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Posts Tagged ‘witness’


Thursday, September 10, 2020

sycamore_ashkelon-66-t[1]

A Sycamore Tree Bearing Fruit

Investigating Amos

What do we know about the prophet Amos? When we seek we will find that . . .

  • He described himself as a shepherd and farmer who tended to sycamore trees;
  • His strong verbal skills imply that he was more than an ignorant peasant;
  • He did not consider himself to be a professional prophet; he did not make a living proclaiming oracles to a patron who paid to hear what he wanted to hear;
  • He lived in Tekoa, a town about 11 miles south of Jerusalem;
  • He centered his ministry around Bethel, a major city in the north of Israel where many of the upper classes of the northern kingdom worshiped;
  • He lived during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah, 760-750 B.C.E., an era of unusual prosperity;
  • He brought a message of warning to the wealthy and powerful that they must come to see that their wealth had lured them into spiritual complacency and ethical laxity;
  • He warned his audience that judgment would be exacted for the actions of the strong against the weak. (Zondervan 1444-1445)

There is heavy emphasis on social justice in this prophecy and those of us today who live in first-world cultures do well to spend time contemplating the words and thoughts of Amos. What do we who are comfortable do for those who are not? How do we have much enact God’s Word for those who have little? Who are the peasants among us who ask for our introspection, our witness, our voices, and our action? In the time of pandemic and social unrest, how do we reflect the God who created us?

If we spend time today with the words of Amos and a solid commentary or other resource, we will hear God speak to us in our innermost refuge where we go to forget the woes of the world. If we spend time with the poetry of Amos today, we will experience the message of healing and restoration this prophet still brings to the faithful who seek God’s wisdom, to the faithful who yearn to bear fruit.

Tomorrow, an exhortation to return to God.


Adapted from a post written on September 14, 2013. 

Image from: http://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/zaccheus-climbed-up-into-a-sycamore-tree/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1444-1445. Print.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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Go and witness for me . . .

Amos: Without Constraint

“Amos was a shepherd of Tekoa in Judah, who exercised his ministry during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). He prophesied in Israel at the great cult center of Bethel, from which he was finally expelled by the priest in charge of this royal sanctuary. The poetry of Amos, who denounces the hollow prosperity of the northern kingdom, is filled with imagery and language taken from his own pastoral background. The book is an anthology of his oracles and was compiled either by the prophet or by some of his disciples”. (Senior 1126)

“Amos is the earliest of prophets who have books in their names.  In fact, his oracles were transmitted orally, and only collected in book form much later . . . We know very little about the career of Amos . . . He was an independent agent.  He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores (the fruit, resembling a fig, had to be tended in order to prevent insects from destroying it), and so had his own means. He did not depend on king or priest for support, and so was not beholden to them, and did not require their permission to prophesy. This independence left him free to speak the truth as he saw it, without political constraint”.  (Senior RG 361-362)

The words and life of Amos charge us to speak without constraint. What do we do with and in our lives to live in this independence?

The oracles and visions of Amos show us the possibility of a world that delivers justice and mercy without constraint. How do we act and speak to live in this possibility?

The woes and joys of Amos guide us in the way that Jesus comes to lead us. How eager are we to follow in the witnessing we are called to perform without constraint?

Tomorrow, Investigating Amos.


For a reflection on the Book of Amos, go to the Amos-Accountability page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/amos-accountability/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126 and RG 361-362. Print.

 

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Monday, July 6, 2020

website_p5_B_Page_1-300x199[1]1 John 5:9-12

Testimony Within

If we accept human testimony, the testimony of God is surely greater.  Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.  Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself . . . And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son does not have life.

Although John describes God’s in-dwelling in an abstract manner, he does not mean to say that God is an idea. On the contrary, the presence of Christ in each of us is very real.  The Spirit abides and consoles while Jesus teaches and heals, and God protects and guides.  All three persons of the Trinity are constantly present to and in us.

God says: I understand that the idea of eternal life is both exhilarating and frightening but you need not fear.  It is a real as the pain you feel when you suffer and as real as the joy you feel when you celebrate.  Yet, my love is more than emotion or thought.  My love is substantial.  It cures.  It sustains.  It converts and transforms. It is constant and deep.  It is authentic and reliable.  My love is worthy of your trust.  My love is worthy of your love in return.

When we find that we insist on our own interpretation of scripture or we split hairs and parse words for explicit and implicit meaning . . . we have strayed from the love John explains to us.  When we rely on God’s goodness and the truth of John’s testimony . . . we acknowledge the gift of God’s testimony within each of us.

To reflect on how we might better comprehend God’s love for us, enter the word witness into the blog search bar and explore.

Search for a labyrinth near you and consider this form of prayer.  It may lead you to a meaningful conversation with God Within You. 


The images above shows a labyrinth, a centuries old device for contemplative or meditative prayer. https://www.wildspring.com/labyrinth.htm 

To learn how to use a labyrinth while praying, go to: http://www.emu.edu/seminary/labyrinth or https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/labyrinth-chartres-cathedral 

For information on ancient references to God Within, visit: https://quantumstones.com/embracing-the-god-within-us/

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Matthew 2:1-12: Leaving by Another Road
Friday, July 20, 2018

Written on June 7 and posted as a favorite today . . .

I love this portion of the Christmas story. The wise men are so wise that they are able to read Herod’s secret intent. Nothing can be hidden from the wise because they are so connected to the creator that they appear to have special insight. What they really have is patience, serenity, and a finely tuned ear for God’s word. And so the magi left for their own country by another road.

I am thinking about the number of times I have averted disaster because that calm, strong voice within indicated that I was to stay put. We notice that an attitude of patience and a willingness to obey always accompanies the wise. The wise are not brash or excitable. They do not speak harshly, nor are they silenced. Like the Persistent Widow, they know when to persevere in speaking God’s word. And like the Three Magi, they know when to stand down and melt away into God’s protecting presence.

The wise know when to stand and witness . . . and when to leave quietly by another road.


Read the parable of The Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 29, 2011.

Image from: http://lifeasilookatit.blogspot.com/2011/03/road-not-taken.html

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Acts 28:30-31: Remaining

Saturday, April 1, 2017

We want a story to have an end, and so it may perplex us to read the closing verses of this book which is an accounting of how the Holy Spirit came to dwell among us.  I like the fact that there is no denouement which closes things in a precise manner, because this puts the conclusion of the narrative where it belongs . . . in our hands.

What do we bring to the Good News?  How do we continue the story?  How does the Spirit remain in us?  How do we witness?  How do we become Christ’s hands and feet and voice for the world?

We hold in our hands the power to heal one another by our willingness to listen actively and to act compassionately.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.  1 John 1:1-2

This was part of last evening’s prayer in MAGNIFICAT and it speaks to the apostles’ desire to continue to tell the story they had lived with Jesus, the story they continued to live with the Resurrected Christ, the story we may all live today if we might only remain in our lodgings to proclaim the kingdom.  I do not mean by this that we sit at home waiting for seekers to knock at our door; rather  I do mean to say that we might remain in Christ as we live each moment of our lives . . . and thus we bring Christ to the world.

To remain with one another . . . this is what it means to remain in Christ.  We are called to bring our diverse gifts and our diverse selves into union with one another.  This has been so from the beginning, it is so now, and it will always be so; therefore, let us gather together and remain. 

A Favorite from March 26, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

 

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Ephesians 3:2-6: Do Not Fear – Part XIV

Monday, January 9, 2017

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Valentin de Boulogne: Saint Paul Writing his Epistles

Although we have closed Christmastide we pause to spend a few moments with some of Paul’s words to the Ephesians about the secret plan of God, the mystery of Christ, the Word who arrives to live among us. These words remind us why we have nothing to fear.

The following verses are from THE MESSAGE translation. When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare other versions, God’s plan begins to clarify for us.

Paul tells the Ephesians – and us – that he is imprisoned because of his belief in Christ; yet he appears to have no fear of his impending punishment.

This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

Paul tells the Ephesians – and us – that he is confined because of his belief in Christ; yet he appears to have no fear of his approaching trial.

As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order.

Paul tells the Ephesians – and us – because of his belief in Christ, that he has nothing to fear in this world.

The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

Paul tells the Ephesians – and he tells us – that because of our belief in Christ, we have nothing to fear in this world. Paul tells us that we need only step into the Christmas gift of grace, peace, joy and hope. And he tells us that when we witness to this gift, we begin to act with and in Christ in our world.

Wishing each of you in the Noontime circle a New Year filled with Christ’s grace and peace, joy and hope.

Tomorrow, recognizing Christ.

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1 John 1: God’s Yardstick – The Gospel Writers

The Infinite Life of Christ

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We hear eye-witness accounts from those who were there, from those who walked and talked, ate and lived with Jesus. Scholars believe that Mark most likely writes his Gospel for early followers, gentiles who faced persecution after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He explains a number of Jewish customs to his audience and only once refers to the Old Testament. Matthew, on the other hand, writes to Jews who believed in Jesus as Messiah. Luke directly addresses Theophilus, someone of high position and wealth, and his message bolsters the story the early Christians told. John writes to non-Jewish believers, those who struggle with the conflict between philosophy and faith. And it is John who opens his first letter with words that ought to convince any who doubt the veracity of the Jesus story. (Zondervan 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. (1 John 1:1-2)

Not only do the Gospel writers give testimony to the truth they have lived, they ask that we pass this story along. They ask that we keep the Spirit in our hearts. They ask that we keep the Creator forever in our minds.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:3-4)

And Jesus says to his followers: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29)

1-john-3-17-does-gods-love-abide-in-him1Those who lived the Gospel story have something to pass along to us. Those who read this story today have something to pass along to those who follow. When we spend time today with Gospel verses of our choosing or with one of John’s letters, we open the door to a deeper understanding of the yardstick of love that God hands to each of us so we might better measure the wealth of our lives, the infinite life of Christ we share with others.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718. Print.

Tomorrow, yearning. 

 

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Luke 21:12-19: Giving Testimonytestimony

Thursday, December 3, 2015

They will seize and persecute you . . .

Not one of us asks for loss of freedom.

They will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons . . .

None of us wants public scandal or shame.

Thy will lead you before kings and governors in my name . . .

We do not like to think that politics or social pressure might suborn our thinking.

It wtestimony1ill lead to your testimony . . .

So when we suffer in Christ’s name we must respond in fidelity.

Remember . . . you are not to prepare your defense beforehand . . .

There is no defense against the world’s corruption and power.

I myself will give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute . . .

There is only one true wisdom that preserves and protects.

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends . . .

we are the testimonyThere is only one powerful truth that guides and transforms.

They will put some of you to death . . .

There is only one life that is eternal.

You will be hated because of my name . . .

There is only one Spirit that brings life and light and love that are everlasting.

But not a hair on your head will be destroyed . . .

There is only one Christ Jesus who returns from death to heal, redeem and renew.

By your perseverance you will secure your lives . . .

There is only one God who is and was and will always be. Let us give our faithful testimony today. Amen.

TESTIMONY (1)

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Matthew 5:10: The Kingdom1-heart-on-fire

Holy Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Most of us do not welcome persecution or harassment. We do want to open ourselves to the world’s swift and partial judgement. We prefer to remain safely in the shadow cast by Christ’s light, casting no shadow of our own.

God says: You need not look for opportunities to witness in my name. These doors will open for you as you live and grow in me. You need not fear the intensity of my light of truth. This light burns fiercely but does not scorch or burn. The fire of my love for creation cannot be quenched or blocked. The passion of my loving heart cannot be dampened or staunched. Remember that the more you recede, the more brightly does this fire burn. The more you hide, the more extended is my reach and the more intense is my love. My kingdom is a flame that burns yet does not consume and you must accustom yourself to this intense light. By hiding in the shadows, you deprive yourself of my kingdom that heals and consoles, of my love that transforms and restores. Do you want to enter my kingdom? Indeed, you are already there. My doors are always open to you. The invitation is always yours to reject in fear or to receive with joy. Today, as you await the good news of the empty grave, step into my heart that is alight with the fire of love. Be not afraid of this kingdom of passion and flame.

Bradypus-apple-and-pie_B-Cliffe_032515Today as we reflect on the presence of God’s kingdom in our everyday lives, we might choose an endangered animal or biosphere and join with others to do what we can to shed light on the root causes of extinction. If we do not have a favorite cause, we might visit the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica at http://www.slothsanctuary.com/ to find out how a transplanted Alaskan works each day in God’s kingdom.
Or we might visit Global Forest Watch at http://www.globalforestwatch.org/ to become informed. Then, in Easter gratitude to God for the gift and promise of restoration, we might consider how it is possible to change our world for the better.Google-Earth-Deforestation-lead-537x342

Tomorrow, Easter at last.

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