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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah’


Genesis 18:1-15: Dissembling

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh”.  But he said, “Yes you did”. It seems that when we are afraid, or even uncomfortable, we hide.  Perhaps we want to protect ourselves from unwanted criticism at a time when we feel vulnerable.  Society would benefit from our willingness to put aside fear in order to practice honesty.  Our families would flourish if we might find a way to establish trust in order that we become less defensive.  Our work and play communities would prosper if we were free of ridicule.  Putting aside fear so that we might live a life of authenticity is what God asks us to do.  We all fail at this constantly . . . and this is something that God knows well.

Fear has been with us since our genesis as humans; it is not an aberration that arises after eons of human evolution.  Nor is it a modern phenomenon brought on by rapid change or sudden advances in technology.  Fear must have been with the first humans who hunted and gathered food and sought shelter.  Dissembling was likely a defense against isolation or separation from the tribe, a strategy for survival.  Is it a tool we want to use today?  Do we need to shave edges from truth?  Do we need to shape the opinion of those around us?  Are we willing to go to God and ask that we begin again . . . in total honesty . . . without dissembling?

It is good to remind ourselves that God is quick to pardon when we ask forgiveness, and that God has infinite mercy for us.  We know that all God asks is our gratitude and our willingness to do as he asks.  God constantly assures us that we are loved . . . and God asks for our love in return.  We need not fear.  We need not dissemble.  And we need not nurture this dissembling in ourselves or others.  When we are fearful . . . we know what we must do.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 129-130)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Isaiah 43:12: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. 

And so we pray . . .

When we feel fear begin to consume us, rather than dissemble and begin to weave a complicated web, we must call on God to bolster us in the truth.

When we are tempted to mislead others, rather than add to the illusion, we must ask God to help us to be honest and authentic.

When we come upon a rat’s nest of lies and deceit, rather than turn away with blank face and trembling heart, we must rely on God to help us witness to what we know to be truth.

Good and honest God, you have allowed us to choose if and how we are to follow you.  Guide us to see through the clever tricks of the expert weavers of lies and lead us to be merciful with those who dissemble out of fear.  Protect us as we mark a straight path to you with the signs of our little and big sufferings.  Lead us out of the maze of confusing dissembled responses others give to us.  Give us the courage to speak candidly, to act compassionately, and to love into goodness those who would harm us with their dissembling words.  We ask this of you who has created us, you who has shown us the way of authenticity, and you who abides within us always.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.6 (2011): 129-130. Print.   

Image from: http://listverse.com/2007/08/20/top-10-bizarre-phobias/

A re-post from August 10, 2011.

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Tobit 8: Expulsion of the Demon

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pierre Parrocel: The Marriage of Tobias and Sarah

Pierre Parrocel: The Marriage of Tobias and Sarah

This is a story which everyone needs to read often. From the NAB Catholic Study Edition: “The Book of Tobit is a complex literary work with a very uncomplicated moral. The book narrates important incidents in the lives of three people: Tobit, Sarah, and Tobiah. It tells the story of their tragedies and triumphs. The author weaves the stories of these three people together very skillfully so that the book results from the intersection of three different but related plots. This rhetorical feat of weaving the stories of these three people so tightly has a theological purpose. The author wishes to show how God can mange the circumstances of people’s lives in order to bring God’s plans to fulfillment. Its primary religious message is simple: God rewards those who are faithful.” This is a message we need to hear.

The book is considered by some as a religious novel only, while others see it as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We like the story because it tells of healing. And this healing happens through the Archangel Raphael through whom, “God manages . . . circumstances in order to ensue that God’s own purposes come to fruition. The story assumes God’s sovereignty in people’s lives and God’s determination to reward the just. When the just suffer, there is a limit to that suffering. Once that limit occurs, God will intervene. Sometimes that intervention is miraculous.”  This is a message we want to take in.

God considers that Sarah has suffered enough and so he confronts the demon who is enamored of this young woman, but the confrontation occurs in a quiet way. This demon, as we hear earlier in 6:15, “loves her, [so] he does not harm her; but he does slay any man who wishes to come close to her.” So rather than wage battle, as we humans would do, God sends Raphael to accompany the young Tobias, who in turn expulses the demon using means given him by Raphael – which is the part of the story we hear today. The footnotes in the NAB point out that this is not an exorcism. Rather, the demon retreats because of the power of the earnest prayer of the two young people. From the footnotes, “It is clear that the author places primary emphasis on the value of prayer to God, on the role of the angel as God’s agent, and on the pious dispositions of Tobiah.”

Abraham de Papre: Tobit and Anna

Abraham de Pape: Tobit and Anna

What can we take away from all of this? It is clear and simple. The faithful need not wage war. They need not struggle against life’s obstacles. Rather, they must seek healing through God, remain faithful to their covenant promise, practice authentic prayer, and they must believe in miracles. This is a message we will want to remember.

And so we petition our good and gracious God.

Keep us always watchful for the angels you send to us – even though we are so busy that we often miss them.

Call us in such a way that we are open to your healing miracles – because we need them.

Look kindly on us as we struggle along the torturous pathways of this life – because we are nothing without you.

Keep us ever mindful of your desire to do all good things for us – even as we rail against the suffering which disciplines us so well.

May we join with young Tobias and Sarah as they prayed to you, “’Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. . .’ They said together, ‘Amen, amen,’ and went to bed for the night.”

Today we remember as we reflect . . . we are Easter People.

Adapted from a Favorite written on June 5, 2007.

 

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joyTuesday, November 18, 2014

Tobit 5

Joy and Desperation

We move further into the Old Testament looking for stories of joy that might surprise us. If today’s story calls you to search further, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. For the next few says, our story is taken from the Book of Tobit.

If you have not had time for the story of Tobit, begin to read it today. It brings us a world of frustration and renewal, desperation and hope, deep sorrow and overwhelming joy. It features the healing touch of the Archangel Gabriel and the surprising good news that even the most dire circumstances give us a reason for courage and happiness.

Rembrandt: Sarah Waiting for Tobias

Rembrandt: Sarah Waiting for Tobias

Tobit 5:9-10: Then Tobias went out and called [the young man], and said, “Young man, my father is calling for you.” So he went in to him, and Tobit greeted him first. He replied, “Joyous greetings to you!” But Tobit retorted, “What joy is left for me anymore? I am a man without eyesight; I cannot see the light of heaven, but I lie in darkness like the dead who no longer see the light. Although still alive, I am among the dead. I hear people but I cannot see them.” But the young man said, “Take courage; the time is near for God to heal you; take courage.” Then Tobit said to him, “My son Tobias wishes to go to Media. Can you accompany him and guide him? I will pay your wages, brother.” He answered, “I can go with him and I know all the roads, for I have often gone to Media and have crossed all its plains, and I am familiar with its mountains and all of its roads.”

Rembrandt: Tobit and Anna

Rembrandt: Tobit and Anna

When we welcome the stranger into our lives we may unwittingly welcome a healing angel. When we open ourselves to the gift of courage we may unknowingly find the surprise of quiet joy. When we trust in God’s messengers to guide us along unknown roads we may suddenly find new paths to cross uncharted plains and looming mountains.

Spend time with the first five Chapters of Tobit today and discover the surprise of God’s healing presence. Look for Anna and Sarah, and anticipate what might happen with the desperation that has taken over their lives.

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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The Third Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2013

Hebrews-6-19[1]

Hebrews 5:11-14 & 6

Resting in the Promise

You have become sluggish in hearing . . .

Notes from the NAB, page 1328: Rather than allow the slow to become content in their slowness, Paul exhorts them to even higher levels of spirituality.  He is not lenient.  And as for those who have fallen away completely, he does not even address these apostates.  If all we need is energy to progress in our spiritual journey, we can turn to Christ . . . for he tells us through Matthew (10:28-30), my yoke is easy, my burden light.  Christ himself exhorts us Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Sometimes we are not so much sluggish as afraid.  We know that the task lying before us is laden with tricky passages, dark corners, deceitful paving stones that look firm and yet sink into quicksand.  On these occasions we must also turn to Christ, trusting him when he says take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.  Disobedience is not an option for an apostle.

Paul tells us that Christ’s promise is immutable, and he uses the long story of the covenant promise between Yahweh and Abraham as ample proof.  Did not the elderly couple – Sarah and Abraham –   begin a kingdom of millions?  Did this new way of seeking God not travel to all peoples of all nations?  Do we not know even today the story of this Abraham, Sarah, and the high priest Melchizedek?  Paul reminds us that it is impossible for God to lie; his very goodness and honesty force him to keep his covenant with his people.

So when we feel weary or afraid, we might turn to Paul for a reminder of the words of hope we can never hear too often.  This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil [into the Holy of Holies], where Jesus has entered as forerunner . . .

In this Advent season when we anticipate the arrival of Emmanuel, God among us, let us rest in this promise . . . let us acknowledge that when all is dark and appears to be lost, when all is more difficult or more terrifying than we can bear we must be still  . . . so that we might hear again . . .

Come to me . . . and you will find rest for your souls . . .

Adapted from a reflection written on December 11, 2008.

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