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Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’


Monday, July 19, 2021

Jeremiah fire_bonesJeremiah 11

Of No Avail

What right has my beloved in my house, while she prepares her plots? A spreading olive tree, goodly to behold, the Lord has named you; now he sets fire to it, its branches burn.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the prophecy of Jeremiah, one in which we find “hopes and visions, doubts and hesitations, anger and resentment, arguments and pleading, persecution and rejection, perseverance and bonding”. (Senior 305) Today we look at the simple plea which each of us has uttered in our lives: Why do our sacrifices seem to be of no avail?

God says: I know that you are sometimes discouraged when you “do everything correctly” and still you feel unrewarded. You see many prosper who do not praise me and who, indeed, never even think of me. I see how this causes you pain. I also see that betrayal weighs so heavily on you that there are days when you cannot shift its heaviness. I understand that all of this may bring you sorrow but be patient with me. All is well even though you cannot see that it is. Bring your plaints to me and I will give you rest. Listen to my prophet Jeremiah and hear how he rails against me, and yet I love him still. As I also love you. I see the many sacrifices that you make for me and I assure you that although you believe them to be of no avail, each salvific action you make is in reality a precious moment to me. Your sacrifice is seen, heard, well-noted . . . and serves a greater purpose than you can imagine.

Enter the word sacrifice into the blog search bar and consider who, and how, and what, and why we sacrifice . . . and what we expect form God in return.


For more on this prophet and his prophecy, go to the Jeremiah – Person and Message page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/jeremiah-person-and-message/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 304-305. Print.

Image from: http://iamthewordthecomforter.blogspot.com/2010/02/jeremiah-prophet-of-bible-warning-of.html

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stempleSunday, June 27, 2021

2 Chronicles 4

The Altar of Our Lives – Part I

What does it mean to lay our sacrifices upon God’s altar? What good does takes place when we lay our lives upon the Lord’s altar when we see little or no good coming from our sacrifice? Today’s Gospel reading tells us the answers to these questions. We do not need to fully comprehend God’s plan in order to do well in this plan, we only need to follow the one who goes before us. The Christ tells us how to find ourselves in God.

In John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 several verses stand out for us.

Jesus . . . did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

“I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true”.

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

In our Noontime journey we have reflected on Ezekiel 43 and the construction of the altar in the New Temple in the New Jerusalem. Today we read about the actual altar built in the temple completed by Solomon in 960 B.C.E. The following sites show us a picture and give us an idea of the enormity of this task.

http://www.templemount.org/solomon.html

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=129&letter=T

When we think of how much time we spend in building our physical world – the clothes we wear, the house we live in, the food we buy and consume, the car we drive, the acquisitions with which we fill our lives – we see that we invest a great deal of time in what surrounds us.

When we think of the family we form, the friends we gather, the work colleagues with whom we interact – we can see the importance we place on the people in our lives and the influences we allow ourselves to experience.

When we think of how much thought we give to the formation of our prayer life, the sincerity with which we enter into our promises, the fashioning of our devotion to God, we can see how much we bring back to God, how much energy and thought we devote to the building of the altar on which we lay our true lives.

Tomorrow, taking time for a summer reflection.


Image from: http://www.templemount.org/solomon.html

Adapted from a reflection written in March 27, 2009.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Amos 8:5-6

Prayer for Generosity

Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  (Matthew 7:3)

We experience the richness of God’s love when we spend time changing ourselves rather than attempting to change others. As we reflect on the call we hear from Amos to think about how greed might invade our lives, we pray.

We have diminished the ephah . . . let us remember to be generous as God has been generous to us. For all that we have and all that we are, we pray: thank you, Creator, for the gift of body, mind and soul.  

We will add to the shekel . . . let us remember to be honest as God has been honest. For all that we are given and all that we love, we pray: thank you, Jesus, for the gift of your trustworthiness and truth.

We will buy the lowly man for a pair of sandals . . . let us remember that generosity is nurtured when we trust in God alone. Thank you, Christ, for your sacrifice of self that we might live in you.

We will sell the refuse of the wheat harvest . . . let us remember that big-heartedness flourishes when we live in the Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the bounty and kindness you bring with your in-dwelling.

Jesus says:  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Honesty, truth, trustworthiness, kindness, bounty, transformation, big-heartedness, sacrifice. These are the signs of God’s generosity in our lives.  These are the fruits by which we wish to be known. This is the richness we receive.  This is the richness we share with others when we live in God’s generosity. Amen.


Image from: https://lifepointaz.com/a-priority-of-generosity/

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

High_Priest_Offering_Incense_on_the_Altar[1]Psalm 69:32

Our Song

My song will please the Lord more than oxen, more than bullocks with horns and hooves; see, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek the Lord, take heart!

More than any sacrifice, God awaits an open heart. More than any burnt offering, God awaits a heart eager and ready to receive the marvelous gift of God’s love.

Hebrews 10:5-6: Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased”.

“For sacrifice to become a value, you must discover something for which life is worth living . . . Sacrifice is born of the heart-thawing yearning of the love of Christ . . . The truest sacrifice is to recognize a presence. What does it mean to recognize a presence? The I, instead of affirming itself, affirms you. This is the greatest devotion: ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’; it is the same as giving one’s life . . . To affirm the other implies the forgetting of ourselves, which is the opposite of being attached to ourselves; we sacrifice to the other . . . The truest sacrifice is to recognize a presence, which means the truest sacrifice is to love”. (Cameron: L. Giussani)

Our song is one of thanksgiving to God who created us.

Our song in one of gratitude for a God who saves us.

Our song is one of joy for a God who transforms us.

Our song in one of serenity for a God who forgives, and guides, protects and abides with us.

Our song is one of a life offered in sacrifice to a God who is limitless and profound, to a God who loves us without end.


Cameron, Peter John. Fr. Julián Carrón. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.11(2013): 399-400. Print.   

Luigi Giovanni Giussani (October 15, 1922 – February 22, 2005) was an Italian Catholic priest, educator, public intellectual and founder of the international Comunione e Liberazione (Catholic movement Communion and Liberation).  (Wikipedia)

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ki_Tissa

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Friday, May 8, 2020

willingness[1]Hosea 14

Conversion and Hope

God’s love is so immense that we are invited to conversion every moment of our lives – even when we have greatly sinned.  This is a message we have heard and seen on Easter Sunday.  It is a message the Spirit whispers to us constantly.  It is a message we need to examine again . . . for it is a message of hope.

Today we look again at the writings of Dom Augustin Guillerand, a French Carthusian monk who died in 1945.  He describes how we allow our will to take over our lives rather than allowing our willingness to teach us humility before God.  He writes: The will is a master that has, in theory, the ordering of everything but, in fact, the full control of nothing . . . When we give God our will fully, little by little he takes the rest, all of our faculties, the whole [person].  The conquest no longer rests with us, but with God; it becomes his affair.  As he wishes and when he wishes, he will take our memory, our senses, our passions, our imagination, our intellect, and heart, and he does this by various stages through which we have to pass, and by the trials he sends us”.

In the story of Hosea we see a man who has dedicated his will to God to such an extent that he marries a prostitute because God calls him to this vocation.  Through his suffering and because of his pain, Hosea is able to call his people back to God; and Hosea continues to call each of us today.  In his beautiful prophecy, Hosea shows us how his love for Gomer never fails . . . and thus he shows us how God’s love never fails.

God’s love, as seen through Hosea, is a love in action.  It is a love that sacrifices self will for God’s will.  Hosea tells us that love heals disloyalty, it loves freely, it turns away from anger, it is like the dew to new shoots, it gives off a sweet fragrance, it brings life.  Hosea tells us that our hope lies in our own desire for and will to enter into conversion.  A turning back to God is all that is required.  This is a huge request to make of us – yet it is the simplest of tasks if we can only begin by taking one small step each day.  And we can begin by refusing to turn back to old, corrupt ways.  It is an act of love by the creator to call his created to union.  It is an act of love by the created to reply and to go.

The greatest love calls for conversion.  The greatest love answers this call.  The greatest love brings hope.  The greatest love takes up this hope and never lets it go.

I read back over the meditation: Even if we have nothing to show for it . . .”   We cannot give up, even if there is nothing to show for our efforts because the will – our will – is formed by our constant and unwavering willingness to go to God with all trials This is the nature of a conversion that brings hope.

The greatest Love is God’s and we are called to live out this Love daily.  The greatest Love has never and will never be undone.  Let us embrace this Love willingly.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.11 (2010). Print.  

Image from: http://www.developersolution.com/projects/design_wmm/BNF/Pilates.php

Adapted from a Noontime written on March 11, 2010. 

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Matthew 17:24-27The Temple Tax

Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2018

Today we celebrate the coming of the One who teaches us how to pay the Temple tax, how to live in this world while not being part of it. 

L.L.Effler: Paying the Temple Tax

When we throw ourselves into understanding and living the Gospel we run the risk of becoming fanatic about its meaning and implications.  Ultimately, God speaks to each of us in our hearts to answer questions and to clear up ambiguities.  In due course, God makes the meaning of his Word known . . . and it is for each of us to learn how to best live out this Word.

The story of Jesus paying the temple tax with a coin found in a fish is one that appears simple but is, in fact, complex.  It calls us to examine our relationship with the society’s civil and religious structures.  It asks us to evaluate our own concept of personal freedom.

 “The point [here] is not that Jesus rejects the temple cult.  He rather rejects the idea that theocratic taxation is the appropriate means of maintaining that cult.  But with the miracle – not actually narrated – of the coin in the fish (which sounds like a piece of folklore), Jesus makes arrangements for payment.  He thereby avoids offending the devout people who, in collecting the money, think themselves to be serving God.  Personal freedom must be delimited because it must be frequently exercised, which means it must take into account the effect upon others (cf. 1 Cor. 8:13).  At the same time, by not giving his own money but by giving a lost coin, Jesus does not acknowledge the legitimacy of a mandatory tax”.  (Barton and Muddiman 866)

As a youngster I was fascinated by the idea that my personal liberty ends where others’ liberty begins.  I remember the animated discussions my middle school teachers sparked with their blanket statements; these generalities were blatant syllogisms of reason used poorly and we young people responded enthusiastically.  We honed our systems of well-ordered logic and practiced the art of zeroing in a specious argument with respect and courtesy.

As a young woman the realities of life asked me to draw lines and determine boundaries; and I began to learn how to effectively and politely use the phrase that is not my problem while still taking responsibility for my actions.  It was a time of separation from the old with an exciting entrance into to new.  I tried to fully comprehend my Dad’s warning that it’s not so bad to be ignorant of the facts but it is unforgivable to be stupid!  Dad encouraged us to learn as much as possible in order to keep our risk of being ignorant low; and he was clear that there was no excuse for a lack of common sense.  Stupidity, in his view, was a willful neglecting of the facts that blocked our own liberty or the liberty of others.  Dad worked hard at being open and he encouraged that openness in us.

In today’s Noontime Jesus teaches by his example.  As happens so many times in the Gospel accounts Jesus lays open reality for us to examine.  He gives us an opportunity to educate ourselves.  He encourages us to hone our sense of fair play.  He asks us to think about others while at the same time we refine our sense of fair play and propriety.  Jesus asks us to think for ourselves, to use divine logic and in brief . . . Jesus asks us to grow up.

It is clear from his actions and words that Jesus places prime importance on taking care of others even to the point of sacrifice.  But it is also clear that we are responsible for observing spiritual and actual parameters.  We are not encouraged to enable or pretend but rather, we are asked to serve others before self, act in kindness, hold true to the commandment of love we have been given, and to exercise our own freedom while not trampling of the right of others to likewise be free.

Many of us have difficulty with this lesson and yet once learned it is not forgotten because the sweet joy of personal liberty has a value beyond price.  The boundary between self and others is clearly delineated by courtesy and kindness.  The rule of generosity and compassion pertains to each and to all of us.  The temple tax is to be paid out of respect for others . . . but the legitimacy of our own relationship with God is never to be forfeited.


A re-post from November 21, 2011.

Image from: http://www.revelationart.org/Gallery1.html

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001.866. Print.

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Wisdom 3: Duality in Fire

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

As we continue to spend time reflecting on our duality, we revisit the theme of trial and endurance; we ask and we pray . . . from whence comes the strength, courage, and clarity we need to discern Jesus’ Way through the fires of life?

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 29, 2010.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality we may undervalue in our culture that relies heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self-esteem.  As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism; and self-flagellation is not a healthy tool for us to use when we step back to look at ourselves.  Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others.  The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience resulting from contentment we feel at the end of a good day.  Suffering for show, or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others.  And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered to us today so that we might examine our motivations. In this way we discern the origin of our actions to discover if they are worthy of God’s love for us. Do we sacrifice for self? Or do we sacrifice for God?

Remembering that God does not expect perfection in all we do, we lift up our lives as sparks that fly in the dark night. Remembering that God asks us to be perfect in our perseverance through trials in love, we raise up our hearts like sparks that fly through the stubble of the winnowed field. Remembering that God asks us to remain constant in our search for truth, we rise with the flame of God’s love in us.

In the duality of fire that destroys when it goes beyond reasonable limits yet sustains when it brings light and nourishment to cold darkness, we rest in the wisdom of God.


To reflect more on the duality of fire, enter the word Sparks in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://www.nhfaithfusion.com/2014/12/cultivating-warm-heart-creates-meaningful-life/ 

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2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part VI

Ernest William Tristram: Reconstruction of Medieval Mural Painting, Battle of Judas Maccabeus with Timotheus and the Fall of Maspha – Parliamentary Art Collection, UK

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

We engage in battle with the world; we struggle with circumstances beyond our control. We look for peace where there is only strife. Anxiety builds as we look for serenity; and fear overtakes us too often. When we examine our journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, we know that we cannot escape our battles. When we remember the story of the Maccabeus family, we also know that it is our battles that transform us. And so we continue to search.

The way of the Seeker has been demonstrated to us by Christ for if God so loved the world that he sent his only son (John 3:16), and if this son dies in expiation for the sins of all, how can we not forgive all and ask to be forgiven in all?  How can we not enter into this sacrifice and petition to God to redeem all those who have fallen away? How can we refuse to move forward trusting in God and exercising compassion for ourselves and others?

In our Lenten journey as we anticipate the promise of Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of the dead, we find ourselves called to the sheepfold by the love of the Great Shepherd.  If we seek to know this shepherd most intimately, we will imitate Christ in all ways possible, and we will offer all that we suffer for the saving of those who struggle to enter the fold. And so we pray.

Good and strong and gentle God, entering into Christ’s sacrifice with our fellow seekers, we offer our pain willingly.  We lift joyful hearts and songs of praise because by the mercy and surrender of Christ, we are released from the fear and pain that enslaves us.  We ask that our hearts of stone be made warm by the Holy Spirit’s love, that our necks stiffened in pride be made humble in God’s mercy, and that our straying from the sheepfold be redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice. Amen.    

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

Find image at http://www.artuk.org/artworks/reconstruction-of-medieval-mural-painting-battle-of-judas-maccabeus-with-timotheus-and-the-fall-of-maspha-214242

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2 Samuel 24: Bold Penance

Friday, March 17, 2017

king david

Angelica Kauffman: The Prophet David reproaching King David

A Favorite from March 8, 2008.

We looked at the beginning of this chapter this past September when we focused on the idea that silence in a division means assent with those who speak.  I recalled my Dad’s words that sometimes it is stand up time.  Today, when we return to the same place in The Word, when we look deeper we can see another them, and this one is appropriate to our Lenten tide.

From the HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY (page 278): Yet once more it is not difficult to be impressed by David. He is boldly penitent (24:10-17).  He invites action against himself and his own house rather than the ordinary people: “these sheep, what have they done?” (v.17). He is unwilling to make an offering to [Yahweh] that has cost him nothing (v.24).

And so I ask myself: What is the tone of my penitence?  Am I bold as I declare myself openly to God?  Or do I cower?  Do I take my transgressions openly?  Or do I try to conceal them in some way?  Do I excuse myself, explain myself, rationalize my action or lack of action? But most importantly . . . 

Am I unwilling to make an offering to God that has cost me nothing?

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 278. Print.

 

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