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Archive for August 23rd, 2016


Sirach 32: 1 -13At the Table

Tuesday, August 23, 2016heavenly banquet

I continue to love the words of this writer – they are so to the point and true!  Knowing that the table where meals are shared is an important part of both ancient and modern life, the images here of people sharing food are as apt today as they were when they were written.  Food, one of the most basic of life’s necessities, is such an essential part of living that we put down our animosities regarding one another in order to bring in the harvest, and to share space and time in one another’s company.  Today’s Noontime gives us the opportunity to reflect on the most sacred of all meals – the Eucharist.  What a great and wonderful gift is this that Christ comes to us to share his physical presence with us and to sustain us in our journey here on earth.  Jesus Ben Sirach tells us how we are to come to the table, how we are to behave, what we might expect.

Take care of guests before sitting down yourself . . .

Temper your wisdom when you speak, do not be too puffed up and self-important . . .

Be aware of how much wine you are drinking and its effects upon you . . .

Be brief and be concise when speaking; observe and listen more than you speak . . .

Leave when it is time to go being certain to not out-stay your welcome . . .

As I reflect on all of this I realize that this is how we ought to come to every gathering.  We need to take ourselves seriously – but not overly so.  We need to enjoy ourselves – but not overly so.  We need to recognize ourselves in one other without losing our own identity.  We must remember always that just as we are temples of the living God, so is everyone else around the table.

communionEarly humans must have always been on the hunt for food; mealtimes where memories, songs, jokes and profound ideas might be shared were surely a luxury.  How blessed are we to have the gift of leisure that we can spend an hour or two each day with family, friends and colleagues to bare our souls, share concerns, to laugh, to question, even to cry, as we share a meal.  How blessed are we to have a God who wishes to share a banquet with us daily as he delivers the gift of himself for us to use as we will.

I have always cherished the time spent at the table with those I love.  What is more difficult is to sit at the table with those who have announced that they are our enemies and yet when we truly believe that Christ is present when we come together, what is there to fear?  If we can come together to celebrate the Eucharist – the gift of Christ himself to us – then let us also come together in amity to journey through our days together helping, abiding, remaining in Christ before all else.  When Christ is seated at the table, no weapons or defense or offense are needed.  We only need bring ourselves and our own humble gifts.

A Favorite from August 25, 2009.

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John 11The Death of Lazarus

Wednesday, August 24, 2016Lazarus

A Favorite from August 28, 2009.

This is a bittersweet story if we believe in the resurrection.  Each time I read it, I linger over verse 35: Jesus wept.  As a child I believed that the Christ wept because his good friend had died.  As I grew older I believed he mourned the fact that he knew he was calling this friend back from a beatific place.  Now when I read this verse it seems to me that Christ cries out of his humanity; he cries at the tragedy of our human fragility.  As I continue to grow I am guessing that I will have other perspectives, other reasons for Jesus’ tears.  This is what is so wonderful about the message of the Messiah: each time we read it, we come away with something new, something surprising, something healing.  This is why, I believe, God came to walk among us . . . so that we might number our sorrows with his.  When we cry out to God, he can honestly tell us that he experiences our pain.

There is another point which always intrigues me about this story.  Hard on its heels arrives the story of the plot to kill Jesus.  I am always struck with the vigor of the jealousy and venom of his enemies.  Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council and said, “What are we to do?  This man is performing miracles, many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy the holy place and our nation”.  This narrative continues to verses 53 and 54: So from that day on they planned to put him to death.  Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews.  And this chapter ends with . . . Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him. 

When I put myself into this story, I wonder where I would fall.  Am I among the Pharisees, the priests, the followers who report Jesus?  Am I one who succumbs to jealousy and revenge?  Am I one who believes and follows?  Do I understand that the “death” of Lazarus is really the initiation rite of his new life?  Am I willing to enter into the hope God offers us when he frees us in the person of Jesus?  Do I comprehend the joy I might experience when I unite with the Holy Spirit to carry the message of freedom to others?  Am I willing to accept surprise in my life?  Am I willing to hand myself over to a belief in something I cannot see?  Am I ready to accept a new way of living?

There is much newness to think about as we read this old story.  What appears to be death might actually be life.  What seems to the end of a story, may actually be the beginning.  What is apparently a handing over of self in obedience can be a surprising release into a full liberty of expression.  We will only know when we choose to follow.

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