Gospel Reflections: Matthew 14:13-21

Daily Gospel Reflection for April 21, 2018

Today, I share both my reflection and the wonderful community of CatholicMom.com with each of you! Tune in daily for wonderful insights, reflections, recipes, book reviews and more!

Mt 14:13-21

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus understandably seeks to get away to spend some much needed time in prayer.  With crowds constantly surrounding him, the time for renewal not to mention the time needed to grieve would prove formidable. His heart, however, moved by compassion on the people who were seeking to be healed could not remain idle in their need. And through this miracle, we are not only given this beautiful prefigured allusion to the Eucharistic celebration but also to God’s call to responsibility for each one of us in our discipleship journey.

 “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

As a mom the essential quest for alone time, particularly in prayer, has always echoed resoundingly for me. For, almost without fail it seems the moment I had hoped to squirrel away to rest and renew ends up being the very instant the most of me is to be called upon. Couple this with our desire to be attentive to our spouse and friends and we begin to wonder if there really is such a thing as perfect peace. And, is what we have sufficiently enough, for the ready demands upon our time and resources that everyday life brings?

In this way we look at our gifts and see little, forgetting that Christ is the multiplier of all gifts. Then, we look at our strength and recognize our weakness, unable to believe that God will enable us for the work ahead. Yet, our heavenly Father who knows that we are weak and broken seeks to make of us the very miracle of mercy, love and compassion that is needed today. What is reassuring is that all that is needed from us is the simple offering of ourselves.

Pray:

Jesus, though I come to you today unable to fully imagine how you may seek to use my brokenness , it is yours. Help me to respond, as you did, with love and compassion willing to give you my all.

Reflect:

What might I be holding back from Christ today out of fear that it isn’t enough?

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: There You Are!

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139: 1-7

“Oh, there you are!”, He says. 

“Yes Lord, here I am. I’m sorry I have been preoccupied with other things. I realize now that you have been waiting for me.”  
“You are here now, that is what matters. Come, and find your rest with me.”

There is no judgement or guilt in His words as they fall upon my heart. Simply love- and an exclamation of joy that I at last found him in the midst of my day. His desire? Not a feeble attempt at an explanation but rather one undertaken by a beloved to comfort and renew my soul. In this brief exchange between his heart and mine, more is expressed in mere moments than hours of conversation. Who is this God who loves me still? None other than the One who seeks me, waits patiently for my return and all the while holds me and the world all in the palm of his hand.

Since returning from retreat, you might say I have been experiencing a “spiritual reunion” of sorts. One whereby I slip into soulful dialogue with God so often, that I cannot judge the time apart. That is not to say that this time is replete with words for there is meaningful silence here too. Each minute full and intentional and I arise aware that whatever is ahead, I am never alone. Needless to say, discernment is immensely easier in these times as God has both our attention and our desire to do His will.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. (V. 9-10)

Walking into church and upon approaching the tabernacle, I saw him standing there in the back. “Do you have a bible that I could purchase?” Well dressed and in his early thirties, he had suddenly found himself at a crossroad in life. “Not one that we would sell, but one that we would gladly give you. Hold on a moment and let me get one for you” Knowing that I was already a few minutes late for a promised communion call, I quietly wondered if God would stretch out time. Returning with the bible I turned to Psalm 139. “This is a psalm I turn to when I find myself at a crossroad, or simply need to be reminded who I am. Would you like to read this together?”

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.. (v. 11-14)

As we sat, I felt him relax into each word. It truly is a beautiful vision to see God’s word at work. “I do have to go for now, but please stop by anytime and ask for me by name. The bible is yours for however long you need it.”

Reflect:

Does God have my upmost attention? When do I notice His presence the most in my day? What is it that I seek most at the crossroads in life? 

Peace,

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With All Our Mite

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

Growing up in the rural South, I already knew it to be true. Generosity is not dependent upon an abundance or determined by a life blessed by circumstance. Instead, I have witnessed time and again that those seemingly with the least have given beyond their means to both friend and stranger.  From the outside it makes no sense, borrowing from tomorrow’s need to provide for another’s need today. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus is so poignantly speaking to in this passage.

Recently, while on mission to Haiti, this scripture in countless ways was brought to life. With the young and old alike there was an innate understanding that there was a responsibility beyond oneself. Young children pushing much older ones in wheelchairs, and teenagers caring for their fellow orphaned brothers and sisters as their own. Outside the orphanage in the remote villages, families in need themselves spoke of their “neighbor” who could also use some help.

Bearing food and supplies and with smiles and prayers, we entered small huts and makeshift shelters. Constructed on the sides of mountains and down solitary paths they lived and yet they knew no stranger. No boundaries or obstacles existed in the warmth of their welcome and in the gratitude expressed for our visit. Offering the joy of cuddling newborns and the gleeful excitement of children I could not help but wonder who was really the gifter here.

Blind, thin and of advanced age he beckoned us into his home. Inside a small table, chair and simple bed were all that occupied the mud covered wooden canopy hut. As with many others we visited, the rice, beans and sugar that we carried were the only apparent food around.
“Mesi! (thank you!)”, he exclaimed. “I prayed that you would come, I prayed for your safety and when I heard the helicopter I knew my prayers were answered.” Standing there I could not help but soak in his words, like a downpour of rain upon the dry parched earth that we stood upon.
Through the full-time missionary leading and translating for us, we learned how the last year had treated him. “With the drought, the crops that I had planted amounted to little.” Using his fingers as a guide he had painstakingly planted and hopefully awaited a fruitful bounty. Yet when it did not , rather than store the meager return, he chose to give it to his neighbor’s livestock to keep them from dying.

His selflessness epitomizes a people unbelievably resilient amidst daily unimaginable  odds. A people living on land that can truly no longer environmentally support them. Yet, what they offer is generosity of heart and a joy that is presumably limitless. In parting, we were offered his continual prayers that we would return safely to our families and could once again come back to visit. This priceless gift of prayer from a compassionate would be saint most assuredly was heard and will forever be treasured and repaid. Even if it takes a lifetime.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Peace,

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Gospel Reflections- Matthew 10:1-7

Daily Gospel Reflection for April 21, 2018Today, I share both my reflection and the wonderful community of CatholicMom.com with each of you! Tune in daily for wonderful insights, reflections, recipes, book reviews and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7

What about Jesus’ choice of the twelve, this ragtag bunch of men who are seemingly ill suited for the task? Well, we know that none of this happened by sheer happenstance, Luke’s Gospel notes that their call was the direct result of Jesus’ prayer. With Christ as their center they were empowered with the ability to battle evil and heal, as a visible witness to the unbelieving world around them. God did not see simply their limitations but their unlimited potential if they choose to respond to His voice.

Yet, the call of the twelve is our call too. For each of us, as disciples, having heard the Good News is also given the responsibility to actively witness the Gospel in our lives this very day. Do you feel you lack the gifts or talents necessary for the task? Not to worry, there isn’t a commission given or a challenge encountered that He will not equip us with the right tools if it is His will.  For this reason, our daily discernment of just how we are being asked to respond to God’s call can only be begun through our prayerful desire to know that will.

Still God does not leave us all alone in recognizing how we are being called to serve, but also gives us one another. One of my greatest joys, as director of ministries for two Catholic parish communities, is calling forth the unique gifts that each person has to offer. Then, being graced with the time and ability to see Christ at work strengthening, guiding and blessing each in their response to His call. God is never outdone in generosity, and what you offer to him today he will expand and multiply in ways you can never imagine.

Ponder:

Is my inability to recognize my gifts or talents holding me back from fully responding to Christ’s call in my life? How am I proclaiming the Gospel in my everyday walk today?

Pray:

Lord be my guide as I seek to witness your light and love in my everyday encounter with others. May the desire found in the depth of my heart, the words on my lips and in the work of my hands be made enough to bring your kingdom near within my family, friends, and parish community today.

Peace,

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Loving My Enemy

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven… If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5:43-48

 By the age of eleven, and flanked by a couple of loyal companions, she was a force to be reckoned with. And if her stare didn’t send you in the other direction, then her insults most certainly would. As a newcomer into the school, I expected much of this and still I wondered just what I had done to incur such special attention. Indeed it seemed as if I was her sole mission, and in one afternoon I was.

Finding me relatively alone on the playground, she and her cohorts spied my backpack and started going through it. “Hey, that’s mine! You can’t do that!” , I shouted.
“Watch me!” she quipped.
Jumping off the swings and seizing my bag I began to walk away. Only to hear their footsteps behind me. As I turned, there she was ready to reassert her authority, pushing me swiftly to the ground.

Somewhere amidst the punches thrown and hair pulled I no longer was afraid.  The principal arrived just in time to see me stand on my feet and her friends run off. Of course both our parents were both called but only mine came that day. Well aware of the history of problems that this girl had been involved in, my mom was told that I was not in trouble and he was sorry to not have arrived sooner.

At first, I felt a sense of victory, no less a modern-day David and Goliath story. And then, over the proceeding weeks and months, when she was no longer bothering me, I was given a different perspective. I started noticing that for parent days, science fairs, and music performances, she was alone. Even her recess was spent trying to secure a spot atop the monkey bars for herself and perhaps a friend. From this vantage point she didn’t have to worry about fitting in.  And from here, she intentionally threw herself off – breaking her arm in a desperate cry for attention.

This was not a first for her, but it was a first for me to empathize and even pray for the one who I felt had persecuted me. With a reversal of fortune, and a helping of grace I saw not her persona but her as a person. A girl who, much like me, was created and loved by God but who had never had anyone express her value adequately. And as a defense, there were walls that seemed almost impenetrable.

Rather than confront or abut these walls, I instead prayed for her. Teachers I noticed too tried to help whenever possible. Until a year later, when she was suddenly absent. Over the years, I have wondered where she had gone and just who she would become. I hoped that she and her family had made a home. Moreover I prayed that the fresh start would allow her the freedom to shed the tough image she had portrayed for so long. Today, I am ever so grateful for this life altering perspective that has allowed me to not be so quick to judge what my eyes first perceive.

Reflect:

Is there someone who needs my forgiveness and prayers that I might instead be withholding? What might I see if I walked alongside my “enemy”?

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: That Beautiful Well

 Both figuratively and literally, the notion of a well figures prominently in scripture, literature and indeed in life. The “water” it holds has the potential to be all cleansing, life giving, and life affirming for the one who seeks and believes.  Experienced as endless or empty, pure or tainted, cherished or wasted it holds the capacity to sooth the soul and reinvigorate one for the steps ahead. Without it, we cannot last long in this world or the next.

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Today, many of us have become so accustomed to the modern convenience of running water we are unfamiliar with the experience of drawing from a well at all. The tall deep stone outer walls and inner hollowness invoke a both a mystery and a knowing that within something special is waiting to be unearthed. Yet, in order to plunge into this discovery, we must first make the journey to the well and then in faith lower our bucket.

The beautiful story in John of the Samaritan woman at the well enables us to glimpse a bit of this faith journey. Here, what would have been a very social fellowship of women gathered, was not so for her. Now having been married six times and a Samaritan at that, she was considered an outcast, and unwelcome guest. With full awareness of this, she had chosen the hottest part of the day to acquire water when she expected no one else to be around. However, to her surprise not only was Jesus there but he, with little regard for societal rules, was speaking directly to her.

What did Christ see in her that would prompt such amazement in her return home? First he recognized that this woman had lived her life simply seeking the satisfaction of her everyday physical needs.  While her intention was to satisfy a temporary physical thirst, Jesus revealed her deeper continual spiritual thirst. For, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”  Christ calls her to a different intimacy, one which was not dependent on her value in the world but bespoke of her inherent worth to God. His desire was to fulfill her deepest need and invite her to move from a mere existence to a life everlasting.

What then was required of her?

Well, in order to be healed she needed to be aware of her thirst, confess her transgressions and then… lower her bucket.

Reflect:

Do I recognize my own incomparable value to God? Am I seeking only temporary satisfaction of my daily needs? If not, what can I do to lead others to the well? 

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: The Sinful Woman & The Good Samaritan


These stories which are unique to Luke give us a beautiful portrait of a prophet, teacher, and savior who knows our hearts, minds and whose love is universal. Here we see Jesus as one that focused on the introspection of the individual, sought out the outcast and the lost, was inclusive of women, brought peace in forgiveness, and who valued love over law, wealth and position. Although Jesus speaks to all, it is the outcasts, tax collectors, widows, and lepers who truly listen while the lawyers, Pharisees, and leaders are deaf to his words. While the intentions of the Pharisees in observing the laws and living a life of sacrifice had value, they sought a life of total perfection. In doing so, they were unable to see past the imperfections not only in others but in themselves and the full extent of God’s love. Therefore, the meaning within these stories is so crucial for our own faith lives today.   For if we have all the faith in the world yet lack love, mercy and compassion we have nothing.

In the story of the Sinful Woman, Luke paints two contrasting character portraits of lives of faith. What began as a dinner invitation at the home of Simon the Pharisee, is both a moment of healing for the sinful woman, and of disconnection and judgment by Simon. The reason behind Simon’s invitation to Jesus could have been one of curiosity, or perhaps simply the honor in hosting the prophet. Whatever the reason, it is clear that Simon hasn’t invested his time or energy in providing Jesus with the full extent of his hospitality. When the woman appears, we learn that she takes the place behind Jesus, yet brings the very best that she has to offer- that of her desire to serve, heartfelt repentance and love.

This woman would not have been intentionally invited, yet she made the difficult decision to come regardless. Knowing that she would suffer the comments and stares of those present to begin her life of faith and service. We are drawn in by this intimate scene with the woman weeping, kissing and wiping his feet with her hair and pouring perfumed oil on the feet of Jesus. While Simon, sits and inwardly judges both the woman and Jesus questioning why Jesus would ever allow this sinner to even touch him if he were truly a prophet. What Simon questions, the sinful woman has accepted on faith. Still, Jesus challenges Simon to see this woman and her situation properly, and learn from her desire for forgiveness and faithful example. Finally, there is a peace that comes with the forgiveness and salvation found by the sinful woman that Simon is unable to know.

With the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke presents a challenge from a man of the law who is seeking to justify his own actions rather than truly wanting the answer on love and neighbor. First, we see how the fulfilling the demands of purity and ritual keep both the priest and Levite from fulfilling the greater command of love. Make no mistake, however, they each had a choice in their decision as Jesus clearly points out. With the Samaritan we find that the one who had the most to lose, and least to gain took the greatest risk in showing compassion beyond that which could have been expected. This time, Jesus challenges the questioner to see the mercy shown by the Samaritan, not as an encapsulated story but within the infinite mercy shown towards us by God. The Samaritan exemplified the point for Jesus that God’s love goes beyond the letter of the law, race, religion or position in society, for his love is without limits and universally extended to all.

Today, in many of our churches we still have “faithful” that seek to limit God’s love, mercy and promise of salvation. This is expressed with judgmental glances, third party conversations,  and an obvious misunderstanding of the sacrament of reconciliation. Witnessed also in the shallow perspective that compassionate action towards others  remains charity instead of inherent calls to justice. For, we who have been given much, much more is expected. God’s love is not reduced  because there are more at the table, but rather his Kingdom grows with every soul who takes seriously the greatest commandment.

Peace,

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In Search of Water

 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. John 4:28

Growing up as a southern girl in a small town, where everyone knew everybody and all their business there wasn’t much that ever stayed hidden for long. Gossip tended to flourish even over the smallest insignificant things despite the Sunday sermon that preached against it.  And yet, there was a wide path of forgiveness, where amends could and would be made if you planned on becoming a lifer. Especially, if you belonged to the same church and came with either a contrite heart or with a reasonable explanation requesting prayers.

Church was known to be a place where reconciliation occurred not just between the penitent and God but with the community. Where you were encouraged to foster relations between Christ, neighbor and stranger alike refusing to let them fall. Moreover, by inviting a new friend you participated in a grownup Christian show and tell. Out of town relatives and those who had left other churches were considered indeed special as they were entitled to a warm welcome.

Now in an age where an event can not only make the evening news but is broadcast all over social media, it is no wonder why community reconciliation seems near to impossible. Likewise while you may know several repeat families at a particular Mass, the thought of inviting a new friend and introducing them is itself a foreign concept.  Thus, in a strange dichotomy, Church can be a place that is a solitary and isolating experience where the in club includes everyone but you.

Recently I encountered one such believer, who through no fault of her own had found herself alone and pitted against the world. Circumstances created by another had placed her family first and foremost in the center of the news. Due to the nature of the event, she could not help but feel judged and defined forevermore. However, now in need of help she knew of no where within her own community to turn. And “why would they?”, she questioned, for she did not have the bonds of neighbor or friend to call upon.

For this reason, her call for help involved a conversation with a church in a neighboring community whom she hoped would have a different perspective. Though, despite my best efforts to encourage her reach out locally, she had already resolved that help was unavailable. Whether or not her assessment was accurate, one thing became clear she needed someone she could trust to turn to. Someone, that is, who could see beyond the precipitous of the crisis providing mercy without scrutiny.

 “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” John 4:35-36

While her story is highlighted here it is not a remote occurrence within our society or our churches. Quick to rush to judgment we often listen to the side that is portrayed without considering all of the victims of the situation. Even unintentionally we fail to provide the same merciful encounter with Christ that we are being asked to witness. Yes, “the fields are ripe” and there is much work ahead.

We who have “reaped the benefits” of the labor of saints long before cannot remain idle if we are to have a church community living the Gospel. Welcoming needs to mean more than a smile at the door… as Catholics it must entail an encounter with the real presence of Christ. That is, we must be willing to attend to the real needs of those around us, extending both hand and heart to the isolated, and disenfranchised. Each person becomes then more than a member but a profound witness to Christ alive in this world as well as the promise of eternal life.

Reflect:

Do I take God’s love and mercy for granted? Has my discipleship and witness become stale? Who might be in need of an encounter with the living Christ today?

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: A Walk in Wisdom

“Right discernment of life begins with an obedience discernment of YHWH the Creator” (Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 309).  1

This quote by Bruggeman truly calls attention to just how we understand knowledge, and become aware of God’s immanence and transcendence. For many years,  I had difficulty with the wisdom tradition’s notion of knowledge stemming from a “fear of the Lord” . Perhaps, it was simply in my understanding of the word fear, which does not aptly describe my understanding of our relationship with God. Even still, was it’s usage in the numerous fire and brimstone homilies I had grown up with. Yet, when we place this word fully in the context of scripture, there is ample clarity.

In contrast to understanding God cosmically and historically at work within the world, Israel sought to understand God as Creator within the context of everyday life. Through the Wisdom literature we are attuned to a plurality of voices that speak to who God is and experienced in the daily lived reality of the community in which God is believed to be central to its ordering. 2  Here, we behold a deep concern with the very human and routine problems of life, death, sex, commerce, and relationships encountered in living in the world. Moreover, there is considerable moral weight placed on decision making, with the responsibility seen in the highlighted and inherent consequences.  In honoring this divine order, one’s life and that of the community, it is asserted, would be blessed the gift of well being. 3

Conversely, the consequences that are intrinsic to deeds that are negligent of Yahweh’s structuring of creation invite misery, suffering, and even death for the community.4  Skillfully, it is fashioned by reflective and inquisitive teachers employing literary designs of poetry, metaphor, drama to describe a “faith in the world as intended by the Creator”.5  Knowledge, as argued by the teachers of Proverbs, begins therefore in fearing the Lord with awe and wonder. (Prov. 1:7)  Thus, what we witness is an expression of faith seeking to recognize God’s intended purpose and boundaries inherent in creation that is believed to provide meaning and safety for the whole world. 6

Here “fear” reveals more of an overwhelming marveling at considering the magnificence of God, what he has done, and continues to do within creation. This we are invited to do each time we behold a sunrise, or connect with the eyes of the believer receiving communion, or hold the tiny hands of a newborn baby in ours. In our appreciation of God as the source of all life, and desire to know his will and purpose for our lives, we begin to seek to know more and grow in our love and service to him. What is knowledge then, if not our acknowledgement of the Creator who offers this gift and desires to be in relationship with his creation?

When I was a child, I would customarily ask my grandmother her advice on various questions of life. While she did have concrete suggestions for me to follow, it always came down to her embodied philosophy..put God first and everything else will fall into place. Or, better still, it will be shown to be inconsequential in the bigger picture. This seems so simple, and nonetheless we strive to make our lives so complicated. Yet, as the wisdom teachers assert, we will never be able to even discern the right path unless we take the “Creator’s large vision to bear on these everyday realities”. 7

In order that we understand this perspective fully, we are given God’s magnanimous answer to Job which attests to his “greatness and which transcends the small moral category of Proverbs”.8 What’s more, God demands a reply from Job as well, not to his innocence or guilt, but in questioning if Job recognizes that it is God alone who holds the entirety of creation in his hands.9  In Job, we are reminded of Jacob, who also “wrestled” with God..but won. Job, however cannot respond to God equally, and realizes finally that he needs to accept God’s mystery of purpose. (Job 42:1-6) In yielding his “complaint and protest” to renewed “hope and trust” God moves forward to restoration of Job’s life and indeed his relationship with God.

Interestingly too, God addresses the three friends who had “not spoken rightly concerning” God. (Job 42:7-9)  In penance, they were to offer holocaust, and seek the intercession of Job whose guilt they had so easily assumed. Thus, there was restoration for the three friends as well, and vindication of Job’s righteousness. This highlights the significance of sound pastoral ministry whenever we speak or offer comfort. Prayerful reflection must be given to what we do choose to say. Likewise, we must be open to recognizing that we are far from infallible, and when mistakes are made, we should seek reparation as well.

Many of us cannot help but smile whenever we encounter the bumper sticker that reads, “What would Jesus do?” particularly when its driver is behaving less than Christian . While, this might provide a somewhat humorous example, it does call attention to just how we live our lives of faith daily. While Proverbs attempts to catch us before we err and in the decision making process itself, experience is far too often the teacher. These are the issues that the writers of Proverbs and Job understood..seeking God in both presence and seeming absence in our lived reality. Both illustrate our need to let God’s wisdom speak in silence sometimes..and let God’s Spirit move in and renew the hearts.

Peace,

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  1. Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 309.
  2. Brueggemann, p. 275.
  3. Brueggemann, p. 310.
  4. Brueggemann, p. 312.
  5. Birch,Bruce, A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 384.
  6. Birch, p. 422.
  7. Birch, p. 388.
  8. Birch, p. 412.
  9. Brueggemann, p. 298.

New Beginnings

Though perhaps just a date on the calendar, each new year nonetheless brings both an invitation to reflect on the days behind as well as to explore the promise of the days ahead. How is it that we examine the course of events, the successes and failures of the year behind? And for that matter, what determines what is yet to come? The lens that we view this through is essential, as only one offers both freedom and assurance for our lives.

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? James 1:24

My mom was a perpetual optimistic. Certainly not because life had gifted her financially, or that everything in her life was in perfect symbiosis. But rather, she drew her optimism from a deep well, her trust in God. Her hope lay not that she would be given everything she may have wanted but that she would have everything that she needed. Moreover, she fully realized that while so much of life was beyond her control she knew the One who was.

“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:2-5

Not overcome..those two words really capture her life and that of so many of us in our walk of faith. For it isn’t that once we seek to follow Christ that we cease to experience sorrow or challenges. But when we do, we are given in Christ the strength and hope that he who overcame death will be with us in our greatest need. And against the backdrop of evil at work in the world, that light meets the darkness beginning quite often within us.

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become” CS Lewis

These new beginnings while sometimes seemingly small require a daily re-commitment  and dependence not on ourselves but on Christ alone. That is where so many of us go so wrong in making new resolutions for the year to come. While there is a part we play in our yes to God’s plan for our lives, we fool ourselves into thinking that the success or failure lays solely in our ability to follow through. For, God’s promise to us means far more than our prosperity in this world, or on a self-generating professed faith. If that were true than we would no longer need grace, or God’s guidance as we would see ourselves captains of our own ships in life.

Instead our hope must rest in our becoming who God created us to be and in what is trusted but remains unseen. We recognize it in those we encounter who the world might not measure up or deem successful who live faithfully, generously and intentionally with purpose. And, in them we see the light and life that is available to us all.  If only we are willing to enter in to the new year with trust in what God has in store.

Reflect:

Is there a new beginning needed in my life today? Where does my self worth and success lie?  What keeps me from trusting?

Peace,

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