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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples' Feet

Dirck van Baburen: Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet

Our Experience of Christ – Part II

Are you so stupid?  After beginning with the spirit are you now ending with the flesh?  Did you experience so many things in vain?  . . . Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of God.

Today’s lesson is a difficult one.  It asks us to exercise our faith.  It asks us to acknowledge and remember all of the times that we have been rescued.  It asks that we tell the story of our redemption.  It asks that we act in this belief that God is God, that God created us, that God loves us, and that God longs to hold us close.

O you stupid Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?

Who has talked us out of believing our own story?  Who has convinced us that Christ does not exist?  Who has persuaded us that a false story is better than the vibrant experience of Christ that we have lived?

We so frequently doubt and when we do there is only one remedy.  We must cast back through our lives to remember the many small and great ways that we have been rescued, the small and great ways that we have been loved.  When we do this . . . we will find it easier and more natural to act in faith as Paul asks us to do.  We will find that no one and no thing will ever bewitch us.  No one and no thing will ever lure us away from Christ.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer:

You led your people through the sea dry-shod: let us put our trust in you as you lead us through this day’s challenges.  We put our trust in you!

You fed them in the desert: let us hear your word of life amid the noise of our bust lives today. We put our trust in you!

You gave them water from the rock: let us drink from the fountain of life and not from bitter and polluted waters.  We put our trust in you!


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.4 (2010). Print.   

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirck_van_Baburen_-_Christ_Washing_the_Apostles_Feet_-_WGA1090.jpg


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Galatians 3:1-14

thebible-jesus-disciples-20130321Our Experience of Christ – Part I

Who has bewitched you?

We might ask ourselves this question a thousand times during the day and the answer is always the same.  It is our doubt, our lack of faith that clouds our vision.  Paul reminds us that our justification, or our salvation, comes “not through the law or works of the law but by faith in Christ and in his death . . . The gift of God’s spirit to the Galatians came from the Gospel received in faith, not from doing what the law enjoins”.  (Senior 297)  Paul appeals to our experience of Christ both in our daily lives and as we meet him in scripture, and he reminds us that while we might come close to Christ by observing the law, it is through faith that we are blessed and redeemed.  This was promised to Abraham and now – Paul reminds us – it is promised to the gentiles.

These new Christians in Galatia to whom Paul writes were former pagans and they were being encouraged by other missionaries to observe all Jewish law along with Christ’s law of love.  This even included circumcision. (Senior 293)  Having descended from the Celts who had invaded western and central Asia Minor three hundred years prior, the Galatians had little experience in discerning and living a relationship with one true creator who loves his creatures so much that he is willing to die for them.  We might find ourselves to be much like these Galatians.


 Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.293,297. Print.

First written on April 23, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite. 

Image from: http://btscelebs.com/2013/03/21/the-bible-mission-real-verse-jesus-christ-on-palm-sunday/


temple_priestMonday, May 3, 2021

Hebrews 4:14-16

High Priest

In some religious structures it is customary to regard a particular member of the community as a singular mediator between the creator and the created. “As a prestigious, elite class the priests were also expected to preserve the holiness of the sanctuary and the uniqueness of the people of Israel.  Therefore they were subject to added restrictions not incumbent upon the average Israelite. A priest was forbidden to officiate if he had a physical defect (Lev. 21:17-24), was ritually impure, was under the influence of alcohol, or had married a woman forbidden to a priest”. (Achtemeier 882)

Jesus comes to serve as high priest for all.  Jesus comes to us a priest who administers the Law of Love. Jesus comes to us as our brother and high priest to call each of us to unity in and through him.

In this Eastertide, let us consider how we respond to this holy call to peace and grace and love.


For more on the Biblical role and the history of the high priest, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/265328/high-priest or http://www.gotquestions.org/high-priest.html or http://biblehub.com/dictionary/h/high.htm

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 882. Print.


Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 2, 2021

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_Jésus)_-_James_Tissot

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Three Days

Matthew 15:32 – Jesus feeds thousands who have followed him for three days, hungering for The Word of God. The religious structure collected taxes and burned offerings. The broken-hearted and the displaced were not healed. The marginalized lived at the whim of those with power. There were no social safety nets and little compassion in this ancient society.

Matthew 12:40 – Jesus reminds us that just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish so too will the Son of Man pass three days and nights in the heart of the earth.  There is more safety in Jesus’ promise of salvation than any civil or economic structure.

Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus stands in silence before the Sanhedrin when he is accused of saying that he will rebuild in three days the destroyed temple that took decades to build. When Jesus finally replies that the Son of Man will be seen sitting at God’s right hand, the high priest rends his clothes.  Disbelief and scorn are typical reactions to the savior’s promise.

Matthew 27:39-40 – Those who pass by the crucified Jesus taunt him saying: You who are going to rebuild the temple in three days, save yourself!  Bullying and violence are too often the response to God’s promise of wholeness and newness in Christ.

Matthew 27:62-66 – A guard is established at Jesus’ tomb in order that his compatriots not steal the body and create a false story. “Take a guard,” Pilate says. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how”.  There is no power on earth that can withstand the force of God’s love.

In three days, Jesus rose from the depths of death just as he had promised.  And the miracle of this event is not only that Jesus has risen, but that he carries each of us with him into this new resurrection and new life. Let us give thanks today and all days. Alleluia!


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpg


magdalene at the tomb

Rembrandt van Rijn: Christ and Saint Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Presence

John records how Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body but us startled to find an empty tomb. Believing that the body has been stolen, she leaves quickly to alert Peter and John. When the apostles arrive, they find the funeral cloths that had wrapped Jesus’ body the previous evening but still they do not believe in the resurrection. They return home puzzled but Mary remains, weeping.

We are equally surprised by life and its turnings, just as Mary is surprised. We also grapple with the reality before us and struggle to understand the mystery that surrounds us. We also give in to our grief and miss the gift of God’s constant presence.

Two angels ask Mary why she cries, and she answers, describing her grief. Christ then appears and Mary mistakes him for the gardener until he speaks her name. He reminds her that he is going to the Father and he asks that she deliver this good news to the disciples. (John 20)

We are equally overcome by grief and frustration, just as Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. We also mistake the open door and the emptiness for nothingness. We overlook the risen Christ and instead we see an ordinary figure in our ordinary lives.

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Mark 16 and Luke 24) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. Let us consider the gift of our own resurrection. Let us give thanks for our extraordinary lives that we live in our ordinary way. And let us give thanks for the gift of God’s eternal presence.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_20:14

Luke 24: Absence


mary-and-friends-at-empty-tomb1Friday, April 30, 2021

Absence

Luke’s story of resurrection is longer and more involved than Matthew’s or Mark’s but again we see it is the women who go to the tomb to dress Jesus’ body. They are described as terrified, not of an earthquake, but of the unexpected absence of Jesus’ body. They take in this news delivered by two men in dazzling white who share words of peace, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee”. The facts are plain – Jesus is not in the tomb. The implications are enormous – Jesus’ resurrection will have changed their lives forever. They will never again see the world in the same way. They will never again see others in the same way. They will never again see the empty tomb in the same way. These early followers of Christ understand that everything has changed now that they have witnessed the Easter miracle. (Luke 24)

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Mark 16 and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we continue to live as before now that we have been offered the gift of resurrection? What do we change about our behavior now that we have seen the risen Christ? How do we respond to God’s call for us to live in newness . . . now that we have experienced the fullness of the empty tomb?

Tomorrow, the story as told by John.


Image from: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/04/women-at-the-tomb-weak-evidence-for-the-resurrection/


empty tomb 2Thursday, April 29, 2021

Rolling Back the Stone

In Mark’s Gospel it is Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome who bring spices to anoint the dead body as they discuss how they will find help to roll back the heavy stone. Their concern shifts to another matter when they see that the tomb stands open . . . and empty. When they enter the tomb the angel, a young man clothed in a white robe, says to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised and he is not here”. Despite these words, Mark tells us, they were afraid. (Mark 16)

If we spend time today with this and the other resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Luke 24, and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded here for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we react when we discover that the stone has already been moved from the tomb? How do we share this experience of the empty burial place? How do we respond to the words that we need not be afraid?

Tomorrow, the story as told by Luke.


Image from: http://www.livingwithfaith.org/blog/who-was-the-other-mary-at-the-tomb

Matthew 28: More


empty tombWednesday, April 28, 2021

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the description of an angel descending with the rumble of an earthquake as Mary Magdalene “and the other Mary” approach the tomb. The women are frightened and the guards “were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men”.

The angel utters the amazing words: Do not be afraid. He is not here. He is risen and gone to Galilee before you.

The women quickly leave the tomb and encounter the risen Christ on their way to deliver the surprising, but wonderful news to the other disciples. The words of peace are repeated: Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. The guards accept a bribe and circulate the story of how Jesus’ followers stole the prophet’s body. (Matthew 28)

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we approach the tomb we believe to be empty? Who greets us? How do we react to these words?  How do we share this story of good news with others?

Tomorrow, the story as told by Mark.


Image from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nZuhnTzJrE


Matthais Stom: Supper at Emmaus

Matthais Stom: Supper at Emmaus

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Luke 24:33-49

If we want to acknowledge the gift of God’s presence in our lives, let us first give thanks.

If we want to fully participate in the resurrection journey, let us first give thanks.

If we want the full impact of our own Emmaus experience, let us first give thanks.

If we want to share in God’s Easter hope, let us first give thanks.

If we want to share in God’s Easter joy, let us first give thanks.

And as we give thanks . . . let each of us become witnesses to the story we know to be true.  The story of God’s great love for all of creation, the story of  God’s plan for the salvation of the world.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Le_repas_d%27Emma%C3%BCs_by_Matthias_Stom.jpg

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