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Posts Tagged ‘the kingdom’


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

Easter Thursday, April 21, 2022

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.


Image from: https://newauthors.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/blessed-are-the-peacemakers/

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Matthew 5:8: The Clean of Heartheart_on_fire_wallpaper__yvt2

Easter Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

How do we strive to be clean or pure of heart? Richard Rohr, O.F.M., write and speaks frequently about our compulsion to see the world as dual rather than united. We humans are drawn to a divisive “us-versus them” world in which we earn God’s attention and grace. What we fail to consider with this model is God’s true identity. We choose to see God as we have created God; and we disregard God as revealed through scripture and the person of Jesus. In this non-dual, unitive concept of the creator we create God in our own image rather than God to create us as sisters and brothers in Christ.

God says: You have read the story of my journey on earth with you in the person of Jesus. Return to those stories and read my words to the people of the first century. I repeat them to you today. You have heard of the hope and promise I have in mind for you. Return to the words of the prophets and remember the plans I have in mind for you. They are plans for your joy and not your woe. You have witnessed the perfection of my kingdom in the persistence on my apostles and disciples. Imitate my followers and do not be surprised when you fail. The pure of heart are not free from error; rather, they have learned that my kingdom has room for the sinner, accepts the fallen and care-worn, lifts up those who have been trampled by life’s woes and worries. Come then, and live in my perfection, a way that perseveres in faith, lives in hope and acts in love.

It is not possible for humans to attain perfection except in their perseverance in belief, except through the fire of Christ’s Easter passion, except by the healing call of the Spirit. It is in this way that we cleanse our hearts and truly come to see the face of God. It is in this way that we witness the goodness of God’s kingdom.

Tomorrow, peacemakers.


Image from: https://priscillapeace.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/you-set-my-heart-on-fire/

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formacion-solTuesday, January 11, 2022

Joy and Obadiah

Catastrophe

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our 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.  Today Obadiah describes the catastrophe that comes upon the faithful, and he also describes the restoration that the Lord has in mind for each of us.

“The twenty one verses of this book contain the shortest and sternest prophecy in the Old Testament. Nothing is known of the author, although his oracle against Edom, a long-standing enemy of Israel, indicates a date of composition sometime in the fifth century B.C. During this period the Edomites had been forced to abandon their ancient home near the Gulf of Aqaba and had settled in southern Judah, where they appear among the adversaries of the Jews returning from exile. The prophecy is a bitter cry for vengeance against Edom for its heinous crimes”. (Senior 1135)

There is no mention of joy in this brief prophecy, but among the verses focused on revenge there is the promise of restoration.  There shall be a portion saved . . .

There is no celebration in these passionate verses, but among the words describing violence there is the promise of return. The mountain shall be holy . . .

There is no rejoicing in these fervent words, but among the images there is the promise of rescue. And the kingship shall be the Lord’s . . .

Obadiah delivers harsh news and disappears. We know little of him except that he held a deep belief that God always saves the faithful prevails and that God always prevails. We might find no joy in the face of national disaster in Obadiah’s words but what we do find is a call to steadfast fidelity, zealous love and outrageous hope. And this is a call we might celebrate with great joy.


joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1135. 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.

Image from: https://hidrosfera.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/antes-un-poco-de-historia/

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joy-quote-nouwenThursday, January 6, 2022

Joy and Ezekiel

Contempt

We have traveled through the Old and New Testaments discovering the many ways that joy visits not only on the days of celebration when we expect her arrival but also on days without light and nights without end. We have journeyed from the stories of Genesis to the extravagant images of Revelation to 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.

It is difficult to find any reference to joy in Ezekiel’s prophecy that does not refer to a contempt-filled celebration, a rejoicing at the destruction or fall of God’s faithful. We might consider what we celebrate to our own delight but to the grief and sadness of others. We might reflect on our own sense of satisfaction at the expense of others. And we might take heed of this prophet’s warming that what appears to be joy may instead be our own malicious, contempt and derision.

Ezekiel 25:6: This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: You clapped your hands and jumped for joy. You despised the land of Israel.

Ezekiel describes for us a New Jerusalem with a new Temple that heals, sustains and brings joy to the faithful. And he warns us against supposing that we have the power to determine the parameters of this New Covenant. “The new heart and the new spirit which must exist under the new covenant cannot be the work of man; they too, must be the work of God. By such teachings, [Ezekiel] helped prepare for the New Testament doctrine of salvation through grace”. (Senior 1034)

Ezekiel 36:5: Therefore thus says the Lord God: Surely in the fire of my hot jealousy have I spoken against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who have given to themselves my land with wholehearted joy and with uttermost contempt, that they might empty it out and possess it for a prey and a spoil.

valley-of-dry-bonesEzekiel foreshadows Christ’s coming when a new order fulfills the old promise; dry bones rise from the valley floor (Ezekiel 34:1-14) to take on tendons and flesh and skin. Hopeless, dry bones that are cut off from life are promised new breath, new vitality, and a new ruler. In this new kingdom intercession for enemies replaces desire for revenge, and the Messiah’s inclusive love supplants anger, and jealousy. (Ezekiel 34:15-28) Let us keep these images in mind as we enter 2015 with its fresh opportunities for newness, let us remember Ezekiel’s warning about replacing joy with derision. Let us recall his promise that dry bones come together again with the breath of new life. And let us resolve to move away from the darkness of contempt toward the salvation of Christ’s joy.

Today, January 6, is the liturgical celebration of the visit of the three Magi to the stable in Bethlehem. When you can gather the time, watch THE NATIVITY STORY film produced in 2006. You will find the depiction of the three wise ones delightful, and the portrayal of Mary and Joseph grounded and uplifting. Before filming, the cast learned how to milk goats, make cheese, and to use simple tools used two millennia ago. (Source IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0762121/) These magi understood how dry bones might come to new life. We might avow our own beliefs today. 


For another reflection on Ezekiel’s prophecy, click on the Valley of Dry Bones image above , or visit: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/ 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1034. Print.

joyIf 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.

Citation image from: http://www.bestsayingsquotes.com/category/joy-image-quotes-and-sayings-1.html

Dry bones image from: http://playfulnessandpurpose.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/dry-bones-ezekiel-341-14/

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Tissot: Chief Priests Talking Together

James Tissot: Chief Priests Talking Together

Friday, October 15, 2021

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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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

1corinthians15_58notinvain1 Corinthians 15

Toiling

While kings and civil leaders deny problems that yawn before the nation, the remnant continue to move through their days. While priests set up and maintain hierarchies that God does not intend, the remnant live in fidelity with their Creator. While prophets are scorned and their words thrown back at them, the remnant toil in their smallness that is great in God’s eyes.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

Centuries after the fall of Israel and Judah the remnant still labor under corrupt leaders and priests, and the creator comes to walk among them as one of them. Generations after their exile and return the remnant witness to the resurrection of Christ. Years after the restoration of a temple and city the remnant live out the promise of redemption.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

74249646.RrEVmmLE.QUEENSCUPCLINTONIAUNIFLORAP7120064In this year and in this hour the remnant still work in Christ to transform the reality in which they find themselves.

In this day and at this moment the remnant still labor in the Spirit to console a troubled world.

In this eternal time and in this infinite space the remnant still toil in God to bring forth the Kingdom.

This is a labor worth living for. This is work worth dying for. This is toiling that carries with it the gift of God’s grace. This is toiling that brings the immense and unimaginable gift of Christ’s love fully and truly given.


Spend some time today with 1 Corinthians 15 and reflect on its message for those who toil in unjust places under unjust leaders. If you want to spend time with a portion, consider: verses 1-11 The Gospel Teaching, verses 12-19 Results of Denial, verses 20-28 Christ the Firstfruits, verses 29-34 Practical Arguments, verses 35-58 The Resurrection Event. St Paul understand clearly both the frustration of living in world of turmoil, and the power of Christ’s love to mend, sustain and heal. He brings home to us today the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection for those who toil against injustice.

1 corinthians sunset

Images from: http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com/page/47/ and  http://www.pbase.com/jhiker/image/74249646 and http://hdw.eweb4.com/wallpapers/4520/

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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tibetan Nomads

Tibetan Nomads

Jeremiah 35

Wayfarers

Build no house and sow no seed; neither plant nor own a vineyard. You shall dwell in tents all your life, so that you may live long on the earth where you are wayfarers.

Many of us in the developed world live a life of storing up and putting away, of saving for an emergency or the unexpected event. When we read today’s Noontime verses we have the opportunity to assess our level of trust in the creator who knows every detail about us, of our willingness to follow Christ who knows each strength and weakness within us, of our openness to the Spirit who dwells in the heart of each of us to cure, to heal and to console.

We might take this opportunity today to examine our readiness to trust God more than possessions or status. We might also open our minds to the possibility that in many ways we are called to be wayfarers.

God says: I do not ask that you free yourself of your shelter and your stores; rather, I ask that you share them with those who have nothing. I do not ask that you rely on others to provide for your welfare when I have given you gifts with which you might care for yourself and those who live on the margins of your busy life. I ask that you consider your relationships with others in your life as valuable pearls of great price. You are created a social creature and I ask that even your smallest interactions and the briefest of encounters be held as sacred moments in which you meet me. I do not ask that you live as nomads with no purpose or mission; rather, I ask that you put down willing roots into the soil of my kingdom. For there you will flourish and bear fruit in my name. There you will journey with me to experience the mystery and gift and surprise of new life in me. And you will discover the plans for peace that I have in mind for you. You will celebrate with timbrel and dance and tambourine. You will sing and cry and laugh with me. And you will realize just how great my love is for you.

As we reflect on Jeremiah and the Rechabites, let us consider what we store up, what we share, and what we love. Let us consider our life as a wayfarer in God’s kingdom.


To learn about Tibetan nomads, click on the image above or visit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tibetan-nomads.html

For more on Jeremiah 35, enter the words Taking Correction into the blog search bar and explore.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

hands childressEzekiel 33:7-9

Saving Souls

We turn to the words of the prophet Ezekiel as we react to Jeremiah’s indictment of evil in the world. Yesterday we reflected on how God calls each of us to kingdom-building. Today we reflect on how this kingdom might come about.

If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die”, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked one from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.

Saint James tells us: If anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death. (James 5:19-20)

Saint Paul reminds the Romans and us: Love does no evil to the neighbor. (Romans 13:10)

God says: I see many of you undermining the kingdom; yet I see many more of you working to build it up. I want each of you to find her way, or his way to work for and with me. For many of you it is to speak aloud the words I send to you. For others it is to quietly and persistently implement the simple words of my Law of Love. For still others it is to make a loud and banging noise about injustice. And for yet others it is to untiringly appear wherever the wicked tear down vineyard walls to plant new vines again. This is not complicated. It is, in fact, simple. What is complicated is bringing all that you are and all that you have to bear on this one point: there is no greater kingdom than mine; there is no greater love than mine; there is no greater joy than mine . . . in you. Again I invite you to the tireless but rewarding work of the kingdom, for when you join me, you save your soul . . . and those of countless others.

Rather than hide in despair, we step into the light. Rather than wail in sorrow, we take up our task. Rather than gnash our teeth and beat our chests . . . we trust God, pray for those who need our intercession, and join all those whom God has called to the saving of souls.


Image from: http://christianstandard.com/2012/07/meeting-needs-saving-souls/

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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Seventy Years 

Can we imagine a seventy-year exile from all that we know? Can we picture seven times seventy years, or a four-hundred-ninety year banishment from all that we have come to love?

Jeremiah reframes for the Israelites – and for us – the cautions laid out by Yahweh with Moses on the desert mountain.

Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds . . .

Then you shall remain in the land the Lord gave to you of old . . .

Do not follow strange gods to serve and adore them . . .

Jeremiah’s Yahweh speaks of punishment to be delivered in subsequent verses and this clashes with our understanding of the Lord as a forgiving parent who remains with us through every difficulty, even the difficulties we bring on ourselves. We struggle to comprehend why the innocent suffer and why God does not intervene to eradicate every injustice.  And then we recall that we are created in love as God’s image in this world. We remember that we are part of God’s plan of salvation. We remember that our own hands and feet, our minds and lips are God’s in a world crying out for healing. We read these lines from thousands of years ago to recognize our role in God’s plan. When we discover injustice, we are called to act. When we see suffering, we are asked to intervene. When we find sickness, we are called to heal. Wherever we discern the crumbling walls of God’s kingdom, we are commissioned to love with, and for and in Christ.

Jesus tells us: Then the king will say . . . Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in;  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me”. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?  And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Individually and collectively we have the power in Christ to build the kingdom in this time and space. Alone and together we have the power in the Spirit to cure and heal. On our own and in solidarity we have the power through God to repair and build. Let us determine to give the years of our exile over to Christ for in so doing we live in the Spirit, and we transform ourselves and the world as we call forth the kingdom with God.


Enter the word captivity into the blog search bar and explore where or how we create our own exile from God, and what we might do to allow our separation to transform us.

For Bible study outlines, click on the image above or go to: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/category/old-testament-bible-study/page/37/ 

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