Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘return from exile’


Zechariah 14Apocalypse

Monday, November 6, 2017

Apocalypse, coming from the Greek for revelation, is an announcement of a truth revealed.  Apocalyptic literature is full of mystery, is usually veiled in symbolic language and is often interpreted by an angel of God (Senior 425).  It deals with the heavenly world, the future, and describes a final judgment in which there are winners and losers.  It is sometimes incomprehensible, frightening and misunderstood.  The Apocalypse we see today is the fight for Jerusalem which ushers in an era without storm, turmoil or deceit.  It brings a time of peace, unity and celebration.  It is a day when every libation pot shall be holy to the Lord.

Model of the third Temple

The last chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy makes a momentous revelation or announcement: There will be an end to prophecy.  Perhaps this is because with the coming of the Messianic age there is little need to announce the savior who is already among us – perhaps it is because prophets have lost their place of status – perhaps it is because people of all nations, including pagan ones, will now worship the Lord.  In any case, according to Zechariah, the fight will be over.  There will no longer be merchants in the house of the Lord; false shepherds will have disappeared; the tribes of the world will be reconciled; peace will reign.

The first eight chapters of Zechariah were written about the year 520 B.C.E. to exhort the people to continue the overwhelming task of reformation following their return from exile.  The last six chapters of Zechariah were written by an unknown author (or authors) whose oracles describe the Lords’ victory.  The exiled have returned from Babylon and so the prize they have been seeking has finally been gained but they have returned to a ruined city . . . and a great deal of work lies before them.  The process of restoration has only just begun and Zechariah speaks to us today to give us a moment to reflect on the meaning of our own return from our personal exile.  It gives us a framework in which to put our lives into proper perspective and to give thanks for our salvation.  It also gives us an opportunity to gather our forces for the next phase of work.

Model of the Temple during the time of Jesus

Return from exile is celebrated and the celebration is taking place amid the ruin of former glory because our newness is more important than what was because we are transformed and made anew.  This miracle of redemption that Zechariah describes already exists today in that each of us is the libation bowl poured out for Christ.  We are vessels fashioned by God’s hands and brought into existence for God’s purpose.  We each are the hope of God to the world.

The fight for Jerusalem is already begun, and we are celebrants in the newness of what is coming onto being.  Let us gather ourselves, let us find our places in God’s new city, and let us rejoice and be glad . . . for we are in the house of the Lord of hosts.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Glossary 445. Print. 

Adapted from a reflection written on July 10, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Psalm 120Prayer for a Returned Exile

Soldiers marshaling people for a march

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Today we consider this prayer by those who returned from captivity and exile to find their holy Temple and city in ruins. Today we also consider our own response to the challenge of rebuilding, and the gift of transformation. Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2009.

There is a cycle of Psalms that pilgrims began to sing when they made their journey to Jerusalem each spring.  This is the first of the fifteen Songs of AscentPilgrims to this day still refer to this journey as an ascent – a going up – to Jerusalem.  The holy city was God’s dwelling place, the new Sinai, the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the temple’s Holy of Holies guarded by huge gold statues of cherubim – fierce and loyal winged celestial creatures.

Not only is this psalm an anthem of thanksgiving for having been rescued, it is also a petition for protection against the bands of attackers who lurked along the Jerusalem route to waylay and rob the innocent.  The victim who is helped in the Good Samaritan parable is on the road to Jerusalem.  The priest and the Levite pass by the wounded man and do not help him.  If they are on their way up to Jerusalem, they will not want to break their fast or become impure in any way before entering the Temple.  They leave the man in the ditch to be helped by the Samaritan.  Joseph and Mary leave the protection of their clan to travel alone back to Jerusalem in search of the lost child Jesus.  He is found with the elders of the temple discussing scripture.

Several years ago we reflected on this prayer during one of our Noontimes, and we spent some time with the following citation from the St Joseph Edition of Psalms.  “Human beings are born to be pilgrims in search of the Absolute, on a journey to God.  We advance by way of stages, from the difficulties of life to the certainties of hope, from the dispersion of cares to the joyous encounter with God, from daily diversions to inner recollection”. 

When we make our Easter journey toward Pentecost, we feel a certain vulnerability.  We have experienced friendship with Christ, and we have witnessed his death.  He has returned and we are joyful; yet he speaks of going away to send us the Advocate.  He reminds us that his love can never leave us.  We hear his words and experience this love; yet we feel that there is something more . . . there is something missing.  We lack an ingredient to an important lesson.

We have returned from exile with Christ’s resurrection.  His act of humility and love has set us free.  Let us thank him for our deliverance.  Let us ask him to protect us against the bands of marauders that assault our days and nights as we journey home.  In joy, we make our Prayer of Ascent.

From the MAGNIFICAT evening prayer last night, we pray: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who live lives of loveless loneliness: may we embrace them in our communities of love.  Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have mistaken power and possession for love: may they discover the truth through the witness of Christian believers: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have died: may they live forever in the kingdom of God’s love: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

Amen.

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.5 (2009). Print.  

Read Full Post »


Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part IV

Sunday, November 13, 2016presence-of-holy-spirit

We remember well the marvels the Lord has done for us. 

We remember that the Lord has returned us from exile.

We join the whole crowd as we rejoice at the splendid deeds done by the Lord.

We tell the world that with great joy we celebrate for it is the Lord who has made us joyful.

We tell the world that we are so full of joy that we will keep the feast.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, you have brought us back from the darkness that haunted us, and you remind us that we are “people of the “presence”.

Good and gentle God, you have seen our plight that marginalized us, and you have come to redeemed and heal us.

Good and courageous God, you have heard our prayer of worry and fear, and you have answered us with your miracles great and small. 

Good and bold God, you have seen how we struggle with the storms of life, and you have done great things for us that are marvels in our lives.

Good and strong God, you have helped Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and now you build a Temple within each of us. 

For these marvels and wonders we give thanks. For the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we rejoice. For your holy presence we celebrate. Amen.

Read Full Post »


Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part III

Saturday, November 12, 2016

James Tissot: The return of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Return of the Prisoners

We consider the marvels God has done for the faithful in ancient days, and we consider the response of the faithful.

The people who had returned from exile celebrated.

We recall the marvels God has done for our own ancestors, and we recall their celebration of God’s fidelity.

With great joy they celebrated.

We remember the presence of God in our lives, the miracles God has wrought in us, and we remember our celebration of God’s presence in our own days and nights.

For seven days they joyfully celebrated.

We hope for the presence of God in the lives of our children and grandchildren, and we hope that our children celebrate in joy for this presence.

The Lord had made them joyful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did the people of old.

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

They were full of joy.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did our ancestors.

And they kept the feast.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice when we pass on this tradition of joy as we also keep the feast.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare translations of these verses, we find that we have great cause to rejoice.

For more on Herod’s reconstruction work, click on the image of the rebuilt temple, or visit: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/second-temple/ 

Read Full Post »


2 Chronicles 34Serving the Lord

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

A Favorite from October 10, 2009.

Several years ago we looked at a portion of this chapter in which we see the story of a leader and a people who come back to Yahweh, back to a life of honesty and integrity.  Here is the brief reflection.

2 Chronicles 34:14 to the end – This is where the young king Josiah ushers in reforms after the corruption which causes the Jewish kingdom to be invaded.  They find the book of the law left with them by Moses and this young king realizes how derelict he and his people have been.  He tries to make reparations and is rewarded with a new covenant.

We might think about how we try to balance making reparations without enabling people to continue bad behavior.  It is such a tight-wire walk.

The tight-wire is the razor’s edge we call living a life in Christ.  Nepotism, a coveting of power, and a desire to live life as we see best rather than as God sees, always leads to downfall.  Downfall often leads to exile.  Return from exile is a gift sometimes granted by God; and we ought not miss the opportunity it brings us to reform, transform and restore.

Josiah cleanses the temple.  He and the people weep as they hear the law read out which ought to govern their lives; they acknowledge that they have strayed.  They work faithfully to restore the structures of the temple that housed the God who chose to live with them.  They put aside their desire for comfort, they turn away from a life in which they idolized themselves, and they renew their covenant agreement with God.

The tight-wire walk re-commences, and a people once lost in themselves returns to serve the Lord.

Read Full Post »


1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part IV

Monday, May 23, 2016

Return from exile . . . 

George Tooker: The Embrace II

George Tooker: The Embrace II

It is never too late to return to God. Never too late to give or ask forgiveness. There is always time to listen, to share, to commune, to re-visit, to believe, to hope, to love. A people in exile return to the source and summit of faith. A people hoping in darkness see a great light. A people created in love to bear witness to the strength of the threads of their lives that weave together in the great sacred history of humanity.

Today we take time to open our minds to the possibility of miracles. We open our hearts to the great love God has in store for us. We discover, in this weaving, believing and hoping just how and why we have been created . . . in and for God’s great love.

The two books of Chronicles have four major portions: a genealogy of our leaders beginning with Abraham (1 Chronicles 1-9), a description of the monarchy under David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 9 – 2 Chronicles 9), the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10-18), and the period from Hezekiah to the Babylonian exile (2 Chronicles 19-36). This story of divine promise interwoven with human commitment and infidelity tell a story that we might see reflected in our own personal sacred history. This story is worthy of our time.

Read Full Post »


Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part Itrinity-310931_640

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Apocalypse, coming from the Greek for revelation, is an announcement of a truth revealed.  Apocalyptic literature is full of mystery, is usually veiled in symbolic language and is often interpreted by an angel of God (Senior 425).  It deals with the heavenly world, the future, and describes a final judgment in which there are winners and losers.  It is sometimes incomprehensible, frightening and misunderstood.  The Apocalypse we see in today’s reading is the fight for Jerusalem which ushers in an era without storm, turmoil or deceit.  It brings a time of peace, unity and celebration.  It is a day when every libation pot shall be holy to the Lord.

Past, present, future. Let us remember the holy trinity of our lives: all that God has created and gifted, all that is here with us in the Spirit, and all that is promised by Christ in our lives to come. In this way we will know what to do and what to say when apocalypse befalls us, as it surely will. And let us offer all that we have and all that we are to the triune God: courageous creator, compassionate savior and blessed comforter.

Tomorrow, more from Zechariah.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

For interesting insights into apocalyptic beliefs, their evolution and how they shaped the western world, visit the PBS Frontline page at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/ 

Read Full Post »

Age-Old Love


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

gods_love3Jeremiah 31:1-14

Finally a respite from the torrent appears in Jeremiah’s prophecy.

With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you and you will be rebuilt.

There comes a moment when we can stand no more; and it is, gratefully, at that moment when the light pierces the darkness. It is, thankfully, at that moment when we hear our reprieve; and it is, mercifully, in that moment that there comes an awakening. Gates that held back emotion at last fly open . . . and we hear the good news of return.

Age-Old Love

Weary from the road, the faithful take refuge.

Worn by the journey, the remnant tumbles into uncertain shelter.

Still cowering beneath the whip of the uncaring, the dry-eyed seek cover to wait as the worst of the nightmares arrives.

Roaring winds of flying bits torment the skin and yet . . . 

From the maelstrom comes the smallest of voices announcing the greatest of loves.

Seeking, searching, never tiring.

Calling, looking, always enduring.

For thus says the Lord . . . words whisper against the rising wind . . . 

Again you will plant vineyards and gather in the wheat.

Once more you will strike the festal tambourine. 

With dance and with song you will celebrate.

With reconciliation and with joy you will finally rest.

Behold, says the Lord . . . words curl into ears longing for respite . . .

I will bring you back.

I will deliver my faithful remnant.

I will heal your wounds and restore you to your place.

This I promise!

For with grain and with wine I restore you.

With infinite mercy I redeem you.

With an age-old love I have loved you.

As I love you still.

Read Full Post »


Saturday, October 8, 2011 – Ezra 3:3 – Despite Fear

Several years ago we looked at the third chapter of Ezra to explore the options we have when we return from exile or a place of great sadness.  We read about how these chastened people return to a place that had once been special to them.  We see how they gather themselves after tragedy to find joy once more.  We understand that they come together in celebration to restore what was lost . . . despite their great fear.

Fear is clearly an obstacle but it also a strong motivator.  It can paralyze us and keep us from moving forward; it can also propel us into action without our knowing precisely where we are going or how we will get there.  We each know the sensation that stops us in our tracks when fear grips the heart and churns the stomach.  We also know the feeling of wild horror that urges us to escape and even run away when fear sends us into the blindness of panic.  Today we watch a people full of fear gather themselves to return to something they know to be sacred.  These people can show us how to return to what we once loved . . . even when we believe it to be lost forever. 

They return from exile; they examine how and what they need to change; they thank God for their deliverance; they move forward with and in God.

They gather themselves; they take a head count; they take inventory together; they agree to a plan; they move forward with and in God.

They follow through with their plan; they rely on one another; they leave no one behind; they celebrate success; they move forward with and in God.

They who had been taken into exile now return cautiously; and they move forward with and in God.

They who had known only mourning are weighed down by pain; still they move forward with and in God.

They who wept for their loss yearn for new hope and restoration . . . and so they move forward with and in God.

They who know nothing but darkness look for peace and reunion . . . and so they move forward with and in God.

When we are bereft of all that once was familiar, when we have been carried away to a place that is alien, when we tremble with the coldness of a fear that strangles us, we – like the people we read about today – turn to God and the sureness of his mercy.  We call on this compassionate God to remove the bitter panic that grips us.  We ask this kind and gentle God to restore our confidence and joy.  And we follow this God – no matter where he leads – through the chill of the dark night to the warmth of a new presence and serenity . . . and we ask this despite all our fear.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: