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Posts Tagged ‘return and celebrate’


Judith 1A Lesson Worth Learning

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant: Judith

Just this morning I was speaking with a friend about Nebuchadnezzar and when I opened the Bible for the Noontime reflection I saw his name in the middle of the page.  I thought back to the conversation and remembered that my friend was saying how the extravagance at the Oscar awards celebration made her think of this man who demands that his subjects worship him.  We might take a lesson from this.  The beginning of the book of Judith is about how Nebuchadnezzar demands much of his vassal nations and of how he exacts his demands by making war.  This is the backdrop for the story of Judith which we have visited often.  It is an environment of violence and survival, a dangerous setting with various groups of people: the Assyrians, Persians, Medes, and Chaldeans.  Rivers familiar to us from our school studies mark borders: the Tigris and Euphrates, the Jordan.  We recognize the names of countries: Egypt and Ethiopia.  The name of King Arphaxad is new and even exotic.  The opening of this drama brings with it the known and unknown with destruction immediately announced.  Frontiers are breached, limits are exceeded.  We know that this will not be a gentle story.This dovetails, in a surprising way, with the first reading for Mass today from Sirach (17:20-24) about how one who is penitent is guided to God by God.  I am wondering if these leaders in the opening chapter of Judith would heed this kind of advice if offered to them.  I am wondering about people who believe they know the best way to do everything.  I am hoping that I have better ears and a bigger heart than the leaders we read about today.

To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth.  Return to him and give up sin, pray to the Lord and make your offenses few. 

This is good advice to follow when we find ourselves baffled, lost or alone; but it is impossible to follow if we are actively involved in anger.  Strong, negative emotions are easy to use against others; they are difficult to put aside once they have become comfortable tools.

Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High in place of the living who offer their praise?  Dwell o longer in the error of the ungodly, but offer your praise before death.

This is good advice to follow when we are embroiled in conflict or swamped with fear.  If we can do nothing else . . . we can begin to praise God, even if we can only begin half-heartedly.

How great the mercy of the Lord, his forgiveness of those who return to him!

There is a good ending that comes to the faithful in today’s story if we want to read ahead; and this story teaches us a lesson worth learning.  “There can be no doubt that Judith was meant as didactic fiction, not factual history . . . Part 1 narrates a military and religious struggle that begins in Persia and makes its way across the western nations to the little Israelite town Bethulia . . . Part 2 tells how the God-fearing woman Judith destroys the enemies of Israel.  This ‘beautiful’ widow of Manasseh (8.7) lays aside the sackcloth of her widowhood in order to make herself ‘very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see here’ . . . Together Parts 1 and 2 show what it means to serve only one God, to turn to this God for an easing of life’s plights, and to trust God without reserve.  The book teaches that by vocation and God’s design, the covenant people are free if they fear only God and rely wholeheartedly on the covenant”.   (Mays 1460-1461)

Repent, return and celebrate . . . This is a lesson worth learning.  It is a lesson worth enacting in our lives.


A re-post from November 9, 2011.

Image from: http://bible-women.blogspot.com/2009/07/proud-judith.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 1460-1461. Print.

Written on February 28 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Prudence

Michael Whelan: Prudence

Amos 5:7-17

First Woe

You shall not live in the houses you fashion for yourself.  You shall not drink of the wine from your vineyard.  You have taken bribes and oppressed the just.  Therefore, the prudent one is silent at this time.

Today Amos announces the first of three woes and he is quite clear about the consequences that will befall those who allow themselves to slide into corrupt and evil ways.

God says: You hear today about wailing and crying.  This need not take place.  You read about destruction and loss.  This need not happen. You see images of evil against good.  This need not be so.  Put down your arms. Cease your self-defense.  This is how we put an end to mourning and lament.  Celebrate what is good in each of you. Cease judging.  Praise what you find to be positive in both yourself and others and begin with that. The smallest ounce of goodness is ample space for me to gain a foothold in your heart.  This woe is taken from your shoulders when you turn and return to me.

As we watch our evening news we see interviews with family members of those who have been murdered who choose diverging paths. Some want to exact revenge.  Others are willing to forgive, knowing that revenge eats holes only in those who exact a price.

As we watch the evening news we see nations striking out at one another, seizing assets, prevaricating and stirring discord.  We may think we gain anonymity when we hide in a crowd of millions or even billions and say nothing about injustice, and yet . . . God knows how willing we are to live in and for all that Christ teaches us.

Today we consider the images Amos brings to us, we examine our hearts and minds, and we consider . . .

Tomorrow, the second woe of Amos.

Michael Whelan images at: http://www.michaelwhelan.com/shop/reproductions/all-reproductions/prudence-2/

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