Posts Tagged ‘cross’

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mark 8:34-37

life of christ, the_t_nv[1]Fullness of Life

Deny Self, Take up the Cross, and Follow: These are very simple words but oh, so challenging to live. Bible commentary tells us how difficult it is to fully and absolutely follow Jesus.

This utterance of Jesus challenges all believers to authentic discipleship and total commitment to himself through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself . . . [This is] an expression of the ambivalence of life and its contrasting destiny.  Life seen as mere self-centered earthly experience and lived in denial of Christ ends in destruction, but when lived in loyalty to Christ, despite earthly death, it arrives at fullness of life.  (Senior 81)

An authentic life is rich indeed even, and perhaps especially, when it is lived in poverty and want.

A challenging life is one in which we are called to something that asks us to stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zone even, and perhaps especially, when we are called to confront our biggest fear.

A life of self-renunciation is not tragic and sad. It is a life lived fully because in this way we go beyond our humanity to experience our divinity.

A life spent in cross carrying brings us the tools we will need to fully and wholly enter into union with God.  It prepares us for the eternal.

Jesus is always about inversion and with these words today, recorded simply and faithfully by Mark, Jesus describes the straightforwardness of his life. If we wish to follow we must allow Christ to act with, in and through us. And when we do we will fully understand the words we read today.

To be human, we must allow the divinity planted in us by God to open us up to possibility. To be divine, we must allow our humanity made holy by Christ to transform us. To be both human and divine, we must allow ourselves to accept the gift offered by God, the opportunity to experience life in the fullest, the gift and opportunity we receive from the creator as God’s Christmas people.

We may regard the price of this gift as being too high for the human reach and yet . . . it is the true path to eternal life.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.81. Print.

Image from: http://covdevotions2010.blogspot.com/2010/04/day-95-philippians-23-4.html

Adapted from a reflection written on October 4, 2010.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

SF_LOGO1[1]Sirach 21

A Prayer for Steadfastness

In our Easter journey we have been exploring the idea that discipleship brings hidden gifts along with its difficulties and suffering.  We have been examining figures in the Old and New Testaments to see what we can learn from well know stories.  And we have been praying together to discern how we might better see the cross of discipleship as gift rather than burden.  Today we pray for steadfastness.

When we ask for God’s wisdom in understanding how we have found ourselves in discomfort . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we open ourselves to hear what we may learn from our uneasiness . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we are humble enough to learn something about God and ourselves through our suffering . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we step forward to volunteer our lives in service of Christ in his kingdom-building . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we resolve to learn from the anxiety and pain we have experienced . . . we ask for steadfastness.

Jesus ben Sirach tells us that when we allow this steadfastness to permeate our lives, we will find ourselves among wise women and men rather than a troop of fools; and these wise ones will bolster us when we falter.  When we allow steadfastness to govern our lives, we will experience the joy of knowing that we are one with Christ.  This is the joy and gift of walking with Christ.  It is the gift of better knowing ourselves.  It is the gift of looking in a mirror openly and honestly without having to deceive ourselves about what we actually see.   It is the gift of our divinity in and through Christ.  And so for this gift of steadfastness we pray . . .

Dear Lord, you have planted in each of us our own gifts to share.  Help us to ready the soil of our lives, make us open to the life-giving rain of your wisdom.  Help us to be builders of your kingdom rather than hearers only of your Word.  Help us to listen, reflect and pray for your presence. Bring us the steadfastness and humility that we will need to nurture the growth of your Word in us so that we may offer these gifts back to you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, as we move toward Pentecost . . . Celebration in Assembly . . .

Image from: http://www.bgumc.net/?page_id=147

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Wisdom 14: Superstition

Monday, December 9, 2019

Castor and Pollux

When reading this chapter with footnotes, we will understand that calling a piece of wood here is a reference to the custom of calling upon the twin gods of Castor and Pollux for safety at sea.  “St. Elmo’s fire, the electric discharge from the ship’s mast during a thunderstorm, was regarded as their corporeal epiphany”.  According to Cyril of Alexandria (commenting on Acts 28:11), it was especially an Alexandrian custom to have pictures of the twins to right and left of the ship’s prow”.  (Meeks 1519)  The opening of this chapter reminds us of how foolish we are to pray to gods who do not exist when we will be wiser to appeal directly to God’s providence.  [I]t is your providence, O Father, that steers its course, because you have given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves, showing that you can save from every danger, so that even a person who lacks skill may put to sea. 

I am thinking of the image of each of us as we put to sea each morning when we rise, to sail through the waters of the day, hoping to return to safe harbor at night.  Some of us are more skilled than others at navigating the waves of life, but when the storm clouds brew above us and the sea churns beneath us . . . who among us is not tempted to reach for a personal talisman as a security blanket to see us through?  When we sail with God, our expertise does not matter because even a person who lacks skill may put to sea. 

Notes tell us that verses 6 and 7 refer to the Ark of Noah and the wood of Christ’s cross: For even in the beginning when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.  For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.  These wooden objects save, because they are instruments of salvation that come directly from the Father.

John Peter Glover: St. Elmo’s Fire

The rest of this chapter tells us that the idea of statue-making and idol worship is an invention of man when turning away from God.  We might smile when a friend or relative confesses an addiction to a pet superstition.  And we can understand the comfort that this panacea may bring . . . but the relief from anxiety is temporary . . . and lacking divinity . . . and eventually leading us to a destructive end.

It is difficult to give up our folk customs which give an immediate but false sense of security.  It may be frightening to put away old habits that lead to a temporary reprieve from worry; but then is it not even more frightening to embark on life’s tide each day without the master pilot in our ship?  Is it better to appeal to these short-lived superstitions . . . or turn to God who upholds us infinitely?

Psalm 107Some sailed to the sea in ships . . . They reeled like drunken men, for all their skill was gone.

Mark 4:37-42A violent squall came up . . .

The Morning Star

Stepping out on our own is impossible, even with a million potions, sayings and powers in our hands.  Setting sail in a boat fashioned by the master shipbuilder’s hands, with sails sewn by his angels, with charts, sextant and compass as gifts from God . . . setting our course by the Morning Star . . . this is the wisdom that always leads us home.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  (Meeks)

To learn more about the mythology of Castor and Pollux, click on the image above.  To learn more about Castor and Pollux and the Gemini constellation, go to: http://astroprofspage.com/archives/677 

For more information on the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire, go to: http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/atmospheric/st-elmo-fire.htm

For more about the Morning Star, click on the image above , or go to: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2009/10/03/the-morning-star-paradox/   or http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/eve_morn.html

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/astronomy/eve_morn.html or

Written on November 23, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Mark 14:22-26: Denial

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Denial in the life of a Christian is not an option.

The very rock upon whom Jesus builds the Church – Peter – denies that he was a companion of Jesus.  This is actually a good thing for all of us who are Christ’s twenty first century apostles.  If such a one shows weak knees and nauseous stomach when called to witness . . . then so may we.  The glory of this story is that when the Resurrected Christ asks Peter: Do you love me?  (John 21), we see Peter rise to the challenge: Yes, Lord, you know that I do.  After this encounter with his resurrected teacher, Peter dedicates the rest of his life to the dangerous work asked of him by this Lord.  Can we not do the same, even at a cost to our reputation and our finances?  What do we fear?

It is so difficult to step out of the mold everyone expects and into the behavior our Lord calls from us.  It is so frightening to leave all comfortable habits behind and embark on a new, spiritual response to our Lord.  Yet it is such a privilege to witness to this Lord who loves us beyond all measure.

It is a gift to take up the cross we are given to move toward the light.  It is a gift to be called into the difficult work of conversion.  Yet each time we feel the queasiness, the headache, the dry mouth, the unwilling spirit, we might remember Peter.  Perhaps it also helps to remember that there is work to be done . . . and that not all are called . . . and that not all respond . . . even when given the second opportunity.  As a sign that we are Christians, we are to take heart as we heft the unwanted cross to our shoulders . . . and we are to encourage one another as we carry our burdens back to the Lord, who will then add them to the weight he already carries.

Denial in the life of a Christian is not an option.

And so we pray, Dear Lord . . .

Grant us the confidence we will need to lift our crosses and follow you.

Grant us the courage we will need to step out of our comfort zone when we follow you.

Grant us the understanding we will need to the value our suffering in a way that transforms us and others.

Grant us the stamina we will need to see the hope in your cross.

Grant us the love we will need to allow ourselves to be open to your guidance as we carry our crosses with you.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2012/05/odj-one-meal-one-body/

Written on September 23, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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