Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘discipleship’


James 2:19-20: Faith and Wisdom – Part II

Sunday, October 11, 2015the-finance-bar-office-photographs--216_custom-36360f16815c83176350d0e82bc5c5c22aec4316-s800-c85

Yesterday we heard James’ description of true discipleship in Christ. Faith alone or works alone do not put us on the disciple’s path. Today James suggests that a lack of true wisdom can send us astray, can allow us to respond to the kind of thinking that tears down true faith and whittles away at true wisdom.

Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Spend a few minutes today with this brief podcast from NPR that describes how Marsha Barnes has put her faith and works together in true wisdom. The three and a half minutes are well worth our time. Click on the image above to find the interview or go to: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/04/445595860/got-a-personal-finance-question-dont-miss-the-bus

Tomorrow, James gives us concrete examples of those who walk and live in wisdom and faith . . . through their works in discipleship.

 

Read Full Post »


James 2:14-18: Faith and Wisdom – Part I

Saturday, October 10, 2015faith-pray-wisdom-faith-quotes

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?

James continues to pound away at our self-satisfaction and comfort, particularly when we convince ourselves that our words alone are enough to indicate our willingness to follow Christ. James tells us a story by way of example on the chance that we miss his meaning.

For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

God-talk and God-acts. Is one sufficient without the other? Is it possible to have faith without true wisdom or wisdom without acts of faith? James continues.

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Use the scripture link to compare other versions to these verses from THE MESSAGE. Let us listen for God’s wisdom and be moved to act in our faith.

Tomorrow, what do faith and wisdom in union look like?

Read Full Post »


Mark 4:1-25: The Parable of the Sowergoodsoillogo

Friday, September 11, 2015

This is a familiar story we frequently hear. The other synoptic (meaning “seen as one”) gospels of Matthew and Luke have this same parable with little variations. Matthew also tells of the farmer who sows wheat in the day time but then an evil person sows weeds at night in the same field. When the workers want to pull the weeds, the owner says no; he knows that they may also pull up the wheat. The weed in this story is most likely the darnel plant that looks exactly like wheat until it matures. The allegory, therefore, is that we should not judge who is wheat and who is weed in our own little fields because we all look alike until the end of the journey. And only God can discern which is which – who is who.

Our scripture group recently shared ideas about how we each are a type of seed. We lack understanding when we allow “the evil one” to steal us away from God (the seed on the path). We allow persecution and tribulation to wear us down (the seed on the rocks). We allow our worldly goods and worries to separate us from God (the seed in the thorns). We all hope to be seed with a proper disposition – the seed which falls on fertile soil; yet we cannot tell who is who.

We also spoke of the ancient custom of plowing after sowing – so once the seed is disbursed it has to endure the plow before it germinates and grows; but the message of two thousand years ago is the same message we hear today: discipleship is difficult, troublesome, and usually unpopular. We have received the Word, but allowing it to flourish in our hearts and then govern our hands, feet, lips, and minds can be another thing entirely. When we are feeling as though discipleship is too onerous for us, we always go back to the one idea which is central to our lives: With God, all things are possible. Life may look impossible when we are down, but we can still reach our potential as a disciple. We can still be Christ-like. We can transform ourselves with the purifying fire of the struggles we experience. We can be touched and healed if we open ourselves to the possibility of miracles. And we can, in turn, offer our simple life to Christ by opening it to others.

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 3, 2007.

Read Full Post »


John 21: Glory, Part XIV – Epilogue

Mike Moyers: Breakfast At Dawn

Mike Moyers: Breakfast At Dawn

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Disappointment, fear, hatred, trouble, emptiness, and doubt – these are the valleys we traverse on our road with God’s glory. Jesus washes our feet, gives us life on his great vine of love, tells us of the Advocate and asks us to hand ourselves over for the gift healing unity. And Jesus asks that we hand ourselves over in humility as true followers rather than passing fans. These are the gifts we have discovered on our road with God’s glory. Today’s we look at our final lesson on Glory: The epilogue of the Jesus story is the prologue of our own. How do we wish to tell it?

When we spend time with the last chapter of John’s Gospel, we will find many parallels between the lives of the apostles and our own. We can look at this brief list and add examples of our own discipleship.

  • The apostles go back to their old way of earning a living when Jesus leaves; and this is what we often do when we discover something about the kingdom but do not quite own it. We revert to what is familiar, even if it is not good.
  • Jesus calls his followers “children”. If these fishermen and the women who tend to this group are children then certainly so are we.
  • It is the beloved apostle, John, who recognizes Jesus while the others do not. We can imagine how many times a day Jesus walks past us without our noticing.
  • Peter is so excited when he sees Jesus on the shoreline that he leaps from the boat to walk on water, doubts and falters, but rises when Jesus encourages him. We also do this when we respond to God’s call, flounder, yet are raised up by the Creator.
  • When Jesus tells the tired apostles where to fish there are too many to haul on board in the same body of water where there were none. Too often we are tempted to cease just fishing when we need to continue.
  • Jesus cooks and eats with his tired followers. The Resurrected Jesus is just as real as the Human Jesus, they are one and the same. And this man who loves us so much and so well calls us to be nourished in him. He calls us to this same resurrection that he experiences.

Footnotes and commentary tell us that the character of this last chapter of John has non-Johannine “peculiarities” that suggest it was written by Luke.  Others say that it was definitely written by John.  Whoever the writer, it is clear that he is impelled to depict with clarity the surprise and happiness of these disciples Jesus knows so well. The writer is also eager for his readers to experience this same surprise and happiness in their own lives. And so it is with the last verse that he invites us to add our own stories of glory in and with God to this incredible story of goodness, mercy and light in a world that is too often dark . . . There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Jesus is as big as all of us.  Jesus is as small and intimate as each of us. Separately and together we are Christ. How do we take him into the world every day?  Is this epilogue the end of the story . . . or is it the beginning of another encounter between us and our God? Is this the beginning or the end of God’s glory?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 26, 2008.

Read Full Post »


John 16: Glory, Part VII – Trouble

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we experience God’s glory, barrenness is made fertile, mourning becomes joy, and lack becomes surfeit. We must not avoid the deserts in our lives.

In his last evening with his disciples, Jesus leaves with a warning of persecution and he tells them of how the world will hate him and all that he stands for.  Discipleship will be difficult, he says, but there is also good news: a new Comforter will come to them and he himself will rejoin them in a way they have not been able to imagine.  He will return from the dead.  And he will reveal even more to them than he already has.  All of this is too much for them to take in.  It is too much for us to take in. Yet these words lay out the premise that we experience God’s glory through the trouble in our lives.

You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice; you will have pain but your pain will turn into joy. 

All of this brings us to a basic truth: the difficulties we experience are more than they seem . . . they are opportunities for joy and an insurmountable interior peace. A mini-reflection from MAGNIFICAT reads: What we formerly perceived as barrenness in our life has become filled with a Presence – the Presence for which we were made.  This is in reference to an important story in 1 Samuel 1, the story of Hannah, the barren wife who pleads with God out of her sorrow.  Her request is granted and she not only bears her first son who becomes the great prophet Samuel, she bears even more.  We are told that Hannah weeps from the bitterness of her soul (1 Samuel 1:10).  Peninnah, her husband’s; second wife who is not barren, taunts Hannah about her apparent curse; Hannah persists in her praying.  The priest Eli believes her to be drunk (1 Samuel 1:13); yet Hannah continues in her prayer.  Then Eli tells her that the Lord will hear her petition and Hannah’s face is no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:18).  She returns home and her grief becomes joy when she conceives and bears this son who is to be an integral part of human history.  It is then that she understands how her barrenness has turned into joy – through the work of God’s plan – and she rejoices that she has been able to participate fully in this mystery.  She sings a hymn of praise (1 Samuel 2): My heart rejoices in the Lord . . . there is no one like the Lord . . . there is no rock like our God . . . the Lord brings death and he makes alive . . . he brings down to the grave and he raises up.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered . . . He will guard the feet of his saints.

Jesus reminds us of this again today.  He says: I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . I have told you so that you might have peace in me.   In the world you have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

When we find ourselves in a barren portion of our lives, we might come back to these stories and these words to remind ourselves that when misery overtakes us and the pain is greater than we can bear, this may well be an indication that we have entered into the very mystery we have sought. This may be evidence that we are fully engaging in our own transformation.  It may be the opening to a new Presence, a new beatitude which we otherwise cannot experience . . . if we have not found ourselves in trouble with the world.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 11 January 2010. Print.

Click on the image above for a post from Ecumenical Women at the United Nations

Compare various Bible versions of this story and consider when or how our mourning might lead to our joy.

Read Full Post »


Matthew 8:18-22: Would-be Followersfox-kit-at-den-entrance-in-saskatchewan

May 14, 2015

We say: Teacher, I will follow you wherever you will go . . .

Jesus says: Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head . . .

God says: These may seem like sad words to you but they express a reality. I knock on the doors of those who ask for my help yet so often no one answers because they see a beggar, a woman, one suffering from disease, an outcast outside their comfortable home. When you see the least of my people you see me. Remember that I am meek and humble of heart. I am a child coming to your with nowhere to lay my head. I look for refuge with you even as you look for me.

We say: Lord, let me go first and bury my father . . .

Jesus says: Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead . . .

Why-do-birds-build-nest1God says: These words may sound harsh but again, they tell of a reality that I see. My children concern themselves for that which is already gone, for that which they cannot control, for that which is mine to handle. When I make plans for you to learn the lessons that will soften your heart and unbend your stiff neck, I do this out of love. I have plans for your wholeness and unity in me. I do not have plans for your woe. I have plans for your happiness and love through me. I do not have plans for your pain. I have plans to heal your suffering and to transform our heart; I do not have plans for your ruin. I have plans for life eternal in me. Seize this opportunity to be a true follower rather than one who would be . . .

Enter the word disciple into the blog search bar and explore the words we have heard so often that reveal our life in Christ.

Click on the images in this post to learn more about why birds build nests and why Jesus may have used this imagery. 

Read Full Post »


James 3:17-18: A Holy Life
burning-bush1

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 10, 2015

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor”. THE MESSAGE

Jesus has told us about the nature of true discipleship. God has created us in the image of goodness and light and truth. The Spirit lives within, waking us each day to new possibilities of hope and peace and mercy. In celebration of the continuing gift of Easter life, let us spend time today in God’s intimate company, and let us thank God for the gift of a holy life by striving to live on true discipleship.

Using the scripture link above, compare other versions of these versions from James’ letter

 

 

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, February 3, 2015Malachi1

Malachi 1

God’s Messengers

The last of the Minor Prophets, this anonymous writer gathers a collection of oracles in which he reproaches the authority caste – the priests and rulers.  It is likely because his criticism is direct and pointed that he does not reveal his identity and he chooses the name Malachi, or My Messenger.  This prophet writes about how a life of discipleship is equivalent to the process which silver or gold undergo during smelting – hard and fast fire under the watchful eye and in the careful hands of the smith.  This particular book gives us an historical perspective of life in the Jewish community returned from exile, between the period of Haggai and the reforms instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah.  It is likely that this writer’s words helped to prepare the community for the necessary reforms which took place in about 480 – 460 B.C.E.  This prophecy is perhaps a response to the great skepticism and apathy of the time; it recalls God’s love for us, and his divine retribution and justice.  It is perhaps the most cited of the prophetic books in the New Testament. This Messenger has come as a precursor to John the Baptist, announcing the impending arrival of the Messiah.  (Senior 1170 and La Biblia de América 1022)

When we look at these verses today, we can see that Malachi points directly to the leadership for their lack of stewardship and even for their pollution of sacred rituals and rites; but any one of us might examine our role as shepherd to see where and how we have served poorly and well.  Each of us is called to guide others as we journey together toward the New Kingdom.  And each of us can find ourselves in conversation with God, discerning how we have done well and how we might improve.

Today we might take a wider look at ourselves to see how we – as priests and leaders in our families and places of work and play – have brought Christ’s message to others.  Have we been good and faithful messengers on God’s behalf?  Have we incarnated this message to speak about it through our actions rather than through our words?  Have we been a constant bride to the constant bridegroom?  Do we tell the story well that God walks among us to release us from our fears and anxieties?  Have we let others know that our salvation is already been purchased for each of us?  Have we proclaimed aloud the good news that we are each born as children of God, and that we each have gifts freely given to us to share with God’s humanity?

Part of the evening prayer in MAGNIFICAT today is from the Acts of the Apostles 13:32-33: We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us, [their] children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”.

So as we prepare for evening, we might turn to God in prayer with these words.

Good and gracious God of all of us gathered here before you,

We come humbly before you to learn how we might better shepherd ourselves, and how we might better shepherd those you send along your Way to accompany us.  May we be ever mindful of this work, may we be ever truthful to your Way.  And when we lose our footing, may we always turn to you as the source and summit of all that is good.  We ask this in the name of our brother, Jesus Christ, who lives and walks with us today.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 24.8 (2009). Print.  

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1170. Print.   

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. 1022. Print.

A Favorite from August 24, 2009.

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi in the blog search bar and explore. 

Read Full Post »


fortitudeThursday

December 18, 2014

Joy and Sirach 1

Fortitude

Moving into a wisdom book written by Jesus ben Sirach, we find more words that surprise us with joy. If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, enter the word Joy in the blog search bar, or visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com. Today we consider the great joy that is found in Wisdom’s fortitude.

Yesterday we considered Wisdom’s companions of prudence, moderation, righteousness and fortitude. These qualities bring us more than serenity; they offer us a pathway to discipleship in Christ. They offer us immortal life.

Verse 1:12: Fear of the Lord rejoices the heart, giving gladness, joy, and long life.

joyGod says: “Fear of the Lord” is really about your love for me. I do not want you to tremble in fear of punishment; rather, I want you to tremble in great joy and anticipation of spending time with me. I want you to stand in awe of my great love for you. Do you know how much happiness you bring to me? Do you understand that I spend every moment of eternity waiting for you, calling to you, rescuing you, restoring you? Do you believe that I am everywhere at all times lifting you, healing you, transforming you? When you practice prudence and moderation you will feel my presence. When you humble yourself in righteousness you will know my wisdom. When you persist with my fortitude you will be my wisdom. Come, live in me today . . . and share my goodness with others. 

Choose more of these verses and reflect on them, considering how often you invite Wisdom into your heart and home. Compare the different versions of Sirach 1 at the scripture link above and reflect on Jesus Ben Sirach’s words.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: