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This was the reflection I read today and I think it is beautiful, and Truth.

One might ask: How was it possible that Christ could be put to death, one who never sought his own advantage? How is it possible that any power or person could come into collision with him?

Answer: It was precisely for this reason that he was put to death. This is why the lowly and the powerful were equally exasperated by him, for every one of them was seeking his own advantage and wanted him to show solidarity with them in selfishness. He was crucified precisely because he was love, that is, because he refused to be selfish.

He was as much of an offense to the powerful as to the lowly. He did not belong to any party, but wished to be what he was, namely, the Truth and to be that in love.

Soren Kierkegaard, in Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author.

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He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,

But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.
(Isaiah 53:3-5)

Sometimes I wonder if I’d been alive when Jesus was active, would I have followed Him … believed Him?

Would I have been one of the many disciples who traveled with Him, one of the women who provided for them?

If not traveling with Him, would I have at least gone out to hear Him when He was close by? Would I have heard the sermon on the mount? Would I have seen Him heal someone? Would I have sat on the shores of Galilee and listened to His words? As much as my heart soars reading those accounts 2,000 years later … how much more hearing them in person?

At the very least, would I have come out to meet Him as He entered Jerusalem, laying down palms and crying out to honor Him?

Or would I have been one who saw Him and looked away? Would I have thought He was afflicted by God?

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In this place

Who is left among you
who saw this house in its former glory?

And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?

Now be strong, … and work! For I am with you.

Greater will be the glory of this house
the latter more than the former—says the LORD of hosts;
And in this place I will give you peace
(Haggai 2:3-4, 9)

This immediately struck me as being about me. My life is “this house” and I formerly saw myself as pretty glorious. I had a lot of self-confidence, thinking I was very smart, talented and strong. I didn’t really need anyone, I could do what I wanted and make things happen on my own.

Ah, how time has changed my perspective!  Looking back, the things I saw as “my glory” don’t seem so impressive any more. I realize, now, that I’m not so smart, not so talented, not so strong. Those aren’t traits that I value greatly, now, and I know in retrospect that I used to be quite afraid most of the time, and often angry.

God promises He is with us, even as he tells us to be strong and to work! And I do see a more glorious house being built within me, better than the former and more valuable in my eyes, and His.

I have more work to do, for sure. But in THIS place, He has given me peace.

 

 

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12 Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.

13 Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God,
For he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting in punishment.

14 Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind a blessing
(Joel Chapter 2)

I love this passage and its focus on God’s continuous invitation to us, along with His great mercy. The passage indicates a whole-hearted turning toward Him, not simply a temporary entreaty seeking “a thing” from Him and then turning back away.

The last line is what is sticking with me the most this morning: “Perhaps he will relent and leave behind a blessing.”

Initially we think He will leave behind a blessing FOR us in the form of some good gift. And that certainly may be the case.

But also, it’s possible that the blessing He leaves behind IS “us” as new creations with new hearts and a new dedication to offering mercy to others.

LORD, help me to be merciful; teach me; use me to be a blessing to others. Amen.

 

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This is part of a reflection written by Fr. Jerome Kodell, OSB. It is something I’ve been learning and love how clearly he expressed it!

“When I returned from graduate studies many years ago, my time was taken up by many things: preparing and teaching classes, researching, working on special projects. I was very busy and I hated to be interrupted while I was working or on the trail of some exciting idea.

I thought all was going well until my spiritual director said, ‘Yes, you’re doing very well, except for one thing.’

“What’s that,” I asked, startled and ready to be offended.

“When someone wants to talk to you, you’re too busy. ‘Not right now. See me later.’ That’s Christ trying to get a minute of your time. You’re putting him off, but he wants to make your time his time.”

That got my attention, and I could see it was true. But how do I change that pattern? “That’s easy,” he said. “When someone interrupts you with a knock on the door or a telephone ring, instead of frowning at the interruption, before you answer say to yourself, ‘I wonder what Christ looks like this time; I wonder what Christ sounds like this time.'”

It is a little thing, but it makes all the difference.

I wonder what Christ will look like today?  🙂

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“You can pray for him, if you want.”

Words from a dear one, tentatively reaching out for prayer. Raised in the church but long absent, a trial faces him that makes him sad and afraid.

And so I pray for them all: healing for the one, and that God would stir their hearts and help them turn to Him in prayer themselves; that they would learn to trust God and grow in love for Him.

This is my deepest desire for all of my loved ones – that they seek Him, know Him, love Him. I hope and pray this for THEIR sake and for His. It is the most wonderful thing I could hope for anyone; it is my own greatest treasure and who doesn’t want the best treasures for the people they love the most?

A week later, a text: “Positive thoughts and good wishes worked! He is cancer-free, and there is no tumor at all!”

My heart sinks just a little. Of course I’m thrilled at the news; it is wonderful! But just as it’s human nature to think of God when we are in distress, it’s also human nature to forget Him when things go our way. Good wishes? Thoughts? Where is God in this?

He is where He always is – dwelling within us, waiting, inviting, working in good times and in bad to draw our hearts toward Him. From the cross He declared: “I thirst.”

He thirsts for each and every single soul.

I pray we respond, for our own sake and for His glory.

Love is waiting.

 

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I have been pondering God’s presence within me. In her book He and I, Gabrielle Bossis relayed these words from Jesus to her: “Perhaps I created you only to console Me and to give Me a refuge in your heart where you sing Me the hymn of love. Why shouldn’t I have a home on earth? Must I still have no stone on which to rest my head?”

The first part filled my heart; the second made it ache. I find myself deeply desiring to console Him.

What space do I give Him interiorly? Of what quality is it? Is it a place of rest for Him, a protective and healing refuge?

Psalm 132 relates David’s desire is to build a house for the LORD:

I will not enter the house where I dwell, nor go to bed where I rest;
I will give no sleep to my eyes, to my eyelids I will give no slumber,
till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Strong One of Jacob.

David was thinking of building a temple. I am thinking of a spiritual temple: Where does the LORD dwell? In our hearts. So how do I go about building a dwelling place for the LORD?

That is a huge question and there are a myriad of tangents to consider. However, one lesson I’ve been learning over the years is the balance of “boldly approaching the throne of Grace” to bring our needs before God, vs. using God as a sort of Santa Claus with our own expectations of how He ought to respond.

In a reflection on the gospel story of Jesus cleansing the temple, Meister Eckhart addressed this very thing. He wrote: “As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God … Expect and ask nothing in return. Then the merchant inside you will be driven out of the temple God has made …

“…observe that when all was cleared, there was nobody left but Jesus. And when he is alone he is able to speak in the temple of the soul.”

My soul.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.
(Psalm 51:12)

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