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Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Luke 18:31-34

Comprehension

“Luke understands the events of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but, as is usually the case in Luke-Acts, the author does not specify which Old Testament prophets he has in mind”.   (Senior 133 cf.)

Many of us live much of our lives in this way: we do as God asks with the understanding that that we are fulfilling some needed action . . . without fully comprehending how our small part fits in with God’s great plan. Discipleship is characteristically vague in this way, asking us to rely in faith on God, asking us to rest in hope with God, asking us to act in love for God.

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem . . .

Each time we feel God’s desire move through us we know that we are going up to Jerusalem.

The Son of Man will be handed over . . .

Each time we follow Christ we understand that we run the risk of being handed over to the scoffers, the naysayers, the plotters and the complacent.

He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon . . .

Each time we lament that disciple work is difficult we put aside the memory of Jesus’s last days.

After they have scourged him they will kill him . . .

Each time we die another small death we believe we have no more energy to move forward.

But on the third day he will rise . . .

Each time we think we are extinguished forever we rise in restoration and healing.

But they understood nothing of this . . .

Each time we try to explain the reasons for our outrageous hope we meet expressionless faces.

And the word remained hidden from them . . .

Each time we come up against the wall of incomprehension we must remember that even those who followed Jesus day to day did not fully understand . . . until Christ returned to them following the events of his Passion and death.

And they failed to comprehend what he said . . .

Each time we believe that we are lost we must remember that God always acts through inversion and so the lost will be found.

Each time we fall Christ is there – even though we do not comprehend.

Each time we suffer Christ is there – even though we do not understand.

Each time we die one of those many small deaths that mark our passing, Christ is there – even though we do not fully see.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.133. Print.   

Enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem – A Prayer into the blog search bar and explore another reflection. To better understand the expression, enter the words Going Up to Jerusalem and visit the three-part post.

To read about Jerusalem Day and the crowds who pray at the southern wall of the Temple, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.friendlyplanet.com/2013/03/the-top-10-places-and-sites-to-visit-in-israel.html

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Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Friday. August 14, 2020bigstock-Worship-to-God-Element-of-des-18657185-1[1]John 16:2-4

Knowing God

They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.  They will do this because they do not know either the Father or me.  I have told you this so that when the hour comes you may remember that I told you.   

Jesus explains the cost of discipleship to his followers; he warns that the price for their loyalty to him is high.  But with this risk also comes a security that no amount of money can purchase.  No walls, no alarm system, no weapons can guarantee.  He tells the faithful that although their constancy in following God may bring them rejection and pain . . . it also brings the peace the world seeks.

God says: So many of you ask what I am thinking and doing. You only have to look at the actions of my Word to you, the Christ, to know. You want to know how to find me. I am with you even now. You seek deep knowledge and understanding of my ways. It is for this knowing that I prepare you. It is for this intense relationship that I teach you. If you want to fully see me and recognize my Way, watch my son and do as he does. You must expect denunciation, mistreatment and even death because of me. Those who beat you and deny your ways may believe that they reverence me by killing you. They believe this because they do not rightly know me as you do. So do not be afraid. When you know and understand my son you know and understand me. Remember all that I have shown you. 

When we know God we also know that any persecution we suffer in God’s name is balanced by immeasurable joy.  When we follow God’s Way we live in a security that is unmatched by any human fortress.  When we live in God’s Word we come to know the peace that is promised for eternity.  This is the knowing of God that will carry us when the hour comes.


A re-post from August 21, 2013.

Image from: https://www.freepik.com/premium-photo/silhouette-man-mountain-top-sky-sun-light-success-leadership-people-concept_5349675.htm

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joseph's Dream

Joseph’s Dream

Genesis 45:5

Sent Ahead

Do not be distressed and so not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.

Amazingly, Joseph is able to forgive his brothers who years before had sold him – the favored son – into slavery.  His fidelity to God brings him solace and rescue.  His hope in God brings him salvation and healing.  His love of God brings him humility and transformation.

God says: We can see how difficult life was for my servant Joseph yet Joseph continued to trust me even as his blessed and happy life became one of hardship and confusion.  Joseph had always been marked as special and his brothers plotted first to kill him out of their envy.  Later they sold him to a passing caravan and lied to their father Jacob about what had taken place.  For years their sorrow festered.  Not so with Joseph.  Despite the turmoil Joseph kept his eye on me.  Despite the frustration Joseph spoke with me.  Despite the fear Joseph trusted in me.  It was for these reasons that Joseph was able to fulfill the dream I placed in him: he was willing to go ahead of the Hebrew nation so that many might be saved.

God brings good out of all harm.  We need not waste ourselves with worry and anxiety.  Each of us has a place in God’s plan of salvation.  We only need be open to the outrageous possibility of God’s dream for us.


To better understand Joseph’s fidelity in the face of crisis and how each of us may be sent ahead, read the story of Joseph and His Brothers in Genesis Chapters 37 to 50.

For more about the emotions of resentment and envy, visit: https://www.intentionalcommunication.com/envy-jealousy-resentment-the-comparison-emotions-at-work-reprise/

Image from: https://www.sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=859

For a reflection and a prayer on this story of Truth Revealed, enter the words in tot the bog search bar and explore. 

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

76d2ce62177a139a96b48d628d63c470[1]1 John 5:13-14

Simple Truths

I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life . . . And we have this confidence in the Son of God, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

This week we have highlighted several verses from the first letter of John and we have examined the words he records to remind us of how much and how well we are loved.  Today, if there is time in our busy schedules, we might spend time with the entire letter. As we continue to journey through the COVID-19 pandemic, we find wisdom here.

John experienced friendship with Jesus first hand.  He was present at the Transfiguration.  John is the Beloved Apostle to whom Jesus gave over care of his mother, Mary.  He is the faithful disciple who writes the beautifully soaring Gospel defining Jesus as the Word that has been from the beginning and will be to the end.  We do well to spend time with this letter written directly to each of us today.

“The purpose of this letter is to combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community . . . The author affirms that authentic Christian love, ethics, and faith take place only within the historical revelation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ . . . The author sets forth the striking contrasts between light and darkness, Christians and the world, and truth and error to illustrate the threats and responsibilities of Christian life.  The result is not one of theological argument but one of intense religious conviction expressed in simple truths”.  (Senior 387)

Why are we so reluctant to believe the good news that each of us has a personal invitation to be as close to Jesus as John is?  Do we cherish the idea that some of us are more special or less special to Christ?  In believing this we would be straying from the lesson Jesus teaches us.

When are we ever happy with the story of salvation?  When it is the version we have dreamed for ourselves?  In thinking this we would be missing the lesson Jesus taught us.

How will we come to grips with the fact that following Christ requires intense religious conviction?  Or are we hoping to write our own plan for salvation and telling God how we best fit into this plan for the world?  In this desire we illustrate that we have missed all that Jesus has taught us.

John reminds us in his first letter that we are Children of God, that we suffer threats and share responsibilities as Christ’s followers, and that we reap gifts beyond imagining when we allow ourselves to be one with the Mystical Christ.  These simple truths bring forth complex emotions and intense reactions.  They call us out of ourselves and into the world for others.  They carry the weight of the world yet raise us in freedom and salvation.  These simple truths are lived out for us by Christ each day and they bring us the message of our rescue from darkness that we long to hear: that Christ hears our petitions and holds them as dearly as he holds each of us. May we hold one another in Christ as we listen to and take heed of God’s simple truth.


Image from: http://pinterest.com/alinekd/god-is-cool/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.387. Print.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

955165_60482143-610x250[1]2 Corinthians 6:1-10

An Acceptable Time

“A series of seven rhetorically effective antitheses, contrasting negative external impressions with positive inner reality. Paul perceives his existence as a reflection of Jesus’ own and affirms an inner reversal that escapes outward observation.  The final two members illustrate two distinct kinds of paradox or apparent contradiction that are characteristic of apostolic experience”.  (Senior cf. 283)

We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful . . . and so as disciples of Christ we must become accustomed to the world’s unbelief.

As unrecognized and yet acknowledged . . . and so as followers of Christ we must become comfortable with rejection.

As dying and behold we live . . . and so as members of the remnant we find that dying so that we might live a normal daily act.  

As chastised and yet not put to death . . . and so as apostles of the Living God we become accustomed to the scorn of others.

As sorrowful yet always rejoicing . . . and so as sisters and brothers of Christ who take up our cross daily we are assured that our mourning is turned into dancing.

As poor yet enriching many . . . and so as disciples sent into the world in twos we know that we need not take a purse or sandals for the journey.

As having nothing and yet possessing all things . . . and so as children of God we are gladdened by the knowledge that we lack for nothing when we hold only Christ, that we rise in new life when we forfeit the old, and that we are loved beyond imagining by the One who rescues us in an acceptable time.

But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.  (Psalm 69:13)

For this and for all God’s goodness we give thanks as we sing of God’s loving fidelity, justice and mercy.   Amen.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.283. Print.

Image from: http://donaldcmoore.com/2013/05/08/at-an-acceptable-time/

For more thoughts on God’s Acceptable Time click on the image above or go to: http://donaldcmoore.com/2013/05/08/at-an-acceptable-time/

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

tr-corpus-christi-tabgha[1]John 21: 11

Spiritual Stamina

We spent Easter Week reflecting on the 21st Chapter of John’s Gospel and the implications it has for our modern lives.  The Resurrected Christ appears to the disheartened apostles who have returned to their nets and the sea in their confusion after the events in Jerusalem during their Passover time.  Christ had returned to the Upper Room where they had all shared that last meal before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Jesus’ faithful followers – much like us – rejoiced with Christ’s revelation of himself.  Now they feel a bit empty and flat when little in their lives appears to have changed significantly or for the better in any way at all.  And so they go back to what they know . . . and their world changes irreparably when Christ appears again on the shore of the sea.

The apostles sling their nets over the water another time as the man on the shore asks and although they have been casting for hours and have caught nothing . . . the nets come up full to bursting.  And miraculously even though there were so many fish, the net does not break. 

During Eastertide we have explored the burdens and rewards of discipleship.  We have examined the costs and the benefits of following Christ.  We have evaluated the requirements and gifts of living as disciples and we have sometimes found that we have no stomach and little energy to persist in the journey.  We hunger, we thirst, we ache, we tire, we stagger and flag under our perceived burden and yet . . . we return each morning to our Sisyphean task.  Despite our exhaustion, deep within we know that Christ continues to sustain.  We know that he fills our nets daily.  And we see that the nets have not torn.  This is, indeed, a marvelous God.

Paul understands this condition of amazed exhaustion when he writes to the Romans – and to us: We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)

Today, as we celebrate the real presence of Christ among us we turn to this intimate friend and brother who knows us so well, and we place all our worries and delights, all our anxieties and joys, all our fears and celebrations in his able arms.  We fall into this threefold God who protects, saves and sustains, and we pray . . .

Dearest and most precious God present in us,

Although we tire we are not beaten, so living in the life of Christ, we rejoice in our exhaustion.  You have filled our nets again and we know that we cannot pull them from the sea without you.

Although we lack so much we are not lost, so living in the life of the Spirit, we celebrate our poverty.  You have given us all the resources we will ever need and we know that we cannot discern them without you.

Although we have no stamina we find ourselves rising to new mornings, and living in the goodness of God, and so we praise you.  We find ourselves each day with grateful hearts and we know that we cannot live without you.

Remind us that although our nets are full . . . they will never tear.  Although our limbs are weary . . . they will never fail.  Although our hearts are broken . . . they will never be empty.  Amen.


A re-post from June 2, 2013. 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

tumblr_m82nssecoa1rsdmtxo1_5001.jpgJohn 16:12-15

Trinity of Love

A re-post from Trinity Sunday 2013.

Throughout Eastertide we explored the gifts we receive when we open ourselves to the privilege of serving as Christ’s disciples: meekness, broken-heartedness, constancy, honesty, truth revealed, willingness, steadfastness and celebration.  Today as we celebrate the mystery and gift of the Trinity, we might well wonder how and where and when we will find the stamina to endure.  We might ask . . . how are we to endure?

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

It is true that if we were to see the fullness of our lives rolled out before us we might fall into despair.  How wise it is that in God’s plan we live only a day at a time.

When the Spirit of truth comes she will guide you all to truth.

It is best that we learn to live in truth alone.  It is the very essence of God’s plan and so we must set aside all thought of deception, subterfuge and deceit.  How good it is in God’s plan that we look forward in hope.

She will not speak on her own but she will speak what she hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. 

It is correct that once we use our suffering to tune ourselves to hear God’s word we find the work of discipleship less painful.  How wonderful it is that God is so constant and loving.

She will glorify me, because she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is amazing that God continues to love us despite our smallness and reluctance to follow the difficult Way.  How astonishing is God to show us this intense and passionate fidelity.

Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you she will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

It is humbling to discover that God and Christ and the Spirit live together in lovely harmony.  How marvelous it is that God shares the mystery of this union even though we understand it so poorly.

Jesus said to his disciples: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. 

Let us cease our grumbling, let us banish our doubt, and let us come to God willingly, honestly and steadfastly.  Let us bring our brokenness.  Let us surrender our willfulness.  And let us rejoice in celebration that this Trinity of Love counts us at her center.


Image from: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/trinity%20knot

For other reflections on Creator, Redeemer and Spirit, type the word Trinity in the blog search bar and explore.   Tomorrow, the Trinity and time unknown . . .

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Monday, May 25, 2020

tr-trinity-symbol1[1]Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Calamities – Part III

We do not like to think of the calamities that happen to us, or of the ones yet to come; yet we realize that the human condition is precisely this: the learning to survive in a healthy way when disaster strikes – as it always will.

This week we have reflected on how we handle calamity when we live in discipleship.  Today we reflect on calamity as seen from the center of the loving Trinity that embraces us.

The evil time is not known . . . but the time of goodness is – it is now, and we make it so by our words and deeds.

The evil time falls suddenly upon them . . . but the goodness is always with us – and we live out this goodness to others by our words and deeds.

A time of calamity comes to all alike . . . and a time of redemption through the goodness of God, the deeds and words of Christ, and the gifts of the Spirit.

Pole or North Star

The Pole or North Star guides those who watch and witness . . .

The race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the valiant, nor a livelihood by the wise, nor riches by the shrewd, nor favor by the experts . . . yet we are given all of this and more when we live in Christ rather than in the world.

Amid all of the uncertainties of life, this we know for certain: calamity does arrive.  And when it does, we will want to be wearing Christ as our armor, following God as our polestar, and living in the eternal peace of the Spirit.


Images from: http://thinkingthoughtful.wordpress.com/2012/05/ and https://www.farmersalmanac.com/north-star-brightest-star-19822

Adapted from a reflection written on September 28, 2010.

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