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Tornado in Oklahoma, USA

Tornado in Oklahoma, USA

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Matthew 24

Calamities – Part I

This is the first of three reflections on Matthew 24 that school us on how to follow Christ who shows us the way through calamity. This weekend, as we begin to step back out into the world of pandemic, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. Next weekend brings us the Pentecost and the promise of Christ as universal shepherd. In the turmoil of our present catastrophe, we look for and find the steadily beating heart of God. 

Chapter 24 of Matthew is full of images and predictions from Jesus himself, the prophet, priest, son, Messiah.  The Destruction, Calamities and Great Tribulation are followed by the Coming of the Son of Man predicted by the prophet Daniel centuries before.  The footnotes are longer than the text in the New American Bible and if you ever have time to sit with this chapter, you will find many gems to collect and carry with you for remembrance.  Here are a few of these treasures.  Try to find time today to sit with them.

  •  Vigilant waiting does not mean the cessation of daily work to wait in stillness for the restoration and healing; rather, it is the faithful continuing of our daily routine with an awareness that Christ can and does come at any moment to cure, to heal, and to free us.
  • Disciples must always be ready for the coming of the Teacher; and it is this awareness of the disciples that will be their measure.
  • The faithful need not ask for signs, but the one we might mark will be that of Jonah (see Matthew tells us in 12:39-40) . . . restoration after living in the belly of the beast for three days.
  • Faithful completion of an assigned duty is paramount among disciples.

When we meet calamity, rather than see the destruction around us as a sign of God’s abandonment . . . we must consider how closely God always abides with those who suffer.

When we find ourselves against insurmountable barriers, rather than despair that all is lost . . . we must consider that with God all gain is loss and all loss is gain.

When we struggle with the difficulties of discipleship, rather than consider that the work is too hard . . . we must consider that we are privileged to serve one who rides out calamities with compassion and justice, one who restores and heals and transforms.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ words to us . . . his disciples . . . when we meet calamities . . .


 Adapted from the May 13, 2008 Noontime.

Image from: https://www.livescience.com/17004-oklahoma-struck-biggest-november-tornado-record.html

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – 2 Corinthians

file[1]Chapter 12, verses 7 to 10 and Chapter 13, verses 5 to 13

“By a barrage of questions, by challenges both serious and ironic, by paradox heaped upon paradox, even by insults hurled at his opponents, [Paul] strives to awaken in his hearers a true sense of values and an appropriate response.” (Senior 275). Sometimes in community we need to do the same. We need to challenge, and we also need to use uncomfortable means to save souls. Yet we do this from a stance of weakness, as Paul says, and not from a position which overpowers. We call, we do not force. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. . . For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong.

Paul and the Jesus community of Corinth struggled within a long, faithful, combative covenant, the one never giving up on the other. Scholars believe that this letter may be a cobbling together of several smaller letters and for that reason may seem disjointed; but it is evident that the people in the community of Corinth kept these missives and read them aloud at their gatherings, even though there are passages that are critical of the Corinthians themselves. These people are a solid example of those who are willing to remain in relationship with one another through trial, beyond criticism, straining toward unity and the formation of community.  Paul says in these verses that his own amazing strength comes from his weakness, and that he relies on this mystery of strength through weakness as it was taught by the risen Jesus.  And it is Jesus who continues to teach this lesson to us each day.

We have been celebrating Eastertide and we have examined the gifts we receive through discipleship.  We move toward the Pentecost event when the Spirit comes to live in intimacy with us.  As we witness the mystery of Christ’s passion and resurrection, and our own redemption and restoration, it is good to look at the closing words of this letter. We recognize some of them as the prayer we hear at Mass just before the kiss of peace.

Rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

And may the peace of Christ be with each of you. Amen.


Image from: http://strengththroughweakness.forumer.com/index.php

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.275. Print.

Adapted from a Noontime written on April 5, 2007

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Monday, May 11, 2020

restorejusticeimage[1]Philippians 1:27-30

Steadfastness in Faith

If ever we doubt that we are to be community and that we are called to find ways to bridge differences, we only need look as far as the Book of Acts and the Letters of the New Testament.

This is God’s doing.  I keep repeating these words to myself as I wend my way through the obstacles that present themselves to me each day. I have been planted in this time and place to bloom according to the gifts God sent with me. And so in accord with the covenant I share with God, I will continue to be steadfast, always hoping for the best outcome for all.

I share with you a quote which was sent to me several years ago.

Hope is all about the vision of what we believe our world can and should be . . . Hope enables us to believe that we can achieve some meaningful expression of justice, reconciliation and healing here and now even though the ultimate goal must always remain beyond our grasp.


John W. de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice

Hope, reconciliation, willingness, bridge-building, restoration, transformation.  These are only a few of the gifts we receive when we become disciples of Christ.

Tomorrow, steadfastness in love . . .


Image from: http://transitionalbany.org/

To learn more about restorative justice, go to: http://www.restorativejustice.org/articlesdb/articles/4385 and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime written on May 7, 2007.

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Hosea 7 & 8: The Gomer Scale

fire_glory_whirlwind_over_lyford3[1]For much of this week we have spent time with Gomer and Hosea and today when we look closely we hear the warning that Israel will reap the whirlwind of destruction for her lack of fidelity.  We can always pause on our Lenten journey to examine ourselves to see where we stand on the “Gomer Scale”.

  • Do we walk away from problems to go in search of fresh grain with which to make new drink to dull our senses . . . or do we abide through friction and conflict?
  • Do we pull up our shallow roots to replant ourselves in the newest in-vogue panacea each time we run into an obstacle . . . or do we remain planted in firm soil to draw from our foundation to bear good fruit when we are challenged?
  • Do we lie on our beds or drape ourselves over couches to cry and lament our situation . . . or do we work through our grief so that it might transform and restore us?
  • Do we cast about for a new diversion to distract us from true self-examination when we have erred . . . or do we examine ourselves in open and honest light?
  • Do we build thick walls of arrogance and pride as our self-defense . . . or do we go to one we have wronged and ask forgiveness?
  • Do we mourn our loss of innocence . . . or do we see our trials as stones on the path of the Narrow Way which leads to truth and our own restoration by our maker?
  • Do we seek the flattering advice of false prophets and teachers . . . or do we go to one we have wounded and harmed to truly listen to his or her words?
  • Do we deaden our senses when we feel overwhelmed by emotion and confusion . . . or do we turn to our maker who knows and loves us best to ask what we should do?

Gomer refuses to reform, repent, repair and rebuild.  Hosea waits, abides, calls, and loves, ready to heal and restore.  If Gomer wishes to be more than a flat cake not turned over, a senseless and easily deceived dove, one whose strength the foreigners sap, then she must move toward the curing touch of God.  Only there will she find the true, deep, thrilling and lasting love which she seeks.  Gomer looks for instant pleasure which she can manipulate and control . . . without realizing that in so doing, she forfeits the only joy and happiness which satisfies.  Union with her spouse, her God.


Tomorrow . . . a prayer to return to love.

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontime was first written on October 8, 2007.  They were revised and posted as Favorites.

Image from: http://thegrenzian.blogspot.com/2012/11/whirlwind.html

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Monday, February 10, 2013

Ezekiel: Necessary Conditions

Michaelangelo: Ezekiel

Michelangelo: Ezekiel

“Ezekiel became a prophet in Babylon – the first prophet to receive the call to prophecy outside the Holy Land.  As one of the prophets deported by Nebuchadnezzar in 597, his first task was to prepare his fellow countrymen to be inviolable.  Accordingly, the first part of his book consists of reproaches for Israel’s past and present sins and the confident prediction of yet a further devastation of the land of promise and a more general exile.  In 587, when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, Ezekiel was vindicated before his unbelieving compatriots.  After this time, Ezekiel’s message changes.  From now on his prophecy is characterized by the promise of salvation in a new covenant, and he is anxious to lay down the conditions necessary to obtain it.  Even as Jeremiah had believed, Ezekiel thought that the exiles were the hope of Israel’s restoration, once God’s allotted time for the exiles had been accomplished”.  (Senior 1034)

Believing that we have a better way to learn what God is teaching us, we often balk at accepting the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We set up pre and post conditions.  We lay out parameters and guidelines for how we will or will not accept God’s teaching.  We want to control how and when and why and even if we will accept God’s necessary conditions for us, often refusing to comprehend that the obstacles before us are our lesson plans from God.  Ezekiel explains to us that even when we believe we have suffered beyond our limits we will often find that there is “further destruction” yet to come.  For those of us who rely on our own power as supreme and reject God’s compassion and guidance, this is difficult to take in.  And we ignore the opportunity God offers to us to experience God fully beyond the devastation.  We miss knowing that we are inviolable.

In our fear of failure we too often refuse to succeed.

In our fear of loss we too often avoid gaining the eternal.

In our fear of rejection we too often reject love that is openly offered.

In our fear of further devastation we too often throw away the lesson plan that brings us transformation.

In our fear of necessary conditions . . . we too often refuse to become God’s inviolate people.

Ezekiel wants to bring us a message of newness despite any defeat we suffer.  Ezekiel warns us that when we think we have hit bottom there may be further devastation to come.  Ezekiel wants to tell us that beyond that ruin and loss there is a new covenant and a new promise.  There is our relationship with God which is unbreakable, unchangeable, and inviolate. And this relationship is love.

When we live in the shelter of God’s protective care we cannot fail.  When we follow the example of Christ’s call to love and be loved we will rise with him to become one with all of humankind.  When we relax into the compassion of the Spirit we also allow ourselves to become God’s precious, God’s beloved, God’s inviolate people.


A re-post from February 10, 2013.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezekiel

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1034. Print.   

This week we will reflect more closely on portions of Ezekiel’s prophecy.

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Psalm 101: Integrity and Possibility

00387775[1]I sing of love and justice; to you, Lord, I sing praise.  I follow the way of integrity; when will you come to me?

This is one of my favorite psalms, written as a song of the Just Ruler.

I act with integrity of heart within my royal court.

My royal court . . . my family, my house, my workplace, my colleagues, the circle of my temple which accompanies everywhere at all times.

I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely.

This, of course, is the Old Testament, separatist way of dealing with deceit.  Yet even David and Solomon had their defects.  And Jesus said, Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone . . .  We are New Testament people and so we must not turn away from the struggle of humanity.  We must act to heal, to transform, to save.

Whoever acts shamefully I hate; no such person can be my friend.  I shun the devious of heart; the wicked I do not tolerate.

“Hate” is such a strong word.  And as New Testament Faithful, we are called to love our enemies into goodness.  Jesus waded among the sinners to bring them healing.  Today we, sinners all, wade among the craziness of the world to bring Jesus the Healer to all.  This is how we heal ourselves.

Whoever slanders another in secret I reduce to silence.

When the craziness is too much to handle, we retreat in Christ to look for answers.

Haughty eyes and arrogant hearts I cannot endure.

Hubris, indifference, greed, envy, fear . . . these all lead to arrogance.  We are to witness to Truth, Light, Humility.  We are to act these virtues.

I look to the faithful of the land; they alone can be my companions.  Those who follow the way of integrity, they alone can enter my service.

There are always faithful surrounding us . . . even though we often feel alone.  We must seek them out.  We must gather around us the faithful who want to share the journey home.

No one who practices deceit can hold a post in my court.

We must use prudence when we walk among those who live in the shadows and call them to the light . . . we must not despair that our work has no effect.

No one who speaks falsely can be among my advisors.  Each morning I clear the wicked from the land, and rid the Lord’s city of all evildoers.

We must not believe that there is no hope.  This was the sin of Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus.  He was “neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion”.  (Cameron 72)

“Judas and Peter both betrayed the One whose bread they had taken.  The difference between them was that Peter loved and repented; Judas despaired.  The Lord, risen, would have repaid them both with his forgiving love.  Judas could not even imagine the possibility”.  (Cameron 66)

And so we pray,

Let us not despair when we see a lack of integrity.  Let us, like Christ, be the Hope that all may be made anew.  Let us live in this Hope, in this Possibility that we all will be transformed by the healing presence of Christ . . . the Presence which we bring to the world through our own actions.  Let us believe that all sin is forgiven, no matter how grave.  Let us love those who languish, who plot, who live out indifferent lives.  Let us love them into transformed lives of integrity . . . of possibility . . . so that the words we say and the creeds we believe . . . match the actions of our hands . . . and the openness and fullness of our hearts.  Amen.


Cameron, Peter John. MAGNIFICAT. 19.3 (2008): 66 and 72. Print.  

First written on March 19, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/campaign-integrity

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Psalm 145: Trust in God Alone

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Open%20gate%20at%20Bayou%20Bend[1]Grace us this week with your presence, O Lord, that we may focus our hopes and our work in you.  Amen.

We sometimes wander aimlessly in search of happiness or peace . . . when all the while we do not notice that God has gifted us with a beautiful Eden in which to live.

We sometimes are so intent on completing tasks and chores that we miss the beauty surrounding us . . . when all the while we rush past opportunities to build relationships that will bring us joy.

We sometimes see all windows and doors as closed or obstructed pathways . . . when all the while Christ waits on the other side for us to knock and seek.

Let us spend some time with Psalm 145 today . . . and let us learn to trust in God alone.

The Lord sets captives free . . . let us ask for our own freedom from fear.

The Lord gives sight to the blind . . . let us ask to be healed of our own blindness.

The Lord is good to all . . . let us put away our childish envy and see that God has enough for all.

The Lord is just in all his ways . . . let us strive to act in justice each day.

The Lord is gracious and merciful . . . let us forgive all those who have harmed us.

The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love . . . let us put aside all anger and anxiety.

The Lord is trustworthy in every word . . . let us treat all whom we meet with openness and honesty.

The Lord is worthy of high praise . . . let us praise God joyfully and without ceasing.

The Lord is near to all those who call upon him in truth . . . Come Lord Jesus, come!

When we trust in God we find new strength to open old doors. When we trust in God we find transformation. When we trust in God we are restored in newness.


A re-post from December 3, 2019.

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

Monday, December 23, 2019

Garden-Gate21[1]

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.  

Amen.


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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Luke 24: Holding Hands

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

We have visited the end of Luke’s Gospel several times in the past few years and we have spent time thinking about the enormity of what Jesus’ companions experienced.  We have reflected on the faith they had in order to put their lives in danger as they spread the story of Jesus resurrected.  We have thought about the immense hope these apostles carried with them into the world.  And we have meditated on the limitless love they have for Christ and for us, their followers.  These men and women left behind all they knew and risked all they had . . . because they could not do otherwise.  Their lives had been changed irrevocably.  We are called to do the same.  We too may be transformed in Christ.

Our world calls us to other places, the place of fame, the place of prestige, the place of reputation, the place of comfort.  Jesus returned to the eleven to help them bridge the gap between the world before and after his resurrection.  He walked with them, spoke with them, ate with them, rallied them and sent them on.  He does the same for us each day, knocking on our bedroom door to awaken us to the new dawn.  All we need do . . . is let him enter.

From last evening’s prayer in MAGNIFICAT:

As people who turned to God from the subtle idols of self-seeking, let us pray in faith: Hold us by the hand!

When the possibility of gain blinds us to the needs of others, keep us from unseen snares of temptation: Hold us by the hand!

When the demands of the Gospel seem impractical amid conflicting values, keep us faithful to your commandment of love: Hold us by the hand!

When those in need of our attention and help inconvenience us, keep our eyes fixed on the compassion of Christ: Hold us by the hand!

When we find ourselves in the hectic whirl of living, being pulled apart by the voices of the world . . . we will find sanity when we come together to pray . . . for Christ is always where we gather.  And so we might pause at noon each day to abide with one another for a time.  May each of us feel Christ’s very real presence today.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.3 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://manvela.com/rains-terrify-me/

Written on October 27, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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