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sincerityThursday, July 22, 2021

Jeremiah 3

Sincere and Insincere Conversion

In chapters 3 and 4 of Jeremiah we see how the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah turned from the Lord their God to a life of idol worship and harlotry. Let us consider some thoughts from The Dilemma of Narcissus by Louis Lavelle (W.T Gairdner, Tr. Larson Publications, Burdett, N.Y. 1993), a portion of which was published in the May 2007 issue of MAGNIFICAT. His words ask us to think of sincerity as a continual growth process rather than a character trait or a commodity to be gained.

To be sincere is to show oneself, but at the same time . . . one is making oneself.

Sincerity must reach out, beyond all speech, to an invisible inner life.

Sincerity appears only when the inner life begins to be incarnated in acts which determine both our true being and our destiny.

True sincerity is an accomplishment. And it is quite conceivable that one should miss it, whether through laziness or through fear, or because one finds it easier, or more expedient to yield to public opinion and to renounce oneself, letting oneself be dragged unremittingly down the slope of social conformity.

In sincerity, the act by which we find ourselves and the act by which we make ourselves are one and the same. Sincerity is at once the attention which arouses our potentialities, and the courage which gives them form, without which they would be nothing.

Sincerity challenges all the voices which call to me from without, and commands me to descend into my heart’s heart. It is always a return to the source. It makes me a being perpetually being born.

Sincerity liberates us from every preoccupation with public opinion or with the effect we are producing. It brings us back to our own origin, showing us to ourselves as we were when we left the Creator’s hands, when life first flashed forth, and before outer appearances had begun to seduce us, or we had learned the art of pretending.

It is rectitude of a will which admits no duplicity, no evasion, and no dissembling, between man and other men.

Sincerity is spiritual nobility. For the sincere man seeks to live under the open sky; he alone has enough self-respect to hide nothing from himself, and to expect nothing except from the truth; he alone is not content merely to appear, but establishes himself so firmly in being that for him being is indistinguishable from appearance.

Sincerity is the act by which I put myself under the eye of God; there is no other sincerity.

In today’s reading, Jeremiah calls the wayward Israel and Judah to sincerity. He warns Judah that her sin is more grave than that of Israel who first strayed. Why? Because the traitor sister did not return to me wholeheartedly, but insincerely.

We often lament the lack of sincerity in others, but this week we might take time to examine our inner self for the presence or lack of sincerity, and to return to the paths we know are just and merciful. We might spend a few minutes reflecting on our own spiritual nobility. How do we reflect God to others? What social slopes are we willing to slide down? To what social conformities do we bow? Do we have the courage to rise to our potentialities? What inner life do we incarnate with our speech and actions? With what duplicities are we content? Do we challenge the voices without and descend to our heart’s heart?

In God’s Eyes

God in Heaven, God on Earth, call to us . . . we want to return to your hands.

God Incarnate, God Abiding, remain in us . . . we want to follow your feet.

God Consoling, God of Wisdom, bring us strength . . . we know what we must do.

God of Freedom, God of Truth, we feel your presence . . . we come back to your heart.

God of All, God of Each, our hearts sing praise . . . we seek to live sincerely . . . in your eyes.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 2, 2008. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.5 (2007): 298-300. Print.

Image from: http://www.tiptopsigns.com/Chinese-Symbol-Decals-p-1-c-96.html 

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

jeremiah 15Jeremiah 1

Persecution

Jeremiah’s prophecy is complex; it consists of judgment oracles, narratives about his life, and sermons. Throughout all of this his voice brings not only a constant warning but also a certain consolation to those who are willing to suffer. To the faithful remnant he says what we long to hear: that we are loved, that God’s name is written on our hearts, and that we are called. He speaks to anyone eager to find the truth embedded in each of us, the truth that is God.

Jeremiah speaks to the experience of persecution and this is a theme that resonates with all human beings for all of us at one time or at many times – either justly or unjustly – are persecuted. We all know what it feels like to be left out, over looked, betrayed, and even punished for what we believe is truth. Ultimately, only God can let us know if we are living an honest life; and God does this frequently. Only God can indicate to us that our suffering has been either self-pitying and pointless or redemptive and fruitful. We all suffer. But do we suffer well? God tells us about the truth of our suffering by pointing out to us the fruits of our labor. And God does this gently by telling us that we are wonderfully made, and that we need not fear. God tells us that there is hope.

From the HARPERCOLLINS NRSV STUDY BIBLE (Meeks 1113): Here indeed was a prophet who combined elegance of form with the ethical and redemptive content of the “word of the Lord”. And perhaps more than anyone in his time, Jeremiah provided the means by which a despairing people could hope for a new future.

Reading the first chapter of this profound prophecy is an invitation to new life and to hope, an invitation to join Christ in the kind of suffering that saves souls and that transforms itself and us into a joy-filled gift. We are invited into this redemptive mystery that is God’s love.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .

You are mine. You are special. I have a particular job in mind for you.

And before you were born I consecrated you . . .

Because you are mine you are holy. You are my temple. I want to dwell within you.

I appointed you a prophet to the nations . . .

You have words to say and gestures to make in my Name.

Then I said – Ah Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a child . . .

We reply in fear to this awesome task, believing falsely that we are not up to the journey that lies before us.

But the Lord said to me – Do not say “I am only a child’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you . . .

You are my gift to the world . . . my gift of joy. I see a wonderful potential in you . . . for you are designed in love by me . . . to love me in all places and times and peoples . . . you are made to put away fear . . . in yourself and in others . . .

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you . . .

Until the end of time . . . Amen.


Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 1113. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, January 16, 2009.

Image from: http://maryhess.com/and-mary-pondered-jeremiah-15/

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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Psalm 27:12

 Falsehood

Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.

God says: You need not worry about the false statements uttered against you. Continue to follow the path of integrity. Remain on the path of The Way that my son has shown to you. Stay the honest course you have chosen in the Spirit. If the falsehood created about you has the hint of truth to it, change your ways. Come fully into the light and leave all deceit behind. You cannot outrun a lie. Nor can you hide from the truth. Rest in me. Rely on the Christ. Live in the Spirit. And you will find that you have no need to struggle. The falsehood begun against you will go home to roost with its creator . . . and the world will recognize the truth in you.

Enter the words the faithful need not fight into the blog search bar and reflect on how we might best work with falsehood.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BLW_Truth_and_Falsehood.jpg

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little and big handsTrinity Sunday, May 30, 2021

1 John 3:19-24

Confidence Before God

Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth . . .

Now this is how we shall know that we walk in Christ’s footsteps . . . when we show confidence as we do God’s work.

God is greater than our hearts and knows everything . . .

This is how we know that God guides us . . . when we show confidence in God’s plan.

We have confidence in God . . . and we do what pleases God . . .

This is how we know that we live in God’s plan . . . when we find serenity.

We will believe in the name of God’s son, Jesus Christ . . .

This is how we bring serenity to others . . . when we give all to God.

We will love one another as Jesus asked us . . .

This is how we are able to love our enemies . . . when we rest in God’s Spirit.

Those who keep this commandment of love remain in Christ . . . and Christ in them . . .

This is how we find peace in turmoil . . . when we allow Jesus to make a way for us.

The way we know that Christ remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us . . .

This is how we know we have confidence before God . . . when we fully and totally and faithfully trust God.


Read Luke 17:5-10 and consider Jesus’ words to us as he describes faith and the attitude of a servant.  For a reflection on this citation, click on the image above or go to: http://frvlad.blogspot.com/2013/10/trust-and-confidence-in-god.html

Using the scripture link above, study several versions of these verses and reflect on how or if or when we have confidence before God.

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Let us loveSaturday, May 29, 2021

1 John 3:11-18

From the Beginning

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another . . .

For this is the message we carry into the world: we must love one another, even – or perhaps especially – our enemies.

Do not be amazed, then, if the world hates you . . .

We are not amazed, then, when the world condemns us.

Whoever does not love remains in death . . .

Whoever loves those who hate him remains in life eternally.

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers . . .

The way we come to know love is to enact it. The way we come to know hope is to give it.

Children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and truth . . .

Sisters and brothers, let us not love in what we say but in what we do.

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another . . .

Spend some time today with the four selected versions of this citation in the scripture link above. Choose another version from the drop down menus and ponder what we have heard from the beginning, what we know, and how we enact God’s love in the world.


Image from: http://www.annarborrehab.com/

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

1 John 3:1-3

1 johnSee What Love

See what love the father has bestowed on us that we might be called the children of God.

We need say nothing more about our relationship with God. We are God’s children.

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know God.

We need write nothing but that God loves each of us dearly. We are God’s children.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.

We need not expend energy worrying or tears crying about what the creator may or may not think of us. We are God’s children.

Everyone who has this hope based on God makes himself pure, as God is pure.

Today, click on the scripture link above and study the four pre-select versions of this citation while thinking of these statements. Choose another version and read these simple yet hope-filled verses again and reflect on the amazing truth John brings to us . . .

See what love the father has bestowed on us that we might be called the children of God.


Image from: http://imgracemadewoman.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/bible-quotes-1-john-3/1-john-1-3-niv-wallpaper/

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1 john 2Saturday, May 22, 2021

1 John 2

Ideal and Real – Part II: Connecting

“The author sets forth the striking contrasts between light and darkness, Christians and the world, and truth and error to illustrate the threats and responsibilities of Christian life. The result is not one of theological argument but one of intense religious conviction expressed in simple truths. The letter is of particular value for its declaration of the humanity and divinity of Christ as an apostolic teaching and for its development of the intrinsic connection between Christian moral conduct and Christian doctrine”. (Senior 387)

When we find ourselves making strong theological arguments rather than listening with the heart of Christ, we know that we have strayed from John’s words. When we exhaust ourselves in heavy conflict we know that we have put Jesus’s Law of Love too far out of our reach. When we find ourselves grasping for complicated and high-flying arguments, we know that we have turned away from Jesus’ method of teaching in simple truths.

Words or battles are not important when we live The Law of Love; rather, it is the intrinsic connection we make between our Christian moral conduct and the doctrine we expound that is our measure.

Let us spend sometime today with verses 12 to 17 of 1 John 2, and examine why and how and if our battles draw connecting lines between our conduct. And let us spend time exploring truths we speak.

Tomorrow – Part III: Hostile Camps


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387. Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on Sunday, January 10, 2010.

Image from: http://www.slideshare.net/tay777/1-john-2

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Amos 8:5-6

Prayer for Generosity

Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  (Matthew 7:3)

We experience the richness of God’s love when we spend time changing ourselves rather than attempting to change others. As we reflect on the call we hear from Amos to think about how greed might invade our lives, we pray.

We have diminished the ephah . . . let us remember to be generous as God has been generous to us. For all that we have and all that we are, we pray: thank you, Creator, for the gift of body, mind and soul.  

We will add to the shekel . . . let us remember to be honest as God has been honest. For all that we are given and all that we love, we pray: thank you, Jesus, for the gift of your trustworthiness and truth.

We will buy the lowly man for a pair of sandals . . . let us remember that generosity is nurtured when we trust in God alone. Thank you, Christ, for your sacrifice of self that we might live in you.

We will sell the refuse of the wheat harvest . . . let us remember that big-heartedness flourishes when we live in the Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the bounty and kindness you bring with your in-dwelling.

Jesus says:  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

Honesty, truth, trustworthiness, kindness, bounty, transformation, big-heartedness, sacrifice. These are the signs of God’s generosity in our lives.  These are the fruits by which we wish to be known. This is the richness we receive.  This is the richness we share with others when we live in God’s generosity. Amen.


Image from: https://lifepointaz.com/a-priority-of-generosity/

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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