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1 Timothy 6:17-19: Going After God

Wednesday, March 14, 2016

Treasure found under water off the Florida coast aboard Nuestra Señora de Atocha

Moving forward in this fourth week of Lent, we explore the demands the Gospel places on us. Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges is the call to share all that we have hoarded with those who have little.

Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.

Jesus says: My children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. This is impossible for human beings but not for God; everything is possible for God. (Mark 10:24-27, Luke 18:24-27, Matthew 19:23-26)

God says: If you fear your wealth separates your heart from mine, then bring that fear to me. If you worry that your good fortune is a sign that you are distant from me, bring that worry as well. Share what you have with prudence. Give what you can without looking for a reward. Answer the call you hear deep within. When you listen with care, you know that I am the one who has graced you with talents to gather the harvest that fills you. Be generous with this gift of my bounty. Remember that nothing destroys the treasure of a generous heart while the treasures of your world quickly fade into nothing.

As we ponder these thoughts, we recall the words recorded by Matthew and Mark, and we go after the challenge offered by our God. For where your treasure, your heart will be there also. (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34)

Images from http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/ten-spectacular-golden-treasures-ancient-world-003826 and http://www.pinsdaddy.com/god-searches-the-heart_JKV0rcfoODqhYfcgpH1Tl8hM0VMhDiKaQmlEhOakqNM/

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1 Kings 9:1-9: Promise and Warning – Part I

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Written on October 24, 2009

The story of the patriarchs is about our relationship with our creator and about the covenant we and this creator share.  Yahweh spoke with Abraham to offer him and his descendants a place in which to live, a family with whom he might share life, and the everlasting glory of the creator’s constant presence.  These Old Testament promises or covenants brought with them not only blessings – like the ones that Yahweh gives to Abraham – but also curses.  Today we reflect on the fulfillment of the promise God gives to Solomon, and the attendant warning.  There are gifts to receive from our attendance to our relationship with God, consequences that flow from our own actions; and these consequences may be positive or negative depending on our own willingness to accept the promise and heed the warning.

Although Christ is not physically present to the Old Testament people, he walks with them just as he walks with us today.  When we read the entire story of King Solomon we see him as an intelligent young man who asks not for wealth or power but for wisdom.  We admire his sagacity in asking for this permanent gift of insight, thinking that his request shows maturity beyond his years.  As we wind though the chapters that follow we watch as this clever man unravels, overwhelmed by the pressures of the day, by the always present human desire to be self-reliant, and by the forces of darkness that constantly nibble at the souls of the faithful.  In last night’s MAGNIFICAT, we turned to Matthew 6:20-21: Store up your treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  The mini-reflection is: Where we invest our trust and hope, we invest our lives.  Let us choose to invest in the true source of life, Jesus Christ. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.10 (2009). Print.  

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Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A reprise from October 28, 2013.

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Luke 5:27-32Rise and Follow

Caravaggio: The Calling of Saint Matthew

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Favorite from September 21, 2009.

This is Luke’s version of the story we hear in today’s Gospel from Matthew 9:9-13, and in it we see the tax collector being called from a life of working with numbers to a life of working with souls.  At first glance, this seems like an unlikely move to make – a tax collector becomes a fisher of men’s souls.  At second glance, it is the kind of move which calls Matthew/Levi to newness, and it is the kind of move we are each called to make.

Saint Bede the Venerable (who died in 725) is cited in today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation: Jesus saw a man sitting in the tax-collector’s place, and he said to him, “Follow me”.  He saw him not so much by virtue of corporeal vision as by inner compassion . . . Jesus saw the man, and felt compassion for him because he was devoted only to human concerns and [Matthew] was not yet worthy of an angelic name . . . “And he rose and followed him”. We should not marvel that a publican, upon first hearing the Lord’s voice ordering him, left the earthly gains that he cared about.  Disregarding his property, he attached himself to the band of followers of one whom he perceived to have no riches.  For the Lord himself, who outwardly called him by a word, taught him inwardly by with an invisible impulse so that he followed him.  He poured into his mind the light of spiritual grace, by which he could understand that the one who was calling him from temporal things on earth was capable of giving him incorruptible treasures in heaven. 

When we are called but know that our ready response promises discomfort and a complete handing over of self to God’s mission for us, may we rise and follow him as eagerly as the apostle Matthew.  Some speculate that he is the brother of another apostle who Jesus had already chosen and so in this way would have had an introduction to Jesus and The Way he proposed.  This may or may not be the case but whether or not this apostle knew something of the Christ prior to the day of his call, we can learn something about his eager and immediate response to The Word which is this:  When we hear the call that Levi/Matthew heard, we will want to rise and follow as he did so that we too, might be worthy of an angelic name . . . and add to God’s incorruptible treasure in heaven.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.9 (2009). Print.  

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Wednesday, October 5, 201625-republican-convention-chaos-w750-h560-2x

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service . . . or it can call us to bond with God even more strongly.  The choice is always ours to make.

Yesterday’s Mass readings continue this same theme: Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.  And there are these from yesterday’s Morning Prayer: Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.  They advise us that resentment will be a constant companion in this life and that we will want to learn to live without it here so as to not anticipate it in the next life.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . .  Store up treasures in heaven . . .

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

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Luke 12:33-48: Being Prepared

 Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Old wooden treasure chest with strong glow from inside.

Today’s Noontime begins and ends with two sayings or two mantras we might allow to hum within when we feel ourselves slipping onto a byway rather than the straight road to Christ.  Our treasure lies in what we store.  And those who have been given much have much to return.  Both of these refrains call us to think about what serve us well: relationships that have meaning and depth and significance . . . relationships that are eternal.

In this chapter of his story, Luke records many sayings and stories of Jesus that speak to us about the importance of being prepared for God’s arrival.  Jesus asks us to think about how we spend our time.  What do we labor to store up?  Goods?  Memories?  Works?  Fruit of our labor?  And once stored, what do we do with our treasure?  Keep it?  Divide it?  Dole it out?  Share it?

We are asked to prepare ourselves so that once we arrive at the feast we will not be escorted from the party as was the unprepared guest in Matthew 22 who had come to celebrate but was unprepared.  We are asked to be faithful, hopeful and loving.  We are asked to witness, to watch and to wait.  We are asked to be prepared, just as we are with our burglar alarms, our bank accounts and our degrees and awards.  We are asked to tend to the work that matters, the work of kingdom-building.

From last evening’s MAGNIFICAT prayer we might gain some insight and strength as we pray:

For those whose works of love meet opposition: protect them from discouragement and harm.

For those whose fidelity is assailed by criticism: defend them from the temptation to abandon their commitment to the Gospel.

For those who have died at the hands of persecutors: raise them up in joy. 

We do well to help one another in the pilgrimage we make together.

We do well to lay up stores of good works for the treasure house.

We do well to share the gifts we are freely given because . . . where our treasure lies, that is where we spend eternity . . . what we have, we are given to share . . . and once shared, this rich abundance goes out to return a hundred fold.  We do well to be prepared. 

Adapted from a reflection written on May 25, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.5 (2009). Print.  

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2016

E.O. WIlson

E.O. Wilson

Unhealthy competition brings about a kind of chaos in the sound; it becomes impossible to find inner peace and community serenity. How then, can we see God’s presence in the work of Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers? How then do we understand the kind of uproar that Jesus’ life and words so often engender?

Each time we stand up for the marginalized, we bring about God’s uproar. When bridges are built over chaos and disarray, when wounds are healed, when differences reconciled, we enter in God’s uproar.  Once we look carefully at the tumult around us, we begin to realize that there is a fine difference the chaos of darkness with its attendant prejudices, the transformation of God’s uproar.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies, when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, when we insist on reminding ourselves and others of Christ’s good news, we cause God’s uproar.

wild-map-640Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by Christ’s light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

Consider God’s uproar and read the NY Times review of  Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by O.E. Wilson, biologist. Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard and the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Or consider the Audubon Society’s perspective at: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/eo-wilson-wants-us-leave-half-earth

Visit the EO Wilson Foundation, click on the images above for more information, or watch a PBS episode on Wilson’s bold proposal at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/ 

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David, another of God’s imperfect leaders, we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service, or it can make us even more strongly bound to God.  The choice is always ours to make.

These readings continue the theme. Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.

We are further advised that if resentment is a constant companion in our lives, we will never understand the mercy God wants to show us in this world and the next. Therefore, we will want to learn to live without bitterness. It is not the treasure we want to set aside: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth but rather, store up treasures in heaven. And heaven’s treasures are mercy, kindness and love. Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

And so we consider . . . Rather than foment division, we want to add to the world’s serenity. But what about the kind of uproar that Paul causes? How does this fit into God’s design?

Today and tomorrow we reflect on an idea proposed by biologist E.O. Wilson and consider how his proposals affront or enact God’s kingdom. Visit the Smithsonian magazine to read, Can the world really set aside half the planet for Wildlife?

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-world-really-set-aside-half-planet-wildlife-180952379/?no-ist

Tomorrow, God’s uproar.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

 

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John: Naming OurselvesMislabeling-the-Word-of-God

March 28, 2015

In beautiful prose, the writer of John’s Gospel gives us many portals to name Christ, to understand the person of Jesus, and to model ourselves after this Word of God Among Us.  On this eve of Palm Sunday, as we prepare to enter the holiest of weeks in the liturgical calendar, let us take time to assess who Jesus is, how we convey to the world our own understanding of God in the person of Jesus, and how we intend to change in order that we become more like this saving servant.

Chapter 1: Word of God and Light of the World – What does it mean to be the Word of God? Do we enact God’s mercy and justice in our actions and words? How might we bring light to the world’s darkness? Do we look for hope, bring peace, and heal others?

Chapter 3: Spirit of God – God grants us eternal life. What do we store up for this eternity? Where does our treasure lie? Do we offer life or death to ourselves and others?

Chapters 4 – 9: Healer and Miracle Worker – How do we become the hands and feet of Christ? When do we allow God to work many small miracles for and through us? How often do we witness to injustice? When and why do we heal ourselves and others?

good shepherdChapter 10: The Good Shepherd: We have the prophets’ cry out against false shepherd and teachers. Do we number among them? Do we listen for the voice of Jesus the Shepherd? Do we put aside the world to follow the one true shepherd? When do we call others to follow in Christ’s Way?

Chapters 11-12: Restorer of Life – We cannot raise Lazarus from the dead but we can restore wounded hearts, ask and grant forgiveness, bridge gaps and mend fences. We are capable of bringing hope to the hopeless, mercy to the marginalized and love to the abandoned and brutalized. When and where do we grant these gifts we have been given by God?

Chapters 13 – 14: Advocate – It is easy to look away from problems and slip into denial. Who are our loved ones, associates, colleagues and friends? Do they call us to good or encourage us to hide in darkness?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChapters 15 – 17: Vine for our Branches – God gives us the choice to be life-takers or life-givers. What path do we choose and why? Are we willing to change course once we see that we need to change? Do we offer to God the apology saying that we are content in our comfort zone? Do we inflict discomfort on others or call them gently? What nourishment do we allow God to bring us and how do we pass this sacred sustenance along?

Chapters 18 – 20: Lamb of God – Humility is such a difficult quality to wear in our status and power-driven world and yet it is essential. Do we strive for the meekness that Jesus displays? Do we give more than we receive? What role does pride play in our lives? How do we handle our own sense of entitlement and that of others?

Chapter 21: Resurrection – There are no words to express the beauty of God’s desire to bring us to eternal happiness in the kingdom. What fidelity to do we show to the Gospel story in our actions and words? What narrative of resurrection do we live out? What promise of resurrection to we believe? And how do we witness to the miracles of resurrection we know God performs constantly in our own lives and in the lives of others?

empty tomb with sheet and lightWe are perhaps too accustomed to these images and if this is so, we must spend quiet time with them today. If we celebrate and enact these metaphors in our lives daily then let us rejoice in the Good News that is so familiar. In either case, let us spend time with these names and call ourselves followers of Christ as today we prepare for the Palm Sunday gift of Jesus as the very name of God.

Tomorrow, Christ in Us.

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