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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category


Matthew 27:1-2Standing before Pilate

Monday, November 12, 2018

Antonio Ciseri: Ecce homo

Today’s Gospel (Luke 24:35-48) is the second half of the Emmaus story.  The disciples who fled Jerusalem in order to escape chaos return to share their story of the Risen Christ.  They want to tell their beleaguered friends that the one who stood accused before Pilate had returned anew.  The plot of Judas and the church leaders that had once looked so successful now seemed a failure.  The world had turned upside down – just as Jesus had predicted – and the grief they had felt had now turned to joy.  As they tell their story, Jesus enters their midst as if to verify their incredible words: The one who stood before Pilate not only lives but he eats and breathes and wants to calm their fears.  His first words to them are: Peace be with you.  And then the story continues: But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”  And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

This was no ghost.  Jesus was not conjured up from their hysteria or imagination.  This was real.  The one who appeared to fail had overcome.  He still bore the marks of his terrible death; yet this death had no effect upon him.  The builder’s stone that had been rejected was now a strong foundation.  And this same conversion and redemption are offered to each of us . . . Jesus’ sisters and brothers.

I am thinking of how difficult it must have been to stand before Pilate as Jesus did to suffer and die for someone else’s sake.  I am thinking of how joyful it must have been a few short days later to enter into a room of dear friends to assure them that all was well.

When we are faced with difficult decisions we do not want to make, we must remember Jesus standing before Pilate.

When we are the lone witness to injustice and violence, we must remember Jesus standing before Pilate.

When we feel abandoned by family and friends, we must remember Jesus standing before Pilate.

When everything in us wants to run, wants to defend, wants to go to any means to survive, we must remember Jesus standing before Pilate.

On this Easter Thursday if we ask: Are we willing to stand before Pilate as Jesus does?  What will be our response?


A favorite from Easter Thursday, April 28, 2011, re-posted on October 10, 2011.

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

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Psalm 16Song of Trust and Security in God

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 369): “When seen in the light of Easter joy, our sins can weigh us down with discouragement.  Yet God’s love does not deal in punishment as human vengeance does.  God’s love disciplines and prunes us in order to free us – sometimes a painful process – so that we might not die like a withered branch but live and bear much fruit in the risen Christ”. 

And from today’s Gospel which is John 15:12-17: It was not you who chose me I but who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

We know how difficult change is yet we cannot avoid it for it is inevitable.  We know how difficult life is; in one way or another we experience pain and sorrow daily.  Because life is never free of suffering we might use this kind of pruning to find our best selves.  We know that we exist for a purpose and that purpose is to find our skill set as kingdom builders.  Perhaps we have the idea that we wish to design the architecture in this new kingdom when what God needs from us is that we serve as caretakers of the needy.  Or maybe we hope to serve in some significant organizational role when instead God needs us as harvesters.   Rather than focus on the specifics of our work or on the obstacles to attaining what we wish to attain, we might best focus on God alone instead, for only in God do we find a sheltering place that is secure, permanent and healing.

We do not chose God, God chooses us.  In this we can be secure; this we can trust.  God loves us through the pain of life and not in spite of it.  Let us look beyond our immediate sorrows and desires to see where the boundary lines have fallen.  Let us examine our circumstances to find that we are in pleasant places with a goodly heritage. 

If we are troubled about the pruning that is taking place in our lives today, we may want to turn to God to ask him for the strength to trust God as we ought.  Let us turn to this Psalm to pray . . .

I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.  Amen.


A re-post from October 1, 2011.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.5 (2011): 369. Print. 

Images from: http://christians-in-recovery.org/wp/2011/06/14/general-recovery/never-forsaken/

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Luke 23:50-56Burial

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the two words Jesus says frequently to us: Follow me . . .

Today we take a look at what we are invited to do as a first step in the resurrection process.  We are invited to our own burial.

Van der Weyden: Descent from the Cross

Scripture – and in particular the New Testament story of Jesus – is full of inversion.  We see many paradoxes in Jesus’ words and actions: We must give up all we have in order to gain the world, those who are broken are strong, leaders are those who serve, we must be willing to die if we want to live.  What appears to be incongruous results in a reality we had not anticipated.

What looks like death is life itself.

I tell you the truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (12:24), unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

What looks like burial is life itself.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark (4:30-32)It is the smallest you plant in the ground; yet when planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches the birds of the air can perch in its shade. 

What looks like the end is really the beginning. 

The wallpaper image on my computer is the painting Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van der Weyden; I keep it there to remind me of Jesus’ words to us about life, death, and resurrection.  Each time I log on and see the image, I am reminded that we are always in the process of a necessary burial – the first step toward resurrection.  With that image in my mind, it is easier to remember that anything I do in the material world is a reflection of my belief in the spiritual world. As I travel about my digital universe, I carry with me the constant reminder that it is the spiritual world we seek rather than the material.

I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus says to Martha (John 11:25-27).  He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this? he asks.

Martha replies: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.

As we reflect on the verses in today’s Noontime and as we look at the expressions on the faces painted on the Van der Weyden canvas, let us take in what we have been told.  It is what those who loved Jesus well are about to fully understand as they lower his body from the cross.  It is the elemental truth that . . . Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

What looks like sorrow will soon be joy.  

The first step toward that joy is our eagerness to unfold the paradox Jesus has given us.  It is our willingness to submit to burial in the life of this world.  It is the full knowing that, like the kernel of wheat, we cannot live until we go into the soil . . . to burst forth again in the new life of Christ.


A re-post from September 1, 2011.

Image from: http://eastofthemoonwestofthesun.blogspot.com/2011/04/day-95-holy-saturday-preparation-for.html 

Further information about the Van der Weyden painting can be found at the following sites or sites of your choosing.  You may want to share some with us.  A good description of the symbolism represented in the characters we see. http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/197

A beautiful slide show through which the viewer can zoom in to see the detail in the cloth, even the tears glistening on cheeks.  http://www.slidingtime.be/ The show is a link from this blog.  http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2010/04/rogier-van-der-weydens-descent-from.html

This link gives us more insight into the painting.  http://blogs.artinfo.com/secrethistoryofart/2011/05/06/inside-the-masterpiece-van-der-weydens-descent-from-the-cross/

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1 John 1: The Duality of Joy

Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 29, 2018

Once we are able to experience the duality of God’s ways, God’s justice, mercy, and love, we will want to share the joy that overtakes us.

Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!

Our capacity to live in both this world and the next determines our capacity for joy in God’s duality. Richard Rohr, OFM, writes: Only the non-dual, contemplative mind can hold everything in its wholeness, including both death and resurrection. Rohr further explains that once we can step away from the them-us, black-white, either-or stance, we can better see that God and all of  God’s creation has a yes-and rather than a yes-but essence. In his excellent collection of meditations entitled, Rohr points out to us in daily reflections that: Life is hard AND “my yoke is easy,” you are not that important AND “your name is written in heaven,” your life is not about you AND you are about life, you can let go of control AND you can let God’s life flow in you, and you are going to die AND life never ends. Rohr gathers this wonderful collection of introspective considerations under the title of The Common Wonderful. To spend time with these reflections is to invite each of us into God’s wonderful duality in which “death and life are in an eternal embrace”. (Rohr 131-137)

National Catholic Reporter: Vigil after the Las Vegas, USA shooting – The Dos and Don’ts of Handling Compassion Fatigue

Our modern world brings us far too much information to process. We suffer from crisis fatigue and we struggle to sort our emotions as we interact with family, friends, colleagues and strangers. Our world seems smaller and the climate more erratic. Unless we grapple with God’s duality and come to terms with the demands our citizenship in God’s kingdom make on us, we will never fully accept the many gifts of joy God gives 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.

Today we reflect on the duality of God’s joy, we take in the wonder and mystery of this message, and we turn to one another as we witness to this most wonderful of God’s gifts.

When we compare other translations with The Message version of these verses, we begin to experience the overwhelming joy of God’s duality, and we will want to share this Easter joy with others.


Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Click on the image of the child to learn about finding paths to happiness, or visit: https://innerself.com/content/personal/happiness-and-self-help/self-help/9471-the-paths-to-joy-experiencing-more-joy-in-your-life.html 

Visit the Center for Contemplation and Action bookstore for more information about Rohr’s work. A SPRING WITH US and YES, AND are excellent resources. http://store.cac.org/ Also see, EVERYTHING BELONGS. 

See this article in THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER on the dos and don’ts as we struggle with compassion fatigue: https://www.ncronline.org/news/environment/feeling-crisis-fatigue-here-are-3-dos-and-3-donts

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John 20:11-18: Overwhelmed

Antiveduto Gramatica: Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on our response to the Risen Christ’s call that we too often miss because we are overwhelmed.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

We wonder where we might find God amid the horrors of war. We see no way forward and shrink from those why ask, “Where is your God now?” And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in faith.

Woman, why are you crying?

We wonder where to look for God amid the homeless, the radically poor, and the fully marginalized. We move forward slowly in darkness, waiting for the light. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in hope.

Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?”

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus at the Empty Tomb

We wonder how to encounter God as we struggle to survive the battles of life. We grope for surety, anticipate a surge of confidence, and wonder where compassion is hiding. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in love.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

The angels of God ask Mary directly – and they ask, “Woman, why are you crying?” Can we give up our fears, give in to these angels, and rely on Christ’s presence?

Christ himself stands before Mary – and he stands before us – to ask, “Who is it you are looking for?” Can we surrender our anxieties, trust Christ himself, and believe that God turns all harm to good?

When circumstances and emotions overwhelm us . . . are we willing to let go of all that terrifies us . . . to fall into the loving presence of the risen Christ?


This selection from John’s Gospel appears frequently in liturgical readings and when we spend time with these verses, we understand why. Read more reflections on this citation on this blog, search for these posts: Overwhelmed by GraceWhere the Body Had Been, Possibilities, Turning Again.

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar to discover what she has to say to us today.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiveduto_Gramatica_-_Mary_Magdalene_at_the_Tomb_-_WGA10352.jpg and http://www.graspinggod.com/jesus-and-mary-magdalene.html

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fake News

Monday, April 9, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on the false news that abounded in Jesus’ time just as it does with us today.

While [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] went on their way, some of the soldiers guarding the tomb went back to the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 

Wherever there is darkness, the light of Christ will pierce deceit and lies.

The chief priests met with the elders and made their plan; they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers and said, “You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep.

Wherever there is secrecy, the power of God will overcome plots and schemes.

And if the Governor should hear of this, we will convince him that you are innocent, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Wherever there is hatred, the consolation of the Spirit will heal with justice and mercy.

The guards took the money and did what they were told to do. And so that is the report spread around by the Jews to this very day.

Wherever there is false news, we rely on the authority of God to lead us to the truth. We trust the model of Christ to ask with compassion. And we believe in the support of the Spirit to reconcile the world.


Click on the image to read about a case study of fake news by Shelly Palmer or visit: https://www.shellypalmer.com/2018/01/fake-news-case-study/

We learn how to spot fake news at the following sites: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/10/31/559571970/learning-to-spot-fake-news-start-with-a-gut-check and http://www.readbrightly.com/critical-reading-teaching-kids-discern-real-information-fake-news/ and https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-ways-to-spot-fake-news-story.htm

Enter the words false teachers, false leaders or false prophets into the blog search bar for how to discern good fruits from bad.

 

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Abandoned by God 

Francisco de Zurbarán: Agnus Dei

Easter Friday, April 6, 2018

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.

On Veteran’s Day in the U.S., we celebrate the end of war. Today we reflect on Jesus’ death last Friday, and the silence that reigned in the Christian world last Saturday as Jesus transitioned from healing prophet to the Messiah Christ. If we are able to take the time to pause, we think a bit about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged. We consider the constant question of whether or not God has deserted a planet created for and in love. We reflect on the many times the world asks Christians . . . where is your God? And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NABRE the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Our feet must be shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

If we might find the minutes to pray this psalm today, we find not only the dark fear of abandonment, but also the burning hope of resurrection.

Tomorrow, proclaiming God’s name.


For more on the meaning of Bashan, visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bashan/http://biblehub.com/topical/b/bashan.htm , http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaBashan.htm, and https://www.britannica.com/place/Bashan 

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/francisco-de-zurbaran/agnus-dei-1640 

For more on Zurbarán’s work Agnus Dei, visit The Prado site at: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/agnus-dei/795b841a-ec81-4d10-bd8b-0c7a870e327b 

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Psalm 116: Making a Return

Easter Thursday, April 5, 2018

In the NRSV translation, this psalm carries the title Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illnessbut what sort of illness might this be? Is our gratitude for a physical, psychological or spiritual restoration? Are we able to step forward into the healing grace of God?

I love the Lord, because he hears me;
    he listens to my prayers.
He listens to me
    every time I call to him.

Now that we have re-lived the story of Easter promise, do we continue to believe in our covenant with God when life challenges us? Are we able to remain steadfast in our beliefs when family or friends test us? How do we love our enemies when they plot and scheme against us?

And so I walk in the presence of the Lord
    in the world of the living.
I kept on believing, even when I said,
    “I am completely crushed,”
even when I was afraid and said,
    “No one can be trusted.”

As we journey through this week of EASTER celebration, are we willing to put aside our wilfulness of ego to reclaim our vow of willingness as servants of the Spirit? Do we step forward as builders of the kingdom of God? Do we shrink from the call to leave our comfort zones?

I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did.
You have saved me from death.
I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and offer my prayer to you.

Remembering the generous love of the Creator, living in the company of the risen Christ, and resting in the consoling mercy of the Spirit, we ask one another to give thanks to God.

In the assembly of all your people,
    in the sanctuary of your Temple in Jerusalem,
    I will give you what I have promised.

We ask our family, friends and foes to make a return for God’s unbounding courage, generous wisdom, and nourishing love.

Praise the Lord!


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we welcome the opportunity to make a return of God’s great love.

Images from: https://yoogozi.com/simple-secret-to-life-serving-others/ and 

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1 John 4:12: God’s Enormous Love

Easter Wednesday, April 4, 2018

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this holiest of liturgical times, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, remembering God’s immense love, anticipating the joy of God’s hope, and resting in the transformation of God’s wisdom.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (NRSV)

We look for physical signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God in the acts of mercy we offer to one another.

No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. (GNT)

We look for spiritual signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God’s hope in the acts of rescue we offer to one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us. (CJB)

We look for emotional signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God in the wisdom we offer to one another.

No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! (MSG)

We look for God in so many ways . . . yet God is among us without our thinking, without our asking, without our believing.

How might we bring the Easter joy of God’s love to one who seeks wisdom, hope and compassion?


When we compare translations of these verses, we come to understand that the perfection of love is its steadfast power and hope in our lives.

Image from: https://williamsonsource.com/pennells-ponderings-on-god-being-in-control/ 

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