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Posts Tagged ‘kernel of wheat’


Luke 23:50-56Burial

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the two words Jesus says frequently to us: Follow me . . .

Today we take a look at what we are invited to do as a first step in the resurrection process.  We are invited to our own burial.

Van der Weyden: Descent from the Cross

Scripture – and in particular the New Testament story of Jesus – is full of inversion.  We see many paradoxes in Jesus’ words and actions: We must give up all we have in order to gain the world, those who are broken are strong, leaders are those who serve, we must be willing to die if we want to live.  What appears to be incongruous results in a reality we had not anticipated.

What looks like death is life itself.

I tell you the truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (12:24), unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

What looks like burial is life itself.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark (4:30-32)It is the smallest you plant in the ground; yet when planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches the birds of the air can perch in its shade. 

What looks like the end is really the beginning. 

The wallpaper image on my computer is the painting Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van der Weyden; I keep it there to remind me of Jesus’ words to us about life, death, and resurrection.  Each time I log on and see the image, I am reminded that we are always in the process of a necessary burial – the first step toward resurrection.  With that image in my mind, it is easier to remember that anything I do in the material world is a reflection of my belief in the spiritual world. As I travel about my digital universe, I carry with me the constant reminder that it is the spiritual world we seek rather than the material.

I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus says to Martha (John 11:25-27).  He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this? he asks.

Martha replies: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.

As we reflect on the verses in today’s Noontime and as we look at the expressions on the faces painted on the Van der Weyden canvas, let us take in what we have been told.  It is what those who loved Jesus well are about to fully understand as they lower his body from the cross.  It is the elemental truth that . . . Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

What looks like sorrow will soon be joy.  

The first step toward that joy is our eagerness to unfold the paradox Jesus has given us.  It is our willingness to submit to burial in the life of this world.  It is the full knowing that, like the kernel of wheat, we cannot live until we go into the soil . . . to burst forth again in the new life of Christ.


A re-post from September 1, 2011.

Image from: http://eastofthemoonwestofthesun.blogspot.com/2011/04/day-95-holy-saturday-preparation-for.html 

Further information about the Van der Weyden painting can be found at the following sites or sites of your choosing.  You may want to share some with us.  A good description of the symbolism represented in the characters we see. http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/197

A beautiful slide show through which the viewer can zoom in to see the detail in the cloth, even the tears glistening on cheeks.  http://www.slidingtime.be/ The show is a link from this blog.  http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2010/04/rogier-van-der-weydens-descent-from.html

This link gives us more insight into the painting.  http://blogs.artinfo.com/secrethistoryofart/2011/05/06/inside-the-masterpiece-van-der-weydens-descent-from-the-cross/

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Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21, 2013

Jodaens: Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

Jacob Jordaens: Saints Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

Acts 13:41-52 – Results

Contrary to what we may think, the practice of meekness does not create a world of submission and pain.  Faithful meekness trains us to handle obstacles and to persist through adversity.  True meekness teaches us to listen, to witness, and to respond as God directs.  Honest meekness turns the other cheek in an invitation to join Christ’s mystical body.  Authentic meekness steps forward into the world despite any threat to reputation, stamina or strength.

Today’s Noontime is a snippet of the story of life in the early Church. Footnotes will tell us that Antioch was an important missionary center after the focus shifted away from Jerusalem and we see how jealousy begins to simmer when Paul and Barnabas attract more followers to The Way.  The result of their meekness in Christ is conflict . . . and at first glance this may seem to be a failure.

There are three important elements in this story for us to remember.

First, we see how thirsty people are to hear The Word.  Verse 44 tells us that nearly the entire city turns out to hear Paul and Barnabas speak.  The result of Christ’s meekness is celebrity.

Second, when the missionaries are eventually forced out of the city by the jealous and powerful, Christ’s Word and Christ’s Way are easily dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, into the West and Europe.  The result of Christ’s meekness is endurance.

Third, when looking at verses 51 and 52 we find that the disciples make a statement through their witnessing rather than through an act of aggression.  The result of Christ’s meekness is quiet power.

A grain of wheat falls to the ground and bursts open so that the stalk may grow in fertile soil.  We see the grain of wheat being trod on here, and crushed into fertile ground.  Conflict and strife bear fruit through Christ and we see that the result of Christ’s meekness is not failure.  It is an abundant harvest.

And so we pray.

Good and Gracious God,

Teach us to speak of you in such a way that we call others to follow you.

Fill us with your Spirit in such a way that we find patience for the journey.

Remind us of our redemption by your Son in such a way that we remember to thank you.

Call us to our higher selves in such a way that we find power in you.

Stay with us in such a way that we delight in the practice of meekness.

Bless us in such a way that our meekness brings results for you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. 

Amen.

Tomorrow, rejecting idols . . . the importance of meekness . . .

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Thursday, November 8, 2012 – Mark 4:26-29 – God’s Harvest of Love

The Gospel of Mark is beautiful in its simplicity.  Because of its brevity, we may think of it as less weighty; yet here today we have an example of the depth of Mark.  His is the only Gospel which holds this simple parable. 

In the Biblia de América, the footnotes tell us that the purpose of this allegory is to give emphasis to the important work of humanity, the grains of wheat.  The faithful are to proclaim the Word of God . . . while the success of this work depends solely on God. 

This gives fresh importance to our mission.  We are seed.  We are planted.  To the best of our ability and as best we are able in our environment, we are to draw from our roots in order that we might send forth a blade . . . which in turn yields a grain.  In due season, this grain will ripen for the harvest.

This cannot be more simple.  It cannot be more clear.  It cannot be more important. 

This mode of living – of becoming what we are meant to become while living closely with other blades that give forth grain in their own due season – requires obedience, perseverance and patience.  It also requires close communion with our creator, the master harvester. 

We must exercise faith – in trusting that we will survive life among a variety of blades until the harvest time.

We must engender hope – in believing that we will produce grain in abundance.

We must enact love – in making room for all to reach the sun and to soak up whatever rain may fall.

Perhaps what makes this Gospel so intense is that it is likely the first written after the Resurrection, when the flame of the Pentecost and the inspiration of the Ascension were still fresh.  Perhaps its concise language and simplicity render its meaning unmistakable.  Mark delivers five parables in rapid succession in this chapter, and he succinctly describes the important work of the faithful sandwiched between other stories which are more familiar.  We might miss it unless we look for it; and yet here it is.  Millennia after they are written, these straightforward words have the power to fill us with wonder at how the direct message of love might change the human experience.  We are loved.  We are love.  All we need do is proclaim this story.

Harvesting in the Himalayas

In reading Mark, we are drawn into his passion.  It is the same passion with which we are created.  It is a simple, clear, uncomplicated story.  God yearns for companionship and he creates a race of people in his image.  These people are wooed, forgiven, blessed, sustained, forgiven again, and loved powerfully.  What are we asked to do in return?  To proclaim this love abroad, to transform the sunshine and the rain into a grain of wheat which the master will harvest, and to render to the creator his harvest of love.

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

Written on November 7, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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