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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’


Cana-Wedding-Village-ancient-Holy-Land-pictureSaturday, July 17, 2021

Ruth 1:19-22

Return to Bethlehem

As we have mentioned earlier this week, the people in this story are part of Jesus’ family tree, and as always with Scripture, we see God in the daily living of these ordinary lives lived in an extraordinary way. The message is clear if we might only look and listen: if something is bound to happen, no one can intervene, and if something is not going to take place, no one can cause it to take place . . . except God. God is in charge.

I like this story because it shows the proper covenant relationship between God the creator and us, God’s creatures. God is always present; it is we who struggle to perceive this presence. When we pause to reflect and to look more closely, we might watch God take action through people who respond to God’s call. In this way then, we can say that we mediate God’s actions.

This story shows how tragedy can be transformed by allowing God’s love to move through us, and allowing God’s love to be actualized through us. Are we not constantly surprised by the inverted way in which God works in our lives?

Jeff Cavins writes, “The story of Ruth is almost a story of Judges in reverse: she is a woman from a pagan nation whose people were hostile to Israel (it was Moabite women who seduced Israel to worship Baal at Peor, and Moab’s king Balak who summoned Baalam to curse Israel back in Numbers 22-25). But Ruth forsakes the gods of Moab to faithfully serve Yahweh. That chapter 4 recognizes Ruth as an ancestress of David, and that Matthew includes her in the genealogy of Jesus helps us remember that God’s ultimate plan was to include all nations in His family. Ruth is in many ways what Israel was called to be.”

Today’s citation is early in Ruth’s story and follows the famous “Whither thou goest” line in verses 16 and 17. The women return to Bethlehem at the start of the barley harvest, a harvest which plays an important part in the story that is unfolding. The town celebrates this return as do we.

Recalling that women without men held little value in these ancient times, we can only stand in awe of Ruth and Naomi’s courage in the face of tragedy. We can only hope to see these ordinary lives as extraordinary models for us to follow. We can only believe that God works with us through our own tragedies and joys . . . so let us be open to God’s word in us today.


Jeff Cavins, Sarah Christmeyer and Tim Gray, THE GREAT ADVENTURE: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE. Ascension Press, 2007.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 14, 2007.

Image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/ancient-holyland-photos/cana-wedding-village-ancient-holy-land-picture-2

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TIBERI~1

Sea of Galilee

Thursday, April 15, 2021

John 7:1-9

Within Galilee

Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel to Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

We have begun our ascent to Jerusalem and so we gird ourselves for the arduous journey with its dreadful yet glorious end. We have heard the words and woes of Amos and so we understand that change must and will come upon us. We set our feet on the path we have chosen and we step forward with both dread and hope. What do we discover about ourselves and our world that we must change? We believe that we are well aware of the pitfalls we will meet.  We know that there are barriers that will stymie and frustrate us. We realize that if we hope to be made new we leave the refuge we have created for ourselves if we hope to travel up to Jerusalem. We recognize the hostile nature of the world we traverse and yet somehow we feel strangely safer once we commit to moving forward. Still, for a while we determine to remain where we feel safest while we prepare for our moment of boldness when we will allow ourselves to be open to rescue from our old way of living. And so for a time we remain in Galilee . . . while we prepare for our own conversion, change and resurrection. 


 

the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss

Aryeh Weiss: The Second Temple Jerusalem 

For another reflection about resting before our journey to Jerusalem, visit the Resting in Bethany post by entering the words into the blog search bar to explore. 

For more information about the location and nature of Galilee and Judea, go to: Galilee http://bibleatlas.org/galilee.htm and Judea http://bibleatlas.org/judea.htm

The Temple image from: https://pixels.com/featured/the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss.html

Sea of Galilee image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/sea-of-galilee-tour-maps-facts-and-pictures.html

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Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Curacin_del_paraltico_Murillo_1670

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: Curing of the Paralytic

Amos 5:1-2

Fallen

She is fallen, to rise no more . . . she lies abandoned upon her land, with no one to raise her up.

These are sad lines which are somehow appropriate in this Lenten season as we consider our relationship with God. We all fall; none of us is exempt. And we all have opportunities to rise, to change and to transform. Amos’ prophecy tells of a fierce God who exacts punishment for crimes committed and if we only read this far we might never read scripture again. The next part of Israel’s story, the best part, is about this Word Fulfilled through the Messiah, the Christ.

In John’s Gospel we read the story of Jesus curing a man at the Jerusalem Sheep Gate pool of Bethesda.  This man has been crippled for thirty-eight years (John 5:1-16) and as Jesus enters the area, he sees a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled people; yet Jesus moves toward this one man and asks: “Do you want to be well?”

Jesus comes to us in this same way every day, singling us out of the crowd, asking us this question about our personal journey. Jesus does not worry about the fact that because of his actions some in the crowd tried all the more to kill him. Jesus risks all for each of us. And so might we risk a bit for Jesus.

Amos’ list of words and woes could well be our own. We can complain and cast guilt; we can be willful and ego-centric. We can operate from a foundation of envy, fear and pride, or we can be willing to change. We can listen for the Word, we can put our Woes into perspective, and we can answer yes to Jesus’ question. Sir, I have no one to put me into the healing pool; while I am on my way someone else gets there before me.  And Jesus will say to each of us: Rise, take up your mat, and walk. 

Then we must begin the work of healing, of nurturing our willingness to take on the challenge to look both inward and outward. Once we take up our mat that represents all we have known and put it beneath our arm, we take up the opportunity offered by Christ to rise and transform. Once “healed”, we will have to carry our mat. And we will, from time to time, be called to witness to others as to why we have the mat still beneath our arm. We will be called to witness to why we behave differently from our former selves. We will be called to tell our story of transformation. We will have to explain that once we were fallen, and that now we have risen.

And so, we petition God in this way. Good and generous God, we do not want to lie near a healing pool going over our list of words and woes; we want to rise and carry our mat that has become a symbol of all that holds us back. Help us to better understand how to step away from all that keeps us from transforming through you. Lead us to put our feet on the proper path in the proper way at the proper time. And remind us often of how it is that we now are strong enough, and brave enough, to rise and carry our mat. Amen.

On this Palm Sunday, we gather all those in our prayers who are fallen, and we offer our prayer in hope that we all will rise again.


Adapted from a reflection first written on March 20, 2007.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Curacion_del_paralitico_Murillo_1670.jpg

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Amos 8:5-6

Prayer for Generosity

Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  (Matthew 7:3)

We experience the richness of God’s love when we spend time changing ourselves rather than attempting to change others. As we reflect on the call we hear from Amos to think about how greed might invade our lives, we pray.

We have diminished the ephah . . . let us remember to be generous as God has been generous to us. For all that we have and all that we are, we pray: thank you, Creator, for the gift of body, mind and soul.  

We will add to the shekel . . . let us remember to be honest as God has been honest. For all that we are given and all that we love, we pray: thank you, Jesus, for the gift of your trustworthiness and truth.

We will buy the lowly man for a pair of sandals . . . let us remember that generosity is nurtured when we trust in God alone. Thank you, Christ, for your sacrifice of self that we might live in you.

We will sell the refuse of the wheat harvest . . . let us remember that big-heartedness flourishes when we live in the Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the bounty and kindness you bring with your in-dwelling.

Jesus says:  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Honesty, truth, trustworthiness, kindness, bounty, transformation, big-heartedness, sacrifice. These are the signs of God’s generosity in our lives.  These are the fruits by which we wish to be known. This is the richness we receive.  This is the richness we share with others when we live in God’s generosity. Amen.


Image from: https://lifepointaz.com/a-priority-of-generosity/

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Gilgal Refaim: The Stonehenge of the Middle East

Amos 5:1-9

Third Word

As Amos delivers his third and final word, he gives his listeners specific examples of the behavior and attitudes he warns against. Bethel, an important city in the days of Judges, became a chief sanctuary under Jeroboam I when he set up a golden calf. We know from excavations that the city was later destroyed by the AssyriansGilgal, was first visited by Joshua and the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan River. It was visited by the prophet Samuel and became a rallying point for Saul’s troops in their battles against the Philistines. It was in Gilgal that Saul was affirmed king, and it was from here that the kingship was taken away. This city of Elijah and Elisha becomes the site of a corrupt, sacrificial cult. The Beer-sheba plain was a place of ample winter pasturage and was suited for a semi-nomadic life and so it served as the principal homestead of Israel’s patriarchs. The city of Beer-sheba likely served as an administrative center during David’s monarchy; but the Negev was lost to the Edomites. Modern excavators have found evidence of cultic worship altars that were likely profaned during the reign of King Josiah who centralized worship in Jerusalem. (Achtemeier 111, 115-116, 379)

God says: The images of corruption need not frighten you; Amos only brings them into view because they are stark symbols of how far apart we might grow. And they are also reminders of how much I love my children. No chasm is too wide for me to cross in order that I might rescue you. No valley is too deep for me to plumb that I might redeem you. Bring your worries and fears to me – both big and little. And I will give you rest. This is the third word that comes to you through my prophet Amos.

Amos presents these images as a window to a possibility the inhabitants of Bethel, Gilgal and Beer-sheba did not anticipate. Our loving God presents them as an opening to transformation.


Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 111, 115-116, 379. Print.

For more on Gilgal Refaim, click the image or go to: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread609169/pg1

For more on Amos 5, visit: http://biblehub.com/amos/5-5.htm

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Carl Bloch: Denying Satan

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Amos 1-4

A Prayer to Hear God’s Word

Amos lived in the southern kingdom but prophesied in the north; his oracles began in the oral tradition and were recorded in written form much later. His harshest words are aimed at the cult worship in Bethel. Amos delivers “a broadside against all the festivals of Israel . . . His point is not that all ritual is bad, but that it is not of the essence of religion.  For Amos, the essence of religion is social justice.  If ritual furthers justice, well and good, but too often it does not . . . When the festival was over, they would go back to cheating in the market place . . . Amos insisted that all this was self-delusion.  God would not overlook the injustice of the society because of the sound of the harps, and the Assyrians would rudely shatter the naïve belief that God would protect Israel no matter what”. (Senior RG 364-365)

As we complete three weeks of Lent and continue our journey through this season of quiet and reflection, we remember the familiar Gospel of the devil tempting Jesus, attempting to lure him with the promise of gifts he already possesses.  (Matthew 4:1-11) We too, are tempted to turn over the gifts we already possess for the illusion of an offer that does not exist. In God’s kingdom, power lies in our readiness to be humble, life exists in our willingness to die for one another, and peace rests in our preparedness to act on the Word of God.

And so, at a time for introspection and honesty, together we pray.

That we might step up to the responsibility of discipleship: Lord, hear our prayer.

That we might share the Good News of God’s love for us: Christ, hear our prayer.

That we might act in mercy, kindness, goodness, and forgiveness: Holy Spirit, hear our prayer.

That we might embrace God’s gifts of freedom, transformation and redemption: Lord, hear our prayer.

We understand the importance of hearing God’s word, and so we ask all of this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


For a Noontime reflection on the temptation of Christ, see The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 364-365. Print.   

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Amos 4

Second Word

Amos delivers God’s word to the priests in Bethel for a year and when he is rejected he returns to his shepherding work. He speaks to the Israel nation about their lack of fidelity. And he reminds us of how we can turn back to God and the covenant once we discover that we have again fallen under the spell of the pagan gods of fame, money, influence and power. Amos reminds us that there is always redemption. Restoration is always possible.

God says: In this time of Lent I call you to examine your conscience and you perform this scrutiny well. You are aware of all that you do when you allow yourself to be honest. You know where and how to return to me when you allow yourself a bit of quiet and a dose of truth. So put your worries and fears aside for your renovation already lies within you. Your recovery from all that plagues you is already in your body, mind and soul. All that needs happen is that you note what you do, that you put aside your pagan gods, and that you turn and return to me. Uprightness lives in you through me. Do what you must to nourish the integrity that dwells in you. This is the Second Word that comes from me through my prophet Amos.

In our modern society we are not much different from our ancient ancestors despite our science and technology; the very real temptation to become Cows of Bashan is as keen and alluring today as it was millennia ago; yet we know that life is more than we see before us.  And so we still yearn for union.  We still seek wisdom and peace.  We are still vessels of the Spirit that creates us. God still dwells within . . . waiting to transform and rescue us.

Tomorrow, Third Word.


For information about Bashan, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/golanheights.htm

For another Noontime reflection on Amos 4:1-2, enter the words The Cows of Bashan into the blog search bar and explore.

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

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.

Image from: http://ipowerproject.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2057690%3ABlogPost%3A1054496&commentId=2057690%3AComment%3A1076358&xg_source=activity 

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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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Psalm 119:81-88

images[4]Kaph

I am like a wineskin shriveled by smoke, but I have not forgotten your laws . . . In your kindness give me life, to keep the decrees you have spoken.

This eleventh strophe of Psalm 119 reminds us that God can renew even the shriveled wineskin.

God says: Do not worry about how your renewal will come about. Your transformation is part of my plan for your joy.D o not worry about how you will find your new comfort zone. I will provide a new wineskin for the new wine of your renewal. Your personal challenge is this . . . to dispose of habits that must be re-visited, to replace any old, self-defeating practices with new traditions that will be fitting for your new life.

Jesus says: No one sews a new cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins. (Mark 2:21-22)

When we ask God to sort our problems and remove the obstacles before us . . . we must be prepared to change our old skin for new.

Tomorrow, Lamedh.


To learn more about the Hebrew letter Kaph, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_kaph.html or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/kaf.htm

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