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Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul’


Acts 13:13-43Summary

Monday, January 7, 2019

Pisidian Antioch Church of Saint Peter

What we read today is Paul’s summary of salvation history to the people who have gathered in the synagogue in PisidiaThe synagogue officials sent word to [Paul and his companions]. “My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation for the people, please speak”.  And so Paul rises to address the assembly.

If we allow ourselves to pause with these verses we will easily see that what Paul delineates as the history of the Jewish people can also serve as the outline of our own life of conversion.

God chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in Egypt.  We too are chosen and exalted by God.  We too are the apple of God’s eye, the desire of God’s heart.  Let us rejoice and be glad in this news.

With uplifted arm he led them out of [Egypt] and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.  We too, have been led by God.  We too have been protected; we are guided by the Spirit.  Let us rejoice and be glad that God has the patience to put up with us.

When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance at the end of about four hundred and fifty years.  We too, once we have grown and matured in the Spirit, have come to see that our inheritance of God’s love has been within our reach since the beginning of time.  Let us rejoice and be grateful in this gift.

Artifact from Pisidian Antioch

After these things he provided judges . . . then they asked for a king.  God gave them Saul . . . then he removed him and gave up David as their king.  We too have been given leaders along the path of our spiritual journey.  We too have been guided by those who seek God persistently and who tell the stories of their own conversion.  Let us rejoice and be grateful for their willingness to share their life-giving experiences.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming.  We too have been given this savior. We too have heard the heralding of Jesus’ coming. Let us rejoice and be glad in the promise of the Christ Child.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets . . . They asked Pilate to put him to death . . . they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb.  We too have lived through trial and travail.  We too have suffered disappointment and betrayal.  Let us rejoice in the knowledge that we are not alone and that our God accompanies us in our journey of sorrow.

But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem.  These are [now] his witnesses before the people.  We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us [their] children, by raising up Jesus.  We too have seen the fulfillment of these oracles.  We too have witnessed this death and this rising.  Let us rejoice and proclaim the good news that God has fulfilled and continues to fulfill the promises he makes to us.

El Greco: St. Paul

Today we reflect on the summary of our lives and we wonder . . . can it be true that all we have hoped for has been given?  Can we suppose that what others have witnessed is the promise fulfilled that we have longed for through long and lonely nights?  Can we believe that the Christ humbles himself to birth in a stable?  Can we believe that although we believe him gone . . . he loves us still?

Can we act on this summary of our lives . . . and go forward to tell the Good News?


Tomorrow we will reflect on Paul’s words to the gentile people.  For more on Pisidia, go to the Bible Places link: http://www.bibleplaces.com/pantioch.htm

A re-post from January 7, 2012. 

Images from: http://www.bibleplaces.com/pantioch.htm and http://www.holylandphotos.org/browse.asp?s=1,3,8,21,96 and http://faculty.saintleo.edu/reynolds/HON250-F03/projects/culture/Tinturetto.htm

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2 Corinthians 1Changing Plans

Sunday, September 2, 2018

If we want to live in relationship with others, we will find it necessary to change our plans; sometimes this is quite easy to do . . . at other times we suffer change at great cost.  Events occur not as we would wish them.  They often take on a life of their own.  In today’s reading we have the opportunity to examine a model for authentic accommodation in relationship with others.  When we make room for God in every connection we make with others, we have the guarantee of God’s simplicity, sincerity, and grace.  We can be confident that no matter the change required of us, we will flourish and thrive.

When we read Paul’s two letters to the church in Corinth, we see the importance of flexibility and constancy in all relationships.  While it is important to remain authentic and faithful, it is also essential to allow for some give and take as circumstances require.  As we read through these epistles, it is clear that there are some disagreements and differences of opinion that have the potential to create permanent rifts.  Important connections have been established and nurtured; breaches must be bridged.  Cleverly, or perhaps by God’s grace, Paul begins with himself.   “Since Paul’s own conduct will be under discussion here, he prefaces this section with a statement about his habitual behavior and attitude toward the community.  He protests his openness, single-mindedness, and conformity to God’s grace; he hopes that his relationship with them will be marked by mutual understanding and pride, which will constantly increase until it reaches its climax at the judgment”.  (Senior 277)  As we read the opening chapter of 2 Corinthians we understand that a change of plans has caused anxiety and upset.  Paul addresses the problem by beginning with himself . . . and by falling back on God.

Simplicity, sincerity, and the grace of God: These qualities are given to us by God the Father; these traits are modeled for us by Jesus; these virtues are renewed in us by the Spirit.

When we must change plans we must keep things simple.  Adding more jumble to an already stressed schedule does us and those we work and live with nothing but harm.

When we must change plans we must be honest.  It is important to take the time to examine motives and look for hidden agendas.  Any plan that is not genuine is not needed. Any plan that comes from deceit brings ruin.

When we must change plans we must do so with good will, considering the common benefit.  When a community must alter plans to please only one or two of its members, morale plummets and cooperation disappears.

Simplicity, sincerity, and the grace of God.  Paul outlines for us the opening step in bridging a rift between colleagues, friends or loved ones.  We begin with ourselves.  And we look for God’s plainness.  We look for God’s straightforwardness.  We look for God’s beauty.  We look for God’s blessing in all we say and do.

A re-post from August 2, 2011.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 277. Print.

Images from: http://www.masters-table.org/forinfo/Gods_beautyinthesky.htm 

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Colossians 3:15-17: Be Thankful

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Colossae Ruins

Colossae Ruins

Today we take a portion of Paul’s letter to the people of Colossae and we apply it to our own lives as we once again learn to . . .

Be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and . . . be thankful.

Teach and admonish one another in wisdom and . . . be thankful.

Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and . . . be thankful.

Live with gratitude in your hearts and . . . be thankful.

In word and deed and in everything you do . . . be thankful.

In the name of the Lord, Christ Jesus . . . be thankful.

Amen.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we discover that a new sense of gratitude settles into our bones and sinews . . . so that we might live out God’s call to thanksgiving each day.

For more posts on gratitude, enter the word into the blog search bar.

Click on the post photograph to see more images and to learn more about Colossae

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2 Samuel 11 and 12: Conversion – Part II

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jean Restout: Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul

Jean Restout: Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul

Two interesting readings from Acts tell the story of Saul/Paul’s conversion: 9:1-22 and 22:3-16.  Again, we see the figure who serves as an instrument of God in the surprising kind of turnabout that can happen when we trust God enough to place ourselves in his hands.  This man, like Nathan in the story of David, communes regularly with God so that when he finds himself in a situation that rightfully causes fear, he has the resources to step into the waiting hand of God . . . to go beyond the fear . . . and into his own conversion of vocation.

Nathan, Ananais, and countless other harvesters in God’s vineyard hear and answer this call by trusting in God.  In the Acts readings we see Ananais hesitate, saying to God: Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.  And the Lord replies: Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.

In today’s story, we do not read of any trepidation Nathan may have felt on going before the King to give the man an opportunity to repent.  What we do read in verse 12:5 is how David reacted in anger to Nathan’s parable.  Yet Nathan stands his ground, firm in his knowing that he has been sent.

We might spend time this afternoon wondering about our own Nathan parable.  What story might the prophet stand before us to pronounce?  How might we react?  We also might also spend time thinking about our own role as truth-revealer.  When we hear the voice tell us what is required of us, are we willing to do what is required?

We might question as Ananais does, or we might immediately – like Nathan – speak a truth we know others who are far stronger and far more powerful than ourselves wish to keep hidden.  In any case, as children of light we are asked to stand in the truth and to bring truth to others . . . as is required of us by our God . . . according to our vocation.

We notice today that Ananais and Nathan respond to God’s call in kindness and with mercy, prepared and even expecting that their work will bear fruit.  As we go about the rest of our day, we might want to think about which role we play in today’s drama.  Are we David?  Are we Bathsheba?  Are we Nathan?  Are we truly converted by our vocation?  Do we act from God?  Do we act with God?  Do we act in God’s love?  Do we act at all on what we know to be our own conversions . . . one of the heart . . . the other of our vocation?

Adapted from a January 25, 2009 Favorite.

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2 Samuel 11 and 12: Conversion – Part I

Thursday, February 2, 2017jesus-and-paul

We visit this story about once a year as we journey together at Noontime, and here it is again.  We have reflected on the narrative and how Psalm 51 – the beautiful song of contrition and yearning – rises from this account of lust, adultery and murder.  We have also spent time thinking about how David succumbs to very human emotions only to later rise to his divine best self by finally facing the truth about his own actions.  We have spent a bit of time with Bathsheba, wondering what more we might learn from her if only we had more details of her life.  Today we meditate a bit on the role that Nathan plays in this drama: the truth-revealer who is wise with words and strong with God, the prophet who becomes the instrument of David’s conversion.

This is a fitting path to continue as today we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul, the devout Pharisee who was known for his persecution of the followers of The Way . . . who becomes one of the most fearless defenders of the Christ story.  A wonderful book to read about Paul’s conversion, particularly as it parallels the life of Christ, is Jesus and Paul: Parallel Lives by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner.  The writer delineates for us the thesis that both Paul and Christ experience not one but two major conversions: a conversion of heart and a conversion of vocation.  Using scripture and other ancient texts, Murphy-O’Conner supports this idea to lead us through his thinking that understanding our conversion is one thing . . . acting on it is another.

For a reflection on Paul’s conversion with an audio link, visit: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/conversion-of-saint-paul/ 

Tomorrow, from Saul to Paul.

Adapted from a January 25, 2009 Favorite.

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Joy and Libation


Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Friday

January 2, 2015

Joy and Libation

Philippians

 The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given. With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow.

Imprisoned when writing this letter to the Philippians, Paul maintains confidence in the power of Christ to rescue and heal. “This beautiful letter is rich in insights into Paul’s theology and his apostolic love and concern for the gospel and his converts. [Paul] reveals his human sensitivity and tenderness, his enthusiasm for Christ as the key to life and death, and his deep feeling for those in Christ who dwell in Philippi. With them he shares his hope and convictions, his anxieties and fears, revealing the total confidence in Christ that constitutes faith”. (Senior 311-312)

It is likely that Paul’s letter brought concern for his welfare to the little Jewish community that Paul had established in this important Roman town in what is today northeastern Greece. It is also likely that his words brought the Philippians a bit of discomfort as he exhorts them to think of others before selves and to put aside disagreements in favor of unity; yet his energy and passion are undeniable.

Paul writes: (1:25): This I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. (2:1-3) If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. (2:17-18) But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

joyPaul writes to the followers in Philippi and he writes to us. United in heart. Living from selflessness rather than ego. Passionate in our response to Christ’s call. Pouring ourselves out as libations for Christ just as Christ empties himself to rescue us. In his time of trial, fear and weariness, Paul calls us to unity, service, and a deep giving of self with undeniable enthusiasm. What will we do today as a libation for Christ? How do we extend to others this same passionate call to unity and service?

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.311-312. Print.   

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

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

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Pompeo Batoni: St. Paul

Pompeo Batoni: St. Paul

New Year’s Day

Thursday

January 1, 2015

Joy and Discipleship

Romans 14-15

 The New Testament brings us the good news that God has come to live among us, has died as one of us and has risen from the dead as one of us. Paul tells us that with Christ there is always hope when we sink into doubt, light when we walk in darkness, and joy when we suffer sorrow.

Paul speaks to the Romans two thousand years ago, and he also speaks to us today. His life as a disciple was difficult and yet Paul shares with us the great joy he experiences in his travail.

The apostle Paul says: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

God says: The world of corruption, greed and warfare is the kingdom as you have constructed for yourselves. When you live in me this world becomes one of righteousness, peace and joy. I know that this is difficult for you to believe but just one of you can make a difference; and if two or more of you come together in my name, your light will pierce the darkness. 

The follower of Christ, Paul says: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

God says: The life of sadness, pain and sorrow is the life you have fashioned for yourself. When you place your days and years in my hands you live the potential I have dreamed for you. If you are overcome, seek help. If you are overwhelmed, find others who are determined to live in peace rather than revenge. If two or more of you gather in my name, your prayer converts harm to good. 

The sharer of Christ’s work and work, Paul says: I urge you, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the disobedient, and that my ministry may be acceptable so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen. (Romans 15:30-32)

God says: The struggles you experience are opportunities to discover new strength in one another and in my Spirit. The ministry you live is a new opening to life in Christ. The prayer you offer is reliance on my strength and fidelity. When you bring me your sorrows and your fears you step into the depths of my love . . . you become one in your brother Christ, and you rise to live again in the Spirit, converting the pain of the world to celebration. Come, and follow me . . .

joyToday Paul speaks to us to bring us the hope and joy and word of God. Let us set aside a bit of time tonight before the close of this first day of the new year to decide how we will respond. How will we share with others the good news that the depths and heights and breadth of darkness will always be overcome by the light of Christ’s joy? How will we strengthen ourselves and others in Christ?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

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

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Tissot: The Pharisees Conspire Together

Tissot: The Pharisees Conspire Together

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mark 12:18-27

Resurrection – Part III: Working

Are you not mislead because you do not know the scriptures?

In Acts 23 we see St. Paul pit Sadducees against Pharisees. He does this so well and he causes such uproar that the Roman commander “spirits” Paul away to hide him in the barracks out of reach from these dueling voices.  Earlier in Acts (Chapters 4 and 5) we read that the Sadducees go to their Roman overlords to silence Peter and John who are drawing large crowds by telling the good news of redemption through deeds and a personal relationship with Christ, and through their healing of people in Jesus’ name.  These two apostles who heal souls and bodies through the living presence of the resurrected Christ cause more turmoil than the Sadducees are willing to allow. Paul, Peter and John bring good news for all of us, and bad news for those who wish to control God’s abundance and love.

God says: When you see corrupt structures that appear to be immune from my justice, do not fret. When you encounter vertical hierarchies that obscure my message of life and love, do not worry. When you come up against closed minds and stiff necks, do not lose heart. I am always amid the storm. I am in the fire of the burning bush. I am in the pain of the thorns and cross. I am also in your heart and mind. Allow me to shoulder your burden. Give to me the anxiety that drains you and the fear that paralyzes you. I am the calm in the storm. I am the water in the desert. I am the shoulders that carry the world. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will carry you through all that threatens to extinguish life and light and love. When you are to weary to work in me . . . allow me to work in you. 

When we are too exhausted to think beyond ourselves we know that it is time to hand our troubles over to the one who sees and knows and understands all. When we find our work burdensome and too heavy to bear we know that it is the day to rely on the one who knows and sees and comprehends all.  When we find the vineyard too difficult a place to live and thrive we know that it is the moment to give all of our watching, all of our waiting, and all of our working to God.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 22, 2008.

 

To explore Tissot’s depictions of the Passion of Christ series, visit: http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/tissot-passion.htm  

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Tissot: Chief Priests Talking Together

Tissot: Chief Priests Talking Together

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mark 12:18-27

Resurrection – Part I: Watching

You are greatly misled.

In today’s citation Jesus attempts to instruct the Sadducees about resurrected life, telling them that they have missed the Mosaic message and promise. The Sadducees were members of a priestly family descended from one of David’s high priests, Zadok.  King Solomon gave this group supreme control over the Temple and they came to form one of the ruling parties of Judaism from the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty around 146 BCE to the destruction of the Temple in 70 ACE.  They stood on the religious authority presented in the first five books of the Bible, The Torah, and were highly conservative; yet despite this leaning, the Sadducees were open to the Greek culture and may have been willing to sacrifice their beliefs for wealth and power.  They took special exception to the belief in the existence of angels, resurrection, and life after death, beliefs held by the Pharisees, a religious reform movement that began in the century before Christ’s birth emphasizing fidelity to Jewish law through an elaborate system of oral laws that bolster the written Mosaic Law.  This movement found its base in the local synagogue where scriptures and traditions were studied, and a strong sense of piety was nurtured.  It is into this world of closely held ideas and tightly fought intellectual battles that Jesus comes to the poor and disenfranchised to turn the world order on its head.

For more on the similarities between the Pharisees and Sadducees, visit the Jewish Virtual Library at: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/sadducees_pharisees_essenes.html

St. Paul was a Pharisee who zealously defended the Jewish faith before becoming the feet of Christ to take the message of spiritual freedom into the world.  Both the Pharisees and Sadducees jealously guarded the influence they had with the occupiers of their land; but we see without much effort the dichotomy between priestly sect and lay people, between temple and synagogue, between strict conservatism that sees the path to God through the temple sacrifice conducted by priests and the lay movement seeking to invigorate faith through instruction and fidelity to the Law.  Both groups saw Jesus as a threat . . . for he came to set the faithful free from narrow constraints and corrupt hierarchies. Jesus reminds us repeatedly that there is indeed, a true path to God, but it is open to all.  It charges no Temple tax and it requires only that its followers work in God’s vineyard to build God’s kingdom. The Temple is now Christ who lives in each of us. The Law of Moses is now fulfilled by the Law of Love that Jesus brings. The only tax we need pay is our allegiance to a loving God who welcomes all to the feast. And we will miss all of this if we are not watching for the resurrection that lives with and for and in us each day. When we focus on self, we become protective of all that we have built up like the Sadducees who question Jesus. We miss the truth that God uses each of us in God’s way to build The Kingdom that heals and saves. We miss the truth that Christ reveal to and in each of us . . . and we find that we have become easily and greatly misled.

Tomorrow, waiting for the resurrection . . .

For insights into Luke’s story of how Jesus interacted with his accusers, click on the image above or go to: https://www.lds.org/manual/print/new-testament-student-manual/introduction-to-the-gospel-according-to-st-luke/chapter-20-luke-23-24?lang=eng 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.Glossary 433 and 436. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on November 22, 2008.

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