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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category


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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John 13:21: Prediction of Betrayal

Easter Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Thirty pieces of silver are paid to Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus.

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this holiest of liturgical seasons, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, anticipating the joy of resurrection that always follows the pain of betrayal.

After saying this, Yeshua, in deep anguish of spirit, declared, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that one of you will betray me.” (CJB)

God says: You see that as I walk among you – as one of you – I suffer as you suffer. I come to live among you – as one of you – to show my endless love for you. I have created you out of love. I have created you by and for love. I have created you as an outward sign of my inner union with you. Because I am betrayed by the closest of friends, I fully understand the pain of deceit. I fully recognize that when those we love betray us, the infidelity cuts more deeply than any other pain. Yet despite this duplicity, I love you deeply and always. There is no act or thought that can turn me away. I continue to call, to heal, to transform, and to love. Just as you can predict that your life cannot be fully free of betrayal, so too can you predict that I will be with you always and everywhere. Calling you, healing you, Transforming you. Loving you. Be certain that when you foretell treachery, you may also predict my love.  

 When we compare other translations of this verse, we open ourselves to the love of Christ.


Image from: http://www.restoreculture.com/30-pieces-what-are-we-worth/

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Mark 14:8: She has done what she could . . .

Easter Monday, April 2, 2018

Woman with the Alabaster Jar

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this happiest of liturgical seasons, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, opening our ears and eyes to the possibility of God’s promise. Opening our hearts to the comfort of the Spirit’s healing. Opening our minds to the teachings of Christ.

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. (NRSV)

Criticized by his followers, Jesus broadens the horizons of those willing to look beyond their comfort zone.

This woman did the only thing she could do for me; she poured perfume on my body to prepare me for burial. (NCV)

Questioned by his critics, Jesus calls those willing to follow him in the difficult path of the way of peace.

What she could do, she did do — in advance she poured perfume on my body to prepare it for burial. (CJB)

Watched by those who seek wisdom, Jesus opens possibility by affirming the act of the woman who carries the alabaster jar.

She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly. (MSG)

Examined by those who look for mercy, Jesus encourages all who respond to the world’s fears with compassion.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore this verse, we open doors, ears, eyes, minds and hearts to the compassion that only God can give . . . and we do what we can do.


Image from: http://walkwithmeonourjourney.blogspot.com/2015/06/lets-talk-about-family-hood.html 

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Mark 16:8-10: Alleluia

Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018

This Holy Week we have spent time meditating on the role of the faithful servant, awaiting the promise we heard millennia ago. Today we celebrate with a great alleluia, the miracle of the faithful servant’s union with God through Christ. We re-commit to living the Passion story individually and collectively as we experience promise, betrayal, hope, destruction, restoration, transformation, and salvation. This morning we welcome the good news the angel brings us from the empty tomb. We listen to Eric Whitaker’s Alleluia, consider the images of angels and women, and meditate on the verses from The Complete Jewish Bible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BhKPQY15uk

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Three Marys

Then Miryam of Magdala, Miryam the mother of Ya‘akov, and Shlomit looked up and saw that the stone, even though it was huge, had been rolled back already. On entering the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right; and they were dumbfounded. But he said, “Don’t be so surprised! You’re looking for Yeshua from Natzeret, who was executed on the stake. He has risen, he’s not here! Look at the place where they laid him. But go and tell his talmidim, especially Kefa, that he is going to the Galil ahead of you. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Trembling but ecstatic they went out and fled from the tomb, and they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Tomorrow, still we doubt.


University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire Milwaukee Art Museum, 2014 Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff, conductor

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare this translation to other versions, we too enter into the great alleluia of praise that all of creation offers to God. 

For the story of women arriving at the empty tomb from other Gospels, follow these links. Matthew 28:5-8, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1 

Images from: http://www.pvhc.net/Jesus-Tomb-Icon20eclrpwwu/ and http://www.womeninthebible.net/women-bible-old-new-testaments/joanna/ and 

Music from the University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire Milwaukee Art Museum, 2014 Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff, conductor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BhKPQY15uk

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Mark 16:1-7: Servant Work – Rolling Away the Stone

Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018

We have witnessed the passion of Jesus, we have heard the promise of covenant fulfillment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We rest in the consolation of the Spirit, we turn to one another in our disappointment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We plan to go to the tomb to anoint the body of the one who brought promise and healing, we ask who will roll away the stone, and we wait in quiet for resurrection.

From the Complete Jewish Bible: When Shabbat was over, Miryam of Magdala, Miryam the mother of Ya‘akov, and Shlomit bought spices in order to go and anoint Yeshua. Very early the next day, just after sunrise, they went to the tomb. They were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” 

A rolling-stone grave in Galilee.

Like the women who tend to routine tasks that keep our days moving forward, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the men who wait in fear for consequences they cannot control, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the children who show us the way through darkness, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the disciples who travel to Emmaus, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the apostles who return to their nets and boats, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who know their mission, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who witness and watch, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection and we ask, “Who will roll away the stone?”

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection, we witness to injustice, we pray for our friends and enemies, and we trust that when we arrive at the tomb . . . Jesus himself will have rolled away the stone . . . so that we might step forward as servants in Christ.


Tomorrow, greeted by angels.

Read about the March for Our Lives movement in which the youth of a nation work together to roll away stones once thought unmovable at: https://marchforourlives.com/ 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the reality that Christ rolls away stones so that his servants might work to build God’s kingdom.

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