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Monday, February 1, 2021

NunPsalm 119:105-112

Nun

Your word is a lamp for me feet, a light for my path . . . I make a solemn vow to keep your just edicts.

When we live superficially we give lip service to God’s call. When we live authentically we think, say and act in accordance with God’s Law of Love.

God says: My joy is endless when you finally decide to act in my love with the same or even greater intensity as you think and speak about my love. Allow the happiness of knowing your own divinity to serve as a beacon to others. Call out to others as I call out to you and tell the world of your delight in becoming one with me. Then . . .  come to me so that we might celebrate this union of your gift with my eternal goodness.

The simplest way to demonstrate your love for the Law of Love Jesus brings to us is to allow our joy to serve as a lamp to others, our delight in knowing God to serve as a light on the path of life.

Jesus says: You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then out it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand where it gives light to all in the house. Just so your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.  (Matthew 5:14-16)

Tomorrow, Samekh.


To learn more about the letter Nun as a symbol of the Messiah, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/nun.htm or http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/3_nun.html

 

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Fifth Day of Christmas

zephaniah-3-17[1]Zephaniah 3:15-18

Among Us

The Lord, your God, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear . . . The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Misfortune becomes blessing. Sorrow becomes gladness. Fear becomes joy.  One who renews his vow to rescue us is in our midst. And he is filled with joy at this union.

Read the Zephaniah – God’s Balance page on this blog and think about God’s promise to be with us always.

Enter the words In Our Midst in the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on how we know that God is among us . . . and consider why we are Christmas people.


Image from: http://heisourstrongtower.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/jesus-calling-august-30th/zephaniah-3-17/

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt Rijn: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgment. However, in so doing he will face opposition and death. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity. She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient. Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets, all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear. As we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time when we near the announcement of joy to the world because the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people. And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.


For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

images[3]Psalm 92

A Hymn of Thanksgiving for God’s Fidelity

Fidelity: faithfulness, loyalty, patience, understanding, questioning and answering, dialog, forbearance, union, love.

From St. Joseph Edition of The Psalms notes: This is a didactic psalm, that is, both a praise of the Lord and an instruction of the faithful. The psalmist meditates on God’s way of acting.  His love and faithfulness are reflected in everything he does, but they must be comprehended. Ultimately the happiness of the wicked will fade like seasonal grass, whereas the lot of the righteous will be like the great trees whose roots are planted on solid ground. For the latter, new seasons are promised in the courts of God. God’s joy is like a new spring in the life of believers.

Again our theme of renewal. Again the idea that a righteous life is more difficult to live than a wicked one, but that true serenity and joy is found by struggling to live a life of justice.

I like the point in the citation above that God’s acts are a demonstration of his love and fidelity and that we must strive to comprehend this idea . . . an idea which is so difficult for so many humans . . . because fidelity is such a demanding quality . . . and we humans appear to be much too fickle and willful to comprehend its depth and true meaning.

Each day as we go through each hour, how do we as God’s creatures express God’s fidelity? How do we express God’s love? Are we faithful when it is convenient or when we have the time or energy? Do we love those who please us most? We recall Paul’s words to Timothy: I remember you constantly in prayers, night and day.  I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith . . .  (2 Timothy 1:3-4) This is the same letter in which Paul states that he is already poured out like a libation and there are times when we feel this pouring out rather than gratitude. But when we look at verse 3 of this psalm we see again the idea of loving God faithfully by praying day and night. And when we are spent . . . we might at least raise eyes and hands to heaven to thank God, and to ask that God lighten our load.

Prayer and petition are important as we near and enter into Advent, even when we feel spent. When we come to the end of an exhausting day, we can light one small candle in the darkness which comes so quickly at this time of year in our northern hemisphere, and we can repeat the antiphon we find as part of the Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer: Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace, alleluia.

With this simple act and prayer we might remain faithful . . . even though we are spent. And so we pray . . .

We know that you watch over us, O Lord.  Grace us with the patience and perseverance to keep hopeful watch with you . . . as faithfully as you keep wonder-filled watch with us.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 243. Print.

Image from: http://brotherdismas.blogspot.com/2011/05/saturday-of-4th-week-in-easter.html

Adapted from a reflection written on December 4, 2007.

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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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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

tumblr_m82nssecoa1rsdmtxo1_5001.jpgJohn 16:12-15

Trinity of Love

A re-post from Trinity Sunday 2013.

Throughout Eastertide we explored the gifts we receive when we open ourselves to the privilege of serving as Christ’s disciples: meekness, broken-heartedness, constancy, honesty, truth revealed, willingness, steadfastness and celebration.  Today as we celebrate the mystery and gift of the Trinity, we might well wonder how and where and when we will find the stamina to endure.  We might ask . . . how are we to endure?

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

It is true that if we were to see the fullness of our lives rolled out before us we might fall into despair.  How wise it is that in God’s plan we live only a day at a time.

When the Spirit of truth comes she will guide you all to truth.

It is best that we learn to live in truth alone.  It is the very essence of God’s plan and so we must set aside all thought of deception, subterfuge and deceit.  How good it is in God’s plan that we look forward in hope.

She will not speak on her own but she will speak what she hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. 

It is correct that once we use our suffering to tune ourselves to hear God’s word we find the work of discipleship less painful.  How wonderful it is that God is so constant and loving.

She will glorify me, because she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is amazing that God continues to love us despite our smallness and reluctance to follow the difficult Way.  How astonishing is God to show us this intense and passionate fidelity.

Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is humbling to discover that God and Christ and the Spirit live together in lovely harmony.  How marvelous it is that God shares the mystery of this union even though we understand it so poorly.

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

Let us cease our grumbling, let us banish our doubt, and let us come to God willingly, honestly and steadfastly.  Let us bring our brokenness.  Let us surrender our willfulness.  And let us rejoice in celebration that this Trinity of Love counts us at her center.


Image from: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/trinity%20knot

For other reflections on Creator, Redeemer and Spirit, type the word Trinity in the blog search bar and explore.   Tomorrow, the Trinity and time unknown . . .

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Hosea 7 & 8: The Gomer Scale

fire_glory_whirlwind_over_lyford3[1]For much of this week we have spent time with Gomer and Hosea and today when we look closely we hear the warning that Israel will reap the whirlwind of destruction for her lack of fidelity.  We can always pause on our Lenten journey to examine ourselves to see where we stand on the “Gomer Scale”.

  • Do we walk away from problems to go in search of fresh grain with which to make new drink to dull our senses . . . or do we abide through friction and conflict?
  • Do we pull up our shallow roots to replant ourselves in the newest in-vogue panacea each time we run into an obstacle . . . or do we remain planted in firm soil to draw from our foundation to bear good fruit when we are challenged?
  • Do we lie on our beds or drape ourselves over couches to cry and lament our situation . . . or do we work through our grief so that it might transform and restore us?
  • Do we cast about for a new diversion to distract us from true self-examination when we have erred . . . or do we examine ourselves in open and honest light?
  • Do we build thick walls of arrogance and pride as our self-defense . . . or do we go to one we have wronged and ask forgiveness?
  • Do we mourn our loss of innocence . . . or do we see our trials as stones on the path of the Narrow Way which leads to truth and our own restoration by our maker?
  • Do we seek the flattering advice of false prophets and teachers . . . or do we go to one we have wounded and harmed to truly listen to his or her words?
  • Do we deaden our senses when we feel overwhelmed by emotion and confusion . . . or do we turn to our maker who knows and loves us best to ask what we should do?

Gomer refuses to reform, repent, repair and rebuild.  Hosea waits, abides, calls, and loves, ready to heal and restore.  If Gomer wishes to be more than a flat cake not turned over, a senseless and easily deceived dove, one whose strength the foreigners sap, then she must move toward the curing touch of God.  Only there will she find the true, deep, thrilling and lasting love which she seeks.  Gomer looks for instant pleasure which she can manipulate and control . . . without realizing that in so doing, she forfeits the only joy and happiness which satisfies.  Union with her spouse, her God.


Tomorrow . . . a prayer to return to love.

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontime was first written on October 8, 2007.  They were revised and posted as Favorites.

Image from: http://thegrenzian.blogspot.com/2012/11/whirlwind.html

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hosea 7: Searching for Happiness

Happiness[1]No matter how much time we spend with Hosea we will never find all that this prophet has to say to us about love.  Nor will we ever discover the depths of his grief or the soaring heights of his joy.  He is a man tormented by an unthinking spouse yet he never puts her aside.  And he continually calls her to return.

When we spend time with Hosea we see that he remains faithful to Gomer despite the fact that she is easily lured away by anything which attracts her attention, anything which gives her an immediate rush.  Gomer, a woman incapable of maintaining a covenant, is a symbol for Israel and she may be a symbol for any one of us who tires of maintaining a relationship with a loved one.  But we see something more today, something that a close reading of Chapter 7 will reveal: Gomer does not turn to God when she feels alone or abandoned or worthless, she turns away.  She searches her world of bangles, and music, and quick gratification.   She does not want to work at her relationships.  She does not want to see where or how she might make changes or improve in any way.  She does not see the value in thinking of the other more than self.

We see Gomer crying on her couch, gathering grain for new wine for a new festival, turning to any swift and facile self-indulgence.  We watch her turn away from God where sustaining, nourishing consolation may be found.  We close our eyes because we cannot bear to witness her wanton self-destruction when so close at hand there is a heart yearning to love her continually and endlessly.

Rather than seek a lasting, abiding union with her spouse, Gomer goes abroad to seek instant pleasure.  She does not want to think about who she is, why she was created, how she might improve, or how her existence fits into God’s plan.  She wants nothing more than a series of superficial, uncommitted relationships which will not call her to plumb her own depths, to know her own capacity for love, or to experience the soul-filling sensation of her true and eternal relationship with God.  She turns away from all that will save and restore her and in her search for happiness . . . she loses all.

Tomorrow . . . The Gomer Scale


A re-post from March 1, 2013.

Image from: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/melanie/4-ways-to-find-happiness-inspiration-from-within.htm

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Ezekiel 25: Against the Nations

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bridge over the Drina in Mostar, Bosnia

As we read this chapter of Ezekiel we might be lured into what Richard Rohr – and many others – calls dualistic thinking.  Decisions are made in a yes/no, black/white, off/on world.  If we are able to step outside of our small perspective and move into a greater view of the world we understand that this kind of reasoning is dangerous in that it limits our vision . . . and therefore limits us.  Rohr examines how life is a paradox in his blog posts at http://richardrohr.wordpress.com They are worth visiting as are his CD lectures, the webcasts and other resources on his Rohr Institute site at http://www.cac.org/ as we reflect on the way we think, the way we respond to conflict, and the way we seek resolutions to the difficult passages in our lives.

The portion of Ezekiel that we read today may be used as fuel for the fire of prejudice . . . if we allow the voice of revenge and conquest to go unchecked.  As the recent events in our global community unfold, we are reminded that fanaticism can never be good. As my siblings and I grew, my Dad intoned to us regularly: Anything is a bad thing when taken to extremes . . . even a good thing.  He understood that words like the ones we read today can be taken out of context, can be blown out of context and morphed in importance. Any single verse, Dad would say, when taken in isolation does not tell the whole story. Read the story.  When my father and grandfather told us to read the whole story what they meant was this: stop, think, pray, listen, think, read, think, pray, share ideas, pray, think, pray . . . and act.  We want to take this method with us as we plunge into Ezekiel’s words against the nations.  To what does he call us?

The Old Testament Yahweh can be seen here as a god of vengeance and when we read these verses with anger in our hearts we might believe that God himself justifies the revenge we feel against those who have injured us; but we are also reminded that Yahweh’s love for creation knows no bounds.

The Old Testament Yahweh can be seen here as a god who exacts precise payment for wrongs committed; but we know that Yahweh’s generosity and compassion cannot be outdone when we remember his care for the enslaved and powerless.

The New Testament Jesus fulfills the promise of reunion and union first uttered by Yahweh.

The New Testament Jesus brings human hands and feet and voice to the mercy and compassion first shown by Yahweh.

When we find ourselves in turmoil and wishing to take revenge against the people who have injured us we must not let dualistic thinking close off possibilities of healing, reconciliation and union.

When we find ourselves in deep sorrow over a loss we have suffered we must not let simplistic rule-following to replace decision-making by a well-formed conscience.

When we feel ourselves being pulled into the vortex of darkness that would have us chant slogans that condemn, that would lead us to take an eye for an eye, that would ask us to rail against the nations . . . we must first stop to think and to pray, and to seek so that we might find . . . the forgiving, open, healing way of Christ.  For it is Christ who embodies all that is good.  It is Christ who brings us the outrageous hope that even the most dire circumstances may be righted. It is Christ who will help us to build bridges to the nations.


A re-post from September 15, 2012.

The name “Mostar” means “the city of bridges”.  To read more about what happened to the bridges in Bosnia during the most recent Balkan wars, click on the image above or go to: http://balkansnet.org/mostar.html  Follow more links on that page to read and reflect on reconciliation and revenge.

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