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Posts Tagged ‘serenity’


Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

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

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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Philippians 2:1-11: Unity and Humility

Friday, December 13, 2019

Complete my joy by being of the same mind . . .

If Christ – who is God – can humble himself in order to bring about good, cannot we humble ourselves, and can we not obey God’s call to us?  And what miracles might we experience once we do?

In Chapter 14 of Acts we read an account of how Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for pagan gods when they are able to cure a crippled man.  When this gift of healing which God gives them is made known, “some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered round him, he got up and entered the city”.  Even a stoning and apparent death do not stop Paul.  He is of the same mind as Christ.

As we spend time reflecting on Paul’s words and his actions, we have the opportunity to gauge our own humility before God, and our own desire for unity with Christ no matter the cost.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Psalm 116:12 – How can I repay the Lord for God’s goodness to me? 

The attitude of thankfulness is central to Christian spirituality.  The debt of gratitude we owe for God’s faithful love can be repaid only in a two-sided coin: turning to God in thanksgiving and doing for others what has been done for us.  (Mini-reflection)

Be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  (Colossians 3:15-17)

The Christology expressed here is paramount to our understanding of who Christ is and how we might expect ourselves to be in him as he is in us.  At the root of his divinity is his readiness to humble himself and to obey God . . . even to the point of death.  Are we willing to be of the same mind as Christ?

Notes tell us that the hymn Paul cites in likely one that was sung by the early Christians; and we can understand how this song may have served to inspire the fledgling church as she struggled to survive.  We too, might use these words when we find ourselves floundering.  He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave . . . he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

When we are humble enough . . . and when we obey enough . . . then we can say we are in unity with Christ.  And when we can say this, we will be in that spot where serenity overcomes anxiety, and where love overcomes fear.


A re-post from USA Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.10 (2010). Print.  

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Luke 10:1-24: Serpents and Scorpions

Sunday, October 27, 2019

In the past few days at daily Mass we have been reading from the tenth Chapter of Luke’s Gospel; we have witnessed the sending forth of disciples by Jesus, and we have heard his words of counsel to these followers of The Way.  These words are not only for those who accompanied Christ in his journey; they are words for Christ’s twenty-first century followers.  They are words for us.

“I rely on you,” Jesus says to them . . . and to us: The harvest is abundant but the workers are few . . .

“The work will be dangerous,” Jesus tells them . . . and us: I am sending you like lambs among wolves . . .

“My followers must rely on the message of freedom and hope that I have given them to carry into the world,” Jesus reminds them . . . and us:  Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals . . .

“You must not be deterred,” he says . . . and neither must we: Greet no one along the way . . .

“It is imperative to always operate from a perspective of peace,” Jesus reminds them . . . and us: Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household”.

“You are to remain focused on your work,” he says to them . . . and to us: Do not move around from one house to another . . .

“You will not be able to convert all who hear the message of salvation which you carry,” . . . and neither will we: Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, “The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shale off against you”.

Jesus warns his followers, “The rejection you will surely experience is your badge of honor,” . . . and it is to be ours: Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

Jesus tells them, “You carry the Living Word with you” . . . and Jesus tells us: Whoever listens to you listens to me.

Jesus reminds his disciples, “I will protect you as you move about in this most dangerous of worlds,” . . . and Jesus also reminds us: Behold I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.

We humans worry about our physical safety more than we do our spiritual welfare.  We have this backwards.

We creatures of God spend great amounts of time and talent and energy amassing power and wealth rather than storing up treasures that are impervious to rot and decay.  We have this upside down.

We children of God turn to false, exterior gods too often rather than to the Living God who has given us life and who dwells within. We have this inside out.

As we read the work that Jesus has outlined we see that it is not a complicated plan he has in mind; but it is the reversal of that we have come to understand as powerful and lasting.  It is the inversion of the world as we experience it. And it is the only way to live cheek by jowl with the evil that we know exists.  Jesus does not promise to remove all obstacles from our path; rather he promises that our journey is the one that leads to honest happiness. He does not swear that he will make the way easy and smooth; rather, he swears that he will accompany us through the narrow gates of our passage.  Christ does not guarantee that we will find peace once we complete a prescribed checklist of tasks; rather, he guarantees that when we follow him we will experience a serenity that is everlasting.

We must not fear the snakes and scorpions we encounter as we step into our journey; rather, we must trust God’s message that even snakes and scorpions are subject to our will . . . when we follow this simple plan.


A re-post from October 6, 2012.

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Lectio Divina

“God spots” in the human brain

Monday, March 25, 2019

Spiritual reading is often seen as a desperate last step in a series of pleas to God. Many of us see the contemplation of the sacred word as a last resort or a last worried petition for God’s attention.  The reality is that we constantly have God’s attention and need do nothing special for God to “notice” us.  We are well-loved and well-attended although there are times when we feel this may not be so.

Contemplative prayer is often seen as something we do when we can find the time.  It is seen as the work of the consecrated religious or the spiritually gifted. The truth is that each of us has the capacity to consider and reflect on God’s goodness.  We need no special talent and no special tools.  We each have a God spot that scientists have identified and in fact there are likely “several areas of the brain that form the biological foundations of religious belief”.  (“Independent”)  We are well-equipped and well-blessed with this gift from God.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, a time when we approach Holy Week and the miracle of Easter.  Let us spend some time today with just a bit of scripture if we do not have time for a chapter or a book.  Let us spend some time today with the process of lectio divina even if for only twenty minutes or so.  Let us spend some time today with the Creator who loves us and tends to us.  This Creator longs to commune with us, yearns to touch is in special ways, wants to bless us and grace with all manner of gifts.  Let us give a bit of time today to God in a bit of reading, a bit of meditation, and a bit of communication.  We will find that the time we spend will come back to us in the form of patience, wisdom, and a newly-found peace.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

“Belief and the brain’s ‘God spot’ .” Independent. 10 March 2009: n. page. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html&gt;.

If you do not know how to begin, go to the Scripture as Prayer page on this blog, of go to:

For more information on God spots, go to: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html, or http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2886, or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/10/brains-god-spot-discovere_n_173705.html, or http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104291534, or http://ymiblogging.org/2010/01/god-spot/

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2 Samuel 16Making Mistakes

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Michelangelo: David

Written on January 30 and posted today as a Favorite . . . 

Today we see a part of the story of David that might be difficult to understand if we view life as a series of good decisions.  When we view life as it really is, however – as series of decisions we make both bad and good – we have less anxiety and fear, we experience more hope and serenity.  I heard a radio preacher recently say: When you live your life in the Spirit, you can’t make a mistake.  “This is incorrect”, we might say to ourselves.  “How can a good life have bad decisions in it?  How can a life of flawed decisions be good?”  If this is our thinking, we have forgotten something and it is this : If we are living in the Spirit, we will have arrived at understanding how God operates; we will fully comprehend that God turns all harm to good.  So whether we err accidentally or whether we mean to inflict harm in any way, God will use these flawed acts to work in his favor for – God turns all harm to good.  And this is part of the story we see today.

David has been a good leader and faithful to God, but he has also sinned and erred.  What sets David apart is the way in which he reacts when others urge him to take revenge.  When he was younger, his soldiers encouraged him to murder the sleeping Saul when he had the opportunity.  David instead makes it obvious that he has breached the enemy’s lines and yet has not taken a life where he could.  David lives in the Spirit.  David later becomes infatuated with Bathsheba and plots her husband’s death; he confesses this sin when confronted by Nathan and sings a beautiful lament of repentance that we still sing today during the Lenten season (Psalm 51).  Even though he has erred, David lives in the Spirit.

David does not use his good standing with God to ignore what he has done; instead he confesses and atones.  He lives his life in the Spirit and does not try to avoid culpability for his actions or gain immunity so that he might do whatever he likes.  Rather, David praises and obeys God.  Living in the Spirit has become part of who he is and what he does.

Today we read of some of the intrigue that mounted as David aged and the time came for one of his sons to rule Israel.  The sibling rivalry, the palace intrigue, and the political plotting are fascinating to see but what is most interesting is the way we see David living in the Spirit.  In verse 10 he speaks the wisdom we can all use today: What business is it of mine or of yours, sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?  Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?” 

We can read commentary to sort through who is aligned with whom, who is against whom, but today we have the opportunity to see another way to step away from revenge, anger and violence and move toward hope and serenity.  We see another opportunity to step away from fear and anxiety and move toward peace and unity.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must study, we must seek, we must be patient, and we must be persistent in living lives directed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must witness, we must watch, we must wait, and we must insist on living lives governed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  When we believe this, the fretfulness and panic drop away . . . for we have focused our lives on God, we have learned to trust in God, we have begun to love like God . . . and we know that God will turn all harm to good.  We will not worry or fret for we, like David, will reply to a challenge . . . Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?”  We will be truly living in and of the Spirit.


A re-post from August 26, 2011.

Images from: http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/ and http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/

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Ezra 6Rebuilding

Friday, September 14, 2018

Written on January 8 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The house is to be rebuilt . . .  

We are so often exhausted by life’s demands that we cannot experience joy when we hear good news . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

In today’s Noontime, King Darius reiterates the original command given by King Cyrus . . . the house is to be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, the administrator, and Ezra, the priest, set about restoring the city and temple in Jerusalem.  They travel through dangerous territory and carry with them a letter of safe-passage from their former enemy.  They arrive in Jerusalem to find a pile of rubble so dense that horses cannot find a pathway – they must pick their way on foot through toppled stone.  They return from exile most likely drained of energy . . . but there is hope and even joy because . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am struck by the concordance of the instructions in the decree we read today with the original description of the temple that Solomon built which we read in 1 Kings 7.  God does not forget his promise to the Jewish nation that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Nor does God forget all that he has promised us, his daughters and his sons.  Just like the destroyed temple, we too will be rebuilt and in fact are being rebuilt each day.  We are the temple in which the Spirit dwells, and as the cares of the world tear at its pillars and nibble at is foundation, Jesus becomes the master planner who constantly offers to help us reconstruct.  His constant attention and love remind us that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am thinking of Psalms 126 and 127.  Those who go out weeping return singing . . . we labor in vain unless the Lord is the master builder of our house.

Whatever our flaws, whatever our sorrows, all will be converted to joy for we are promised that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Whatever our obstacles, whatever our fears, they become our stepping stones to serenity once we remember that . . . the house is to be rebuilt. 


A re-post from August 14, 2011.

Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-House-Laurie-Graham/dp/0140123385/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313344601&sr=8-2 

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Sirach 29:21-28Frugality

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Monet: Monet’s Garden at Argentueil

Jesus ben Sirach reminds us that life’s prime needs are water, bread, and clothing, a house, too, for decent privacy.  This simple axiom can be so difficult to remember, especially in our competitive society which regards appearances as more important than substance.  Be it little or be it much, be content with what you have, and pay no heed to him who would disparage your home . . .

Frugality has earned the unhappy reputation of stinginess; and yet in its purest sense frugality means prudence in the avoidance of waste.  Each time we throw out food because we do not like leftovers, each time we buy a pair of shoes we really do not need, each time we hoard something away so that we will have it when others do not . . . we use something that someone else might have used better.  This is an extravagance that the faithful cannot afford.  It is an excessiveness that makes it impossible for us to find serenity.   It is an injustice that works against kingdom-building.

When I become impatient with God’s timing – wanting results to arrive more rapidly, wishing events would move more swiftly – I am reminded by God’s pace and stamina that God is teaching us to practice prudence in the avoidance of waste.  God is showing us a productive and generous kind of frugality; and in his infinite wisdom God knows that when we have something before we can fully appreciate it, we will likely waste the benefit.

Healthy contests that pit equals against one another are good for all of us, individually and collectively.  Creativity, critical thinking, and industrious behavior are essential if society is to move ahead; but in all of the bustle of the marketplace we must keep in mind that in the end . . . life’s prime needs are water, bread, and clothing, a house, too . . . and that frugality is prudence in the avoidance of waste. 

There are many isms in our world: capitalism, communism, socialism, favoritism, entrepreneurialism, dominionism, fascism, patriotism, and on and on.  Each of these attitudes has something to bring to a discussion – and the practice – of how we humans co-exist.  Each has advantages and disadvantages, each has pitfalls and pluses.  Some of these isms teach us stinginess; none will teach us frugality.  None can bring us stability, dependability, or union with others we trust implicitly.  None can bring us what we really seek . . . peacefulness, reliability, contentment with ourselves and the world.

And so we pray . . .

Generous and caring God, we need your constant guidance to remind us to share the essentials of life.

When we work over-long hours to the neglect of our family to finance an extravagant lifestyle, we have moved off the path that leads to serenity.  Tell us to wrap up the work and go home.

When we hoard goods and refuse to share with those who have less than we, we have somehow been lured away from the light and into the darkness.  Remind us that the world has enough resources for all if we share.

When we begin to think that five bathrooms and four vehicles are a necessity, we have slipped away from reality.  Ask us to share the planet’s storehouse prudently.   

When we have become stingy in the name of frugality, we have ceased listening to your voice.  Call to us again in a way we cannot miss. 

Life’s prime needs are water, bread, and clothing, a house, too . . . Let us share what we have prudently, let us avoid wasting the bounty your creation unfolds for us, and let us practice the same generosity you so lovingly pour out on us.  Amen. 


A re-post from August 14, 2011.

Image from: http://www.paintinghere.com/painting/Monet’s_Garden_at_argenteuil_4980.html 

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Romans 14:17-19: Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Thursday, March 9, 2017

gavel

We worry about what we are to wear, where we are to go, how we are to act. Jesus reminds us that these are not the concerns of one who rests beside the cornerstone. Righteousness, peace and joy. These are the concerns of those who unite in kingdom building.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

The cares of the world are not the cares of God’s kingdom. Those on the margin, the abandoned, the abused, and the neglected, these are the citizens who populate Christ’s kingdom.

The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. (NRSV)

Healing, consolation, solace and generosity. These are the transformative gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit.

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (NRSV)

joyRighteousness, peace and joy. Harmony, reconciliation and delight. How do we serve God’s justice in our world? How do we follow Christ in reunion? How do we share gladness in the Spirit of the LORD?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we take the opportunity to examine our own lives.

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