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e.John14.6Saturday, September 18, 2021

Psalm 25 and John 14

God Shows the Way

Part II

While we pause in our journey with the prophet Jeremiah we rest in the knowledge that God accompanies us always. While we ponder Jeremiah’s circumstances and how he suffers innocently, we spend time with Psalm 25 and reflect on the beautiful way it foreshadows God’s physical presence among us in the person of Jesus. While we come to understand the magnitude and intensity of God’s love for us, we spend a bit of time considering the beauty of the Spirit who dwells within, and the healing, redemptive hand of the one who created us.

In her bio, Heather King remarks that when she was asked how she could become a convert in Los Angeles with its juxtaposition of abundance and scarcity she replied with a question – as Jesus so often does – How could she not? Jeremiah may well have asked himself this question when found himself abused and imprisoned for speaking on God’s behalf. Today we ask ourselves this same question despite the pain of our journey . . . when we are called to follow Christ . . . how can we not?

When we find that we are in dark surroundings, we must not be afraid for God has come to us in human form to show us the way: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  (John 14:1) When we find ourselves surrounded by those who know only evil, we must follow the roadmap Jesus has left for us: You have faith in God; have faith also in me. (John 14:1)  When we find ourselves overcome with sorrow or loss, we have a path to follow: I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6) When we feel abandoned or betrayed, we have a guide to follow: I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (John 14:3)  When we are alone and lost, there is a trail before us standing open and inviting.  Where I am going you also know the way.  Jesus is amazed at our fear: Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? (John 14:9) Yet he loves us and is constantly making a way for us.  I am going to prepare a place for you.  (John 14:3)

The apostle John captures Jesus’ last discourse for us so beautifully that these words will not fail to sooth us when we suffer through our own Jeremiah times. It with these words that God shows us the way; and it is God’s Spirit that abides in us every inch of our journey.  With Christ as a brother, we are a part of the great human yearning for union with God.  Like homing birds we know the way . . . yet we too often allow the fears of the world to drown out the true voice that speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts.

I wait for you, O Lord, the psalmist sings, remember no more the sins of my youth, remember me only I the light of your love.  And God replies: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Where I am you also may be.  Have faith in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. 

God shows us the way. Let us turn our eyes and ears to God to take the loving hand that is offered.


Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

To learn more about Heather King, visit her blog at: http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/ 

Image from: http://www.word-picture.org/john-14-6-via-veritas-vita/

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jesus-lightFriday, September 17, 2021

Psalm 25

God Shows the Way – Part I

The Lord is good and upright. He shows the path to those who stray, he guides the humble in the right path; he teaches his way to the poor.

The humble, the poor, and those who stray. God tends to those who stumble along The Way Christ shows us.

My eyes are always on the Lord; for he rescues my feet from the snare. Turn to me for I am poor and lonely.

These words touch a chord within us and it may be for this reason that Psalm 25 is frequently used at funerals. We are sending a loved one off on a journey that each of us will take . . . and we are not always certain of the way we ought to go.

Psalm 25 is an acrostic with the first letter of each verse being a successive letter of the alphabet.  As we sing this song, “the palmist mixes ardent pleas (1-2, 16-22) with expressions of confidence in God who forgives and guides”.  (Senior 661)

John 14:1-12 is also often read at a funeral Mass because it brings us comfort to know that there really is no mystery about how to live our lives or what we are to do when we die.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

When we are able to find a pocket of calm from which to assess our lives, we know that in subtle ways, and sometimes not so subtle ways, God provides us with a map for our lives. And when we can trust God enough to relax into the goodness that God is, we also realize we are sent suggestions for our lives much like the directions we receive when we plug in a GPS (Global Positioning System). God constantly warns, guides, prods, encourages and finally shows us The Way we are to go. We have only to relax and follow.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT (315) Day by Day reflection by Heather King, a spiritual writer and a convert to Catholicism: This was a God who was with us in our darkest human moments, who had suffered every insult, humiliation, confusion, loneliness that we have.  I’d think, he knew what it is to yearn, to feel like a loser, a failure, and a misfit . . . I began to see that this God – who had the power to do anything; who commanded the sun and stars – had instead consented to empty himself and become the hardest thing in the universe it is possible to be: a mortal being.  He’s become human in order to enter into our daily lives, to be with us every waking and sleeping moment, to fulfill the deepest desire of the human heart: to not be so eternally, everlastingly alone.  In a way I was becoming a believer just because Christ did fulfill the deepest desire of the heart: isn’t it our greatest wish that God not be some faraway abstract entity, but somehow like us?  That God walks among us is so simple we refuse to believe it; it so fulfills our deepest yearning we’re blind to the fact that it actually has been fulfilled . . . Christ is [not] a fairy tale, or wishful thinking, or an illusion.  We can bring things into being only by believing them with the purest of hearts. We can bring into being only the true and the real – “I am the way the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) – what already exists in a sense.

Jeremiah tells us that God has a plan in mind for us, a plan for our joy and not our woe. As we search for The Way, we humble ourselves . . . as God faithfully shows us The Way.

Tomorrow, how can we not follow? God shows the way, part two.


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.5 (2011): 315. Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.661. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

Image from: http://pamandersonblog.com/2013/07/

 

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Monday, August 30, 2021

The Old Temple Housing the Old Covenant

The Old Temple Housing the Old Covenant

Jeremiah 31:21-40

Good News!

Watered gardens, priests with souls of abundance, shouts of joy, radiance at the generosity of the Lord, new wine and new oil, virgins dancing, old and young men rejoicing together, return from the land of the enemy. Surely all will rejoice with this good news!

Set up road marks, place guideposts, turn and return to God.

Days are coming when the Lord will write a new covenant on our hearts rather than on tablets of stone in the desert. I will be their God and they will be my people. There will be no need for instruction each to his neighbor for all will know the Lord.

Days are coming and indeed, they are already here. We have every reason to rejoice!

covenant_black+on+redThis is the Good News of the Return from Exile. It is the description of The Road we must travel. It is the reminder that there is An End to Our Mourning. It is The Summons Home. It is the Certainty of God’s Promise. And it is the prediction of the Rebuilding of Jerusalem.

We are a people in exile who yearn for the running water which flows through Jerusalem.

We are a pilgrim people who travel The Way laid out for us by Jesus, the Savior.

We are a chastened people who wish to cease mourning.

We are a hopeful people who respond to the Call to turn and return.

We are a faithful people who remember our Covenant with the Creator.

hands in hands

The New Covenant: Our hands in God’s hands . . . our hearts in God’s heart.

We are a loving and love-filled people who tremble with the anticipation of the Holy Spirit.

We are a holy people who witness, work and wait.

For the days are coming and, indeed . . . they are already here!


Adapted from a reflection written on October 24, 2007

Images from: http://poetrybydeborahann.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/if-god-is-the-potter/ and http://loudcry.org/sda/archives/4998 and http://www.journeythroughthestory.com/2014/08/ezekiel-3637.html

 

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crossroads1Thursday, August 5, 2021

Jeremiah 16

Walking in Hardness

We have all experienced the neighbor who has nothing good to say about anyone or any circumstance; they are old before their time; they believe themselves expert on all aspects of life and death. We all have acquaintances who refuse to see reality; they reject information about local or global events; they see themselves as isolated entities unaffected by the world’s happenings. Perhaps we are the curmudgeons who scowl across back yard fences; or perhaps we are work colleagues who refuse to accept reality. Whether we see the world as bleak or promising, we each must assess our pathway in it. We must evaluate where we walk in hardness or in Christ.

Jeremiah today describes his condition and it is not a happy one. He suffers greatly at the hands of those who, instead of blaming, ought to be thanking him. He speaks truth and yet is accused of lying. As he delivers God’s words, he confronts both naysayers and Pollyannas and knows that he is seen as a fool. This message came to me, he begins; and rather than ask to hear the words of truth that will bring them into The Way, his audience prefers the way of hard hearts and stiff necks. Fortunately for us, the Lord says: I will bring them back to the land which I gave their fathers. God always welcomes us home. Fortunately for us, Jeremiah persists in his fidelity to God. He persists in delivering his message. Fortunately for us, the prophet is faithful in conveying God’s words that ask where and how and why we walk.

Let us spend some time today looking in a quiet, spiritual mirror to reflect on our own hardness of heart and our openness to God, for we all try to spend a time in both those paths. Let us think about our commitment to knowing God well and responding to God’s call to soften ourselves. And let us examine our response to these words: O Lord, my strength, my fortress, my city in the day of distress!

Where do we go in our day of distress? Where and how and why do we walk? Is it in the way of hardness, or is in The Way of Christ?

Which path do we choose?


Enter the words The Way into the blog search bar and examine where and why and how we walk. Or examine the four scripture versions of Jeremiah 16 by clicking on the scripture link, choose different versions of this prophecy and listen to God’s word in a new way. 

For a reflection on Jeremiah’s celibacy and some thoughts on suffering and joy as seen through this prophet, enter the words The Source of Life into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://djastinconfessions.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/crossing-paths/

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Ary Scheffer: Saint Augustin and Saint MOnica

Ary Scheffer: Saint Augustin and Saint Monica

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

John 14

A Prayer for Our Days and Nights

Perhaps because our circadian clock plays a quiet but powerful role in our lives we are subtly convinced that the universe is a mystery of black and white principles and forces. Perhaps because we see so much duality in others we are convinced that God punishes or saves depending on our behavior. Perhaps because we divide our lives between forces of good and evil, our perceptions between dark and light and our hours between day and night . . . we see God as something or someone we must seek. Perhaps because of all of this . . . we believe that seeking God means leaving what we know to journey toward what we do not.

St. Augustine of Hippo writes: Don’t go looking for any end beside God, in case by looking for an end beside God, you find yourself being consumed, not completed. (Cameron 277)

St. Augustine lived a life of dissipation in an era when the Greek and Judeo-Christian worlds were merging. He eventually changed his way of living and thinking to become an early leader in the Western Christian Church and to merge the worlds of day and night for himself and others.

In Chapter 14 of his Gospel, St. John records Christ’s words at the Last Supper in which we hear the dialog between Jesus and his followers. Spend some time with it today and consider the world of black and white that we have constructed for ourselves. Consider what it is we would do well to change. And as the day comes to a close and begins to merge into night, join those in the Noontime Circle to pray.

Loving God, protect us from consuming ourselves as we fight against a world that struggles to reconcile darkness and light. Teach us to complete ourselves in you so that we might learn to live in a world that has both nights and days.

For those who convince themselves and others that creation divides itself into worlds of evil and good we pray: allow us to understand that God is every thing and every person.

For those who believe that God’s grace and blessing are earned and not given, we pray: allow us to learn that God’s compassion and love are gifts freely given.

For those who tell themselves and others that our task on earth is to find God while we live safely and comfortably without risking ourselves for others, we pray: allow us to see that we are complete in God when we allow ourselves to be consumed for and in God,

For those who understand Jesus’ words: I am the way and the truth and the life: inspire them to help others to see The Way of days and nights.

For those who live Jesus’ words: No one comes to the Father except through me: encourage them to bring the wisdom of a world of days and nights to others.

For those who enact Jesus’ words: If you know me then you will also know the Father: strengthen them as they bring Christ’s love to all who live in a divided world of days and nights. Amen.


Visit the scripture John Chapter 14 link above and read the versions that have been pre-selected. Choose another version and consider how we might live on a world where dark and light co-exist without consuming us, where the coming together of nights and days become a force in our transformation.

St. Augustine’s citation from SERMONS and cited Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 18.5 (2014): 277. Print.  

For more information on circadian and biological clocks, visit the NIH (U.S. National Institutes of Health) at: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx

For more about St. Augustine and the divergent worlds his life helped to merge, visit the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scheffer_Saint_Augustine_and_Saint_Monica.jpg

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Amos 3-6

Words and Woes

Amos conveys the words of God in his prophecy. Put away black-and-white thinking. Step away from corruption and nepotism. Be open to transformation and redemption. Jesus arrives as the teacher who leads us away from dualism. He points out exploitation and favoritism.  He rescues and changes.

Amos shares the woes he sees. The ease with which violence creeps into our lives. The mourning that threatens to drag us into darkness. The worship of little gods and the turning away from the Living God. The Spirit comes to abide with us, easing the pain of loss, comforting those who are crushed, gathering the remnant into the Body of Christ.

Amos tells us that there is much more to life than ease and comfort, power and fame. Amos reminds us that our real life lies in how we treat one another and not in the accumulation of wealth or titles. Amos asks us to move out of the darkness and into the light.

Christ comes to teach us how to live The Way. Christ steps out to lead us, taking on corrupt structures and power bases. Christ lives in each of us, renewing, recalling, and patiently ministering to our fears, wants and anxieties.

These are the Words of God conveyed by Amos. Jesus lives as the Word of God, walking and healing as he moves among us.

These are the Woes of the world as seen by Amos. Jesus comes to live among us and to remind us that trust in God alone prevails over the deepest and worst violence.

As we continue to move through Lent, let us pause to consider if or how we trust the healing hands of Christ.

Tomorrow, a Lenten prayer for understanding.


For a fresh view of Amos’ prophecy visit: http://jasonsoroski.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/unqualifed-the-story-of-amos/

Image from: http://www.artnet.com/artists/james-smetham/the-call-of-the-prophet-amos-o79LEkNxDOXiMmVWrrBNCQ2 

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Monday, March 8, 2021

imagesCAIS5TV1baby feet in handsAmos 3

First Word

In 3:6, Amos states an important belief of ancient theologians, that God causes all events, even disasters. (Mays 650) In the light of the New Testament, we see God as a forgiving parent, a source of infinite compassion, a God who delivers justice, who pulls good out of harm, who loves us so dearly that he allows us to make decisions . . . even though they may have disastrous results.

God says: When humans first began to believe in my existence, they saw the world as a dual entity in which people, places, ideas and dreams were either good or bad. There was very little room for fringe thinking because life was so fragile and survival so difficult. Methods, practices and customs that helped the species to survive were regarded as sacrosanct. Your ancestors often shunned or even executed innovators and those who understood the wide and long view. You have evolved and now some of you understand what Jesus means when he speaks of the common good. You comprehend the importance of forgiving enemies.  And some of you live the life he models for you. I know that some among you still live with the words from ancient days. You scramble to make your world safe by performing practices with no heart. You believe that a checklist of good deeds saves you when it is really my loving care that restores what you have lost. Rather than lose patience with yourself or with any of these lost children, come to me. Call the fearful ones to me through your actions and words. Resist the temptation to believe that I bring about disaster for those who do not follow The Way. Believe that my heart is big enough to love the cruelest among you, persistent enough to convert the most heinous among you, and durable enough to outwait the most cruel and stubborn among you. The ivory apartments will be ruined through the actions of those who build them. The horns of the altar will break through the corruption the church leaders allow. And the many rooms of the wicked will be no more through the actions or inactions of their own lives. The wicked may escape with the corner of a couch or a piece of cot . . . but they will flee into my relentless, loving arms. This is my First Word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

When we become inpatient with God’s plan as it unfolds before our eyes and into our lives, we must remember this First Word that Amos brings to us today.

Tomorrow, Second Word.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 650. Print.

For an interesting post about being still to hear God’s word at www.hisinfinitegrace.com, click on the image above, or go to: http://hisinfinitegrace.com/2012/10/30/be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-2/

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Monday, February 8, 2021

3_letters_quph[1]Psalm 119:145-152

Qoph

I call with all my heart, O Lord . . . I call to you to save me . . . I rise before dawn and cry out . . . I put my hope in your words.  

In this eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119 we join our voice with the psalmist’s as we respond to the call God sends us at birth.

God says: It brings me joy to hear your response to the song I have been singing to you. Your call can arrive at any hour of any day or night. It can come to me from any place and I will come to you for I always know when and where you are. My words are true. My promise is authentic. You can place all your hope in me for I bring rejoicing out of disaster and joy out of sorrow. You have every reason to trust me explicitly and totally. For I am your God . . . and you are my people.

Rather than curse the darkness, let us hand over our worries to God. Rather than follow an easy, convenient, little god, let us respond to the call we receive from the one, the only, our compassionate God.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  o, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”.  (Matthew 28:16-20)

Following Christ is never easy for The Way is strewn with obstacles that bring us anxiety, doubt and frustration. But this same journey is also graced with the presence of Christ in every hour of every day and night. Let us bolster one another with courage as we finally respond to God’s call.

Tomorrow, Resh.


For more on how Qoph speaks to us of redemption and God’s loving, omniscient presence, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/kuf.htm 

 

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Monday, November 16, 2020

pearl-in-clam[1]Matthew 7:6

Pearls of Great Price

Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Swine and dogs were words used by Jews to express contempt for Gentiles. Commentary tells us that they may also be used by Christians to describe those obstinate, impenitent Christians. In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer records the teachings of Jesus in which we are asked to pray for one another rather than judge one another. A true disciple is one who is willing to go to his knees and pass through the narrow gate onto The Way which Jesus walks. A true disciple is wary of false prophets, looks to build his life on a sturdy, strong foundation, and understands that he need not fight God’s fight. A true disciple knows that if we want to tap into our divinity, we must first humble ourselves as Christ does. A true Christian depends on God for all things, and witnesses this loyalty by praying for the swine and the dogs in his life.

This saying can be a harsh one. This teaching can be difficult to take on and live out. It calls for the courage to remain on our own with God rather than be in the company of a crowd. It calls for perseverance in traveling a long road with many turnings that hide the future from our eyes. But we are pearls of great price, worth more than any amount we might imagine. And these pearls have been bought at great cost by Jesus’ redemptive suffering, death and resurrection. These pearls will not be left alone to be snatched up by a thief. These pearls are worn by God with great love. They are tended with great care.

We are pearls of great price, as Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), bought with sacrifice and love. So rather than step casually into a life we have been given as gift, let us live each day with the care and devotion God gives to our creation. Let us value the breath we have been given even as wet us pray for those who do not. And rather than give what is holy to dogs or allow ourselves to be trampled by swine, let us celebrate with joy each new dawn that brings us the mystery and of God’s love.


Image from: http://connectathens.blogspot.com/2009/08/pearl-of-great-price-032509.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 9, 2010.

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