forget the gift of Passover which they have received, and we will also watch as we read the New Testament story in Luke 13:10-17 as we see the leader of the synagogue complain because Jesus cures a woman on the Sabbath.  On that day the whole crowd rejoiced at the splendid deeds done by him.

As humans, we easily forget our pattern of looking out for self rather than the group.  We place ourselves beyond the norm and sometimes attribute gifts to ourselves which rightly belong to God.  When we read about these exiles, we know that these Levites will centuries later have fallen into the same corruption for which this tribe now repents.  Reflecting on all of this we see that the best safety and surety we can seek is not the amount of money or power we can amass.  Our comfort and our state of mind cannot be assured by anything we ourselves command or control.  Our cleanliness and lack of corruption do not stem from any rituals we perform or any friends we might have; but rather . . . we sleep peacefully, we work willingly, we play joyfully and we love openly when we remember well the marvels the Lord has done for us. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2009.

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Ezra 6:18-22: Marvels – Part I

Friday, October 14, 2016ps-126-5

It must have seemed unreal to the Israelites – after praying for years – to not only return to Jerusalem but also to receive safe passage and assistance from the dynasty which had first overtaken them and then carried them into exile.  The people who had been in darkness were finally seeing a light; the tears they had sown in mourning were about to be harvested in joy.  The dream expressed in Psalm 126 was finally arriving in full force: The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the torrents in the southern desert.  Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing . . . The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves . . . The Lord has done marvels for us.

I recently saw a documentary about the men of Wall Street who in the 1920’s first initiated revenue pools with which they manipulated the markets to make exorbitant profits at the expense of small investors.  These wild and risky patterns once unleashed and initially controlled became – as these things always do – beyond all human control.  Ruin and devastation were the result.  What struck me about the information presented was the outcome for two men: one – the original founder of GM – was one who of those really thought that they were in control of the markets.  When he came into NY from his home, the police made certain that all the traffic lights stayed green so that his car would not have to pause on his way to the Exchange.  Everyone was poised to do his bidding and it was perhaps this fawning and deference that deceived him rather than his own pride.  This man ended in complete ruin, still trying to begin a number of small businesses, hoping to “get his game back”.  This man had not seen that his initial success was not his own.  He did not understand that The Lord has done marvels for us. 

A second man was featured who was able to avoid the bursting of the bubble by not only conserving his crookedly gotten treasure but by becoming even wealthier as the world around him collapsed.  But this did not assure his comfort or safety.  Rules were put into place to prevent the gaming of the market and this man became so despondent at the lack of risk and danger in his daily routine that although he died with a mass of money stored up . . . he died at his own hands in a bathroom.  He did not realize that The Lord has done marvels for us.

Tomorrow, splendid deeds. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2009.

 

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Micah: The Promise of the Shepherd

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

We have examined the construct of deception and how envy and hope show us divergent journeys through life. We have spent time with the prophet Micah who speaks to both fraudulent leaders and God’s vulnerable, faithful followers. With Micah, we have examined the true path to perfection and celebrated the promise of restoration offered us each day by the Creator.

“With burning eloquence [Micah] attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. (Senior 1140) The prophet’s testimony foreshadows Jesus’ words. Do we believe that God comes to live among us? And what does God’s presence look like? And how will we recognize this consoling presence?

Through Micah, God says: Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work our evil on their couches.” (2:1)

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

Through Micah, God says: I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown I to a panic by men. With a leader to break the path they will burst open the gate and go out through it; their king shall go through before them, and the Lord at their head”. (2:12-13)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good – a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. (John 10:1-6)

Those who were listening to Jesus’ voice: had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. ( John 10:7-10)

The Creator speaks to us through the prophet Micah. The Creator visits us in the person of Jesus. The Creator lives in us as the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us listen to the promise given us this day; let us share this gift of hope and redemption with others; and let us persist in listening for and following the voice of the genuine shepherd.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1140. Print.   

Enter the word promise into the blog search bar and explore.

sheepfold2-417206_623x200

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Isaiah 11: On that day . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2015lion and lamb

“Isaiah wrote during a period of upheaval and general unrest, as the Assyrian Empire was expanding and the northern kingdom of Israel facing decline and imminent disaster.  Judah [in the south] was also vulnerable, although her destruction was ultimately to come at the hands of a later power, Babylonia . . . Isaiah’s primary ministry was to the people of Judah, who were failing to live according to the requirements of God’s law.  But he prophesied judgment not only upon Judah but also upon Israel and the surrounding nations.  On the other hand, Isaiah delivered a stirring message of repentance and salvation for any who would turn to God. (Zondervan 1051)

In reading today’s Noontime we see that only a stump or remnant of David’s dynasty will remain, and this remnant will be in exile; but from this stump will rise the Messiah, the saver of all peoples.  Also in today’s reading we hear that the word of God will first be lost on those originally chosen, and will then find more fertile soil in the gentile nations.  This is a story of disaster giving bloom to fruit – of rejection giving birth to glory.  It is the story of Jesus’ coming and interaction with humankind.  Harm will be turned to good.  Hate will convert to love.  Rejection will be overridden by restoration.  All that has sought to divide will itself be conquered.  All that has been self-seeking will capitulate to union. Emmanuel – God among us – will rule.  Emmanuel – God amidst us – will save.

isaiah 11v1We can take comfort from these words when we find ourselves in situations that seem irredeemable.  We can also find consolation for the times when we feel devastating loss.  God is constantly looking to restore all that is good.  God is consistent in his love and in his insistence in love being the only power which ultimately survives the chaos of our existence.  The message is clear: On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.  On that day, the Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people . . .

We often think of the day of Christ’s coming as some distant time in the next life, but as we recently reflected on God’s power to control all time for all good, we realize that that day may be today or any day.  That day is the day that God wills.  As members of God’s body we come together in the hope that each day may be that day, that all days may be days when we clearly feel and see Emmanuel among us.

spirit1Rather than put our hopes in a distant day when things may come right, when hard hearts may eventually be softened, let us place our hope in this day.  And let us petition our God that each day may be that day.  Let us ready ourselves each morning for his coming.  Let us walk with him through each day.  And each evening as we lay our heads on pillows to slip into sleep, let us thank him that this day has – in some way or other – been that day. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1051. Print.

A favorite from November 7, 2009.

 

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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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Ezekiel 19Allegorylions

Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, 2015

Commentary tells us that the meaning of these two allegories has been lost but that scholars believe the two young cubs in the first refer to princes who were deported to Egypt and to Babylon (likely Jehoahaz and Zedekiah), and that the mother vine represents Judah.  Ezekiel already knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed and perhaps he writes these two metaphors in order to convey the trauma of the event.  We will never know; yet what we do know is this: Even though this prophet writes of a nation whose roots have been destroyed forever, yet he holds out hope for a new arising, for a rebirth, for restoration, for another coming.  In 37:24-28 he tells us: My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.  They shall live on the land which I gave to my servant Jacob . . . I will make them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

If we choose, we might write our own allegory, describing how and why we elect to follow this God who promises much and who never forgets his promises.

God’s dwelling has been made among us, just as he has promised.

In this season of joy, let us celebrate his coming.

The shoot from the stalk of Jesse has come to shepherd us.

In this season of hope, let us rise to walk with this God.

A covenant of peace has been made with us.

In this season of peace, let us share the good news of this coming and this covenant.

God’s Law of Love is written on our foreheads and on our hearts.

In this season of love, let us share this love with others – especially those who do us harm. 

We have our God, and we are God’s people.

In this season of possibility, let us dare to be one with this God. 

And may Christ’s peace and joy and love be upon us all.  Amen.

For notes on Ezekiel 19 click on the image above, or visit: http://www.lorisreflections.com/god-lessons/friday-revelation-lament-israel/

A Favorite from December 12, 2009.

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIwith-God

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

At the end of chapter 37 is the Oracle of the Two Sticks in which we understand that the two kingdoms will be re-united (something thought totally impossible) and the true Davidic king will reign eternally from Jerusalem – Jesus.  The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog, again a dramatic description, and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. In all, this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tells the reader that what is thought impossible . . . is possible for God.  It tells us that God does not abandon us even when we abandon God.  It tells us that God loves us and God is constantly with us, even when we have turned away.

The most hopeless of cases have hope in them somewhere, but it takes an act of great love to resuscitate what has been lost.  God does this for us, and God calls us to do the same for one another.  When we move through a desert experience it is difficult to believe that God is with us; but this difficulty does not make God’s love more distant. Through the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel we see that with God all things are possible. It is possible to move toward our own conversion. It is possible to move away from the brittleness of the dry bones and toward the refreshing, renewing waters of restoration in the New Jerusalem.

There is a line from an old novena to St. Jude that I remember: 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.

Jesus saidAnd so we can petition God for forgiveness – which God freely gives. We can ask for restoration. And this God also gives.  We can come before God humbly as we stagger through the deserts of our lives, and we can ask that God grant us all that we believe to be impossible. And God will always answer.

In MAGNIFICAT on Saturday evening, there was a small reflection at the beginning of the Evening Prayer: God is present in the deserts of our lives.  It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham.  It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations.  Let us rejoice in this blessed desert . . . where Christ reveals himself.  

As we tumble into our beds, perhaps weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, let us remember to pray for the impossible as the psalmist does in Psalm 63.

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise.  So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy.  On my bed I remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.  My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.

 As we begin our days that promise impossibility, let us remember . . .

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  Your love is better than life . . . My souls clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.1 (2008). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

Tomorrow, praying for the impossible . . . 

 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Iwasted food

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Today’s verses for reflection are the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, the metaphor which describes the reunion of our own body and soul at our own resurrection.  This book is a panoply of images, for this prophet speaks in a variety of metaphors which, when examined, bring the understanding that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Restoration after great tragedy can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Several summers ago I had the gift of living in the Arizona desert for a week to witness the quiet but sudden blooming which happens after a rain.  Tiny delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up overnight after a scattering of dew . . . and then disappear again with the heavy noon sun.  The constant cycle of arrival and departure is fascinating.

So, too, are Ezekiel’s bones which clamber together to form full figures.  This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in this resurrection . . . which does occur quite dramatically. What was thought as lost has been found . . . and restored.  The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought.  The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

Take the time today to investigate the mission statement of wastED, “a community of chefs, farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, producers, designers and retailers, working together to reconceive “waste” that occurs at every link in the food chain” at: http://wastedny.com/

Click on the image above for more of Chef Barber’s vision or visit: http://www.karenandandrew.com/2015/03/chef-dan-barbers-vision-to-slash-food-waste-transforms-blue-hill-into-wasted-through-march-31st/ 

And as you consider resurrection from desolation, you may want to read about chef Dan Barber who pulls together exquisite meals from food that would otherwise be thrown away. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/waste-not-want-not-eat-up

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

 

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