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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’


Judges 11 and 12: Shibboleth

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Crack (Shibboleth): Doris Salcedo - The Tate Modern, London

The Crack (Shibboleth): Doris Salcedo – The Tate Modern, London, UK

From WIKIPEDIA: “In numerous cases of conflict between groups speaking different languages or dialects, one side used shibboleths . . . to discover hiding members of the opposing group . . . Today, in the English language, a shibboleth also has a wider meaning, referring to any ‘in-crowd’ word or phrase that can be used to distinguish members of a group from outsiders – even when not used by a hostile other group”.

As we read today’s Noontime, we see how the early tribes of Israel struggled to retain autonomy; we also see that they lived in a world which required people to evaluate loyalty. Their daily survival depended on this.

In our own world, we will use our own shibboleths ­ – either consciously or unconsciously – and when we do, what are the results?  Do we find ourselves closer to God or more distant?  Are we moving toward serenity and union with God, or away from the eternal peace brought by Jesus?  Do our shibboleths introduce us to the freedom bought by Christ or do they sell us out to an imprisonment which stifles us?

The story of the chieftain Jephthah reads like the script of a television drama – full of twists, promises, ironies and secret shibbolethsLoyalties are tested, wars are waged, outcomes are weighed; yet in the end it is the spirit of the Lord that prevails.  Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord and loses his beloved daughter Mizpah; he also conquers nations in the name of his God.  Much of this is difficult to understand; most of it is hard to take; all of it is – in some way or other – the way we live today.

Children peering into the shibboleth at the Tate Modern in London

Children peering into the shibboleth at the Tate Modern in London

As we move through our own cycle of coming and going, let us examine the vows we swear, the skirmishes in which we engage, and our manner of waiting on the spirit of the Lord.  And when we begin to winnow the valid from the false in order to survive, let us examine the shibboleths we choose.

A Favorite from Friday, February 12, 2010.

 As we move toward spring with the call for atonement, the promise of redemption, and a time of inner reflection, we have another opportunity to explore God’s yardstick in our lives, and to put aside the false shibboleths that mislead us.


Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibboleth_%28artwork%29 and https://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2014/05/shibboleth.html

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Proverbs 9:1-6: God’s Yardstick – Wisdom

Wisdom’s Feast

Jan Vermeyen: The Marriage Feast at Cana

Mary urges Jesus to step into his ministry.  Jan Vermeyen: The Marriage Feast at Cana

Sunday, January 15, 2023

In these opening weeks of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. We conclude our look at women today with a reflection on wisdom described as a woman who invites all to her feast. When we take time to consider the portraits of the special women we have seen over the past two weeks, we understand how their lives can serve as tangible yardsticks for us to use today. 

Anselm Feuerbah: Miriam The Prophetess waited along the banks of the Nile until her brother Moses was pulled from the reeds by Pharaoh's daughter.

Moses’ sister waits along the banks of the Nile until her baby brother is pulled from the reeds by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Anselm Feuerbah: Miriam

We pause to consider the spaces we inhabit at home, at work, at prayer and at play. Are  they sacred, serene dwellings that invite others to enter? Do these places bring us peace?

Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home;
    it’s supported by seven hewn timbers.
The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted,
    wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers.

Naomi shares wisdom with her daughter-in-law Ruth. Togther they find stability a nd peace.

Naomi shares wisdom with her daughter-in-law Ruth.

We pause to consider what we do with the peace we find. Do we hold it closely to ourselves? Do we share it with others?

Having dismissed her serving maids,

Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, 

and invites everyone within sound of her voice: “Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on?

We pause to consider how our serenity becomes evident to the world. Does it nurture us and others in our struggle to live the Beatitudes? Does it sustain us as we move into a world that measures with a yardstick that is often far different from God’s?

Judith acts to save her people.

Judith relies on the trust engendered by her long and faithful relationship with God, and acts to save her people.

“Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me!
I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread,
    roast lamb, carefully selected wines.
Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
    Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

We pause to consider how the world reacts to Lady Wisdom. Do we give in to the pressures of the world, or do we move forward in our journey with God despite the obstacles?

We find strength in the gentle yet persistent heart of Lady Wisdom.


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

Images from: http://www.jesus-story.net/cana_wedding.htm and http://claudemariottini.com/2013/11/15/miriam-the-prophetess-2/

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James 5:7-11: Patience – Part II

Friday, October 28, 2022

Jesus gives us parables like these to better understand how patience acts in an unjust world.

The Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

God’s patience is seen through the way in which God persists in loving us even when we turn from away.  God wishes for each and all of us to be saved and to come to understand truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)  God is forbearing toward us and does not want us to perish.  (2 Peter 3:9 and Matthew 18:14)  We are to love one another even as God has loved us. (John 13:34, 1 John 3:4; and Luke 10:25-37)  (See CCC 2822)

Imagine the life we might lead if we were patient with one another as God is patient with us.

Imagine the world we might have if we might love one another as God loves us.

Indeed we are blessed who have persevered.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord . . . See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You too must be patient.  Make your hearts firm [and] do not complain. 

Red Heart BibleHumility, gentleness, understanding, persistence and seeking – these are the tools we employ to gain patience.  This is way to God’s loving heart.  This is the path to a serenity which conquers all anxiety.

Tomorrow, a prayer for patience. 


CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 2nd ed. Vatican: Libreria Editice Vaticana.  Print.

A Favorite from January 9, 2010.

For ideas about how to learn patience, click on the first image or visit: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/how-practice-patience-and-why-impatience-ruining-your-life.html 

Heart image from: http://www.wheatonbible.org/blogarchive.aspx?blog_id=258999&site_id=10713&tag=Hearts

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IV

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Perhaps the reason we do not find serenity is that we do not ask for restoration. Today St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that reunion with God is only a petition away. He is a follower of Christ because he answered God’s invitation to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find peace is that we do not ask for strength.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find solace is that we do not ask forgiveness.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience love is that we have not shown mercy.

I have been mercifully treated . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience transformation is that we do not believe in restoration.

The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ . . .

Today we spend time with the opening chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and we ponder what our lives might be like if and when we seek strength, forgiveness and mercy. We reflect on the possibility of new life rising from the arid bones of our sorrow.

Tomorrow, finding faith . . . 


Use the scripture link to explore varying editions of 1 Timothy 1.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-significance-of-the-valley-of-dry-bones-in-ezekiel.html

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Acts 2:1-11: Pentecostpentecost

June 5, 2022

All through Eastertide we have reflected on the gifts and treasures God so generously bestows on us. We have considered our role in God’s great plan. And we have remembered Jesus’ actions and words as he worked to build God’s kingdom on earth among God’s children. Today spend time with these verses and look for their impact in your own life.

When the time was fulfilled . . . frequently we hear these words in scripture. When we take these words in we understand that God’s work comes about in God’s time and space, and not ours.

They were all in one place . . . a number of times we hear God’s call to unity in the Spirit. When we come together in Jesus’ name our prayers are answered even though we might not believe this truth to be so.

The Spirit enabled them to proclaim . . . through both Old and New Testaments we are often told that the Spirit will tell us which way to walk, that a voice will speak to us to give us the words we will need to speak in God’s time and in God’s plan. When we relax into this knowledge we find new peace, a new skin, a new heart.

They were confused . . . so often in the Bible stories we read we understand that even those who are intimately involved with God are confused by the plan that lies before them. When we rest in the knowledge that God has nothing but our joy in mind, we can trust the Spirit to show us which path to take in labyrinth of life.

They were astounded and in amazement . . . repeatedly we hear this news in both Old and New Testaments that we humans are astonished at the depth and breadth and height of God’s goodness and love. When we allow ourselves to believe this good news, we find new peace, new life and new serenity.

We hear them speaking . . . we are constantly barraged by so many words and so many images. Today we open our hearts to the Spirit and focus on one or two of these phrases or words. Today we allow God to speak through us. Today we celebrate the enormous gift and presence of the Spirit in our lives. Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.


mainslide-pentecostUse the scripture link and the drop-down menus to spend time with these Pentecost verses today . . . imagine the world we might create . . . let go of all small and petty plans . . . prepare to be amazed by God’s goodness . . . to be wrapped in Christ’s love . . . to be healed by the Spirit’s power to restore. Let us go out to all the nations in Christ so that all will hear us as if we were speaking in their own tongues . . . for it is in this way that we encounter the gentle compassion and eternal strength of Christ.

Images from: https://stephenlbaxter.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/celebrating-hope-at-pentecost/ and http://www.westburyumc.org/pentecost-sunday-2013

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fortitudeThursday, December 16, 2021

Joy and Sirach 1

Fortitude

Moving into a wisdom book written by Jesus ben Sirach, we find more words that surprise us with joy. If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today we consider the great joy that is found in Wisdom’s fortitude.

Yesterday we considered Wisdom’s companions of prudence, moderation, righteousness and fortitude. These qualities bring us more than serenity; they offer us a pathway to discipleship in Christ. They offer us immortal life.

Verse 1:12: Fear of the Lord rejoices the heart, giving gladness, joy, and long life.

joyGod says: Fear of the Lord” is really about your love for me. I do not want you to tremble in fear of punishment; rather, I want you to tremble in great joy and anticipation of spending time with me. I want you to stand in awe of my great love for you. Do you know how much happiness you bring to me? Do you understand that I spend every moment of eternity waiting for you, calling to you, rescuing you, restoring you? Do you believe that I am everywhere at all times lifting you, healing you, transforming you? When you practice prudence and moderation you will feel my presence. When you humble yourself in righteousness you will know my wisdom. When you persist with my fortitude you will be my wisdom. Come, live in me today . . . and share my goodness with others. 

Choose more of these verses and reflect on them, considering how often you invite Wisdom into your heart and home. Compare the different versions of Sirach 1 at the scripture link above and reflect on Jesus Ben Sirach’s words.


Image from: http://conversationrevolution.com/2014/03/this-weeks-word-is-fortitude/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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proverbs 12-20Monday, December 6, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Deceit

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, 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. Today we find joy even in deceit.

Each of us has experienced a time when joy has been difficult to find. It is sometimes difficult to imagine that the wickedness and deceit we see around us will ever dissipate; peace and serenity seem powerless against the forces of corruption and treachery. Betrayal, envy, slander, gossip, plots against the innocent and vulnerable, schemes against the marginalized and voiceless seem far more powerful than the power of humility, serenity and peace. But then we might be thinking that we must generate goodness from our own resources . . . and we will have forgotten that God alone can penetrate stony hearts, Christ alone is the path to resurrection, the Spirit alone abides through hate and calumny and fear

Verse 10:28: The hope of the just brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.

joyGod says: What is the justice I ask you to bring to the world? Is it a gargantuan task that saps every bit of energy you possess? Is it a complex plot with an infinite number of people and parts? No . . . the justice I ask you to bring is you witnessing. Stand with the marginalized and the innocent. The justice I ask you to enact is your voice. Speak when the Spirit asks you to speak. The justice I ask you to nurture is your outrageous hope that all things are possible in and through me for the hope of the just brings joy.

Verse 12:20: Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but those who counsel peace have joy.

God says: When you experience every kind of deceit, you need not hide or cower in the shadows. Step into the light of my goodness and live as you know you are called to live. When plots unfold before you, allow my peace to fill you. When schemes unravel around you, allow my serenity to guide you. When intrigue and conspiracy reign, step into my quiet stillness and know that I am with you. In this way you will experience joy . . . even in the cruelest of circumstances.

During this second week in Advent we will continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts. Tomorrow, God’s joy is present even in the midst of evil.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/345088390170692266/

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Holy Tuesday, March 30, 2021

200px-Prophet_Amos_002Amos 7

God’s Servants

Through a series of visions Amos leads us to his central message: we must respond to God’s call to correct the social injustice we see around us. In Chapter 7 we see the core of Amos’ message through a series of visions but it is perhaps his personality that moves us more than the images he describes. Amos displays characteristics we see in Jesus, and these are the same tools we must nurture so that we might be faithful servants of God’s Word: frankness, brevity, an insistence to stay “on message” despite the chastisement and threats received from a corrupt civil, social or religious structure.

Amos refuses to hire himself out, as other prophets do. He resists the urge to say more than Yahweh has told him. He speaks, takes no credit or blame, remains faithful and tenacious, then stands down when his work of prophecy is complete, returning to the productive life he had lived before he stepped into history.

We are each called to be Amos. We are each called to speak in witness to what we know to be truth and light. We each live in the providential care of God. We each have the power of speech and spirit. We each must intercede for our family, friends and enemies – just as Amos does. And then we may return to our work, living the Gospel we know to be true until we are called again by God.

Life lived in this manner becomes less complicated, less frightening, more fulfilling, and more peaceful. Life lived in this manner – even in the midst of painful abuse and dire extremes – is seen as beautiful and serene. Life lived as Amos shows us is life in its proper alignment – we become good and faithful servants doing the work of God. As humble and honest workers, we demonstrate our understanding that God is in charge, that God’s plan will not be thwarted, that God can be trusted to turn all acts of malicious damage into acts of saving love.

This then is the lesson of Amos: Speak when we know we must, listen for the Word always, step forward when called and back when the time for speaking has ended. Act always in God and through God. Remain always God’s willing servant who brings a full and open heart to each day. Trust God . . . and stay out of God’s way. 


Tomorrow, a Prayer for Faithful Servants.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2008.

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Thursday, February 18, 2014

desert in bloomJoel 2:18-27

Blessings for God’s People

I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten . . . you shall praise the name of the Lord because God has dealt wondrously with you . . .

When we experience loss we believe that our work has been in vain; yet God says: There is nothing lost that cannot be found. Nothing spent that cannot be restored. Nothing ruined that cannot be rebuilt. I am the great restorer. It is not true that the work you have given to me as a kingdom-builder can really be destroyed. Nothing done by you in my name is ever erased, and I can call it to life in an instant so do not panic. Do not be afraid. I see a vast and complicated plan which you cannot perceive or understand. When you are troubled about how this plan appears to be ineffective or ridiculous, remember to bring those fears and anxieties to me. And when you find yourself feeling as though you are alone with nothing and no one to sustain you . . . remember that I am with you always.  Even in the most brutal and hostile of deserts.

After his baptism, the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

When we experience our own desert times we too feel surrounded by evil beasts; yet we are accompanied by angels who minister to us. When we ask God to bring us patience, humility and serenity these gifts will arrive on angels’ wing.  hen will the desert begin to bloom in an extraordinary way; and then will we find that for long, dry days and dark, cold nights we have been sustained by the mystery and miracle of God’s love.

Tomorrow, Blessings In the Desert.


Image from: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2005/05/desert_flowers_.html

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