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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’


Luke 2:1-7: God’s Yardstick – Anne

A Quiet Knowing

Monday, January 2, 2023Ann-Joachim-Mary-233x300

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Are we content to live in obscurity? Can we allow the world to both affirm and vilify the outcome of our lives? Can we patiently, carefully and kindly live out our days in such a way that we bring Christ’s peace into a physical, tangible force? Can we imagine the home that nurtured the woman who would bring light and life to the world? Are we willing to live in and reflect that world of truth and transformation?

There are no official scriptural references to the woman who bore and raised the mother of God. We rely on tradition and common sense to fill in the gaps and blanks in this part of the Nativity story, but it is not difficult to imagine the shame, fear and doubt that Mary’s news would have brought to her family and into her home. Yet, the well-loved story implies more than it tells us overtly. As we read these verses we consider this question: Where else but in a faith-filled, hopeful and loving home might a pregnant, unwed young woman in the first century C.E. find the courage to become the first apostle of Christ? Today we consider Anne’s yardstick that allowed her daughter’s amazing story to unfold, burgeon, and bring light into the darkness. Today we consider how we might pick up this measuring stick to see how well we nurture those around us in a world that asks for transformation.


To learn something about the tradition of Anne, Joachim and Mary, click on the image above or visit: https://slmedia.org/blog/the-feast-of-st-joachim-and-st-anne

Also visit the Encyclopedia Britannica at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint

Use this scripture link to explore the Nativity Story and to imagine the home of Mary in Nazareth. 

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Job 19Suffering and Rejoicing Well

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Friday, November 25, 2022

The Book of Job is the first in the wisdom portion of scripture and it may be one of our favorites for its honesty and persistence with which this innocent man speaks. Job has been wronged by Satan, yet retains faith and hope in God. He asks the questions we all ask; he makes the observations we all make: why do the wicked seem to skate through life without suffering, and why do the innocent suffer? Each of us has endured hardship as Job does at one time or another; and for this reason his words are so valuable. Job sinks into the lowest of depths with his despair . . . yet he soars with great hope and divine love. This is the gift of his story . . . that he both suffers and rejoices well.

How long will you vex my soul? At times the suffering is too great, too heavy.

I cry for help; there is no redress. In our own lives, and in the lives of others, there are moments that ask too much of human strength and endurance.

My brethren have withdrawn from me, and my friends are wholly estranged. At times we are utterly alone, with no sheltering place, no healing balm.

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I love have turned against me! In the human experience, there is no greater punishment than isolation.

Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey on me? At times we are so low that we descend into pits we did not know existed . . . and this is when we know that something new is arriving.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold him. Job understands that it is impossible for us to comprehend the depth, the width, the height or the timelessness of God. Job – although not content with the mystery of his innocent suffering – accepts that from where he stands he cannot see or know the limitlessness of God or the complexity of his plan. Job reminds us that each of us suffers.  Each of us stands accused at times when we are innocent. Since this is so, the rest of his story is also true. We will be vindicated.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation about the Blessed Mother and her willingness to suffer as an innocent for the good of God’s economy: She neither regretted the past nor wished for the future – she accepted wholeheartedly the magnificent present.  She had found one beautiful pearl, and all she had she gave in order to buy it.  (Mother Marie des Douleurs)

So let us follow the example of Job and the example of Mary. They understood that they, by entering into the mystery of suffering, were sharing in a sacred gift offered by the God who loves us so much that God offers us God’s own divinity.

Let us enter into this story today without looking back in anger or looking forward in despair.

Let us gather all that we have and all that we are to make this one purchase . . . the gift of transformative union where . . . through suffering, we enter into the world of God’s joy.


Image from: http://global.oup.com/obso/focus/focus_on_happiness/

A favorite from March 25, 2009. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

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John 12:37-41: Incredulity

Sunday, November 20, 2022heart-of-leaf-with-roses

It is always about the conversion of the heart, the transformation of the mind. Seeing with our eyes and hearing with our ears does not bring us closer to God. Experiencing the world with our hearts . . . this is what calls us into a state of permanent discipleship. 

Human nature being what it is, we find countless excuses and reasons for not doing the work of discipleship. The eye and the ear bring us sight and sound which we are accustomed to reasoning away with lines of thought we are practiced in using. What good can one person do? This is what people in my neighborhood do and I do not want to offend them. This way is more convenient for me. That has no effect upon me. I like to shop there. It’s none of my business. It’s not hurting anybody. These are the phrases that trip off our lips easily.

Even Jesus with the fullness of the presence of God was not able to turn all hearts and minds to himself and The Way. He lived and worked and played among an incredulous people hardened by the tortures of the world. Even some of those among whom he prayed did not believe , and this was after seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear. In John 20:29 Jesus tells his disciples that those who believe without seeing or hearing are blessed indeed.
eye has not seenPaul reminds the Corinthians and he also reminds us that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9We depend on our human resources far too much and far too often, and these eyes and ears and hearts are often incredulous when we begin to consider all that God has in store for us.

And so we have this to ponder. As Jesus passes among us each day, how do we respond? Are we the incredulous comfortable crowd? Or are we the restless, open listeners waiting for The Word?


Images from: and  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/342484746634361032/ https://designpress.com/design/romantic-heart-pictures/

Adapted from a favorite written on September 1, 2008.

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Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations. Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city. The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events. Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence. They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day. The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads. Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate. But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves. We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos. We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine. When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God. When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure. We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.


Images from: https://bible.fandom.com/wiki/Sennacherib and http://archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/01/wrecked_schooner_drifts_ashore_and_into_mystery/

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Revelation 2 & 3: Our Story – Part IV, The Knocking at the Doorjesus knocking

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

For the last few days we have reflected on the story of our lives from its inception to its end. Today we explore the thoughts and dreams and hopes revealed in the unfolding of our lives.

I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. 

Several years ago our parish scripture study group spent a number of weeks studying this last book of the New Testament. It is so full of symbols and allegory that even reading a commentary may not be enough to unravel all that is held within.  These opening chapters depict Christ knocking at the doors of the seven established congregations; and they also tell us how people respond to Christ’s call.  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, each community has its personal traits that characterize and individualize them, and if we look at ourselves and examine scripture we will be able to discovery in which place we live. Then we can spend time reflecting on what we do when we hear the knock at our own door. Do we hear it?  Do we open the door? Are we prepared to dine with the one on the other side of the door? Are we willing to open ourselves to newness?

Most of us, when we expect guests, will clean the house, prepare food and drink, fluff pillows and put away stray family articles. We want to extend hospitality to those who knock at the door. Many of us feel as though the closets must all be straight and the dishwasher cleared. Many of us leave personal items in the rooms we will share with our guests, not thinking that they need to be cleared away, and we will leave the dishwasher as it is. All of us are somewhere on the spectrum of wanting to prepare for the expected guests; but what do we feel and do about those who are unexpected? Are we comfortable with the way that we live? Do we believe that we must make special preparations before we open the door to ourselves?

Christ knows our inmost secrets, so we hide nothing from him.

The Father knows our origins and our endings, so we hide nothing from The Lord.

The Spirit knows our deepest needs and desires, so we hide nothing from her.

Today, as we read about the different churches of God and how they live out the message they believe they have heard, let us reconsider what we do when we see a friend or a stranger approaching our door. Let us consider that there is nothing we can hide or put away that God does not already see and know. And let us consider that it is the open mind that receives new insight from God, it is the open heart that is made new in Christ, and it is open arms that receive the peace and serenity of the Spirit that is God’s gift to each of us.

When the knocking comes to our own door today – as it comes to us each day – do we hear the voice? Do we open ourselves freely? Do we dine with the Lord willingly? And do we allow God’s transformation to take place in us happily?


A Favorite written on  July 19, 2010.

To read more about the seven churches, click on the names of the seven cities above to see where they are located and what traits they characterize in our own story. 

Image from: http://mountgraceconvent.blogspot.com/2011/10/knocking-at-door.html

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John 15:18-27: Glory, Part VI – Hatred

Saturday, July 23, 2022

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

Knowing that we find humility, emptiness, and service when we willingly become branches on the great vine of Christ, we look to understand how God’s glory arrives through the world’s hatred.

Today’s lesson on Glory: Even the hatred of the world cannot overcome the love of God. This may be difficult to believe until we remember that with God . . . all things are possible.  

We each have encountered animosity in our families and among our friends and colleagues. There is no question about the existence of these negative forces that threaten security. There is no doubt that we ourselves have been drawn into the darkness that loops itself in its negative quashing of peace; yet – as Christ has told us – we need not fear for before the power of hatred presented itself at our door, it has struggled with the redeeming power of Christ.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

We remember God’s words to Samuel: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king. (1 Samuel 8:7)

I have chosen you out of the world and so the world hates you.

We remember Jesus’ words to his followers: Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. (Luke 4:24)

When the Advocate comes who whom I will send to you from the Father, he will testify to me.

We remember the words of Psalm 118: I thank you for you have answered me; you have been my savior. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (Psalm 118:21-23)

And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

We remember the words of Jesus to his disciples: Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:41-43)

And so we pray,

Understanding and gentle God, you understand our pain and suffering at the hands of those we love. You know the suffering we experience when we are wrongly accused. We know that especially in the world’s anger you are present to heal, transform and restore. We rest in the knowledge that no force is greater than your love, no darkness can escape your redemption, no atrocity can overcome your glory. We ask your constant guidance and transformation through Jesus Christ. Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Wept_%28J%C3%A9sus_pleura%29_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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Deuteronomy 4:32-40: Anything So Great

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Saturday, June 4, 2022

This week we have reflected on our relationship with the Spirit, the lessons Jesus teaches us, and our response to God’s call; tomorrow we look forward to the celebration of this trinity of love. We remember some of Moses’ words as he calls his people to new life.

Ask now of the days of old, before our time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever  happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god ever venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?  

We ask ourselves these same questions. Have we ever encountered anything so great as this promise fulfilled of rebirth and transformation? Have our little gods of comfort and pleasure brought us the measure of joy as the healing of the Spirit?

We might see the world as a place of evil and corruption, or we might see it as a place of possibility and hope. As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Pentecost and anticipate the gift of Trinity, let us count the blessings God has generously given, let us determine to live as Christ has asked us, and let us remember the saving power of the Spirit. For there has never been, and never will be, anything as great as these three in one.


Use the scripture link above to compare versions of these verses, and consider if we have ever experienced anything so great as this promise, this miracle, this trinity of love.

Click on the image to learn more about the feast of the Trinity or visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Sunday

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Matthew 9:14-17: Shrunken Cloth and New Wineskinswineskins

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Grown men sound like small children arguing over petty detail in today’s Noontime selection. We may want to consider Matthew’s warning to us in this quiet interlude between powerful miracles in Jesus’ story. Jesus reminds his followers – and he reminds us that while the cost of change is high, the reward of transformation is immense, even immeasurable.

When confronted with our pettiness, Jesus says: No one patches an old cloak with unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away and the tear worsens. We want to take shortcuts, fly through our work in order to get to the leisure. Jesus reminds us that there is no point in short-changing God . . . we only shortchange ourselves.

When observing our shortsightedness, Jesus says: People do not put new wine in old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. We want to do things our way, pay no attention to the long haul and focus on the present. Jesus urges us to observe that our generosity and mercy are more important than keeping score or earning a living.

When reminded of our self-centeredness, Jesus says: Pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. We fear not getting ahead, not being comfortable and not having influence. Jesus calls us to a life in which we put others first . . . so that God can tend to us as we tend to the marginalized in our world.

When we look for the secret to happiness or the formula for success, we do well to remember that God sees with God’s eyes and not our own. When we are tempted to make a quick patch in a relationship rather than working through the depth of the problem, let us remember the old cloak mended with unshrunken cloth. When we want continue to move through the world with our unimproved self, let us remember the old skins with new wine. And when we complain that no one suffers as much as we do, let us remember that new skins and worked over cloth preserve the old while nurturing the new.

When we use the scripture link above to reflect on varying versions of these verses, we begin to see the unshrunken cloth and old wineskins in our lives.


Image from: https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/what-does-jesus-mean-by-new-wineskins/

For another perspective on this citation, enter the words Attitude and Perspective into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Matthew 7:6: Casting Pearlsoyster-pearl-100903-02

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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

This verse may be deeply meaningful for us when we consider just how precious and rare a genuine pearl is. Produced by layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl, around a grain of sand, pearls begin as a nuisance and result as an object to be prized. Mollusks lay down deposits once they sense an intrusion in their otherwise placid lives. They transform an obstacle into an object to be admired. If we are pearls of great price, we began as these small irritants . . . and we too, are transformed into beautiful objects to be treasured.

We are holy people. We are temples in which the Holy Spirit abides. We are children of God. We are body, soul, mind and heart. And all of this is a gift from God to be treasured and never taken lightly.

In Song of Songs 3:4 we remember our relationship with God who loves us abundantly.  If we continue to 3:5 we also remember that our lives move best when they move in God’s plan rather than our own. All things, even love, arrive in God’s time, not ours.

Let us recall how loved we are, and determine to return that love to God.

Let us remember how beautiful we are, and decide to live up to that beauty.

Let us recall how priceless we are, and choose to act as though we believe our own good fortune.


For another Noontime reflection on this verse, enter the words Pearls of Great Price in the blog search bar and explore.

To learn more about how pearls form, click on the image above or visit: http://www.livescience.com/32289-how-do-oysters-make-pearls.html 

 

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