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John 12:44-50: Re-Creation – Christ

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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

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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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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part VI

Friday, April 7, 2017

Remains of the original road to Emmaus

From Richard Rohr’s reflections, A Spring Within Us: Much of religion has bought right into the honor/shame system. All we did was change the cultural rules to religious rules. Now there was yet another way superior – by being pious, publicly religious, and “moral” about one or two things (which are usually not central issues). Yet Jesus’ teachings against status-seeking and building up religious reputation tell us again and again, “Don’t go there!” (Examine Matthew 6:1-21 and Luke 18:9-14.) (Rohr 105-106)

The two disciples who leave Jerusalem after Jesus’s crucifixion have no idea that the risen Christ joins them in their journey to Emmaus. Perhaps Christ chooses anonymity because he wants the disciples to behave genuinely. He wants no barriers or false faces. No preening, no adulation, no preening or posing. And this is how Christ wants each of us to behave in our interactions with him. After all, God knows every detail of our lives. The Spirit knows every dark corner of our hearts.

Eugene Delacroix: The Disciples at Emmaus

Today we examine our own behavior to look for signs of status-seeking, of building up of our own ideas of religious purity or superiority. Today we have the opportunity to come to Christ in innocent openness. We have the chance to put away our cultural and religious systems of shame and honor. We have the invitation to think about original grace rather than original sin, to both ask for and offer forgiveness, to walk with Christ on our journey to Emmaus, in expectation of Easter hope and joy.

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

For more on the original road to Emmaus, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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Matthew 5:13-16: Salt and Light – A Reprise

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Pope Francis

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesus tells us that we must be salt for the earth, adding flavor, bringing joy; and we are to share this salt of our faith with others.

Jesus tells us that we must be light for the world, slicing through the darkness, bringing hope; and we are to shine this light on the margins and into the corners.

To hear Pope Francis’ words on how we might be both salt and light, visit Vatican Radio at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/06/07/pope_on_how_to_be_salt_of_the_earth_and_light_of_the_world/1235417

 

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1 Corinthians 2:1-3: Polished Speeches

Tuesday, February 14, 2017isaiah-30-21

I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.

In our present world we might well hesitate to speak or act for fear of abandonment or retribution. Paul and Isaiah give us words we need to hear.

God says: If you do not speak up for my little ones because you worry about finding the words for a polished speech, you go astray. When you live in me, my Holy Spirit will give you the words you will need. If you do not act in defense of the marginalized because you fear you do not have enough courage, you wander far from The Way. When you live in Christ, my Son will give you the strength and persistence to act as you know you must act. Rest in my Spirit and you are never without resource. Abide in Christ and you are never alone. Remain in me and you will never be without all that you need to see you through this day.

Isaiah says: If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” (30:21)

When we compare various translations of these verses, we find the strength to persevere in the face of obstacles, and graceful words for our simple but polished speeches.

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Psalm 112: Rising in the Darkness

Monday, February 13, 2017candles

Whether we know it or, once we commit to loving God as we see God in others, we begin to generate light in the darkness.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

We may be unaware that others are watching us but they are. When we say that are committed to Christ, do our actions betray or support our words?

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.

If we hope to make a mark in human history, all we need do is follow Christ. In this way we will find ourselves in the story of hope and generosity rather than the story of fear and exclusion.

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.

Once we begin to think and move in Christ, all fear falls away for we know that we are not in charge and that the long arc of human history is moving toward the light of Christ.

They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.

lightWhen we feel ourselves moving in that great tide of humanity that yearns for universal justice, impartial freedom and eternal peace, we will know that all is well.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

The honor we seek is not the reward of this life; it is the quiet, humble, everlasting honor that Christ bestows when we follow after him.

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; they are exalted in honor.

We cannot think that our progress is smooth for the way of discipleship is difficult in the best of circumstances.

The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

And we must remember that in our gladness of living and loving in Christ, we are called to invite all those who weary from their journey of opposition, mistrust, and manipulation to join in this great generation of life and light and love.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

candles-burningWe give thanks for the times when are the light. We ask forgiveness for the times we have brought darkness to others and ourselves. And we remember to look for the face of Christ in every soul that passes our way.

When we spend time with various translations of this psalm, we find that our hearts are lighter, our path more easily seen and trod, and our journey more full of peace.

 

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1 John 5:14-21: Beloved

Tuesday, January 31, 2017beloved

When we worry that God does not hear us, we must remember John’s words.

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that God hears us if we ask for anything that is according to God’s will. (GNT)

When we become anxious that our world makes less sense and feels more dangerous, we must return to John’s words.

And this is the boldness we have in God, that if we ask anything according to God’s will, God hears us. (NRSV)

When we are confronted with injustice in our homes and in our world, we must recall John’s words.

This is the confidence we have in God’s presence: if we ask anything that accords with God’s will, God hears us. (CJB)

When we believe that our world is moving away from God’s plan, we must rely on John’s words.

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in God’s presence, freely asking according to God’s will, sure that God is listening.  (MSG)

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we have less fear and we become less anxious. We also find the strength to remain in God’s presence rather than be drawn into the darkness of the world. And we will know quite well that are God’s beloved.

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Philippians 2:5-8: The Inverted Kingdom – Part V

Sunday, January 15, 2017inverted-kingdom

Jesus proposes that we set aside the accolades of life as we know it on earth; and this will be difficult to do because our desire for honor and fame, pleasure, power and wealth too often outweighs our willingness to surrender to God’s plan, to forego the hunger for control and celebrity. Today we remember a message from Paul that we have contemplated a number of times during our Noontime journey. We might wonder how we are to invert our lives. We might question how we are to give up all the world offers to take on the qualities of steadfastness, fidelity, meekness, willingness to mourn and to undergo hardship while we follow Christ Jesus on his Way.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. (NSRV)

This picture of the world is the inversion of the one we usually hold dear.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity. (MSG)

This view of the world is one we will want to explore.

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. He was equal with God. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be held on to. He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God. He obeyed even when that caused his death—death on a cross. (ICB)

This view of the world shows us a leader who serves with humility and care.

The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. (GNT)

This picture of the world invites us to newness through service and love.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand the call to live an inverted life.

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Genesis 15 & 21: Do Not Fear – Part Ibigstock-christ-is-born-55349039-752x440

Christmas Monday, December 26, 2016

We are familiar with the conversation between Abram and “I AM” in which God promises not only a kingship and land but a son and as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great (Genesis 15:1) God’s fidelity is echoed in Abram’s.

Later in this story, Hagar bears Abraham a son and her attitude toward Abraham’s wife Sarah changes. When Hagar and her child Ishmael are sent away to wander in the desert, the same God who promises so much sends a messenger to bring them tidings of peace. The angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. (Genesis 21:17Ishmael’s cry is heard by God.

Millennia later God perseveres in watching over the marginalized and invites shepherds as the first witnesses to the arrival of the Messiah in the world. Today we reflect on the gift of fidelity that Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and Ismael teach us. We reflect on the humility and joy of the shepherds who visit the child Jesus. And we reflect on the permanence of God’s love.

Jesus persists in serving as our shield. Today let us consider the fidelity we echo back to God.

To learn more about why and when Abram and Sarai’s names become Abraham and Sarah, visit: http://bibleblender.com/2011/bible-stories/old-testament/genesis/abraham-gets-a-new-name

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to explore the number of ways the Creator tells us that we need not be afraid.

 

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