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Posts Tagged ‘trust in God’


peter-feed-my-sheepSunday, July 18, 2021

Psalm 125

The Lord Surrounds Us

We too often allow life’s struggles to surround us while we neglect the one who created us, the one who guides us, the only one who can protect us from the buffeting squalls of life.

The Surrounding

Those who trust in the Lord are like seeds on the heavy wind.

They know the Creator will bring them to a fertile place of rest.

The Lord surrounds the faithful as surely as the waves return to shore.

God will keep their land safe from the withering sun and not permit their fragile shoots to be washed away before they take root.

The Lord will not disappoint their fragile hope.

Reward, O Lord, those who listen to the gentle voice in the turbulence of life’s storm. Reward those who hold fast.

Peace be upon those who put down firm roots in God’s loving grace.


Image from: http://scpeanutgallery.com/2014/07/16/morning-prayer-16-july-psalm-1253-5-numbers-171-11-john-2115-17-on-strengthening-the-godly/

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Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Psalm 37: Humility and Patience – Part I

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for February 2, 2013: “When you truly know, the giveaway is that you know that you do not know! Truly holy people are always humble. If you are not humble, you have not experienced the Holy One. If you don’t see humility and patience in religion, you know it’s not on the right course”.

Adapted from CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action
(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer
(CD, DVD, MP3)

psalm-37-4[1]I have been thinking about this all morning and today at noon scripture fell open at Psalm 37, a song that “responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: Why do the wicked and the good suffer? The psalm answers that the situation is only temporary.  God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth.  The perspective is concrete and earthbound: people’s very actions place them among the ranks of the good or wicked.  Each group or ‘way’ has its own inherent dynamism – eventual frustration for the wicked, eventual reward for the just”.  (Senior cf. 670)

The word EVENTUAL leaps out at us.  We want all solutions immediately.  We want to bend time and space to our will as we believe God does.  Our humanity brings us limitation and may spur us to lust after power and prestige.  Our divinity offers us infinity and calls us to humility and patience.  With this hymn of answers God invites us this weekend to explore the puzzle of human suffering.  Let us examine the images and logic of this acrostic psalm to see what it says to us about patience and humility.

The first stanza, ALEPH, leaps into a suggestion for how to handle evil: Do not be provoked by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

The second, BETH, describes how to do away with our anger or anxiety: Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.

The third, GIMEL, tells us what to aim for: Make your integrity shine like the dawn.

The fourth, DALETH, is specific: Be still before the Lord; wait for God.

The fifth, HE, tells us the consequence of anger: Give up your anger, abandon your wrath; do not be provoked; it brings only harm.

The sixth, WAW, leaves no doubt about outcomes: Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more; look for them and they will not be there.  But the poor will possess the land, will delight in great prosperity.

The seventh, ZAYIN, tells us that it is really the wicked who are envious: The wicked plot against the just and grind their teeth at them.

The eighth, HETH, describes how the plots turn back on the plotters: Their swords will pierce their own hearts; their bows will be broken.

The ninth, TETH, keeps us focused: The Lord will sustain the just.

The tenth, YODH, tells us that suffering can lead to everlasting peace: The Lord watches over the days of the blameless; their heritage lasts forever.

The eleventh, KAPH, reminds us that those who impose suffering fade away: Like the beauty of meadows the wicked perish; like smoke they disappear. 

Spend some time with this psalm today and open the acrostic.  The message within is a letter of love from God to us.  In humility . . . let us accept it.  With patience . . . let us live it.


Image from: http://ingridschlueter.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/gods-counsel-in-the-midst-of-trouble/

Tomorrow, more reflection on Psalm 37.  Find a good commentary and explore.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.670. Print.

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Daniel 1 – 6: Tales from the Diaspora (Part I)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Click this image to follow a link to the PBS FRONTLINE site on the Jewish Diaspora for more about what it means to Christ’s followers

During the Easter Octave this verse of Daniel, and others surrounding it, are recited in thanksgiving for the Easter Miracle.  In this second week of Eastertide let us examine one of the church’s most popular and most powerful prayers.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

Over the many months that we have shared Noontimes, we have reflected on this apocalyptic prophecy nearly two dozen times, and about half a dozen of those times have been from The Tales of the Diaspora, the first six chapters of this book.  These chapters have roots in Israel’s wisdom literature and they are pedagogical in nature, the characters providing role models of fidelity to and trust in Yahweh, the one true god and creator of all.  Daniel was also a figure mentioned in Canaanite texts of the fourth century B.C.E. (his name was Dnil) where he is described as a righteous judge and hero.  He is seen as one who communicates with God through angels and understands information about the future of the world.  Because of his virtue, his words and deeds – along with those other Jewish youth held in captivity – these stories remain with us today, and they serve to help us in our own times of trial – our own fiery furnaces and lions’ dens. They were recorded between the years of 167 and 164 B.C.E. (Mays 623-629)

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .

As a child, I loved the stories of the four young Jewish boys, Daniel, Hanaiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  I was stunned by the fact that they had to abandon their Jewish names to take on new, foreign ones, Balthazar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I was frightened by the fact that they were not only torn from hearth and home but were also being forced to abandon their God.  It was actually this story which caused me to want to know and understand other languages, realizing that one day I might find myself snatched from all that is familiar to wake up in a daze in foreign territory . . . and I would want to know what these strange people were saying about me and my destiny.  I also remember realizing that it was not the linguistic ability, the intelligence, the strength or the bonds of family or friendship which sustained these young people when they found themselves controlled by pagan foreigners and taken from their temple, their home, their families and community . . . their physical and spiritual places of comfort.  When they were completely separated from the things which most of us cling to in times of crisis and stress, they relied on the one thing which sustained them through the trial of a fiery crematorium and exposure to hungry lions . . . they had Yahweh . . . they had their trust in Yahweh . . . and they had their fidelity to Yahweh.  This alone fed them, rescued them, and restored them to a place of dignity and honor.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever . . .


A re-post from April 17, 2012.

Image from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/jewish.html

Tomorrow we will reflect more on Tales from the DiasporaFor more information on what the Jewish Diaspora is and what it mean to Christians, click on the image above or go to the PBS FRONTLINE site at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/jewish.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 623-629. Print.

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1 Maccabees 4:1-35: Living and Dying Nobly

Holy Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . .

Judas Maccabeus and his Jewish followers were steeped in the scripture and so the idea of placing one’s fear in God’s hands in order to live and die nobly was a familiar message to them.

God speaks to Abram in Genesis 15:1 saying: Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward. 

In Joel 2:21 the prophet exhorts all of creation to take heart.

Nearly a dozen times the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel we are told that we need not be afraid because God is with us.

Zechariah tells us: Do not be afraid but let your hands be strong. (8:13)

In Psalm 21 the psalmist asks why we fear when we have the Lord as our rock and protector.

In Psalms 56 and 118 the writer reminds all of us to trust in God when we become fearful.

In Proverbs 3:24 we are encouraged to rest in God alone so that we do not fear.

When we allow assurance in our relationship with God to become part of our fiber, fear oozes away in the warmth of God’s light.  The soldiers in today’s reading do this and their enemy is amazed when they see their courage.

Lysias saw how ready they were to either live or die nobly . . .

Judas Maccabeus

We too, might be ready to live or die nobly if we only allow the Spirit to saturate us.  Perhaps we can make this a Lenten pledge: When fear threatens to overtake us, we will turn to Christ who will remind us . . . Do not fear their numbers or be afraid . . . I am with you. 


A re-post from March 2, 2012.

Images from: http://apoloblogology.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_archive.html and http://phillchida.blogspot.com/2011/06/love-letter-to-my-heavenly-father.html and 

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Daniel 2:9: A False and Deceitful Interpretation

Third Sunday of Lent, March 24, 2019

When I am troubled about a relationship, when there seems to be a cloud of confusion about a particular topic, I go to scripture . . . and I always receive an answer.  Today has brought me clarity to another thorny problem, and I thank God for his quick and clear answer to my question.

Yesterday we spent some time with the second chapter of Daniel in which we discussed how our little gods insist on being carried and served while the Living God carries and serves us.  We reminded ourselves of how faithfully God turns all harm into goodness.  And we wondered if we might – like Daniel – have the courage to take a public stand on thorny issues.  We concluded our thoughts knowing that humility and fidelity will always bring us to mercy and truth.  Today we look at one verse from Daniel’s story: You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Too frequently we humans are tempted to throw blame for error on others.  We are too quick to fog the truth.  We are too willing to stand silent while others are persecuted; too happy to shy away from responsibility; to eager to avoid conflict.  This may be a good time to pause in our Lenten journey to evaluate ourselves and our relationship with others in order to assess how well – or how poorly – we speak for truth; and often – or how seldom – we stand for clarity and authenticity.  An examination of our relationship with God and others must be candid and deep . . . and so we ask ourselves this basic question: When or how have we framed a false and deceitful interpretation of a conversation in order to avoid accepting responsibility? 

Further questions flow from an honest evaluation.

  • What have been the consequences of stalling for time while others suffer?
  • Why have we participated in plots of lies and deception?
  • How have we contributed to crises and neglected to act in peace?
  • Who have been our companions in life’s journey: those who act in fear or those act in love?

We learn about ourselves when we take this sort of journey; and we come to know why we sleep in peace or are rattled by doubt.  When we respond honestly to this kind of inquiry we begin to reach into our best selves, and we draw nearer to God.

If our answers to these difficult questions are positive and good then we can take heart and continue to move forward.  If our answers embarrass or shame us, if we are unhappy with the way in which we rely on ourselves more than we trust God, we might take this opportunity to turn away from the little gods that insist on sapping our energy and diluting our will.  We can give all that we are and all that we do to The Living God who loves us so well and so much.

It may be a new experience for us to go to someone we have wronged to ask forgiveness, but this is how we show repentance.

It may be complicated to sort out the truth from the lies in our relationships, but is the first step toward honesty and authenticity.

It may be a difficult journey inward as we strip away pretense to arrive at our true selves, but it essential if we wish to truly know peace.

You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Let us pray that if or when these words are spoken about us we will have the spiritual energy to resist the lure of a life lived without blame, that we will turn away from a life lived in shadow, and that we will continue to turn to The Living God when we find ourselves among the thorns.


A re-post from March 24, 2012.

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Luke 18:15-17Inversion

Friday, October 5, 2018

This portion of Luke’s Gospel is full of inversion; Jesus continues to confound his followers with the simple idea that what appears to be strong and powerful and pious may actually be weak and humble and deceptive – and what appears to be powerless and impotent and simple is actually loyal and trusting and confident.  We are told that whoever does not accept God’s kingdom in child-like dependence on God cannot expect to enter it.  This is an outrageous statement in a society that did not believe that children had the power to reason; these are hard words for a people who consider that children are expendable and of little importance.  Jesus tells his listeners – and us – something that seems to stand all reasoning on its head: that if we are innocent and accepting as children we will have no problems navigating the byways of the kingdom, that if we are self-centered and prideful like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 or the rich official in Luke 18:18-23, we will not recognize the gates to the kingdom even if they open before us.

These famous verses about the preeminence of children in God’s Kingdom are familiar ones and we might be tempted to skim through them quickly; perhaps we remember a homily we heard that pointed out that Jesus’ words tell us that it is the child-like who enter into the kingdom willingly and eagerly.  Maybe we remember a reflection we read reminding us that Jesus does not say that we are to be child-ish.  We may have spent time meditating on how to allow ourselves to be governed by empathy and compassion for others rather than concern for our own survival.  We may already have spent ample time coming to grips with these difficult words that form a bridge between parables: the rich and influential grope in the darkness for the kingdom while the poor earn immediate entry into Gods presence and the humble move to the front of the line.

We are called to give of ourselves in child-like innocence; we are to love one another – even those who hate us.  We are not called to put ourselves first or to demand unmitigated leniency from God and our neighbors; we are not to be the center of all decisions.

Let the children come to me and do not prevent them . . .

When I am worried about a major car or house repair, I must allow the child in me to give the problem to God.

When I am anxious about a colleague or friend at work, I must allow the child in me to listen for the wisdom of God.

When I am disappointed by ugliness or betrayal of a loved one, I must allow the child in me to trust that God has everything in hand.

When I am saddened by the way we treat one another and God’s beautiful creation, I must allow the child in me to be open to the possibility of a change for the better.

Let the children come to me and do not prevent them . . .

The door to God’s great wisdom is never closed to us when we present our child-selves to the Creator.

The arms of Jesus are never folded in rebuke against us when we present our innocent selves to the Redeemer.

The comfort of the Spirit is never withheld from us when we present our trusting selves to the Counselor.

I am thinking that all of the big and small worries we have wrestled with during sleepless nights have been perfect bundles of woe to place at God’s feet; and I am wondering why we are so stubborn in clinging to our childish, self-centered demands.  I am considering how easily God can handle all of our big and small problems; and I am knowing that what is required of us is our full and total trust that God can and will resolve the conflicts that overwhelm us.  And I am also knowing that all that is required of us is that we put aside our bravado and our fear . . . to become the eager and willing Children of God that we are meant to be.  This is an inversion that is almost too difficult to take in or believe . . . but it is the amazing inversion that will bring us safely home.


A re-post from September 2, 2011.

Images from: http://pregnancyandbaby.sheknows.com/pregnancy/baby/How-to-get-baby-to-sleep-through-the-night-6475.htm 

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Sirach 33:16-19: Gleaning

Monday, September 17, 2018

Written on March 3 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Francois Millet: The Gleaners

We keep our sorrows to ourselves, thinking that no one wants to hear what has gone wrong for us.  This is a mistake.  We are called to share sorrow and to accompany one another in this journey of discerning how to best word in God’s vineyard.  It does not matter how or when we come to this realization.  It only matters that we eventually arrive there.

Now I was last to keep vigil; I was like a gleaner following the grape-pickers; by the blessing of the Lord I arrived first, and like grape-pickers I filled my wine press.

By dwelling on our sorrows or by thinking that our lives are more pain-filled than anyone else’s we rob ourselves – and our companions in life’s journey – of the opportunity to experience Christ’s healing presence.  It does not matter if we feel we have little to offer, it only matters that we offer who we are to others in need.

Consider that I have not labored for myself alone, but for all who seek instruction. Hear me, you who are great among the people, and you leaders of the congregation, pay heed!

Patience, fidelity, generosity, trust in God . . . when I think of those who have taught me to climb out of sorrow and into joy, these are the qualities that make these teachers greater than any titled leader with power.  If we turn to the beginning of Sirach (2:1-6), we find more instruction.

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.  Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.  Cling to him and do not depart, so that your last days may be prosperous.  Accept what befalls you, and in times of humiliations be patient.  For gold is tested in fire, and those found acceptable in the furnace of humiliation.  Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight and hope in him. 

We have frequently reflected in our Noontimes that the silversmith’s fire is essential to smelt out the detritus that makes us less bright and pure.  The prophet Malachi (3:1-3) reminds us that the refiner must remain constantly by the fire in order that it burn just hot enough to do its work without destroying the ore.  The life of those who choose to respond to God’s call is laden with many burdens . . . but these burdens convert to sweet justice when we lay all our complaints and pains before God.   We who come to God’s fields to glean what is left after the harvester passes by, engage in holy work for we lift up lost souls to God.  When we enter fully into this work to place the world’s sorrows in God’s capable hands, we – like the sadness we bear to God – are transformed by the smelter’s fire into bright, lovely and holy offerings . . .  and we become the delight we imagine.  So as we glean, let us imagine God’s joy well.


A re-post from August 17, 2011.

Image from: http://www.smithinet.com/Louvre/Louvre_art.html#gleaners 

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Judith 10God’s Favor

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gentileschi: Judith Beheading Holofernes

We have visited the story of Judith frequently this year and there is much to be learned from the narrative as she enacts sublime fidelity and heroic love.  A favorite Noontime reflection on the Book of Judith may interest you.  It is linked to the Favorites page above, or through the Pagesnavigation panel in the right-hand column of this blog.

Just yesterday we reflected on the concept of fasting.  Today we see Judith set aside her sackcloth and ashes to break her mourning; she goes out to face the enemy, armed with her woman’s weapons of beauty and speech.  Judith will save a nation . . . and she will do this by first seeking and then living in God.  She will receive God’s favor . . . and she will become the vehicle of a people’s salvation.

We notice that God is central in every decision Judith makes and in every act she performs.  Judith is able to escape the enemy’s revenge by walking past the sentries with her maid – and with the head of Holofernes hidden in their food pouch – precisely because she and her companion have walked out each night to pray at the ravine of Bethulia.  The guards are accustomed to seeing this regular ritual and so do not intercept the two women; they do not even search the food pouch.  After bathing each evening, Judith seeks God’s help . . . and she receives it.

We watch Judith as she leaves the city of Bethulia – a city which has provided her people safety and is now threatened by the Assyrian enemy: Order the gate of the city opened for me, that I might go to carry out the business we discussed” . . . Judith and her maid went out . . .

When we are called to go out of our comfort zone we are frightened.  We tell God that he has chosen the wrong emissary.  We say that we are too consumed with all the many other tasks he has assigned to us.  We find reasoning and excuses for not doing God’s will and yet . . . when we pray as Judith does, when we develop steadfastness as Judith has, when we trust God and take each step as it comes to us rather than worry about the distant future, we are able to rejoice – as Judith does – in the favor God bestows on her.

And so we pray . . .

Good and holy God, we are both fear-filled and awestruck at your power.  We watch as Judith goes into the very heart of the enemy camp – for this is where you need her – and we worry that we will not be able to slay the enemy in your name as Judith does.  We watch Holofernes and his soldiers set Judith in a place of honor – knowing that these acts come from lust – and we worry that we may not be as clever as Judith is.  Give us the courage to remain faithful to you.  Give us the endurance to wait on your plan.  Give us the prudence and patience to allow you to unfold before us, through us, and in us . . . so that we, like Judith, may rejoice in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from August 13, 2011.

Image from: http://www.lilithgallery.com/arthistory/baroque/Artemisia-Gentileschi.html

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