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Posts Tagged ‘vulnerability’


Genesis 18:1-15: Dissembling

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh”.  But he said, “Yes you did”. It seems that when we are afraid, or even uncomfortable, we hide.  Perhaps we want to protect ourselves from unwanted criticism at a time when we feel vulnerable.  Society would benefit from our willingness to put aside fear in order to practice honesty.  Our families would flourish if we might find a way to establish trust in order that we become less defensive.  Our work and play communities would prosper if we were free of ridicule.  Putting aside fear so that we might live a life of authenticity is what God asks us to do.  We all fail at this constantly . . . and this is something that God knows well.

Fear has been with us since our genesis as humans; it is not an aberration that arises after eons of human evolution.  Nor is it a modern phenomenon brought on by rapid change or sudden advances in technology.  Fear must have been with the first humans who hunted and gathered food and sought shelter.  Dissembling was likely a defense against isolation or separation from the tribe, a strategy for survival.  Is it a tool we want to use today?  Do we need to shave edges from truth?  Do we need to shape the opinion of those around us?  Are we willing to go to God and ask that we begin again . . . in total honesty . . . without dissembling?

It is good to remind ourselves that God is quick to pardon when we ask forgiveness, and that God has infinite mercy for us.  We know that all God asks is our gratitude and our willingness to do as he asks.  God constantly assures us that we are loved . . . and God asks for our love in return.  We need not fear.  We need not dissemble.  And we need not nurture this dissembling in ourselves or others.  When we are fearful . . . we know what we must do.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 129-130)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Isaiah 43:12: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. 

And so we pray . . .

When we feel fear begin to consume us, rather than dissemble and begin to weave a complicated web, we must call on God to bolster us in the truth.

When we are tempted to mislead others, rather than add to the illusion, we must ask God to help us to be honest and authentic.

When we come upon a rat’s nest of lies and deceit, rather than turn away with blank face and trembling heart, we must rely on God to help us witness to what we know to be truth.

Good and honest God, you have allowed us to choose if and how we are to follow you.  Guide us to see through the clever tricks of the expert weavers of lies and lead us to be merciful with those who dissemble out of fear.  Protect us as we mark a straight path to you with the signs of our little and big sufferings.  Lead us out of the maze of confusing dissembled responses others give to us.  Give us the courage to speak candidly, to act compassionately, and to love into goodness those who would harm us with their dissembling words.  We ask this of you who has created us, you who has shown us the way of authenticity, and you who abides within us always.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.6 (2011): 129-130. Print.   

Image from: http://listverse.com/2007/08/20/top-10-bizarre-phobias/

A re-post from August 10, 2011.

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Matthew 5:38-48: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VIII

Wednesday, January 18, 2017rest-in-christ-150x150

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 4, 2009.

The Presence

Today’s reading gives us the core of Jesus’ message: Resist evil and take no revenge; love our enemies . . . intercede for those who do us harm.  This is a difficult teaching, a complex lesson that unfolds to us as we live each day.  When we unwrap the bundle of fear and anxiety we feel, we begin to understand pain and suffering and because we might be consumed by it, we want to step away . . . but we cannot. We must open ourselves to transformation by our willingness to be vulnerable just as Jesus does.

It struck me this morning as Mass began that of course God comes to us an infant needing our care and attention.  He submits himself to our ministrations – no matter how adequate or inadequate – and by this example he shows us how we too, are to live.  And if we allow him to subsume our entire being, we will realize that this presence of Christ in us is The Presence we continually seek.

From this morning’s mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT:  The lowly will find joy and the pure rejoice.  Why?  Because of a Presence that even a blind man can sense . . . because it is the Presence we have been waiting for all our life.

Because Christ brings us a message of inversion, he comes to us as an extraordinarily powerful sovereign and creator in the form of a human infant.  This is a revolutionary idea.  It is an existence that challenges all that has gone before.  It is in this humble form that Jesus first draws us in . . . to later invite us to intimacy with him.

It is this intimacy, this presence, that we know we are missing – and that we try to fill with immediate pleasure and satisfaction.

It is this communion, this presence, that we constantly seek in all of the places that we will not find in the emptiness of success, money and power.

It is this love, this presence, that manifests itself – and that asks us to manifest our own selves – by praying and by acting on behalf of our enemies.

I have read the prophet Isaiah many times and yet this morning as I read out the first reading at Mass, I was struck by this verse (29:24):  And those who err in spirit will acquire understanding, and those who find fault will receive instruction.  Learning about Christ and learning how to live in Christ is a continual process into which we are always welcome to enter . . . at any time . . . in any circumstance.  Even those of us who come late to the lesson, or those of us who come with unwilling heart will eventually arrive at accepting the message we do not want to hear . . . which is: We save ourselves by loosing ourselves to Christ; we fill ourselves by emptying ourselves of all that is worldly; and we find The Presence we have always been seeking when we rest and act in the love that is Christ.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 4 December 2009. Print.

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Judges 17: As We Are – Part II

Saturday, December 19, 2015intimacy-with-god1

In this time of Advent, as we expect the coming of light and truth, we reflect on our relationship with Gad and the intimacy we give and receive.  

As a community, the ancient Hebrews in their relationship with Yahweh were continually looking for something to excite or interest them while at the same time walking away from a profound intimacy with a God who loves them more than they can imagine.  As believers today, we are in relationship with God and frequently we look for something we already have . . . the presence within that keeps us from harm and that draws us continually to our own divine origin.  For some reason, we humans struggle with relationships that bring us to the truth of ourselves, relationships that ask us to grow, relationships that fulfill through their constancy.

There is no lack of stories – either about famous celebrities or the people in our own circles of friends and families – of men and women who cannot maintain fidelity.  What is it we fear?  Seeing ourselves in the mirror of the beloved’s eyes?  Finding that we prefer the instant, superficial image that others have of us rather than the enduring truth of who we are?

We need not succumb to the fear of who we might be.  We need not do as we think best but rather, let us do as God thinks best and as God asks of us as we hear in today’s first reading at Mass from Isaiah 30: Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: O people . . . no more will you weep; he will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears you he will answer you.  The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk it in”, when you would turn to the right or to the left.

We have an interior guide who is ever faithful to us.  Let us put aside our fears of who we think we might be to open our eyes and ears to who we really are.  And let us return this gift of self to the God who made us.  For in this one small action we find a self that is waiting to be revealed.  In this one small way . . . we remain truly faithful to the one who knows and loves us . . . precisely as we are.

Tomorrow, the gift of life and love.

A favorite from December 5, 2009.

 

 

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Psalm 119:25-32

daleth[1]Daleth

I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life . . . I disclosed my ways and you answered me . . . you open my docile heart . . .

We find ourselves at our lowest ebb; we see the abyss yawning before us . . . and yet we know that God is with us; we know that God has the power to do the impossible with, and for, and in each of us.

God says: You may see your world as hostile and lacking nourishment yet what I see is a universe of hearts and souls.  When you bring me your dreams I dream them with you. When you bring me your pain I suffer with you.  When you bring me your joy I celebrate with you. 

We must strive to be open and vulnerable to God.  We must put aside our reliance on self rather than God.  And we must be willing to dream what at first seems impossible.

Today we reflect on the fourth lesson in Psalm 119.  It is a reminder that with God all things are possible. Tomorrow, He.

Jesus said to them: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.  (Matthew 17:20)

To learn more about the importance of the Hebrew letter Daleth, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://gnosticteachings.org/courses/alphabet-of-kabbalah/716-daleth.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-meir/381626970/

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Boticelli: Judith Leaving the Tent of Holofernes

Boticelli: 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.

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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Friday, November 18, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 – Scrupulous Honesty

Honesty: Robert E. Harney

We have renounced shameful, hidden things . . .  

Just recently in my workplace we have undergone a quality review by visitors from outside our community and we have been commended for our integrity.  This comes at no small cost.  It takes scrupulous honesty to peel away the sham and artifice in order to allow the gentle truth to emerge.  This kind of deep and searching honesty is frequently an unwelcome guest of the heart.  We shrink from repentance; we do not want to change.  We prefer the walls we have constructed that block out any fear that might cause us to change for the better.  We must move away from all hidden agendas and come into the light.

We have not acted deceitfully or falsified the word of God . . .

Just recently in my family we have suffered a soul-shattering loss and we continue to struggle with ourselves and with one another.  Truths must be pronounced but gently . . . kindly . . . mercifully.  The enormity of our grief might cause us to hide, or it may impel us to strike out at one another.  It is possible to nurse sad feelings or harbor grief; we may possibly ignore the growth that our suffering offers.  Or we might grow in wisdom as we allow the Spirit to open and heal us.  We might allow our divinity to teach us about our humanity.  In order to find union with God and mend our broken spirit, we must remove ourselves from deceit and we must allow God’s truth to guide us.  And we must do this lovingly . . . gratefully.

By the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God . . .

As humans we tend to think that we exist in isolation.  The skin that contains our organs prevents us from physically occupying the space someone else holds.  We live in the illusion that we can hide from one another.  We allow small lies to color our stories, our perspectives and our opinions.  We forget that all that we are and all that we do are of and from God.  We live in the illusion that we create ourselves when the scrupulous truth is that we are co-creators of life with God.   When we move away from sham and artifice we can see all of this more clearly.  And when we spend time with God to sort through our sorrows, we become less frightened, less egocentric.  We become more loving, more vulnerable.  We become the promise God has hoped for us. 

We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord . . . and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.

When we spend time worrying about ourselves and not others we have the wrong end of the stick.  God creates us to serve one another rather than be served.  God wants us to tend to one another rather than to be tended.  We are created to advocate for others . . . not to hide from, lie to, deceive or trample others. When we become slaves for the sake of Christ Jesus we begin to fulfill our potential.  We prepare ourselves in the best way possible for our union with God. 

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

We are created to make known God’s goodness to others, and it is our scrupulous honesty that opens us to God’s light.  It is in this way that we become a fearless, grateful, authentic revelation of God’s love.

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