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Posts Tagged ‘stamina’


2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part V

Click on this image for a video commentary.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Today’s Favorite returns once more to 2 Maccabees, the first Book cited in the first Noontime Scripture reflection. The message is as simple, constant, and powerful today as it was more than a decade ago. Be steadfast. Trust in God. Remain faithful to God. Life is a struggle, but God is with us. We need not be afraid. 

Today’s citation reminds us of a strong underpinning of those themes: there is life after our apparent death, and we must pray not only for ourselves but for those who have strayed from the covenant as well.  1 Maccabees 5:6 gives a different reason for the fall of the Israelite troops – the priests had wanted to distinguish themselves in battle – but the message is the same: if we succeed in remaining faithful to our covenant with God, we must pray for those who fallen.

We will not want to miss the true life that follows this one, and we will want to share this full and generous life with our families and friends.  And lest we fear that our loved ones will not accompany us, we remember that it is possible to bring straying sheep into the fold through petition to the Creator. We remember that with God all things are possible.

Christ is the one who offers himself in expiation for the downfall of the world and thus becomes the Redeemer of all.  We participate in this redemption by offering our own sufferings in expiation for others.  The dead will live again, and this we can believe.

Over time, we have spent several Noontimes reflecting on the lessons brought to us by the Maccabeus family.  Their stamina, their perseverance, their refusal to be extinguished, and their refusal to allow God’s law of forgiveness, mercy and justice to be extinguished is seen again in all of Christ’s followers.  Jesus’ disciples are constant searchers of God’s essence and truth.  They will always hunger and thirst for an essence they feel but cannot see, a Spirit they know but cannot always touch. The Maccabeus family tells us this story. Jesus the Redeemer invites all of us to be these followers.

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

Tomorrow, a prayer for trials and obstacles.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

To learn why the Books of the Maccabees are not included in the Jewish Bible, visit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/ 

Watch a video commentary at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdHjJFQAoZk 

Images from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leaders-mind-3-steadfastness-barry-walsh/ and https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/

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Corpus Christi Sunday, June 2, 2013

tr-corpus-christi-tabgha[1]John 21: 11

Spiritual Stamina

We spent Easter Week reflecting on the 21st Chapter of John’s Gospel and the implications it has for our modern lives.  The Resurrected Christ appears to the disheartened apostles who have returned to their nets and the sea in their confusion after the events in Jerusalem during their Passover time.  Christ had returned to the Upper Room where they had all shared that last meal before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Jesus’ faithful followers – much like us – rejoiced with Christ’s revelation of himself.  Now they feel a bit empty and flat when little in their lives appears to have changed significantly or for the better in any way at all.  And so they go back to what they know . . . and their world changes irreparably when Christ appears again on the shore of the sea.

The apostles sling their nets over the water another time as the man on the shore asks and although they have been casting for hours and have caught nothing . . . the nets come up full to bursting.  And miraculously even though there were so many fish, the net does not break. 

During Eastertide we have explored the burdens and rewards of discipleship.  We have examined the costs and the benefits of following Christ.  We have evaluated the requirements and gifts of living as disciples and we have sometimes found that we have no stomach and little energy to persist in the journey.  We hunger, we thirst, we ache, we tire, we stagger and flag under our perceived burden and yet . . . we return each morning to our Sisyphean task.  Despite our exhaustion, deep within we know that Christ continues to sustain.  We know that he fills our nets daily.  And we see that the nets have not torn.  This is, indeed, a marvelous God.

Paul understands this condition of amazed exhaustion when he writes to the Romans – and to us: We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)

Today, as we celebrate the real presence of Christ among us we turn to this intimate friend and brother who knows us so well, and we place all our worries and delights, all our anxieties and joys, all our fears and celebrations in his able arms.  We fall into this threefold God who protects, saves and sustains, and we pray . . .

Dearest and most precious God present in us,

Although we tire we are not beaten, so living in the life of Christ, we rejoice in our exhaustion.  You have filled our nets again and we know that we cannot pull them from the sea without you.

Although we lack so much we are not lost, so living in the life of the Spirit, we celebrate our poverty.  You have given us all the resources we will ever need and we know that we cannot discern them without you.

Although we have no stamina we find ourselves rising to new mornings, and living in the goodness of God, and so we praise you.  We find ourselves each day with grateful hearts and we know that we cannot live without you.

Remind us that although our nets are full . . . they will never tear.  Although our limbs are weary . . . they will never fail.  Although our hearts are broken . . . they will never be empty.  Amen.

For another reflection on the meaning of Christ’s presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/general/we-cannot-live-without-sunday 

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Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21, 2013

Jodaens: Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

Jacob Jordaens: Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

Acts 13:41-52 – Results

Contrary to what we may think, the practice of meekness does not create a world of submission and pain.  Faithful meekness trains us to handle obstacles and to persist through adversity.  True meekness teaches us to listen, to witness, and to respond as God directs.  Honest meekness turns the other cheek in an invitation to join Christ’s mystical body.  Authentic meekness steps forward into the world despite any threat to reputation, stamina or strength.

Today’s Noontime is a snippet of the story of life in the early Church. Footnotes will tell us that Antioch was an important missionary center after the focus shifted away from Jerusalem and we see how jealousy begins to simmer when Paul and Barnabas attract more followers to The Way.  The result of their meekness in Christ is conflict . . . and at first glance this may seem to be a failure.

There are three important elements in this story for us to remember.

First, we see how thirsty people are to hear The Word.  Verse 44 tells us that nearly the entire city turns out to hear Paul and Barnabas speak.  The result of Christ’s meekness is celebrity.

Second, when the missionaries are eventually forced out of the city by the jealous and powerful, Christ’s Word and Christ’s Way are easily dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, into the West and Europe.  The result of Christ’s meekness is endurance.

Third, when looking at verses 51 and 52 we find that the disciples make a statement through their witnessing rather than through an act of aggression.  The result of Christ’s meekness is quiet power.

A grain of wheat falls to the ground and bursts open so that the stalk may grow in fertile soil.  We see the grain of wheat being trod on here, and crushed into fertile ground.  Conflict and strife bear fruit through Christ and we see that the result of Christ’s meekness is not failure.  It is an abundant harvest.

And so we pray.

Good and Gracious God,

Teach us to speak of you in such a way that we call others to follow you.

Fill us with your Spirit in such a way that we find patience for the journey.

Remind us of our redemption by your Son in such a way that we remember to thank you.

Call us to our higher selves in such a way that we find power in you.

Stay with us in such a way that we delight in the practice of meekness.

Bless us in such a way that our meekness brings results for you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. 

Amen.

Tomorrow, rejecting idols . . . the importance of meekness . . .

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Saturday, December 3, 2011 – Numbers 21 – Worn Out

Several years ago we focused on verses 4 through 9 of this chapter in a Noontime reflection about The Bronze Serpent and at that time we noted that this story is often read during the Lenten season when we are called to repent and make reparations.  We reflected on the thought that God in his wisdom and mystery sends a cure to the people that is similar to their disease; and we saw the Hebrews succumb to the temptation to complain when their patience is worn out by the journey.  Just as we travel toward Easter during Lent, we also move through Advent waiting for the light.  When we have so much invested in our waiting it is easy to give in to the kind of impatience we see today; and we know the feeling of despair that replaces hope when the expected outcome is so long in coming.  We zero in on our disappointment and forget to look at the many victories in our lives. 

The episode of the bronze serpent is sandwiched between stories of victory over Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.  God has accompanied the Hebrews and seen to their welfare; yet the travail of the journey has worn their patience thin and they turn against God.  Although they experience a series of triumphs, they complain about their food and drink.  They want to control the smallest details of their lives and rather than rest in the triumphs they have lived they obsess about the minutiae.  This is a story in which we can place ourselves. 

Whether we find ourselves in Advent or Lent, we can look at the Hebrews to see ourselves in their impatience; and we can make our own journey through the lands of Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.   We can examine what motivates us, what leads us, what stops us.  And we can pray . . .  

Do I too often steer clear from something when the cure lies in my willingness to enter God’s plan?

Am I too stiff-necked or too impatient?

Do I fear too much and trust too little?

Am I too controlling or too impatient?

Do I complain too much and give thanks too little?

Am I too unwilling or too impatient?

Do I take the victories for granted and throw temper tantrums when my own plans come up short?

Am I focused on self and not on God?

In the hardship of the journey it is easy to concentrate on our fears and wishes; it is difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  So when we feel this impatience welling up, let us look to God for strength; let us ask God for the stamina we need to see the journey through.  Let us look at the many victories that line the pathways of our lives; and let us remember that when we rely on God rather than self . . . our patience will never wear through.

For more reflections on traveling the road of life, see the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011 – Acts 14 – Tenacity

Iconium, Lystra, Antioch.  Jews, Gentiles.  Healings, beatings, curses, cures.  Zeus, Hermes, the Living God.  Hardships, celebrations.  Mythology, mysticism, illusion, reality.  In all of these places, with all of these people, in all of these philosophies and approaches, Paul and Barnabas journey together to deliver the good news that we are loved by the Living God.  I am exhausted just reading about their missionary journey as we watch these two faithful disciples of Christ persuade and teach, heal and call.  Despite the fact that they see much of their work undone, they continue to rejoice in the work they do as God’s servants asks of them.  They are an amazing – and successful – pair.  They bring many into the church.  

Paul and Barnabas have much to teach us who are discouraged when small details of the day become looming obstacles.  They might show us that when we growl and complain about interrupted plans and schedules that we add to our own burden.  We see that they do not fall into the trap of thinking that the world is an unjust, corrupt and unfair place.  Rather than focus on the problems they navigate, they remain centered on doing God’s will.  These two friends have discovered that tenacity and companionship are antidotes for anger and dejection.  And they have learned that success comes most often and stays longest when they defer to God’s plan rather than their own.

Paul is a familiar figure to us but perhaps we can learn something more about Barnabas as he and Paul model how to best react when we see others dismantle the work we have lovingly delivered to God.  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02300a.htm

Misunderstood by many, these two place their faith in God.  Rejected by the tradition in which they had been raised, they place their hope in Christ.  Quickly forgotten by the fledgling churches they have founded, they allow the forgiveness and healing of the Spirit to work through them.  Barnabas and Paul refuse to allow any failure to deter them.  They follow Christ . . . and they hold on.

And so we pray . . .

Faithful and abiding God,

We remember that you were the cornerstone that the builders rejected.

We believe that you walk with us in our journey just as you walked with the apostles in theirs.

We ask that you abide with us when the night grows darkest.

We know that you rejoice with us as we celebrate our little successes.

Lead us so that we remain faithful to you.

Guide us so that we remain hopeful in you.

Help us so that we react in love and not in anger when we see our work taken apart by others.

Grant us the gift of tenacity that you gave to Paul and Barnabas, on the days when we find our journey long, and our resources low. 

We ask all of this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   

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Sunday, August 14, 2011 – Sirach 29:21-28 – Frugality

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. 

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