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Posts Tagged ‘healing’


1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part II

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Antonio de Bellis: The Liberation of Saint Peter

How can we celebrate our mourning?

When we spend time opening Acts 5, and when we watch and listen to Peter, we discover how we might apply The Word to our lives.

We watch the apostles slip unseen from their prison, moving through locked gates and past watchful guards.

Do we ask Christ to open doors and safeguard us? Do we trust the Spirit who calls us?

The apostles go immediately to the Temple to proclaim the wonderful news that they were able to heal in Jesus’ name, the name of the man whom they taunted a few short weeks before as he hung on the cross.

Do we share with others the Good News of Christ’s movement in our lives? Do we celebrate our small victories and rejoice in the Spirit’s healing?

We follow the apostles as they brilliantly and boldly – and in every way like Christ – reply to the Sadducees that they cannot still their tongues or cease healing.  We hear them defy this wealthy group of men who collaborate with the Romans and supervise the rebuilding of the stone Temple.

Do we react with courage when others accuse us unjustly? Do we trust the Spirit to send us her wisdom and grace?

We hear the apostles as they witness to Christ when they say – as we all are called to say: Whether it is right in the sight of God, you be the judges.  It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard. 

Do we speak as these apostles speak? Do we listen as these apostles listen? Do we act as these apostles act?

Today we spend time with The Word as we learn how to celebrate our mourning.

Tomorrow, what do we fear . . . and why?

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part I

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

220px-San_Pedro_en_lágrimas_-_Murillo

Esteban Murillo: San Pedro en lágrimas

Why must we suffer?

This is a beautiful idea that reminds us that we are called to be living stones in the living temple of Christ.  The letters of Peter are full of wonderfully good advice about how to build a Christian community and this is no surprise. Peter is The Rock on whom Christ builds his church. Peter denied Christ three times during the Passion, as Christ himself predicted, but he bridges any gap he had created by following Christ so ardently. Today we examine Peter’s suffering to learn how we might also learn to suffer well.

Studying The Acts of the Apostles slowly is refreshing if we can give ourselves the space and time to reflect deliberately and carefully on the story of the passion with which the first Christians feel Christ’s presence after his death.  When we believe ourselves to be in dire straits, we really only need turn to this story.  It reveals so much about the hope we called to live joyfully.

In Chapter 5, Ananais and Sapphira are struck dead by the Lord for withholding the gifts given to them. We hear about the second trial and imprisonment of the apostles, their mystical release by the angel of God, and rabbi Gamaliel’s wise argument to let the apostles go with a flogging – rather than execution – because if their work comes from God, you will be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God. 

At the end of this chapter we see the apostles return to their community and we find them rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus . . . even though the authorities warn them to cease healing in Jesus’ name.

Today we reflect on our opportunities to suffer as early church members did. We examine the zeal with which we carry out our own story of Christ’s hope and resurrection. We explore the choices we see in Acts 5 as we consider the words of Peter. And we begin to understand that we are each free to choose if and how we will suffer well.

Tomorrow, celebrating as we mourn.

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Acts 10:28-47: Hearing the Good News

Peter and Cornelius

Thursday, May 4, 2017

God is the creator of both space and time. God is in charge. God creates humans in God’s image. God loves all of creation. God creates us in, for and through love. God loves us very much. This is good news indeed.

Today we read about Peter’s meeting with Cornelius, a Roman centurion living in Caesarea, Palestine. Today we focus not on the fact that this well-positioned, powerful man turns away from paganism to live in Christ; rather, we reflect on God’s desire to break down walls between nations and philosophies. Today we watch Peter put aside his Jewish restrictions and prejudices in order to meet, speak with, and even seek union with a man who represents repression to the Jewish nation. And finally, we focus on God’s desire for union and community with each of us . . . with all of us . . . and not an elite few.

We meditate on Peter’s words in verse 28: God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.

Can we imagine a world in which our enemies become our close associates?

We spend time with Cornelius’ account of hearing God’s words in verse 31: Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 

Can we imagine a world in which we heed God’s message of healing and love?

We remember Peter’s understanding of God’s love in verses 34-35: I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 

Can we imagine a world in which we are both recipients and vehicles of God’s miracles?

Like Peter and Cornelius, once we hear God’s words and understand their meaning, we also come to know these truths: We are witnesses to the loving action of God in our lives, we are called to minister to all of God’s people, and we are the vessels of God’s Holy Spirit in the world.

This is marvelous news indeed. These are wonderful truths undeniably. This is Good New we want to both receive and share.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to share the Good News that the Holy Spirit is with us. 

Tomorrow, Peter’s fifth sermon following Pentecost.

 

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1 Peter 1:3-9: A Living Hope

Third Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017

Peter Denies Christ
John 18

As we enter into the third week of Eastertide, we look to Peter, Jesus’ companion who denied knowing him (John 18); and who later pledged to the resurrected Christ that he would feed and love his sheep (John 21). We are those sheep and today we listen to Peter’s words.

What a God we have! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 

As we move through our days and nights, this is good news. In our typically linear way of thinking, the past, present and future are separate entities that we cannot manipulate; yet Peter tells us that Jesus has changed the natural order of time. Past, present and future fuse into an eternal timelessness, an infinite oneness, an unending union. And we are invited to participate in this union.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.

As we look at our lives and our surrounding circumstances, these are joyful words. In our consumption and status driven world, the powerful hold sway over the poor, sickness opposes good health, and death overcomes life; yet Peter reminds us of the many miracles that erase the demarcation between wholeness and weakness.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

James Tissot: Feed My Lambs
John 21

As we anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promise, the serenity of Jesus’ Good News, and perfect union with and in the healing of the Spirit, we find Peter’s words reassuring. In the rush of our days, we pause to reflect on the healing power of Peter’s testimony. From one who once renounced the Living God, we hear the miracle of his conversion. And we turn from our anxieties and fears to the assurance of this Living Hope.

The verses cited above are from THE MESSAGE. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore Peter’s message of A Living Hope to us.

Tomorrow, the first of Peter’s sermons following Pentecost.

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Mystery of Trusting Wisdom

The Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

school of Titian Rafael

The School of Titian: Tobias and the Archangel Rafael 

We recall the lessons we learned with these verses yesterday: God is good, we are good, life is brutal and unpredictable but also good because it brings us to God; the faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God.

There is nothing more important to hear, to learn or to repeat to others than the lessons Tobit teaches us today.  All human suffering can be quenched by these precepts.  All human understanding is capable of taking in these ideas; but not all humans have the will to enact what they hear.  That is why we cannot read this story too often.

Wisdom is sometimes defined as patience in the waiting to hear God’s voice.  One definition puts wisdom in its proper place  as coming from God over time – in God’s time and not in our time.  When we think of the wise people we know, we discover that they share a few characteristics in common.

  • Wise people do not often react instantly to an emotional moment; they pause to allow God to speak through them.
  • Wise people declare their thoughts with the wisdom of ages; they have spent a good portion of their lives with and in scripture.
  • Wise people display a certain amount of serenity; they know that all that surrounds them is not real, the justice of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people do not regularly become impatient; they understand that we are here to practice for that which is real, the love of the next world, not this.
  • Wise people display and embody empathy; they have suffered a great deal, and they have allowed themselves to be transformed by this suffering.
  • Wise people do not think first of saving themselves; they have made their suffering salvific, and freely give themselves as co-redeemers with Christ.

The wisdom of the book of Tobit is just this kind of wisdom.  In this story, wisdom maintains her mystery; she is seen as the ultimate act of stepping into the abyss with God. The ultimate act of suffering for and through God. The ultimate act of trust in God.

Wisdom rises from suffering, endures in fidelity, heals in love, restores in hope, and lives in trust.  We can never hear this story too often.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

 

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Favor of Providence

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tobias_cura_a_cegueira_de_seu_pai_-_Domingos_Sequeira

Domingos Sequeira: Tobias Heals the Blindness of his father Tobit

As a Noontime companion, you will know that this book is a favorite. This story is full of fidelity, promise, hope, healing, courage, desperation, prayers answered and the mystery of how we gain most in ourselves by trusting God. The story tells us of the importance of the mystery of trust.  We see God move not only through the disguise of the archangel Rafael, but also through people who respond to God’s call . . . even when it places them in danger.

Today’s excerpt is brief but we gain much if we spend some of our time with these verses. They are a wonderful antidote for a dispirited day.  The story reminds us of all the Old Testament foretells, all the prophets predict, all the wisdom books proclaim, and all that Jesus comes to fulfill. We have valuable lessons here. On this second weekend of Lent, we serve ourselves well by reflecting with these verses and taking in their lessons.

First: Tobit shows us that God is good, and we are good. It also shows us that although life is brutal and unpredictable, it is good because it brings us to God.

Second: The faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God. We need to kill people with kindness, we need to make our hearts open and vulnerable to God, we must become Christ’s hands and feet, head and heart through the act of healing one another, and through the act of interceding for one another, even our enemies. 

Tomorrow, we discover how these lessons teach us the importance of the mystery of wisdom and trust. If we take an hour or so to read more than these verses this weekend, we will not regret our decision to use our time in this way.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part III

Tuesday, February 21, 2017be-perfect-like-god-matthew-5-verse-48-1

Today we hear Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. He asks us to live generously, he challenges us to love our enemies, and he reminds us that we are already members of his kingdom.

In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

We linger with the thought that God lives toward us, not only giving us breath but also nurturing and sustaining us, moving into our every bone and tissue.

You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (GNT)

We pause to reflect that God calls us to Christ’s presence in us, flourishing into the light of Christ, blooming into the healing presence of the Spirit.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NRSV)

james-1-4We react to God’s request that we grow up, that we mature in Christ, that we reconcile in the Spirit, and that we transform in the Creator. This is the perfection that God asks of us. Not that live a life free or error, but that we offer to God the flowering of the potential and trust placed in us at our conception.

The Apostle James tells us that when we persist in Christ, we begin to understand what God asks of us when he asks for our perfection.

Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:4 (GNT)

When we compare varying versions of Matthew 5:48, we begin to understand what it is that God asks of us, and how we might grow up, how we might be perfect in Christ.

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Psalm 13: Long Enoughrefugee_sign

Monday, February 6, 2017

We might want to read THE MESSAGE version of this psalm in order to feel the full impact of the psalmist’s cry.

Long enough, God
    you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head
    long enough.

We might want to offer the psalmist’s words to those who look for consolation in their grief.

Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble,
    lived with a stomach full of pain.
Long enough my arrogant enemies
    have looked down their noses at me.

We might want to take in the psalmist’s words as our own in our days of sorrow and fear.

Take a good look at me, God, my God;
    I want to look life in the eye,
So no enemy can get the best of me
    or laugh when I fall on my face.

We might want to share the psalmist’s words with those who stand in solidarity with the oppressed.

I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
    I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
    I’m so full of answered prayers.

kosovo-1God says: I know that many of you struggle with the injustices you see around you each day. Remember that when you remain in solidarity with the persecuted, the bereft and the abandoned, you remain in me. Arise to show yourself and the world where you stand; and if you cannot stand, or are afraid to stand, then support societies that provide medical and civil support or that bring about positive change. Connect with your civil representatives to let them know that the weak and marginalized who have no voice have found a voice in you, and that they are not alone. Remind politicians that the world is watching. Remind yourselves that I am with and in you as I am with the rejected and oppressed. Remember that when you stand with me, you stand with the lost and excluded who are weak and defenseless, not the haughty and comfortable who wield power and fear. And remember that when you stand with these lost sheep of mine, you do not stand alone. You stand in me. 

We might want to share the psalmist’s words with those who seek to create rifts and with those who want to heal the wound that yawns between the included and excluded.

When we compare varying versions of these words, we open our hearts and minds to God’s healing Spirit. When we pray in solidarity with those who are persecuted, we speak to God to say . . . this injustice has lasted long enough. 

 

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Matthew 4:12-23: Going to Galilee

Sunday, January 29, 2017

www.bible-history.comMap of Ancient Israel

http://www.bible-history.com: Map of Ancient Israel

I am still reflecting on last Sunday’s Gospel to consider how it speaks to me today.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

We look at a map of the Palestine in ancient days to study how Jesus’ actions suggest a plan for our own lives.

We investigate the spiritual, civil and social characteristics of Galilee in Jesus’ time to understand the environment in which he worked, and prayed, and played and we find our question on a PBS Frontline  episode. “What kind of place was Galilee at the time of Jesus? Was it a quiet, rustic, peaceful little tranquil place? It looks that way, sure. But the region was known for being a hotbed of political activity and some of it violent . . . But in [an] historical context that region was always a contested region”.  We can read more if we want to go further but I realize, as I spend time all week uncovering my own emotions over the past few days, and I wonder . . . what might we do with this story?

www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

http://www.bibleplaces.com: The Synagogue in Capernaum

When we look for information about Capernaum, we remember that the people of the town rejected Jesus and his miracles, so we go back to today’s Noontime verses.

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.

When we find ourselves in a hotbed of political activity, we do not run away. We hold firm quietly to meet threats with grace and love.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

When our friends and colleagues suffer persecution, and we know the hatchet is coming our way, we rely on the authority Jesus gives us. We remember that Jesus calls us to outrageous hope.

Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

www.pbs.org: A portrait of Jesus' World

http://www.pbs.org: Galilee, A portrait of Jesus’ World

When we realize that we are in the middle of contested regions where lies replace certainties, we hold tightly to the truth, we listen to our persecutors and pray for them, and we ask that Jesus turn all hearts of stone to hearts of mercy and compassion.

Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum . . .

If we want to follow the Christ, we too must journey to Galilee and Capernaum and although we may flinch, we fire up our souls with the love of Christ . . . and we go.

To explore Galilee and Capernaum, click on the links and images for more information.

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