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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category


Luke 24:13-35: Muscle and Bone

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Duccio di Buoninsegna: On the Road to Emmaus

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day four, Easter Wednesday, we again hear Luke’s story of the road to Emmaus. Today we look again at a few details that bring this story into the present. First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, the story of Cleopas and his companion, and their astounding encounter with the risen Christ, carries the subtitle A Ghost Doesn’t Have Muscle and Bone. We want to remember this today as we face a world that is eager to distract us for the message we need to hear.

They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened.

We can imagine ourselves moving through our day, walking side-by-side with friends and family, hashing out surprising events that have stunned our community. Too often we are so fully involved in our own story, we do not notice the stories of others.

They were not able to recognize who [Jesus] was.

We can see ourselves as lovers of Christ and believers in his promise; yet we are not always able to see the truth that stands before us.

Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” 

We are thick-headed and slow-hearted, reluctant and discouraged; yet we remain hopeful and determined, prepared to be loved.

He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” 

Duccio: Emmaus Detail

We are ready for the newness despite the lateness of the hour. We invite the prophets among us to share their experience of God. We remain open to the Holy Spirit and the gift of new and intense joy.

And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him.

This is how we must go into the world each day, open-eyed and wide-eyed. We must be willing to be amazed. We must be open to the promise. We must be ready to meet the Christ when we are downcast and least expecting to believe that this fact is true . . . A Ghost Doesn’t Have Muscle and Bone.

For other posts on the story of Emmaus, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

 

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John 20:11-18: Turning Again

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

James Tissot: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day three, Easter Tuesday, we heard John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we chose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.

When harsh realities challenge our beliefs and foundation, we mourn our loss, question all that we thought certain, and doubt the facts before us. Do we also look for the angels who move with us through our days? Do we offer our suffering as a sign of our trust in God? Do we fall back on the familiar or move forward in hope?

[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Anger and fear, confidence and mercy. In times of deep stress, the primal parts of our brain take over and we instinctively collapse into familiar patterns of flight and denial, aggression and accusation. Might we practice the art of relying on the positive influences in our lives? When we feel panic and worry taking over, might we remind ourselves to look for Jesus who stands before us . . . even when we do not recognize him?

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

James Tissot: The Women at Jesus’ Tomb

Our pastor last week, in his morning homily, asked a question we may have been asking ourselves when we look at the detail John provides us. If Mary has already turned away from the empty tomb to look at the man she thinks is the gardener, why does she turn again? And how? When we reflect on these verses, we begin to understand that the second turning is toward a newness in perspective. Mary allows herself to see that the gardener is, in fact, Jesus. Might we follow her example to open our eyes and ears in a new way? Might we have full confidence in the promise of the Christ?

Today we spend time with John’s story of the conversion of Mary at the tomb, and all that followed in the baffling commotion of distrust touched with intense conviction and enduring love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our anxieties for the world, with the joyful turning of Mary Magdalene.

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fearful Yet Overjoyed

Monday, April 24, 2017

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day two, Easter Monday, we heard Matthew’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed . . .

Who among us has not felt this clash of emotions at cataclysmic times in our lives? We are full of joyful anticipation, and at the same time a sense of foreboding. Newness and change confront us, offering both hope and anxiety. Jesus has died, is lying in the tomb and yet his body is not there. Matthew records other details that we do well to spend time with today.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Who among us does not need these reassuring words when we find ourselves in dark days? Everyone we have trusted in the past has fallen away in this new present. Every sturdy stone we use to cross the river of the unknown has disappeared. Jesus seems to be present to us, yet is he? Why does he ask us to meet him in Galilee? Why does he not repair all that wounds us here and now? Can we continue to believe all of his promises if we are not physically with him? Matthew gives us another detail to ponder as we reflect on the future that lies ahead.

“And if this [bribe] gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys at the Tomb

Who among us has not come up against deceit among families, friends and colleagues? Trust seems a rare quality. Truth is warping into alternative realities. Honesty is now self-serving and the common good suffers. Generosity gives way to narcissism. Fidelity is fleeting. Hope is inane. Love insincere. And yet . . .

As we consider the accounting that Matthew gives us of Easter morning at the tomb, we now have another newness we had not anticipated, a newness born out of joyful apprehension, a newness rising from the ashes of old fears and doubts, a newness promised by the one who keeps all promises.

Today we spend time with Matthew’s story of the women at the tomb, and all that followed in the confusing chaos of suspicion threaded through with deep trust and abiding love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our fears for the world, with the joyful hope of these women.

For an interesting look at the identity of the women at the tomb, visit: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-many-women-visited-the-tomb-of-jesus/

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John 12:44-50: Re-Creation – Christ

the_good_shepherd_by_zaghami-d6rzo8x

ZaGHaMi: The Good Shepherd

Second Sunday of Easter, April 23, 2017

When we see the Bible as an entire story of God’s people, we know that Jesus is not God’s Plan B. Jesus is Plan A. God does not see that humanity has gone awry and then decide to send in the saving force of Jesus. God’s direct interaction with creation has no beginning or end. It is eternal, just as God is eternal.

Jesus says: Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.

God always has faith that God will find every lost sheep.

If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world.

God has outrageous hope that every lost sheep will return to the fold.

But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own.

God’s love knows no bounds. God has always loved us. God will always love us. God continues to love us each day.

The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.

As Richard Rohr, OFM, has said with a chuckle, “God is victorious. God doesn’t lose. That’s what it means to be God”.

Today as we settle into this second Sunday of Eastertide, let us hold these truths closely. Let us open our ears and open our eyes. And let us determine to be re-created in Christ so that we might live as Jesus lives . . . so that all may be one in this universal message of universal love.

Listen to a four-and-a-half minute chat with Fr. Richard Rohr on this topic at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZRS5WVJuM

jesus-icon-1000

The photograph above was taken “along the dusty roads of rural Punjab, Pakistan”. The icon is a traditional early image of Jesus.

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Exodus 3:14: Re-Creation – The Multiverse

Easter Saturday, April 22, 2017

In the Torah, we find an early description of God, by God.

God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.’” (GNT)

In the Torah, we find an early depiction of God as multiverse.

God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’” (MSG)

In John’s Gospel of Christ’s story, we find Jesus’ own words tell us who he is. “I am the bread of life, the light of the world, the door through which all who yearn to be saved will enter. I am the good shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life. I am the vine, you are the branches”. (John 6:35, 8:12, 10:9, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:5)

God says: The world around you tells you that you are small and that you have much to fear; but this is not so. Although the universe seems like a macrocosm to you, believe me when I say that is it in fact a microcosm in which you are central and essential. My life without you is a great void. My life with you is joy, and light and peace. I know that my essence to you is mystery and that is as it must be. I ask that you bring all that you are to me. Bring your sorrows along with your joys. Bring your anxiety along with your celebrations. Bring every molecule so that I might bring it into union with me and my multiverse. There is life eternal in me. Believe all that you have heard from my servant John. Believe all that your​ faith suggests, all that your hope proposes and all that your love intends. Bring all to me so you might live eternally with the beautiful mystery of my multiverse.

Paul and John have written letters to us so that we might believe. On this Easter Saturday, let us spend time with these verses so that we might truly believe.

To understand the concept of multiverse, we might visit: http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/adults/hayden-planetarium-programs/hayden-special-event-from-the-big-bang-to-the-multiverse-and-beyond/ or  http://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html

Watch the National Geographic documentary describing the existence of the multiverse at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK-DC6eTlrk 

For a contrary view that we are still looking for evidence of the multiverse theory, read this article at FORBES: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/04/15/ask-ethan-what-was-the-entropy-of-the-universe-at-the-big-bang/#2efd1f797280

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Galatians 3:26-29: Re-Creation – God’s People

Easter Friday, April 21, 2017

If we wonder how God sees the children God lovingly created to bring light to the darkness, we might consider Paul’s words to the Galatians.

It is through faith that all of you are God’s children in union with Christ Jesus. You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

Through God’s grace, we receive the gift of faith and we read the testimony left by others.

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1)

Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we receive the gift of life eternal. On this Easter Friday, as we gather ourselves for Easter re-creation, we benefit from spending time with John’s first letter of testimony. He tells us that all he recounts is real. He reminds us that all he recounts to us has taken place. And he states very clearly that all he reports to us continues to occur today.

To explore varying versions of the verses cited in today’s Noontime, use the scripture links and the drop-down menus.

 

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Matthew 6:26-29: Re-Creation – Flora and Fauna

Easter Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Glorieta Canyon, Southwest, USA

When we consider the diversity of plant and animal life on planet Earth, we see the variety that pleases God; and so we might imitate that variety in our relationship with God’s creation. We might broaden our horizon to new thinking; we might open our view to varied opinions before we form our own.

When we consider the care God uses in creating our world, we might see that God lavishes love on all and does not reserve it for the few. We might consider processing our fears and anxieties through this same lens of love; we might work harder at loving all that plagues and worries us, allowing God’s presence to convert harm to goodness.

Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?

Rather than see the animal kingdom as ours to control as we wish, we might think of ourselves as another manifestation in God’s marvelous kingdom of variety and complexity.

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers.

Zurbarán: Saint Francis of Assisi

Rather than see plant life as ours to use as we like, we might think of ourselves as sisters and brothers of the amazingly complex kingdom of intricacy and wonder.

Jesus tells us that when we consider the great love God bestows on all that surrounds us, we might remember that God has much more in mind for us than the panoply of wonder that greets our senses. This is a promise we see fulfilled each day as we step out into the world . . . if only we might have eyes to see and ears to hear.

To discover why St. Francis of Assisi is the patron of ecology, for eco-prayers and a guide for nature lovers, visit: http://www.praying-nature.com/index.php

To learn more about this spring’s desert bloom in the Anza-Borrego desert in the southwest of the USA, visit: http://www.abdnha.org/pages/03flora/reports/current.htm 

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Psalm 125:2: Re-Creation – Mountains and Hills

Easter Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Throughout sacred scripture we see the importance of high places in our human search for connection and intimacy with God.

I look to the mountains;
    where will my help come from? (Psalm 121:1)

The eternal human cry for help is as old as the mountains themselves.

So my sheep wandered over the high hills and the mountains. They were scattered over the face of the earth, and no one looked for them or tried to find them. (Ezekiel 34:6)

God sees the abandoned flock and gathers his sheep when their leaders take them astray.

How wonderful it is to see
    a messenger coming across the mountains,
    bringing good news, the news of peace!
He announces victory and says to Zion,
    “Your God is king!” (Isaiah 52:7)

Still, our human eyes remain on the mountain tops, awaiting the messenger we are promised.

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. (Matthew 17:1-8)

Jesus himself climbs to a high place when he visits with Moses and Elijah as a precursor to his own exodus. He takes with him, Peter, James and John to witness his Transfiguration.

They took Jesus to a place called Golgotha, which means “The Place of the Skull.” (Mark 15:22)

As Jesus himself climbs a hill outside Jerusalem to surrender himself to crucifixion, he carries the weight of our fears and anxieties with him.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
    so the Lord surrounds God’s people,
    now and forever. (Psalm 125:2)

Just as Jerusalem rests in the circle of God’s mountains, so do we humans rest in the eternal refuge of God’s enormous and endless arms.

 

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Isaiah 41:18: Re-Creation-Rivers and Valleys

The headwaters of the Yangtse River – a river that flows into the East China Sea

Easter Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The earth is immense. Seven continents, five oceans, 165 major rivers, countless valleys.

I will make rivers flow among barren hills
    and springs of water run in the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water
    and the dry land into flowing springs. (GNT)

Millennia ago early peoples knew the importance of rivers with their life-giving cycles of flood and recession.

I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water. (NRSV)

Modern humans have tried to harness the power of water in their search for sources of energy.

I will open up rivers on the barren hills
and wells down in the broad valleys.
I will turn the desert into a lake
and dry ground into springs. (CJB)

Ancient humans understood the potential for life found in life-giving rivers and the valleys through which they flowed.

Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii, USA

I’ll open up rivers for them on the barren hills,
    spout fountains in the valleys.
I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond,
    the waterless waste into splashing creeks. (MSG)

Today we reflect on the status of the world’s rivers and the valleys they nourish, and we pray for the courage to protect and defend this system of life-giving arteries that sustains God’s creation.

For a list of the oldest rivers on the planet, click on the image of the Yangtse headwaters. 

For images of the some of the world’s beautiful valleys, click on the image of the Waipi’o Valley.

For more on the rivers of the world, visit these sites.

The Yumana and Ganges Rivers now have human status: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/22/asia/india-river-human/

World Wildlife Fund: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/  

For new on the world’s rivers: https://www.internationalrivers.org/press-center

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