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Posts Tagged ‘The Good Samaritan’


Saturday, May 9, 2020

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willingBut for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


Image from: https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/news/2020/04/supporting-vulnerable-residents-easter-weekend

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009. 

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Isaiah 28 and 29: The Fate of Samaria – Part IV

Third Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018

David Teniers the Younger after Francesco Bassano: The Good Samaritan

We might look to the fate of Samaria to see if we discover ourselves in the story. We might be a society that works at maintaining openness to God, or we might look for the quick ease and comfort of filter bubbles that repeat to us the words we want to hear. In this season of searching, we look for fidelity, and we refuse to panic.

Thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
    a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
    “One who trusts will not panic”. (NRSV)

In the story of the Good Samaritan with which Jesus teaches us, we might be the Levite on our way to the Temple, consumed with following the letter of the Law and closing ourselves to the Spirit. We might be the Samaritan moved with compassion to help a broken traveler. Or we might even be the traveler. In this season of hope, we rest in expectation of God’s goodness, and we trust in Christ.

“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
    a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
    a trusting life won’t topple”. (MSG)

In the story of Jesus, we encounter the rejected cornerstone that God promises through the prophet Isaiah. We see the redemption of Samaria that Isaiah foretells. We meet the firmest of foundations that saves us from toppling. In this season of repentance, we attempt to imitate God’s merciful love as we forgive those who harm us.

This, now, is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’” (GNT)

As we ponder the fate of Samaria, we discover ourselves in the story. We rise to step upon the shoulders of the promised, precious stone. We stand firmly on the granite underpinning of Christ’s promise, and we refuse to topple.

When we compare varying translations of Isaiah 28:16, we find fresh sustenance for the times we panic. For a modern story of The Good Samaritan, click on the image or visit: http://www.martyduren.com/2015/11/17/the-good-samaritan-a-retelling/ 

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Isaiah 28 and 29: The Fate of Samaria – Part I

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Samaria from the Minaret of Mosque

Samaria is located in the northern kingdom of Israel, not in the southern kingdom of Judah.  In Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were considered unclean because they intermarried with the northern tribes who invaded to cart away the Jewish nation. They worshipped the pagan gods of these northern people, and so they were no longer true worshipers of Yahweh.  Jesus turned the “purist, separatist” convention on its head. He spoke and interacted with Samaritans, and one of his parables compared a Samaritan with a Levite priest who was on his way to the temple and so wanted to remain clean, and so did not stop to help his neighbor who lay gravely wounded in a ditch.  This action and these words confounded the people who loyally followed the Mosaic Law.  They might confound us today if we are not watchful.

Samaria is the capital of Ephraim, a tribal area in the northern kingdom.  According to the notes in the NAB it was “built upon a hill, suggestive of a majestic garland adorning the head of the drunken kingdom”.  An interesting image, as are the ones that follow in this chapter.  We might be the people who have made a covenant with death, who have made lies their refuge, thinking that “in falsehood we have found a hiding place” (verse 15). Or we might turn to the image of life that Isaiah offers, and Jesus proclaims.

Tomorrow, the siege.

A reflection written on January 30, 2008. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaria 

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Psalm 120Prayer for a Returned Exile

Soldiers marshaling people for a march

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Today we consider this prayer by those who returned from captivity and exile to find their holy Temple and city in ruins. Today we also consider our own response to the challenge of rebuilding, and the gift of transformation. Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2009.

There is a cycle of Psalms that pilgrims began to sing when they made their journey to Jerusalem each spring.  This is the first of the fifteen Songs of AscentPilgrims to this day still refer to this journey as an ascent – a going up – to Jerusalem.  The holy city was God’s dwelling place, the new Sinai, the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the temple’s Holy of Holies guarded by huge gold statues of cherubim – fierce and loyal winged celestial creatures.

Not only is this psalm an anthem of thanksgiving for having been rescued, it is also a petition for protection against the bands of attackers who lurked along the Jerusalem route to waylay and rob the innocent.  The victim who is helped in the Good Samaritan parable is on the road to Jerusalem.  The priest and the Levite pass by the wounded man and do not help him.  If they are on their way up to Jerusalem, they will not want to break their fast or become impure in any way before entering the Temple.  They leave the man in the ditch to be helped by the Samaritan.  Joseph and Mary leave the protection of their clan to travel alone back to Jerusalem in search of the lost child Jesus.  He is found with the elders of the temple discussing scripture.

Several years ago we reflected on this prayer during one of our Noontimes, and we spent some time with the following citation from the St Joseph Edition of Psalms.  “Human beings are born to be pilgrims in search of the Absolute, on a journey to God.  We advance by way of stages, from the difficulties of life to the certainties of hope, from the dispersion of cares to the joyous encounter with God, from daily diversions to inner recollection”. 

When we make our Easter journey toward Pentecost, we feel a certain vulnerability.  We have experienced friendship with Christ, and we have witnessed his death.  He has returned and we are joyful; yet he speaks of going away to send us the Advocate.  He reminds us that his love can never leave us.  We hear his words and experience this love; yet we feel that there is something more . . . there is something missing.  We lack an ingredient to an important lesson.

We have returned from exile with Christ’s resurrection.  His act of humility and love has set us free.  Let us thank him for our deliverance.  Let us ask him to protect us against the bands of marauders that assault our days and nights as we journey home.  In joy, we make our Prayer of Ascent.

From the MAGNIFICAT evening prayer last night, we pray: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who live lives of loveless loneliness: may we embrace them in our communities of love.  Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have mistaken power and possession for love: may they discover the truth through the witness of Christian believers: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have died: may they live forever in the kingdom of God’s love: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

Amen.

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

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.5 (2009). Print.  

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire.  It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willing. But for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness.  But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

For more information about the contrast of willingness and willfulness, click on the image above or go to the 21 February 2013 Brookhaven Retreat blog post at:  http://www.brookhavenretreat.com/cms/blog-22/item/845-willful-or-willing

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009, and posted on May 9, 2013. 

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