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Matthais Stom: Supper at Emmaus

Matthais Stom: Supper at Emmaus

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Luke 24:33-49

If we want to acknowledge the gift of God’s presence in our lives, let us first give thanks.

If we want to fully participate in the resurrection journey, let us first give thanks.

If we want the full impact of our own Emmaus experience, let us first give thanks.

If we want to share in God’s Easter hope, let us first give thanks.

If we want to share in God’s Easter joy, let us first give thanks.

And as we give thanks . . . let each of us become witnesses to the story we know to be true.  The story of God’s great love for all of creation, the story of  God’s plan for the salvation of the world.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Le_repas_d%27Emma%C3%BCs_by_Matthias_Stom.jpg

Enter the words You Are Witnesses into the blog search bar for an Easter prayer and reflection.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

ayinPsalm 119:121-128

Ayin

My eyes long to see you salvation and the justice of your promise.

In the sixteenth strophe of Psalm 119 we hear a cry to see God’s kingdom now, a plea to see God’s Law of Love as promised.

God says: You need not fuss and worry that others do not try to forge the kingdom with you. You may even lose sleep and become despondent at the evil you see daily either close to you or in more distant places on the globe. I tell you that you need not fear. You need not judge. You need not burden yourself with thinking that you are responsible for all the troubles throughout all of time or throughout all places on the planet. What I ask you to do is quite simply this: Listen for my voice to guide you in whatever way you perceive me; respond to the call that I place in your heart; and remember that I have promised you the kingdom for which you pine. You are presently in my kingdom . . . although you may struggle to see it. When you are able to put down your black-and-white glasses that give you a dual vision of the world where everything is either yes or no, you will begin to see the beauty of my kingdom in which everything is either/and.

From the time that we are tiny we are given rules that plainly state consequences and our parents invoke these rules to keep us safe.  There are ways to cross the street, ways to mingle with strangers, ways to handle fire and ice and all of these rules are meant to preserve us and keep us safe.  As we mature we must continue to grow so that we might begin to see the world as God sees it, so that we might begin to experience time as God lives it. As we mature we must allow God to soften our hearts, unbend our stiff necks, and open our minds that are closed to possibility.

Jesus stands on the shore of the sea and sees his apostles in a small boat tossed on the storm swept waters. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them. “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely] astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:48-52)

For a deeper awareness of how we might miss the message of the loaves, read Mark 6:34-44 and reflect on the times we also misunderstand . . . and insist that Christ enter our foundering boat.

Tomorrow, Pe.


For more on the Hebrew alphabet, visit: http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/alphabet.htm 

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Monday, September 28, 2020

4418670434_2d1d736229[1]1 Peter 1:6-7

Indescribable

In this [inheritance from God] you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you may not have seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

We might imagine the emotions that passed through Jesus’ close companions when he returned to them resurrected. He moved through locked doors, spoke with them, cooked for them, ate with them.  The sensations they experienced must have been indeed . . . indescribable.

God says: Do you not realize that I come to you each day just as I came to my first followers? Do you not know that I value your friendship and love so greatly that I am with you always? Do you not understand that you who did not travel with me in my Galilee years yet still believe in me are my own dear friends? Do not be too critical of your failings and flaws. I created you . . . and I understand who and what I created. Just come to me as you are with your own sweet imperfections. Your perfection lies in that you strive to be with me . . . not in living an unblemished life. When I am with you I feel such indescribable joy. I give this joy to you. Come follow me.

For more thoughts on the opening chapter of 1 Peter, enter the words Gift and Call into the blog search bar and reflect.

Tomorrow, an obedience that brings freedom . . .


Image from: http://flickriver.com/places/United+States/Arkansas/Siloam+Springs/Mount+Olive/

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sirach 24:7-8

Seeking Our Inheritance

When we reflect on Scripture we find stories and themes of irony. The last shall be first while the first are last. The chosen people squander their advantage. The son who cheats his brother becomes founder of a nation. The faithless wife has a faithful husband. The one who denies knowing the Messiah becomes the Rock on which a religion stands. The chief persecutor of the fledgling Jesus community becomes a source of strength. We must die in order to live. Examples seem endless. Every chapter brings us a new example of how our human existence pulls us in opposite directions. We may consider this as confusing, or we may use this fog of contradiction to teach us. As always with Scripture and in life, our stumbling blocks become our lesson plans, our hurdles become our stepping stones when we open our hearts, minds, ears and eyes to the wisdom that suffering and chaos offer. Today we reflect on the inheritance we already hold and yet seek. Perhaps the richness of this inheritance is too much for us to take in.

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? In Genesis we see the devil tempt Adam and Eve with the promise of something they already hold. You can become like gods, Satan tells us just as he told the couple living in the perfection of Eden; yet clearly, they already have this inheritance. What was it they sought? And what do we seek?

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? Satan tempts Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, again offering him gifts he already holds: the awesome and infinite powers of God. As sisters and brothers of Christ, we too share this same inheritance. Are we able to put aside the false siren song of power and fame to take up our inheritance of humility, patience, perseverance, and love of our enemies? It is difficult to follow Jesus’ example, yet we know that The Way he shows us is the way of our inheritance of peace.

In Jacob make your dwelling, in Israel your inheritance. What is the dwelling of Jacob? What is this inheritance of Israel? The story of Jacob is one of deceit and redemption. This is a tent that shelters our own story. The Twelve Tribes of Israel show us the diversity of God’s family. This is a family in which we can find membership. The gifts we seek we already possess. The promise we pursue we already own. When we give ourselves over to the Creator, we hold the same promise given to Abraham of security and protection. We hold the same miracle of impossibility given to Sarah. When we become one with Jesus to best of our talents, we enjoy the peace of this union that only Christ can give. When we live in the Spirit that binds each of us to all, we rejoice in the inheritance we seek. The inheritance that is already given. Let us celebrate this inheritance today and all days by living the gift of immortal life we already have, that despite our infidelity and deceit, we find a home in salvation. Amid the chaos and fear, we find peace and salvation.


For a reflection on the Temptations experienced by Jesus, visit The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Image from: https://smartasset.com/investing/how-does-inheritance-work

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Jeremiah 20: Being Duped by God

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

46564700-1246927298[1]Jeremiah is a frequent companion on our Noontime journey and today’s theme is one we have visited often: Sometimes our great fall comes as a direct result of doing precisely what God has asked us to do.  Sometimes we are duped by God.

The interior crisis – the situation in which he hope to never find ourselves – is something we all work diligently to avoid . . . and we ought not.  It is, in fact, the very reason we are here on earth.  It is our personal work.  It is the way we arrive at our highest potential.

The places within – the ones we avoid – are the places we must approach with candor and even eagerness.  They are our “working edge”.  They are our labs, our quizzes, our tests.  They are our final exam.

The interior self whom we avoid – the part of ourselves that we shun – is the very place where God dwells.  He is there waiting for us with open joy, celebrating with us that we have had the courage to take the scales from our eyes, the mask from our face, the blinders from our perspective.

God is always anticipating our arrival; God is always on the other side of the door we refuse to approach.  God is calling out to us to knock and enter.  God is waiting there patiently, always abiding.  God is our goal in all things and at all times.  There is nothing else that matters.  No other work.  No other cause.  No other person.  This is what Jesus means when he says that the dead will bury the dead.  (Matthew 8:22)  There is no thing and no one who ought to stand between us and God.  And we will surely find God when we open the dark part of ourselves to allow God’s light into the dim corners.

Each of us has “a shadow self”, the person whom we fasten away, hoping to keep shut in from ourselves and from the world.  Much like Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, each of us has a lunatic spouse we keep locked in the north tower . . . and if the metaphor holds we can see the destruction that will arrive if we try to keep that door bolted.

Suffering follows once we open the lock . . . but so does restoration.  This is the message of the prophet Jeremiah.  It is the message of St. Paul.  If we avoid the work we are called to do with and for ourselves, we avoid our personal mission.

Does God dupe us?  Yes, God does.  Why?  Because God loves us, wants us to face our fears while relying on Christ, and God wants us to trust the saving newness of the resurrection that Jesus brings to us without our even asking.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed.

When we lock ourselves away with our fears, we have no other recourse but to listen. If we open ourselves to listening to God’s voice, we have the opportunity to respond.  And once we respond, we take our first steps toward reconciliation, conversion, and salvation.

God is in charge.  There is an Economy of Salvation.  There are no mistakes in God’s plan . . . only opportunities for God’s love to triumph.

Tomorrow . . . a Prayer for those who are willing to be duped . . .


Image from: https://www.turbosquid.com/FullPreview/Index.cfm/ID/223193

First written on January 17, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Isaiah 36-39: Crucial Link

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Climbing Snap Link

Climbing Snap Link

Commentary informs us that although these few chapters may appear to be a tangential appendix to the prophecy of Isaiah, they in fact turn out to be “a crucial link for the survival of the Isaiah tradition and its extraordinary development”.  This portion of Isaiah binds the prophecy to the original Deuteronomic Tradition – an interpretation developed in the north rather than in Jerusalem – and it focuses more on the Mosaic covenant than the Davidic dynasty and promise.  We can see how this split in thinking might have accompanied the physical rift between the northern and southern tribes.  Judah and Israel had their differences; they focused on separate symbols, developed divergent theories, and went their separate ways.  This small, apparently insignificant addition to Isaiah, which at first glance might be overlooked, does in fact give us a message we will want to hear: Salvation is universal, salvation pertains to the Gentile peoples as well as to the Jews, salvation is ours.  (Senior RG 294)

We have centuries of theory, worship and belief to mine when we open scripture and today is no exception.  In today’s Noontime we are called to look at not just a crucial link in tradition but in ourselves as well.  We are asked: What do we know?  How do we know it?  What do we believe?  Why do we believe it? What do we do to enact our belief?  How do we retain our own crucial link?

Once we begin to examine our traditions and the relationships we value, we will need to further examine what feeds and sustains us.  How do we nourish our spiritual selves?  Where do we look for sturdy places to attach our hearts to something safe and secure?  Whom do we trust as we develop our value set? 

Inevitably in each human life we come to a point of self-recognition.  Some of us manage to stay away from the bright mirror of ourselves as we journey.  Others of us seem to beat ourselves with every small flaw we glimpse in our reflection from the sharp glass of life. Inescapably – sooner or later – we are confronted with what we have forged.  We see what we have done with the gifts we have been given.  We understand that we are us and God is God . . . and that our link to God is crucial.  Our attachment to God must be full and final.  Our love of God must supersede all else . . . just as Christ’s love for us overcomes and overpowers all that would draw us into our narcissistic staring at our imagined self-image.

And so we make this our Christmas prayer today . . .

As New Testament people we believe that our salvation comes to us through Christ.  Isaiah predicts this guarantee.  Jesus fulfills this prediction.

As New Testament followers we understand that the darkness will always be pierced by the light.  Isaiah foretells this.  Christ fulfills this foretelling.

As New Testament disciples we know that the work of those who carry a belief in Jesus as savior will never be easy.  Isaiah forewarns us of this.  Jesus explains this to us.

As New Testament Children of God we cling to this crucial link who is Christ, God Among Us, Emmanuel, the Light in the Darkness, the Promise of all for all.  Isaiah tells us of the immense love which forms this crucial link.  Jesus comes to assure us of God’s love for each of his children.  Jesus binds us to himself and to the Father forever . . . so let us take hold of this crucial bond and clasp it to our hearts forever.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on December 8, 2012. 

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Romans 4: Faith

Monday, December 16, 2019

Yesterday we reflected on Nicanor, a man who trusted in himself above all else; today we reflect on Abraham, a man who trusted in God above all else.  St. Paul tells us that Abraham is justified – saved – by this great faith he holds in God the Father.

Notes will tell us that this chapter is an expansion of a themes Paul also hit when writing to the Galatians in Chapter 3 of that letter: O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain? – if indeed it was in vain. 

Paul continues in his iteration of how Abraham came to believe, and how Abraham held to his belief that God is present, compassionate and supreme.  Today in Romans, he speaks again of how the Law of Moses is empty without faith in Christ.  The Law – even if followed to the letter – cannot bring us the deep, comforting and always-present knowledge that we are the well-loved children of God.  The Law – even with all its intricacies – has nothing to offer us except when seen as fulfilled in Christ.

Jesus is our brother; he is God who walks among us still.  Given the testimony of so many witnesses at the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and given our own testimony of miracles worked in us today – how can we fail to believe that the Spirit continues to comfort, the Son continues to save, and that the Father continues to love us?  Using the example of Abraham, this is the question Paul put before the Galatians two thousand years ago; it is the question he puts before us today.   Are we so stupid that we do not believe the evidence we have even in our own lives that Jesus lives, the Spirit abides, and God protects and calls?  Abraham acted on his deep, abiding faith, and so may we.

Let us pray . . .

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body already dead . . . and neither must we weaken.

He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief . . . and neither must we doubt.

He was fully convinced that what God had promised to do he would do . . . and so must we be convinced. 

He was empowered by faith and gave glory to God . . . and so must we.  Even when we go through dry times, even when we go through pain, even when we have become exhausted from the race . . . we must abide in faith . . . for there is no other salvation or justification. 

In this week when we celebrate the light of Christmas and the joy of faith – whether we are alone, whether we gather we loved ones or strangers – let us acknowledge that we have been redeemed, and let us lay our weariness and woes at the feet of the only one who can bring us the serenity and joy we seek.  Let us give all back to God in the belief that we are loved, that we are treasured, and that we have been saved in order to live in and with God.   We ask this in faith, Amen. 


Image from: http://kehilath-haderekh-benzi.blogspot.com/?view=flipcard

An adapted re-post first written on November 25, 2010, and posted today as a Favorite.

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Hebrews 7: Melchizedek

Monday, December 2, 2019

Reubens: The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek

The writer of this letter tells us today that with the arrival of one such as Jesus the old way of living in doubt and fear is ended.  From the resurrection forward we live by a new order, a new covenant, a new intercession.  Jesus has arrived to liberate all – no matter creed or race or origin.  Jesus supersedes all – no matter nationality or ethnicity or orientation.  Jesus fulfills all – no matter doubt or rejection or fear.  This is wonderful news for us for it means that all that is good that we might possibly hope for is now guaranteed to each of us – and this promise is foreshadowed in humanity’s earliest stories.

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE: “Why is so much attention paid to a figure who appears only twice in Scripture?  Because both appearances point toward Christ.  In Genesis 14,7-20, Melchizedek is named a priest of God [although he was a Gentile!], whom even Abraham acknowledged.  Logically, then, a priest descended from him would be superior to one descended from Abraham!  And Melchizedek’s second scriptural appearance is in verse 4 of that very Psalm 110 which Christians regarded as a literal prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection.  Melchizedek’s being ‘without beginning or end’ (because Scripture records neither his birth nor his death) is therefore an anticipation of the Son of God whose priesthood is eternally valid; conversely, Jesus is a priest ‘according to the order (rank) of Melchizedek’ (Ps 110,4).  In his resurrection, Jesus became priest “by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed” (7,16).  He ‘remains forever’ (7,24).  His sacrifice is ‘once for all’ (7,27). He ‘lives forever to make intercession’ (7,25).  The Jewish priesthood descended from Abraham cannot compete.  God’s revelation in Jesus does not merely continue the former story, it raises it to a new plane.  Jesus’ death and resurrection mark an absolute beginning”. (Senior RG 545)

Melchizedek comes to us as a unique figure; we know so little about him and yet he holds so much importance.  In a way, he mirrors many of us.  History will record little about us and yet we each make an important contribution to the collective human story.  Many will argue that we are far different from Melchizedek in that he was a priest and we are not.  Yet others will reply that each of us – as followers of Christ – has the potential to sanctify, to bless and anoint.

This reflection does not present a theological argument but rather it posits a thought for us to mull and turn over.  What do we know about Melchizedek?  What does his relationship with Abraham and Jesus have to say to us today?  How will our lives – and the lives of those we touch each day – improve as a result of our reflection on this mysterious man from the distant past?  What and whom do we sanctify with our belief in the Living God?  Why and when do we make our relationships holy – even with our enemies?  How and why do we bless and anoint others with our words and actions?

What does the man Melchizedek mean to us today?  And how do we show the world what we have learned from him?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 545. Print.   

A re-post from November 11, 2012.

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GalatiansLove, Faith and Works

Monday, January 14, 2019

We have reflected frequently on this letter perhaps because its brevity draws us in.  This Noontime is a revision of something we shared in May 2009.  We offer it to you today.

Paul writes to the Galatians to remind them of the reason for their initial conversion . . . the love of Christ.  Interlopers were undermining the Gospel he had preached to them and the people of Galatia had begun to waver.  This is a scenario we live again today.  We know the truths that we have heard, but when the world intervenes with its own gospel we become confused.  We forget the initial message that . . . we are saved through grace brought by Christ’s death and resurrection, not by the Law This was surprising news to the Jewish structure in Paul’s day.  It sometimes surprises us today.

We constantly and loudly hear two compelling philosophies.  It is much easier, we tell ourselves, to do well if we are just told what to do and then we do it.  It is much easier, we tell ourselves, if we can just interpret the law as we like and then we can do what we like.

These modes of thinking are reflected in our polarized political and social world.  The two ends of the spectrum on which we live pull and push at one another until the middle is either squeezed to death or has the life pulled out of it.  There is no predictable place to stand.  It is this problem that instigates Paul’s letter to the Galatians; and we can take advice from his thinking today as he reminds us that because Christ is mystery only Christ can show us the way to salvation and how to live the mystery of life.  Only Christ can model how to live the Law, because he is the Law.

As this letter opens, Paul chides us for being so quickly led astray by the world; then he reminds us that there is only one true model to follow, Jesus.  Reading further into this letter we read that we might be saved by our faith.  Various protesting Christian sects stand on the premise that faith alone saves us.  We know that this is not true because it is faith as displayed by the sacrificial love of Christ that brings us home.  Our faith must be accompanied by works because . . . Jesus is love, and if we have faith, our works must be love.  If we have one without the other we lack integrity.  When we try to live a life in which we split ourselves and allow our actions to differ widely from what we say we believe, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14, we are the gong clanging loudly signifying nothing.

Paul closes the letter with another reminder that the Galatians – and we – must return to our initial desire to follow Christ, for there is no other road to salvation.  We may surround ourselves with friends who help us create the illusion that this world answers all our needs if we can only amass enough money, fame or comfort; yet somewhere deep inside, we know that there is more.

When I feel both squeezed and pulled apart by the world, I know that it is time to return to this letter.  I look for verse 3:1: O stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  I re-read verse 1:6: I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by [the] grace of Christ for a different gospel.  I look again at 5:7: You were running so well; who hindered you from following [the] truth.  I meditate on verses 2-5: Bear one another’s burdens, and so you fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself.  Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to someone else; for each will bear his own load. 

But in a world which constantly, and with expert ways, calls us away from Christ, it is with Galatians 6:9 that we will want to spend a good amount of time: Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.


A re-post from January 14, 2012.

Image from: http://www.66clouds.com/new_testament.html

For more on this letter, see the Magnanimity page of A Book of Our Life on this blog. 

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