Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2016


Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part III

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Expulsion of the Money-Changers from the Temple

We have heard Jesus’ call to our best selves. We have heard the voice describing the hope placed in humankind. We have felt the presence of the Spirit that longs to live in love in every heart.

How do the wise of Jesus’ day react to this startling good news?

As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage. They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth. (THE MESSAGE)

How do those Jesus challenges react?

Lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth, that they might accuse him. (DOUAY-RHEIMS AMERICAN)

How does our own generation respond to Jesus’ call?

When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (NRSV)

How do we today return the enormous love that are given?

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things, trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

How do we open our ears and eyes, minds and hearts to God’s loving Word?

When we compare varying translations of these verses using the scripture link and drop-down menus, we find The Word speaks to our own generation just as he spoke to his own.

Read Full Post »


Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part II

Friday, October 21, 2016key-of-knowledge

We are spending time with Jesus’ words, reflecting on his audience to determine if we are the hopeless scholars or the marginalized flock.

Jesus says: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled from the time earth began until now, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was struck down between altar and sanctuary, is on your heads. Yes, it’s on the bill of this generation and this generation will pay.

What is the bill Jesus tells us is coming due? Who are the prophets whose blood we willingly shed? What is the price we told we will pay?

God says: This bill my son speaks of rises from the lack of action when my sheep are lost and hungry, naked and without shelter. These sheep are the gentle prophets whose presence and truth are too often ignored. The price to be paid is a heavy one. This is why I awake you each morning with a gentle touch to ask you to follow my son. This is why I rock you to sleep each night wrapped in the arms of my Spirit.

Jesus says: You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.

What is the key of knowledge that Jesus points out to us here? What door have we shut and why have we shut it? Who are the others whose entry we refuse?

God says: The key of knowledge is my invitation to enter the Kingdom I create for you. The key is my loving presence that longs to love more than you can imagine. I am saddened when you cast off my presence as coincidence or karma. When you discourage others from believing in me you shut the door to t his kingdom. When you call others as I call you, you open windows and doors.  

Today we consider the bill. Tomorrow, the bill comes due.

For more on the key of knowledge, visit: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/11-52.htm

 

Read Full Post »


Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part I

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Jesus tells his own generation – and he tells us – that an accounting will be taken.

You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. (THE MESSAGE)

Jesus reminds his neighbors – and he reminds us – that our deeds must match our words.

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

Jesus calls the leaders of his day – and he calls ours – to rise to a level that befits their office.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. (NRSV)

Jesus asks the people of his day – and he asks us – to live as he lives, hope as he hopes, and love as he loves.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. (KJV)

Jesus says to those who will listen – and he says to us – that we must put aside false pretense, we must filter out the noise, and we must cling to all that is good, and whole and holy. Jesus speaks to his generation and he speaks to us. We know what happens to his contemporaries. Do we know what will happen to us?

Tomorrow, the audience.

Using the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we might compare various translations of these verses to better hear The Word.

In the image above, we see the young Jesus taking his place among Temple scholars. Veronese depicts these early leaders as Renaissance Italian courtiers. How would we describe this scene in our own day? 

Read Full Post »


Exodus 3: Fire in the Desert

Wednesday, October 19, 201604-chaz-russo

The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

There are times in our lives when we experience an event that stuns us, when the impossible appears to be possible.

The angel of God appeared to Moses in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. 

There are times in our days when we know that the power of God buoys us, times in our nights when the Spirit of God heals and comforts us.

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

When we meet the impossible made possible, do we credit coincidence or chance before we credit our loving God with our rescue?

God says: I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey.

burning_bushWhen we hear God’s call to act as prophet, do we assume we are incapable or do we trust God’s plan to see us through?

Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

When we feel Christ’s presence in the dangerous moments of our lives, do we rise with hope or disappear in fear?

I’ll be with you, God says. And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.

When we hear the call to follow God’s heart, do we put aside our fears to follow? Do we dare to believe that a bush might burn in the desert and never disintegrate into ash?

 

Read Full Post »


1 Samuel 13The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part II

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

King Saul

King Saul

The fire of battle is a familiar setting for scripture stories and for our own lives as well. Whether the skirmishes are physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, blood of one kind or another is constantly spilled.  Misery seems to be a constant human companion and because of this we may begin to think that God is not present as we suffer.  But in this thinking we will not be correct, for God is always present, even when circumstances are bleakest.

We generally consider the fires of life to be destructive but today’s Gospel brings us another perspective (Luke 12:49-53).  Jesus says: I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!  What are to make these words uttered by the Lamb of God who constantly speaks of unity and peace?  What can he possibly mean when he asks: Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  What Jesus is speaking of here is the fact that when we are acting in the Gospel, when we are true disciples of Christ, there will be friction and even conflagration.  There will be destruction; yet this destruction will be an opportunity for new building.

Catherine of Siena has this insight to today’s Gospel when she describes how we become alight with the fire of self-knowledge, the fire of Christ: The soul’s being united with him and transformed into him is like fire consuming the dampness in logs.  Once the logs are heated through and through, the fire burns and changes them into itself, giving them its own color and warmth and power.  It is just so with the Creator . . . We begin to experience the heat of self-knowledge- which consumes all the dampness of our selfish love for ourselves.  As the heat increases, we throw ourselves with blazing desire into God’s measureless goodness, which we discover within our very selves.  (Cameron 312)

What we see in yesterday’s and today’s Noontime reading is Saul allowing the dampness to consume him rather that the fire of the heat of self-knowledge.  Many of us back away from self-examination because we do not want to face the demon within. What Christ tells us, and what Catherine of Sienna clarifies for us, is that without Christ’s fire of self-knowledge we too, are lost because it is this very conflagration that purifies and binds.  It is this fire that transforms.  It is the blaze which makes us new again.

Tomorrow, fire in the desert. 

For more on King Saul, click on the image above or visit: http://www.bible-people.info/Saul.htm

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 22.10 (2009): 312. Print.

 

Read Full Post »


1 Samuel 13: The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part I

Monday, October 17, 2016

Benjamin west: Saul and the Witch of Endor

Benjamin West: Saul and the Witch of Endor

As the political season heats up in the U.S., we consider this important story from one of our oldest scriptures.

This is the portion of the Samuel story in which we watch Saul move away from God to begin his long slide into darkness.  This downward movement happens because he presumes to know best.  Saul takes action on his own without waiting for Samuel, who is designated by God as the judge/leader, to offer sacrifice before battle.  Although his son Jonathan and the rest of Saul’s troops have immediate success, Saul himself is eventually lost.  He becomes paranoid about his fear of David (1 Samuel 18) and forces David to flee the court (1 Samuel 19).  He allows his fears to overtake him as when he orders the priest of Nob to be slaughtered (1 Samuel 22) and continues his frenetic search for David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23).  In his panic he consults with a seer in Endor (1 Samuel 28); and finally he meets his dreadful end (1 Samuel 31) along with his beloved son Jonathon.  This is a sad ending for a man who had shown such promise but who, in the end, did not trust God.  Today we see the beginning of Saul’s long and terrible journey into the dark.  Unwilling to admit his errors or to seek pardon, Saul gives himself over to the fantastical thinking that he knows better than God . . . that he can do without God.  He sees his troops slithering away before the battle and, thinking that he will keep them from leaving, he steps in to intervene – countering God’s plan.

Today we reflect on Saul’s story and examine our motivations to see if the fire of self-knowledge threatens to consume us. Tomorrow, the fire of battle. Do our conflicts help us to know ourselves better? Or do they send us further into deception and denial? 

Read Full Post »


John 12:44-50: Light

Sunday, October 16, 2016

the starry night

We are made in God’s image in a glorious diversity of structure and personality. Today we hear the words of Jesus describing himself as Light to the WorldIn God’s image, we are called into life both individually and collectively to be that light as well.  We have our instruction, it seems, and they are simple.  We are made to be planted beside one another, warts and all, to agree on the Gospel story, to allow God to hone the rough edges from our exterior, and to open our hearts to the possibility of being Light and Hope and Love.  There is no greater calling.

In our familiar creation story we are told of the gift of life itself. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that we are named, loved and called.  For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.  I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me.  It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun men may know that there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, there is no other.  I form the light and create the darkness, I make well-being and create we; I, the Lord, do all these things.  Isaiah 45:4-7

Paul writes to the Colossians and he writes to us. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Colossians 1:12-18 Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. Colossians 3:9-10

Christ himself calls us to set the world ablaze with our fervor for our mission in him.  Jesus said to his disciples [to us], “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Luke 12:49

And as we reflect, we pray.

lightinthedarkness_mediaplayerimageWe are created in light to bring light to the world. Let us never doubt the Creator’s strength and wisdom, and let us call on God for help when we feel the darkness too close around us.

We are made in God’s own image as sisters and brothers of Christ. Let us always rely on Jesus’ love and compassion when we are overcome by the worries of the world.

We are made in love to bring love to the world. Let us forever depend on the healing presence of the Spirit when we are wounded or betrayed.

May Jesus Christ be always our way, our truth, our life and our light.  Amen.  

When we use the scripture links to explore other translations of these verses, we encounter the wisdom and life, the truth and light we seek.

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 23, 2008. 

For another reflection on the meaning of Christ’s light in the world’s darkness, click on the image of the universe above or visit: http://cribandcross.org/the-light-in-the-darkness/

Read Full Post »


Ezra 6:18-22: Marvels – Part II

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Model of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem

Model of the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem

We are living through another of those cycles in which some of us believe that not only are they beyond any human measure, they are beyond the need of divine marvels as well.  We might look at these modern-day versions of corruption and believe ourselves removed.  We may look at the Israelites of Ezra’s day who return to their burned out city to work for its restoration and think that we would not have erred as they did.  We watch as they promise that never again will they forget the gift of Passover which they have received, and we will also watch as we read the New Testament story in Luke 13:10-17 as we see the leader of the synagogue complain because Jesus cures a woman on the Sabbath.  On that day the whole crowd rejoiced at the splendid deeds done by him.

As humans, we easily forget our pattern of looking out for self rather than the group.  We place ourselves beyond the norm and sometimes attribute gifts to ourselves which rightly belong to God.  When we read about these exiles, we know that these Levites will centuries later have fallen into the same corruption for which this tribe now repents.  Reflecting on all of this we see that the best safety and surety we can seek is not the amount of money or power we can amass.  Our comfort and our state of mind cannot be assured by anything we ourselves command or control.  Our cleanliness and lack of corruption do not stem from any rituals we perform or any friends we might have; but rather . . . we sleep peacefully, we work willingly, we play joyfully and we love openly when we remember well the marvels the Lord has done for us. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2009.

Read Full Post »


Ezra 6:18-22: Marvels – Part I

Friday, October 14, 2016ps-126-5

It must have seemed unreal to the Israelites – after praying for years – to not only return to Jerusalem but also to receive safe passage and assistance from the dynasty which had first overtaken them and then carried them into exile.  The people who had been in darkness were finally seeing a light; the tears they had sown in mourning were about to be harvested in joy.  The dream expressed in Psalm 126 was finally arriving in full force: The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the torrents in the southern desert.  Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing . . . The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves . . . The Lord has done marvels for us.

I recently saw a documentary about the men of Wall Street who in the 1920’s first initiated revenue pools with which they manipulated the markets to make exorbitant profits at the expense of small investors.  These wild and risky patterns once unleashed and initially controlled became – as these things always do – beyond all human control.  Ruin and devastation were the result.  What struck me about the information presented was the outcome for two men: one – the original founder of GM – was one who of those really thought that they were in control of the markets.  When he came into NY from his home, the police made certain that all the traffic lights stayed green so that his car would not have to pause on his way to the Exchange.  Everyone was poised to do his bidding and it was perhaps this fawning and deference that deceived him rather than his own pride.  This man ended in complete ruin, still trying to begin a number of small businesses, hoping to “get his game back”.  This man had not seen that his initial success was not his own.  He did not understand that The Lord has done marvels for us. 

A second man was featured who was able to avoid the bursting of the bubble by not only conserving his crookedly gotten treasure but by becoming even wealthier as the world around him collapsed.  But this did not assure his comfort or safety.  Rules were put into place to prevent the gaming of the market and this man became so despondent at the lack of risk and danger in his daily routine that although he died with a mass of money stored up . . . he died at his own hands in a bathroom.  He did not realize that The Lord has done marvels for us.

Tomorrow, splendid deeds. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2009.

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: