Archive for May, 2018

John 14:6: The Life

Thursday, May 31, 2018

We know that Jesus is The Way. We know that Jesus is the Truth. Today we reflect on Jesus as Life, now and eternally.

Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. (GNT)

What do we know about the life of the next world? Jesus has returned to invite us to join him. The miracle is that even now we might live this life as John testifies to us: This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11) If only we might believe in Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (NRSV)

What do we share with others regarding our belief? Jesus assures us that despite what we see around us, all is well. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:34) If only we might hope in Christ.

Yeshua said, “I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.  (CJB)

How do we behave in the world with others? Jesus reminds us that it is easy to get along with our friends but difficult to relate to our enemies. If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (Luke 6:32) If only we might love in Christ.

Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. (MSG)

How do we represent Christ and his gift of Life to the world? Jesus calls us to work in the vineyard of his love. What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands. (Luke 10:2) If only we might act in Christ.

God is among us, bringing the joy of resurrection to all who will listen. Jesus is with us, healing and calling. The Spirit is upon us, offering the only life that matters, Life in Christ.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we experience the light and truth in this message. We find The Way. 

Images from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/the-resurrection-of-jesus-bible-story.html 

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John 18:37: Testifying to the Truth

Ivan Glazunov: Jesus Before Pilate

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Jesus said to Pilate: For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

We might also ask the same question.

God says: You argue and struggle with one another, scuttling back and forth to determine the truth about circumstances that surround and affect you. You lie and deceive, plotting with and against one another to create falsehoods that bring division. You speak up and witness to untruth. You support and rejoice in the light and life of Christ, celebrating his essence as the foundation on which to stand.

These are the scenarios we see before us, bringing us choice and – perhaps – confusion. After cautious consideration, we ask ourselves: Do we believe that we are born to testify to the truth? When we listen, do we tune our ears to discern reality? When we speak, do we rely on God for the words we will use? When we act, do we personify authenticity? Do we operate in the dark or the light? Do we exclude or include? Do we allow God to convert all harm to good? Do we work in joyful hope for the goodness of God’s kingdom?

God says: You know how to discern Christ’s truth. You know how to act in the truth. You are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) If Pilate were to ask you today what truth is, would you tell him? If Jesus stands before you today, will you walk with him? If I speak to you when you are lost in the darkness, will you pause to hear my Word so that you might live in the truth? And might you share this wonderful truth with others? 

Image from: https://stjohnscathedral.ca/2013/03/28/worship-for-holy-week/jesus-before-pilate-glazunov/ 


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Carlo Crivelli: Saint Stephan

Acts 7Discourse of Truth

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

We continue to reflect on the truth as Jesus describes it, the truth as Jesus enacts it. The following is a Favorite from November 9, 2010.

And then the high priest asked him, “Are these things so?”

If we were called to witness to the power structure; if we were asked: “Are these things so?”  What would we reply?  Some of us can imagine ourselves as brave witnesses; others of us know that we would have difficulty standing before our community to declaim the truth.

The story of power in scripture is about how it corrupts; it is also about how small and seemingly insignificant people gather courage to deliver a discourse of truth to an authority who wishes to control even the small details of lives.

Stephen takes to heart Christ’s admonition that we ought not worry about what to say or how to say it.  (Matthew 10:19)  He is so full of a light that pierces the darkness and reveals that which the power structure wishes to hide . . . that he is finally silenced with an angry stoning.

We may or may not be called to put our lives on the line in a physical way, but even so, we must be willing to speak out truth that does not coincide with or support in any way the false story woven by others – even if these others are our loved ones, our employers, or our popular heroes and heroines.

There is a fine difference between empowering and enabling others.  The official in today’s reading does not want the crowd to hear Stephen’s words of salvation . . . because then the crowd will stop paying tithes and bringing offerings.  Rather than accept responsibility for his own part in the decay and collusion, the priest questions the messenger: Are these things so?”

When we find that our discourse of truth brings howls of objection from the authority that stands above us, ready to wield the first stone . . . then we will know that we have touched a raw nerve.  Are these things so?”

And when the angry mob comes against us, may we be as ready as Stephen to say: Lord, do not hold this sin against them. 

Tomorrow, testifying to the truth. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen

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2 Chronicles 18:14 – 27: Ignoring Truth

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Books of Chronicles, Samuel, Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah all record the events of the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Israel from its founding with Saul and David through to the Babylonian Exile. The point on the timeline where we find today’s reading is after the ten northern tribes secede to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel, leaving the two southern tribes to form the remnant Southern Kingdom of Judah with the old capital of Jerusalem. Today’s confrontation between king and prophet takes place just after the division of the kingdom and just before the death of Ahab. The Chronicler writes with a particular emphasis on Yahweh’s fidelity to the faithful – even when the faithful turn away and fall to worshiping idols. The writer wants the people to remember their heritage, to remember that they would be successful as a nation only if they were faithful to the covenant they had with God, and to remember that truth has a way of revealing itself.

Ahab and his wife Jezebel hunt down prophets to exterminate them; they cannot withstand the truth their own seers bring to them. As we recall from our reflection on Naboth’s Vineyard, we know that Ahab and Jezebel use any means to take what is not theirs. They lie, bribe, coerce, plot, scheme, and murder. And with all their attempts to ignore and hide the truth, they end their days in violence that kicks back on them. They suffer the consequences they have wished on others.

It is with a certain amount of irony that we hear Ahab say, “When you speak to me in the name of the Lord, tell the truth! How many times do I have to tell you that?” Ahab and Jezebel lie, believing they can bend reality to their will. They scheme, believing they control the universe. They bribe and suborn, believing they hold ultimate power.

King pits himself against Prophet . . . Ahab versus Micaiah . . . deceit in competition with light . . . damnation against resurrection. We remind ourselves that when we turn away from a truth we do not want to hear, we take our first step onto a path of sure destruction. If we twist and spin truth to fit our perspective, we walk away from the very lesson that will bring us redemption, union, and happiness.

This is the lesson of the prophets, that when we ignore truth, we only postpone the lessons we come to this world to learn. When we avoid truth, we refuse to walk the way of resurrection and light.

Adapted from thoughts recorded on February 25, 2007.

Image from: https://www.business2community.com/branding/using-social-listening-discover-truth-brand-01051545 

Reprise the story of Naboth’s Vineyard on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/08/26/naboths-vineyard/

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Ezekiel 16: I am the Truth

Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018

It is best to read this prophecy with a commentary since some of the history and references can be confusing; but the most striking element in chapter 16 is the fact the revelation that all the actions we believe we do in the dark will come eventually come to the light. All is ultimately revealed.

Here we see how Israel turns away from Yahweh to play the harlot with pagan nations. Worse than a prostitute, she does not take payment, but gives herself freely to one or to all. Still, God pardons her, as God pardons us.

I will honor the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will make a covenant with you that will last forever.

We ask for forgiveness as we reveal our truth to a God who already knows it.

We make reparations for damages we complete to the Spirit who already heals us.

We ask for mercy that our acts of omission may be made whole through the goodness of the Son who is the Shepherd, The Way, the Vine to our branches, the Alpha and Omega, the Resurrection and the Truth. Let us today and all days remain in this certainty. For this is the truth we find in our covenant with God.

I will honor the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will make a covenant with you that will last forever.

Image from: http://www.philosophynews.com/post/2015/01/29/What-is-Truth.aspx 

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1 Corinthians 15:35-38: Our Mode of Resurrection

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Christ has asked us to rise and go; and this we do with fidelity. We have felt the wrath of anger and a desire for revenge; and we have found hope of the Spirit’s justification. But what will be the manner of our transition from this life to the next? Can we explain it? Can we believe it? Can we share it’s promise with others?

It is likely that we have all pondered the resurrection at one time or another. We know that we have been sent to this earth to present to and for the world a unique face of God. Our face of God is what we sow, and it is also what we will reap. The Gospel evangelists tell us, by repeating Jesus’ words so succinctly and well, that we all are on a pilgrimage to the next world. Like the ten bridesmaids in one of Jesus’ many parables, we can choose to be prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom, or we can choose to burn our oil foolishly so that when he arrives we will not be present. We gain admittance to the Resurrection wedding feast by becoming incorruptible, but what does this incorruptibility look like? We remain steadfast and firm, faithful to God’s promises, hopeful in the Spirit’s wisdom, living God’s word as Jesus did, and by putting away our envy and pride. Once at the great feast, we will look around to see that all are equal, and – most importantly – we will be content with that fact. A famous Renaissance poet Jorge Manrique has written beautiful lines about his thoughts upon the death of his father, “Coplas a la muerte de mi padre.” He expresses this idea, “All of our lives are rivers – and all of these rivers, big and small, run to the sea . . . where they disappear into one another.” This might be our image of heaven as evoked by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. Only those who have put away envy and pride, only those who have truly humbled themselves to obey will even be able to imagine such a place where we are all special – and where no one is more special than anyone else.

When Jesus speaks of John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew, he says that John is the greatest prophet of all time – even greater than Elijah; and yet, the least in heaven is greater than this great prophet. The least will be great, and greater than anything we can imagine.

So can we explain our mode of resurrection? Can we believe in Christ’s fidelity? Can we rely on the hope of the Spirit? Can we share the joy of God’s promise of resurrection?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 7, 2007.

Image from: https://www.jesuschristformuslims.com/support-us/

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Mark 15:29-32Wrath and Justification 

Friday, May 25, 2018

As we explore the ways in which Jesus is the resurrection, we consider what we might do with our anger and our desire for revenge. 

We looked at Mark 15 a little more than a year ago to reflect on the power we will find in offering our sacrifices for others and holding tightly to our trust in God.  Today we see Jesus execute the greatest act of mankind: he hangs in pain from a cross while the crowds jeer at him and use his very acts of mercy as taunts against him.  This reminds me of MAGNIFICAT’s Evening Prayer from Isaiah 53: Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. 

By his wounds we all are healed. 

This is a tremendous act of self sacrifice and one that we will likely never have to make, again from MAGNIFICAT: Not all opposition to faithful Christian belief and life comes from the violent.  Many voices, loud and subtle, argue against the idealism of the Gospel.  Resisting the familiar, popular values and viewpoints which would undermine our discipleship can cause as much pain as enduring the more dramatic forms of persecution. 

Jeremiah 18:20: Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.

The Wrath of God.  We see it in the Old Testament narratives and in the Psalms so often.  The calling down of God’s power against the wicked, the petition for annihilation of our enemies . . . and all of this ugliness turns to justification with the singular sacrifice made by Christ.  All of the anger and fear are transformed through Christ into love.  In his final moments, Christ does not feel his mother’s comforting caress upon his face.  There is no warm bed, clean sheets or clothes.  There is grinding, relentless pain . . . and the jeers from the crowd, from the people he has come to save.  But Christ is held by hands that are great enough and powerful enough to hold and comfort us all . . . the hands of God.

The MAGNIFICAT Evening Intercessions are apt.

To the God who delivered Jesus from death through resurrection, we pray: O God, hear our prayer.

For those who hate goodness and good people: grant them conversion of heart.  O God, hear our prayer.

For those who suffer for their goodness: grant them strength to persevere.  O God, hear our prayer.

For those who have died for their fidelity to the Gospel: grant them eternal life.  O God, hear our prayer.

And we might add . . .

For ourselves, as we struggle to move away from wrath and revenge, may we move toward resurrection and light.  O God, hear our prayer.

For our enemies, as they harbor fear and live for the thrill of pain, may they come to know the comfort of authentic love and passion.  O God, hear our prayer.

For our loved ones, as they accompany us in our pilgrimage, may they always find protection and guidance in you who have loved us so well.  O God, hear our prayer.

2 Samuel 2:6: May the Lord be kind and faithful to us. 

And may we be kind and faithful to Christ as we see him in all of God’s creation.  May we move from God’s wrath to justification.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.12 (2009). Print.  

A favorite from March 12, 2009.

Image from: https://beyondtheborderlinepersonality.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/until-theres-nothing-left-self-sacrifice/

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Matthew 2:19-20Rise and Go

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gaetano Gandolfi: Dream of St Joseph

In this Favorite from April 4, 2008, we remember that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt after the birth of Jesus. We also remember that an angel comes to Joseph with the message that it is time to return to the land of Israel. Today, as we continue to explore how Jesus is the resurrection, we contemplate how our own lives move through times of exile, transfiguration, and return; and just as Mary and Joseph respond to God’s urging, we rise and go when we are called . . . for we are resurrection people.   

We are living through the Resurrection time – the time after Jesus rises from the dead in unity of body and soul and the time that he ascends to heaven.  We are a Resurrection people.  We are immortal.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection: Those who bear the sign of immortality are attractive to others.  People group around them . . . The Resurrected Lord gives a new lightness of the Spirit . . . Easter’s unity . . . This is a sign that little by little, the spirit of Easter is filling our lives and is pushing out the devil who is division and rivalry, jealousy and hate, the incapacity to carry each other’s weight.  The experience of the Resurrection carries a continual note of hope into our lives . . . Hope arises from faith; it is the visibility of faith; it is faith which becomes operative with the present.  Hope is life in action which transfigures the present; it does not permit “victory” of nothingness – delusion, a bitter nostalgia, narcissistic self-contemplation, the desire to do without another person.  Everything which would be a victory for nothingness is forced out by the victory of Christ.  The Spirit of the Risen Lord enters our lives and makes us creators of unity, filled with new creativity and hope for ourselves and therefore for all people. (Monsignor Massimo Camisasca)

We are a Resurrection people.  And just as the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and so many others in scripture, so too do angels appear to us.  They bring the message of hope, of courage  . . . of transfiguration.  We too, may be transfigured in Christ.  We too, can be hope to others.  We too, must trust the Lord as did Joseph and Mary.  We too can respond to the call of Rise and go! 

For we are a Resurrection people. 

Tomorrow, what do we do with our anger?

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.8 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://russ-ramsey.com/day-20-when-joseph-woke-from-his-dream-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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John 11:25: I am the Resurrection

Sacro Monte di Varallo: The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This is such an important message that we will spend a few days pulling our thoughts together. We consider how Christ might be the resurrection for each of us. We ponder how this miracle affects us. And we decide how we will rest in the power of this message.

From a Favorite posted on October 23, 2007.

Luke 7:11-17: Raising the Widow’s Son

I love this story.  It shows Jesus’ compassion in such a real way.  It is about true resurrection.

Jesus understood that the death of this young man was doom to his mother, a widow with no resources for her survival.  With a single touch, Jesus brings the young man back from death and thus cures the life of this woman as well.  He also demonstrates how we should act, how we should breathe life into relationships rather than doom them.  And with this act, Jesus speaks to the world.

This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

Sacro Monte di Varallo Church, Piedmont Region in Northern Italy

The story reaches our ears today.  We see and hear how we are to behave in relationship with one another. We see that just as Jesus is an expression of God’s love for each of us, so are our actions our expression of how much and in what way we love one another . . . and thus God.

May our acts and our words be healing ones.

May our expression of God reflect the hope placed in us.

May all that we say and do become not only our own resurrection . . . but may it lead to union with all the holy ones . . . union with God. Let us spread this report through the whole of our communities, so that we might share the good news of resurrection.

Enter the words Widow of Nain into the blog search bar to search for more reflections about this woman, her son, and their interactions with Jesus. 

For more on the village of Nain, visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/nain/ 

Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacro_Monte_di_Varallo and https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=590&ei=xKD8WpPpHYKc5wL_gJoI&q=the+widow+of+nain&oq=the+widow+of+nain&gs_l=img.3..0j0i24k1l6.2857.6126.0.6432.….0…1ac.1.64.img..8.10.1505.0..35i39k1.0.6YpqHVc_L_8#imgrc=M_GSBeG3DK1N7M:

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