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Posts Tagged ‘Trinity’


Acts 11: Step by Step

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

El Greco: The Apostles Peter and Paul – The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

I sometimes become discouraged when the world seems narrow, cruel and bleak.  I sometimes feel as if my hopes and prayers are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong solutions.  I sometimes cannot believe that I have understood what God has in mind.  So much in this world does not make sense.  And this is when I turn to Acts and the stories of the fledgling church for it is here that God’s will for us is so clear.  It is in these chapters and verses that we witness an incredible burgeoning of Spirit and an amazingly tenacious church.  A small band of ordinary people begin an extraordinary movement.  I wonder if they would succeed in the world we know today.

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s fledgling Church, his new and blushing bride.  Many new members are joining and the persecutor Saul has become the advocate Paul.  The first major breach has occurred and now step by step (verse 4) Peter gets to the heart of his message: The resurrection is not only meant for the Christ; it is a gift given to each of us by the Creator . . . and our first step toward this gift is our baptism in the Spirit.  Peter explains the message he received from God in a vision and wraps up his thinking with one on my favorite verses: Who was I to hinder God? 

The Church undergoes persecution in Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.  Stephen has been stoned and is the Church’s first martyr.  Barnabas continues as a loyal preacher of the Story, adding members to the Church.  Step by step, with patience, perseverance, and boldness, these early founders move gently but firmly as they form Christ’s Bride – the Church.  Prayers are answered.  Miracles happen.  Prayers are asked and answered, although not always understood.  The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.   I need to remember these lessons when I feel deserted, overwhelmed or lost.

Often we should not really be able to recognize an answer to prayer if it came.  Maybe the Holy Spirit was using our little prayer for some much larger purpose, of his own, and his prayer may be answered even if our little prayer seems to remain unnoticed.  It is in God’s hands from start to finish, and we must accept that and not try to wrest it from him.

  Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.  Dominican priest, author of books on theology and spirituality, member of Dominican, Historical Institute, MAGNIFICAT  Meditation, May 15, 2010

We are cogs on the wheels of Christ’s Church at work and we have the freedom to choose how we go about completing our daily rounds.  We can choose to churn in place and stubbornly hold up the works, or we might move as we are asked.  Who are we to hinder God? 

We are part of the great fire that Christ brought to earth and we may fling ourselves at our work, burning out like a spark that leaps out into the night sky to extinguish itself quickly on the damp ground.  Or we might choose to stay close to the heart of the flames when banked for the night to hunker down when fuel is low, hugging close to the origin, joining with the other faithful embers who lie together, glowing and waiting through the dark and cold . . . to spring to life again with new wood and the coming of the morning light and wind.  Who are we to hinder God? 

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s embattled and struggling Church, his faithful and hope-filled bride.  Who are we to hinder God? 


A re-post from May 7, 2012.

Image from: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_3_1_2a.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.15 (2010). Print.  

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Acts 7:54-60: Martyrdom

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Andre de Giusto (Manzini): Stoning of Saint Stephen

It is difficult to connect the idea with God as a Good Shepherd to accounts like today’s NoontimeIn this famous scene of Stephen’s martyring, we have much to observe, much to absorb.   On this Sunday when we celebrate good shepherding, let us pause to examine the story and ourselves; and let us reflect.

When the crowd heard Stephen name them as stiff-necked and in opposition to the holy Spirit, they were infuriated and they ground their teeth at him.

How often do we gnash our own teeth and plot our arguments when we hear others make statements we do not believe?

But Stephen, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

How often are we able to put aside our rising anger and look for God and Jesus in the ugliness we see before us?

The crowd covered their ears, cried out against Stephen and rushed toward him.

How often do we rush against witnessing when we hear words that call us to something greater than we are willing to be?

They threw him out of the city and, and began to stone him.

How often are we more intent on silencing someone than listening to their inspiring and heart-felt words?

The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the foot of a young man named Saul.

How often do we gloat in silence while others suffer?

As Stephen fell beneath the stones he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit”.

How often do we stand by and watch as injustice takes place?

Stephen said with his last breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”.

How often are we able to forgive those who transgress against us?  How often do we intercede for our enemies before our forgiving and loving God?

When we are in turmoil and pain and we look for the Good Shepherd to lead us to safety, where do we look?  We find good shepherds amidst the mayhem of life, in the fury of human battles, and in the chaos of darkness that seeks to overtake the light.  We find good shepherds tending to the shunned and the belittled, living with the marginalized and forgotten, healing the lonely and broken-hearted.  And once we find our Good Shepherd, this best of all shepherds, we must follow where he leads.  This following may take us along dangerous paths and through storm-tossed seas.  We may want to cover our ears and gnash our teeth as do the witnesses we hear about today.  We may, like Stephen, feel ourselves falling beneath the weight of too many stones thrown in rage against us; and we may see too late the martyrdom that overtakes us.

When we find ourselves backed up against a howling, angry pack . . . we, like Stephen, must also look to God and to Jesus.  And we must give ourselves over to the Spirit.  We will likely be surprised by the miracle in store for us.

This week we will read more stories about the man Saul at whose feet Stephen’s attacked tossed their cloaks.  We will see the miracle of this man’s conversion as he witnessed the martyring of Stephen.  And we will remember that God always pulls goodness out of evil acts; God always calls forth miracles from martyrdom.  For this reason alone . . . we must not be afraid.


A re-post from April 29, 2012.

Image from: http://all-art.org/DICTIONARY_of_Art/a/Andrea_Giusto1.htm

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Easter Prayer


Rubens: Christ Risen

Easter Prayer

Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

Wishing each of you, your family and friends a blessed Easter.

May each of us be renewed in Christ,

Blessed by the Father,

and

Graced by the Holy Spirit. 

May we keep in mind that we are Easter people.

May we acknowledge and share the gifts with which we have been blessed.

And may we hold the story of Christ’s coming ever in our minds and hearts.

Amen.

The celebration of Easter last s for eight days, from Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter. The Easter season lasts for 50 days, ending with the celebration of Pentecost.  For special reflections that take us on a deeper journey, click on the image or visit: http://www.dualravens.com/spirituality/stations/oftheresurrection/introduction/


A re-post from April 8, 2012. 

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Luke 4:16-30: The Brow of the Hill

Friday, March 8. 2019

Jesus

Today we remind ourselves that Jesus was rejected in his hometown and this ought to help us feel better about our failures both perceived and real.  They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But he passed through the midst of them and went away.  I am reading this and thinking that Jesus lives most of his life on the brow of the hill, at danger of being hurled down headlong.  We know how Jesus died and so we understand that finally the jealousy, anger and fear took over enough people to drown out the voices of the faithful followers.  We also know, because we have read the story and heard it told to us each Eastertide, that death did not put an end to Jesus and his kingdom; rather, it birthed a movement and a way of being that swept the world and changed human history forever.  We need to remember all of this when we find ourselves on the brow of the hill outside our own hometown or any place else.  We need to remember that what we first perceive as an end will become a beginning through Christ.  We need to remember that what we fear becomes our joy through Christ.  We need to remember that nothing can obliterate us and God restores and saves.  We need to remember that God turns all harm to good.  We need to remind ourselves that when we live and move in the Spirit we are infinite and eternal.  We need to remind ourselves that when we pray and act in the Spirit, nothing is impossible.  He passed through the midst of them and went away.

What did Jesus do or say that angered those who had known him from birth?  A few days ago we heard the Isaiah 61:1-2a reading that Jesus found and read from the scroll.  The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . there are those who resent good things happening to other people.  He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and release to the prisoners, and a day of vindication by our God . . . there are those who want to be the only giver of goodness, the only advocate for peace.  There are those who want to control even the goodness of God.

The Isaiah reading continues: I rejoice heartily in the Lord . . . and so must we even in the face of disappointment.  My God is the joy of my soul . . . and so we turn to him when we are rejected and scorned.  He has clothed me with a robe of salvation . . . God will leave the ninety-nine safe and secure to seek for and save the one lost sheep.  He has wrapped me in a mantel of justice . . . God will right wrongs and mend brokenness in God’s time and place.

The people in the synagogue were all filled with fury . . . we have the opportunity to respond to Jesus’ Advent into our lives with impatience and resentment.  At the same time we have the opportunity to welcome him into our lives even when we know that following Jesus is difficult work.

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing . . . we do not have to wait for some distant and unknown day to celebrate God’s saving power; rather we can proclaim our joy today and every day.  We can willing follow Christ even to the brow of the hill secure in the knowledge that although we fear being hurled headlong down the precipice Jesus stands with us to lead us through the midst of them . . . to lead us to eternal safety and joy.


For an insightful blog posting on the Luke reading in today’s Noontime, click the Jesus image above and follow the link.  For a site that has information about films about Jesus, click on the image below.

1977 film: Jesus of Nazareth

A re-post from December 13, 2011.

Images from: http://fralfonse.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html and http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/2010/11/comparison-jesus-gospel-manifesto.html

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Exodus 36-38The Altar of Our Lives

Friday, December 28, 2018

At this harvest time of year when we gather to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, let us consider our thoughts, words,and deeds in light of the Hebrews’ desert experience and in gratitude for the fulfillment of God’s best hope in us.

Written on November 16, 2008 and posted today as Favorite . . .

The Israelites were faithful to Yahweh in constructing a residence for their one true God, and this one God Yahweh – who tolerated no other gods before him – was faithful in accompanying his people to guide and protect them.  Today’s reading describes the detail the Israelites followed in order to provide the appropriate altars, veil, table, ark and lampstand.  The chapters preceding these describe the collection of materials and artisans.  The chapters following these describe the vestments, and dwelling . . . and how Yahweh settles into his home on earth among the human race.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

In the New Testament story, Jesus comes to earth to be the new high priest . . . and to construct a new temple in place of the former one.  He also calls his artisans and gathers his materials . . . his original apostles and disciples . . . and all those apostles and disciples who have heard his story . . . and who have acted in faith to join this story.  He also settles into his home on earth . . . in the hearts, bodies and minds of all those who follow him today and all days.

In Acts we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit settling upon the original apostles in flames of fire.  The Spirit still settles upon and in those who join with Christ in his mystical body to become living stones in the new living temple of Yahweh.

The Hermitage of San Girolamo, Italy

We are creatures seeking the God who created us, the God who walks with us, the God who abides with us.  We are formed for worship and for joy.  Each day at our rising, each noon at our pausing, each night at our entering into the world of dreams and sleep we have a new opportunity to refurbish our temple . . . to keep it always a pleasing place of adoration . . . a place where our souls sing in communion with others who wish to walk and live in this liminal space of love and peace, mystery and serenity.

What does our God require of us?  This is no mystery.  He does not require holocausts or sacrifice.  He does not require incense morning, noon and night.  But this is what he requires: that we do what is right, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God.  (Micah 6:8

Let us offer our sacrifices of fear, anxiety, pain and anger on the altar of our lives.  Let us do what is right; let us love goodness; and let us walk humbly as we work at the building of God’s temple with the surrender of our lives.

John Pettie (1884):Fixing the Site of an Early Christian Altar


A re-post from November 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/73395/fixingthesiteofanearlychristianaltar1884 and http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html and http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cucco711.jpg

A good website for information concerning the Hebrew temple furnishings.  http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html

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Jeremiah 39:1-14Remaining Among the People

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Soord: Lost Sheep

We have read about Jeremiah in the dungeon (Chapter 37) and Jeremiah in the miry cistern (Chapter 38); now we read about his capture . . . and that he remained among the people.  Just yesterday I spoke with a friend about her reluctance to do something that would cause her great pain.  I said that rather than focus on the suffering that an experience was bound to bring her, she might just want to focus on tending to God’s lost sheep.  This was something she said she could do.  I had heard the Jeremiah in her anticipate the lack of understanding she was about to meet.  I heard her fear of her own unpredictable emotions rising.  We spoke about patience, persistence and witnessing.  And we spoke about how we cannot control people or events, of how we can barely sometimes control ourselves.  Life brings us these difficult lessons to learn.  Life also brings us unmeasurable reward . . . if we only learn to remain among the people.

Yesterday’s Gospel reminded us of something we may want to carry with us everywhere and it is this: When we are fearful of something we must do we are likely relying on ourselves too much.  And we are likely forgetting to rely on God.  Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:8-12 that we need not worry about our circumstances – even when they are dire – if we remain in him, in God.  When we allow the Spirit to direct us, we cannot fail.  When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at the moment what you should say.  Jesus may be remembering the words from Isaiah 30:21: From behind, a voice will sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.  Both the Old and New Testament remind us that when we live in the Spirit, we cannot falter.  When we remain with God’s people, we will not go wrong.  When we follow Christ, we may suffer but we will never be lost.

We are often reminded to witness, watch and wait on the Lord and so we pray from Psalm 5 in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: It is you whom I invoke, O Lord.  In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.  You are no God who loves evil; no sinner is your guest.  The boastful shall not stand their ground before your face.  But I through the greatness of your love have access to your house.  I bow down before your holy temple, filled with awe.  All those you protect shall be glad and ring out their joy.  You shelter them; in you they rejoice, those who knew your name.  It is you who bless the just one, Lord: you surround the just one as with a shield. 

I asked my friend to see herself as a shepherd who gathers lambs to bring them into the fold at night.  I asked that she put all her worry into prayer. And I asked that she rely on God to bring goodness out of harm.

In the end, Jesus reminds us, God is all there is.  In the end, we do not want to wait on anyone or anything else.  In the end, all that is asked of us is that we witness, watch and wait.  Rather than succumb to the familiar fears that govern us poorly and use us badly, we will want to remember to gather ourselves and to gather lost sheep even as we remain among God’s people.  For it is in, and of and through Christ that we are saved and brought back to God.  It is in, and of and through the Spirit that we are consoled.  And it is in, and of and through God that we are made whole.  And in the end – when we can manage to remain with God’s people – we remember well that . . . God is all there is.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.10 (2011): 239. Print. 

A re-post from October 16, 2011.

Image from: http://personalitydevelopmentbeyourbest.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-from-lost-sheepif-lost-sheep.html

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The Trinity

Creed: We believe . . .

The Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 5, 2018

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gives to me twelve drummers drumming.

These twelve drummers lords represent the twelve beliefs held in the Apostles Creed.

When the circumstances of life challenge us, we take our burdens to the LORD . . .

We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

When life confuses us about how we are to behave and where we are to go, we take our worries to Christ . . .

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.

When life presents impossible obstacles that seem insurmountable, we remember that with God all things are possible . . .

We believe that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary.

When life’s pain seems to have no purpose, we remember that Christ offers salvific suffering for us each day . . .

We believe that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

Women Apostles

When horrible events destroy innocent people, we remind one another that Christ overcomes all evil and brings goodness out of harm . . .

We believe that Jesus descended into hell and on the third day rose again from the dead.

When dictators and oligarchs wipe out cultures and truths, we remind ourselves that God’s kingdom is the only kingdom that lasts forever . . .

We believe that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.

When corruption thwarts justice and exploits the marginalized, we remember that there is only one judgment that lasts forever . . .

We believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.

When we are abandoned, alone, or rejected, we remember that we are all on in the Spirit . . .

We believe in the Holy Spirit.

When the structures we design to protect us become tools of subjugation, we recall that the Spirit lives in our ancestors who go before us, and in our children’s children who follow . . .

We believe in the holy catholic Church and the Communion of Saints.

When we are beleaguered, overwhelmed or undone, we recall that God’s goodness overpowers any errors we commit . . .

We believe in the forgiveness of sins.

When we are unloved, unwanted or numbed by tragedy, we remember that Christ brings us home to new life in The Way . . .

Giovanni Battista Gaulii: The Three Marys at the Sepulchre

We believe in the resurrection of the body.

When we are duped or deceived by life on earth, and when we lose all hope, we remember that God is with us always, loving us into eternal goodness . . .

We believe in life everlasting.

This is what we believe, this is what we share, this is what we know.

Amen.

For information about where the Creed is found in Scripture, visit: http://www.acatholic.org/about-the-catholic-faith/catholic-the-apostles-creed/ 

For information about the split between Western and Eastern creeds, visit: http://orthochristian.com/90157.html 

For more in-depth interpretations of The Apostles’ Creed, visit these sites. 

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Apostles-Creed

https://blog.faithlife.com/blog/2015/04/the-apostles-creed-its-history-and-origins/

http://www.dummies.com/religion/christianity/catholicism/the-twelve-articles-of-catholic-faith/

 

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Song of Songs 6:1-3: Discovery

The Three Magi

The Third Day of Christmas, December 27, 2017

In the old carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, our true love brings us three costly French hens on the third day. This extravagant gift might reflect the gifts of the three magi to the Christ child of frankincense, gold and myrrh; or they might remind us of the essential virtues for life: faith, hope and love. Today we consider another powerful Trinity present in our lives: Creator, Redeemer, and Healer, giver, receiver, and gift – a duo of two who hold between them the essence of their love . . . the Holy Trinity. Looking for clues to discover more about this mysterious relationship we experience with God, we explore Solomon’s Song of Songs.

“Determined to share her lover with no one, the girl refuses the aid offered by the daughters in seeking him.  She implies that she had never really lost him, for he has come down to his garden”.  (Senior 796)

We often spent time thinking about our need to trust and obey God when we feel trouble brewing.  Can we imagine ourselves as ardent lovers of God?  Can we see ourselves as determined as this young woman in today’s Noontime?  Can we see ourselves as settling for nothing less than full discovery of God even within our most intimate selves?  Can we believe it possible that God might have a unique, genuine and loving connection with each one of us . . . without forgetting who we are and what we need?

With God all things are possible.  We have only to ask.  God loves us more ardently than any earthly lover might, and we might love God more than anything or anyone on earth.

How much time do we spend in quiet discovery of God’s goodness each day as balanced with the time we spend worrying about all we believe we need from God?  How much effort do we give to tending our own garden to make it ready for the visit of the lover who is anxious to bring us what we need before we ask?  Do we go out in search of this most excellent lover who awaits us with joy even when we are in the midst of our suffering, or do we sit at home and pine?

Do we seek sorrow or joy, separation or union?  How much effort do we really give to seeking God?

Zurbarán: St. John of the Cross

I paraphrase here the third of St. John of the Cross’ Dichos, or Sayings: Although the road is wide and soft for those who have the will to walk it, you will still need strong feet, an eager spirit, and obstinate determination.  The pathway to the lover’s garden is inviting, but not easy.  There are always stones in the path, low-hanging branches and slippery stepping stones that cross the stream.  Do we pursue this Lover God as ardently as we pursue our daily wants and desires?  Are we willing to put aside our agendas to take up the one we are given by the one who loves us best?  Do we secretly undermine our own efforts to find intimacy with God, or is this life of God’s one we choose to discover? Do we give up in our search of the beloved, or is this a lover we seek with passion?

Perhaps we have been searching and have discovered this intimate God already.  Perhaps we know precisely where Christ sits among the lilies.  Perhaps we browse along the paths with the Spirit when we are both troubled and happy.  If not, then let us go.  If so, then let us celebrate.

Where has your lover gone? 

My lover has come down to his garden . . . to gather lilies . . . my lover belongs to me and I to him . . .

Adapted from a favorite written on August 13, 2010.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.796. Print. 

To read the O’Henry (William Sydney Porter) story, The Gift of the Magi, visit: http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/GifMag.shtml

To better understand the three gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh, visit: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/why-did-the-magi-bring-gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/

To read John of the Cross’ poem, Dark Night of the Soul, along with a brief commentary, visit: https://www.poetseers.org/spiritual-and-devotional-poets/christian/the-works-of-st-john-of-the-cross/dark-night-of-the-soul/index.html

Find John’s Dichos at: http://joshuakezer.blogspot.com/2012/01/sayings-of-light-and-love-dichos-de-luz.html 

For reflections on the mystery of God as three persons in one, enter the word Trinity into the blog search bar and explore.

For more on the Trinity, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Trinity-Christianity

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Romans 6:1-11: Seek Freedom from Sin: Seek Life in God

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Today’s reading is Paul’s defense against the idea that to live as Jesus lived is to live without regard for the Law of Moses or without regard for Jesus’ own act of fulfilling that Law.  This new covenant does not promote moral laxity; rather it brings the opportunity to live a full life of union with the law, with the spirit of the law more than the letter.  Paul also goes on to remind us that we all receive the gift of resurrection through Christ.  He delineates ably an argument to those who say that life in Christ and in the Spirit lacks morality because it forgives . . . he shows us that life in Christ is the exemplar of morality . . . if being lived well.

So many times we forget that we ought to tend to our spiritual health as assiduously as we do our physical, emotional or mental health.  We practice yoga, eat organic food, look for advice, and forget to make a stillness in our lives where we can best listen to the voice which speaks within.

Humans so often seek to separate and divide.  God always seeks to unify.  God brings us freedom from a life of division.  He brings us life in Christ and union in the Spirit.  Jesus came to live with us as God’s Word.  Christ remains among us as God’s Spirit.  Christ lives in us, in spite of us, always with us, ever keeping us in God’s love.  Life in God is freedom, freedom to become our best potential, freedom to fulfill God’s best dream for us.  Let us seek freedom to live in God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on November 6, 2017.

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