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Posts Tagged ‘Susana’


Psalm 26Prayer of Innocence

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Artemisia Gentilesche: Susana

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend about how Psalm 73 always pops up when I am troubled about how to live in the world and not be of it.  As Paul tells the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:3): For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. In Psalm 73, The Trial of the Just, the psalmist expresses what happens to our thinking when we come close to losing faith that God is goodness and mercy and justice.  In today’s Noontime reading we find a kind of companion psalm, a prayer of innocence, a statement of faith and an affirmation of our covenant promise with God.

Just a few days ago we examined the first book of Esther in which the story of Mordecai begins to unfold.  He is wrongly accused and knows that he must rely on God and no other for salvation.  Like Job in his conversations with his three friends Bildad, Eliphaz and Elihu, he knows that only in a conversation with God will he find the answers he seeks.  And like Susana in the Book of Daniel he also knows that always our help arrives in God’s time and way rather than our own.

When we find ourselves in a quagmire not of our making, we might pray this psalm . . . I have walked without blame.  In the Lord I have trusted.

When we find ourselves in a nest of confusing lies and deceptions, we might pray this psalm . . . I do not sit with deceivers, nor with hypocrites do I mingle.

When we find ourselves embroiled in a plot we did not devise, we might pray this psalm . . . I hate the company of evildoers; with the wicked I do not sit.

And when we find ourselves rescued by God – as we always are – we might pray this psalm . . . My foot stands on level ground; in assemblies I will bless the Lord.

Once someone said to me that Psalm 26 cannot rightly be prayed by anyone except Christ since none of us is as perfect as the person who speaks here.  I replied that God does not expect perfection in our actions, only persistence in our attempt to be loving and just; that Christ is a tender brother who models how we might live yet forgives all our faults; that the Holy Spirit abides in each of us urging us to keep ever close to God.  When we listen to the words Christ speaks to us as God manifested among us, we know that forgiveness and openness to renewal are important in our development.  We know that the perfection God asks is our persistence in following Christ through any and all obstacles in our lives.  We know that the first step we must take toward God is a genuine repentance for any way we have offended God.  We know that God is eager to forgive our transgressions.  And we know that we are given infinite opportunities to amend and renew ourselves.

So today we take up this psalm to examine it and ourselves.  Are there times when we are not completely innocent of wrongdoing?  Yes, often.  Are there times when we have been wrongly accused and maligned.  Yes, and these times may be numerous.  Does God always forgive, is God always present, and does God consistently welcome us home when we have given offense?  Yes, and yes, and yes.  Today, if we find ourselves wanting, we have the opportunity to turn back to our journey of persistence, for in this we find perfection. And also today, if we discover that we have been unjustly accused, we have the opportunity to petition God with all the other innocents who suffer at the hands of those who disdain patience and kindness and justice.

Too often the innocent messenger is blamed for the harsh but true and necessary message.  We may have been the receiver of such a communication and behaved badly . . . and we may also have been the deliverer and suffered through no cause of our own.  In either case, let us together begin our singing . . . My foot stands on level ground; in assemblies I will bless the Lord. 


A re-post from October 30, 2011.

Visit The Race of the Just post at: https://thenoontimes.com/2018/11/21/the-race-of-the-just/ 

Image from: http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/2011/04/susanna-falsely-accused.html 

To read more about innocents who suffer follow the painting hyperlink on today’s post or visit:

http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/2011/04/susanna-falsely-accused.html

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daniel-3-furnaceFriday

January 9, 2015

Joy and Daniel – Ordeal

We have discovered the many ways that joy visits us in celebration but we also find her during days without light and nights without end. From the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation we find that no matter the circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  For the next several days we re-visit the prophets for a final experience of joy in darkness. And we remind ourselves that we have the power to bring God’s infinite, sustaining, persistent joy to others.

Daniel’s prophecy includes familiar stories: the writing on the wall, the lion’s den, the fiery furnace and in the Apocrypha, Susana’s rescue and Bel and the Dragon. The prophecy also contains the first reference to one like the son of man, coming from the heavens (Daniel 7:13) with whom Jesus later identifies himself (Matthew 8:20, Mark 2:10, Luke 5:24, and John 1:51), with whom others identify Jesus (Stephen in Acts 7:54-8:1, and as our brother by the writer of Hebrews 2:5-8). This Son of Man reappears in Revelation as the living one who was dead in 1:13 and again at the harvest of the earth in 14:14. These stories and images have much to communicate to us, especially when we undergo a great ordeal.

 “Strictly speaking, the book does not belong to the prophetic writings but rather to a distinctive type of literature known as ‘apocalyptic,’ of which it is an early specimen . . . This work was composed during bitter persecution carried on by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and was written to strengthen and comfort the Jewish people in their ordeal”. (Senior 1086)

Through the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, we learn that the faithful need not fight, they need only remain faithful in and with God.

Daniel 6:23: The king was beside himself with joy and ordered Daniel lifted from the den. And not a scratch was found on him because he believed in his God.

Through the words of Daniel’s prayer, we learn how to rise in hopeful joy in the darkest of hours.

Daniel 9:17: O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead! Let your face shine again with peace and joy upon your desolate sanctuary—for your own glory, Lord.

joyThrough Daniel’s actions, we learn how to remain faithful in a world that worships power, breeds oppression and disdains a life of joy in God. Let us consider the lessons of Daniel today.

Make time today to look through Daniel’s stories. Choose one that might apply to the circumstances playing out around you. Compare different versions of this story . . . and commit to living it out as might be possible in this new year.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1086. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the Old or New Testaments, 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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Sunday, June 9, 2013

3b0141998522131d8dffaab754c4f580[1]Psalm 64

The Perfect Plot

“The psalmist shows that the righteous are often defenseless before the cynicism of the machinations and calumnies to which they are prey.  Those who weave their intrigues act in shadows and believe they are hidden from view.  However, God sees everything, even secret human actions and designs.  His judgment overtakes those who evade justice . . . God will turn their evil against the wicked while publicly acquitting the righteous.  Each life will be brought before the judgment of God; the righteous will find their joy in the Lord”.  (The Psalms 161)

I suspect that every one of us has been the victim of a perfect plot at one time or another in our lives.  Perhaps it was an adolescent bullying that set us apart and taught us a lesson.  Maybe there is jealousy in our workplace and we have become the object of someone’s campaign to see that we find the office too ugly a place to stay.  Or it is possible that within the sanctity of our family or prayer circle – the very refuge where we take shelter from the storms of life – we have been the object of a perfect plot.  If this is so, we feel the angst and sorrow in this psalm.

We have visited this theme before. If we type the word couches or Susana, or plot into the blog search bar we will find other reflections in which we have struggled with the apparent immunity of those who lie on their dark couches and willfully plot to inflict harm on the faithful.  The psalmist today rails against this seeming imperviousness to consequences but he also reminds us that God is in charge . . . that this kind of suffering is part of our human condition . . . and that although we may not see the consequence exacted from these evil ones, still God holds them to an accounting.  It is best to let the matter lie there and avoid thoughts of revenge or payback of any kind.  It is best to allow God to tend to these perfect, secret plots as only God can . . . with deep wisdom, with unblemished justice, with transparent grace, and with a full and burgeoning love of humanity.

I was taught as a child to pray for my enemies and today, as I read this psalm, I come to understand that only God can handle real evil. Only God can create a plan that saves all. And only God has the wisdom, beauty, and power to convert into goodness our dark and devious conspiracies.

If only we might remember that Jesus died as a result of an evil intent that took hold of those who laid out their perfect plot against him.  If only we might follow Jesus’ example as he prays for his killers.  If only we too might intervene on behalf of those who construct perfect plots against us . . . and if only we might ask our compassionate and patient God for forgiveness and renewal for all.

Tomorrow, the mystery of God’s reversal . . .  

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 161. Print.

For an interesting list of twenty “friends” who many harm us, click on the image above or go to: http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/news-20badfriends/9/

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