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Posts Tagged ‘trust’


Monday, July 20, 2020

mary-and-elizabeth[1]Luke 1

The Encounter

In the first chapter of Luke we witness a series of encounters: the immaculate as she encounters the one who is in the presence of God, two cousins carrying new life, two cousins as yet unborn, and the quiet drama of God’s word coming to live among God’s people.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

We plan to meet friends for lunch.  We arrange our lives to gather for an important occasion.  We enter dates on calendars and electronic schedulers.  We commit to union with others.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We are surprised when we meet a friend from days lived long past.  We chance upon a relative we have not seen since a funeral years ago. We find ourselves waiting in queue with a former colleague we have not thought of in the years since we shared a workplace.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We bump into strangers in our daily interactions. We exchange currency and salutations with people we barely perceive. We pump gas and load purchases next to people we may never see again. We rent vacation apartments and share cups and plates with hundreds whom we will never meet. We travel in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis and brush against thousands or even millions.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We might imagine a life in which we anticipate joy as we meet new people and encounter new ways of thinking.  We might picture a life in which conflicts are expressed openly with respect rather than obliquely with silent aggression.  We might read Luke 1 and see a girl who steps into danger, fully knowing and fully accepting the challenge that lies before her . . . saying with full and open heart, My soul magnifies the Lord.

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

Prophet and Redeemer meet before the world is aware of their existence.

Two women clasp one another as they kiss cheeks.

A harbinger arrives, announcing good news that we often choose to disbelieve.

God comes to earth to walk among his people.

Trust in God.  Hope with God.  Love for God.

Believing that the impossible might be made possible.

All of these encounters are revealed to us today.

All of these options stand before the people we read about today.

All of these possibilities lie beneath the encounters presented to us today.

Let us imagine a life in which each time we look up, we greet the other with warm trust, exuberant hope, and authentic love.  Let us picture a world in which we greet and listen to one another with genuine respect.  Let us see ourselves stepping forward honestly with hand extended in faithful friendship.  Let us imagine the possibilities that lie beneath our encounters, and let us pray . . .

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might believe them so.


Image from: http://www.retreatinabag.net/category/retreat-event-planning/ministry-at-the-retreat/

Adapted from a reflection written on January 22, 2009.

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Thursday, July 16, 2020

boat[1]Matthew 4:20

Following

When Jesus called, the disciples left their nets and followed him.

If we look for pat answers in scripture we are not seeking God in both the divine and human.  If we hope for a “black and white” world we are not growing.  If we believe that God loves some to the exclusion of others . . . we have not yet begun our journey.

God says: There in only one commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.  All the finagling and deception you believe shows me your power is like a child who struggles against the loving arms of a parent.  All that I ask is that you follow; I will protect you.  All that I ask is that you do my Word; Jesus will show the Way.  All that I ask is that you abide in love; the Spirit abides in you . . . and I ask that you abide in me.

We spent many hours seeking answers to questions we need not ask when all we need is God alone.  All of the earthly plots and schemes are useless in God’s eternity.  The only tool we need is God’s Language of Love.  And this we learn as we follow Jesus.  This we put into action as we yield to the Spirit.

When Jesus calls, let us leave behind our nets that have been so important to us . . . and let us follow . . .


For more thoughts on discipleship, enter the word follow in the blog search bar and explore.

A re-post from July 16, 2013.

To read a homily on the miracle of leaving our nets behind, click on the image above or go to: http://revjoezarro.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/dropping-your-nets-and-the-miracle-of-the-fishermen/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100Nehemiah 9:12

Column of Cloud, Pillar of Fire

With a column of cloud you led [your people] by day, and by night with a column of fire to light the way of their journey, the way in which they must travel.

This ancient image of God leading and protecting, guiding and guarding, is one we modern humans can keep close and cherish.  It relieves us of the burden that comes with thinking that we are in charge.  It soothes us with the knowing that God is present, attentive and alert each morning as we rise into the day and each evening as we retreat into the night.

God says: I love to watch over you as you sleep.  I love to nudge you into my way each day of your journey.  I love to protect you.  I love to travel with you.  There is no danger that I fear.  There is no obstacle I cannot overcome.  There is no challenge too great.  There is no prayer too small.  It is my greatest desire to bring you into union with my Word.  It is my delight to see you treading with prayer on the Way I have set before you.  You are the dearest child of my heart.  Do not fear this day.  Sleep well this night.  I am as gentle as the vapor of the clouds and as fierce as the flames of the fire tornado.  And I am with you always . . . even to the end of time.

hiEio[1]Our God appears to us as a vulnerable child who needs protection and guidance from his earthly parents; and yet it is the grown and matured man who heals, protects and guides us, his adopted sisters and brothers.  Jesus lives a life that is both kind and just, and his actions are a clear demonstration of God’s love for each of us.  We must learn to trust this marvelous, mysterious love.

Enter the word trust in the blog search bar and examine how, and who, and what, and why we trust.


For a reflection on Nehemiah 9, enter the word Confession into the blog search bar and explore.

A re-post from July 15, 2012.

For more thoughts on being led by the Holy Spirit, click on the cloud image above or go to the Pinch of Grace blog at: http://pinchofgrace.net/2013/02/23/being-led-by-the-holy-sprirt-of-god/

For a BBC video of a rare fire tornado in Brazil in August of 2010, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11086299

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

wealth-and-poverty-logo[1]2 Corinthians 8:8-15

Wealth and Poverty

Footnotes tell us a great deal about Paul’s words here: “The dialectic of Jesus’ experience, expressed earlier in terms of life and death (5, 15), sin and righteousness (5, 21) is now rephrased in terms of poverty and wealth.  Many scholars think that this is a reference to Jesus’ preexistence with God (his ‘wealth’) and to his incarnation and death (his ‘poverty’) and they point to the similarity between this verse and Phil 2, 6-8.  Others interpret the wealth and poverty as succeeding phases of Jesus’ earthly existence, e.g. his sense of intimacy with God and then the desolation and the feeling of abandonment by God in his death (Mark 15, 34)”.

Once after Mass, a friend and I were discussing the homily and my friend offered his thinking on eternity.  He said that he never has a problem imagining that time goes on into infinity before us, but that he stumbles when he tries to think of how time yawns back into our past.  We concluded that this is one of the many mysteries we will never understand.

Today when we read these words of Paul, when we puzzle through the footnotes, when we think of how Christ always speaks to us through inversion, we believe that we are all looking for the intimacy with God we know exists.  We all are looking for that comfort which is total union with God, with one another.  We all are looking for the one person in whom we can place our total trust, the one person who always has our best interests in mind and heart.

That person is God whom we meet in Christ – the Christ we see in one another and the Christ we encounter in Scripture.  We are comforted in Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is a mystery which we cannot unlock, yet it hovers always in our consciousness, tantalizes us with its fleeting clarity and its constant, enduring, encompassing emotion of love.

We so long to love.  We so long to be loved.  We so often forget . . . that we are love.

This is our wealth.  This is what we ought to hold dear.  For it is in forgetting this that we suffer poverty.  It is in remembering this, and thanking God for this gift of love and of self, that we know we are rich.  It is this marvelous God we are called to trust.


Adapted from a reflection written on June 13, 2008.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. cf 285. Print.   

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Saturday, May 30, 20206701251.jpgIsaiah 41Fear Not

Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God.  I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.  (Verse 10)

These words are so like the ones we hear from Jesus in John 14:1: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 

Jesus consoles not only his followers but also us today with the words: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  These are words that bolster us at times of great difficulty and stress.  What do we most want to hear when we feel crushed by people and events beyond our control influence?  We want to know where we ought to focus our eyes, how to engage ourselves, why we ought to feel positive about what is taking place around us.  We want to know where to put our feet.  We want to hope that all will be well . . . despite our dire circumstances.  We want to know who and what and how to trust.  We want to know that evil will not reign and goodness will return.  We want to believe that light overcomes darkness.  We want to hope that prayers are answered.  We want to be unafraid to love intimately.

Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed . . . I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . have faith . . . in me. 

We want something solid to touch before we hand over our souls.  We want to have facts and figures to compare, to jot down, and to check out.  We want everything spelled out.  We want no fine print to trip us up.  We want guarantees and yet . . .

We have all of this and more . . . in abundance . . . when we make ourselves empty to receive the Holy Spirit – the voice of God that lives and moves among us.

We have all that we need . . . in abundance . . . when we follow the model Christ has given to us.

We are loved truly and well . . . in abundance . . . when we rely on the creator who knows us better than anyone else.

Creator, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one, speak with us constantly but in our anxiety and haste we do not hear them say . . .

Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed . . . I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled . . . have faith . . . in me. 

Tomorrow, believing the promise of the Trinity . . .


Image from: https://oshkoshdesigns.com/product/misc62/

Adapted from a reflection written on August 3, 2009.

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Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020

Sandro Botticelli: Judith Leaving the Tent of Holofernes

Judith 15:9-15

A Celebration of Deliverance

Today we reflect on joyful celebration after deliverance from disaster, and we pause to consider the sudden and surprising gifts of discipleship.

The book of Judith is a wonderful story about a woman who puts aside her widow’s weeds to save her nation. Her ability is doubted by the elders of her own community, and her enemy underestimates her by a wide margin. Judith succeeds in accomplishing the impossible. We watch her follow a dangerously treacherous and narrow path, listening for and then obeying God’s voice.  We see her unfold in beautiful discipleship.  During this Eastertide we have re-discovered the gifts of discipleship that bloom in our lives when we see our vulnerability to God as privilege; and we watch Judith as she trusts in God alone to deliver her people and herself from a deadly enemy.

Judith’s meekness brings her humility . . . an ability to listen for God’s word and to heed it.

Judith’s brokenheartedness brings her vulnerability . . . an ability to petition God for help.

Judith’s constancy brings her fidelity . . . an ability to rely on God alone.

Judith’s honesty brings her truth . . . an ability to see reality as God sees it.

Judith’s willingness brings her integrity . . . an ability to perceive and respond to God’s call authentically.

Judith’s steadfastness brings her persistence . . . an ability to follow God without flagging.

These are the gifts of discipleship with which God graced Judith . . . and these are the same gifts of discipleship that God gives to each of us today.

As we near Pentecost, let us consider these gifts that God freely gives.  And let us celebrate our own deliverance.


Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/sandro-botticelli/judith-leaving-the-tent-of-holofernes-1500

For more reflections about this amazing woman, type the word Judith in the blog search bar and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime reflection written on April 10, 2007.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sirach Foreword, 1 & 2

Falling Into God’s Hands

gods hands[2]This book is not found in Hebrew or Protestant Bibles, but it is considered inspired by Catholic scholars.  So if we have time to spend with these words today, we will want to read as much as we can for it contains “numerous maxims, formulated with care, grouped by affinity, an dealing with a variety of subjects . . . It treats of friendship, education, poverty and wealth, the law, religious worship, and many other matters which reflect the religious and social customs of the time . . . Written in Hebrew between 200 and 175 B.C., the text was translated into Greek sometime after 132. B.C. by the author’s grandson, who also wrote a Foreword which contains information about the book, the author, and the translator himself”.  (Senior 822)

The verses we find in this wisdom book are often cited in reference to friendship and this week we are invited to discover the divine in our most intimate relationships as we explore some of the many gems that the author, Jesus son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, has passed to us through the millennia.  He has much to share with us and he wastes no time for beginning in the first chapters we may find the entry way to the understanding and knowledge that lead to God’s Wisdom.

Who alone knows the height of heaven, the breadth of earth, the depth of the abyss? 

Who alone knows all that was even before the creation of Wisdom herself?

Who alone creates?  Who alone pours forth bounty upon his creatures?  Who alone consoles the heart?

Who alone brings gladness, and joy and length of days?

It is the Lord, and fear – or love and awe – of this Lord is the first step in gaining true wisdom, God’s Wisdom. 

When we act in patience, we receive Wisdom.

When we exercise prudence, we receive Wisdom.

When we attend to the revelation of God through scripture – the Torah, and the Prophets – we receive Wisdom. 

Play not the hypocrite before men; over your lips keep watch.  Exalt not yourself lest you fall and bring upon you dishonor.

Portion of Sirach Scroll found at Masada

Portion of Sirach Scroll found at Masada

Nothing is held in secret from Wisdom; indeed, she reveals all before all.

When you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.  Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in times of adversity.  Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. 

In fire is gold tested, and worthy ones in the crucible of humiliation.

Trust God and God will help you; make straight your ways and hope in God. 

Those who love the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before him.  Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of men, for equal to his majesty is the mercy God shows. 

 


First written on February 13, 2010.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Earth image from: http://rahouck.blogspot.com/2010/07/whose-hands-its-in.html

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.822. Print.

For more on the author, Jesus ben Sirach, visit: www.humanistictexts.org/bensirach.htm 

For more on the discussion about the legitimacy of The Book of Sirach, click on the image above or go to: 

http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Ben_Sira_Scroll_from_Masada,_73_CE 

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ezekiel 12: While they are looking on . . .

NaysayersBeatsMysapceHeader2[1]In today’s Noontime we are reminded that we do not have to fight against the obstacles in life’s journey that loom so large.  It tells us that when barriers to freedom are gigantic and overwhelming we cannot struggle against them.  It says to us that we must turn to God in trust and obedience.  We must do as Jesus does even while the naysayers are looking on. 

Going into exile was an embarrassment to the “chosen” people.  They who had always been miraculously protected by Yahweh now found themselves going into captivity at the hands of the very pagans whom they had previously conquered in battle.  The Israelites have discovered that while they fought against the barbarian outside of the city walls, it was the enemy within that doomed them.  Corruption and deceit in their own community had decayed their society to the foundation.  There is no other outcome to expect than the one they are living . . . they are to pack their baggage in full view of the enemy, and then they are to dig their way through the broken walls of the city to march into captivity.  And all of this while the unbelievers are looking on.

So many times we find ourselves living among rebellious people, and we sometimes cannot even tell if we have become one with the idol worshipers.  We feel as though the world has gone mad and we are one of the few sane ones who remain.  In our Noontime journey we have reflected on how to weather the whirlwind when we see and hear it approaching; today we reflect on how to journey faithfully into captivity . . . while the world is looking on.

There is a remnant left by Yahweh: Yet I will leave a few of them to escape the sword, famine and pestilence so that they may tell of all their abominations among the nations to which they will come; thus they shall know that I am the Lord.  This just yet merciful God is always willing, and indeed eager to give his people another door to salvation, another opportunity to return.  God will vindicate us even in the darkest and most painful of times even while those who deny us are looking on.

There are occasions when it seems as though we alone are able to see what others cannot.  Circumstances and events speak loudly to us while they only whisper to those around us or speak not at all. The prophecy we hear and see and then repeat for others falls on stubborn ears.  The world mocks those who live simply so that others may live.  Society denies truth so that deception might reign.  Many favor the apparent security of tangible comfort while few remain faithful to the Spirit who is willing to abide while those who wish us gone are looking on.

Ezekiel describes a vision today that seems a long way off and yet is present in the Spirit within.  Ezekiel says that in a distant time to come there shall no longer be any false visions or deceitful divinations and yet this word is fulfilled by Christ in us today.  Ezekiel tells us of a future in which none of God’s words will be delayed any longer and yet this future lives in us today because God loves us so . . . even while the naysayers are looking on.

Let us spend time with this prophecy today.  And let us see that, despite the naysayers, Ezekiel’s vision lives in us in this present moment through the promise, the rescue and the love of God.


To read more about weathering the storms on our journey, type the word whirlwind into the search box on this blog. 

The opening paragraphs of today’s Noontime were written on August 12, 2010.  Today’s post is an amplification of that reflection.  

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Psalm 81: An Exhortation to Worship Worthily

open[1]Constant renewal of our covenant promises with God is so important because the world in which we live is so good at deceiving us, luring us, easing us into betraying ourselves . . . and then encouraging us to betray others.  We swim in a sea of messages that tell us that we are in control, we are self-sufficient, we need only rely on our own powers, talents and schemes; we are told that we are God.  And that is the irony . . . we are God . . . when we give ourselves over to God, trust God, become vulnerable to God.  That is the irony of the words whispered to Eve and to Adam in the Garden of Eden.  Satan lures them, telling them that they too, can be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.  (Genesis 3:5).  This irony is that we are God.  We are the adopted daughters and sons of God, the sisters and brothers of Christ, the children of the Holy Spirit; yet we so often forget that we demonstrate our understanding of this by trusting God, believing God, loving God.  And we do this best as Jesus did, by being The Word to all and to everything.  We are God when we carry Jesus to all, when we hope and petition for the impossible, when we love our enemies just as we love ourselves and our friends.

Today’s Psalm is a reminder that we must constantly renew the Covenant agreement we have with our creator, we constantly renew our God Contract.  Renewal was the purpose of the Feast of the Tabernacles referred to in verse 4; and renewal is what we must always be about.  Each morning when we rise, each evening when we put our heads upon pillows we must trust God and bring God into our open hearts.  In the last verses of this Psalm, we see how to best sustain ourselves on this trip we are making . . . this earthly pilgrimage.  What are we to eat?  What are we to drink?  What are we to wear?  It is the Eucharist which renews us . . . give us this day our daily bread . . . it is the blood of Christ that redeems us . . . Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? . . . it is Christ whom we wear for protection when we wade into the world . . . take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God . . . it is The Word which sustains, nourishes, renews and brings true life to us.

And so we pray:

Good and everlasting God,

Renew us in your Spirit.

Refresh us for the journey.

Restore us to our promise.

Repair us in Christ’s love.

Replenish our weakened resources.

Remind us we are God’s.

Call us to worship you . . . worthily.

Amen.


Image from: http://scripture-for-today.blogspot.com/2011/03/psalm-81-open-your-mouth-wide.html

First written on April 10, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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