Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘transformation’



Titus 3:4-7:In Partnership with God

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Michelangelo: Creation of Eve

From the Letter of Paul to Titus: It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. (MSG)

Father Alfred Delp, S.. was hanged for high treason against Hitler’s Nazi Reich just a few months before the end of WW II. Hitler hoped to erase Delp from history by ordering that his body be cremated and his ashes scattered; but despite this effort, Delp and his words are remembered today. We might take them in as part of our Lenten journey. From Prison Writings,

Toil, heat, and grief express fundamental conditions of human nature which always make themselves felt as long as one is on one’s journey through life. They are not always so abnormally prevalent as they are today but they are nevertheless an indispensable part of our existence. And only when we fail to go through life in partnership with God do these things get the upper hand, bursting all bounds and overwhelming us with trouble of all kinds.

Can we imagine ourselves in partnership with God? What is it like to have an intimate relationship with one who is capable of great authority and great love?

Paul to Titus: But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, God saved us from all that. It was all God’s doing; we had nothing to do with it. God gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.

How might we use these verses in our Lenten journey toward Easter peace?

Michelangelo: Creation of Adam – Detail

More from Delp: I am not concerned here with the material needs of humankind but with our own degeneration, our blunted faculties and spiritual poverty – all the burdens in fact which the kind of existence one leads have introduced into one’s life and which have now become characteristic of one’s nature. Just as there are virtues that can be acquired so also there are faults that result from repetition such as habitual unawareness of individuality, perpetual relinquishment of powers of decision, permanent weakening of the sense of reality, and so on. Faced with these shortcomings we find ourselves under a terrible strain and utterly helpless.

Do we see Delp’s description of his society reflected in our own? Are there any parallels to discern or lessons to learn? What do we do when we feel helpless or under great strain? Whose counsel do we seek? What transformation do we hope to experience?

Delp: One must accept responsibility for the misuse of one’s free will. Being prone to such errors of judgment the only thing one can do is to turn again and again to God praying earnestly that the Holy Spirit may take pity on one’s failings and let the healing current flow freely through one’s life.

Where do we turn when we are overwhelmed by our own shortcomings or those of others? What are the prayers we offer to God? How often do we allow the Spirit’s healing current to flow freely through our lives?

Both Delp and Paul remind us of the great partnership we are offered, and the consequences of this gift.

Paul to Titus: God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Partnership with God is the eternal transformation we seek. It is the gift we already hold. We are even now beloved children in God’s kingdom of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love. Let us move forward in our Lenten journey, and forward into the world, transformed in this belief. Let us behave as if we hold these truths in our hearts. And let us be eager to share with others the promise and goodness of God’s love.

Delp, Alfred. Prison Writings. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2004. To learn more about Delp, visit: http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/642/article/martyr-nazis  

For more on Michelangelo, the Italian Renaissance, and his paintings in the Sistine Chapel, click: http://www.italianrenaissance.org/a-closer-look-michelangelos-painting-of-the-sistine-chapel-ceiling/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.3 (2017): 260-261. Print.  

Read Full Post »


John 15:18-27: Healing Hatred

Friday, December 16, 2016jesus

John the Baptist was imprisoned and when he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (MSG) This week we are given an opportunity to give our own testimony.

Jesus knows that once we decide to follow him, we will encounter hatred; and he also knows that we may be tempted to hate in return. So Jesus said, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you”. (MSG)

Jesus knows that we will need strategies to construct a life that reflects his teachings; and he also knows that we will struggle to follow in his Way.

“When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. (MSG)

Jesus knows that the logic of the world will challenge the wisdom of the world; and he also knows that we will need the wisdom that only God can provide.

Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’” (MSG)

Jesus knows that we will need a companion to console and guide us; and he also knows that this companion must bring us healing, truth and light.

“When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes – the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father – he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.” (MSG)

Jesus knows that love will transform the world; and he also knows that each of us has the capacity to heal the hatred we find in ourselves and in those around us. Let us consider how we might best join him in his work.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to read other translations of these verses, we discover how much God wants to heal the world’s hatred.

Read Full Post »


Sirach 51: 13-30: Pursuit of Wisdom – Part IIsuffering servant

Friday, September 2, 2016

I burned with desire for her,
    never relenting.
I became preoccupied with her,
    never weary of extolling her.

We expend all our resources to discover wisdom’s secrets.

I spread out my hands to the heavens
    and I came to know her secrets.

For her I purified my hands;
    in cleanness I attained to her.

At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding
    such that I will never forsake her.

We promise to remain faithful, no matter the obstacles.

My whole being was stirred to seek her;
    therefore I have made her my prize possession.

The Lord has rewarded me with lips,
    with a tongue for praising him.

We thank God for the passion of wisdom’s teachings, for the hope of wisdom’s lessons, and for the love of wisdom’s healing transformation.

Tomorrow, calling on wisdom.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore Proverbs 2:1-22, we discover the passion of wisdom.

For a reflection on the wisdom of listening, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.whereisthefountain.com/2015_03_01_archive.html 

Read Full Post »


Job 7Suffering Without End

Monday, August 29, 2016grapevines

A Favorite written on August 27, 2009

This is what we humans try to avoid at all cost – suffering without end – and yet this is impossible for us.  We will only experience true joy that lasts when we learn to allow suffering to transform us – and this is what I was thinking as I drove through Long Green Valley this morning on my way to work.  The heavy mist curled through the vineyards at our local winery, nourishing the grapes which are promised for the fall.  The vines are well tended, all reaching out to support one another – having been pruned back to little more than stumps last winter.  Interlocked, these branches reinforce one another, anticipating the heavy crop to come.  The workers go through their strict cycle of pruning and flourishing; the plants burgeon, wither and burgeon again, answering their maker’s call to yield fruit that will sustain.  I was imagining myself as a branch of God’s vines just as Christ tells us in John 15: I am the true vine, and my Father is the true grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whosoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 

This chapter in Job is followed by ones in which people who call themselves his friends urge him to confess his sins so that he might enjoy God’s grace once again.  Job will repeat often in this story that he is innocent – and he is.  His acquaintances will continue to berate him.  He will continue to trust in God.  And in the end . . . he will be restored.

We often feel as though we are suffering without end . . . and we are.  Yet, this suffering brings about abundant fruit which we will not have to struggle to produce.  This suffering carries within itself the seeds of restoration.  This suffering is not to be avoided for when it is, we avoid the opportunity to be touched, and held and cured by the master grower’s hands.  And this is something we do not want to miss.

Read Full Post »


Matthew 7:47: Throwing Stones – Part V

Monday, August 1, 2016throwing stones

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Reflection on July 26, 2016 which is taken from his book Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life. (Rohr 60-61) Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in faith.

In the divine economy of grace, it is imperfection, sin, and failure that become the base metal and raw material for the redemption experience itself. Much of organized religion, however, tends to be peopled by folks who have a mania for some ideal order, which is never true, so they seldom are happy or content. This focus on perfection makes you anal retentive, to use Freud’s rude phrase, because you can never be happy with life as it is.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in compassion.

falling upwardReal life is filled with people who are disabled (if you live long enough, you too will inevitably be “disabled” in some way), people with mental illness, people who practice other customs or religions, and people who experience their sexuality differently than you do. Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity is the only world there is! It is rather amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere. Even in nature, we are confounded by wildness and seek to bring the “frontier,” farms, and gardens into uniformity.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in transformation.

Sin and salvation are correlative terms. Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact, salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. This is how divine love transforms us. If this is not true, what hope is there for any of us? We eventually discover that the same passion which leads us away from God can also lead us back to God and to our true selves. That is one reason I have valued and taught the Enneagram [1]. Like few other spiritual tools, it illustrates this transformative truth. Once you see that your “sin” and your gift are two sides of the same coin, you can never forget it.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in hope.

stepping-stones-2God seems to be about “turning” our loves around (in Greek,meta-noia), and using them toward the Great Love that is their true object. All lesser loves are training wheels, which are good in themselves, but still training wheels. Many of the healing stories in the New Testament are rather clear illustrations of this message and pattern. Jesus says this specifically of “the woman who was a sinner”: “Her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she could not have shown such great love” (Luke 7:47). It seems that her false attempts at love became the school and stepping-stones to “such great love.”

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in love.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to see that our throwing stones have become stepping stones along The Way.  

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 60-61.

Read Full Post »


John 8:1-11: Throwing Stones – Part IV

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Joyce Storey with her badge from Chefoo, a Japanese Concentration Camp

Joyce Storey with her badge from Chefoo, a Japanese Concentration Camp

What tax or tithe do we surrender when we give in to the temptation to throw stones? And what do we gain? How are we transformed when we render our suffering for, with and in Christ? 

How do we forgive the unforgivable?

Swarms of people came to Jesus. He sat down and taught them.

How do we guard against a smug or prideful attitude?

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone.

How do we open ourselves to possibility rather than close ourselves off from the potential for hope?

They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” 

How do we turn the horrible into the beautiful?

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. 

When we find ourselves in the impossible, we look for the pivot point of change.

Does no one condemn you? Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.

Throwing stones is a dangerous temptation. Throwing stones ends the possibility for transformation. But in the throwing of stones there is always the shimmering potential of hope – no matter how small. Today we read about the women and children of a Girl Guides troop that survived years of life in a Japanese concentration camp. Explore their story at the sites below and consider what was gained by these women as they lived through the experience of thrown stones, and we reflect on the surprising result of optimism in the face of violence.

For more on the story of Girl Guides in the Chefoo concentration camp, click on the image or visit: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/birmingham-woman-tells-of-childhood-in-japanese-158102

When listening to the podcast, visit this site and move through part one to arrive at part two: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/559/captains-log?act=1 

For the transcript of the THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode airing this story, use this link:, This American Life – Cookies and Monsters

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 61: Prophecy Fulfilled

Monday, June 6, 2016jesus reads isaiah

The opening words of this chapter are the ones that Jesus stands to read in his hometown synagogue (Luke 4: 16-21). He follows this reading with the announcement that the words are fulfilled for them that day. Tension builds as those present question Jesus and realize that he is, indeed, saying that he is the Messiah, and that they have not listened to him or to God. A riot results and the congregation hauls him off to the edge of the cliff to hurl him over; but in the melee Jesus slips away.

These are such troubling words. These are such comforting words. Why are the people so angry? Why does the congregation reject good news? Why does Jesus’ audience refuse to allow the healing of broken hearts, anxiety and worry? When we pause to reflect, we realize that we too frequently do as this crowd does in Luke 4. We also reject the beautiful good news that Isaiah brings to us.

Envy is a powerful force. Those who would hurl the Messiah from the cliff forget that God alone saves, God alone heals, and God alone brings true freedom from all that holds us down. The crowd was thinking – in the same pride-filled way that we also might think – that they alone were responsible for all good things in their lives. They did not want to believe that they were not Yahweh’s faithful who followed The Mosaic Law to the letter. And they did not want to be challenged about their conduct, nor did they want anyone to discover the corruption of the system they had established.

As we read the words of Isaiah’s Chapter 61, in this “Book of Consolation,” we are filled with the knowledge that through perseverance and pain, good things do happen. Each day my children and grandchildren, my students, friends, colleagues, and even strangers bring God to me. I am healed by their prayer, their action, their connection with me in and through Christ.

And all God asks in return is that we take the suffering we have experienced and transform ourselves so that we too may in turn heal and cure. God asks that we also bring hope to the afflicted. Isaiah reminds us that we are all anointed. We are all called. We only need to reply to God’s call in word and deed.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2007.

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 10Social Injustice

 Thursday, June 2, 2016renewal

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the axe. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:3 and Luke 13:24, most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.

A Favorite from June 10, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part V

Saturday, May 14, 2016the-love-of-god-tara-ellis

God is in charge. This is what we know. We might rail against this fact, thinking this requisite of life a restriction but still, this is what we know.

God is present in our suffering as well as our joy. This is what we feel. We might doubt God’s existence and question God’s fidelity, thinking these truths to be myth but still, this is what we feel.

God wants us to be happy and peace-filled. This is what we experience. We might wonder why God allows pain and sorrow but still, this is what we experience.

Can we ever live up to God’s expectation? Of course we can. All we need do is to take God’s open hand.

Can we ever admit that God is in the smallest microbe and at the same time in the immensity of the multiverse? Of course we can. All we need do is to accept God’s invitation to transformation.

Can we ever admit that God’s wisdom is enduring and inevitable? Of course we can. All we need do is to relax into God’s enormous heart.

And so we pray.

Good and loving God, you have entrusted all that you are to humanity’s hands. May we communicate your love in all we say. You have taken the dare to believe in us. May we return your love in all we think. You have gathered us up, taken us in, and made us your own. May we return this infinite love in our own small way in all we do. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: