Posts Tagged ‘The Law’

Romans 7:1-6: Freedom from the Law, An Invitation

Monday, December 23, 2019


We read and hear much these beginning days of the Advent season that reminds us of the importance of the rejected cornerstone.  It is a perfect time of year to allow ourselves to reflect on and in the Spirit; it is a hallowed season in which we might take the opportunity to step aside, to stand down, to relax into a sacred place where we might hear the Word of God fully.  Let us give ourselves this gift of time and grace and peace.  Let us allow ourselves to be free from the old laws that bind us.

In today’s Noontime, Paul explains that Christ followers have a different understanding of the law than their brethren the Jewish people because of the presence of Christ in their lives. “Law binds the living, not the dead, as exemplified in marriage, which binds in life but is dissolved through death.  Similarly, Christians who through baptism have died with Christ to sin [see Chapter 6 Romans] are freed from the law that occasioned transgressions, which in turn were productive of death.  Now that Christians are joined in Christ, the power of Christ’s resurrection makes it possible for them to bear the fruit of newness of life for God”.  (Senior 238)

It is easy to become lost in Paul’s logic but the essence of his message today is this: When we no longer cling to the limiting oldness in which we may find ourselves, we not only gain freedom . . . we also find resurrection.  When we move into Christ, as the widow does in Paul’s example, we are offered more than a new liberation; we are given the very gift of transformation itself.  When we dare to open the closed gates in our lives we discover an invitation to conversion. Let us step forward in acceptance of Christ’s gift.

Picture1We might take on a spiritual project this Advent.  We might challenge ourselves to see and hear some new layer in the old, precious stories that present themselves to us each year. Let us invite God to plumb our depths and challenge our resting in a place for too long.  Let us put on our pilgrim garb to set out for a well-known destination but in hopes that the journey will bring a new invitation for transformation.   And so let us pray . . .

Grace us this week with your presence, O Lord, that we may focus our hopes and our work in you. 

May these opening days of the Advent season bring us a renewed hope in Christ.

May our journey bring us a newly found freedom in the Spirit.

May we learn from the rejected cornerstone, Jesus, that our new liberation is also an invitation to transformation.

And may we await in joy the Christ’s coming as we await the fulfillment of the promises whispered to us by our maker.  


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.238. Print.   

Image from: http://www.pbgarden.com/garden-gate/

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Romans 4: Faith

Monday, December 16, 2019

Yesterday we reflected on Nicanor, a man who trusted in himself above all else; today we reflect on Abraham, a man who trusted in God above all else.  St. Paul tells us that Abraham is justified – saved – by this great faith he holds in God the Father.

Notes will tell us that this chapter is an expansion of a themes Paul also hit when writing to the Galatians in Chapter 3 of that letter: O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?  I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain? – if indeed it was in vain. 

Paul continues in his iteration of how Abraham came to believe, and how Abraham held to his belief that God is present, compassionate and supreme.  Today in Romans, he speaks again of how the Law of Moses is empty without faith in Christ.  The Law – even if followed to the letter – cannot bring us the deep, comforting and always-present knowledge that we are the well-loved children of God.  The Law – even with all its intricacies – has nothing to offer us except when seen as fulfilled in Christ.

Jesus is our brother; he is God who walks among us still.  Given the testimony of so many witnesses at the time of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and given our own testimony of miracles worked in us today – how can we fail to believe that the Spirit continues to comfort, the Son continues to save, and that the Father continues to love us?  Using the example of Abraham, this is the question Paul put before the Galatians two thousand years ago; it is the question he puts before us today.   Are we so stupid that we do not believe the evidence we have even in our own lives that Jesus lives, the Spirit abides, and God protects and calls?  Abraham acted on his deep, abiding faith, and so may we.

Let us pray . . .

He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body already dead . . . and neither must we weaken.

He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief . . . and neither must we doubt.

He was fully convinced that what God had promised to do he would do . . . and so must we be convinced. 

He was empowered by faith and gave glory to God . . . and so must we.  Even when we go through dry times, even when we go through pain, even when we have become exhausted from the race . . . we must abide in faith . . . for there is no other salvation or justification. 

In this week when we celebrate the light of Christmas and the joy of faith – whether we are alone, whether we gather we loved ones or strangers – let us acknowledge that we have been redeemed, and let us lay our weariness and woes at the feet of the only one who can bring us the serenity and joy we seek.  Let us give all back to God in the belief that we are loved, that we are treasured, and that we have been saved in order to live in and with God.   We ask this in faith, Amen. 

Image from: http://kehilath-haderekh-benzi.blogspot.com/?view=flipcard

An adapted re-post first written on November 25, 2010, and posted today as a Favorite.

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Jeremiah 31:31-34: Certainty

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018

This week as we near Palm Sunday, we spend time with each morning’s first reading for daily liturgy. Today we explore our hearts as we look at our commitment to our covenant with God.

We ask . . . Do I feel present to others in God’s love? How do I act on the promises I have made to God? How does God interact with me? How do I interact with others – both those who follow Christ and those who do not? Am I aware of The Law written within? And if not, what do I do to open myself to the Spirit?

Visit The Certainty of God’s Covenant reflection on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2018/01/18/jeremiah-3135-37-the-certainty-of-gods-covenant/

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/401664860493772170/ 

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Isaiah 11: The Rule

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Favorite from February 28, 2010.

We often consider what passion we might need to live as disciples of Christ.  Today we look at the rules by which we must learn to live.

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to look past appearances; we must not make decisions based on hearsay.

Justice shall be the band about his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

If we wish to part of kingdom building, we must learn – as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 – that the only armor we need is Christ.

He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel; the dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth.

If we wish to be a part of kingdom building, we must wait for the signal, and we must be able to recognize the Shepherd as John tells us in Chapter 10 of his Gospel.

The envy of Ephraim shall pass away and the rivalry of Judah shall be removed; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to put aside envy; we must learn that God calls for unity and not rivalry.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to delight in wisdom, to listen for God’s counsel, to draw from God’s strength, and to love the Lord our God more than life itself.  This fear, this awe, this love will be all we need to carry us through any adversity we face.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must take all of this in . . . and we must make the Rule part of our fiber and tissue, our heart and soul.

For more reflections on how God’s love manifests itself in our lives, enter  the words The Law into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Benefiting Many

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1ash wednesday

Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In a reflection last week Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. posited the thesis that all of scripture, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation,mirrors the development of human consciousness, with its usual pattern of progression and regression”. He explains that just as in the early books of the Torah and in the narratives that follow, we humans look for a foundation of rules and regulations that govern our lives and relationships. He writes that this is “helpful for developing our first egoic identity (the container), and for most of us this represents at least the first 25 years of our life; but that is not yet a full spiritual identity (the contents). The trouble is, an awful lot of people stay at that first stage of boundary-keeping that ‘law’ and group well provide, even though it traps us inside of a black or white, dualistic consciousness. But we have to start there or we have no ego container”.

Rohr further proposes that as we mature we begin to understand “why most people are hesitant to move further, toward places where they cannot uphold themselves, or prove they are right and good”. Rohr points out that Jesus himself says “the Law actually assures a kind of certain failure so all humans have to rely entirely on God’s grace and mercy and not their own worthiness or any kind of superiority. God is actually pretty clever”.

So where does that leave us as we learn and grow in God? How might these ideas serve us as we enter the season of Lent, this season of growing in Christ? What might we do to create a dwelling place for the Spirit?

In the opening weeks of Lent we will search the Torah and narratives as we explore the materials and process we have used to construct our temple dwelling place for the Spirit. We will later move into a time when we dare to say that the Law has failed us in some way. And we will – with God’s grace – arrive at the Easter miracle with a new and open heart. If these Lenten reflections do not serve us, we might turn to the Connecting at Noon page on this blog and consider a change in our prayer life that will create a fresh place for the Spirit and allow for renewal. Or we may simply rest in God’s hands and allow the Spirit to revive any inertia and to heal any wound.

beginner's mindAs we move from one season to another, as we approach the great gift of Eastertide, we might remember the words of Paul to the Corinthians: Brothers and sisters: Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the greater glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)

Citations from Richard Rohr’s Meditation from February 12, 2015: Adapted from Scripture as Liberation: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations Click on the Beginner’s Mind image to explore videos that open us to renewal, or visit: http://rohr.franciscanmedia.org/user/?browse=Videos 

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Joy and the Law

joyMonday, November 17, 2014

Nehemiah 8

Joy and the Law

We continue through the Old Testament looking for stories of joy that might surprise us. If today’s story calls you to search further, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is taken from the Book of Nehemiah.

The priest Ezra and the organizer Nehemiah bring the faithful back to Jerusalem to rebuild the, city, the temple and their relationship with Yahweh. The faithful find it in themselves to ask forgiveness, to ponder their recklessness and abandon. Yahweh receives the faithful with loving forgiveness. For Yahweh has been waiting with open arms all along their journey home.

We might find it difficult to understand what The Law really is, and last winter we spent a number of weeks reflecting with Psalm 119. In this series, we found a variety of ways in which we are called to perceive the concepts in the Mosaic Law and in the end we determined that this psalm – the longest Chapter in scripture – is actually an exchange of love letters between God the Creator and us, God’s creatures. This is what the stories in Nehemiah call us to today.

Nehemiah 8:9-10: And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 12:43: They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

What is this law that brings the faithful back to God?

images-joy-redAleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, He . . . the first five letters in the Hebrew alphabet and the opening stanzas of this prayer of the Law. These letters bring us the understanding that we are made in God’s image of mercy, forgiveness and love. This is God’s promise.

Waw, Azyin, Heth, Teth, Yodh . . . the second five letters bring home to us the idea of trusting God beyond all others and all else. We also come to understand that joy is always somewhere hidden in sorrow. This is our portion.

Kaph, Lamed, Mem Nun, Samekh . . . kindness, transformation, dedication, insight, promise. These are the gifts we receive when we contemplate God’s law. These are the gifts that often only come through strife and contention. God promises that despite our portion of suffering, there will always be great joy. This is our call.

Ayin, Pe, Sadhe, Qoph, Resh . . . discernment, serenity, freedom, discipleship, eternal life. Once we begin to live in God’s Way rather than our own, we understand how and why we are Children of God. We understand that we are most free when we give ourselves over to God. We understand that we must die to self before we experience eternal life. This is our rescue.

psalm-119-32Shin and Taw . . . the Law of Love arrives when the creator comes to walk among us as a man of flesh and bone. We are marked with the sign of Tau, claimed as God’s own. When we journey through and with God’s Law we begin to experience transformation. This is our redemption and our own resurrection from the life of the dead.

If we struggle to find how God’s Law brings more freedom and not less, we might spend time with this story. If we balk at the lesson that we must die in order to rise, we might spend time with this Psalm. Ezra and the Levites teach the people. Nehemiah organizes the work. Together these leaders and these people enact God’s Law. Together these leaders and these people find rejoicing in what had once been a great sorrow.

To investigate God’s Law in these stanzas, enter Psalm 119 in the blog search bar.

To learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah, spend time with the stories in these two books. Enter their names in the blog search bar and explore. Click on the images for other reflections. Or use the scripture link to compare different Bible versions of these verses. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Monday, February 24, 2014

imagesCAVPF65IRomans 2:12-16

Our Interior Law – Part I

Knowing the Law and living the Law are not equal.  Can a man or a woman be a preacher of the Good News and still sin greatly?  Yes.  Can one who does not even know about the Law live a life according to that Law?  Yes.  The privilege of having been schooled in the Law does not bring with it an automatic membership into an exclusive club.  One must demonstrate by outward actions that this knowledge has transformed one’s life; and this knowledge is available to all of us, even if we have not received it as a birthright.

Possessing the Law.  Acting the Law.  Being justified in and by the Law.  Paul writes of justification often and when does he means to remind us that is our measure of holiness.  We become justified – or redeemed and transformed – when we act in and through and for God.

Paul is writing about integrity here.  He asks us to take a look to ourselves to see if what we say matches what we do.  Beyond this simple statement is the further thinking that it is not enough to carry out in our action what we say we believe, we must also be sincere in these outward signs of our inward selves; because it is the interior that has worth as opposed to the exterior.  It is the interior as portrayed by the exterior that speaks to the world who we are and who we believe God to be.  Body and soul ought not operate in two different worlds; for when they do our transformation and justification are impossible.

Paul calls out his fellow Jews for their hypocrisy in not recognizing the Word in the person of the Risen Christ; but he also calls out all people of all times and places to engage with the Risen Christ ourselves rather than rely on the words of an exterior, written Law that keep us safe but that do not redeem or transform us.   Paul encourages each of us to see the separation between saying and doing as our measure of self that matters most for it mirrors our separation from Christ who is our vital guide and support.  And it is this separation from Christ that makes our own transformation and redemption so difficult to realize.

So how do we avoid this splitting of self and this separation from Christ?  We examine both our words and actions to see that they align and that they are sincere; and we assure that the interior law we carry in our hearts . . . can be plainly seen by ourselves and others in all that we think . . . in all that we say . . . and in all that we do.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 26, 2009.

To learn more about what The Law means in a scriptural context, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/l/law.htm

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