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Posts Tagged ‘silence’


Jeremiah 19: The Potter’s Flask

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Written on February 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

It will make their ears tingle when they hear about the bloodshed of the innocent!  The Valley of Ben-hinnom will become the Valley of Slaughter.  The city will be an object of amazement and derision.  Passers-by will catch their breath at the wounds they see.  And a flask will be shattered like the lives of these people.  There will be so much death that there will be no place for burial.  This because they have stiffened their necks and have not obeyed my words. 

Jeremiah has visited Topheth, a town whose name could be pronounced with the vowels of the Hebrew word for shame.  “This was due to the practice of there of sacrificing children as burnt offerings to Baal and Molech in the times of Isaiah and Jeremiah (Isa. 30:33;  Jer. 7:31, 32; 19:6, 11-14; cf. 32:35).  Kings Ahaz and Manasseh of Judah are reported to have offered their sons in the Valley of Hinnom (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; cf. 2 Kings 16:3; 21:6).  King Josiah attempted to put a stop to the practice by defiling the altar of Topheth (2 Kings 23:10) but it was revived after his death”.  (Achetemier 1162)

When Jeremiah returns to Jerusalem and denounces not only this practice but the corruption in Jerusalem as well,  he is beaten and placed in stocks by orders of a temple priest and administrator, Pashhur.  “The prophet’s response was to rename the priest ‘Terror on every side’ (v. 3; cf. 6:25, where this phrase describes the people’s response to an invasion from the north, and 20:10, where is describes Jeremiah’s response to his enemies’ actions).  This name symbolizes the fact that Pashhur will be a ‘terror’ both to himself and to his friends: they and the whole land will suffer death, plundering and exile at the hands of the Babylonians (vv. 4-6).  The assertion that Pashhur has misled his friends (v. 6b) is the key to his condemnation.  His reaction to Jeremiah’s message was based on a partisan political position, supported, of course, by an appropriate religious ideology.  From his own standpoint Jeremiah was convinced that this position would lead to disaster”.  (HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, 561)

This is grime reading and yet it is the kind of persecution that takes place constantly in our world.  Sometimes is happens an ocean away . . . today I am thinking of the people of Egypt.  It also happens right under our noses . . . today I also think about someone dear to me who is persecuted for speaking up.  No matter when this kind of harassment takes place, the effect the bully wishes to create – silence – is void, and in time an opposite result occurs – the truth always comes out in the end. 

My parents continually reminded all five of us that this is one of the surest things we can count on and we read it here in Jeremiah.  This prophet was eventually taken away to Egypt by Jewish authorities who fled before the waves of invaders from the north.  His prophecy unfolds before their eyes, and still they revile him.  In the end, although there is no written evidence of this, Jeremiah is murdered in exile.

The sins in Topheth and the crimes of Pashhur continue today, but we must not allow this fact to sap us of our courage or energy.  We must remind ourselves and one another that the truth always comes out in the end.  So what are we called to do?  We must learn to faithfully witness to these crimes, to humbly pray for ourselves and our enemies, and to joyfully participate in the redemptive love that sets all injustice right in God’s time and in God’s way, lest we too be shattered like the potter’s flask . . .  beyond repair.


A re-post from September 15, 2011.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1162. Print. 

Image from: http://pottery.about.com/od/stepbystepprojects/ig/Mug-Project-Photo-Gallery/Pottery-Flask.htm

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Psalm 43Peace of Heart

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In some versions of the Bible, we find this psalm as the final portion of psalm 42. It may begin in this manner: Grant me justice, O God; defend me from a faithless people . . . Or it may begin differently: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people . . .   

No matter the style, the psalmist here presents the universal plea humans have when they come to God: I see myself as wronged . . . and I want you to put things right. 

The Meditation in MAGNIFICAT today serves as a perfect solution for our very human desire to seek vindication; it speaks to our peace of heart.  This is an idea we investigated from time to time when we look at the troubles Job experienced.  Each of us lives a life of trial in one way or another and it is for those times that Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, writes: The easiest way to keep your peace of heart is to accept everything as coming from the hands of God who loves you.  If you do this, any pain or persecution, anything which is difficult to accept will be transformed into a source of joy, happiness, and peace . . . This does not mean to say that God sends disaster to trip us up.  Nor is this saying that God delights in punishing us.  The opposite is true.  God so loves us that when calamity occurs, God wishes most to transform all damage and harm into goodness and fruitfulness.  This is why it is imperative that we maintain constant, open contact with God . . . otherwise we will misinterpret all that happens to us and around us.

St. Paul continues: Silence and recollection are two very effective ways of bringing ourselves before the Lord and entering into the sanctuary of [God’s] love . . . When a person comes to terms with his feelings, when he lives in God and walks by the light of faith, he has attained that stillness of the night which God is waiting for.  It is then that the Word of God comes to birth in him in a way which is entirely of God.  Remain within your deepest self, in the interior kingdom of your spirit.  Remember that your soul is a temple of the living God.  “The kingdom of God is within you”. 

We may have difficulty in finding these quiet times to be still and so St. Paul continues with this counsel: Night and day let your aim be to remain in simplicity and gentleness, calmness and serenity, and in freedom from created things, so that you will find joy in the Lord Jesus.  Love silence and solitude, even when in the midst of a crowd or when caught up in your work. 

By living in the world but not of it, by keeping our line of communication with God open and clear at all times, we will understand better what we are to do when disaster strikes – as it always does.  We will be more prepared to see the goodness that can come from cataclysm – as it always can.  We will sink less into despair, we will rise more into joy.  We will find what St. Paul of the Cross calls a certain peace of heart.

When we suffer – as we do – when we are wronged – as we will be – when we wrong others – as we are bound to do . . . rather than seek vindication, let us seek peace of heart For when we maintain faith and seek joy, peace arrives . . . and all else will fall into its perfect place.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.10 (2009). Print.  

A Favorite from October 20, 2009.

For other translations of these verses, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus. 

For a reflection on this topic with verses from the wisdom Book of Job, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/23/peace-of-heart/ 

Image from: http://irjaberg.se/mediala%20tj%C3%A4nster/healing%20heart%20afton.html

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Judges 6: Gideon’s Call

James Tissot: The Angel Puts Fire on the Altar of Gideon

Thursday, June 29, 2017

We have spent several days with this Old Testament Book in which we watch the Israelites enter into a cycle: neglect of their covenant with God, the worship of idols, repentance, a petition to God for help, God’s generous response, silence as God waits for the people to respond. God always sends a hero to save the faithful – and this particular hero is Gideon.

We find the following when we read commentary.

  • God asks Joshua, in the book preceding Judges, to lead the people into the Promised Land and he does.
  • God asks the people to wipe out those who worship pagan idols but they do not; and this sows the seed of future problems.
  • Prior to God’s intercession in the life of the faithful, the people are forced to run away from invading armies and literally “head for the hills” when these invaders arrived with chariots.
  • Once the people share a loving relationship with God, they have a rock of refuge, a bulwark of safety.
  • When the people neglect their relationship with God, the cycle of idol worship begins anew.
  • God always has a hero in mind.
  • God’s silence is the space we are given to respond to God’s deep and abiding love.

God calls Gideon while he is in the middle of his work, and Gideon, like many of those called, has many questions. He wants to understand why and how should go about the work God has in mind. God answers, as God always does, “I will be with you, do not worry.” Gideon praises and worships God when he realizes what is happening, that he will be an instrument of redemption in the people’s cycle of sin and repentance.

Like Gideon, we are likewise fearful in our response to God. We know what we are asked to do; yet frequently we are too frightened to step out of our comfort zone. In the end, however, no find that no other course of action is worth taking.

The story of Gideon also demonstrates for us that silence can be entirely appropriate when it is patient, loving, merciful, and just. A silence that waits, that whispers to the beloved, that calls the beloved back to the covenant, is a silence that heals.

So like Gideon, let us sit beneath our terebinth and call on God. For God will surely answer.

Adapted from a Noontime written on January 31, 2007.

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Matthew 5:9: The Peacemakersblessed-are-the-peacemakers_t_nv

April 15, 2015

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

­What does Jesus mean when he speaks of peacemakers? Is he describing those who say nothing in the face of conflict? Is he telling us that silence creates calm and confronts evil and chaos? Is he asking to create comfort zones for ourselves and our loved ones?

How does Jesus enact peace? By aligning himself with those in power? By ignoring the influential? By harsh deeds and punitive actions?

The peace that Jesus describes and enacts is revealed quite simply through scripture. Jesus dines with tax collectors and includes one of them in his closest circle of friends. Jesus interacts with women on a par with men. Jesus speaks and acts when called upon by the Creator. Jesus lives and moves in the Spirit. Jesus heals and saves. Jesus woos and calls.

Jesus lives the life of a peacemaker . . . and asks that we follow his example. It is in this way that we become builders and workers in the kingdom. It is in this way that we become Children of God.

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