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Posts Tagged ‘unity’


Ephesians 4:3-6: The Mystery of the Spiritwhat_is_the_holy_spirit_cover

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Strive to preserve the mystery of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through and in all.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains that the pagan gods of the Greek and Roman societies are indifferent, distant, and selfish; and they operate in a manner that runs counter to the Law of Love that Jesus describes for us.

God says: With these verses, my servant delivers a plea for unity. In your disparate lives you will too often move away from one another and away from yourselves for it is in the encounter with others that you best discover yourself. This is the mystery of my Spirit. She dwells within each of you, whispering words of comfort, healing physical and psychological pain. Yet she also dwells as a binding, calling voice to all of you. No one is left aside. No one is abandoned or left alone. All are welcome. All are loved. This is the great mystery of my love and of your life. Do not struggle against it; rather, lean into it. This love that wants to heal and transform is all you need to save you from turmoil and sorrow. When you live in me, you will constantly be surprised by my presence in unusual places. When you live through me you will consistently find the strength you will need as you work for me. My Spirit is in each. My Spirit is in all. My Spirit cannot be extinguished. My Spirit cannot be resisted. Allow the miracle and mystery of my love to live in and through you. Bring my presence to the world.

When we believe that one small action on the part of one person cannot make a difference, we have separated ourselves from the mystery and possibility of God’s love. Explore the work of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an organization that works with the homeless to bring to fruition in a surprising way the healing and unifying work of the Spirit. We may also want to explore organizations that bring the most hope to those with homes who may experience hopelessness. Visit: https://impactful.ninja/best-charities-for-helping-homeless-people/


Image from: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/holy-spirit/

 

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Monday, February 7, 2022watchmanforjerusalem

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Studying the Stumbling Block

We are all called to be prophets in the Messianic Age, a time when we each have a personal relationship with Christ . . . the one who calls us to sound the trumpet that he is already among us.

Christ is among us. Yet we do not see. We are the body of Christ. Yet we do not come together. We are called to do Christ’s work in the vineyard. Yet we are stiff-necked and hard-hearted. We lament over our stumbling blocks rather than rejoice in them.

When we read Ezekiel we realize that we are called by God as prophets, and we are also asked to call one another to this same office. We are to announce the coming that is taking place now. We are called to be sentinel to one another. We are called to unbend our own necks and to rebuke the stiff-necked among us. We are called to soften our hard hearts and to reprove the hard-hearted in the midst of us. We are called to listen for the sentinel’s cry from our brothers and sisters. We are called to give the cry of the Word we see and hear.  We are called to respond to the virtue in one another, to warn and to be warned. We are God’s church, the body of Christ, the Spirit that dwells within seeking harmony, unity and peace.

How do we attain this peaceful unity?  Verse 20: If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die.  He shall die for his sin, but his deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him.  When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin, and he has in fact not sinned, he shall surely live because of the warning, and you shall save your own life.

Let us spend a bit of time with this verse today and imagine the possibilities of God’s call.

Tomorrow, understanding the stumbling block.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: http://www.pray4zion.org/TheWatchmanofIsrael.html

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A papyrus of John 1:1-14

A papyrus of John 1:1-14

Monday, January 3, 2022

Joy and Completion

John’s Letters

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given. With them, we remember that there is always hope when we are overcome by doubt, always light that will pierce the darkness, and always joy, even in days of deep and unrelenting grief. Today John reminds us that without Christ, not only is there no opportunity for lasting joy, but what joy we have will always be incomplete.

John’s first letter was written toward the end of the first century and its purpose was to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community. (Senior 387) Today we reflect on John’s words as we near the end of this present year.

1 John 1: 4: We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

God says: I will never abandon you, never leave you without a guide, never allow you to fall into the darkness that you fear. I have great joy in mind for you.

John’s second letter is quite brief and scholars believe that its length was restricted to what might be contained on one piece of papyrus; yet, its brevity expands rather than restricts the possibilities for great joy. Today we reflect on John’s words as we prepare to enter into the new year. (Senior 393)

2 John 1:12: Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete.

God says: I am with you every instant of every day. I never leave your side although you sometimes believe that I am far away and uncaring. When you call on me, I bring you great joy and completion. Did I not come to live as one of you millennia ago in the town of Bethlehem? I am with you still. Did I not rescue you on Calvary in order that you might live in eternal joy? I rescue you each day. Did I not enter fully into the apostles in Jerusalem so that they might carry my word and my joy to those who had no means of knowing it? I dwell within you still. 

John’s third letter is addressed to Gaius and is less theological in content and purpose. Although we know little about the details in the lives of these early Christians, we understand from this letter that there was much division and turmoil in the early church. John writes to Gaius and he writes to us to remind us that we ought not fear conflict. He reminds us that despite the divisions we create, God brings us together in an authentic, relentless and all-forgiving unity. Today we reflect on John’s words as we enter into a newness of life, love and joy. (Senior 394-395)

3 John 1:4: Nothing gives me greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

joyGod says: My Spirit is in the tiniest fiber of your being. It is also in the immensity of creation. This creation is one with you and you are one with my creation. All of my works – and these include each of you – demonstrate my great love and my great joy. Open you mind and ears and heart to this joy today. Choose to live and walk, work, play and pray in and with me. In this way, you bring great joy to yourself and to others. In this way your everlasting joy is made complete.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387 & 393-395. Print.   

To learn about the earliest Bible papyri, click on the word Papyrus or go to: http://earlybible.com/ Click on the links to the left of the copy to view bits of the New Testament. To enlarge the writing, move the computer’s cursor over the sample.  Click on the papyrus image above to read John 1:14.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://earlybible.com/manuscripts/p66.html

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Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Friday, December 31, 2021

Joy and Libation

Philippians

 The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given. With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow.

Imprisoned when writing this letter to the Philippians, Paul maintains confidence in the power of Christ to rescue and heal. “This beautiful letter is rich in insights into Paul’s theology and his apostolic love and concern for the gospel and his converts. [Paul] reveals his human sensitivity and tenderness, his enthusiasm for Christ as the key to life and death, and his deep feeling for those in Christ who dwell in Philippi. With them he shares his hope and convictions, his anxieties and fears, revealing the total confidence in Christ that constitutes faith”. (Senior 311-312)

It is likely that Paul’s letter brought concern for his welfare to the little Jewish community that Paul had established in this important Roman town in what is today northeastern Greece. It is also likely that his words brought the Philippians a bit of discomfort as he exhorts them to think of others before selves and to put aside disagreements in favor of unity; yet his energy and passion are undeniable.

Paul writes: (1:25): This I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. (2:1-3) If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. (2:17-18) But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

joyPaul writes to the followers in Philippi and he writes to us. United in heart. Living from selflessness rather than ego. Passionate in our response to Christ’s call. Pouring ourselves out as libations for Christ just as Christ empties himself to rescue us. In his time of trial, fear and weariness, Paul calls us to unity, service, and a deep giving of self with undeniable enthusiasm. What will we do today as a libation for Christ? How do we extend to others this same passionate call to unity and service?

 If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.311-312. Print. 

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_the_Apostle

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Monday, May 24, 2021

Sunset-Sunrise-Clouds-Landscapes-Sun-1800x28801 John 2

Ideal and Real – Part IV: The New Commandment

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.

We look for new inspiration. We believe that if we had one more resource all would be well. We look to off-load our worries when all we need do is put them in God’s hands.

The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

All will be well if we can just get a raise. Everything will be fine if we can just someone to do what we want. We believe we will have no more worries if we can just arrange life as we want it while all the while abundant gifts are given us daily.

Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.

Our work environment would improve if cranky and controlling co-workers would go elsewhere. Family get-togethers would be so much better but for that person with whom we struggle.  Our worship community would be perfect if only the cranky believers would worship somewhere else . . . and all the while Christ walks among us. All the while the Spirit abides and calls us.  All the while we are children of the same creator who asks us to live in peaceful unity.

This is the new commandment the Apostle John relays to us. This is the new commandment Christ brings to us. This is the new commandment that unites the real and ideal.

Tomorrow, uniting day and night in prayer.


Image from: http://www.all-wallpapers.net/wallpaper/sunset-sunrise-clouds-landscapes-sun/

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Saturday, October 10, 2020

Sauvignon_blanc_vlasotince_vineyards[1]Matthew 21:33-46

When Vintage Time Arrives

In this parable we see wicked people kill the owner’s son so that they can take over the land.  We humans tend to interpret our own actions in the best light in order that they suit our own ends.  We explain our lack of unity by calling up examples that support our own version of a story. By our lack of generosity and honesty, we demonstrate our belief that God is not good enough or big enough to help all of us.  Our own stinginess and need to control demonstrate a belief that God is limited in some way.  When we create division, confusion and disunity we forget that God brings order out of chaos and good out of harm.  And we also forget that Jesus calls each of us to do the same. Jesus shows us how to heal with a touch rather than ostracize with a look, yet we reject Jesus as the cornerstone when we refuse to see God’s presence in the least of us.

In this story the wicked men answer their own question in verse 41: [The landowner] will put those wretched men to death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper time.  There is no doubt about the message here: Fruit at the proper time – this is what we called to bear.

God wishes nothing more than for all of us go to him in unity. So let us ask for forgiveness and forgive.  Let us make reparations and accept a reparation being made.  Let us heal and be healed.  Let us pray our enemies into goodness so that all of us might bear fruit.

God wants to include all of us in the work of the vintage time.  God calls each of us to our seat at the great feast.  God calls the slow as well as the swift, the unfaithful as well as the faithful, the lame as well as the walking.  God makes a Universal Call . . . What will be our response?

Dearest God, we know that you will continue to beckon, continue to wait, continue to love, and continue to unfold your plan.  We know that you ask each of us to bear fruit in your time rather than our own.  Send us your wisdom, perseverance and generosity.  Send us your love and strength.  Speak clearly to us so that we might more readily hear your words as the landowner who sends his messengers to us.  Grant that we come forward willingly with the fruit of your harvest.  Grant that we find the courage to help even our enemies so that they might rise and go to you.  And grant that we be alert and ready when the vintage time arrives.  Amen.


To reflect more on The Wedding Feast and The Wedding Garment, enter these phrases into the blog search bar and explore. 

Adapted from a reflection written on September 13, 2007.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loire_Valley_(wine)

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

John 13:21-30: Betrayal

Caravaggio: Taking of Christ in the Garden

Caravaggio: Taking of Christ in the Garden

Often during our Noontimes we have explored the theme of infidelity and the effects it has upon our intimate relationships and our collective experience as a people of God.  We have spent time thinking about how an act of betrayal never has a single secret effect.  We have prayed for those who deceive and harm us.  We have pondered how to handle an act of betrayal when it slices through our lives.  Today we see God himself allow each of us to make a choice for freedom and life or slavery and death.  Judas has become a slave to an idea which leaves his soul open to darkness.  Jesus allows him to proceed along the path he has chosen: What you are going to do, do quickly.  Yesterday we reflected on Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  Today we explore John 13 more closely.

Today’s citation comes from the portion of John’s Gospel often called The Book of Glory; Chapters 13 to 20 tell the story of the passion, death and transformation of Jesus.  Here he has just delivered his discourse on the relationship he has with the Father – one of deepest intimacy.  And he has just told his followers – his followers of that evening and his followers today – that the same intimacy is open to each of us, that God yearns to hold us and to possess us more than anything we can imagine from our human experience.  Yet this citation begins with: Jesus was deeply troubled . . .

Able to read our inmost thoughts, Jesus understands that Judas is disappointed, disgruntled, and about to act on his envy and anger.  Judas Iscariot, despite so much time spent with the Master, is unable to enter into this intimacy offered.  And so he strikes at that which he cannot experience.

Jesus dipped a morsel and handed it to Judas . . . extending an ultimate invitation . . . knowing that it and he will be rejected; for after Judas took the morsel . . . Satan entered him. 

Who and what are Satan?  I believe that this force of negativity cleverly appeals to the narcissistic child in each of us; and I believe that it is present always.  Only through our fidelity to God and the light . . . do we evade that which relishes the night.  The risen Christ offers this invitation to unity constantly.  How do we respond?

Jesus shares a last meal with a man who believes that he operates in secret and who has likely convinced himself that his actions are for some greater good.  Judas’ actions will set a course of events into motion which cannot be recalled.  The calculus has been set much earlier than this through a series of moments of discontent, of wounded pride, of self-importance.  Judas resists the call to goodness and falls to the darkness.

So he took the morsel and left at once.  And it was night.

In an understatement of fact, the writer John tells us all we need to know about betrayal and the evil on which it feeds.  Envy, willfulness, desire for control of self and others, attendance to our own needs at the expense of others . . . these are signs that lead only to darkness.  And it was night.  Goodness, mercy, kindness, gentleness, prudence, courage, openness, perseverance . . . these are the signs that lead to light and life.

Heavenly Father, keep us always open to Christ, your Word among us.  Count us among your faithful.  Create in us a spirit that will always recognize you and welcome you . . . even in the most surprising places and unexpected people. 

Today we receive you; we receive your word.  Keep us ever mindful of your love for us.  Call us always to the light that is you.  Amen.


Written on January 27, 2009.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_taking.html

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Daniel 14: Bel and the Dragon

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Rembrandt: Daniel and Cyrus Before the Idol Bel

“These stories are caricatures.  They should not be taken as accurate descriptions of Babylonian religion . . . The Babylonians in the stories are excessively stupid, and their devices are too easily exposed.  The story of the dragon shares the Daniel 6 the motif of the lions’ den, but does not necessarily depend on the earlier chapter.  All we can say is that Daniel was associated with the lions’ den in oral tradition, and that both these stories make use of the motif.  Bel and the Dragon is more fantastic than Daniel 6 . . . These fantastic elements give the story a light-hearted quality, but the background here is more tense than in Daniel 1 – 6.  Daniel confronts the Babylonian religion a way that he never does in the earlier chapters . . . There is a sense here that Judaism and paganism are fundamentally incompatible”.  (Senior RG 351)

We humans always want a contest; we look for heroes to champion and causes to support.  We are willing – and even eager – to take sides and create divisions.  We cry out for peace and unity but too often we fight for separation, isolation, and a sense of superiority or elite privilege.  We seem to be comfortable with a certain degree of “clubiness” in the circles of friends and family that we form.  Someone is always “in” or “out” depending on a morphing list of requirements that we often keep secret even from the “members” of our circle.  We are reluctant to embrace the universal model that Jesus lives.  We shun those who are different and give lip service to diversity.  The stories we read today – with their hyperbole and stereotypes – might be fodder for our late night comics or talk show political pundits and in that sense they are too extreme to be true; yet they hold a mirror up to us that we might see ourselves not so much as the character of Daniel but as those who would dupe the King.  The corrupt priests and the families take advantage of a generous monarch; those who worship the dragon become consumed by their jealousy and passion.  We might take a lesson from all of this.

False gods, false priests, jealous colleagues, spiteful associates are plentiful in our lives.  The lions’ den may suddenly be found in our home, our place of worship or work.  Dragons haunt the lonely places of the heart; yet . . . The true and living God is ever-present; but we seem to forget this.  The one all-powerful and infinite God is always with us; but we often fail to show that we believe this.  The merciful and intimate one and only God is within us; but we behave us as though we do not believe this.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, keep us from any elitism that separates us from the world around us; guide us in welcoming others into our hearts.

Dear and loving God, help us to guard against the temptation to exclude or eliminate others from our lives; show us how to welcome those who are different from ourselves.

Wise and abiding God, remind us that none of us can afford to isolate ourselves from others; tell us often that wounds heal, anxieties ebb away, and love stitches up the empty places in our lives.  Amen.


A re-post from November 17, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 351. Print.   

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Revelation 4: Heavenly Worship

Monday, September 2, 2019

Written on August 2, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Footnotes tell us that much of this imagery can also be found in Ezekiel, where God is seen as surrounded by worshiping figures.  All of these creatures and people are symbolic; and good footnotes or a good commentary are helpful when sorting and understanding all of these ideas.  What makes so much sense to me is the idea that it is right and good to live a life in constant praise of God.  I like this thought.  It brings me comfort to know that the angels, saints and all creatures celebrate God in heaven just as we do here on earth.  I think that being in God’s presence necessitates a willingness to worship, to praise, to thank and to petition.  What will we do in heaven if we have not practiced coming together to be near to God?  How can we expect to understand any heavenly rite if we do not accustom ourselves to ritual here on earth?  Why would we think that we might get along with lambs who frolic among lions . . . if we cannot live in harmony here on earth?

We have many earthly opportunities to demonstrate our willingness to be humble, to build bridges between ourselves and our enemies, to be peacemakers.  Where do expect to stand when we arrive at the heavenly throne room?  How do we expect to know how to behave?  Why do we expect that in another place we will suddenly be able to love . . . when we have not learned to do so here?

We have this idea so often that God is in his heaven while we are in the world.  We have forgotten the lesson of this story . . . that the kingdom is now, the kingdom is here.  We are every waking and sleeping moment in God’s presence . . . and how do we behave?

Today we might begin anew with our lessons for Heavenly Worship.  We might begin anew in our lessons of Love and Unity.


Image from: http://epitemnein-epitomic.blogspot.com/2012/06/gods-institutes-of-praise-prayer-and.html

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