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Posts Tagged ‘the marginalized’


Malachi 2:6-7: What We Teach

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The prophet Malachi is known for his exhortation to put aside “spiritual degradation, religious perversions, social injustices, and unfaithfulness to the Covenant”. (Britannica online) Malachi recalls the fidelity and courage of the early Hebrew priests and people who first entered their covenant with God.

They taught what was right, not what was wrong.

How do we spend our time and energy today? What do we teach through the living of our lives? What is the fruit of our labor? As we review the local, national, and international news, how do we commit to bringing the world together rather than tearing it apart?

They lived in harmony with the Lord; they not only did what was right themselves, but they also helped many others to stop doing evil.

How do we apply our talents and gifts today? What do we achieve through the Spirit’s gifts of creativity, mercy and justice? As we interact with family, friends, and colleagues, how do we build bridges and tear down walls?

It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the Lord Almighty.

How do we share the hope and love God sends to us each day? What do our words and actions communicate to the world about our own ideas of inclusion rather than exclusion? What do they say about our willingness to gather in those on the margins and those left behind? As we enact the priesthood ordained by Christ, how do we reflect God’s image, and engender the healing action of the Spirit?

Each day we have openings to learn God’s wisdom from our failures and successes. The lessons God gives us are our interactions with others; they bring us opportunities to expand our knowledge, and to explore the promise of God’s hope. Each day we have new endings and new beginnings as we learn to teach with each gesture, each movement, each encounter with Christ.

What do we teach each day? We have only to look into the eyes of others to discover the answer.


For more information on prophecy, see the Britannica online article on the minor prophets at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/The-first-six-minor-prophets#ref961890

When we compare other versions of these words, we find new lessons from God.

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/teaching-more-than-meets-eye 

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Beatitude: Happiness

The Eighth Day of Christmas, January 1, 2018

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me eight maids a-milking.  

The ancient carol reminds us that happiness comes to us in a variety ways; and as Jesus tells us, all ways lead to The Way. Christ continues to lead us along the path that asks us to reduce ourselves so that he may increase in our lives. This Way is narrow yet full of blessing and promise that come to us through inversion – as does so much that Christ explains to us.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, the mourning, the meek, the ones who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake.

Rather than encourage self-centered thinking, Jesus asks us to care for others as readily – or even more – than ourselves. This is difficult living, Christ reminds us, yet the reward will be great indeed.

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they will be comforted, they will inherit the earth, they will be filled, for they will receive mercy, they will see God and be called children of God, for again . . . theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Contrary to a world that tells us to tend to ourselves, Christ asks us to show preference for those on the margin. Despite this apparent contradiction to survival, Jesus promises a life that is beyond any we might have expected. A life that produces fruit in endless abundance.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great.

On this first day of the new year, let us explore the words Christ has for us about happiness, one of the gifts he brings to us this Christmastide; and let us consider how we might find this eternal bliss today and all days.

For detailed notes on the Beatitudes, see the Happiness page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/happiness-beatitude/

 

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1 Timothy 2: Seek Equality

Annibale Carracci: The Samaritan Woman at the Well

 Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This letter contains some clear restrictions for women – they are to be silent and not speak out.  Men are put in charge of prayer and liturgy.  Women are meant to be on the sidelines in this ancient world.  Some men today wish women to remain so – as unequal partners.  Other men today are wise enough to understand that women have equal worth before God and it is indeed a woman who brings Christ into the world.  We can allow ourselves to be contained by these sentiments or we can rise above them.  Modern commentary points out that these injunctions against women are a sign that the Holy Spirit was clearly in motion, encouraging the oppressed half of humankind to speak up and speak out.  The oppressing half of humanity responds in the way it knows best – it calls for silence.  Equality, in the end, will be gained.  Women, as the oppressed gender, have the opportunity to understand and to know that as a part of the marginalized in society they hold a special place.

John Martin Borg: Woman Caught in Adultery

In the Gospels, Jesus pays attention to women – the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), the woman (and we notice that the man is not brought forward) whom the men wish to stone for adultery (John 8), women suffering, women grieving, and his own mother at the time of his crucifixion (John 19).  Jesus makes wine of water at his Mother’s request.  Jesus includes women as his apostles.  Jesus values women as equal to men.

In Thursday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation, Father Bede Jarrett writes: When we say God is everywhere, we mean that he is in all things because he made all things.  Not only does the whole world lie outstretched before his eye and is governed by his power, but he himself lurks at the heart of everything.  By him things have come into existence . . . Wholly is God everywhere, not as some immense being that with its hugeness fills the world, but as something that is within every creature he has made.

Rogier Van Der Weyden: Deposition or Descent from the Cross

We believe this to be so . . . and when we do, we believe that women and men are created as equals in a glorious, mysterious dance of opposites that resist and yet attract.  This marvelous tension draws us in to ponder the inscrutability of life.  This equality that is rejected by many is actually the foundation of life itself.  This union of contrasts is stronger than the binds which hold together like beings.

When the age-old conflicts of gender and sexuality surface, we might remember this: Wholly is God everywhere, not as some immense being that with its hugeness fills the world, but as something that is within every creature he has made.

Do we reject this different-ness from ourselves?  Or do we take it in and in so doing . . . welcome a Jesus we have yet to meet?

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.11 (2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on November 13, 2009.

 

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Proverbs 31: Speak Out for Justice

Friday, August 25, 2017

As we close the Book of Proverbs, we remember the practical advice we hear that has the power to guide us in living a fruitful, God-like life. We know that we have the help of Lady Wisdom and God the Creator whenever we are confused, frightened or anxious. And we know that this wisdom lies within each of us, waiting to burgeon into good works that support the common good, nurture goodness in society, and bring about the serenity we seek. The formula is simple. We go to the margins rather than the powerful of society. We remember to include the diverse rather than the few or elite. We keep in mind that God sees all, hears all, and holds all in the heart of Christ. And we rest in the Spirit that not only consoles and heals, but also sustains, guides, and transforms.

Speak up for the people who have no voice,
    for the rights of all the down-and-outers.
Speak out for justice!
    Stand up for the poor and destitute!

Before the writers of Proverbs close their book of advice, they include a last ode to the virtues of the ideal woman. Although these words describe a world in which each woman saw her worth through the men in her life, they also describe God’s intention to include women’s quiet compassion as an important influence in a world that looks for peace.

Tomorrow we look at the writers of Proverbs to examine the timelessness of their words.

When we compare THE MESSAGE translation of these verses with other versions, we realize the importance of speaking out for justice.

For an additional post on the Ideal Wife, visit Sirach 25-27 on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/03/27/the-ideal-wife/

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Proverbs 1:20-33: Wisdom in Person

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How is it that we constantly seek wisdom and feel that we have not found her? The writer of Proverbs tells us that hatred of knowledge and the choice to reject God are the characteristics of the one who lives outside of wisdom.

In city streets and squares, we find wisdom not in obvious leaders or well-heeled citizens, but in the lives of the marginalized.

At the busiest corners and at the city gates, we bump into wisdom not in the beautiful or powerful people but in the homeless.

Wisdom calls, wisdom holds out her hand to us, and in these verses wisdom will mock those who have ignored her and later find themselves facing calamity. But, Jesus brings us another version of wisdom. Through the Beatitudes, Jesus points out that we find peace and serenity when we go to the edges of society to interact with the poor and disadvantaged. The practice of compassion mends wounded hearts. Constant prayer and attention to God’s voice open our minds to the wisdom we seek, to the wisdom that is already standing before us.

When we compare different versions of these verses, we discover that Wisdom appears to us in person each day in many ways. These words remind us that

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part IV

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We might imagine ourselves discovering Christ just as we break bread with him. We might imagine his disappearance as a disappointment or as an opportunity to share the joy of Good News with others. Our reaction to Christ’s presence brings us great fear, great sorrow, great joy, or a mixture of many emotions. How do we write our own story?

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus. Mosaic (6th Century mosaic)

They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

God says: You may find this story difficult to believe. You will want assurance that you would not miss my presence among you; yet you need not be afraid. I am not angered that you overlook me, gaze past me, and cringe away from me when I appear as the homeless, the hungry, the refugee, and the poor. When you suffer embarrassment, all you need do is turn to me with a vulnerable heart. When you are uncomfortable each time I come to you as the marginalized, all you need do is open your arms to me. When you are angry with circumstances you cannot control, ask for my guidance and protection. I have the strength and persistence, the love and fidelity, the hope and energy to be with you through every moment of your suffering. Give me your anxiety and fear. Come away and break bread with me. All the rest is nothing. I am all. And I am enough in this day and in all days.

Diego Velázquez: The Supper at Emmaus

When we spend time reflecting on this story, and when we admit the number of times our anger or discomfort have gotten the best of us, we realize that we, like the Emmaus disciples, have the opportunity to break bread with Christ himself.

 

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The New Testament: Simplicity

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on March 5, 2009.

If your Bible has an introduction to the New Testament, now is a perfect time to read it.  The season of Lent is calling us to forgiveness, newness and rescue; this is also the message of the New Testament.

From La Biblia de América.  Together, these writings animate, illustrate and consolidate a new faith.  They came to life through an oppressed people longing to be free from the constant need to worry about their everyday subsistence.  Wealthy landholders held most of the power and control.  There was no social safety net.  The little people were left to fend for themselves.  These are the people to whom Jesus ministered.  They are still his dearest ones.  We love Jesus best when we love the marginalized.  This is a theology of simplicity.

The thinking and theology presented by Christ brought not only a newness and a simpleness to old ways, but a challenge that required answers.  The people who heard the message and embraced it even in the face of death served as the tinder that ignited a movement that has not – and will not – be overcome by darkness.  This is what the followers of Jesus know: that we are created out of and for love, and that the creator desires nothing more than our love in return. There is no greater news than this.  The story of Jesus and his actions is unparalleled.  It has no equal; nothing can be more simple.

How do we communicate our love to God, our understanding of the simplicity to which Christ calls us?  Through prayer.  Catherine de Hueck Doherty, the foundress of Madonna House, is quoted in today’s Meditation in MAGNIFICAT:  Prayer is conversation with God.  It does not require a thousand books.  It requires a simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  I am beloved by God.  He created me.  This is the first idea.  And he wants to be loved by me.  We have to get that into our heads.  Then we proceed to tell him we love him. 

A simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  This what the people of the Palestine had and knew.  It is what we can come to know.  For this we pray . . . Amen.

For more reflections on the books of the New Testament, visit the New Testament link on “The Book of Your Life” page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.3 (2009). Print.  

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

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Psalm 14: The Dreams of the Poor

Sunday, February 26, 2017wise_fool-large

If we have read Psalm 14 before we are familiar with the opening verse: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” (NASB) But today when we look at THE MESSAGE translation, we discover new meaning in an ancient prayer.

Bilious and bloated, they gas,
    “God is gone.”

If this is what we believe, we will want to examine the path we took to arrive at this thinking. Our fears and anxieties may lead us in this direction. Our constant prayers keep us connected to God.

God sticks his head out of heaven.
    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.

If this is what we are thinking, we will want to think again. God knows that there are many who live as Jesus suggests. There are many who give voice to the voiceless and aid to the poor.

He comes up empty. A string
    of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
    to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
    follow their fellow.

Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?

If we are following a false shepherd because we believe the true shepherd has abandoned the flock, we must be afraid to be the first to turn away from the imposter.
Don’t they know
    they can’t get away with this—
Treating people like a fast-food meal
    over which they’re too busy to pray?

If we have decided that it is best to find comfort in this world because we have no energy to stand for authentic justice, we will want to remember the promise of Scripture.

Night is coming for them, and nightmares,
    for God takes the side of victims.
Do you think you can mess
    with the dreams of the poor?

If we have forgotten that God abides with the the marginalized, we will want to reconnect with our Maker, revisit our relationship with Christ, and renew our lives in the Spirit.

You can’t, for God
    makes their dreams come true.

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    Yes. God is around; God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
    turned-around Israel sings laughter.

fool-quoteIf we hope to rejoice for an eternity, if we plan to turn mourning into joy, if we live in the promise of salvation, we must turn around and give new voice to the hopes of the poor. We must take a hard look at the shepherds we follow. We must listen to the words we say and watch the actions we take. The psalmist reminds us that we cannot hope to languish in comfort and ignorance while false leaders attack the dreams of the forgotten. The psalmist reminds us that we invite our own nightmares and live dangerously if we mess with the dreams of the poor.

Compare other versions of this psalm and explore its meaning for us today.

 

 

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Psalm 112: Rising in the Darkness

Monday, February 13, 2017candles

Whether we know it or, once we commit to loving God as we see God in others, we begin to generate light in the darkness.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

We may be unaware that others are watching us but they are. When we say that are committed to Christ, do our actions betray or support our words?

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.

If we hope to make a mark in human history, all we need do is follow Christ. In this way we will find ourselves in the story of hope and generosity rather than the story of fear and exclusion.

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.

Once we begin to think and move in Christ, all fear falls away for we know that we are not in charge and that the long arc of human history is moving toward the light of Christ.

They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.

lightWhen we feel ourselves moving in that great tide of humanity that yearns for universal justice, impartial freedom and eternal peace, we will know that all is well.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

The honor we seek is not the reward of this life; it is the quiet, humble, everlasting honor that Christ bestows when we follow after him.

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; they are exalted in honor.

We cannot think that our progress is smooth for the way of discipleship is difficult in the best of circumstances.

The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

And we must remember that in our gladness of living and loving in Christ, we are called to invite all those who weary from their journey of opposition, mistrust, and manipulation to join in this great generation of life and light and love.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

candles-burningWe give thanks for the times when are the light. We ask forgiveness for the times we have brought darkness to others and ourselves. And we remember to look for the face of Christ in every soul that passes our way.

When we spend time with various translations of this psalm, we find that our hearts are lighter, our path more easily seen and trod, and our journey more full of peace.

 

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