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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’


James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

James Tissot: Jesus Appears to the Holy Women

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Mark 12:18-27

A Prayer for Resurrection

On this All Souls Day we remember those who have gone before us . . . as we listen and watch for the resurrection that we are promised.

On All Souls Day we celebrate those who are yet to come as we watch and wait for the resurrection that is freely given.

On All Souls Day we call forth the great cloud of witnesses as we wait and work in the resurrection kingdom.

On this All Souls Day we praise God’s goodness and mercy as we work and witness to the healing of the resurrection.

On this All Souls Day we rejoice with the faithful as we witness and we pray for the transformation of the resurrection, so that we may not be greatly mislead.

Amen.

In the northern hemisphere days shorten and nights lengthen. In less than a week we will move back to standard time and celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. As we watch, wait, work, and witness, we prepare for these feasts that anticipate the great feast of salvation that we will celebrate at Easter. 


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Appears_to_the_Holy_Women_(Apparition_de_J%C3%A9sus_aux_saintes_femmes)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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KIng Zedekiah

King Zedekiah

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Jeremiah 52:1-11

The End – Part I: Capture

Over the next days we will look closely at the end which came to Jerusalem, the end that Jeremiah predicted. We will examine the verses carefully, looking for a hint of lessons we might learn from this ancient people who would not heed a warning so clearly spelled out for them. We will explore our own temptation to deny the reality in which we live. And we will consider what lessons we might learn so that our own end becomes a new beginning rather than a final departure.

king-zedekiahZedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

God says: Watch for the times when you believe you have all answers to all problems. When you learn to rely on yourself alone you draw hour heart away from me . . . and this is an end that is difficult to overcome.

His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

God says: Your parents bring you into this world and they tend to you while you are young. I tend to you for now, in the past, and into the infinite future. This is a relationship you will not want to ignore.

He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Just as Jehoiakim had done.

God says: I do not ask much of you but I do ask is that you enact goodness in the world. In order to do this well it is essential that you listen for my word daily and that stay always close by and in me.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

God says: Be careful about the alliances you make and break. Use caution when you pledge yourself to another person or cause. These may be your undoing if you do not exercise great care.

In the tenth month of the tenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side.

Jerusalem: Zedekiah's Cave

Jerusalem: Zedekiah’s Cave

God says: When the enemy threatens, turn to me. When the earth rumbles with the steady onslaught of forces that will surely overcome you, stay with me.

The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

God says: When you feel you can no longer go on, turn your struggle over to me.

On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine gripped the city and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached.

God says: When you struggle to lift your head and raise your arm, place your burden on my broad shoulders.

Then all the soldiers took to flight and left the city by night through the gate between the two walls which was near the king’s garden.

God says: When everyone else abandons you, remain in me. You are never alone for I am always with you.

Destruction of JerusalemWith the Chaldeans surrounding the city they went in the direction of the Arabah.

God says: Do not think that you can avoid or outrun me. Do not be anxious that you may be unworthy. I am waiting to heal and transform you, and for me all things are possible.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the desert near Jericho, while his whole army fled him.

God says: Even when you have strayed far from my precepts and my truth I will still welcome you home and celebrate your return. This is how much I love you.

Tomorrow, Part II . . . Destruction


To learn more about King Zedekiah, click on his images above and find study outlines at: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/bible-study-outlines/bible-study-outline-on-king-zedekiah/

Find video at: http://bibleseriesguide.com/episode5.htm#.VDb_L_ldWSo 

To learn about the enormous cave under the city of Jerusalem, how it came to be there, and why the Freemasons gather there every year, click on the cave image above or visit www.aboutjerusalem.com at: http://allaboutjerusalem.com/article/zedekiahs-cave-secret-cave-jerusalem to watch a brief, interesting video clip.

 

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJeremiah 24

The Two Baskets of Figs

From Bible footnotes: “Jeremiah, like Ezekiel, saw that no good could be expected from the people who had been left in Judah under Zedekiah or who had fled into Egypt; good was to be hoped for only from those who would pass through the purifying experience of the exile to form the new Israel.” (Senior 980)

If there is time in your day, read a bit about Jeconiah and the Chaldeans (Babylonians). If there is not much time, let us at least think about what God is asking of us when we experience exile, a time apart from places, persons or even events that are precious to us. God assures us that there is always an opportunity for distillation when we are apart. God reminds us that we experience the abiding presence of the Spirit when we are away from what we love. God tells us that those who are left behind, or sent away, are not the juicy first figs of the season; rather, they are the poor fruit that will not grace the banquet table. They are poor fruit that are loved by God nonetheless. God is the faithful, persistent harvester who nurses fruit from struggling plants. God is the hopeful, healing shepherd, going out to find the one sheep while leaving the ninety-nine behind. God is the patient, able silversmith heating metal to drain away the detritus and keeping watch that the precious ore is not poured away. God is the potter working the clay of our lives in hands that know us better than we know ourselves. As always with God, it is the inverse that proves true: those left behind are those redeemed; those sent away are the rescued.  And here in these verses of Chapter 24, Jeremiah brings us the imagery of two baskets of figs . . . one with first fruits, the other with rotten offerings.

Yahweh says: I will look after them for their good, and bring them back to this land, to build them up, not to tear them down; to plant them, not to pluck them out. 

And so we pray . . .

Good and precious God, we know that you are with us always, even when we must be apart undergoing transformation. We know that we are clay in your hands that you mold with intent and great care. Help us to abide with you as you abide with us. Guide us to hope in you as you hope in us. Teach us to love the world with you even as you love us. We know that true transformation comes with suffering, and that suffering is the path your son strode before us. But because the darkness sometimes feels too permanent, we ask that you guide us. Because the light sometimes seems as though it will never return, we ask that you lead us. Because the figs we bear are sometimes bitter, we ask that you carry us. Because the journey you ask us to walk is sometimes too perilous, we ask that you be us. For all of this we pray. Amen.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.980. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on June 14, 2007.

For more on Jeconiah and the Chaldeans, visit: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/711-did-jeremiah-err-regarding-jeconiah and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/c/chaldeans.htm

 Image from: http://www.wheatandtares.org/733/you-naughty-naughty-fig/

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Jeremiah20.9Jeremiah 20

Interior Crisis

“Jeremiah accuses Yahweh of forcing him into a position where he is a laughingstock and an object of mockery (v.7); Yahweh is requiring him to deliver a message of doom that events of history have so far failed to confirm”. (Mays 561)

When we see doom arriving and announce its coming only to be laughed from the room, we know that we are prophesying. When we speak truth to friends or colleagues as God asks of us only to find those relationships severed, we know that we are prophets in our present world. When we caution loved ones about an impending disaster only to be mocked or ridiculed, we know that God is near. These experiences will easily give rise to an interior crisis in which we feel that we have been duped by God; and as the prophet Jeremiah says . . . I let myself be duped. It is when our hearts are broken that we are closest to God.  It is when our confidence is shaken that we have open ears for God’s word. And it is when we most feel like retreating from all that threatens us that we are asked to allow our interior crisis to bring new growth.

“The reaction of [Jeremiah’s] audience to [his] message of doom is stated somewhat more generally than in other complaints, but it fits the picture gained from earlier ones . . . they wish to eliminate him and his rival message from the nation’s future.” (Mays 561-562)

Our own circumstance may be dire as is Jeremiah’s – someone may or may not wish to eliminate us – but any time that we suffer rejection the sting is piercing. The pain of ridicule may last for years. The trauma of denunciation may endure for a lifetime. The effects of derision may color our world forever.  Yet, God accompanies us in our real or imagined isolation; Christ guides us as we navigate the road to new life; and the Spirit heals and consoles as we struggle for transformed wholeness.

You duped me, O Lord . . .

Rather than hear these words as a sign of failure, let us hear them as a signal of new life. Rather than struggle to keep ourselves from falling, let us decide to rise again in new life. Rather than turning away from our tormentors in anger or shame, let us step into our interior crisis with courage. And let us thank God for the gift of transformation.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 561. Print.

For a reflection and prayer on allowing ourselves to be duped by God, enter the words Being Duped by God and A Prayer for Those Willing to be Duped into the blog search bar.

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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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