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Posts Tagged ‘Satan’


Sunday, July 12, 2020

article-new_ehow_images_a07_uf_pj_different-types-angels-bible-800x800[1]Job 1:6

Angels

One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them. 

We know the sons of God as angels who minister to God and act as messengers.  The fallen angels are those who, because of their pride, have turned away from God’s goodness.  The leader of these demons is Satan and we see in this accounting from Job that he slides into God’s presence under cover of his enlightened brothers.  We must always be on the lookout for Satan when things are going well . . . he uses the cover of the presence of the faithful to gain access to God.

God says: I know that Satan prowls the earth looking for ways to slide into your hearts but do not fear.  You have only to keep your eye on me, and your hand and your heart in mine.  All that is required is that you follow me.  My angels deliver messages, they watch over and guard you, they protect and defend you, they worship and sing praises.  I have named each of them as I have named you.  They have free will, just as you do, to turn toward or away from me.  They are my special creatures but even with their great beauty and expertise . . . they are not as precious to me as are you. For you are my own wonderful children. You are made in my image.  I see myself in each of you.  You are mine.

We may have difficulty understanding how God moves in our lives when there are billions of us to tend to.  Understanding how angels act on God’s behalf, when they appear in human lives, and why they are important, we may want to visit: https://catholicstraightanswers.com/what-are-angels/ or http://www.catholic.org/saints/angels/ or enter the word angel in the blog search bar and explore the world of these special beings.


Image from: http://www.ehow.com/info_8339251_different-types-angels-bible.html

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Monday, February 17, 2013

Baruch 6Little Gods 

Worshiping the Golden Calf

Nicolas Pouisson: The Adoration of the Golden Calf

Baruch, the prophet Jeremiah’s faithful secretary, paints a clear contrast for us between false, little gods and the one, true and living God; he leaves us with no doubt that pagan deities are nothing more than air while God is good and God is great.  As useless as one’s broken tools are their gods, set up in their houses; their eyes are full of dust from those who enter.  If we take time today we might discover where we have placed our little gods whom we tend to night and day.  And we might also consider how and when and why we tend to our relationship with the Living God . . . and all that our God has done for us even during those times when we allow ourselves to be lured away.

They are wooden, gilded and silvered; they will later be known for frauds.  To all peoples and to all kings it will be clear that they are not gods, but human handiwork; and that God’s work is not in them.  Yet we slide into easy comfort as we worship fashions that ebb and flow, sports figures who bring home temporary trophies, and television or Hollywood personalities who sap our time and energy by drawing us in to their tragedies and triumphs.

Despite the gold that covers them for adornment, unless someone wipes away the corrosion, they do not shine; nor did they feel anything when they were molded. 

The petty gods of our addictions, the small, little gods of our vain ambitions, the trivial gods of our toxic relationships hold sway over us as we tend to them more than we tend to the people in our lives.

If they fall to the ground the worshipers must raise them up.  They neither move of themselves if one sets them upright, nor come upright if they fall; but one puts gifts beside them as beside the dead.

These tiny and silly gods must be cared for by those in the household or they wither and decay.  They do not give life, they do not revive the dead, and they do not encourage the living.

How then can one not know that these are no-gods, which do not save themselves either from war or disaster?

Why do we allow these trifling and senseless gods into our lives?  Why do we tend to these meaningless gods who must be served and cosseted?  They do not save, they do not rescue, and they do not transform.

The Gospel reading on this First Sunday in the Lenten season retells the story of Satan’s attempt to lure Jesus to himself and way from God.  We watch Jesus deftly manage the skilled arguments by resting in the knowing that God is all and that God alone is enough.  Why can we not rest in this same knowledge?

Jesus is tired and hungry from his fast in the desert and Satan believes him an easy target, but in the end Jesus relies on God alone.  Why cannot we rely on this one true source of life?

Even after Jesus dispatches Satan we read: When the devil had finished every temptation, departed from him for a time.  We must keep watch against these little daily assaults.  We must check in constantly with God who redeems and saves.

And so we pray . . .

Good and generous God, keep our hands away from our broken and useless tools and hold us in your own steady hands. Help us to see beneath the gilding and artifice to the emptiness inside our little gods.  Guide us in seeing that our futile gods cause us too much work and too much anguish.  Call us to see that you serve us more than we can ever serve you. Continue to keep us from the dark world of wars and disaster.  And keep us always in your light. Amen. 


Adapted from a post written on February 17, 2013.

The Book of Baruch was written during the Maccabean era and for this reason is not always included in all versions of the Bible and some versions, while they do contain the letter of Jeremiah’s secretary, do not include the last chapter. Click on the scripture link above to explore this marvelous closing to Baruch’s letter. For more on Baruchvisit: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2006604 

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

To read more about Matthew’s story of Satan and Jesus, see The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

To read a reflection on Luke’s version of this story, see The Test post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/03/the-test/

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

John 13:21-30: Betrayal

Caravaggio: Taking of Christ in the Garden

Caravaggio: Taking of Christ in the Garden

Often during our Noontimes we have explored the theme of infidelity and the effects it has upon our intimate relationships and our collective experience as a people of God.  We have spent time thinking about how an act of betrayal never has a single secret effect.  We have prayed for those who deceive and harm us.  We have pondered how to handle an act of betrayal when it slices through our lives.  Today we see God himself allow each of us to make a choice for freedom and life or slavery and death.  Judas has become a slave to an idea which leaves his soul open to darkness.  Jesus allows him to proceed along the path he has chosen: What you are going to do, do quickly.  Yesterday we reflected on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  Today we explore John 13 more closely.

Today’s citation comes from the portion of John’s Gospel often called The Book of Glory; Chapters 13 to 20 tell the story of the passion, death and transformation of Jesus.  Here he has just delivered his discourse on the relationship he has with the Father – one of deepest intimacy.  And he has just told his followers – his followers of that evening and his followers today – that the same intimacy is open to each of us, that God yearns to hold us and to possess us more than anything we can imagine from our human experience.  Yet this citation begins with: Jesus was deeply troubled . . .

Able to read our inmost thoughts, Jesus understands that Judas is disappointed, disgruntled, and about to act on his envy and anger.  Judas Iscariot, despite so much time spent with the Master, is unable to enter into this intimacy offered.  And so he strikes at that which he cannot experience.

Jesus dipped a morsel and handed it to Judas . . . extending an ultimate invitation . . . knowing that it and he will be rejected; for after Judas took the morsel . . . Satan entered him. 

Who and what are Satan?  I believe that this force of negativity cleverly appeals to the narcissistic child in each of us; and I believe that it is present always.  Only through our fidelity to God and the light . . . do we evade that which relishes the night.  The risen Christ offers this invitation to unity constantly.  How do we respond?

Jesus shares a last meal with a man who believes that he operates in secret and who has likely convinced himself that his actions are for some greater good.  Judas’ actions will set a course of events into motion which cannot be recalled.  The calculus has been set much earlier than this through a series of moments of discontent, of wounded pride, of self-importance.  Judas resists the call to goodness and falls to the darkness.

So he took the morsel and left at once.  And it was night.

In an understatement of fact, the writer John tells us all we need to know about betrayal and the evil on which it feeds.  Envy, willfulness, desire for control of self and others, attendance to our own needs at the expense of others . . . these are signs that lead only to darkness.  And it was night.  Goodness, mercy, kindness, gentleness, prudence, courage, openness, perseverance . . . these are the signs that lead to light and life.

Heavenly Father, keep us always open to Christ, your Word among us.  Count us among your faithful.  Create in us a spirit that will always recognize you and welcome you . . . even in the most surprising places and unexpected people. 

Today we receive you; we receive your word.  Keep us ever mindful of your love for us.  Call us always to the light that is you.  Amen.


Written on January 27, 2009.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_taking.html

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Luke 4:1-13The Test

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Tissot: Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

As we begin a new year, let us prepare ourselves to be tested as Christ’s followers . . . and let us watch the Master as he interacts with Satan.  This reflection was written in January 2010 and is posted today as a Favorite . . .

Today we watch as Satan tests Jesus, hoping to tempt him into succumbing to his control.  We hear Jesus remind Satan that he cannot test God.  Even after his failure, Satan departed from him until an opportune time.  The devil never gives up . . . nor does God.

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians (10:9), reminds us of this again.  In 2 Corinthians (2:9) he encourages us to be stalwart so that we might withstand our own test and temptation.  In 8:8 and 13:5 he recommends that we test our own spirit to see where it needs bolstering.  In Galatians 6:4 he again suggests that we test ourselves.  To the Thessalonians he says: Test everything.  Hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

St. James (1:12) lauds the holy one who can withstand the test. 

St. John in 4:1 of his first letter writes that we are to test false prophets and stray spirits to examine the origin and veracity of their authority.

Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:16 when he reminds the devil that we are to refrain from testing God.  We are to obey the commandments, to do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord.  In the Old Testament, this clinging to commandments and laws brought God’s protection and defense.  In the New Testament we realize that we are graced with God’s protection as a birthright; we receive uncounted blessings each day . . . even in the midst of suffering.

All of this testing of self and this refusal to test God takes a great deal of effort, and by the end of each day we may be fatigued from holding firm and maintaining our own appropriate behavior.  Spiritual exhaustion may accompany a life of trust in God, patience with his creatures, and perseverance in living a life of charity.  It is for this reason that we must refill the well and give ourselves permission to rejuvenate the spirit.  Perhaps when our nerves are frayed we ought to take this as a sign that we need to retreat from life for a bit.

When Jesus is tempted by Satan, he replies: One does not live by bread alone; worship the Lord your God and serve him only; and do not put the Lord your God to the test.

When we feel ready to explode, about to fall apart, or are just plain exhausted, we might repeat these words to ourselves and follow them with . . . if this is a test, dear Lord, give me the grace, the peace and the will to follow you, to know that you will convert all harm to good, and to know that we need trust only you. 

In this way, we may pass each test that comes our way.  


A we move through the opening days of a new year, we re-post this reflection from January 3, 2012. 

Image from: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4453/Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_J%C3%A9sus_tent%C3%A9_dans_le_d%C3%A9sert 

For more images of Jesus from the Brooklyn Museum, click on the image above or follow this link: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4453/Jesus_Tempted_in_the_Wilderness_J%C3%A9sus_tent%C3%A9_dans_le_d%C3%A9sert

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Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty – Part V

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jean Fouquet: Job and His False Comforters

I once heard a homily on Job 1:6 in which we discover that Satan/Lucifer has to “cover himself” with light.  He sneaks into the midst of the holy people in order to be in God’s presence. Yet, God sees him there and asks him where he has been and what he has been doing. Satan replies that he has been on earth, roaming and patrolling.  The homilist pointed out that we, God’s adopted children, can come freely into God’s presence but that Lucifer, also known as the Morning Star, has to sneak in when the holy people enter. In other words, the homilist tells us, Satan is going to hang out with people who are clearly doing God’s work and who have free and ample access to the Lord.

Satan brings woes upon Job and for a while, Job is stunned because he does not understand this punishment. His wife tells him to curse God and die; his friends advise him to confess his wrongdoing so that the evil will leave him. Still puzzled, Job feels alone, and these beautiful words in 23:10 describe how we might also feel as we struggle with unwarranted suffering. “I would learn the words with which [God] would answer and understand what [God] would reply to me . . . yet [God] knows my way; if [God] proved me I would come forth gold.”

Still, Satan does not give up and he tries to dupe Job into cursing God. Job thinks that he is no longer in God’s presence; but God has never left him, just as God never abandons us. Satan, in his arrogance and conceit, finally leaves Job alone and goes off to bother someone else. Job continues to worship God from his lonely place, and he continues to make the case with his friends that he is innocent – which he is.

Job is finally rewarded for his argument with the Almighty when God speaks. And like Jesus, The Word Among Us, God replies to our cry for help with questions rather than answers. Where you there when I created the earth? Are you going to be my critic?”  We might think this a cruel response to one in deep pain; but on reflection, we see God’s goodness. It is impossible for Job – or for us – to comprehend creation’s enormous plan. It is alarming for Job – or for us – to see the enormity of our complex universe. It is a colossal challenge for Job – or for us – to react to evil as God does, with an open, forgiving heart.

When we argue with the Almighty as Job does, we – like Job – will want to reply to our living God, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered.” (42:2) God rewards Job – and us – mightily for being the good and faithful servant who asks questions and argues from a clean heart. With this reward comes fresh hope, new wisdom, and the courage to come forth gold. This a story we will want to ponder, a story we will want to share, a story we will want to argue once again with the Almighty. 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 6, 2007.

For another reflection on Job 1

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Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty – Part II

Friday, February 2, 2018

Ilya Repin: Job and his Friends

When God seems distant to us we might pick up Job’s story, with its human drama of innocent suffering, to see how and where we fit into the tale.  Are we the wife who urges her husband to curse God and die (2:9)? Are we the friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar who insist that Job repent for some nameless sin even as Job proclaims his innocence, saying that he knows not what he did to incur God’s wrath?  Do we act as the Satan does in the opening chapters, do we roam the earth looking for mischief to create?  How do we see God?  As a sarcastic tyrant or as a faithful creator who only has our good in mind?  How do we react when we feel estranged from God?  With petulance, or like Job who admits at last that God is great and that God is good?  Do we, like Job, finally put our worries aside knowing that God will handle them?  Do we intercede when asked, as Job does, for the very friends who tried to lead us astray?  Do we rely on God or on ourselves?  Do we spend sleepless nights worrying about our own guilt and innocence, or do we move on to pick up the threads of a broken life as best we can?  What do we do?  How do we pray?  Where do we turn for help?

In today’s reading Job agrees to put his hand over his mouth so that he might finally listen to Yahweh, and he does this after having made a full and cogent argument to his maker.  If we follow Job’s example, we understand that we are meant to wrestle with God.  We are created to think, reflect and re-think.  We are created to know God and to serve God; and to do this well we must ask questions.  These questions are followed by enigmatic answers from God that we struggle to understand and, at first glance, we see as unsatisfactory. Later, when we practice persistence and fidelity, we begin to understand God’s message. Therefore, as we put our questions to God, we must also remain patient and authentic. For it is with waiting and honesty that we acquire wisdom, a full and nourishing wisdom that comes through lengthy days of listening, reflecting and praying.

Tomorrow, God abides.

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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.

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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.

 

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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?

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