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Posts Tagged ‘Robert Morneau’


Nehemiah 6:1-14A Great Enterprise

Monday, December 31, 2018

Model of the Temple Courtyard

Written on January 2, 2011 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

I am engaged in a great enterprise and am unable to come down; why should the work stop, while I leave it to come down to you?

In this portion of the rebuilding story, Nehemiah knows that Israel’s enemies – Sanballat and Gesham – plot against them, trying to create problems for the Jewish people as they rebuild their city and temple.  They invite the builder to the plain of Ono – about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem – in a plot to harm him.  If he does not meet with him, they threaten, they will alert the king of Persia that Nehemiah was planning to make himself king.  Nehemiah refuses their “invitation,” turning away outside threats.

We also read about the advice given to Nehemiah by Shemaiah, a prophet who was likely paid by Sanballat and Tobiah to lure the builder into breaking an important law – laypeople were allowed to seek asylum by grasping the horns of the altar in the courtyard, but were not permitted to enter into the temple itself.  Nehemiah fends off this “invitation” and another from the prophetess Noadiah, turning away threats from within.  (Mays 348)

What was it that called these outer and inner enemies to want to overthrow Nehemiah?  As we see in the previous chapter, he has the well-earned reputation of being a man lacking self-interest, he cannot be bought or bribed, and the enterprise he has undertaken is going well.  His work goes well because it is God’s work, and Nehemiah trusts God to see the work finished.  Those who plot Nehemiah’s end do not understand this perhaps because they do not live their lives in this way.  They do not see themselves as stewards of God’s grace . . . for this is the great enterprise in which Nehemiah sees himself engaged.  It is the huge project he will not forsake.

Today we hear a portion of the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians read to us at Mass in which he explains this special stewardship with which each of us is charged: to share our talents – whatever they may be – with all, in order that we participate fully in God’s plan.  Whether we know or believe this does not matter, we still carry this gift within, and we are meant to share it as Nehemiah shares: utterly, totally, and always.  We are accountable for our own participation in the great enterprise. 

Robert Morneau writes in today’s meditation and then poses questions in DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2010-2011: Everyone is given the privilege and duty of being a steward of God’s grace . . . This stewardship, this receiving, nurturing, and sharing of God’s love and life, is a way of life and involves serious accountability . . . In what way are you called to be a steward of God’s grace?  What is your unique gift?  Do you have a sanctified vision of God’s plan of salvation?

William Brassey: Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem

Nehemiah will not be drawn away from what he sees to be the work that God has laid in his hands.  He is confident of God’s call in his life, and the firmness of this belief is seen in the focus he gives to this work.  He allows no influence – either from within his community or from outside it – to diminish his determination.  In this way, he takes up the gift and privilege of serving God.  In this way, he engages in the greatest enterprise any of us will ever know . . . the work of God’s incomprehensible yet breathtaking plan for our salvation.


A re-post from November 28, 2011. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 348. Print.

Morneau, Robert F. DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2010-2011. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2010

Images from: http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/files/OT_history/unit4/Unit4b_exile.htm and http://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/J_Transp/J01_JudaismIntro.html 

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Amos 8

Lucas Cranach: Christ and the Adulterous Woman

Lucas Cranach: Christ and the Adulterous Woman

Unlimited Mercy

In a March 2009 reflection, Robert Morneau ponders the forgiveness, mercy and compassion shown to the family of the killer Charles Carl Roberts, the man who murdered five girls and wounded others in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse in 2006. Morneau cites Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI.

“In a world and a culture that is full of wounds, anger, injustice, inequality, historical privilege, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, murder, and war, we must speak always and everywhere about forgiveness, reconciliation, and God’s healing. Forgiveness lies at the center of Jesus’ moral message. The litmus test for being a Christian is not whether one can say the creed and mean it, but whether one can forgive and love an enemy”. (Morneau 46-47)

These words are so true – and yet so difficult.

In a MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection on Matthew 18:21-35 we read: After a master forgives his servant a huge debt, that servant refuses similar clemency to a fellow indebted servant. The other servants become “deeply disturbed,” for to receive “great mercy” is in a certain sense to become great mercy. Mercy is our identity, for we are created out of the very mercy of God. (Cameron 29 March 2009)

In today’s Noontime we read about people who not only lack mercy or forgiveness, they buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. They not only lack compassion, they sell the sweepings of the wheat. They would not likely have forgiven the adulterous woman as Jesus does. (Luke 8:1-11) All we need do is tune into the daily news to see or hear events we can identify as equivalent to the events referenced by Amos. It seems that the human race insists on corruption. Yet it seems that Jesus has not abandoned us. He accompanies us still as we struggle with our instinct to survive at all costs.

What we read in Amos is gloomy and sad – yet this prophet offers us a way out of the darkness by calling us to conversion of our mourning with acts of mercy as we move through our days. We need not frustrate ourselves in trying to change our enemies, we need only act with compassion as did the people in the Amish community when they immediately offered forgiveness to the man who had killed their children and himself . . . and when they visited with the killer’s family to extend their condolences.

This story is true – and yet so difficult.

Can we live up to this standard? Do we pass the litmus test? Do we extend the same limitless mercy to others that God extends to us?

Morneau, David. “The Litmus Test”. DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR LENT: Not by Bread Alone. Collegeville, Minnesota. 2011.46-47. Print.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 29 March 2009. Print.

Today’s Noontime is adapted from a reflection written on March 29, 2011.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

habakkuk2[1]Habakkuk 2

Self-Knowledge

I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint.

Habakkuk is a prophet who “questions the ways of God . . . and calls him to account for his government of the world”. (Senior 1150)  We too, might have reason to argue with God about his ways of governing; we too, might engage God in conversation and then await his reply.  Especially in this day at this time.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk describes for us the evil which will accompany greed, and excessive wealth and power.  Despoilers will eventually suffer the consequences they have inflicted on others.  Those who live by violence will be victims of violence themselves.  These words sound much like those of Christ . . . The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  (Luke 6:38)

Bishop Robert F. Morneau tells us that we are identified by how we interact with others and with God; our very identity comes through our interactions which in turn bring clarity or self-knowledge.  He reminds us that “we are a mystery made in the image and likeness of God,” that “our identity comes in relationships,” and that “lack of self knowledge is fundamentally tragic” in that we miss a precious opportunity to know God and to know self when we refuse to ask tough questions of ourselves and when we neglect prayer and scripture for quick comfort and superficial connections.

Habakkuk did not have this problem.  He asked the creator the universal human question: Why do the evil flourish while the just suffer?  And then he stands at his guard post, stations himself on the rampart, and keeps watch.  In Chapter two of this prophecy we hear the answer Habakkuk receives: Woe to those who neglect themselves and the relationships they have with others.  Hearing this, Habakkuk calls us to seek God, and he calls us to search ourselves.

What is it that stops us from looking deep inside?  Perhaps we are afraid we might discover that we are the evil one from time to time.  Maybe we fear that we cannot meet our own expectations.  Yet all of this insecurity and all of this trembling are smoothed away in the mystery of God’s plan for there is one who walks among us to lay a restorative hand upon our shaky spirit.  This one, God’s Word, is an expression in human form of God’s love.  This one, the risen Christ, forgives, heals, blesses, and opens all the windows and doors we have carefully shut.  It is through this one, Jesus, that we realize our best and truest identity as the adopted children of God.

We can be certain that once we enter into an open relationship with God that, despite our inability to understand God’s plan, we will better understand who we are and what part we are to play in this mystery that unfolds before us daily.  If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

When we seek God, we also seek ourselves. 

When we question God, we also question ourselves. 

When we find God . . . we also find ourselves.

So let us stand upon the rampart with Habakkuk; let us raise our questions to the creator; and let us welcome the gift of self-knowledge that comes from this intimacy with God.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1150. Print.

Morneau, Robert F.  REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope. January 2, 2010. Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2009. 88-89. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2010.

For more words of wisdom from this prophet, type the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar.

For an online study in giving thanks through troubled times, click on the image above or go to: http://deebrestin.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-in-troubled-times-two-week-study/

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