Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Satan’


behemoth

A depiction of the mythical Behemoth

Job 40: Fear

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Chapter 40 of Job is sandwiched between the threat of Satan and the promise of restoration, bringing home to us the marvel of God’s immense love for us.

When we focus on 40:15 we see the Behemoth who sneezes, sending forth light flashes. Sparks fly from his mouth, his breath lights fires, his heart is hard as stone, the mighty fear him, nothing frightens him.  This monster – who later appears in Revelation – is drawn so vividly that we tremble before him.  What does he represent?  Perhaps he signifies all the fear we have ever felt about all things, both little and large.

We know that we must fight back the fear but the task is daunting.  When we spend time with Job we understand that when we allow God to be God, we enter into God’s love.

The Gospels tell us that when the Sea of Galilee is whipped by a storm, endangering the apostles in their tiny boat, we find Jesus walking on the water to calm both the turbulent waves and his followers.  Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! (Matthew 14:22-36Mark 6:45-56John 6:16-24) Just as the apostles follow Christ, so must we.

In the New Testament letters, John writes eloquently in his soaring verses to tell of the awesome enormity of the love God brings to us, the same love to which God calls us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:1-4) Just as John encourages us to believe, so must we encourage one another.

When the behemoth of fear stalks us, waits at the next corner, rides home with us in the back seat of the car, springs from under the bed . . . we must turn to Christ and to his colossal, freely-given love.

So let us perfect this love which God plants in each of us.  Let us revel in it.  Let us share it, speak of it, spend time with it.

And let us pray: Let us put fear aside.

When loved ones betray or disappoint us . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find the day too arduous and the night too long . . . Let us put fear aside.

When the behemoth springs from nowhere to instill us with foreboding . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we are anxious and tired and do not have the strength to summons the courage we so desperately seek . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we find ourselves separate from you . . . Let us put fear aside.

When we seek punishment instead of love . . . Let us put fear aside.

Amen. 

I there is time today, spend time with John’s letters, and let God’s awesome love chase away the behemoth of fear.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 7, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part IV

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Job’s friends believe that he is guilty of some crime against God; why else does he suffer so heavily? Job’s friends do not understand that God has taken a dare from Satan (Job 1), trusting that Job will remain faithful no matter the circumstances. Bildad does not recognize Job as an instrument in God’s plan; he cannot imagine that God calls to the potential place in Job at his conception . . . or that God calls on the potential placed in each of us to respond to God’s immense love in such a steadfast manner.

Reeds can’t grow where there is no water . . .

God says: Send down your roots into my Word each day with confidence.

Evil people sprout like weeds in the sun, like weeds that spread all through the garden. Their roots wrap around the stones and hold fast . . . But then pull them up—no one will ever know they were there . . .

God says: Place all your hope in the promise of my mercy.

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.

God says: My joy in you is endless and boundless.

Risen_LGThose who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.

God says: I have great plans for you. Plans for joy and not for woe. When evil visits you, remain in me. I am the only force that can bring about the miracle of your transformation. Take the dare that Satan hands to you by trusting me more than yourself. Follow me. Rest in me. Trust in me.  Remain in me. Take up the great dare that my love for you can bring about the impossible. 

When we spend time with these verses and reflect on varying translations, we begin to see the depths and breadth and height of God’s love for humanity. Use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore.

 

Read Full Post »


Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part III

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Job and his Friends

Job and his Friends

God’s trust in humanity is so enduring that the Creator takes the dare from Satan. How might we return this amazing trust? God the parent guides and protects us every waking moment and every sleeping hour. We need not eradicate all of the evil in the world; we need only keep our eyes on Christ and do as he asks; we need only open ourselves to the miracles of the Spirit and follow.

God’s hope in us is so strong that Christ returns for us. How might we learn from this strength? Christ reconciles and guides us. And so must we heal and shepherd others. We need only bloom where we are planted, reap the harvest that God has sown.

God’s love for us is so infinite that the Spirit resides eternally in us. How might we return this love? By tending to the marginalized, the broken-hearted and the bereft, by entering into transformation, and inviting others to join us.

In the marvelous story of Job, his friend Bildad cannot believe that Job suffers innocently. He cannot fathom why God allows misfortune to befall one of the ardent faithful. “Does God mess up?” he asks. “Does God Almighty ever get things backward?” He encourages Job not to hang his life from one thin thread, not to hitch his fate to a spider web. Bildad sees Job’s misfortune as punishment, and so might we if we do not read closely. After consideration we understand that Job suffers precisely because God trusts him, believes in him, and loves him. God restores all that Job loses and more, and this is a gesture that Satan cannot understand in his narrow, stingy world. God trusts that Job will not turn away in desperation or fatigue, and this is an attitude that Satan cannot countenance from his pathetic, narrow perspective. God allows Job to choose between hope and desperation, and this is a love that Satan cannot comprehend with his tragic, empty heart.

If God is so willing to take Satan’s dare, so willing to trust humanity with the enormity of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, might we then be willing to follow Jesus? Might we be willing to open ourselves fully to the Spirit?

Read Full Post »


Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part II

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Satan believes that he can tempt Job into doubting God’s abiding friendship. Job’s friends make conditions worse. Today we read a speech from Bildad who believes that Job has brought ruin upon himself; but this friend is not privy to Satan’s challenge and dare as we are.  Bildad operates from his own experience and from the information he has at hand; he believes that Job has sinned and that he suffers as a result.  There is no calculus in his mind for innocent suffering, and so here and in his second speech (Chapter 18) he encourages Job to confess and repent of his wrongdoing.  This is something Job cannot do, of course, for he has not sinned.  There is nothing to confess.  He suffers innocently.

Teresa of Ávila is correct.  Our intimate relationship with God is a challenging and arduous journey.  Rather than being a state of mind or condition, it is a process in which our hubris, fear, suspicion and independence are winnowed away until we are left with humility, obedience, trust and love.  When we meditate on the entire story of Job we are given the opportunity to examine our own journey with God and the quality of our faithfulness.  Do we cling to God because of favors that might be granted us?  Do we count God as a friend because we hope to receive certain blessings?  Is this a relationship in which we do for God only because God is the best bet, carries the greatest weight, wields the greatest force and is the generally accepted deity?  Or do we claim God as our own because God claims us?  Do we humble ourselves before God because we understand that we are creatures created from God’s love?  Do we hand ourselves over as objects of the dare – as Job does – because ultimately we trust God more than we trust ourselves?

If a friend approaches us in our misery and encourages us to fess up about something we have done when we have, in fact, done nothing to merit our pain: what is our response?  Do we enter into the dare?  Do we count on ourselves and our own resources?  Or do we count on God?

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.

Read Full Post »


Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part I

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

In the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE Reading Guide on the book of Job, we find the following proposition: Satan and God have a conversation one day in which Satan insinuates that Job is righteous because of the rewards that he enjoys from God’s hands.  He maintains that it is easy for Job to obey God when all is well and all things are right for him.  Satan further believes that once these gifts and this favor disappear, Job will desert God, he will show that he lacks integrity, and he will even arrive at cursing God.  “In a very real sense, the drama of this book stems from Satan’s challenge found in 1,9: ‘Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?’ . . . The reader should note that God takes the dare”.  (Senior RG 237)

As we follow Job’s trials, we later observe that “It is clear that Job had not been God fearing simply for the sake of blessing.  His afflictions did not diminish his devotion.  Even in adversity he maintained that all things are in God’s hands and God would render whatever God deemed fit . . . The content of Job’s laments and pleadings show that Job does not look for recompense; he wants vindication . . . It is apparent that the depth of Job’s piety is based on his relationship with God, not on some promise of reward.  We must remember that at this time Israelites did not have a clear idea of reward or punishment in an afterlife, as Christian theology teaches.  If justice was not meted out in this life, they had no hope at all of retribution.  This makes Job’s disinterested piety even more admirable.  It also serves to challenge our own fidelity.  Job’s faithfulness can also be an encouragement to us . . . Job is not blindly docile in his suffering.  Nor is he afraid to complain to God in his frustration . . . He does not really argue with God because he is suffering, but because he sees a conflict between his unwanted suffering and his faith in the justice of God . . . Devout people certainly have their differences with God.  We are reminded of the great Teresa of Ávila, who in frustration complained to God, “No wonder you have so few friends”.  (Senior RG 238)

Tomorrow, Job’s friends.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 237-238. Print. 

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.  

Read Full Post »


John 13:21-38: Betrayal in Jerusalem

Holy Tuesday, March 22, 2016judas

One of you is going to betray me . . . [And] as soon as the bread was in Judas’ hand, Satan entered him.

We have become too familiar with the story of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus the Christ. Today we focus on small details as we read various translations, watching Jesus as he firmly, boldly, patiently and even gently steps into the betrayal he knows awaits him.

What you must do, says Jesus, do. Do it and get it over with.

A crust of bread dipped in wine.

Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

Thirty pieces of silver. The Potter’s Field. Murder Meadow.

Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’

The prophet Jeremiah’s words fulfilled to the letter.

“Master,” says Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!”

Gerard van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

Gerard van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

Denial in the courtyard.

“Really?” Jesus replies.  “You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times”.

The faithful disciples scattering in terror, gathering in hope.

Today we reflect on heroes, heroines, fidelity and betrayal and how Jesus, Judas and Peter bring us the message of the Gospel. For a video message from musician Matt Maher that reflects on the role of Judas in God’s plan, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnibI0Vac0w

Matthew 26 & Matthew 27 tell the story of Peter’s denial and Judas’ end. If there is time today, we reflect on these verses using the scripture links.

For more reflections on betrayal, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

Read Full Post »


Luke 11:14-23: Devil Mud

Thursday, March 3, 2016pharisees (1)

If we have heard or read this story a number of times, it is likely that we know only one or two translations. Today we look at THE MESSAGE version as we reflect on our relationship with God . . . and our understanding of how Satan comes stealthily into our lives.

Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists?

Those who are jealous of Jesus’ power are eager to claim that his authority comes from darkness. In our Lenten pilgrimage we might consider our own reaction to others’ good news.

But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.

Those who cannot understand the depth and beauty of Jesus’ transformative love want to credit themselves with for their success and blame others for their failures. The concept of God’s kingdom of love where love and forgiveness are powerful runs counter to their thinking of justified revenge and just wars.

When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.

Those who believe that our world justifies an escalation of power find comfort in their belief that God blesses the good and condemns the bad.

This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.

Jesus’ words bring us the news that our dualistic thinking of good/bad, strong/weak, right/wrong is not the way of the kingdom but an illusion of the world. Jesus tells us clearly that the evil we throw at others comes back to live with us. And Jesus reminds us that when we chose to disbelieve his assertion that God’s world is nothing but love . . . we will want to reconsider our thinking . . . and the devil mud that we are tempted to throw.

When we compare other translations of Jesus’ words, their meaning takes on new light. And as we reflect on our concept of Satan, let us remember our Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, the greatest commandment.

 

Read Full Post »

Luke 4:1-13: Tested


Luke 4:1-13: Tested

Temptations_of_Christ_(San_Marco)

Temptations of Christ – St. Mark Church in Venice, Italy

The First Sunday of Lent, February 14, 2016

After spending forty days and nights in the desert fasting and praying, Jesus resists the temptation to succumb to hunger.

Jesus says: It takes more than bread to really live. We remember . . . Jesus is the bread of life.

After spending forty days and nights in the cold alone, Jesus resists the temptation to wield full and absolute power.

Jesus says: Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve God with absolute single-heartedness. We remember . . . Jesus is Lord of all.

After spending forty days and nights aligning himself with God, Jesus resists the temptation to use God’s power in selfish ways.

Jesus says: Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God. We remember . . . Jesus is love itself.

When we spend time with The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/, we examine the places, times and attitudes when we are most vulnerable to temptation. Then we begin another Lenten practice: Rather than thinking: “I am misunderstood,” let us think instead, “God is so understanding”.

Tomorrow, sheep and goats.

 

Read Full Post »


Mark 1:3The Voice

John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness is often drowned out by the din of the world that clamors for its own comfort and pleasure.  Prophets and martyrs are derided and put aside, punished and even murdered because of their fidelity to the voice that speaks to them in the inmost heart.  Those who hear and respond to that voice in the wilderness are more often ridiculed than praised and more often silenced than thanked.  This is the struggle we experience daily.  How do we sort out the inner messages that tug at us?

Those who refuse to kowtow, who insist on speaking truth, and who ask tough questions also expect justice and mercy to overcome deception and evil.  John the Baptist was one of these clear-throated voices that pierced through the cacophony of the moment to burn so brightly that we remember him still today.  Most of us do not expect to live in such a momentous way . . . but our more quiet lives are no less important.

Satan Tempting Jesus

Satan Tempting Jesus

Matthew 4:8-10 is part of the Morning Prayer in MAGNIFICAT today and it tells the story of the conversation between Satan and Jesus at the moment when Christ begins his ministry.  In the meditation today entitled The Heart of True Wisdom, Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart.  (a spiritual writer of the last century) tells us that when we hear the voice of darkness whispering in our ear, we will know how to react according to the measure of our love for God.  What is difficult here is to know whether the voice we hear speaks from good or from evil.  This is our constant struggle; yet we will know that the source is goodness when we hear it calling us to right wrongs against those among us who are the weakest.  We will know that the source is darkness when it encourages us to seek self-pleasure and comfort at the expense of the marginalized and forgotten.

hearing god's voiceIn the end, we act according to our understanding of the voice we hear and tend to best; even our most quiet activities are a demonstration of what we believe and what god or gods we worship.  So this is perhaps what we must say to ourselves – just as Jesus does: The Lord my God I shall worship.  Him alone will I serve. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.9 (2009). Print.  

A Favorite from September 16, 2009.

Tomorrow, Jesus and his family. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: