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Archive for February, 2019


Daniel 6:11: Expectation

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Written on January 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Anton Rivière: Daniel

Nearly three years ago we looked at Chapter 6 of Daniel – the well-known story of the young man’s trial in the lion’s den.  We reflected at that time on the vigor of Daniel’s enemies.  Today we might want to spend time thinking about what brought Daniel out of the den: his – and God’s – constancy, his – and God’s – hope, his – and God’s – expectation of goodness.

Even when Daniel hears dreadful news he remains optimistic – because it is his custom to trust in God.

Even when Daniel is sent in the lion’s den he remains fearless – because it is custom to give all to God.

Even when Daniel spends the night with the animals that later attack and kill his enemies he remains hopeful – because it is his custom to expect that God will act for and in him.

Anton Rivière: Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Even when Daniel exits the lion’s den unharmed he remains humble and hopeful – because it is custom to always expect great things from God, and to remember that God converts all harm to good.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Mother Elvira Petrozzi, founder of a community with a presence in fifteen countries that opens its arms to the lost and desperate:  The biggest sickness in our world is sadness, indifference, and loneliness.  Like parched land waiting for water, so the world is waiting for those who will proclaim hope.  God has freely chosen us to proclaim this hope.  He has given us the strength to follow him and has put in our hearts the desire to embrace this wounded humanity.  In receiving mankind, the living hope in us must become love in gestures, in works, and in life.  Jesus is telling us to give life, to give ourselves, not only a part of us or a few hours of work.  If we do not give our life, spend our life for others, it will vanish from our hands.  (107-108)

This is what Daniel knows: that the life he has is really God’s life in him.

This is what Daniel believes: that by giving his life on earth, he gains eternity with God.

This is what Daniel does: all that God asks – even when it does not seem to make sense.

Today’s Gospel is an accounting of one of the times Jesus cured a man of leprosy (Luke 5:12-16) and the mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT speaks to the expectation this man had when he approached Jesus with these words: Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.   “When the leper approaches Christ filled with expectation, his entire life changes”.  (102)  How much better we might be if we approach our worries in this fullness of expectancy.  How much better might the world be if we all were to approach our problems in an expectation of goodness . . . hopeful of kindness . . . joyful in our vindication by God.

And so we pray . . . Good, and gracious, and gentle, and hope-bearing God, you walk amidst us, sharing our sorrow, lifting our fears.  Bring us to you in joyful expectation of your mercy.  Bring us to you in the fullness of your time and your plan.  Give us courage.  Give us constancy.  Give us perseverance.  Give us hope.  Give us the spirit of Daniel as he enters the lion’s den, as he lingers there, and as he comes forth into the light of a new day.  Give us Daniel’s humility.  Give us Daniel’s peace.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


A re-post from December 6, 2011.

Images from: http://kosarajuraj.blogspot.com/2011/06/miracles-of-jesus-christ.html and http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/riviere-briton/daniel-in-the-lions-den-1.html 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 7 January 2011: 102, 107-108. Print.

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Isaiah 59: Turning from Sin

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

We look for light, and lo, darkness; for rightness, but we walk in gloom!

In the Northern Hemisphere we are moving from winter to spring when our days are longer and the nights shorter.  As we pull away from winter depths, we are reminded that darkness can easily overcome us and wear us down.

We stumble in midday as at dusk . . . we all growl like bears, like doves we moan without ceasing.

All of this darkness makes us tired and short-tempered; we complain and sink low . . .

We look for right, but it is not there; for salvation, and it is far from us.

We wonder, “Where is our God who has promised to abide with us?  Who is powerful enough to save us?”

The Lord saw this and was aggrieved that right does not exist.

Despite the calamity and ruin there is right among us because God takes pity on us, his loved creatures.  God brings us goodness and rightness in the form of a human child, Jesus.

He saw that there was no one and was appalled that there was no one to intervene . . .

God knows that we struggle to overcome the darkness.  God comes to dwell with us as our brother, Emmanuel.

So his own arm brought about the victory, and his justice lent him his support.

St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are no longer strangers and sojourners but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. (2:19-20)

He put on justice as his breastplate, salvation as the helmet on his head; he clothed himself with garments of vengeance, wrapped himself in a mantle of zeal.

As we approach the season of Lent, we remember Paul’s admonition to put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil, so that you may be able to resist and hold your ground.  Stand firm with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and you feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances hold faith as a shield, to quench all flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (6:11, 13-17)

He shall come as a redeemer to those who turn from sin . . .

Knowing that we are powerless in and of ourselves, our God moves to guide and to guard us.

This is the covenant with them which I have made myself, says the Lord . . .

God keeps his promises because he is good.

The Lord says, My spirit is upon you and my words that I have put into your mouth shall never leave your mouth . . .

And so we will celebrate God’s goodness and tell others of God’s great love.

Nor will my words leave the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your children’s children from now on and forever, says the Lord. 

We find ourselves alone and in darkness.  God sees and hears our plight.  God gives us the chance to reunite with goodness and rightness.  God helps us up out of the darkness when we wear Christ as our armor and when we seek God’s love.  This is predicted by Isaiah.  This is witnessed to us by Paul.  This we can believe.  This we must pass along to our children . . . and to our children’s children.  For this is how we turn away from sin to turn toward what is good and right and just.   This is how we turn to God.

Amen.


Adapted from a reflection posted during Advent on December 5, 2011.

Images from: http://a-christ-followers-musings.blogspot.com/2011/01/fruit-of-spirit-goodness.html and http://soithappens.com/page/3/

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Genesis 4: A Demon Lurking


Genesis 4: A Demon Lurking

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tissot: Cain Leads Abel

It is likely that we each have our own definition for sin and we may want to compare it with what we find in Genesis 4 when we hear the Creator warning Cain: Why are you so resentful and crestfallen?  If you do well, you can hold up you head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door; his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.

We are only a few pages into the Bible and God describes to us what sin is and how it can steal into our hearts almost without our knowing. How is it that we miss the personal implications for our own development when we hear this story?  Cain is told what sin is and is cautioned about sin.  God does not withdraw his love yet Cain seems to feel slighted and he appears to think only of himself and his own sadness; he does not celebrate Abel’s good fortune but instead takes Abel out into the fields to murder him.  The ground that Cain had tilled now becomes a killing field; and the innocent Abel dies without reproducing his own family.  As this chapter unfolds, we see that the chain of violence begun by Cain continues through his descendants and, we suppose, continues through time even to us.  Sin that has been unleashed in the world continues to be a demon lurking at the door which we have the power to master yet somehow do not.

Commentary will elucidate further for us.  Although Cain and Abel may represent nomadic versus sedentary farmers, or rival ways of life, Cain’s act of violence represents “an attack on the integrity of the family, an offense against the divinely intended order of creation expressed in the command to reproduce.  But Cain’s sin is more than a rejection of the divinely established order; in arrogating to himself the divine sovereignty over life in ending a life, Cain has repeated the sin of his parents by making himself ‘like God’.”  (Mays 887)

When we think of sin we are accustomed to feeling less worthy, less hope-filled, more culpable, more ashamed.  When we think of sin we think of turning away from God, of being self-centered and un-controlled and we forget about God’s grace and God’s love.  Rather than give ourselves an overwhelming obstacle to overcome, how much better we might fare if we focused instead on how God loves us and wants to help us.  In short, rather than fuss with ourselves about how poorly we are doing we might feel more successful if we focus instead on giving our feelings of resentment, disappointment and anger over to God.  Knowing that we may too easily succumb to the devil that prowls at the door, let us give our negativity to the one who converts it into goodness.  Let us acknowledge the negative emotions that sneak up on us, and then instead of acting on them . . . let us turn them over to God.

Sin has been described as the willful turning away from God, and in turn this means a turning away from hope.  In this season of Advent, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the light into the darkness of the world, let us take a journey inward to uncover the Cain in each of us.  And rather than take our brother into the fields to kill him in the place where we have harvested goodness in God’s name, let us celebrate the good fortune of others . . . and turn over all resentment to God.  In this way we easily and happily turn the tables on the demon who constantly lurks at our door.


A re-post from December 4, 2011.

Image from: http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/vintagecharming/3784014/Cain_and_Abel_1904_James_Tissot_Chromolithograph_Print/Ephemera

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 887. Print.

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Numbers 21Worn Out

Monday, February 25, 2019

Several years ago we focused on verses 4 through 9 of this chapter in a Noontime reflection about The Bronze Serpent and at that time we noted that this story is often read during the Lenten season when we are called to repent and make reparations.  We reflected on the thought that God in great wisdom and mystery sends a cure to the people that is similar to their disease; and we saw the Hebrews succumb to the temptation to complain when their patience is worn out by the journey.  Just as we travel toward Easter during Lent, and move Advent waiting for the light.  When we have so much invested in our waiting it is easy to give in to the kind of impatience we see today; and we know the feeling of despair that replaces hope when the expected outcome is so long in coming.  We zero in on our disappointment and forget to look at the many victories in our lives.

The episode of the bronze serpent is sandwiched between stories of victory over Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.  God has accompanied the Hebrews and seen to their welfare; yet the travail of the journey has worn their patience thin and they turn against God.  Although they experience a series of triumphs, they complain about their food and drink.  They want to control the smallest details of their lives and rather than rest in the triumphs they have lived they obsess about the minutiae.  This is a story in which we can place ourselves.

Whether we find ourselves in Advent or Lent, or find ourselves in an ordinary time of extraordinary waiting, we can look at the Hebrews to see ourselves in their impatience; and we can make our own journey through the lands of Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.   We can examine what motivates us, what leads us, what stops us.  And we can pray . . .

Do I too often steer clear from something when the cure lies in my willingness to enter God’s plan?

Am I too stiff-necked or too impatient?

Do I fear too much and trust too little?

Am I too controlling or too impatient?

Do I complain too much and give thanks too little?

Am I too unwilling or too impatient?

Do I take the victories for granted and throw temper tantrums when my own plans come up short?

Am I focused on self and not on God?

In the hardship of the journey it is easy to concentrate on our fears and wishes; it is difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  So when we feel this impatience welling up, let us look to God for strength; let us ask God for the stamina we need to see the journey through.  Let us look at the many victories that line the pathways of our lives; and let us remember that when we rely on God rather than self . . . our patience will never wear through.


A re-post from December 3, 2011.

For more reflections on traveling the road of life, see the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog.

Images from: http://jewlistic.com/2010/06/ive-had-it-with-these-snakes-in-this-portion/ and http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx303.htm

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Mark 14:66-72A False and Dangerous Road

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Paraphrasing from the commentary in the BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA: Ssimultaneously, Master and disciple move through a process.  With an intentional gradation, the story presents us with Peter’s triple denial as he completes Jesus’ prediction to the letter (Mark 14:30).  Mark reminds us that when we rely on self alone we journey down a false and dangerous road.  (LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA 1537) I am wondering . . . why we insist on being so willful when God stands ready to help us at every turn.

This very night, before the cock crows three times, you will betray me. It still amazes me that Jesus is such a constant companion to us who do worse than ignore him, to us who contradict and even reject him.  I am still surprised at the enormity of Jesus’ patience that he abides with us beyond our disagreement with him; he remains to suffer the buffeting blows we deliver with our lack of faith, love and understanding.  It still startles me each time I read this passage to know that the patient and persevering Christ suffers intensely for us while all the while we cannot summon the courage to allow him to protect us and to take us in.

Even though I should have to die with you I would not deny you.

Tissot: Second Denial of St. Peter

Human fear is a powerful motivator.  Fear of starving keeps us working.  Fear of being alone keeps us seeking.  Fear of failure keeps us struggling.  Our hubris somehow blots out all reality; our envy blinds us to the outcomes that are easy predictions to others.  This is a dark and dangerous road on which to journey, this path we take when we deny, refute and reject salvation.

You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.

How many times in a day are we asked to stand on principle, to tell truth, to fill an omission that another intentionally commits?  How many times do we step up, come forward, stand in solidarity to witness in humility and love?

I neither know nor understand what you are talking about. 

Rembrandt: The Apostle Peter Denies Christ

This story should always be told in complement with the ending from John 21 when the resurrected Jesus thrice asks Peter if he loves him and Peter replies: You know all things.  You know that I do.  This joyful ending to a horrible story reminds us that the Master and disciple move in tandem toward an inevitable end.  This wonderful turning at the end of John’s Gospel shows what we yearn to know.  God brings goodness out of harm, God keeps promises, God always offers multiple opportunities of conversion, God wants to lead us away from the false and dangerous road of deceit, subterfuge, and lies.  God wants us to choose life over death, light over dark, goodness over evil, service over power, humility over fame, the marginalized over the in-crowd.

Do you love me more than these?

Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.

Feed my lambs.

Do you love me?

Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.

Tend my sheep.

Do you love me?

Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

Feed my sheep . . . Follow me.


LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

A re-post from December 2, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.fineartprintsondemand.com/artists/rembrandt/apostle_peter_denies_christ.htm and http://devotionalonjesus.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html and http://www.eons.com/photos/group/catholics-50-3/photo/709583-Peter-Denies-Jesus-three-times/jesus—lent-passion-easter

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Luke 8:22-24Calm

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ludolf Backhuysen: Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Moments before opening scripture I came from the classroom of a teacher who is new to us this year and we spoke about creating calm in the midst of rush.  Today’s Noontime brings us the same message: when we have difficulty finding peace in the hectic pace of our lives, we can always turn to Christ . . . for Christ knows best how to still the storm.  Christ reminds us to . . . Be still! 

Steven Curtis Chapman performs Be Still and Know, a song based on Psalm 46.  The lyrics are well worth reading, and the song worth hearing. They remind us that we cannot survive the wind-tossed waves alone; they tell us that we must seek refuge from powerful winds and mighty seas in Christ only.

In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells his disquieted people, The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.

As Nehemiah and Ezra rebuild the temple and city of Jerusalem and call the people back to God, the Levite priests say to the people: Be still, for this is a sacred day.  Do not grieve. (Nehemiah 8:11)

The Psalms remind us: Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways,when they carry out their wicked schemes(Psalm 37:7)

Be still, and know that I am God;I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.  (Psalm 46:10)

The prophet Zechariah tells us: Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.  (Zechariah 2:13)

And in Mark’s version of today’s story Jesus rebukes the wind with the words: Quiet!  Be still!  (Mark 4:39)  The wind dies down and all is completely calm . . .

Christ’s followers are amazed when Jesus commands even the waters and winds . . . and so may we be once we fully hand our lives over to the one who has created us.

Christ’s detractors complain that Jesus breaks all the observed laws . . . and so may we if we allow the laws to become our gods.

Christ’s enemies stalk him with envy and greed . . . and so may we if we allow the details of life to overcome us.

Christ’s true disciples read this story and believe . . . and so may we believe once we live each moment in Christ rather than fret the minutes of each day away in ourselves.

And so we pray . . .

On this day when we consider all that is turbulent in our lives, let us allow Christ to silence the tumult of our lives and let us be still.  In this rush of activity, let us invite Christ into our lives and let us give over to him all that troubles us.  In this season of waiting in joyful hope, let us make room for Christ – even if we can only manage a small pocket of quiet.  In this time of anticipation, let us surrender to him all our dreams and desires.  Let us give willingly to him all that we are, and all that we have.  Let us go to Christ openly, honestly and lovingly.  And let us hunker down in the ship of life and trust that God will calm both the wind and the sea.  Amen. 


Link to Chpaman’s Be Still: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI 

Adapted from a reflection posted on December 1, 2011. 

Image from: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/jesus_calms_the_storm.htm

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Romans 1A Slave for Christ

Friday, February 22, 2019

Paul ruffled feathers as he moved about the Empire delivering the message of Christ.  As apostles we too can expect adversity.

Paul traveled approximately 10,000 miles in his journeys for Jesus.  As followers of Jesus cannot be timid about sharing our own story of Jesus as we too travel many miles.

Paul aggravated his political and spiritual leaders yet he helped a burgeoning Jewish sect establish a religion that would overtake the empire itself.  As Christians we too contribute to the flowering of Jesus’ message.

Membership in the early church was often more a liability than a boon since Christians were viewed as cannibals and participants in incestuous relationships. It is not until the beginning of the 4th Century (323 C.E.) that Christianity becomes an accepted form of worship.  As modern Christians we too may be viewed with skepticism, we too may wait long years before we are seen as the faithful.

Cult worship favored by most Romans was a very different spirituality from Christianity.  In the former, mortals serve whimsical gods; in the latter, a constant and faithful Living God dedicates himself to the care and protection of his creatures.  This Living God comes among his creatures to live as one with them while the Olympian gods tormented mortals.  Our petty gods continue to lure us from our true journey; they taunt us with the false promise of fame, fortune and power.

While we today may be haunted by the many small demons of status and superficiality, Romans believed in spirits who guarded rivers, woods, homes, and families.  Early Christians were consoled and counseled by the Holy Spirit of the Living God, the Spirit that brought unity out of God’ great variety . . . as the Spirit still does today.

Early Christians gather in Rome

Rome reaches out to connect England to Egypt, Spain to Syria; and this Roman world in which Paul lives and moves is a world of slaves and masters, poor and rich.  When Paul goes to Rome he enters the epicenter of the Mediterranean world . . . and all that he says and all he does speaks of Christ Jesus . . . as must we today.

Do we have the strength to stand up against the tide of the times?  Paul becomes a slave for Christ to do so. So must we.

Do we have the tenacity to persist in delivering a message the world does not want to hear? Paul suffers beatings, stoning, imprisonment and all forms of derision to do so.  So must we.

Do we trust enough in God to await the words of the Holy Spirit when we find ourselves confronted by overwhelming odds?  Paul becomes the ultimate apostle who sets self aside to live out the mission Christ gives him.  So must we.

Do we love God enough to see others as images of God?  Paul moves among the “unclean” gentiles as God asks of him to bring the Gospel story of freedom to all.  So must we.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, writes Paul.  Are we willing to confront gossip and lies; do we invite others to allow Jesus to enter their lives; do we pray for our enemies willingly?  Can we also say that we are not ashamed of the Gospel?  Are we willing to reject our petty gods of sleek cars, stock options, extravagant clothing, excess food, influence with power structures, and our dependence on ultra conveniences in order to share what we have with the poor? Are we willing to be slaves for the marginalized as Paul is?  Are we willing to decrease to nothing so that Christ might increase?

This is what Paul calls out to us today.  What is our reply?


For wonderful information on Christians in the Roman Empire, go to the public television site below.    We will find it well worth the time we invest; and we may learn something we did not know about St. Paul and his missionary journeys.   

A re-post from November 30, 2011. 

http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/christians.html

Images from: http://savingparadise.net/about/ and http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/AncientRome/BeginningsofChristianity.htm and http://hudsonfla.com/artchristian.htm and http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/timeline_09.html 

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Exodus 40:1-31Liturgy

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I smile as I read about selvages, alternating bells and pomegranates, gold beaten into fibers that are then threaded through fabric, ring fasteners, and even the situating of the breastplate at the proper point in relation to the belt . . . and all of this by God’s command.  There must be fashion in heaven, and it must be important!

I have taken an interest in vestments lately with the arrival of our new pastor – who is tall and slender and carries flowing robes well.  His stature is so different from the former pastor who was short and round.  This new priest brings with him an understanding of liturgy and how it helps to both call and form us.  He knows that it is so much more than ritual.  He understands that as we participate we prepare ourselves for a greater, deeper, and more intense relationship with God.  Liturgy prepares us for heaven.

As I re-read this description I am recalling something I read in the November MAGNIFICAT (the 19th) written by Father Simon Tugwell, O.P., and it is entitled: The Temple is for Liturgy.

Liturgy is essentially something given, and in this expresses a fundamental feature of all prayer.  Its sublime lack of of concern for our personal moods is a forcible reminder that when we come to God, it is not to force our moods or our interests on to him, but to receive his interests and to let him, in a sense, share his moods with us . . . It is far more central to prayer that we should let ourselves become involved in God, in his great enterprise of giving himself, and all the various interests and concerns that form part of this.  It is therefore a positive advantage that the liturgy does not just reflect our own concerns and interests, but confronts us with definite moods of its own . . . The liturgy, faithfully celebrated, should be a long-term course in heart-expansion, making us more and more capable of the totality of love that there is in the heart of Christ.  It is not the immediate feeling that is important; that may or may not come.  What matters is that we should be, slowly and quietly, molded by this rehearsal for and anticipation of the worship of heaven.  It is a schooling for paradise.

We have reflected on Nehemiah’s re-building of Jerusalem and the temple as his participation in the greatest enterprise of all – God’s enterprise.  Today we read the description of the temple vestments and pause to reflect on the importance of worship in our lives.  Liturgy is more than merely gathering to pray together.  It is more than dressing up or dressing down, arriving early or arriving late.  It is more than recitation, singing, spontaneous praying.  It is, as Father Tugwell so well writes . . . an education, a discipline for our ultimate relationship with God.  As we gather our moods, our concerns and ourselves in a holy and sacred place, so do we also practice and refine our role in God’s great enterprise.


A favorite posted on November 29, 2011.  

Images from: http://www.ourladylovesyou.org/communities/southtexas/blogger/2009_10_01_archive.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 November 2010: 273. Print.

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Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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