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Mark 4:26-34: The Mystery of Kingdom – Part IIIbbc image

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Today we continue our exploration of the kingdom by going to the United States FDA web site and examining the topic of genetically engineered animals. Find other sources of information on this topic and consider the pros and cons. What does Jesus say to us on this topic?  How does God’s Spirit move us to celebrate science and those who bring us their discoveries?

Click on the image of the mosquito above to read an article from the BBC asking if the world is ready for work in this arena.

If you want to find another parable that Jesus tells us while exploring this idea, you may want to use a parable index like the one at http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/pa.htm This is a tool to sort through the stories Jesus tells us and you may have another that you want to recommend in a comment.

Or you may want to use the Connecting at Noon page on this blog for ideas about how to explore scripture as we listen for words from God: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/

Tomorrow, another aspect of the kingdom.


Image from: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31604233


Mark 4:26-34: The Mystery of Kingdom – Part IIgmo

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Today we continue our exploration of the kingdom by going to the World Health Organization web site and examining the topic of genetically modified crops. What are the pros and cons? What does Jesus say to us on this topic?  How does God’s Spirit move us to celebrate science and those who bring us their discoveries?

Tomorrow, another facet of the kingdom.


If we want to find another parable that Jesus tells us while exploring this idea, we may want to use a parable index like the one at http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/pa.htm This is a tool to sort through the stories Jesus tells us and you may have another that you want to recommend in a comment.

Or you may want to use the Connecting at Noon page on this blog for ideas about how to explore scripture as we listen for words from God: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/

Image from: https://epthinktank.eu/2015/02/12/new-gmo-legislation/


Mark 4:26-34: The Mystery of Kingdom – Part I

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

James Tissot: The Parable of the Sower

Tuesday June 21, 2022

Jesus says: This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.

With our high-tech science in which we manipulate the very substance of plant and human DNA; and we establish pros and cons explaining how we are helping or harming the planet. These are discussions that did not occur with Jesus’ contemporaries yet Jesus is with us still today, guiding us. If only we might make ourselves full citizens of the kingdom. If only we might awaken to the word of God and the movement of the Spirit. If only we might follow Christ.

Jesus says: Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come”.

Jesus uses this and other parables to bring home his thoughts to his audience. Two thousand years ago Jesus used the mystery of the grain in the harvest to call workers to the kingdom. Today, what parable does he use? Perhaps it is the story of genetically modified crops. We may not be aware that Jesus is present as we make decisions that affect the world for generations; yet Jesus’ word is as important to us today as it was to ancient peoples.

Harvest Reapers

Harvest Reapers

Jesus says: To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, is springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth branches, so that the birds of the ski can dwell in its blades.

Jesus uses parables with us today, but do we apply the lessons he is teaching? Do we explain away the kingdom with our scientific prowess which, when we pause to think of it, is a gift from God in itself? Are we open to the mystery of the kingdom and our world? Do we call others to partake of this mystery? And do we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ presence in every moment and every space of our lives?

The disciple Mark says: With many such parables he spoke to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Women_reaping

Women Reaping

As followers of Christ and readers of God’s word we have become his disciples. Jesus speaks to us in our hearts, explaining the mysteries that puzzle us and healing the wounds that cripple us. When we spend time with scripture we spend time with Christ. Read varying versions of today’s citation . . . and listen for the word of God. For Jesus speaks to each of us so that we might better understand the mysteries of our world, so that we might better comprehend the miracle and gift of this elusive gift of kingdom that we seek . . . but that we already possess and enjoy.

We have looked at the mystery of God, Jesus, he Spirit, power, rendering, resurrection and incarnation. This week we pause to spend time with scripture, looking for the kingdom that is already ours as explained by Jesus to his followers, and as found in the words of the Old and New Testaments. Today we begin our journey as we use the scripture link of this citation from Mark to compare texts . . . and to listen for the Word of God.


To learn more about agriculture and other topics in biblical times, visit: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/agriculture.htm 

Images from: http://womeninthebible.net/bible-archaeology/farming-agriculture/ and http://lambservant.hubpages.com/hub/Bible-Trivia-Quiz-Kings-of-the-Old-Testament and http://www.allposters.com/-sp/The-Parable-of-the-Sower-Posters_i3489188_.htm


John 12:24: The Mystery of Resurrectionempty tomb

Monday, June 20, 2022

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

This is perhaps the most difficult of mysteries to comprehend. Richard Rohr, OFM posts this meditation on June 7, 2015. When we reflect upon it today, we begin to discover what it is we already have forever. We begin to understand this mystery that is reckless, real and eternal.

“Jesus himself exemplified and also taught us the path of descent, which Christians have often called ‘the way of the cross.’ The path downward is much more trustworthy than any path upward, which only tends to feed the ego. Like few other Christians, it was Francis of Assisi who profoundly understood that.

Authentic spirituality is always on some level or in some way about letting go. Jesus said, ‘the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Once we see truly what is trapping us and keeping us from freedom we should see the need to let it go. But in a consumer society most of us have had no training in that direction. Rather, more is supposed to be better. True liberation is letting go of our false self, letting go of our cultural biases, and letting go of our fear of loss and death. Freedom is letting go of wanting more and better things, and it is letting go of our need to control and manipulate God and others. It is even letting go of our need to know and our need to be right–which we only discover with maturity. We become free as we let go of our three primary energy centers: our need for power and control, our need for safety and security, and our need for affection and esteem.” (Rohr)

When we allow the seed of our old selves to pass away and die we find that we are reborn into a newness of peace that blossoms amidst turmoil and anxiety. When we allow ourselves to let go to fall down the well of our former self, we discover that the dreadful bottom we fear hitting is the very narrow gate of life that we so earnestly seek. This is a mystery that we will want to explore. In and with Christ, it is a mystery that we experience daily.


Compare different versions of these verses and listen for the promise of this mystery of resurrection. 

For more from Richard Rohr, visit his site at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True), CD. This simple tri-part distinction has been affirmed by many psychologists in many different ways, and is also used by Fr. Thomas Keating in his understanding of the entrapment of the human person.

Richard Rohr, OFM, posted on June 7, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Image from: https://www.theursulines.org/2017/04/16/the-empty-tomb-2/


Mark 14:12-16Preparation of the Dwelling Placebread-and-wine

Corpus Christi Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Feast of Corpus Christi is a celebration of Christ’s presence in the world in a very special way. Today we read and reflect on how Jesus – he who is the son of the living God – prepares for and celebrates a day when God has saved us all.  We might forget this easily unless we remind ourselves often that we need not struggle with the world.  Our only struggle is with our own stubbornness or willfulness when we refuse to hand over our suffering to God.

Some of us think of our meeting with God as taking place in some foggy future just after we die; there are many stories, novels, plays, films and poetry about how we humans shed our mortal skin and meet with our creator to make an accounting of all that we have done – or not done – on earth.  We forget that God is with us constantly, seeing all that we do, available for a conversation, able to give advice, loving us into goodness.  We ought not hesitate in preparing a chair for God, a bed for Jesus, a meal or conversation to share with the Spirit.

Everything we have heard about the story of our salvation is good news; yet we hesitate to believe.

Everything we have seen about the story of our rescue is about our new freedom; yet we hesitate to hope.

Everything we have known about the living presence of the Christ is immediate and irrefutable; yet we hesitate to join God in this union of love.

We must prepare a place today in which we can find Christ and spend time with him in an honest, authentic dialog about both our worries and joys. If we have a special place where we find God’s presence readily, let us remain a few moments longer than usual . . . and let us thank Christ for the gift of mystery that keeps us close and questioning. Let us thank God for the gift of life that brings us eternal peace. And let us determine more than ever to live as fully as we might in the Spirit. For all of this, let us prepare ourselves to accept this miracle of Corpus Christi, this mysterious, wonderful, singular dwelling place where for each of us in our own time and in our own way . . . body and spirit are one.

Tomorrow we continue our reflections on mystery with The Mystery of Resurrection. 


Image from: http://stjohnscathedral.ca/?attachment_id=8817

Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2010.


denarius

The Roman Denarius

Mark 12:13-17: The Mystery of Rendering

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

These words seem oh so simple . . . and yet they contain such a depth of wisdom that a lifetime of reflection will not uncover all that Jesus wishes to tell us.

God says: When you are perplexed by the world, remember that your confusion comes from believing that there are two worlds you want to reconcile. There is only one world and one life. That world and life are me. Render your confusion to me. You will reap clarity and wisdom. When you are disappointed in the relationships you have forged, remember that no one’s opinion but mine matters. Others who pose and cajole you are speaking only on their own behalf. Truth comes from love and love comes from me. Render your lives to me. You will reap life eternal. When you are hurt and damaged by the hypocrisy around you, remember that integrity is the hallmark of my discipleship. I will deal with the lies and deceptions. Stay away from deceit and it will not ensnare you. Render your fidelity, hope and love to me. You will reap peace and serenity.

Spend time with these verses today. Use the scripture link to compare differing phrases and lexicon. Determine what it is that Jesus is saying when he answers a question with his own question. Decide what it is that Jesus is asking us to give over. And then consider what it is we gain by this rendering.


 Image from http://www.beastcoins.com/RomanImperial/RIC.htm


2 Corinthians 12:9-10: The Mystery of Powerplant in crack

Thursday, June 17, 2022

The Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

How many of us can say that we are content with the obstacles and restrictions that curb our will? How often have we been content to live out God’s plan rather than our own? And how open are we to the power and mystery of grace in our lives?

God says: I know that you want to please me and this desire fills me with joy. I delight in your willingness to follow and believe that I have your own joy in mind every moment of each day and night. So often you see my love as a restriction or punishment and this is not so. My love wants to liberate you from all fear and foreboding. My grace is a gift that fills you with the ability to trust me. It is a gift you cannot earn, a mystery you cannot understand; but this does not worry me . . . and it ought not worry you. My love is able to bring joy from grief, gladness from anxiety and goodness from harm. All I ask is your fidelity and love. All you need is my strength in your weakness. Think about this inversion today and see if you can come to a full understanding of this upside-down view of the world.

And so we pray:

When we look for signs of God’s grace in our weakness we become strong.

When we discover signs of God’s hope in our fears we become courageous.

When we find compassion in God’s plan we become merciful.

When we nurture seeds of humility in our pride we become loving.

When we discern opportunities for transformation in our suffering we become wise.

When we treasure your justice in the deepest of grievances in our pain we become your presence to the world.

Give us your strength in our weakness today and all days. Amen.


Image from: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2010/12/weakness-strength-and-the-end-of-self.html


Ephesians 4:3-6: The Mystery of the Spiritwhat_is_the_holy_spirit_cover

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Strive to preserve the mystery of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through and in all.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains that the pagan gods of the Greek and Roman societies are indifferent, distant, and selfish; and they operate in a manner that runs counter to the Law of Love that Jesus describes for us.

God says: With these verses, my servant delivers a plea for unity. In your disparate lives you will too often move away from one another and away from yourselves for it is in the encounter with others that you best discover yourself. This is the mystery of my Spirit. She dwells within each of you, whispering words of comfort, healing physical and psychological pain. Yet she also dwells as a binding, calling voice to all of you. No one is left aside. No one is abandoned or left alone. All are welcome. All are loved. This is the great mystery of my love and of your life. Do not struggle against it; rather, lean into it. This love that wants to heal and transform is all you need to save you from turmoil and sorrow. When you live in me, you will constantly be surprised by my presence in unusual places. When you live through me you will consistently find the strength you will need as you work for me. My Spirit is in each. My Spirit is in all. My Spirit cannot be extinguished. My Spirit cannot be resisted. Allow the miracle and mystery of my love to live in and through you. Bring my presence to the world.

When we believe that one small action on the part of one person cannot make a difference, we have separated ourselves from the mystery and possibility of God’s love. Explore the work of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an organization that works with the homeless to bring to fruition in a surprising way the healing and unifying work of the Spirit. We may also want to explore organizations that bring the most hope to those with homes who may experience hopelessness. Visit: https://impactful.ninja/best-charities-for-helping-homeless-people/


Image from: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/holy-spirit/

 


Ephesians 3:8-11: The Mystery of ChristJesus_07_MysteryFiles

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

With humility, Paul tells us that although he does not understand why he is chosen to pass along God’s word, he does understand that we can never fully understand the mystery of God’s love for us. Nor can we plumb the depths of Christ’s impassioned love for us as God’s children.

God says: I do not expect that you will comprehend all that I do for you each moment of your existence. I do not ask that you understand the breadth or depth of my plan, my mind or my heart. Nor do I ask that you fend off the “principalities and authorities” that my servant Paul names. But what I do ask of you is simply this: that you follow the Way laid out by Jesus, and that you prepare a place for my Spirit to dwell within you. Jesus comes to you as your brother to take your hand and lead you into the narrow path that leads to peace. My Spirit flutters about you with a desire to heal and transform. You need not grasp my intention for you with full knowledge; only trust that I have plans for your joy and not your woe. All that is required is that you remain open and willing to my Spirit, open and hopeful in Christ, open and determined in the Creator. All that is required is love, my love for you . . . and your love for me. This is the great mystery of Christ that you need not understand but from which you nonetheless benefit. I come to you as Christ your brother who willingly gives over a life so that you may live.

God knows that we cannot take in the height and depth and breadth of Jesus’ love for us, and God does not ask that we understand this mystery before we partake of its benefit. All that God asks is our dedication and fidelity.

jaw-dropping-views-from-the-hubbEnter the word Fidelity into the blog search bar and explore this quality. Consider how we might better show our understanding of the mystery we find in Jesus, and how we might return own faithful love for and to Christ.

Use a web browser to search for Hubble images and reflect on how they might represent the mystery of Christ as the incarnation of the God among us. 

Click on the image from Hubble above to visit: https://hubblesite.org/resource-gallery/images 

To explore National Geographic Mystery episodes, click on the image of Jesus above or go to: https://www.natgeotv.com/za/shows/natgeo/the-jesus-mysteries

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