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Posts Tagged ‘trust’


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

1 Samuel 11:9-10

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Surrender of Jabesh

Descendants of Ammon, a son of Lot, the Ammonites lived in a territory of Ammon that extended from the Arnon to the Jabbok and Jordan. But during Moses time they had been driven to the east by the Amorites. Moses was not allowed to attack them (Deuteronomy 2:19) despite the fact that they worshiped idols, especially Molech, or the god Saturn.

Cursed by Yahweh’s prophets, this tribe had a long history of conflict with the Israelites. Today we see Saul gather three hundred thousand men from Israel and seventy thousand from Judah before he announces that he will deliver the people of Jabesh-gilead who have been overtaken by Nahash, the Ammonite. And when the messengers came and reported this to the inhabitants of Jabesh, who were jubilant, [they] said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you may do whatever you please with us”.  They likely recognized that freedom from the enemy was upon them.

Conflict in this part of the world continues today; lessons in this ancient land reinforce division more than unity. Jeremiah’s words of prophecy pierce hearts but convert too few. Walking in hardness and obstinacy have become an engrained way of living; the day without remedy is infinite; the imagery of the potter’s flask and Topheth lie meaningless. And yet the Lord is near.

In New Testament hope we recall the words of the apostle Paul: For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus . . . There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Would that each of us might give over our interior conflict and place our hope in God. Would that each of us might surrender to Christ and the promise given to Abraham just as the people of Jabesh surrender in jubilation their trust in God.


For more on the story of Jabesh and how they showed their gratitude to King Saul, click on the image above or go to: http://lukedockery.blogspot.com/2007/11/gratitude-men-of-jabesh-gilead.html 

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friendsWednesday, June 23, 2021

1 Chronicles 19

Friendship

The story we read today is typical of human behavior. In my family, as in many, we referred to fair weather friends as those who enter into a relationship and then step away when problems arise. Some refer to this sort of false friends as coat-holders. There were times when my mother would say to us: “Watch out for so-and-so, she only wants to hold your coat”. Mother had amazing insight and she was always right about this kind of temporary friend who was in a relationship for a variety of reasons – none of which affirmed a genuine friendship. Beware of companions who bask in the attention merited by someone else, who seek intimacy not from authentic love but from a desire to know details that can be bartered for other delicious gossip, who fear life so much they become leeches to any source of power, who refuse to put God first before all.

Today we watch David as he makes a genuine offer of sympathy and friendship. It is true that this story follows a series of conquests made by the Israelites under David’s leadership and that this fact alone is enough to stir the embers of latent fear that David’s envoy comes to spy rather than to share grief. It is also true that the Ammonites disgrace the envoy (in the older Douay version it says that their clothes were cut so as to show their buttocks), and that in this ancient culture one returns insult for insult. But it is ultimately true that a gesture of openness and kindness displays an understanding that trust accompanied by prudence must be honored. Today’s coat-holders do not have either the capacity or the will to believe in a sincere gesture. We will never know which.

This story speaks to authenticity in relationships. It is a reminder that when we open ourselves to God’s daily surprises, we must treat God’s messengers for what they are: an opportunity to show ourselves, our God, and the others with whom we share life to see our version of God. For how we treat others is the way we treat God. It is also the way we expect God to treat us. That is the meaning behind The Golden Rule of treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated.

What does Christ tell his apostles to do when they go into a house and extend Christ’s peace? If it is rejected, this peace will return to us and we are to move on. We are even to shake the dust of such a place from our feet. If Christ’s peace is returned to us in fullness, we are to celebrate this union and praise God for the gift of companionship.

The Book of Sirach holds many wise poems that tell us how to know a friend when one approaches. True Friendship is described in 5:5-17. Choice of Friends is summed up in 9:10-16. Care in Choosing Friends is outlined in 11:29 to 12:18. Chapter 13 gives us Caution Regarding Associates. The Preservation of Friendship is found in 22:19-27 with a wonderful concluding prayer. Those who are Worthy of Praise, Wicked and Virtuous Women, and Dangers to Integrity and Friendship are delineated in Chapters 25, 26 and 27. Choice of Associates is re-visited in 36:18-27.

Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction . . . With these words, Jesus ben Sirach begins the closing canticle of his book of wisdom. He reminds us: work at your tasks in due season, and in his own time God will give you your reward.

The Ammonites, the Arameans and the Israelites put false pride and self-pity before sincerity and understanding of God. We know this because we see them act in fear rather than generosity at the approach of a possible friend. We see them allow their apprehension to escalate into full-blown anxiety. And we see them act in cruelty and derision. These are not acts of sympathy or empathy. They are not acts of God. For God acts in mercy and in openness to all. God acts in friendship.


Image from: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/keep-smiling/images/9170913/title/great-true-friendship-screencap

Adapted from a reflection written on January 28, 2009.

For more information about the Ammonites, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite or https://biblehub.com/dictionary/a/ammonites.htm

For more information about the ancient Arameans, visit: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Arameans.html

For more on the Israelites, visit: https://biblehub.com/dictionary/i/israelites.htm

 

 

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wherever you are todayThursday, June 10, 2021

1 Chronicles 28:20

Fear and Discouragement

When we consider the factors that move us to risk something of ourselves to act as God asks of us, fear and discouragement might well be reasons that we do not act when called by God. And yet for millennia God has assured us that trust in God’s plan and hope in God’s presence are the hallmarks of the faithful. Over the last few weeks we have contemplated John’s first letter to the faithful. This week we look for the many times that we have been supported and guided as God’s precious children.

Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. (Verse 28:20)

David reminds the Israelites of God’s fidelity and power; but we can turn to the Torah and the first sacred verses recorded centuries ago.

In Genesis 26:1-3 we hear God speak to Isaac at the time of a famine: Do not go down to Egypt, but continue to camp wherever in this land I tell you. Stay in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. We might remember this and act bravely and hopefully when we believe that making a geographical change will somehow bring us serenity.

In Deuteronomy 31:6 the Hebrew people are about to enter the land they have been promised when Moses reminds his flock: Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; God will never fail you or forsake you. We might remember this and act compassionately and justly when we believe that remaining with what is familiar is better than moving into what is new.

Tomorrow, the prophets combat fear and discouragement.


Click on the scripture links above and read other versions of these verses; and let us consider how God speaks to us about our fear and discouragement.

Image from: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/122441683593053113/

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Mark 13:9-13

Brueghel_l'Ancien_-_La_Prédication_de_Saint_Jean-Baptiste

Pieter Brueghel The Elder: The Preaching of St. John the Baptist

Preaching With Our Lives

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the Gospel must be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

False preachers might leave us with a negative impression of God’s word. Good preachers leave us with an inspired desire to know more. Each of us is a preacher in that we speak of our relationship with God in every interaction we have with others. Each of us tells the story of the Living God in every action we carry out in the quiet times and places when no one sees what we are doing. Each of us speaks our creed loudly not in our words, but in our care for self and others, and in our trust in the Spirit of the Living God.

God says: It is really quite simple. You cannot rid the world of corruption and ruin but you can react to it as the Spirit directs you. Open your mind to the gift of counsel that the Spirit brings to you. Open your hands to my gift of consolation. Open your hearts to my gift of love. Nothing will destroy you for you are my love in and to the world. Nothing will obliterate you for you are my hands and feet in and to the world. Nothing will annihilate you for you are my presence in a world that longs for peace.

As we consider how we live out God’s presence through our words, thoughts and acts, reflect on the preaching you have heard . . . and reflect on the preaching your life brings to the world.

Tomorrow, a prayer for times of tribulation.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Preaching_of_St_John_the_Baptist_(Pieter_Brueghel_the_Elder)

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet

Dirck van Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet

Our Experience of Christ – Part II

Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the spirit are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain?  . . . Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of God.

Today’s lesson is a difficult one.  It asks us to exercise our faith.  It asks us to acknowledge and remember all of the times that we have been rescued.  It asks that we tell the story of our redemption.  It asks that we act in this belief that God is God, that God created us, that God loves us, and that God longs to hold us close.

O you stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?

Who has talked us out of believing our own story?  Who has convinced us that Christ does not exist?  Who has persuaded us that a false story is better than the vibrant experience of Christ that we have lived?

We so frequently doubt and when we do there is only one remedy.  We must cast back through our lives to remember the many small and great ways that we have been rescued, the small and great ways that we have been loved.  When we do this . . . we will find it easier and more natural to act in faith as Paul asks us to do.  We will find that no one and no thing will ever bewitch us.  No one and no thing will ever lure us away from Christ.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer:

You led your people through the sea dry-shod: let us put our trust in you as you lead us through this day’s challenges.  We put our trust in you!

You fed them in the desert: let us hear your word of life amid the noise of our bust lives today. We put our trust in you!

You gave them water from the rock: let us drink from the fountain of life and not from bitter and polluted waters.  We put our trust in you!


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.4 (2010). Print.   

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirck_van_Baburen_-_Christ_Washing_the_Apostles_Feet_-_WGA1090.jpg

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

thebible-jesus-disciples-20130321Our Experience of Christ – Part I

Who has bewitched you?

We might ask ourselves this question a thousand times during the day and the answer is always the same.  It is our doubt, our lack of faith that clouds our vision.  Paul reminds us that our justification, or our salvation, comes “not through the law or works of the law but by faith in Christ and in his death . . . The gift of God’s spirit to the Galatians came from the Gospel received in faith, not from doing what the law enjoins”.  (Senior 297)  Paul appeals to our experience of Christ both in our daily lives and as we meet him in scripture, and he reminds us that while we might come close to Christ by observing the law, it is through faith that we are blessed and redeemed.  This was promised to Abraham and now – Paul reminds us – it is promised to the gentiles.

These new Christians in Galatia to whom Paul writes were former pagans and they were being encouraged by other missionaries to observe all Jewish law along with Christ’s law of love.  This even included circumcision. (Senior 293)  Having descended from the Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor three hundred years prior, the Galatians had little experience in discerning and living a relationship with one true creator who loves his creatures so much that he is willing to die for them.  We might find ourselves to be much like these Galatians.


 Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293,297. Print.

First written on April 23, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://btscelebs.com/2013/03/21/the-bible-mission-real-verse-jesus-christ-on-palm-sunday/

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Saturday, February 6, 2021

sparks of fireWisdom 3:1-9

Fallen Sparks

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before people, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever. Those who trust in God shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and God’s care is with the elect.

As we near the end of Psalm 119 and drink in the message, we begin to understand the wisdom brought to us in sacred Scripture; we experience more fully God’s grace and mercy; and we begin to understand God’s deep and abiding love for even the smallest of the fallen sparks of life.

Nun: The Messiah – Jesus comes to serve as light in an unforgiving darkness and so are we called to bring that same light to a world that waits and watches.  This is God’s promise: Christ will always rescue us.

Samekh: The Endless Cycle – Like this circular letter, Christ is beginning and end, Alpha and Omega, source and summit for all.  We are called by the Spirit to join in all of creation’s response to God’s call.

Ayin: God’s Providence – We are always in God’s hands although we may not feel it.

Pe: Communication, Revelation of God’s Word – God is constantly revealing the Word to us although we may not comprehend it.

Sadhe: Faith – God’s fidelity saves us although we may not believe it.

Tomorrow, A Prayer for God’s grace and mercy . . . a Prayer for Fallen Sparks.


For an understanding of why this reading is often heard at funerals, go to: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/funeral-lectionary-wisdom-31-9/

Image from: http://www.torange.us/Fashion-and-beauty/fireworks/sparks-of-fire-25690.html

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

imagesCAZPBI3NPsalm 119:73-80

Yodh

Your hands made me and fashioned me . . .

“A small suspended point, reveals the spark of essential good hidden within the letter”. (Ginsburgh)

God says: I hide nothing from you and you need not hide anything from me. Hiding, after all, is quite impossible for all truths are eventually revealed. When you read my Word, both the old and the new scriptures tell you that in the end all truth is revealed and all that was thought hidden is exposed to the light. How much better it is then, to live in the open truth rather than in dark corners that will eventually be flooded by light.

How much better it is to spend our energy on sharing the good news of God’s unconditional love with others than plotting and planning in the dark. This letter is the smallest in the Hebrew alphabet and this tenth strophe that bears its name teaches us a lesson in humility.

Lord, you have probed me; you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar . . . Where can I hide from your spirit?  From your presence where can I flee? . . . You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  (Psalm 139)


For more information on the letter Yodh, click on the image or go to: http://www.bje.org.au/learning/hebrew/alphabet/10yud.html or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/yud.htm

Ginsburgh, Harav Yitzchak . “Yud: The Infinite Point.” Hebrew Letters. “Introduction to the Hebrew Letters.” The Gal Enai Website. Gal Einai Institute, Inc., n.d. Web. 19 Jan 2014.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

In these days when we continue to recover from social, political, medical, and emotional turmoil, we look to this longest chapter in Scripture for guidance. Today, joy follows mourning.

9-teth[1]Psalm 119:65-72

Teth

Teach me your wisdom and knowledge . . . It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your laws . . .

In this ninth strophe we near the middle of Psalm 119 and here the psalmist reaches out to God, asking for wisdom and knowledge specifically, promising to adhere to the Law of loving one another that Yahweh has written on our hearts. The psalmist expresses a truth we all know but often do not want to admit: we learn life’s lessons best when we are under siege or overwhelmed, and it is from this suffering that God calls forth joy.

God says: I tell you frequently so of this you may be certain: I am with you always, I see your joys and sorrows, and I bring all manner of goodness out of the great harm that some of you plot. So put away any plans of deception and come to the truth. Honesty, authenticity, integrity and love will heal any rift. In my plan and in my time, my love transforms even the darkest of hearts. You may believe my goodness to be hidden . . . but it lives forever in your hearts.

Rather than curse our painful circumstances, let us enter into God’s plan of inversion and allow our sorrow to lead us to the one who can heal the deepest of wounds. Let us allow God to love us infinitely and unconditionally.

When the Lord restored our fortunes we thought we were dreaming. Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy . . . Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed, with return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.  (Psalm 126)

Tomorrow, the letter Yodh.


For more information on the letter Teth and how it represents inversion and concealed good, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tet.htm or http://www.hebrewtoday.com/content/hebrew-alphabet-letter-tet-%D7%98

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