Archive for February, 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 – Luke 6:12-16 – Going Out to the Mountain

Written on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Now during those days, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray . . .

This is something to linger with as we begin the season of Lent today, a season in which we traditionally spend much quiet time reflecting on how we might change the way in which we approach life.  On Ash Wednesday, Christians mark their foreheads with the ashes from the previous year’s palms as a sign of their willingness to examine themselves and their habits.  Today in our school prayer service we began to look at this season as a pilgrimage we choose to make much like the one made by one of our fellow teachers last summer in northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago.  As pilgrims move along the specified route they must look for kilometer markers and yellow arrows that point the way and designate distance.  As we watched the video that documented her journey, we could see that some Santiago markers – and the roadway – were obvious and easy to follow.  At other times however, the arrows were barely visible and the path bifurcated, creating doubt about which course was the proper one to follow. 

The Camino de Santiago winds through forests and fields, it scuttles alongside and across streams, it climbs hills and falls into valleys, it twists through back yards and front yards.  Cows, horses, cats, dogs and sheep greet pilgrims; wild flowers and stands of tall trees appear as signs of God’s presence for those who are willing to see them.  And all the while the pilgrim relies not only on the markers for guidance but also on the people who play and work along the way.  The pilgrim must trust God, must trust those who live along the route and know its intricacies, and ultimately the pilgrim trusts his or her instincts to determine the way ahead.  This way is often confusing for sometimes the path is invisible . . . just as in life.

Los caminos de Santiago

In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people made an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Passover season to atone, to worship and to reconnect with God.  It was on one of these journeys that Jesus’ family inadvertently left him behind in the temple.  In today’s Noontime we watch Jesus make a small pilgrimage to the mountain to spend time with God before he chooses the twelve who will journey with him to his own crucifixion and resurrection.  We see Jesus ask for and then take counsel – just as any of us must – when he understands that the way ahead will be difficult and unclear.  

Even the Christ who is divine knows that he must connect with the creator before moving forward.  Even Jesus, the son of the divine, understands that he must go out to the mountain – a traditional place where one meets God – to petition and receive grace for the journey and food for the road. 

As we enter into Lent today, let us determine to out to the mountain before we begin our homeward passage.  Let us examine what we will want to change and how.  And let us rely on God alone to provide us with guiding markers in a world full of paths that twist and turn into the unknown.

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Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2012 – 2 Peter 2 – Waterless Springs

“This letter can be appreciated both for its positive teachings and for its earnest warnings.  It seeks to strengthen readers in faith (1, 1), hope for the future (3, 1-10), knowledge (1, 2.6.8), love (1, 7), and other virtues (1, 5-6).  This aim is carried out especially by warning against false teachers, the condemnation of whom occupies the long central section of the letter (2, 1-22)”.  (Senior 382)

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings.  We all know people who do not fear cursing God and goodness. 2 Peter tells us how to cope with these false teachers.

But these people, like irrational animals born by nature for capture and destruction, revile things that they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrongs as payment for wrongdoing.   We have seen this familiar story often in scripture, in Esther, in Genesis, in Exodus, in Judith.  Those who lie on couches plotting the downfall of others will be brought down by their own plot. 2 Peter reminds how to deal with corruption and destruction in our own lives. 

These people are waterless springs and mists driven by a gale; for them the gloom of darkness has been reserved.  Waters that do not quench and dew that does not nurture.  We have all felt the effect of poor leadership.  We have all been caught up in the whirlwind of an escalating calamity. 2 Peter teaches us how to withstand the storm.

They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him.   Last week we reflected on what it means to be slaves for Christ.  How much better it is to enslave ourselves to the light than to the dark.  2 Peter calls us to enslave ourselves to the one who teaches patiently, forgivingly, and gently. 

2 Peter gives us an open door to the season of Lent and its promise of transformation.  Let us spend some time with these verses today and ponder . . .

When have I been a poor leader and a false teacher?

When have I been a slow follower and an obstructer of truth?

When have I enslaved myself to my little gods and turned away from the Living God?

When have a promised sustenance and delivered dust?

When have I been given the opportunity to encourage and animate flagging souls only to gossip and add to a fire already out of control?

This is the Lenten time, a time of promise and a time of change.  It is a time of transformation and a time of growth.  It is a time of contrition and a time of salvation.

And so we pray . . .

Patient and forgiving God, we come to you today on this first day of Lent and we bow our heads to receive the ash that reminds us to rise in new birth from the ashes of an old self.  We move toward you today on this Ash Wednesday and we fold our hands in supplication to you, asking for the courage to shed old, false habits in order to take on the new.  We arrive at this place before you today and we ask that you send us your counsel and wisdom as we search ourselves and prepare a room for you.  Teach us how to be teachers of truth.   Love us into being lovers of good.  Call us always back to you no matter how often or how far we stray.  Amen. 

 For more on 2 Peter, see the 2 Peter – Passion page on this blog. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.382. Print.   

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012 – The Lenten Season – In the forty days preceding Easter we are offered a season of promise.  We are offered a time of choices.  We are given the opportunity to encounter God within us in a special way. 

The path of wisdom and peace we seek has many characters.  Some of us best find God through nature, others through individual or communal prayer.  And some of us discover our true spiritual potential through study of and reflection on scripture. 

This quick poll is designed to nudge us into thinking about how we will make this journey to resurrection.

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From time to time we will post new pages to the A BOOK OF OUR LIFE tab above.  These posts can be used as a way to better understand a particular Book in the Bible; and they can also be used as a challenge to each us to enact scripture in our own lives.  We always hold before us the thought that . . . the only Bible some folks will read will be the book of our own lives. 

Wishing you peace as we near the Lenten season, a time of deep reflection when we prepare to meet Christ in a life-changing way.

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