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2 Timothy 2: Purity of Heart

Friday, October 19, 2019

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Again today we hear clear instruction from Paul about how an apostle of Christ is to conduct herself or himself.

What you have heard from me entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

It is also clear that we are not to hoard what we have learned but are to pass it along and to share it with others.

Bear you share of hardships along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Paul also gives us ample warning that the life of apostleship is not an easy one.  If we are entirely comfortable with who and where we are . . . we might look around to see who is lacking in something, and then begin the work of an apostle of Christ to bring justice to the world.

The Lord will give you understanding in everything.

We cannot back away from this work thinking that we are not God’s proper tool.

The word of God is not chained.

Nothing is impossible for God and God will find a way to open the path to which he has called us.

Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.

We are to act our teaching more than we are to preach it.

Be eager to present yourself as acceptable before God.

We are to live the Word of God just as Jesus did.

In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use.

We have diverse gifts which God calls into use according to his vision of the world.

Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.

Purity of intent, purity of mind, purity of heart . . . we must strain to move beyond our lacks into our promise and potential.

Avoid foolish and ignorant debates for you know that they breed quarrels.

Bring peace.  Create places of concord.  Greet anger and anxiety with gentleness and mercy.

A slave of the Lord should not quarrel but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness.  It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.

But do not back away from the challenge for when we do this we back away from God.  We are to continue to run the race . . . and run it well . . . as best we are able.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.


To reflect more of Purity of Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.piercedhearts.org/purity_heart_morality/a_purity_heart.htm

 Written on September 18, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 89Steadfast Love

Friday, October 12, 2018

Written on March 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Righteousness, justice, faithfulness and steadfast love – these are the tenets of God’s covenant with David and we see steadfast love repeated in this song.  This puts me in mind of Paul’s beautiful anthem to love in 1 CorinthiansLove is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know it in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears.  When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Mosaic Law has many parts and multiple nuances.  The Law that Christ brings, the Law of Love, is but one that supersedes all others; this one law is the perfection of love as we see it lived by Jesus.

In today’s Psalm we see the “creative work of God as a defeat of the powers of chaos”.  The references to the north and south signify the entire whole universe.  The great height of mounts Tabor and Hermon imply God’s might and omniscience.  Steadfast love and faithfulness are “personified here as companions or servants who lead the way of the Lord”.  Festal shouts describe the joy of the people.  We may be taunted from time to time that God has abandoned us as is the king in this psalm, but we know that it is impossible for God to abandon his creatures.  This hymn of praise to the creator himself helps to put us in proper relationship to God; and it reminds us of God’s most salient characteristic . . . God is steadfast love.  (Mays 883-885)

In today’s Gospel from Mark (12:1-12) Jesus reminds us that although he is the cornerstone rejected by builders he will remain faithful and constant.  He tells the parable of the farmer who erects a vineyard and wine press and leaves it with tenants to go on a journey.  When the master wishes to collect what is due him, his servants and even his son are rejected and even put to death.  So too are those who follow Christ; but we are to remain steadfast just as God is steadfast.  We are to remain in love, just as Christ remains in love.  And we are to sing of God’s steadfast love and proclaim God’s faithfulness to the generations.  For this faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.  There is no other cornerstone that holds up the heavens and stands firm on the earth.  There is no other cornerstone on which to build our faith. 


A re-post from September 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/245315/relaxation-candles-heart-light.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 883-885. Print.

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Job: In Praise of Wisdom and Hope

Thursday, August 29, 2018

Before we leave the story of Job, we give ourselves the gift of time with this innocent sufferer who foreshadows the hope of the Messiah. Today we look at the story of “the hero . . . subjected to a divine test as a means of ascertaining whether or not he serves the deity without thinking about profiting from it.” (Barton and Muddiman 331) Just as Job enters into debate with his friends and the Lord, so do we have the invitation to deliberate with the Almighty the existential questions that plague us as humans.

Stylistically, this book presents us with a combination of poetry and prose. Does this signal our dual human yet divine essence? Does this tell us that we are called to live in the world but be not of it? Does this remind us that although we are mortal, we also live forever in Christ? The style certainly communicates the ideas that the innocent suffer. The beauty of the poetry may indicate our hope in the Spirit against the backdrop prose of our separation.

From the ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE, “[T]he reader knows from the outset that Job is suffering because of his righteousness (Job 1). Thus, when Job rails against his pain and contends that he has not deserved it (eg., ch. 31), the early reader – who had insider knowledge from the prelude – recognized that he spoke the truth. Unable to fall back on pat answers that were almost universally accepted at the time, readers were forced to wrestle with the question along with Job as they worked their way through the text to God’s final answer. The resultant new understanding of the meaning of suffering and the justice of God, contrary as it was to the conventional wisdom of the day, must have astonished them.” (Zondervan 732)

Wisdom and hope are the gifts Job brings us through his suffering, questioning, persistence and fidelity. Wisdom and hope are gifts of the Spirit of God. Wisdom and hope are embodied in the life of Christ who abides with us still. Today we give thanks for these matchless gifts. Today we share the good news that are recipients of such generous mercy. Today we praise God for the healing wisdom of the Spirit, and the lessons Job brings us of hope.


Images from https://chicago.suntimes.com/health/mind-over-body-new-book-tells-how-to-tap-into-wisdom-and-grow-with-age/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 732. Print.

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 331. Print.

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Job 25-27The Storm Wind

Hurricane Gertrude hits the U.K. in 2017

Sunday, August 19, 2018

This weekend we have considered Job’s plight, and Job’s questions. We have observed Job’s interactions with his friends, and we have witnessed his fidelity, hope, and righteousness before insurmountable odds and circumstances. Today we return to a favorite from December 9, 2010 as we look at the next few chapters of this story.

Job refuses to bend to social pressure.  He refuses to cave in to public opinion.  He remains faithful to God.  He knows that only God has the power to give us immortal breath, only God has a love that will sustain us through all misery.   He knows that only God brings true and eternal serenity and joy.  Job responds to God’s call – even when this call comes to him through storm clouds.

Father Alfred Delp was a German priest condemned to death by Nazis in WWII.  He died in 1945.  His words are today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation, and they refer to John the Baptist who, like Job, sought God, heard God, and were condemned for conveying God’s message. They were tossed by storms, but remained faithful to God.

When the Christian is asked, or asks himself, “Who are you?” this is primarily a questioning of his reality.  Are you a person whose concerns are with God?  Are you a person of whom it can be said that your heart and your mind are filled with a peace that surpasses all comprehension? . . . [T]he Calling-God [is one] who calls out in the midst of the wilderness through voices of men.  He has filled them, and their very being documents that such perfected people are among us, sent by God. 

Job tells us that only through, and with, and in God, can we weather the deadly winds whipped up by the storm.  His friends do not bring the voice of God to him, yet he persists in faith.

Fr. Delp and John the Baptist are destroyed by the winds.  Job is not.  Yet all three men tell us who God is by the manner in which they live their lives in the tempest, in the wilderness, and through the maelstrom.  What documentation of our faith to we show others when we weather the storms of life?  What is our story?  How do we live it when we are buffeted by the winds of the storm?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.12 (2010). Print. 

Tomorrow, in praise of wisdom.

Image from: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/639377/Gertrude-chaos-hurricane-force-winds-transport-power-lines

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Ecclesiastes 7: Elusiveness 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Favorite from September 13, 2008.

Wisdom and Righteousness are elusive, Qohelet tells us; and this does not surprise us.  We seek these qualities throughout our lives because they lead us to our divine self, our immortality, our infinity.  Today’s reflection invites us to seek our divine self  by looking at the inversions presented as evidence that this divinity lives in us constantly . . . it is with us, even as we go in search of it.

Perhaps we do not find this divine self because we are distracted by the cares and needs of daily living; yet it is in this quotidian life that we find the divine.  Qohelet reminds us that we best find understanding through sorrow, joy through grief, success through failure, happiness through pain, fulfillment through loss.  He further invites us to examine the life of the wicked and the idolatrous as contrasted with that of the wise and the righteous.  The former finds mirth in a present life of carefree festivity, while the later finds divinity in this life and in the next . . . through an ever-maturing communion with God.

Our divine self is elusive when we seek it with our human eye; yet it steps into full view when we drop all pretense and allow ourselves to be directed by the voice that challenges us through loss.

We find this divine self, Qohelet points out, when we put aside impatience and put on the enduring mantle of hope.  We find it when we put aside relationships in which we are the hunter and the hunted, and make the decision to enter into those that blossom with fidelity and constancy.  We find it when we commit to the worship of the one true God rather than false covenants of comfort or fame.

When we allow God to balance our lives, we journey from the dark places to the light, wisdom makes an immediate and steadfast appearance, and righteousness guards us as we weave between the stones in the obstacle path of our pilgrimage.  The divine self we seek is no longer elusive.

And so in gratitude we pray as we read.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.  Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

It is better to hearken to the wise man’s rebuke, than it is to hearken to the song of fools. Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughterGrant us your righteousness, O Lord.

Better is the patient spirit than the lofty spirit.  Show us our divine self, O Lord.

Consider the work of God.  Who can make straight what he has made crooked?  On a good day enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: both the one and the other God has made, so that man cannot find fault with him in anything.  Be not elusive, O Lord.

Amen.

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Matthew 18:1-5The Greatest in the Kingdom

first shall be last

Tissot: The First Shall Be Last

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Once more we read the stupefying mystery that the greatest will be least and the least, greatest.  For humans this is a difficult saying.  It runs counter to our sense of logic; it runs against our tendency to self-preserve, to survive.  Yet it is what we must hear.  Our proper relationship with God is to be child-like, not childish.  We are to go to our creator with our problems and our woes.  God, being merciful and just, will see to our needs and is open to discussing our wants.  We are to be humble.  We are to be like trusting children.

In Psalm 45 The Mighty One rides out to justify truth, humility and righteousness.  It was very likely composed as a song for a royal wedding because the imagery speaks to a proper, joyful and humble relationship.  We might pray this Psalm when we seek humility.  It reminds us that the faithful need not fight; they only need to stand and witness.  It reminds us that we must leave our accustomed comfort zone to seek another, better place. Today we spend time with this psalm and these verses from Matthew as we reflect on our relationship with God, our relationships with those we love, and our attitude about those we fear.

A favorite from January 8, 2008. 

 

 

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James 1:19-21: Our Salvation Garden

Thursday, November 5, 2015salvation garden

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

How do we best lead with our ears? From what source does God’s righteousness flow? When might the Word landscape our lives?

God says: There are too many words in your lives. Rather than shout and rant at one another, watch and listen. Rather than criticize and complain, praise and celebrate whenever possible. My righteousness flows from my love and ebbs toward you in direct proportion to the amount of openness you show to my creation. The Garden of Eden is not a mystical place that exists in the misty past or the hazy future. My garden of paradise grows in your hearts. Allow me to prune the fruit trees and vines that they might bear more fruit. Permit me to send gentle rain, heavy torrents, beating sun and watch as I draw something beautiful from both the driest landscape and the densest jungle. Nothing can stifle the love I want to share with each and all of you. Come, put aside your pride, bring your humble heart to me. Work with me in my burgeoning garden of salvation.

english-garden-we-heart-itGod speaks to us constantly. We hear the Word best when we practice leading with our ears. We live God’s righteous love when we put our anger behind us and take on God’s humility. We create salvation gardens with God when we allow the Word to govern all that we say and do.

Enter the word righteous or humility in the blog search bar and explore other posts that open this concept for us.

Click on the garden images on this post to read more on James 1 and the concept of a salvation garden, or visit: http://www.flowingfaith.com/2011/07/making-a-salvation-garden-of-your-life.html  or http://limitlesslaura.com/cultivating-your-inner-garden-a-course-in-happiness/  

atacama flowers

The Washington Post – October 30, 2015

Read about the blooming malva flowers in the arid Atacama desert in South America after rain at The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/10/29/the-driest-place-on-earth-is-covered-in-pink-flowers-after-a-crazy-year-of-rain/

 

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James 1:19-21: God’s Garden of Love

Saturday, October 3, 2015garden of love

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends . . . 

What news does James have for us today and how do we proclaim that news to others? How do we see God’s wisdom?

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

Wisdom is found in listening more than we speak, in loving more than we despise.

God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.

God’s wisdom is not found in antagonism.

So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.

God’s truth cannot flow from false virtue or from thoughts that want to hide the light.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

God does not live in pride but in the humble belief that we are all flowers in God’s garden of love.

When we compare these verses with other scripture versions we have the opportunity to imagine what sort of flower we might be. Do we prefer shade or sun? Do we grow best in damp soil or dry?  What color bedecks our blossoms? And what good nectar do we produce for the good of the kingdom?

Tomorrow, the importance of doing the word.

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Matthew 5:6 and Luke 6:21: Hunger and Thirstfood for the poor

Holy Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. (Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain)

ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIESGod says: Food and water are essential to sustain human life. It is for this reason that I sent manna to the desert and poured forth water from a rock in the dry and difficult journey my children made to the Promised Land. It is for this reason that I open human minds to possibility through scientific discoveries. It is for this reason that I call those of you who have plenty to be good stewards of my gifts and to share them. When have you seen me naked and alone, hungry and thirsty? When you have seen the least of my children you have seen me. When you satisfy these need, you discover my righteousness. When you share what you have . . . you receive far more that you give.

protectcleanwater_concernedcitizenforslideshowAs we continue our Beatitudes thanksgiving, we might consider giving alms to an organization whose mission is to secure clean water for God’s miraculous creation. We might sponsor a child or her family in a third-world culture to assure she has enough to eat. We might also join our voices in solidarity with others to raise public awareness of food and water shortages on our planet. We might sign a petition, write to a legislative representative, or begin a blog. We might pray for both those who live on the margins of human society and those who marginalize the powerless. In any case, we will want to do as the Gospel encourages us to do, stand as one with those who hunger and thirst.

11-March-2015-FAOClick on the images for local and global information and opportunities. For news about the United Nations Zero Hunger Challengeclick the image to the left or visit: http://www.un.org/en/zerohunger/#&panel1-1

Tomorrow, rejoice and be glad!

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