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Genesis 1: Re-Creation – The Earth

Easter Monday, April 17, 2017

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Each time we plant flowers, weed vegetables, pick apples from a tree, we realize the bounty and goodness of God’s creation. Too often we are able to pretend that we do not offend Mother earth with our carelessness. In his encyclical, Laudato Sí or On Care of Our Common Home, Pope Francis makes a clear call to each of us to look to our interactions with our environment. In Chapter Two, The Gospel of Creation, Francis lays out a foundation of his premise, and then describes the mystery, the message, and the universal communion that is Mother Earth. We will be rewarded by new insights when we spend time with his words today.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Our modern world too often lives separately from Mother Earth. We do not see where our sewage goes; we do not see the landfills that pollute the earth that struggles to breath and thrive. We do not understand the demands our way of life make on the natural world. We are too easily lead into a life of separateness and alienation by the allure of technology and industry. Manufacture takes on more importance than the people who produce. Consumption becomes our focus. Relationships and connections languish.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.

On this Easter Monday, let us reflect on how we interact with Mother Earth, let us celebrate all she brings to us, and let us determine to care for her so that she may continue to love and nourish us all.

For a summary of Laudato Sí, visit: https://focusoncampus.org/content/summary-of-laudato-si-pope-francis-encyclical-on-the-environment-4b1db7f5-fca5-478c-bc8c-464174d9a07e 

To learn about Bolivia’s “Mother Earth Law,” the first on the planet, click on the images above, or visit: https://newearth.media/bolivia-passes-law-of-mother-earth/ 


Philippians 2:6-8: Re-Creation

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

[Jesus] always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. (GNT)

In this Lententide, we have meditated on the humility we might learn on our Emmaus journey; we ponder the outrageous hope we have in the Spirit. We have considered the phoenix rising from ashes as we have pledged to remain in God. We have admitted that we are children of God who rest in Christ; and we have determined to remain in the world while not being of it. We have reflected on the act of allowing ourselves to be de-created so that we might become new in Christ. Today, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle of new life that conquers death, we come to terms with our human yet divine nature.

Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (NRSV)

Richard Rohr tells us, “All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain . . . If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter . . . If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it – usually to those closest around us: our family, our neighbors, our work partners, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children”. (Rohr 119)

Jesus shows us how we might allow our suffering to save ourselves and others.

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. (MSG)

On this great day we might celebrate the breaking of chains of death that none thought breakable. When we witness Christ in his interactions with those who were crucified with him, and later the women and men who discovered the empty tomb, we do not see Christ puffed up in glory. Rather, we find a humble and loving shepherd who leaves an entire flock in order to rescue a single sheep.

On this great day we celebrate the invitation to re-create ourselves in Christ. We give thanks for the invitation to redemption in Christ. And we rejoice in the promise of hope the Spirit offers us. Let us accept these caring gifts with humility, fidelity and love.

The feast of Easter is an eight-day celebration, so this week we will consider how and where we might show our gratitude to God for these gifts of eternal salvation.

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

To spend more time with these verses, use the scripture link to read varying translations of these words, and to open our hearts to these remarkable gifts of faith, hope and love.

 


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part VII

Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

From Richard Rohr’s A SPRING WITHIN US, we find a challenge that we might explore on this day when we await a loving God who has descended into hell for each of us.

“The Path of Descent could be called the metanarrative of the Bible. It is so obvious and so consistent and so constant that it’s hidden in plain sight . . . God isn’t really the great theme of the Bible. God isn’t really taught in the Bible; God is assumed. There’s never any question that there is a Transcendent Other. The problem is whether this God is good and trustworthy and how to remain in contact with this subtle Transcendence. The path agreed upon by all the monks, hermits, mystics, and serious seekers was a path of descent and an almost-complete rejection of the ego’s desire for achievement, performance, success, power, status, war, and money. The emptiness, waiting, needing, and expecting of the path of descent created a space within where God could show Godself as good, as loving, and faithful”. (Rohr’s italics. Rohr 112-113)

Rohr reminds us that God uses unlikely figures to lead. This new kind of power has no power. Rohr reminds us that we must stumble and fall before we stand and succeed. Loss and mourning teach us humility and grace. Rohr explains that the ego does not like to bear crosses or to suffer; yet these burdens bring us to a new place of self-discovery and sharing. Flawed and wounded women and men teach us more than the famous or wealthy. Rohr reminds us that the Messiah came to us as a defenseless child, dependent on others, a member of a marginalized and oppressed people.

Rohr urges us to discover how we might stumble so that we might grow, how we might lose and still remain faithful despite our doubts and fears. He urges us to discover, and to follow, the path of descent. He asks us to remain in this Messiah who descends into hell so that we might live. He asks us to allow ourselves to be de-created in Christ so that we might then be renewed in Christ.

On this Holy Saturday, let us be Remnant for God. 

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


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part VI

Good Friday, April 14, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

When we begin to believe that our own simple actions of justice will have no effect on the world, then we will know that we are losing heart; yet Paul reminds the Corinthians, and he reminds us, that when we are weak, then we are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) On this Good Friday, we descend into hell with the Savior and return with him. We take the tiny light of hope the Spirit enkindles in us, and we go into the world.

We de-create ourselves when we become willing to stumble and fall so that we might rise and grow in Christ. We discover the power of God when we submit ourselves to the Creator’s authority so that we might turn and return in the Spirit. On this Good Friday, we take the flickering flame of Christ’s love and nurture it, so that we might go into the world as wounded healers. You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

We remember that grains of wheat must die before they create new life. Jesus says: I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. (John 12:24) On this Good Friday, we allow God’s love to de-create us so that we might live again.

We tend to the light that lives within; we surrender to God; we offer all that we have, and all that we are so that we might be remnant for God. For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it. (Matthew 16:25On this Good Friday, let us explore these verses and reflect on the inversions before us. And on this Good Friday, let us be Remnant for God.


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part V

Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci: Last Supper

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . . Today we commemorate the last meal Jesus shared with his followers, the Last Supper that signals the initiation of the Eucharist, the gift of God’s presence among us. Today we spend time with the Gospels as we move closer to the fulfillment of the Easter promise that we are created in and for love.

Matthew 26:17-30 describes this last meal to his Jewish audience. The story told by Mark 14:12-26 is concise yet evocative. Luke 22:1-39 records the last conversations Jesus shares with his followers; we may find these inspiring as we prepare for the Easter Triduum. These accounts conclude with an accounting that Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Finally, with beautiful, soaring language, John 13-17 prepares us for the events that loom in the next few days. We spend our time wisely if we spend time with one, several, or even all of the accountings.

As we consider the gift and promise of de-creation, we have the opportunity to share the gift of God’s presence each day, and we consider . . . Do we celebrate our creation with joy? Do we willingly open our hearts to welcome God’s holy in-dwelling? Do we share the good news that we are free to choose a life in and with Christ? Do we bring the lamp of Christ’s promise of redemptive love into the darkest corners of our world?

This evening we see the arrest  of the Teacher. Tomorrow, his crucifixion. And on the third day . . . the lamps we carry into a darkened Jerusalem come together with the strength of the sun. On this Holy Thursday, let us spend time with the recounting of Jesus’ last supper with us as he opens the promise before our eyes. Let us determine to remain patient and watchful.

And let us resolve to be Remnant for God.


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part IV

Holy Wednesday, April 12, 2017

James Tissot: The Chaldees Destroy the Brazen Sea

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

So often we see Christ as the light of the world, forcing shadows back into corners, bringing corruption into the open, asking for transparency and clarity. The prophet Zephaniah shows us a world the has fallen in on itself, a holy city that has crumbled, a holy people that has scattered, a holy message that is lost in the winds of change.

We can see the de-creation that is taking place and we know how to identify the end of a people; but do we know how to identify the new beginning that God offers each of us each day? Does our pride inhibit us from accepting God’s gift of grace? Is our need to control an obstacle for growth? Does guilt or shame prohibit our stepping into the light Christ offers to the world? Does fear paralyze us? Do we retreat inwardly, using absolute logic and reason in a futile attempt to explore the mystery that is Christ? Do we see and accept the gifts of faith, hope and love that God proffers? Does a need for perfection force us back into darkness? Does a yearning for status and wealth overstep God’s call to love?

We fear the turmoil and chaos that looms when we see that we need to take ourselves apart before we can allow God to put ourselves back together in a new and refreshing way. Zephaniah shows us a city and a people in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to respond to God’s call to the light. As we wait in Easter hope and maintain hope in God’s promise, as we persist in moving forward in love, as we remain faithful to God who loves us much, we move toward the light that shatters the darkness. We move toward the lamp of God’s love and call.

On this Holy Wednesday, let us be Remnant for God.

 


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part III

Let us give God praise, and intercede for those who harm us, for it is easy to intercede for those we love.

Holy Tuesday, April 11, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

We cannot judge others.  We can only gauge ourselves based on our own daily rate of improvement.  My Dad always used to say: Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else.  You will always come up short.  You will be far better or far worse than everyone else, and you will have not learned anything about yourself.  He would continue:  Compare yourself to yourself.  Are you a better person today than you were yesterday?  If so, good.  Keep on going!  If not, you need to change; you better do something about it!

Today we read about God’s wish to de-create all that God has created.  Let us be like Abraham who pleaded for time to find a good man in Sodom.  Let us be like Moses who pointed out to Yahweh that it would not look so good if Yahweh saved people only to destroy them.  Let us be like Ruth who remains faithful against odds and all possibility. Let us be like Mary who said yes to God’s outrageous proposal to bring new life to a dead world through the promise of a child.

Let us ask intercession for all those who harm, those who hate, those who de-construct our world with their anger or indifference. Let us give thanks for creation; and let us give thanks for the de-creation that brings us to redemption. Let us praise God’s name.  Let us celebrate the goodness and mercy of God.  Let us intercede for one another.

Let us be co-creators and co-redeemers with God.  Let us ask to participate in miracles.  Let us believe in the fullness of God’s plan.  Let us love all those who have abandoned God.  Let us bring light in to the darkness. For this is the work of the remnant.

On this Holy Tuesday, let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part II

Holy Monday, April 10, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

Many times the early apostles shook the dust of an un-hearing town or people from their feet and their cloaks.  When they offered peace and that peace did not return to them, they moved on but remained open to the possibility of change, knowing that the work of conversion in these unbelievers was God’s work and not theirs.  If they were to play a part in a particular person’s transformation, they trusted the Holy Spirit to lead them to that spot in time and space, to that person into whose life they would enter . . . to be Christ at a moment of crisis or conversion.  This is how the Trinity functions in us.  This is the Mystery of Creation that works to transform the forces of de-creation into forces of restoration, healing and kingdom building.

God reveals the nature of God to each creature in a time known best only to God.  I like to think of the image of God searching through the tiniest streets of Jerusalem, holding a lamp high in search of the unbelievers who hide in dark places.  I also like to think of God’s modern apostles being the light that streams from this lantern.  We do nothing on our own.  We emanate from God . . . for God . . . in God . . . for the economy of salvation.  We can be a part of that salvation as co-redeemers, or we can be de-creators.  We have a choice to make.  Are we those who lurk in dark places, hiding from the light of truth, feeling comfort in the darkness?  Are we those who hunger for mercy and truth, feeling comfort only in the light?

On this Holy Monday, let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part I

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

For a week, we have traveled the road to Emmaus, Jesus at our side as we look for joy. Like the disciples, we may be immersed in our sorrow, and we may not know that joy walks with us. Today the prophet Zephaniah tells us that we must de-create before we can renew the image of God we bring to the world. In this holiest of weeks, we pledge to remain faithful to Christ who guides us. We persist in stepping into the world embodying the love the Spirit nurtures in us. And we promise to remain in Christ as the hope-filled remnant of God.

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

The prophet Zephaniah lived in a time when many Jews had returned to polytheism.  Here we have a description of how Yahweh will undo his beautiful creation which has been profaned.  He will even take a lamp and search the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem’s streets in order to find the last of the unfaithful.  Thank goodness we hear at the end of this prophecy that a remnant of the faithful will remain, but in this first chapter, there is nothing happy to hear.

How painful it must be for God to watch as we de-construct what is given to us in love.  Not only do we abuse the wondrous gift of Nature and Mother Earth, but we abuse one another and ourselves as well.  What do we do when we discover that we are in relationships that pollute our thinking and our hearts?

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

First, we turn to the one who created us and who knows us so well.  We turn and return to God.  Then, we pray and we act.  We pray for the personal strength to see us through the trials that lie in our path.  We pray for those who wreck damage on themselves and others.  We ask for forgiveness, both personal and communal.  We practice justice and compassion as best we can, wherever we can. And we ask for the gift of forgiveness and healing for the world.

On this Palm Sunday, let us follow the steps of the Master Teacher; and let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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