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John 21:1-14: It Was Already Dawn

Friday, April 13, 2018

James Tissot: Jesus Appears on the Shore

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to find new life in the Easter miracle of our resurrection as we re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave. Today we return to the Sea of Tiberius with Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples. Discouraged, frightened, needing employment, or wanting to go back to familiar rhythms and themes of life . . . we do not know why these followers return to the waters of Galilee. But we do know that this is where they encounter the risen Christ. It was already dawn, John tells us.

This imagery reminds us that when we believe our night of suffering and striving is endless, we – like these disciples – will look up from draining work to discover that it is already dawn. Perhaps we – like these disciples – meet Jesus when we are at our lowest. Perhaps we are the two unnamed disciples who take up nets and oars with our comrades to shove out into deep waters to see how we might survive. Perhaps we believe our lives have brought us disappointment again. First, there was the death of Jesus, and now we have been fishing through the night yet have caught nothing.  Unexpectedly, a stranger calls out to us from the shoreline, urging us to cast our nets once more . . . but on the starboard side of the boat.

This is how it happened . . . When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (NABRE)

How could this possibly matter, we wonder? What difference can it make to change the side of the boat? We have strained ourselves to the limit and we have no more strength.

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. (MSG)

With this, Peter leaps from the boat and we question his actions as he flails his way to the shoreline; yet it is there – when the dawn is upon us – we realize that Christ has been with us all along.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”  (NABRE)

We see that Jesus is already baking fish on the open fire, but we add our own fish from the new catch, finally understanding that we are to join Christ in his work. A memory flickers through our minds of the 3 fish and 5 loaves that Jesus divided so that five thousand might eat. And as we settle around the warmth of the fire to take in this meal, we realize our work, we hear Christ’s call. Despite our discomfort with the unfamiliar, we know that we must return to Jerusalem to continue the discipleship Jesus has begun in us.

Regardless of our fatigue, we lean into our nets again. In spite of deep waters and dark nights, we leap from our small boat to thrash ashore so that we might share a meal with Christ. Although we have thought our suffering and fears went unnoticed, Christ has been with us, waiting with baked fish and bread to erase our exhaustion and nourish our hope. And suddenly the night slips away . . . . almost without our noticing . . . for it is already dawn.


When we compare other translations with the ones in this post, we begin to understand that despite the length of the night and the frustration of the work, Christ invites us to join him in our own renewal.

To read Matthew’s accounting of how Jesus feeds 5000, read Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-34, Luke 9:12-17 or John 6:1-14. Matthew (15:32-39) and Mark (8:1-9) also describe the feeding of 4000. 

Images from: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/burning-coals-for-breakfast/ and https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/cooking-steckerlfisch-over-an-open-fire-high-res-stock-photography/56298235

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The Gospels: Stories

The Book of Kells: The Four Gospels

The Fourth Day of Christmas, December 28, 2017

From snopes.com: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music. Some misinterpretations have crept into the English version over the years, though. For example, the fourth day’s gift is four “colly birds” (or “collie birds”), not four “calling birds.” (The word “colly” literally means “black as coal,” and thus “colly birds” would be blackbirds.)

No matter the color of the birds in these lyrics, most critics agree that the number four refers to the Four Gospels in The New Testament canon. The first Gospel, scholars generally agree, was written by Mark in the first century. Concise, quick-moving, written to a Roman audience, this book is described as: vivid and detailed, active and energetic, wondrous, and demonstrating power over devils. The Gospel of Matthew was also written in the first century but after Mark’s Gospel. A topical retelling of the Christ story, it holds less joy than other Gospels but shows itself as an official, didactic, story of rejection and even despondency. This Gospel is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Gospel. Along with the Book of Acts, Luke writes the third Gospel of prayer, and praise, women, the poor, and the outcast. This artistic Gospel is written before the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.) for gentiles and Greeks who were coming into the growing Christian community. The final Gospel was written after the fall of Jerusalem by John of Patmos; and he is also believed to be the writer of the Book of Revelation. This story is a celebration of feasts and testimony. Full of symbols, this highly spiritual Gospel brings God’s Incarnation into sharp reality.

Although these stories vary in detail, approach, style and focus, taken together they bring us a diverse and passionate accounting of Jesus as King (Mark), Jesus as Savior (Luke), Jesus as the Son of God (John), and of the Kingdom (Matthew) into which he invites each of us.

When we read the opening and closing verses of each Gospel, with an understanding of the writer’s audience, we begin to more fully realize God’s love for creation’s diversity, and the great variety in the stories that tell us of Emmanuel, God’s presence among us.

To learn more about each Gospel, click on the links or visit: www.biblehub.com

To learn more about what the Gospels are and are not, visit the PBS Frontline page on The Story of the Storyteller at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/gospels.html 

Snopes last updated December 23, 2015 https://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/12days.asp

 

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Luke 9:8-36: Transfiguration

Second Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2016grymes violins

So many times we are called to Transfiguration.  So many times we are called to Exodus.  So many times we meet angels and prophets and yet do not respond.  We are so caught up in getting through the day, getting through the night, the week, the month, the year . . . the life.

So often we want to pause at a happy spot to set up a tent to house that moment and hold it.  So often we want to wrestle with time until it obeys us.  We live in the past . . . live in the future . . . live anywhere else but the present . . . re-living, un-living, projecting, transferring.

Jesus goes up to the mountain with two of his beloved apostles to speak with Elijah, Moses and his Father about the work that lies before him.  Of course he knows what was expected of him – down to the smallest detail – yet he listens to those who have gone before him. He listens to the wisdom of the ages. And he shares the experience with his friends.

violins of hopeJesus shares this wisdom and love with us as well.  He give to us the opportunity of transfiguration of self.  We are not held away from the gift of salvation; rather, we are invited to join Christ’s joy and glory.  So when the cloud descends upon us, and we hear the voice from the mist say: This is my Son, listen to him . . . may we have the courage, the wisdom, the light and the joy to do as we are bidden.  Because through this experience comes a true knowing of God, a true knowing of self.  With this comes an openness to the Word and the Truth and the Light.

In this Lenten journey, it is good to pause to reflect upon the possibilities offered to us through Transfiguration.

Adapted from a Favorite from December 11, 2007.

Looking for transfiguration, we begin a new Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

grymes bookTo learn more about how the Violins of Hope provide an opportunity for learning and reflection through restored instruments that survived the Holocaust, and to see how Cleveland’s MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE offers opportunities of transfiguration, click on the images above or visit: http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/

To hear these violins in concert, go to a CBS video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/violins-of-hope/  

Learn about the book Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes at: http://www.jamesagrymes.com/

Tomorrow, the Christ.

 

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1 John 1: God’s Yardstick – The Gospel Writers

The Infinite Life of Christ

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ at the Sea of Galilee (detail from Episodes of Passion and Resurrection)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

We hear eye-witness accounts from those who were there, from those who walked and talked, ate and lived with Jesus. Scholars believe that Mark most likely writes his Gospel for early followers, gentiles who faced persecution after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He explains a number of Jewish customs to his audience and only once refers to the Old Testament. Matthew, on the other hand, writes to Jews who believed in Jesus as Messiah. Luke directly addresses Theophilus, someone of high position and wealth, and his message bolsters the story the early Christians told. John writes to non-Jewish believers, those who struggle with the conflict between philosophy and faith. And it is John who opens his first letter with words that ought to convince any who doubt the veracity of the Jesus story. (Zondervan 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718)

From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us. (1 John 1:1-2)

Not only do the Gospel writers give testimony to the truth they have lived, they ask that we pass this story along. They ask that we keep the Spirit in our hearts. They ask that we keep the Creator forever in our minds.

We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy! (1 John 1:3-4)

And Jesus says to his followers: “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29)

1-john-3-17-does-gods-love-abide-in-him1Those who lived the Gospel story have something to pass along to us. Those who read this story today have something to pass along to those who follow. When we spend time today with Gospel verses of our choosing or with one of John’s letters, we open the door to a deeper understanding of the yardstick of love that God hands to each of us so we might better measure the wealth of our lives, the infinite life of Christ we share with others.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1356, 1620, 1663, 1718. Print.

Tomorrow, yearning. 

 

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Third Sunday of Easter, April 14, 2013 Luke 5:1-11

Coming Up With Nothing

fishermen[1]In Luke’s description of the calling of the apostles, we find the crowds pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God.  There are boats by the lake side and as Jesus steps into one of them he asks the fisherman, Peter, to put out into the water.  There, a short distance away, he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  When he finishes speaking, he asks Peter to put out in to deeper water in order to fish.  Peter replies: Master, we have worked hard all night and have come up with nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.  They catch a great number of fish, so many that the nets begin to tear.  Peter calls to his partners who come alongside to help them take in the catch.  There are so many fish that they were in danger of sinking.  Peter, James and John realize in that instant that the Messiah stands before them and also in that moment Jesus says to them – and to us: Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.  And when they came ashore . . . they left everything and followed him. 

Last week we closely examined the interchange between the risen Christ and his bewildered followers; today we look at Luke’s description of the apostles’ original call and find a foreshadowing of that later exchange and reunion beside the sea.  Perhaps it was this memory that called Peter and the others back to their nets and boats.  This we will never know; but what we do know is that Christ speaks and calls to us in the same way – especially when we are weary from having worked so hard for so long only to have our nets come up so empty.

This startling story is more than the words we see before us; it is an invitation to a full and fruitful life in the Spirit.  This familiar recounting is more than verses brought together by a writer two thousand years ago; it is an open door to salvation.  This Gospel is more than a sacred scripture; it is a guarantee from the risen Christ that when we find ourselves empty, alone, bewildered, overcome, bereft or betrayed that the best and most able of shepherds is with us as we steer our tiny vessel.

And so we pray to Jesus who first stepped into the boats of exhausted fishermen to transform them into fishers for the kingdom . . .

When we are physically, emotionally and psychologically weary, be with us are you were with your loved and loving followers in your days on the Sea of Tiberias.

When we have come up with nothing, have seen our life’s work erased, have exhausted every bit of our creativity and energy, be with us are you were with those you touched and healed in Galilee.

When we leave everything to follow you, sacrificing comfort and ease, be with us as you were with the faithful who returned to you and gave all they had and all they were in order to be close to you.

When we are empty, when we are full, when we are exhausted, when we are filled with the Spirit, when we leave all that we know to trust your call, keep us close, keep us constant, keep us in your love. Amen.

Tomorrow, “We also will come with you . . . “

For a devotional on this same citation, click the image above or go to: http://goodfaithblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/luke-51-11-bible-study-devotion-what.html

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Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013 – John 21:1-14

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Looking for the Lord

Jesus continues to appear to his disciples, encouraging them to join him in the work of kingdom building.  Still mystified by how they will fulfill this mission, they return to the profession they know . . . to their boats, their nets, and the Sea of Tiberias.  It is here that we find Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons John and James, and two others.  They have been fishing all night . . . and they have caught nothing.

Dawn arrives and they must be wondering what they are to do next.

When they made the decision to follow Jesus they had left their work as fishermen behind them, not questioning how they would earn a living.  They had followed the Teacher for several years until that sudden ending when they had last gone up to Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus has returned, risen, wounded, yet whole, and he has visited with them, shared bread with them, told them they need fear nothing.  He has given them his blessing and God’s peace; yet they are uncertain what to do next in this new life of following the risen Christ so they have turned to their former occupation; but this once familiar work is proving fruitless.

They must be questioning all that has happened to them in the last several years.

We, like the apostles, will find ourselves casting nets into familiar seas yet coming up empty.

We, like the disciples, will return to places and relationships we once took for granted searching for strength yet finding little.

We, like all of Christ’s followers, will encounter the Christ just when and where we least expect to find him.

Let us spend some time today watching and waiting in Easter joy.  Let us carry our worries and fears to the risen Christ.  And let us look for the risen Lord in every detail of all that we do in his name today and all days.

In this Second Week of Easter we will examine our lives as Easter People.  Tomorrow, recognizing Jesus . . .

For some interesting facts about the Sea of Galilee/Tiberias today, go to: http://apinchofsalt-sonnleitner.blogspot.com/2010/07/week-30-sea-of-galilee.html or  http://www.this-is-galilee.com/sea-of-galilee.html or http://www.seetheholyland.net/sea-of-galilee-article-israeloutside-jerusalem/  or http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/sea_of_galilee.html 

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Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 – John 20:1-10

open-tomb[1]And he saw and believed . . .

The details that appear so simply in John’s accounting of the open tomb call us into the scene.  We are invited to notice small, tangible points that tell the story so well that none have since forgotten it.

Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark . . . She must have fretted most of the night, unable to sleep, anxious to return to the place where his body was laid.  We follow her down into the abandoned quarry that now serves as a cemetery and we see that the open tomb, the heavy stone moved, no soldiers and no body.  Even in the darkness Mary knows that Jesus has gone.  She senses, more than sees, that he has gone. But where?

So Peter and the other disciple both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter, and arrived at the tomb first . . . Being younger than Peter, John arrives first on the scene once the women alert them.  A thousand possible scenarios surge through his brain. He tries to process them but he lets those thoughts go unprocessed. His only thought is to stand in that tomb to see for himself.  Yet he holds back, waiting for the panting Peter who goes into the tomb without pausing.  As the light curls across the morning sky Peter and John squint into the darkness, sensing, more than seeing, that Jesus is not there.  But if not here, then where?

Grave Clothes[1]They saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place . . . This peculiarity does not escape them and they try to make sense of what they see. They quickly speculate a number of reasons for this small detail but they do not want to be drawn away from the bigger question: where has Jesus gone?  They sense, more than know, that his message at the Thursday evening supper might just make sense.  Is this what Jesus meant when he said those confusing words?  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.  Where does Jesus intend to take them?  Where are they to meet him so that they might go together?

Then the disciple who had arrived at the tomb first, saw and believed . . . They search one another’s faces then shift their gaze back to the cloths.  The winding-sheet folded carefully as if by an attendant, the face cloth neatly rolled nearby.  An image of the Christ pausing to lay the rolled cloth aside before he leaves the tomb begins to take shape in the disciple’s mind; slowly a knowing begins to form and John allows himself to smile as his eyes move from face to face, then back to the cloths.  Abruptly the first rays of morning light filter into the empty tomb and the apostle is seized by a mixture of joy and fear.

They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead . . . They know not what is to come.  They know not where they will go.  They do not know how or when Jesus will return but a truth beings to form within just as the early dawn brings light into the empty quarry cave.  Jesus has not died.  Jesus lives.  Jesus has not abandoned them.  Jesus will return.

And in that flash of a moment they see and they believe.

Let us rise up with Easter joy as we examine the story before us.  Let us run to tell what we now know.  Let us say to anyone who will listen that we too, have seen.  And that we too, believe.

For an interesting reflection on the possible significance of the folded cloths,  click on the image of the burial cloth above or visit: http://marcohara.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-linen-burial-cloth-of-jesus.html

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Victory


Monday, December 31, 2012

1 John 5 – Victory

reclaiming_gods_hope[1]For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.  And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  Who [indeed] is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

We are so often told – and we so often forget – that once we place ourselves in God’s hands we need not struggle.  From the first books of the Torah to the final words of Revelation we hear this message and yet we fight with and against the world. 

Sometimes we fear one another.  We hoard money, goods, guns, plots and any object or idea we believe keeps us special . . . and this is sad because we are already special.

Sometimes we fear the past or the future.  We look over our shoulders constantly or peer into the coming days looking for clues about how we should act and decide . . . and this is so senseless because these preoccupations takes us away from the holy present.

Sometimes we fear God.  We look for full comprehension or we want total control; we deny, cajole, and make bargains . . . and this is so little of us because as John tells us today: The surest victory over the world comes not from our actions or thoughts but through our faith in God. 

I write these things to you so that you may know you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God.  And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything in accordance with his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked of him is ours. 

John cannot speak more plainly to us.  In his Gospel he tells us quite clearly that Jesus is the unique Son of God.  He reminds us that salvation comes through our belief in the Son.  He explains that “Jesus is not the victim of human injustice even though those who killed him were evil people.  Jesus chose to offer his life for others so that they could see God’s love revealed on the cross.  When we see God’s love on the cross, we are reminded that God identifies with the lowly, suffering people of the world by joining with them”. And finally, John’s Gospel describes for us how mutual love and unity express God’s love.  (Senior RG 450-451)   All of this is explained to us and yet our fears overcome our faith; we allow the turmoil of the world to overcome us; we forget that victory comes through our faith in the story that we witness through John and the other apostles. 

John tells in his writings that he has witnessed all that he recounts – we are not reading a second, third or fourth-hand accounting.  In his first letter, John intertwines the very real with the ideal and we may become confused with this fusion of two perspectives; yet in is this dance between two opposites and the synthesis they present, John describes a world of universal acceptance and love that we seek.  

Jesus tells us endlessly that God’s simple commandment to us is his call to love.  We struggle with this for we do not see it in the world we occupy.

John tells us endlessly that Jesus’ simple commandment to love comes directly from God the creator.  We struggle with this and we let doubt and fear and a desire to control our world to take us over.

As we prepare to begin a new year in our western calendar, let us decide to put aside our anxieties about the world.  Let us spend time reflecting with John, a man who accompanied Christ – God Among Us.  And let us place all our fears and hopes in the hands of a God who loves us deeply and always . . . for it is in that place alone that we experience victory that conquers the world.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 450-451. Print.   

For more on the First Letter of John, visit the 1 John – Testimony page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-new-testament-revising-our-suffering/1-john-testimony/

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012 – Obadiah 1:15-21 – The Measure

THINK team commemoration design

As we commemorate September 11 let us consider again the measure of our lives . . .

The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  John the Evangelist speaks of the measure of God’s joy which we will know when we follow Jesus.  All three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38) remind us that we are measured by our own actions; this is the same message we hear from the prophet Obadiah today; yet . . . Do we truly listen to these words? 

Countless times in the Old Testament we hear stories of how people are done in by the plans they designed for their perceived enemies.  The story of Esther is a wonderful example which I always recall because it illustrates this point in the person of Haman who is executed on the gallows he ordered constructed for Mordecai, the man he envied and wanted to eliminate. 

Do we truly listen to these words?

Each time we find ourselves plotting to “teach someone a lesson”:  Do we truly listen to these words?

When we worry about the schemes of others more than we place our petitions for change in God’s hands: Do we truly listen to these words?

If we engage in gossip or enable disrespectful or abusive behavior without saying a word: Do we truly listen to these words?

If there are times that we refuse to witness as God asks: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we have given up hope and cease asking God to intercede for those who harm us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we allow our doubts and fears about God’s love for us and the goodness of his creation to overcome his love for us: Do we truly listen to these words?

When we examine the measure with which we measure others . . . will we want to be valued by this standard?  Will we want to have others’ opinions rammed into our minds?  Will we want others to lapse into mediocrity for fear of failure?  Will we want others to give up entirely?  Will we want others to speak in compassionate truth?  Will we want to be measured with the norm we use when looking at others?

Do we truly listen to these words?

Notes from La Biblia de América: Can patience run dry?  Does the capacity to lend support have a limit?  Our Christian faith teaches us that the answer is, no.  It is necessary to forgive seven times seven times – or infinitely.  Love cannot have limits.  Is this the only message Obadiah wants to communicate . . . is he merely acting to break a cycle of violence in his own day, or does he speak to us as well?  This briefest of prophecies has as a target the Edomites, a people in constant conflict with those in Judah, the descendents of Jacob’s brother, Esau.  The abrasive conflict reaches a height when Edom backs the invading Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and carry the Jewish people off into exile.  Obadiah speaks to the remnant left behind after the Assyrian holocaust.  Obadiah speaks to us now. 

Who are the Edomites in our own lives today?  We know the land of Edom well.  It is the place where our constant adversaries live.  It is the hard heart which envies who we are and what we have.  It is the stiff-necked place from where schemes and lies and plots all spring . . . and these are the places we are asked to measure with the same measure we wish ourselves to be measured.  We are asked to measure in faith, with hope . . . and through love.  Let us go to Edom with a full measure of love in our hearts. 

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

Written on May 11, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.  

For more information on the THINK team design, click on the image above or go to:

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